Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL112253 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 2141 GMT 11 Jan 81

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at inauguration of hospital in
Manzanillo, Granma Province--live]

[Text] Compatriots of Manzanillo and Granma. [applause] I do not know how
the microphones or loudspeakers are working. I have heard that they cannot
be heard over there. You still cannot hear? [crowd shouts "Yes"] Well, I am
going to ask the ones who cannot hear that they maintain discipline,
particularly on that little corner over there [Castro points to his right].
Let them wait to read the speech in the newspaper tomorrow or the day after
tomorrow. But let us maintain order. Are you not saying that you are going
to organize and join the territorial troops militia? [shouts of "Yes"] Well
then, let us behave as militiamen of the territorial troops. [applause]

We finally have had the satisfaction of inaugurating this magnificent
hospital project. If you like, I could begin by recalling some of the
history of public health here in Granma; or in Bayamo, for example, which
already had a hospital in 1514 but it advanced little since then. In 1958,
it only had the Milanes General Hospital with 65 beds and 5 doctors to take
care of a population of more than 140,000.

A similar situation existed in Manzanillo with its Caimari Hospital which
was receiving a budget from the state of only 7,000 pesos annually and the
rundown civilian hospital which likewise was receiving a meager budget.

There were some private clinics in both cities. Those clinics, a total of
11, were better equipped but inaccessible to the great masses of poor
people who found it financially impossible to resort to that horrible
medical market.

If this was occurring in the province's two principal cities, the situation
in the rural areas--which had the largest land surface and population--was
much more disastrous since, in addition to a few isolated doctors without
resources, there was only a small number of beds in Niquero, Charco Redondo
and Jiguani. The total number of beds was around 40. The number of
qualified dental personnel was 39, who also were concentrated in the
principal cities and devoted to private practice.

There existed practically no technical graduate personnel in any specialty.
Empirically trained personnel were used but in small numbers.

Prevention activities were nil since there only existed the public health
headquarters which primarily were concerned with false sanitation and
epidemiological measures for the purpose of obtaining gains from merchants,
foodstuff sellers and so forth.

Vaccination was practically unknown, and if some doctors practiced it, they
did it with the well-off sector of the population which could pay. To cite
an example, polio immunization cost 15 pesos. Most of the doctors practiced
general medicine. In other words, they took care of all patients regardless
of sex, age or illness. Most of the cases were taken care of by means of
surgical treatment which was the most profitable, even if there was no
justification for surgery. In other words, sometimes they performed
operations for business when there was no need for the operations.

Actually, there were no specialized hospital services, auxiliary diagnostic
resources or any quality, even for those who paid for the services of
private clinics.

As a result of the dramatic realities I have pointed out, of the total
abandonment of the peasant population and town and city workers, and for
the extraordinary contribution which the people of these regions--and very
especially the peasants of Sierra Maestra--made to the revolutionary
struggle, the revolution made a special effort to improve the health
conditions of both regions, beginning with the creation of the rural
medical service in 1959 and through the construction of numerous hospitals
and rural dispensaries and establishment of medical stations in the most
isolated areas.

Eleven rural hospitals and more than 16 dispensaries have been built and
more than 40 doctors were assigned to rural areas. Actually, public health
was practically nonexistent and it was absolutely lacking in the rural
areas. Special attention also was given to the existing hospital services
in both cities. The Milanes General Hospital in Bayamo was expanded with a
pediatric ward. The general hospital was inaugurated in Manzanillo and the
Caimari Hospital was expanded and modified, thereby increasing the number
of beds and services.

A noteworthy effort was made with auxiliary diagnostic resources and a
notable improvement was reached with them as a result of the
nationalization of the private clinics, which resulted in the assignment of
numerous specialists and doctors. To this was added the integral
improvement of all health services of a preventive and treatment nature and
the extraordinary integral network which the revolution created and

Some comparative data should be highlighted which reflect the growing
development of public health in this province since 1959 to date. The total
population of this province is 735,735. And from what I can see, a
considerable part of them are here this afternoon, although only the city
of Manzanillo was mobilized. The population of ages 0 to 14 is 278,729. Its
surface, just in case some of you do not know it, is 8,457 sq km. It has a
population density of 87 inhabitants per sq km. There are many of us.
Doctors: Through out the province there were 109 doctors, and only 16
worked part-time in the hospitals of the state. There were 16 doctors
providing public health service for the state. And everything else was
private practice. We currently have [in the province] 420 doctors and all
of them working for the people. [applause]

