Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Fidel Castro Speech

FL232226 Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 2047 GMT 23 Mar 79

[Speech by President Fidel Castro at dedication of hospital in the city of
Cienfuegos on 23 March 1979--live]

[Text]  Distinguished guests and people of Cienfuegos, from what I see,
every once in a while one has to come here to Cienfuegos.  [laugher and
cheers]  There is always a new project, a new plant, a school, a
stadium--and at least we have not had to come to all the projects which you
have recently dedicated, because we did not come to the stadium
[dedication], we did not come.... [laughter]  But we did come to the
teachers school [dedication] [cheers and applause].  And in addition to the
projects, we have the honor to frequently accompany some illustrious
visitors who want to visit Cienfuegos.  [applause]  And I warn you that
soon we will have to make another visit here.  [cheers and applause]  One
also has to tour Cienfuegos not only when the plants or hospitals are
completed, but also when they are under construction, because it is a very
important time.  [applause]  The construction is a very important time, and
the dedication is a very emotional time.

We had already promised the construction workers and the doctors,
especially the hospital director and Comrade Humberto [Miguel Fernandez,
first secretary of the PCC in Cienfuegos Province] to participate in the
dedication of this hospital. But actually we found this so very well done,
so very well finished and so complete that we did not want to deny
ourselves the privilege of participating along with you on this day...This
memorable day. [applause]

But at the time of choosing the exact date, we kept in mind that a
nonaligned countries health experts meeting was being held in our country;
and in deference to these delegates, these health experts of the nonaligned
movement, we had the dedication of the hospital coincide with their
presence in our country.  We have invited them to participate in this
ceremony, and we express in the name of all our people, and especially in
the name of the people of Cienfuegos, our most special and fraternal
greetings.  [applause]  It seems worthwhile that on the occasion of a
dedication of this type of institution to recall, although it be only
briefly, the advances achieved by our country in the health field since the
triumph of the revolution.

There are not many statistics on the years 1956, 1957 and 1958 because
during that time there were no hospitals or information.  What they did
have was a lot of sick people without assistance, and many epidemics, and
many deaths, and above all else many children who died before their first
birthday.  Over these years of the revolution, numerous diseases have been
eradicated.  The first one was poliomyelitis.  Tuberculosis was virtually
eradicated and totally controlled and many diseases have either been
eliminated or reduced to a minimum. Those that still remain are being
tenaciously combated, and the results are truly encouraging.

For example, a statistic:  We figure that life expectancy for someone who
was born before the revolution was some 50 years.  Already in the first
years of the revolution between 1960 and 1965, [life expectancy] increased
to 63 years for men and 67 for women.  [applause and laughter]  As you can
see it seems that the women, for some reason, [laughter and cheers] it
seems that they take more care and are more disciplined in terms of health
care.  But among other things, because they are more needed, [cheers and
applause] they live longer.  [cheers and applause]  Now, from 1975, in the
5-year period of 1975 to 1980, [life expectancy] has already increased to
70.2 years for men and 73.5 years for women.  [cheers and applause]  See
how happy the young girls become, [laughter and cheers] expecting to at
least live to 73.5 years of age.

We hope that it will increase, because it is improving year by year;
because, that is to say, that even those who were born some 10 or 15 years
ago, as the health system gets better there is greater hope for increased
life expectancy.  These statistics refer to those who have just been born.
[laughter]  But it is so...but of course it does affect the whole
population.  Because it is a statistic for the whole population.  That is
to say, what was someone's [life] expectancy who was born in 1950 or in
1955?  The expectancy of someone who was born in 1955 notably improved
after 1959.  So many diseases were not eliminated in vain, and the medical
services have improved extraordinarily; that is, everything that is done
now and what is done in 10 years will benefit the whole population.  But of
course those who will benefit the most will be those who have just been
born.  No?  [applause]

