Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL101800 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1611 GMT 10 Feb 82

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the opening ceremony of the 10th
WFTU Congress in Havana's Palace of Conventions -- live]

[Text] Distinguished representatives of the international trade union
movement: The holding of this 10th WFTU Congress is of special
significance. Due to the difficult circumstances being faced by the world's
workers and peoples, the success of an event such as this largely depends
on its quality and scope.

As soon as it was decided to bold it in Cuba, our trade union leadership
showed great interest [in its preparation] and we agreed with the
leadership that everybody should contribute to make this congress be
characterized by the broadest representation of the various orientations
and the principal forces of the international trade union movement, without
any type of restrictions, and that, exercising the use of truly democratic
methods with the greatest freedom of debate and opinion, the essential
issues that deeply affect and concern millions of workers in the world
should be taken up.

We must say that those hopes have been more than fulfilled. As is known, so
far, 135 countries and 351 trade union organizations with a membership of
260 million workers are represented in this congress. This, in itself,
demonstrates its magnitude and the great importance of its resolutions.
This constitutes the first great achievement of this event. It could even
be noted that out of the attending organizations, only 80 are affiliated
with the WFTU, that is, a little over 20 percent. There are organizations
here which are affiliated with other international trade union bodies. A
large number of them do not belong to any international group, even though
a large number identify themselves with the WFTU's objectives and actively
participate in its struggles.

The interest with which this congress has been received and the high degree
of participation to which we have referred constitute a concrete expression
of the community of interests being increasingly manifested among the
workers of the world. We can point out that the congress we are pleased to
inaugurate today is the congress of the large majority of the organized
trade union movement on an international level.

This is the first time that a congress of this type has been held outside
of Europe and the fact that it is being held in Cuba -- a country which is
struggling for development in the midst of continued threats, slanderous
campaigns and a rigorous economic blockade; a country whose enemies have
tried to isolate and banish from the rest of the peoples of the world --
gives it a solidary significance that our people and government profoundly
appreciate. [applause]

We, of course, do not ignore the heterogeneity of the political,
philosophical and religious positions assembled in this hall, the existing
diversity of opinions among many of the organizations present here; and the
fact that this congress has the peculiarity of assembling union leaders
from socialist countries, union leaders who are active in capitalist
countries, labor leaders active in highly industrialized states and leaders
from the largely underdeveloped and economically backward areas of the
world. There is a great variety of circumstances and opinions. Under such
conditions, could it be possible to find a common language? We believe it
is possible, that it is necessary and, still more, indispensable.

The contradictions could be many, and at times serious. But the very fact
that they are meeting here makes it evident that a more powerful and
overpowering contradiction exists. That is the contradiction of those who
are trying to drag mankind along the path of war, those who are attempted
to profit in the midst of the disastrous situation being traversed today by
the world economy, and to place on the shoulders of the workers the fateful
consequences of the crisis.

What could unite us, not what could divide us, is what we have to seek in
this difficult and dangerous situation. [applause] Without forcing anyone
to resign his position, we are convinced that the WFTU can march toward a
dialogue, toward the search for the paths of unity, and toward concrete
steps of common action on the basis of the supreme objective which
indentifies the unions on all continents -- the defense of the interests of
the worker and their peoples. Defending the interests of the workers and
peoples means a lot under the present conditions. It means defending the
right to life, to work, to bread, to an existence with security, with
dignity and with justice.

For us, it is clear that there is, and cannot be at the present time, no
more urgent and pressing task than the struggle for peace and for
safeguarding mankind from destruction in a nuclear holocaust. But this
battle, as we have stressed in other opportunities, is inseparably tied to
the problems of development and the efforts of the peoples and exploited
workers for more just and equitable living conditions. We cannot speak in
broad terms and ignore the inequality of the situations prevailing in some

The workers are not just worried about living, they are also worried about
the conditions in which they are going to live. It is logical that all the
world's workers be interested in the struggle for world peace and the
easing of international tension.