In 1958 were 39 dentists, practically all in private practice. There are
121 at present and all of them are working for the people. [applause]
Nursing personnel in the province: There were 20 in 1958. In 1980, there
were 1,052, [applause] 427 nurses and 625 nursing aides. Middle level
technicians excluding nurses: There were 10 in the whole province. In 1980,
there were 769. [applause]

The total beds in medical assistance units, including hospitals, makeshift
clinics [timbiriches], private clinics, the whole lot--there were 513. Of
these, 255 were state owned. In 1980, there were 2,672 beds. [applause]
Births in institutions: 10 percent in 1958, 98.8 percent in 1980.
[applause] You know that even the peasant women who live in the furthest
reaches of the Sierra come to the hospital to give birth. That is, if they
can make it in time. [laughter]

Infant mortality: This is an estimate because you know what statistics were
like then. With the shortage of physicians, technicians, nurses,
hospitals--well, you can imagine what epidemics were then. However, the
estimate--very probably much below the actual figure--was 120 per 1,000.
This was in 1958. In 1980 the figure was 22.2 per 1,000. [applause]
Nevertheless, this is slightly above the national average, which is below
20. Pharmacies: At present we have 78. No one knows how many there were in
1958. Homes for the elderly: There was one in 1958. There are three now.

The following services or institutions did not exist in the province: There
were no dental clinics in 1958, there are seven now; no policlinics in
1958, 19 in 1980; no sanitation and epidemiology laboratories in 1958, two
in 1980; no rural hospitals in 1958, 8 in 1980; no rural dispensaries in
1958, 17 in 1980; no maternity homes in 1958, 13 in 1980; no nursing and
middle-level technical schools in 1958, two in 1980; no blood banks in
1958, two in 1980; no orthopedic prostheses laboratories in 1958, one in
1980; no dental prostheses laboratories in 1958, one in 1980; no optical
shops in 1958, five in 1980. There were no higher level students then.
There are now. There were no middle- level medical students in 1958. There
were 1,200 students in 1980. The figures are here.

Some of them are a bit long. For example, 2,279,661 outpatient visits were
made in 1980. That is, three per inhabitant.

Hospitalizations numbered 80,540. Hospitalizations per 100 inhabitants:
10.9 maternity visits: 9.7 per pregnancy. That is where the struggle to
save a life begins. Stomatological visits: 448,767. Major surgery in 1980:
10,910 operations. BCG vaccinations among the newborn: 99.8. This shows the
huge gap between health facilities prior to the revolution and those today.

Around 40 medical specialties are available in the province. Eleven of
these specialties became available with this new hospital in Manzanillo.
The inauguration of this hospital is the culmination of the process to
develop health services which for 22 years the revolution has pushed in
Manzanillo and Bayamo. It is not a matter only of inaugurating a superb
hospital facility with the most up-to-date resources, highly qualified
specialists and technical personnel. This hospital is part of an
extraordinary network of assistant preventive services that is developing
many health programs, extensively covering the whole province, whose main
results are shown in the significant health rates registered in Granma
Province at present.

This hospital is the principal hospital unit of this vast network. It
ensures the highest level of assistance and is also the place to train
physicians and specialists for the whole region. This center will also
provide employment for 976 workers, including health and services
personnel. It provides 19 clinical and surgical specialties. It has
intensive and intermediate care units. It has 33 examination rooms and 13
rooms for first aid and tests. They are able to attend to 1,584 patients a
day in 23 different specialties. Of the total cost of this hospital, 5
million pesos were spent in very modern and very exact equipment for
diagnosis and treatment.

At present, 296 beds are already in use. This is 146 more beds than the
predecessor, the Fajardo Hospital, which is now being remodeled so that it
can become a psychiatric hospital with 100 beds. Burn, infectious and
intermediate therapy cases are already being hospitalized. Modern
techniques are being applied in x-rays and laboratories. These were not
available in Manzanillo before. The hospital now has a staff of 688
workers, including 78 physicians, most of them specialists, and 115 nursing
personnel, including 26 general graduate nurses and 15 with post-basic
courses. The hospital has already attended to 14,747 outpatients. The guard
service, operating rooms and the majority of diagnostic and auxiliary
services are operating as planned. The schedule is being observed. Services
will gradually increase as the professional and technical personnel are
recruited and pending equipment is received.