Already the institutional births in hospitals are at 98.2 percent, almost
100 percent of the babies are born in hospitals.  Sometimes by chance and
difficulties, some 14.5 do not have time to get to the hospital.
[laughter].  Now, infant mortality has been reduced to 22.3 per 1,000 live
births.  Before the revolution we conservatively figure that it was around
66.  This already places us at a very high level.  For example, in life
expectancy we are already just about at the level of Canada and the United
States.  Despite all of their wealth and their technological development
our small country blockaded and all of this, we have already been able to
establish a life expectancy similar to that of Canada and the United
States.  In infant mortality we are already very close to the levels of the
most developed countries.  Preschool mortality, between 1 and 4 years old,
[is at] 1.1 per 1,000 inhabitants.  School age mortality, between 5 and 14
years old, [is at] 0.4 per 1,000 inhabitants.  Maternal mortality [is at]
4.5 per 10,000 live births.  Another figure which shows that improvements
have been made in other areas is the following.

In 1962, the mortality rate due to acute diarrhea was 57.3 per 100,000
inhabitants, and today it is 4.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.  That is the 1978
rate as a result of the battle wages against those types of diseases.  In
1959, the tuberculosis mortality rate was 16.6 per 100,000 inhabitants, and
today it is 2.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.  As you can see, it is becoming
increasingly more difficult to die from those diseases and, consequently,
life is being prolonged.  If we continue on this path, perhaps some day we
will live longer than Methuselah, the famous Methuselah.  [laugher in the

For every child that is born, the mother is seen by the physician 10 times
as an average.  Some more, others a little less, but the average is 10
visits.  As you can see, the children receive medical attention prior to
birth. In 1978, there were 315,065 blood donations.  When we began the
drives for blood donations there were only a few thousand, not even 10,000.
I can remember when we reached 100,000, and now we have surpassed 300,000
pear year.

This is also a demonstration not only of the progress made in public
health, but of humane solidarity, of the consciousness and fraternal spirit
of our compatriots.  They well know how much good, how much health and how
many lives they have contributed to save with those donations, which today
have reached 300,000 per year.  With those donations, not only is blood
contributed, but in many instances it is used to produce medication of
great value to fight certain diseases.

In 1959 we had 6,000 physicians, almost all of them in Havana City. None of
them were in the countryside, and about half of them were taken away from
us. By 1978 we had 14,642 physicians. [applause] The large majority of
those were educated in socialism and other concepts. We now have one
physician for every 662 inhabitants. There are 3,314 dentists. We now have
26,796 nurses. [applause] The number of intermediate level
technicians--nurses not included--is 22,564.

The number of students registered in the school of medicine for the
1978-1979 term is 11,039. Approximately 3,500 to 4,000 new students are
registering every year, and that number will continue to grow. We will have
a school of medicine in each province, in each of the 14 provinces. Some of
them will have more than one, built next to hospitals such as this one. The
day will come when we will graduate every year as many physicians as there
were in the country when the revolution triumphed. [applause]

The day will come when we will have 5,000 to 6,000 physicians graduating
every year.  In the Public Health Ministry we have 255 hospitals, 129
dental clinics, 371 polyclinics, 57 rural hospitals, 53 homes for the aged,
131 rural medicine offices, 37 public health and epidemiology laboratories,
22 blood banks, which add up to 1,055 public health units throughout the
country.  We now have 7 schools of medicine, but we will have more than 20.
Our physicians, nurses and technicians are working not only in Cuba but in
some 20 other countries, countries of the so-called Third World in Africa,
Asia and the Caribbean.  This year we will have 1,167 physicians and
dentists working in the following countries:  Angola, Algeria, Benin,
Cape Verde, the Congo, Ethiopia, the POLISARIO Front, Guinea Bissau,
Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Iraq, Jamaica, Libya, Mali, Mozambique,
Sao Tome and Principe, Tanzania, South Yemen and Vietnam.  [applause]

In addition to the physicians, we will have 635 nurses and 535 technicians
working abroad, making a grand total of 2,337 health workers.  This will
surely increase in numbers, because relations develop and new political
processes emerge.  For example, we know that some of those countries are
facing a very terrible situation.  The case of Ethiopia is a very serious
one.  They had a total of 125 physicians for 35 million inhabitants.
Compared to us, we have 14,000 physicians for nearly 10 million
inhabitants--that is 120-times more physicians than they have, with one
third of their population.  But there are countries such as Kampuchea,
where a horrible and monstrous policy of genocide was conducted which
resulted in the death of millions of persons. That country, I believe, has
only two physicians.  It is a very difficult situation for many countries.
Some countries have more economic resources than others.

