Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Moscow KOMMUNIST in Russian No 8, May 80 pp 93-100

[Talk between Fidel Castro Ruz and a group of Soviet journalists on 19
January 1961]

[Text] Between December 1960 and January 1961 the first delegation
of Soviet journalists--representing PRAVDA, IZVESTIYA, TASS and
the radio and television--visited Cuba and participated in the
celebration of the second anniversary of the Cuban revolution.
They met with Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, prime minister of the
Cuban Revolutionary Government, who spoke of the
economic-political situation and the prospects for the country's
development. At that time the circumstances were quite tense: The
United States had broken relations with Cuba and was threatening
direct aggression.

The meeting between the Soviet journalists and Comrade Fidel
Castro took place on 19 January 1961 on a small island in the area
of Cienaga de Zapata. The prime minister came from the mountain
area of Escambray, where units of the people's militia were
eliminating counter-revolutionary gangs operating in the

The talk was recorded and the minutes were given to the
journalists by the prime minister's office. All guests
participated in the talk. For the sake of convenience, however, it
was presented as though a single journalist who, speaking Spanish,
was asking Comrade Fidel Castro questions and translated his
answers. Subsequently, only part of the talk was used by the
journalists in their publications.

Today, 19 years later, when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of
the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union
and Cuba, the publication of the text of this talk is of
unquestionable interest to our readers. It shows how accurate
Comrade Fidel Castro's predictions were, and how well confirmed
they were by history.

It is necessary to point out that today U.S. imperialism has once
again resumed its bankrupt policy of threats, provocations and
blackmail toward Cuba, once again heating up tension in the
Caribbean. In this connection as well it would be useful to recall
some details from the past.

Journalist: I have two questions. The first: Could describe to us briefly
the current political circumstances in Cuba? The second question is
somewhat romantic: Could you tell us what Cuba will become in three or four
years unless there is not aggression?

Castro: We consider the political circumstances with great optimism. You
have in mind domestic policy, is that not so?

Journalist: Yes.

Castro: Very well. The revolution enjoys very great support among the
people. Above all, it is supported by the absolute, virtually unanimous
majority of the working people.

The working people could not play a decisive role in overthrowing the
tyranny. During the war, geographic and military reasons led to failures in
the face of a tyrannical military machinery. For this reason we had to
begin the struggle in rural areas. Most cruel repressions were taking place
in the cities and the active participation of the working people was quite
limited by the severe political persecution of the working class.
Nevertheless, the full victory of the revolution was made possible.

Imperialism was unable to maneuver. It tried to replace Batista. The
working class, which supported the revolution through a general strike,
defeated all maneuvers and the power shifted into the hands of the rebel
army. Subsequently, in the course of the further process of strengthening
and development of the revolution, the role of the working class proved

It was very difficult to consolidate the revolution and to surmount all
obstacles created by the interference of imperialism on our shores. This
stage was more difficult than that of seizing the power. Today the
revolution relies mainly on the support of the working people--workers and

The peasant population may be classified, to a greater of lesser extent,
into the following basic categories: members of cooperatives, workers in
people's farms, and small farmers. The agricultural and fishing
cooperatives, which rally about 140,000 peasant families, are giving the
revolution their firmest support. The living conditions of 200,000 families
of workers in the people's farms have been exceptionally improved. For
example, in the Pueblo de los Pinos, El Rosario, and El Corojal farms, all
families have many amenities: housing with electric lighting and everything
else, as well as a high income. This is a major force in the countryside
supporting the revolution.

Finally, Cuba has about 100,000 families of small farmers. They rented the
land and were exploited by the landowners. They benefited from the
revolution: They no longer have to pay rent. Furthermore, this year we
shall give them loans totaling 80,000 pesos. Such loans will be given to 80
percent of the small, poor farmers.

Cooperatives have been created essentially in centers for the production of
sugar cane. The production of meat, poultry, hogs, milk, rice, cotton and
other crops, and of food products is essentially in the hands of the
people's farms.

The groups I mentioned--members of cooperatives, workers in people's farms
and small farmers--account for 90-about-95 percent of the Cuban rural
population. The policy pursued by the revolutionary government is providing
these groups with substantial direct benefits.