In the just concluded 5-year period, four policlinics, one home for the
elderly, one 20-seat dental clinic and one nursing school were built in the
province and work is currently underway on the Manzanillo Polytechnical
Health Institute with a capacity for 800 students as well as on a large
number of expansions which give us a much better material base to plan
health programs and continue this notable development of the province's
public health services.

We now have the hospital. We have part of the staff. It has been necessary
to appeal to the revolutionary spirit and the solidarity of many physicians
and technicians who have cone from various parts of the republic. There is
a large number of physicians from the capital among them. I have asked
several workers and comrade nurses whether they are from Manzanillo,
whether the nurses are from Manzanillo or not. I found out to my
satisfaction that many are from Manzanillo, many of the workers are from

And some physicians are from Manzanillo. I believe that some day you will
not only have all the physicians you need here from the province itself,
but you will be able to send physicians to other provinces. Perhaps to
Baracoa, right? That would be one instance. Although a hospital just like
this one will be inaugurated shortly in the area of Guantanamo. Medical
facilities are being set up in practically all the provinces. And, of
course, Granma Province will have its own. [applause]

Many nurses have already taken the nursing course in the province. There is
a course under way right now. I understand that some 70 or 80 students are
attending this course. There are several hundreds in the nursing school in
Bayamo. So, I believe that the Manzanillo people themselves--as
specialists, technicians, qualified personnel and, in the future, as
physicians and medical specialists--will be the ones providing health
services in this province. I believe progress in this area is not only
demonstrated by the infant mortality rates, the number of cases, but also
by the large number of Manzanillo people who have trained in the health
field and by future prospects.

Of course, it is now much more difficult to lower infant mortality from 22
per 1,000 to 18, 17, 15 than it is to have come down from 120 to 22. We are
now reaching the limits of the possible but this does not mean that we will
give up the fight to reduce infant mortality, to bring it down to the
national average and below the national average. I believe that this
hospital will help in this task. It will help to reduce the infant
mortality rate in the 1-4 year-old group which is very low, in the 0-14
year-old range which is also generally low. It will continue to reduce
mortality rates among mothers. I understand that the number of deaths while
giving birth is 28 per 100,000. The struggle must go on to bring the number
down by one, two or three at least. The struggle to better the rates is an
unceasing one, as is, above all, the unceasing struggle to improve services
and patient care. [applause]

The physicians and the technical and nursing personnel know of the
revolution's effort to increase hospital resources, to acquire new
books--hundreds of thousands in convertible foreign exchange were spent for
books which are now being distributed among physicians. Millions in
convertible foreign exchange were spent to increase the number of
instruments and improve hospital equipment. Money was also spent to solve
the problem of uniforms for the nursing personnel. [applause] The right
kind of uniform was discussed with the nurses. I remember that when this
work started, there were about 500 different kinds of uniforms. Each nurse
had her own There were no two nurses with the same uniform. I do not mean
to say that cotton is a bad fabric but we know that it wrinkles a lot and
nurses are too busy to have to iron the uniform every day. The uniforms are
now made of polyester. There are two types. We have seen how the nurses are
wearing their new uniforms in all the hospitals. Then there were the shoes.
The right kind of shoe for the specific kind of work and even the right
style, because there are those who prefer platform shoes and there are
others who cannot wear this kind of shoe and need to wear shoes with heels.
But they are all wearing some sort of orthopedic show. I know that the
aides have asked about what they are getting. What we would like is for the
comrade aides to improve, to study and not to rest until they become
nurses. [applause]

Even slightest problems have been all analyzed in detail. And we are
working intensively to improve the situation in all the hospitals--repairs,
paint, maintenance, remodeling, reconstruction and so forth. The
revolutionary government intends to forge ahead with this effort. We expect
a good deal from health workers. And we are certain that they will give
their utmost. For example, in this magnificent hospital which is already
completed, what we would like to hear is that this hospital is one of the
best in the country because of its services. [applause] After completion
and inauguration, what we are now interested in is in the effort of the
physicians, the technicians, the nurses and all the workers to provide the
Manzanillo residents, all those who come to this hospital, the best
services, the best care [applause], the best treatment. This is what we ask
you, the health workers present here.