Some have more economic resources. They pay for the medical cooperation.
And when the countries do not have economic resources, we provide them with
free medical assistance. [applause] For example, Ethiopia is one of these
cases. This year we already have 139 doctors, 87 nurses and 84 technicians
there for a total of 310 health workers. And this is cooperation which
countries greatly appreciate. Our doctors are distinguished by their
dedication to work and because they go to lend their services to faraway
countries and in the far corners in those countries. In some cases, such as
in Yemen, we help to set up the universities so that they can train their

In Ethiopia we are also going to cooperate with them in developing their
medical faculty so that they can train their doctors.  Of course it will
take dozens and dozens of years.  It could take 30, it could take 40 or it
could take 50 [years] to reach the level of doctors per inhabitants which
we have at the moment.

But our doctors also gain a lot.  They gain in experience, they gain in
prestige and they gain in human qualities.  The doctor who goes and stays 1
year, 1.5 or 2 years learns about all those realities in the world, and he
faces very serious problems.  It is also without a doubt that he is a
professional and a specialist who is later called to perform with greater
efficiency, for the practice of internationalism does not only mean that
others are helped but that by practicing internationalism we also help

Now the concrete example of Cienfuegos. In 1959 there were--already in the
first year of the revolution--92 doctors, and currently...[this says 272]
but I believe there are more. Oh, in the province. Cienfuegos already
has...yes, 272 doctors; that is, approximately 1 doctor for every 1,250
inhabitants. They had 36 stomatologists in 1959 and now [they have] 82.
There is no figure for medical technicians because there were none.
[laughter] Now there are 470 medical technicians. There were three nurses;
three had completed their degrees, correct? They gained their degrees
through their practices. Now there are 385. There were no nurses aides;
today we have 338 in Cienfuegos Province. We had two hospitals; now we have
four. Counting this one. [asking someone on the dais] Counting this one.
Four. But what hospitals. [laughter] We did not have a single
stomatological clinic; now we have seven. We did not have a single
polyclinic; we now have 2...[corrects himself] 12...12?...12. We got mixed
up. We did not have a single rural hospital; now we have four. But in
addition, because of communications, the roads into the Escambray
[Mountains] and to all parts, it is now difficult to tell where one is
going. Is one going to Cienfuegos, is one going to Manicaragua, or to some
other place? Earlier rural hospitals had a much more important role in the
first years because these communications did not exist. It was necessary to
place them in very remote areas. We did not have a single rural dispensary;
we now have nine. No nursing schools; now we have one and one...[speak to
someone in the dais] Yours is not completed yet? The new building. [someone
answers him] Oh yes, of course, because we are no longer talking about
nursing schools. Now we are not building nursing schools, we are now
building health polytechnic institutes. But they have nursing schools in
installations which are not new, while the polytechnic institutes are being
built. But here in Cienfuegos, in precisely this school, they have trained
the vast majority of the nursing personnel and technicians who will be
working in this hospital. They have been trained here. [applause] While the
hospital was being built, the hospital's workers were being trained. We did
not have a single technical school; now we have one. No blood bank; we now
have one. No dental prosthesis laboratory; now we have one. No provincial
hygiene and epidemiology center; now we have one. And there was a medicinal
mineral water spa, and today we have one. [laughter] It is the one at Ciego
Montero. But there is something that was not there before. It is the
bottling plant for Ciego Montero water. [laughter] There was no [bottling
plant] and now we have one. [laughter and applause]