For example, you visited the Mansanillo Fishing Cooperative. These
fishermen lived in small unhygienic huts earning a marginal and very poor
living. . . . I do not know whether you saw their old homes. Currently 506
homes have been built. All fishermen's families have their houses with
their electric light, they have schools, water, boats, stores. . . . They
have all this. The conditions in which they previously lived are totally
different from the present ones.

Journalist: We visited the area and it appeared to us to be quite
comfortable and healthy.

Castro: We are adopting measures concerning the fishermen in other
settlements as well. In April we shall hold a big fishing festival in the
Mansanillo Fishing Cooperative. We shall gather all fishermen from all
fishing cooperatives to show them the way they will live.

Fish production rose 25 percent in one year. Better fish purchase prices
were set and all fishermen are employed. This year the fish catch will

Understandably, these fishermen who lived in a state of great poverty,
neglected by everyone, are ready to sacrifice their lives for the

You probably visited several cooperatives and settlements. For example, did
you visit the settlements near Mansanillo, in the area of the rice paddies?
Were you there?

Journalist: Yes.

Castro: Did you see the settlements under construction in Mansanillo? Did
you visit Grarima, Bartoloma Maso, and the people's farms? Did you?

Journalist: Yes.

Castro: Housing is being built in the people's farms along with schools and
hospitals similar to those you saw. All these workers lived in very poor
huts, in great poverty. They had no jobs. Today their jobs are guaranteed.
Look: Wages as stipulated by the law, free housing, free electric light,
free water, free medical aid, and free medicines; the clothing, shoes, and
food of their children attending school will also be free, paid by the
national economy. I shall later explain to you what a people's farm is.

Did you see along the way the Camilo Cienfuegos Cooperative?

Its workers have today or will have everything which the landowners had in
the past. In the past only in the home of a landowner could a bathtub,
water and a toilet be found. The landowner alone had a cement-built house.
The children of the landowner alone attended good schools and the landowner
alone used the sports stadiums and the entertainment facilities.

Journalist: Could we say that the Cuban working people will enjoy the same
living conditions as those of the landowners?

Castro: Today all this goes to the workers. If you have seven children of
school age, your children will receive shoes and food. In all cases,
whatever the number of children, the wages of large families will be
adequate. The people's farms have medicines, physicians, everything.

Do you think that these workers who will live the way the landowners lived
would allow him to convince them to abandon all this? Will they begin to
fight for the American companies, for their return? Will they ask for the
return of the landowners?

Journalist: They told us that, "Only when we are dead." "We shall fight to
the death."

Castro: Well, you see, for example, this place, Cienaga de Zapata.
Thousands of charcoal-making families lived in the area between Cienaga and
the sea. They had no transportation and the buyers purchased their charcoal
at very low prices. They had no teachers, physicians, housing or stores.
Today they have roads, they have teachers and physicians, and they sell
their charcoal at triple the price, since there is no middleman. They pay
for their goods at very low prices. They too will have housing.

Many of their children work in tourist centers. In the past this was an
entirely neglected area. Today it is visited by tens of thousands of
people. Do you believe that these charcoal makers will fight for the
interest of Americans and landowners?

Here, on the island, there were 120,000 workers employed in the big estates
and the sugarcane plantations, working three to four months a year, hungry,
unemployed for months, and, when the sugarcane harvest began, their
indebtedness was equal to their earnings from the new crop. They had no
land to plant food crops and neither they nor their children ever had milk.

Today these 120,000 families are the owners of the sugarcane. They have
land for planting their crops. Each cooperative has over 100 milk cows. All
cooperatives have milk and cooperatives offer steady employment. Many areas
in sugarcane, previously unharvested, will be harvested now. The landowners
kept 150,000 hectares of land in sugarcane as a reserve, not harvesting it.
This year the sugarcane of these 150,000 hectares as well will be harvested
and the land will be used to plant corn and food crops. The cooperatives
will be given loans to purchase machinery and for the construction of
housing, to be repaid out of their profits.