We must now announce the name this hospital will bear. Our party's
leadership has decided that this hospital will be named after Celia Sanchez
Manduley. [prolonged applause; Castro makes indistinct remarks to someone
behind him]

For you, people of Manzanillo, and for all the people of Cuba, the name of
Celia Sanchez is well known, especially here, in this province. We cannot
fail to remember the difficult days of December 1956 when we landed in Las
Coloradas in that boat which later gave its name to this province--those
very difficult days in the first weeks when we were reduced to a very small
contingent of the members of our expedition. It is impossible to forget
what Manzanillo did for us through Comrade Celia Sanchez. [applause]

She was the first to establish contact between ourselves and the movement.
She was the first to send us the first resources, the first money we
received in the sierra and which was sorely needed. We, of course, paid for
everything. If we bought a chicken or found a chicken we paid for the
chicken and everything else. We even paid more than it was worth if
possible. Never ever did we fail to pay for anything we acquired. The
peasants wanted to give things to us as gifts. We did not accept this.
There were times that places were empty on account of the repression and we
left the money behind. That first money was so indispensable not only to
survive but also to push on. We received that money from Manzanillo and
Celia sent it to us. [applause]

The first bullets we received from the outside in those days, the first
grenades, the first food, the first uniforms, the first knapsacks, the
"nylon" [in English; not further described], everything that our guerrillas
needed at the beginning [Celia sent to us]. And it was not only material,
political support, full information [that we received]. That period lasted
many months. And during those months until she joined the rebel army,
Comrade Celia went underground for a long time in this region, in this city
of Manzanillo in particular, running extraordinary risk. They searched for
her unceasingly. And I always remember how she explained how she was able
to survive that persecution and do her work clandestinely. It was due to
the support of the people and the humble people of Manzanillo in
particular. [applause]

Following the triumph, Comrade Celia Sanchez worked quietly, selflessly,
for 21 years in behalf of the revolution. She was always very concerned,
she was very concerned about the peasants of the Sierra Maestra, about the
old combatants of the Sierra Maestra, about all those who cooperated with
us. She was very concerned about the people of Manzanillo and those in
Manzanillo who cooperated with the revolution. When I say Manzanillo I am
thinking of Niquero, Campechuela, Pilon and the Sierra Maestra and
everybody else. [applause]

I believe that absolutely no one escaped her grateful memory as regards
those persons who helped us in the slightest during those very difficult
days. Thousands and thousands of peasants of the Sierra Maestra were taken
care of when they had a problem in one way or another.

That is why that name is so beloved and familiar to you, just as it is to
us, the Granma expeditionaries, those of us who were able later to overcome
the sethacks, the immense difficulties of the early days, and to
reconstruct our small army and take it to victory. For us, for that small
initial group, Manzanillo and the region of Manzanillo and the coast and
the mountains are so familiar. Those were very difficult days. There was a
lot of repression, crime, torture, injustice. Many hundreds and hundreds of
citizens of this province, in this area, in the cities and the countryside,
were assassinated. Those stories are so horrible that they are not worth
repeating. Crimes and tortures were committed in the cities and the
countryside, assassinations, massacres--each time that the army of the
tyranny suffered a defeat they took it out on the people, murdering them in
the valleys and the fields, whole families. Sometimes there were scores of
peasants killed. And then they spoke of skirmishes. They said that 30 died
in this skirmish, 40 in another, in (El Oro de Guisa), Ojo del Toro, Pilon
and so many other places. They hardly suffered any defeat without trying
afterwards to take vengeance on the peasants.

We still remember that during the final offensive in the Sierra Maestra
there were combat reports of hundreds of rebels killed. And reports of
rebels surrendering. But I do not recall a single instance of a rebel from
our troops falling prisoner. Never. And of course, at that time they had
almost 500 prisoners.

Over 1,000 casualties in all when they came out of the Sierra Maestra to
avoid total disaster in those months of July and August 1958. And that was
the information they fed the people. That is how tyrannies, bloody regimes
act. And the people and the province paid dearly during this repression.
And despite the difficulty, the danger, the people of this area always came
through. They never hesitated. And we recall the first revolutionary
strikes. And the first revolutionary strikes occurred here in Manzanillo in
support of the rebel army. [applause]

And there was no phase of the revolution without a very active
participation of all the people of this province, especially of Manzanillo.
Manzanillo was the first in all the strikes and all the uprisings.
[applause] Our front then was approaching the region of Bayamo. And
undoubtedly Manzanillo and Bayamo, along with the city of Santiago de Cuba,
were the cities which made the biggest efforts, along with Jiguani, Baire,
(Mazo), the former America and Palma. In other words, all the cities from
Manzanillo to Santiago de Cuba were the ones that made the biggest effort
of support for the rebel army and had the largest casualties. [applause]

Many sons of these provinces also strengthened the ranks of our army. Most
of them were peasants and workers of these regions. Thus, we not only
landed over here on these coasts, but the immense majority of our
combatants and the ones who organized the rebel army and collaborated with
it were sons of Granma [Province].