And now to see the situation in Cienfuegos in relation to the figures I
gave earlier for the whole country.  In infant mortality throughout the
country I have already said that in 1978 it was 22.3, while Cienfuegos had
19.9 [applause]  It is below the national figure.  In school-age mortality,
between 1 and 4 years; that is, pre-school age mortality, the national
average is 1.9...[corrects himself] 1.1 per 1,000; in Cienfuegos it is 0.8.
[applause]  School-age mortality, between 5 and 14 years old, nationally is
0.4, while in Cienfuegos it is 0.4.  This is the only figure that is the
same as the national average, while the rest are lower.  And now this
hospital--can I say a little about this hospital?  Now much, not all the
information which I have brought with me, because I have information on
everything--on the equipment, the laundry, the kitchen, everything.
[laughter]  Some essential things.

The total investment cost is 15.5 million pesos.  The civil construction
[cost] is 11.5 million [pesos].  Medical equipment and furniture is 4
million pesos.  It has a total capacity of 616 beds and 24 wards.  And in
addition, it has a different concept.  They are not those big wards. The
wards are divided.

They have cubicles, some for 6 persons and others for 3 persons.  Each
9-bed ward has a bathroom with two showers, two commodes, two washbowls.
Each wing also has one dining area, pantry-dining area, with a capacity for
16 persons; one treatment room; one physician's office; one waiting area
and the nursing station.  Everything has been planned and built in the most
practical, functional and humane manner.

For example, it has 10 operating rooms.  It has 13 x-ray units, which
includes portable and fixed units.  It has 33 physician's, offices.  This
hospital has everything needed.  Some 959 persons will work in it including
physicians, technicians, administrative personnel, services personnel,
workers and nurses.  For example, it will have 249 nurses, and most of
them are already working.  It will have 369 technicians, 128 physicians.  I
cited the case of Ethiopia which for 35 million inhabitants had 125
physicians.  Just this hospital by itself will have 128 physicians of all
specialties, practically.

We can assert that at this time this hospital has the best material
resources in all of Cuba.  [someone in the crowd yells something to Castro]
We will have him taken to the hospital immediately if he is ill.  I hope it
will not be necessary.  Perhaps all he needs is a little fresh air.
[camera focuses on a man being carried by two others]  With a little fresh
air that problem will be solved.  Do you not think so, doctor?  Everything
is fine already.  Is he feeling well already?  Bring him over here and he
can sit down.  [applause]   They are going to take him to the emergency
room.  They can take him through here.  It is better this way.  I am not a
doctor.  If you bring him to the hospital, everything will be solved

I was saying that this hospital has the best facilities in the country at
the present time, the most functional, the most practical, the most
rational.  It is the best equipped hospital in the country.  Three more
similar to this one will be completed this year.  They will have the same
capacity, the same facilities, perhaps the plans will be changed a little.
The one in Tunas, the one in Manzanillo and the third in Guantanamo will be
completed this year.  Presently 18 hospitals are under construction
throughout the country, as well as 23 polyclinics and dental clinics.
There are a number of specialized brigades which are building these
health centers.

All these programs are complemented with the construction of homes for the
aged, handicapped institutions, improving our material resources in public
health.  If the gains we have made are big, doubtlessly in coming
years--even though we have made a great advance--we will continue to make
progress.  We will have more physicians, physicians with greater
experience, and that will improve year after year.  Our medical personnel
will improve its experience and training.  Its efficiency,.  Once we have
this material base completed, it will be possible to continue to improve,
even though it might not be necessary to build more hospitals.  How can be
improve indefinitely?  Limitlessly?  In the quality of medical services.