The life of the worker in such cooperatives has changed radically. In the
past he was subjected to the excesses of the managers, soldiers, and
merchants. He was constantly humiliated and lived in constant fear. Today
this man is walking with his rifle, no one tricks him, nobody steals from
him, his children have teachers, they drink milk, he has year-round
employment and will have a home. Do you believe that such cooperatives
would support or defend American landed estates?

The small farmers paid for the land leased 30, 20 or 10 percent of their
output. Those who lived in the mountains could neither read nor write. They
had no teachers. Today there are many teachers throughout the mountains. We
are building hospitals in all mountain areas and will be giving work loans
to everyone.

Previously that same peasant had no working capital with which to harvest
his crops. He would come down from the mountain to the valley, work for one
peso a day, buy salt, fat, sugar and vegetables, such as manioc and
caladium, would go back and work the rest of the week planting coffee and
cocoa trees.

However, such trees produce fruits only each three to four years; at the
end of the week, he would go back to the valley, once again work for a peso
a day, and go back. Finishing the planting of cocoa or coffee trees on his
plot, the plot would quite frequently be taken away from him.

As of this year, that same peasant has begun to earn 40 pesos monthly,
credited to him for four years. In four years, once the coffee and cocoa
crop is harvested, he will undertake the repayment of the loan. He may
remain at his place the entire time, without going to the valley to earn a
peso a week. Do you believe that such a peasant would defend the interests
of imperialism and the landowners?

Who is left? A handful of landowners and merchants--middlemen--political
agents who had sinecures, the rural policeman, the managers and no one
else. They have not enough power to oppose the revolution. Their policy was
quite clear and the present benefits are entirely obvious and noticeable.
They cannot fail to attract the broad masses of our countryside, the young
people, the thousands and thousands of young people belonging to the poor
strata, whom we are training, organizing, and sending to school with

In the past the poor could not attend the university. Now they have
university scholarships. This is yet another force entirely loyal to the

All urban families paid quite high house rentals, consuming one-third of
their income. The revolutionary government lowered the rents by one-half
and gave the right to the people to purchase their own homes and no longer
pay rent. In five years most of them will no longer be renting.

In the past a family did not dare even to drive a nail in the house. This
was forbidden by its owner. The tenant was unwilling to pay for breakdowns
and the landlord was not willing to do so. Now everyone is pleased. Should
a family decide to add a room to the house, it may do so. All repairs or
improvements are allowed. The income previously paid to the landlord is now
paid to the state to build more homes for homeless families.

All these families are quite pleased. Do you think that they would begin to
fight for having their rent doubled once again or be expelled from their

As you may see, in all areas the working class is fully supporting the
revolution. The peasants are giving their full support to the revolution
and so are the young people. What could imperialism rely on in fighting the
revolution? It could rely on disorganized and demoralized people. In our
country, however, the people are organized, brimming with moral spirit and
armed to the teeth.

A very good political circumstance has developed.

Something I have forgotten. . . . There are 50,000 children attending
school in premises previously housing barracks. Furthermore, this year
there will be no single illiterate person left in Cuba.

Blacks account for a considerable share of the Cuban population.
Previously, the Cuban blacks were not hired in factories. Black teachers
were not given premises to teach in or allowed access to beaches. Blacks
could work only as cooks and servants. Today all black teachers are
employed and all young blacks can attend any kind of school. All black
workers can work in any factory. A black worker could be employed in any
institution or go to any beach. Discrimination has been eliminated. Do you
think that this Cuban black will begin to fight for imperialism, the
landowners and racial discrimination?

Landowners and exploiters considered the Cuban woman an object for the
satisfaction of their whims. Today the Cuban woman has rights. The women
have their own organizations and can engage in any type of activity. They
work in factories, have access to everything, and enjoy social equality.
Would the women begin to fight for the imperialists and landowners?

No one in Cuba, with the exception of a privileged minority, would like the
restoration of the previous order in the country. The power of the
revolution is strong, quite strong, and the people have full confidence in
the future. The prejudices and lies disseminated by imperialism for many
years through the movies, newspapers, journals, television, cultural
institutions and puppet shows, and advertising have been eliminated. Let me
tell you this: If after 50 years of lies imperialism was unable to prevent
the Cuban people from finding the truth and understanding it, how could
imperialism now, when it has neither newspapers, radio stations, journals,
news agencies, cultural organizations, puppet shows or motion pictures, how
could imperialism make the people believe the lies it spreads?