But in various areas of the world there are great masses of workers for
whom life is so uncertain, subsistance so hard, and the outlook so desolate
that the watchwords of the struggle for peace, by themselves, take on a
personal meaning. Because of this, it is our deepest conviction that if we
want to launch a worldwide mass movement, the flags of the struggle for
peace and the flags of urgent and immediate revindications demanded by
workers must march widely united. [applause]

We are convinced that, at this time, it is necessary to multiply the
efforts for peace and simultaneously redouble the efforts toward workers'
economic and social demands against those that exploit and oppress them.
Responsible world politicians agree in their acknowledgement that human
beings are living today in the most complex and serious times since World
War II. Hitler, in his time, committed himself to conquer the world and
impose upon it a 1,000-year fascist yoke.

During that long war, he tried to destroy entire peoples and committed all
manner of crimes. Today it would take only a few minutes for the human
race, all of its fruits of labor and of man's intelligence, to be flattened
and annihilated forever. If we are realists, we cannot close our eyes as we
face this danger. Awareness of this growing threat must come first in order
to denounce it, fight it and mobilize ourselves resolved to stand firm
against it.

The most sober analysis and the most objective reflection clearly tell us
how the possibility of a thermonuclear war -- which some years ago may have
seemed perhaps improbable or far off -- has currently acquired a more
tangible and undeniable character. Some irresponsible politicians, in whose
front lines march the leaders of the United States, try to accustom public
opinion to accept this possibility as a natural thing. They plant the
illusion that it would be possible to wage a limited nuclear war with the
idea of a demonstrative preemptive nuclear strike in European territory and
with the possibility of winning in a general worldwide conflict. They toy
dangerously with war in this manner and move along a course which may turn
out to be irreversible.

The current administration of the United States and some of its allies bear
all the responsibility for the increase of international tension. No
attempt to try to share this responsibility with the countries of the
socialist community can, in our opinion, withstand the most basic analysis.
(There), in plain view for all to see, stand the actions that demonstrate
how the current threats of war come from the U.S. leaders' harebrained
intent to replace the policy of easing tensions with a policy of
confrontation and cold war.

They pretend to be ahead of any revolutionary, national liberation or
simply progressive process and apply to it a fake and ridiculous criteria
that they are the result of alleged Soviet meddling or expansionism. They
hold to the unreachable goal of upsetting the strategic balance of forces,
achieving military superiority and dealing with political negotiations from
positions of strength based on blackmail and pressures. They have unleashed
the most incredible arms race in history in order to achieve those ends.

No propaganda campaign, no distortion of reality, will be able to hide
these essential truths. That policy has deeply upset and complicated
communications, calm analysis and discussion of the more important problems
in international situations with countries of the socialist community.
Constructive dialogue has been met with pressures and threats. Debate and
objective analysis have been replaced with meddling, subversion and hostile
propaganda campaigns. The policy of peace coexistence has been exchanged
for a reactionary and warmongering course. The ideals of cooperation and
normal relations between states have been deeply hurt by the insolent
attitude, the provocations and economic, technological, trade and cultural
reprisals put into effect by the U.S. Government.

The current policy of hostility, economic and political aggression, the
atmosphere of threats, the shameless intervention into the internal affairs
of socialist countries, the counterrevolutionary propaganda, the
encouragement of subversion, and the attempts to negotiate from positions
of strength cannot today or ever be the basis for constructive, sensible
and prudent dialogue needed by the world. [applause]

This profoundly reactionary and aggressive course is largely supported by
the interests and profits of the transnational consortiums who are the main
beneficiaries of that policy. The corporations that make up the so-called
military-industrial complex -- whose boom and benefits place them now among
the most powerful monopolies in the United States -- along with the large
interests of the oil and chemical industries, see the astronomical
multiplication of profits as a direct result of a policy, whose more
pernicious effects are shouldered by the large masses of workers in their
own developed, Western countries, as it transforms itself into a
considerably lower standard of living, unemployment, inflation, affecting
deeply the social security, instability and poverty.

In another aspect with much greater magnitude and more serious and dramatic
consequences, that policy means incredible states of misery, sickness, lack
of culture and hunger for the great masses of oppressed and impoverished
workers of the Third World.

As a result of these plans, Europe has become a center for confrontation
and increasing danger. In relations with its Western allies, the United
States has followed the policy of constant pressure, trying to have them
accept a considerable increase in their military budgets and to drag them
at the same time into a policy of greater hostility and hardness against
the USSR and other socialist countries. So unreal and violent have these
aims been, that not all of the U.S. allies have joined the economic and
trade blockade nor have they allowed themselves to be dragged into the more
reactionary positions.