We will have many physicians.  I have told you that 3,500 to 4,000 students
are registering every year in the school of medicine.  Sometime in the
future the registration will be increased to around 7,000 per year.  Those
physicians will be able to work here and in other countries.  We will never
have an excessive number of physicians.  You do not have to worry about
that.  When we have more, then we will have a physician assigned to each
secondary school, or each school, or each factory, or each merchant
vessel.  Even though we have many physicians, we do not yet have a
physician assigned to each freighter. There are 30 or 40 men aboard them.
They might have a health technician, but not all of them have a physician.
The bigger ships, the large fishing vessels, should have them.  Last but
not least, we could have a physician in each block so that everyone will
have one nearby.  [applause]  We will never have too many.  We will have as
many as needed by us and even by other countries in [the dimension of]
quantity, and in quality we will have better and better physicians.

I repeat that next to each provincial hospital we will have a school of
medicine with a capacity of 1,500 students.  Right here, this hospital will
not remain isolated.  Next to it there will be the dental clinic and nearby
the health polyclinic, over there with a capacity for 800 students to train
as technicians and nurses.  The two things, and some male nurses also.

Men must be given an opportunity.  The poor things--if they are going to
live 2 or 3 years less, we will not discriminate against them.  The
polyclinic will be next to it.  They are thinking of completing it this
year.  I have been told that they will complete the polyclinic this year.
The polytechnical, I made a mistake, pardon me.  [laughter]  Where I said
polyclinic, I meant polytechnical.  [laughter]  It is just that there are
too many poly's.  [laughter]  Polytechnical, polyclinic.  It is the
polytechnical health center.  It will be completed this year.  This complex
will include the home for the handicapped, the home for senior citizens
and, finally, the school of medicine.

The importance of that school of medicine is not only based on the fact
that it will produce doctors, and good doctors, who will acquire all the
experience at this hospital center, but in the fact that the universities
require very well-qualified personnel, professors of a high caliber.
Consequently, having the university next to the hospital will greatly
contribute to the doctors' improvements, stimulate study and contribute to
the accumulation of eminent medical personalities at this school.
Consequently, this will improve the quality of hospital services and result
in an excellent health center for the area. We believe that the future will
be magnificent.

We had to choose a name for the hospital.  I believe we have chosen the
best name.  It is the name of a doctor who has passed away.  He was
distinguished in his specialty.  But not only was he a man of great
qualities and great revolutionary stature who was Mella's and Villena's
comrade, and distinguished in the specialty of the struggle against
tuberculosis, he was also a man of great intellectual prestige and great
scientific, revolutionary and human qualities who died in recent years.
He was able to see the victory of the revolution and the cause for which he
had struggled for a long time.  He is Gustavo Alderebia Lima.  [long
applause]  Nothing is fairer than remembering him with this project, and
nothing more honorable for the personnel who will work in this institution.

Now that we have this marvel, which will be put to use immediately,
starting with out-patient consultation, it is up to the hospital
leaders--the doctors, nurses, technicians and workers--to make the hospital
a marvel concerning quality of services and hospital maintenance.
[applause]  We have news of the enthusiasm and interest of all those who
have been assigned to this center.  In addition to being a center of great
importance because of the benefits and services it will provide to the
people of Cienfuegos, this center is also an important work center for
approximately 1,000 persons.  It represents 1,000 new jobs for the
Cienfuegos community.  [applause]

You know how difficult it was to create a job before.  This one center
represents approximately 1,000 positions--an honorable and truly beautiful
project. This hospital represents a lot of security for the people of
Cienfuegos and families throughout the province--security and tranquillity
because they know that any health problem they have will be treated in an
optimum way at this center for the children,men, women, the young and the
old.  The doctors, nurses and technicians must be asked to treat each
patient as if he were a son [applause], a brother, a husband or a parent.
It is with this sentiment, and not only as parent, son, wife, brother but
as a good parent, good son, good wife or husband and good son [as heard]
[cheers, applause] [words indistinct] follows with that principle in mind,
because it is not just any job.  I believe that one must work with maximum
responsibility in everything, as a teacher, [word indistinct] as an
example, or as a worker in a factory or handling a piece of equipment or a
machine.  The maximum must be done.  But there is nothing more sensitive
than matters which concern health.  An error in another field is an error,
and it is regretable, but errors in health care must always be avoided.