Our recognition is not mere words. Our recognition and gratitude are
profound and eternal to the compatriots of this province; especially, and I
repeat, to our compatriots of Manzanillo. [applause]

The revolution also has done something for Manzanillo. It has not been
something special. It has done for Manzanillo what it was done for all the
people and with people. The justice of the revolution had to reach from
Cabo San Antonio to Maisi Point. The revolutionary laws have benefitted all
our people throughout the island.

The revolution has sought to bring action where the needs exist and to
bring justice where justice was needed and to bring the work of the
revolution from one end of the country to the other. Sometimes, we would
ask ourselves: Have we done enough for Manzanillo? Have we done enough for
Bayamo? It was not a case of favoritism. There has been no regionalism or
favoritism with Granma, but work has been done. The change has been big in
this city, particularly over recent years. It has new factories, new
industries. It is not a case of just this hospital today. Over recent
years, a teacher training school and a new hotel were built. A polyclinic
now is under construction near the hospital. A health polytechnical school
now is under construction. The battery factory, the sprinkler irrigation
pipe factory and the candy factory were built. The stadium has been
remodeled and lighting was installed.

The beltway [Castro does not complete sentence] Many streets have been
repaired. Yet, we know that there still remains much to be repaired.

Work is being done on the aqueduct and sewage projects. The airport was too
small and a new one has been built. Progress is being made, although
unfortunately too slowly, on the highway that will link Manzanillo directly
with the highway to Bayamo and Las Tunas and with the country's central
highways. Housing units have been built. And everything that can be done
will continue to be done for the city of Manzanillo.

Particularly today, we feel that we are inaugurating one of the most
important, useful and beneficial projects with this hospital. [applause]

Today, you have demonstrated your enthusiasm with this huge rally. When we
asked ourselves how the ceremony should be conducted, we decided on a mass
rally. We imagined that no Manzanillo resident would want to miss the
rally. We said: Please do not undertake a provincial mobilization. We asked
the comrades of the party in the province to mobilize primarily the people
of Manzanillo. [applause]

We could not forget that we are in the midst of the sugar harvest, that the
harvest has become a fundamental task of great importance for our country
at this time. And we are in the midst of the harvest. Although this is
Sunday, sugarcane has to be cut on Sundays, particularly so that we do not
have drops in such work on Monday and Tuesday, which is one of the
objectives we have for this harvest.

I know that the comrades of the party invited a representation of the other
municipalities-- Bayamo and others. However, it was only a representation.
And we told the comrades: What we want today is that there be a big
sugarcane grinding operation and that the mobilization in no way affect the
harvest. That was what we asked the comrades.

The comrades of the party in Granma Province did something better. They
organized a complete production and services mobilization of homage to
Comrade Celia Sanchez. [applause] I believe that this actually was the best
way to pay homage to one who devoted herself so much to her duty without
resting a single minute and without forgetting a single detail. And I
sincerely believe that this is one of most deeply felt, most profound and
most revolutionary tributes that can be paid to a comrade who has given his
or her life for the revolution. [applause]

The comrades organized that 7-day mobilization. They mobilized the masses.
They mobilized the workers. They mobilized the youths and students. And
they have done an extraordinary and exemplary work over these 7 days. A
measure of this is what they achieved in the sugar harvest, aside from what
they achieved in a number of other activities. The harvest gives a measure
of what they did. Over these 7 days, the sugar mills in Granma Province
performed a grinding operation of an average of 102 percent [of grinding
potential]. [applause] The norm is 85 percent and they did 102 percent.
This never had occurred in this province before.

And precisely today, according to what the comrades explained to me and I
have the figures, they told me that the mills had ground at a l24-percent
rate. [applause] The report from Havana was 123 percent. So, at this time
when I am speaking here, there is this slight contradiction which I expect
will be clarified and corrected. But even imagining 123 percent, it is a
grinding super record [applause] and an excellent bit of news for the
country since the country is trying to make an optimum harvest.

Actually, the harvest is developing in the most efficient and organized
manner in the history of the revolution, in the 22 years of the revolution.