Through the agitation of an alleged danger of communist aggression, the
U.S. rulers are trying to impose the deployment on European soil of a new
nuclear missile system which presents a notable imbalance in the strategic
balance and increases the climate of tension in this area to levels never
before reached.

The zero option presented as a counter proposal to the Soviet call for a
just and equal missiles balance within the overall European scenario is
nothing more, essentially, than a hypocritical measure of clumsy propaganda
which tries to maintain a nuclear superiority in Europe with thousands of
atomic weapons deployed in bombers, aircraft carriers, submarines and
ballistic missiles and aimed at the countries of the socialist community.

The elimination of all nuclear weapons in Europe and the rest of the world
and a halt to the fascist foreign policy of the United States are the real
zero option demanded by the human race. [applause]

These imperialist moves seriously imperil world peace. The risks they
entail are so evident that they have filled the peoples of Western Europe
with justifiable concern. Millions of workers, employees, intellectuals and
students, men and women, young and old, have taken to the streets to
express their condemnation of this policy in the most multitudinous and
combative demonstrations and protests since the end of World War II. Of
course, workers are not only concerned with the danger of war. The fatal
aspect of this imperialist policy lies in that it also affects the most
direct and pressing interests of the workers. Moreover, these interests are
not limited to wages, working conditions and living standards.

The ultrareactionary makeup of the present U.S. administration has meant
support for the most repressive, antipopular and antiworker regimes in the
world. As a result, new centers of tension have emerged and those that
already existed have grown worse. When racist violence generates
innumerable victims in South Africa and Namibia, when the South African
aggressors criminally invade southern Angola or attack other sovereign
states of the region, the principal victims are humble workers. When Israel
attacks Iraq by surprise and brutally annexes Arab territory occupied by
force as in the Golan Heights recently, when it massacres the Palestinians
in southern Lebanon, it is the workers who die as a result of that policy.
When the allies of imperialism in Asia relentlessly harass Vietnam or
encourage the genocidal individuals ousted from power in Kampuchea, it is
also the workers who shed their blood as a result of that policy.

When in South America patriots in many countries subjugated by fascist
regimes are persecuted, tortured, made to disappear or murdered, it is also
the workers who are the victims of imperialist support for these
bloodthirsty regimes. When in Central America the people of Nicaragua are
forced to mobilize in face of the threats of aggression and mercenary
gangs, when Cuban internationalist teachers are assassinated in a cowardly
manner by counter-revolution in that country, it is the workers who die as
a result of Yankee policy. When thousands and thousands of workers,
peasants, intellectuals, women and even children die in El Salvador and
Guatemala, the victims of repugnant tyrannies shamelessly armed and
supported by U.S. imperialism, it is, once again, the people and their
workers who pay with their sacrifice and with their lives for the noble
aspiration of winning freedom and paving the way for a noble and honorable
life for the large exploited and oppressed majority.

This congress, which is meeting in the area of Central America and the
Caribbean, will surely not remain silent about the interference, the
threats of direct military intervention and the demagogic maneuvers of
those who are trying to exterminate the Salvadoran and Guatemalan people
and to crush, by blood and fire, their heroic and admirable rebellion. The
arms race unleashed by the United States entails an immediate and direct
threat for the very survival of the human race, but this reality is not the
only thing that confers a tragically painful character to this situation.
We would have to add the extraordinary waste of resources in a world which
is confronting the biggest economic crisis of the past 50 years.

The human mind rebels indignantly at the thought that many of the
anguishing problems besetting the majority of the world population, such as
hunger, illiteracy, lack of health services, housing and jobs, could be
alleviated to a great extent if only part of the fabulous resources
budgeted for the arms race and military spending could be employed in the
just cause of the welfare and progress of peoples.

The United States at this time has 2,112 nuclear arms carriers, from
launching pads for intercontinental ballistic missiles to strategic bombers
and submarines. A single launch by all these could drop nearly 10,000
nuclear payloads of a power ranging between 50 kilotons and 10 megatons

To this extraordinary capacity for destruction, we must add, among other
things, almost 4 million men, 200 carriers of tactical operational missiles
that can be used with nuclear arms, more than 11,000 tanks, 12,000
artillery pieces, including atomic howitzers, more than 20,000 airborne
units of various kinds, and 848 naval units, including 79 nuclear
submarines and 20 aircraft carriers.