Those who come to this hospital for care need attention, trust, security,
[word indistinct], solidarity and a fraternal spirit.

In all these instances, which are never forgotten, a person who is sick or
needs hospital care or a person who needs it for his son, his parents or
any close relative is most appreciative of the treatment given to that
relative at the hospital.  [applause]  Human beings always remember and
appreciate the attention received under those circumstances.

I must not forget a fact which demonstrates the enthusiasm of the people of
Cienfuegos and the conscientious ability of these people in solving
problems. The type of bed which this hospital has is new.  Other hospitals
do not have them.  All beds are "fowler" beds and they all have...folder?
That is correct, thank you.  [apparently corrected by someone] [laughter]
Folder, the doctor had already told me folder and I thought he was wrong
and the one who was wrong was I.  [laughter]  Folder beds, I repeat, so I
will not forget, and also hydraulic beds because they are raised, lowered
and folded if you want to make your feet comfortable or raise your head,
because one probably gets tired of lying down still and wants to do that,
although one does not need to especially.  They all have wheels--if X-rays
have to be taken or anything else. The doctors felt that they were the best
kind of beds, the optimum kind for the sick.

But they were coming from abroad, and we had the problem that we have these
hospitals, plus the ones to be built.  We wondered:  Could we have these
beds here?  Would it be so difficult to build this hydraulic equipment
here?  Could it be so difficult?

It was then that Comrade Humberto, the comrades of the hospital said:  No,
we have a hydraulic equipment factory here, the Jose Gregorio Martinez
factory [words indistinct] [applause]

They decided to try.  This was only a few weeks ago.  They decided to try.
It was with great pleasure and satisfaction that today we were able to see
samples of these beds manufactured in this factory.  [applause]

These beds even have improvements.  They have wooden parts, plywood and
plastic.  Now they tell me that it is plywood with formica--I was listening
to keep myself from making another mistake.  [laughter]  Some beds are made
with plastic, others with plywood of various colors.  However, no one who
goes [to the factory] can distinguish between an imported bed and a bed
made by us; he cannot. These beds even have improvements, because the
hydraulic equipment in the imported beds is sealed.  If it breaks, then we
have to take it out and ask for parts by means of telegrams, airplanes,
ships or I do not know what, without knowing when it will arrive, and every
year we have to spend our foreign exchange on this.

The mechanisms of the beds are also weak.  Some are already broken.
However, the mechanism in these beds has been built with stronger material.
When one of the mechanisms failed, we found ourselves with a bed less, or
with a bed that was not so efficient as it should be.  Now we have the
advantage that we have here a factory that can solve these problems
speedily.  And as I said, they do not have a sealed unit, but a chargeable
unit that operates with nitrogen.  Once the nitrogen is used, in our
patent.... [thought left unfinished] because we may have to patent this so
that they will not say that we have copied their bed.  We have introduced
technological advances, and may be the Dutch who sold us the beds may say
that we are disregarding their patent. But no, this is a Cienfuegos patent.
There are nitrogen refills.  This is with regard to hospital maintenance.

Ah!  If we could do the same thing with everything!  But we have to do it.
That is our problem.  We have to learn how to do things.  We have to
develop our mechanical industry.  We have to learn how to build whatever
equipment we need.  I am not talking about a four-motor plane, because it
takes a big country to do that.  However, there are many other things.
Look at this hydraulic equipment.  Can you imagine a folder bed of our
own?  [laughter]  What if we had to import the hydraulic equipment, to
import everything?  How much would it cost us?

We do not have the money for all that.  What is the price of this type of
imported bed?  Approximately 450 pesos.  We bought this one a little
cheaper, but you know that prices go up.  Sometimes we have to buy a number
of these beds at about 450 pesos for each bed, but you know how much the
material needed to make this type of bed costs?  Forty-two pesos!
One-tenth [of the price of the bed].  This means that if we learn how to
build things here--even if we have to import the materials--things would
cost us one-tenth of the price of the finished product.  All we would have
to do is do the work, and we do have good reserves in this regard.  We
could work an additional half-hour or hour.  We could work 8 instead of 6
or 7 hours.  You know that there are some people who do not work 8 hours.