We have toured the provinces over recent days. We talked to all the
comrades about the harvest and how it is going. And there is no doubt that
the harvest is going perfectly well. There is great enthusiasm in all the
provinces over the successes being achieved which give a measure of the
spirit of our workers and of the management and organizational abilities of
our party. [applause]

Levels [of harvest work] never before reached have been attained in all the
provinces And this occurred on 1 January and on 2 January, on Saturday,
Sunday, and the following Monday and Tuesday. Thus, in the entire country
over the past 5 days the grinding rate was 97 percent [the first day],
again 97 percent, 96 percent on the third day, 96 percent on the fourth
day, and today, Sunday, the national grinding rate again was 97 percent.

The cumulative national rate is about or almost 90 percent, despite the
fact that we had days of rains, much rain, in December which created
difficulties in some provinces that generally have very good grinding
rates, such as Manzanillo [presumably Granma Province], Las Tunas and

The comrades are doing excellent work in Las Tunas. The grinding rate
there--where the harvest generally is difficult work--has been more than 95
percent and even more than 100 percent over many days. This is very
important because perhaps the greatest effort that must be made in the
sugar sector has to be done this year.

We already know for sure that the harvest is going to go according to
plans, and even better than planned as far as time and the use of resources
is concerned because we have a huge task ahead of us: the sowing of almost
30,000 caballerias of cane. To overcome the effects of the cane smut, which
did us great harm, and to try this year to entirely eliminate the variety
of cane affected by this disease, which covered approximately 35,000
caballerias, of which some 17,000 are still left, we have to make an
enormous effort this year.

Because of this and because of economic reasons, as we already explained at
the closing of the National Assembly, we have to carry out an enormous
sowing operation. And this is a difficult task, a truly difficult task.

We have also been analyzing the sowing situation with all of the comrades
of the provinces, and there are limitations in machinery. It is true that a
number of high volume extractors were purchased, but only one-third of them
have arrived. Some will arrive toward the end of January, others in
February and the remainder in March. And, naturally, by the end of March
the lands will have to be ready.

We also have to pay attention to the other agriculture areas, pasture
grounds, vegetables, tobacco, rice and so forth. The machinery, considering
the planting plan we should prepare, will be scarce. This will demand a
special effort. In supplying spare parts, in loading and unloading spare
parts and in the work shops. We must make huge efforts because the sugar
machinery will have to work day and night in the next few months, to be
able to fulfill this plan. At this time I feel that this is a large
problem. The planting that we are going to have to accomplish will involve
30,000 caballerias of cane. And this province is among those that have to
make a huge effort. It is going to receive 45 high-volume extractors, but
right now it has only 15. It is missing 30 extractors. When will it receive
them? It might take a few weeks, and they have to be preparing the land

The extent to which we finish the harvest early will determine how we will
be able to fulfill our sowing plans. Because after the preparation of the
land we must sow, and we must make our sowing the best, too. And along with
this we must carry out the activities of cultivation, fertilization and
cleaning of the cane.

We could affirm that as far as the effort the country has to make in the
next 5 years is concerned, these 6 months are decisive in a decisive branch
of the economy, which is that of the sugar industry, to achieve the
increase in sugar that we need for the 1982 harvest. That is why the news
that the harvest is going well is very stimulating and assures us that, in
spite of the difficulties, we will be able to face this task.

There is great enthusiasm in the entire island, a great spirit in our
workers. And what is happening in this harvest shows what our people can
do. Now they can no longer tell us stories about the capitalists, the
capitalists could do things, in the midst of unemployment and hunger, at a
time when they did not use machines to cut cane, when everything was done
by hand and with animals. When cane production is mechanized one still has
to face the problems of the weather, the problems of the rains. The trucks
then have to (?cross) the fields on their own power, not like a wagon
pulled by oxen could.

The combine needs more or less dry land to work on. That is to say, we have
work to do here. We have to mobilize the men. There are no long lines of
men at the canefields waiting for an opportunity to work. There are very
different conditions to carry out the harvest in our country under
socialism. Now we have to mobilize, organize things. And in spite of all
this, never, never did the capitalists ever have a harvest like this one
that we are accomplishing under socialism. [applause]

So organized and so efficient. We now have tens of thousands of men who
know how to operate the machines. Before the revolution it was very
difficult to find someone who could really operate a tractor. Not just
climb on one; start the ignition and let it run.

Operating one of those combines is not like driving a tractor. To drive one
of those combines one needs a lot of experience to repair one of those
tractors, to maintain it, to fix or rebuild it, and so forth. There are
tens of thousands of men in our country who have learned to operate these
machines. And how they operate them and how they work: There are combine
operators who have had to work 10, 12 and up to 14 hours. And extractor
operators who have been working truly without limit, as only in a
revolutionary year, as only in socialism, men are capable of working when
they know that they have to accomplish a task and to overcome a difficulty.