The United States has more than 300 important military bases spread over
all the continents and more than half a million soldiers permanently
stationed outside of its borders. This colossal development of offensive
means that has been implemented since the end of World War II has forced
the socialist countries to engage in an enormous defensive effort to
safeguard their own survival.

We could ask ourselves: Is anyone really threatening the United States? Is
there any power preparing to make war on the United States? Can any threat
to national security justify the astronomical growth of U.S. military
expenditures? We would have to say, with the most absolute conviction: no.
The only thing that can explain this warmongering and militaristic course
is the aspiration of the most rightwing and bellicose circles of Yankee
imperialism that are trying to reaffirm the U.S. role as the gendarme of
world reaction at any cost and trying to erect a barrier against the
advance of the uncontainable struggle of workers and peoples all over the

In economic terms, this unbridled arms madness means a huge growth of the
U.S. military budget in the next 4 years, to reach in 1986 the impressive
amount of $373 billion, which is equivalent to 36 percent of the total
national budget of the United States for that year. It is calculated that
between 1982 and 1986, the expenditures of the United States for military
purposes will amount to $1.5 trillion. The nuclear weapons stockpiled are
already sufficient to destroy the entire world several times. It is
estimated that the explosive power of the nuclear arsenal existing today is
equivalent to almost 1.5 million times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. In
conventional terms this force is equivalent to more than 15 billion tons of
TNT. This means that each inhabitant of the planet, including women, old
folks and children, has the dubious privilege of being alloted the
equivalent of more than 3 tons of explosive.

Under present circumstances, the perfecting of any kind of weapon unleashes
a reaction which necessitates the renewed development of weapons systems
and the quick abandonment of previously developed means of war as obsolete.
Each day the cost of these means is higher and also each day the length of
their effective life becomes more ephemeral. This is the absurd and
irrational illogic of the arms race. The most basic common sense of man
should be sufficient to understand that to support this insane race is
senseless as shown by the experience of the post-war period. Trying to
achieve greater security by resorting to this method is no more than a
dangerous me-to-ism. In truth, the power which initiates new rounds of the
arms race obtains exactly the opposite; the deployment of constantly more
sophisticated and destructive weapons multiplies the risks and makes more
certain the possibility that any irresponsible, reflexive action could
unleash a nuclear catastrophe.

It is clear that the arms race includes the two world systems and that its
negative effects are felt as much by the capitalist economies as by the
socialist. But to try to infer from this an equal responsibility for the
phenomena on the part of both systems constitutes, in our opinion, a
flagrant injustice. To be absolutely honest and objective, it is necessary
to recognize that not even once in the last 40 years has the initiative in
the creation or production of the new types of strategic weapons come from
the socialist community. What history does show is that the socialist
countries have been forced to involve themselves in heavy military
expenditures in order to protect their integrity and sovereignty in the
face of the aggressive policy and the threats of their enemies.

Ambition to take control of sources of raw materials, win markets, dominate
strategic areas and exploit the labor and resources of other peoples which
have been and are the causes of militarism and warmongering are foreign to
socialism as a new type of social organization.

The Soviet people experienced the intervention of the imperialist powers
after the October Revolution; policies of diplomatic isolation and economic
blockade; and after only 20 years of heroic and fascist [Castro corrects
himself] pacifist construction, the fascist attack which cost the lives of
20 million of its finest sons. Since the creation of the first socialist
state in the history of the world, who have been the attacked and who the
aggressors? By supporting the arms race, the United States and its allies
are seeking the objective of military superiority as an instrument of
political pressure and eventually as a means to destroy socialism and
revolutionary movements throughout the world by force. They are also
following the policy of impeding the development of the socialist
community, forcing those countries rebuilt at the cost of enormous
sacrifice after the last war to assume large defense expenditures, and to
sacrifice for these purposes the resources which otherwise would be
destined to economic and social development or to collaboration with other
peoples more in need. But there is another facet of the question. After
World War II the size of the military allocations within public
expenditures led to the militarization of the economy, as it assumed a
primary role among the instruments of economic policy within important
capitalist states. For several years after the war, military expenditures
temporarily accelerated the rhythm of economic growth in some countries
which, like the United States, had reserves in their productive capacity
and unused material resources. Nevertheless, the economic crises of
1974-1975 showed that the military expenditures, just like other economic
policy instruments, were no longer able to attenuate the effects of the
crisis nad, even less, to cause, even artificially, a significant economic
upturn. On the contrary, it revealed the intrinsically unproductive and
inflationary character of such policy, since this increased the currency in
circulation and the demand for merchandise without the existence of a
compensatory increase in the production of consumer goods. However, the
military expenditures absorb material and human resources of high quality
from the civilian industry and this slows its development and the increase
in labor productivity.