Most of the landowners have fled. Most of the big industrialists have fled.
Most of the big merchants have fled. Most of the members of the
intelligentsia serving imperialism have fled as well. Finally, the American
Embassy with all its spies has gone home. Imperialism has been left no
facilities here. Today the positions of imperialism are quite weak. Here
imperialism cannot have at its disposal institutions such as a professional
army, which was frequently used to secure the power and rout the people.
There is no military caste headed by American officers. There is no
military mission. The professional army has been destroyed. Imperialism has
no means for promoting a coup d'etat, for it has no weapons for changing
the domestic political situation. Imperialism is helpless in Cuba.

Journalist: Everything we saw in the course of our trip around the island
is entirely consistent with everything you have told us. Our general view
entirely coincides with what you have told us.

Castro: I tried to allow no exaggeration. Everything we said could suggest
what our country will become in four to five years. We are already
beginning to experience manpower shortages.

Therefore, the problem of unemployment will disappear entirely. Agriculture
will be developed rapidly. How? Through machines which we shall receive
from the Soviet Union and the socialist countries. This year we shall use
in agriculture another 4,000 tractors purchased from the socialist
countries. This year we have already begun to build the first factories
also purchased from the socialist countries.

This year we shall harvest the entire sugarcane crop, since the socialist
countries have guaranteed us a market for four million tons of sugar. This
will enable us to do the following: The land allocated for sugarcane, which
is very good, will be used in the future not only for the maximum planting
and harvesting of this crop, but also for making our agriculture more
comprehensive. This means that agriculture will offer year-round
employment, for having harvested one crop we shall plant another. In the
past we grew sugarcane almost exclusively. After it was harvested there was
no more work for the people in the rural areas.

Now we intend to reorganize our agriculture using the latest
accomplishments. We plan to mechanize it. Thus, for example, we have
enrolled 1,000 peasants in a school to learn artificial cattle
insemination, so that, in six months, all herds in the people's
cooperatives may be artificially inseminated. We shall do this above all
with purebred cows raised for beef and milk, selecting the best breeds.

We shall plant millions of fruit trees to give us a tremendous quantity of
tropical fruits for export. Thus agriculture, which always been the basis
of our economy, will be given exceptionally good development possibilities.

We shall work among the small farmers, who as I pointed out previously
received no assistance whatever; yet, with the help we shall give them,
they will be able to increase output a very great deal.

With the help of specialists from the USSR and other socialist countries,
implementing the work of our planning workers, we intend to formulate and
implement a broad industrialization program.

Now we are trying to insure the maximum utilization of production
capacities in industry. We have reached in Cuba a maximum level of output
and maximum level of employment. Some enterprises employed 100 workers
before the revolution and 600 now.

We have already begun to implement a program for the training of
technicians. Currently 6,000 students are undergoing technical training.

Journalist: Where do these students live?

Castro: In the houses of the big landowners, in the best districts of our
city, in houses which now belong to the revolutionary government. In
particular, we have placed 6,000 in the beautiful Cubanacan residential

They are attending workshops and classrooms in the premises of country
clubs. Now these young people will live in houses located at a shorter
distance. Had we had to build all this anew, it would have cost us over 50
million pesos. Without spending a single centavo, we shall have the most
beautiful academy of fine arts in the world. This represents proper use of
invested capital.

Even though I would not like to expand on this topic, I must say that
currently we are setting up 200 centers for the retraining of house
servants in Havana. Throughout the country we are creating 200 children's
circles and the same number of circles for workers' education. We have many
other such plans.

The revolution has a great organizing power. Now the people are directly
participating in the implementation of various plans and achieving the
objectives with a lesser amount of energy and lesser resources. The point
is that the revolution gave them a major impetus. The revolution in which a
constant and ever-growing is being added, leads to the fact that the
impetus is becoming ever stronger, regardless of our lack of past
experience. When we came down from the mountains we immediately plunged
into the very thick of this entire set of problems. We felt like being in
the midst of a forest full of all kinds of treacherous surprises. However,
we knew our forest well and we plunged into it. Over the past two years we
have learned something and found out a great deal. In revolutionary times
the people learn faster than at any other time. Furthermore, we can use
everything you, in the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries, have
learned. To us this is a great lesson.