The slogan of production and defense is being fully accomplished. Our
people are working better than ever, more firmly and determined than ever
before, more conscientiously, more responsible. But our people are also
preparing more than ever before for their defense. And the idea of the
territorial troop militias has been spreading like wild fire throughout the
country. [applause]

Not only workers, men, women and youths are interested in it, but even
children. There are many anecdotes about children who write, who collect a
few resources and contribute them. The interest these children, the
Pioneers, have shown for the territorial troop militias is incredible; so
much so that they appear to have been complaining, even asking if they are
going to be left out of the territorial troop militias. [applause]

They are not going to be left out because they already are contributing.
They are giving their political support, their material support. There are
many groups of children who are collecting bottles and other items to cover
the expenses of the territorial troop militias and who are participating.
Of course, in our country no one is going to be left out of the struggle
against any aggression, not even the elderly or the children. I think that
all of us who are aware, let us say, who have the use of reason, in one way
or another will participate in that struggle to defend our fatherland.

We have just held our second party congress, An extraordinary congress.
There is a very high opinion among all the revolutionary forces of the
world, all the progressive forces, all the friendly countries, regarding
the high quality of our congress. We have just concluded the sessions of
the National Assembly. We are beginning a new year and we are beginning a
new 5-year period. And we are getting off to a good start, to a very good
start. We are beginning this period in a very revolutionary fashion.

The facts are showing what our people are capable of. And what begins well
must end well. I had never seen in our people such a degree of security and
self-confidence, such a degree of awareness and culture; all of this in
this people, which had a large number of illiterates 22 years ago,
particularly among the inhabitants of this province. One could ask oneself,
to what degree? Of 100 people in the mountains, how many could read or
write: Maybe 10 or 5 That was the reality.

Now these people have a 6th grade level education at a minimum, and are
working their way up to the 9th-grade level. And we must note the value of
education, the value of instruction, of culture and awareness. [applause]
And this is what we are showing these days.

We were saying that it was necessary for all of us to commit ourselves to
redoubling our efforts, to do more, to do as much as we can, beginning with
all of the cadres of the party and state and continuing through all the
citizens of our country. One can do much for the people, for the
fatherland, for the revolution. What can a doctor do when he sits in front
of his patients?

He is there working taking care of them and not just offering health and
tranquillity, returning the joy of health to a countryman, a human being.
He is not only carrying out a humane duty, he is helping the revolution. He
is strengthening the revolution, he is defending the revolution. [applause]

[One defends the revolution] not only with a rifle, or by training others.
There, at that post, the nurse who takes care of a patient, the technician
who is in a laboratory ready to give a quick, better answer regarding an
analysis are strengthening the revolution, are strengthening it
politically, be they male or female. Because the better we can accomplish
our duties, the more efficient we are, then the more satisfied our people
are. They do not aspire to extraordinary things that are beyond their
reach. They aspire to things that can be had, to receive what they can
receive. And the more satisfied they are, the more committed they will be
to the revolution, their fatherland, their people, and the more willing to
defend it to the last drop of their blood. [applause]

We cannot stop being optimistic. The people of Manzanillo have experienced
25 years of history, which were important to our people. We recently
celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Granma landing on the coasts of this
province. [applause]

And these 25 years have not passed in vain. The difficulties have not been
in vain. And we have the right to feel confident, secure, optimistic and
determined. We have the right to not be afraid of anyone or anything.
[applause and chanting of "Fidel for sure, hit the Yankees hard!"]

When we landed at La Colorada at dawn on 2 December 1956, there were 82 or
us, 82. And an army of more than 60,000, including soldiers, sailors and
policemen--without counting the squealers and the rest of them [laughter
from the crowd] were waiting for us here. For each one of us there was
1,000 of them here, armed, one against 1,000. But we landed any way, and
began our march toward the mountains. And we faced the difficulties. Later
on it was worse. Because later on we were just a handful, with a few
rifles. When Paul and I got together again there were seven rifles and six
of us. We had an extra rifle. At that moment there was one rifle too many.
And then the odds were even worse, because the same 70,000 or 80,000
soldiers, sailors, policemen, etc., were still waiting for us. And we
continued our struggle.