And many women and the young people studying in our polytechnical
schools--not in our polyclinics, but our polytechnicals--and in our
technical schools can join the work.  Many schools can be built.  Our
educational level is already fantastic.  Why can't we work with metals?
What would keep us from learning how to operate lathes and machines?
Things are done with lathes and machines.

The comrades of Cienfuegos deserve our congratulations, especially the
workers of this factory [applause], the Jose Gregorio Martinez factory, to
workers, technicians and leaders of the factors, since the group worked as
innovators.  You hear about innovators and you wonder:  What do they do?
Well, look, they do this type of thing:  They solve problems.  We have to
keep on that path.  We also have to congratulate Comrade Humberto and the
comrades of this province for the speed with which they responded to these
problems.  [applause]

This will allow us, in a relatively economical way, to equip new
hospitals, those under construction for which we have not bought beds.  We
have bought beds for some, but for others we have not.  We should begin to
think how to economically introduce this type of bed, which doctors feel is
very adequate, in all our hospitals.  If we were to use them in all our
hospitals, how many would we need?  Approximately 50,000.  Therefore, we
have the need for them, the market, the workers and the intelligence to
solve this problem, which is no more than one example--one example.  It is
also nice to build sugarcane combines.  They are not bad; they are good.
WE have only one factory of sugarcane combines.  WE are already making
hundreds of parts for that factory.  We will make a special effort this
year.  The parts for next year are already being made so that a machine
will never stop because it lacks a part.  We imported all these parts
before, all of them.

Our mechanical industry is already producing. Many other fields are also
doing so, but I gave this example of how problems can and must be solved.
The day will come when we will be able to make much of this important
medical and laboratory equipment. We will start by buying the parts and
assembling them here, and then we will make them. It is a tragedy that it
is very expensive equipment. It may cost tens of millions of dollars. If it
lacks one part, the equipment is stuck, and we have to go get it very far
away. In addition, the part may be delayed or maybe they cannot find it,
and sometimes they change the design and no longer make the part. We must
learn to solve all these problems.

We are under the impression that things are going well in Cienfuegos.
The sugar harvest is going well.  They are saving oil, a lot of oil, at
the sugar mills.  [applause]  The economic significance of it is
tremendous, considering what oil is worth and the price that it has.  They
are already giving us the watchword for next year:  Not using fuel for the
sugar harvest.  This is what Cuba uses the least, a minimum.  But how is it
that there are those who go around with 1 and 1/2 gallon or even 2 and are
proposing almost a half gallon for the next sugar harvest?  It is a good
thing we are near the hospital.  [laughter]  But you can already see a
minimum figure here.  The people are proposing the watchword to reduce
consumption to zero during the next sugar harvest.

Cienfuegos has also introduced certain technological innovations in the
sugar mills, such as the mill which increases the tank capacity and other
innovations--some invented here, others gathered from world experience and
applied here with very interesting results.

The cement factory is progressing rapidly.  It will be the largest in Cuba.
They will complete this year [words indistinct] and the third one next
year.  A tremendous factory!  It will have a production capacity of twice
as much cement as that produced in Cuba before the revolution--from 1.6
million to 1.8 million [tons].  Didn't you know that!  Oh, that is because
I can see your startled faces.  I wonder:  Could it be that the people of
Cienfuegos do not know what they are doing here?  You already have a good
wheat mill.  [applause]  And next month, there will be no ceremony but we
will have a visitor and we will have a quick tour [applause] to inaugurate
the factory for the manufacture or irrigation pipes.  [applause]

This means that the news from Cienfuegos is good news.  I will not repeat
what I have told you other times, my appreciation for the working spirit,
enthusiasm and revolutionary awareness of the people of Cienfuegos. But you
are going to create a problem for me.  [applause]  You will create a
problem.  People will say that I come to Cienfuegos a lot and do not go to
other places.  The other places are a little farther away.  [laughter]  Not
every place is so close, because when we came to Cienfuegos from Havana....