Furthermore, we have now realized that there is no force in Latin America
which could block the revolution. I am certain of this.

Journalist: We heard your speech at the United Nations and we know that you
worked very hard writing it. Our question is, were you able to take a brief
rest back from the UN General Assembly?

Castro: How so to rest?

Journalist: To rest, physically to rest.

Castro: So far the Americans have not given me the chance to rest.
Actually, when would we be able to rest, really to rest?

Journalist: When we win our victory. The sooner the better.

Castro: When Latin America will be free from imperialism and imperialism

Journalist: We are presenting you with a book. We have been told that you
already have a copy of it. However, this is a special edition. Its author
dedicates it to his readers, and we as readers would like to present you
with it--its author. Here is the dedication, signature and date.

Castro: Well. I must tell you that I feel quite flattered by the fact that
these speeches were published in the Russian language and . . .

Journalist: And are enjoying great popularity.

Castro: This is a reward to us, an honor given us--to know that we have so
many friends in the Soviet Union interested in our revolution. I regret
that these speeches are not very good. I hope to be able to improve them.

Journalist: Allow us to present you with a bust of Lenin. Were you to put
it on your desk . . .

Castro: I already have such a bust, but I shall place this one here, in the
best location.

I have come to admire Lenin more and more with every passing day. The more
we learn about his life and activities, and in general about him, the
better we understand the nature of the revolution and of all the great
difficulties which he had to surmount. Above all I admire Lenin for his
accomplishments and his legacy.

Whenever I see an approaching Soviet tanker I think of Lenin. Whenever I
see a Soviet tractor shipped to us, I think of Lenin. Whenever I see a
Soviet truck, I think of Lenin. Whenever we receive something from the
Soviet Union we think of Lenin and feel our gratitude toward him.

As a student I always kept a book by Lenin on hand. When we attacked the
Moncada Barracks, we carried with us books by Lenin. During the trial they
showed us these books as proof of the charges, to shame us. The tyrants
asked me whether I had a book by Lenin? I answered that I did, that this
was a book by Lenin and it was our book, that we read Lenin, and that
whoever does not read Lenin is an ignorant person.

We have always been very interested in Lenin's works and in the midst of
the revolution they are of even greater interest to us.

Recently I reread Reed's book "Ten Days Which Shook the World." I read it
during the revolution, not as in the past, not as I had read it before the
revolution. The reading of this book triggered a definite desire to learn
more about what took place in the Soviet Union in order to better
understand a great deal of what took place in our country.

Journalist: We believe that you read Lenin well.

Castro: Thank you very much.

Journalist: In order not to imitate American journalists in this matter we
have decided to let you take a brief rest.

Castro: We could continue tomorrow . . .

Journalist: We would be quite grateful and pleased.

Castro: Now we could take pictures.

Journalist: Very well. Do you have a message to the Soviet people?

Castro: Well. Yet . . . the point is that it is very difficult to find
words to express the entire sympathy and gratitude we feel for the Soviet
people. I cannot express all this with words.

Journalist: In turn, we could say that the Soviet people feel a profound
love for the Cuban people and are sympathetically following the development
of the Cuban revolution. All of us, Soviet journalists present here, intend
to write a great deal about the life of the Cuban people since the victory
of the revolution.

Castro: Very well. In turn, we are very pleased that the Soviet people are
feeling this love for us, for the Cuban people. This is a great love which
could compared only to the one we feel for you.

Journalist: In conclusion, we would like to wish you the best for the
success of new Cuba in all fields of life.

Castro: Thank you very much. I too would like to send greetings to the
Soviet people and confirm my wish to have the possibility to visit the
Soviet Union soon and to see everything you have been able to accomplish.

Journalist: You will be welcomed with all this love you deserve.

Castro: Thank you very much.

Journalist: Thank you very much for your kindness.