I do not want to be recounting the things that we were involved in. I only
want to recall the situation in which we found ourselves, which was very
difficult. The situation that we and you, the people of Manzanillo, were
in, because you had placed your hope in a handful of men. And that handful
of men had a very powerful enemy. Of course, if the people of Manzanillo
had been armed. If the people of Manzanillo each had a rifle when we landed
here, then the Batista tyranny would not have lasted any time at all. But
the people of Manzanillo were unarmed. [applause]

I am talking about the teachings of history. History was good; our cause
was just. We had confidence in the people. We were right. We were
determined to fight. Without the will to fight what would have happened? We
would have withdrawn. We would have surrendered. We would have given up the
struggle. But none of us even thought of that; not even once. And there are
people who did not understand, who asked themselves: What are those people
thinking? Who do they think they are? There are only 6 of them left 7, 10,
12. How can they fight? Against such a powerful enemy and in such difficult
circumstances. The circumstances were so difficult; we did not know those
mountains. We had never been in those mountains before, that group of us.
Then others began to join us, some peasants, for example Comrade Guillermo
and other peasant comrades who were from that region and were familiar with
it. But our group did not know the area at all. And that is how this story
began, this 22-year story, until now, until this new figure of 124 percent
that you achieved here in Manzanillo today. [applause]

From then until today when we are dedicating this hospital here. After 25
years and a few days. It must be 25 years and 38 or 39 days, more or less,
since that struggle. I believe that I should mention it here: This
revolution was born from almost nothing. It was born from very little.

It was born facing apparently insurmountable problems, facing an apparently
invincible enemy. And this has been the history, the upright history of our
revolution, the history, without hesitation or surrender, of our revolution
and our people. And this is the spirit of not only the people of
Manzanillo, but of our entire people. [applause]

Therefore, what enemy can intimidate us? [People shout: None] What threats
can scare us [People shout: None] Regardless of how powerful the enemy
might be. There is nothing more powerful than a just ideal. There is
nothing more powerful than a people struggling for their cause, their
fatherland, the land, their ideas, their concept of what they think is
noble, dignified, just and morally correct. There is no force in the world
superior to that. And there is no way to defeat a people like that. No way.
[applause] Even if they land 10,000 tanks here. When they get here they
will not have one front. They will have a front everywhere. Above, below,
on their back, on the front, on the side, everywhere because [applause]
[People shout: Fidel, Fidel] the entire country would be the battle front.

Ten thousand tanks. So what? They are not going to scare us or preoccupy
us. Besides, we could have a few bazookas to shoot at those tanks. The
tanks will not be sightseeing here. No one will be quiet anywhere. They
will be facing a swarm of people, an armed swarm of people, this is the
correct term, who are invincible and who will not give up. Not ever.
[applause] That will not happen. And the stronger we are, the less danger
there is because an enemy aware of what he will have to face, will have to
think twice about it, will have to think about who they will be fooling
around with.

So we are quiet, calm, working, preparing ourselves. We are so optimistic
that we have not rested 1 minute in our work, in the cleaning, the
planting, the harvesting, everything. They will not make us negligent in
our activities. If they threaten us we will work harder. We will even
profit from their threats. We are going to profit from threats. [applause]

They have made insinuations, denunciations; they have expressed aggressive
ideas. Well, we already are stronger. We have started the year stronger
than we were at the end of last year. We are working harder and better. Our
revolution is stronger. Because the revolution, to say it like a peasant
would, is something like a stake, and the harder it is hit the further in
it is driven. [applause and chanting]

We are satisfied, people of Manzanillo and Granma, with this first mass
event of the historic year of 1981, with this first mass event of this
5-year period, the first great popular meeting that we have been able to
hold here, together with you, such firm, revolutionary and familiar
comrades. We are satisfied [applause] with the presence here of all of
Manzanillo, with this proof of a spirit of struggle and determination that
you have given today, and with the beautiful tribute that you have given
with the dedication of this hospital to Comrade Celia Sanchez. [applause]

This is also a tribute to other illustrious sons of Manzanillo, doctors
also, who fought alongside us in the mountains and who no longer are with
us, (Pity Fajardo) and Rene (Balleros). [applause]

It is also a tribute to the comrades who accompanied us on the "Granma" and
died, a tribute to those who fought in the mountains and died, a tribute to
all those who have fallen. Because each victory of the revolution is a
worthy tribute to those who fell to make this possible. To those who fell
so that our people could begin on this long, heroic and beautiful path of
history to reach where we are today and what we are today. Fatherland or
death, we shall win. [applause and shouts of "We shall win!"]