For example, I am remembering a GRANMA newsman, an article he wrote about
one time when I was a student and came through here--not came through, but
was to come here to an event at the Cienfuegos institute.  I told him that
I was not even allowed to participate in the event because I was arrested
immediately.  [laughter] [words indistinct]  Well, at the time you had to
go around who knows where.  I think you had to come.  That was a long time
ago, I would like to say.... [laughter]  You had to come through the
central narrow, small highway called the Central Highway and then go
through Matanzas, Jovellanos, Colon to arrive at Esperanza.  You had to get
to Esperanza.  Esperanza, no?  Or La Esperanza?  Is it La or Esperanza?
How is it?  [audience replies "La."]

Well, you had to get there and then take the other small road until you
got here.  How many hours was it?  I think that time--and then no meeting
or anything--after approximately 6 and 1/2 hours [word indistinct]
[laughter] or more to get to Cienfuegos.  How many hours does it take now?
Two and 1/4 hours, and do not think I came by plane.  Do not think I came
by plane.  You get to Cienfuegos from Havana almost faster by car than by
plane, because you have to go to the airport.  [laughter, applause]  You
leave directly and should make no turns on the road.  If you come by plane,
you have to go to the airport, take the plane, wait for the plane, wait for
it to take off, arrive, land and then take another car or whatever at the
airport [words indistinct] 2 and 1/4 hours from Havana.  [words indistinct]
along the road.  It has six lanes.  It has many lanes, and a half of the
road has been asphalted, up to Santa Clara and [word indistinct] but still,
well you get to Cienfuegos faster than to Pinar del Rio on this road.  You
get to Santa Clara faster, but, for example, [place indistinct] is still
far away.  For this reason, there are many [word indistinct] in Cienfuegos.
The visitors want to come to Cienfuegos.  In fact, I hope the others do not
get upset because of that.  [applause]

I like to tour projects, the factories, and whenever I can, I take a little
trip, not only to Cienfuegos, to other places, too.  Unfortunately, you
know how institutionalized it is, and we have many meetings and little
time.  But it is not that we have forgotten anybody.

I have nothing else to say, nothing more.  [laughter]  Something is
missing, you know!  Nobody has said anything about the workers who built
the hospital.  Nobody has said anything.

We had almost forgotten them, despite the fact that they have built the
best hospital project we have seen, exquisitely finished. They worked hard.
In fact, it is the first hospital concluded out of all that were started at
the same time.  [applause]  They have done an excellent job, of great
quality, and we are quite pleased that they will now proceed to build the
stomatological clinic, the polytechnic of health [laughter]  The home of
the handicapped.

But where is the maternity hospital?  [laughter]  They are telling me that
they are going to install it at the present clinical hospital.  They are
really going to have a specialized hospital.  It must be given a paint job,
so that it will look pretty.  Yes, it appears they are going to really fix
up the hospital.

It is satisfying to know the projects that are to be made here, including
the school.  Yes, they are going to build a school, also, although their
brigade is not for educational projects, but for hospital projects.  Of
course, they can lend a hand, too.

What changes have you made in the pediatric hospital?  [laughter]  Oh, you
do not have a pediatric hospital?  They tell me they are planning to build
a module of 300 beds here for the pediatric hospital.  [applause] They are
planning it.  It does not mean it is already a sure thing.  It is merely
their proposal.  There may be a better one.  However, we can see they are
thinking about it.  I hope you admit there has been some advance here.
There may be a few things missing yet, but I think you have hopes, right?
Then there should be no problem.

We want to express our recognition and gratitude to the workers who built
this beautiful project, and we hope it will be a symbol, that this hospital
will be a symbol of health, life, and the happiness of the citizens of
Cienfuegos.  Fatherland or death, we will win.  [applause]