Likewise, the military outlays reduce the possibilities of employment. In
that sense, U.S. scientists have demonstrated that an expenditure amounting
to $1 billion only generates 70,000 jobs in the military sector compared to
112,000 in the civilian sector, that is 36,000 fewer jobs. More than $500
billion went to military expenditures in 1980, including the production of
arms. If only the same level is maintained, the growth rate of military
expenditures -- not including the unbridled thrust provoked by Reagan's
arms program -- in correspondence with 1980 prices will reach the fabulous
amount of $940 billion by the year 2000.

In concrete terms, what do these colossal figures mean to mankind? Here are
some objective facts: Half of the resources presently devoted in a single
day to military expenditures would be sufficient to pay for the program
aimed at eliminating malaria, a disease affecting 66 countries in which one
fourth of humanity lives. Just in Africa, this disease kills more than 1
million children every year. In 5 hours, the world devotes to military
expenditures the equivalent of the total annual budget of UNICEF for
programs of attention to children. The number of persons holding jobs
dealing with military activities, including the armed forces personnel,
today is two times greater than the total number of teachers, physicians
and nurses in the entire world.

Approximately 25 percent of the scientific personnel in the world are
working in military activities. It is estimated that 60 percent of all
expenditures in scientific research work is wasted in military programs.
This research work is five times greater than those devoted to the
protection of man's health.

But what makes the present situation even more worrisome is the fact that
the tense international climate provoked by imperialism's aggressive
policy, the regional conflicts encouraged and fostered by neocolonial
interests in many instances, the atmosphere of violence generated by the
actions of some states playing the role of reactionary gendarme on a
regional level, and in other cases the pressure exerted upon exploited and
oppressed peoples who are struggling for their liberation, have led the
underdeveloped countries themselves to join the arms race and double their
military expenditures in the last decade.

What is the result of this phenomenon in the face of the reality of
poverty, hunger, ignorance, unsanitary conditions and lack of resources in
the so-called Third World? Let us cite some examples based on reliable
statistics. Some 5.9 percent of the gross national product of the countries
in Asia, Africa and Latin America are spent in arms and military outlays,
while only 1 percent is assigned to public health and 2.8 percent to
education. With only 1 percent of the military budgets of the developed
countries, the problem of the existing deficit in international assistance
aimed at financing the increase in production of foodstuffs and
establishing emergency reserves would be solved. With the amount needed to
pay for a modern tank, 1,000 classrooms could be built for 30,000 children
in underdeveloped countries.

The price of a Trident nuclear submarine of the type the United States
plans to build 13 of by 1990 is equal to what it would cost to keep 16
million children of the underdeveloped world in school for 1 whole year, to
what it would cost to build 400,000 dwellings for 2 million persons, or to
more than the total value of the cereal imported by Africa for 1 year.

With what was spent in the world in 1 year by the middle of the decade of
the 70's in military activities, it would have been possible to pay for a
vaccination program against infectious diseases for all the children in the
world, a program to end adult illiteracy in the entire world before the
year 2000, a supplementary food program for more than 60 million pregnant
women and an increased number of classrooms for more than 100 million
school children.

An infinite number of examples could be added to these which demonstrate
the absurd and criminal nature of this gigantic waste of resources. The
arms race not only seriously threatens world peace by increasing the risk
of a war that could lead to the end of mankind, but also creates unstable
and tenuous circumstances in which it is not possible to counteract the
tragic and overwhelming problems derived from underdevelopment and to
achieve progress in gaining the rights and demands of the workers in
industrialized countries.

The arms race makes the profound economic crisis being endured by the
capitalist system still more unbearable, a crisis whose negative effects
are felt in the world economy and, with special intensity, by the working
masses. The documents of this congress themselves referred in great detail
to this matter. There is a real avalanche of statistics illustrating how
instability and crisis have become a chronic phenomena of the capitalist
economy since the abrupt drop of the years 1974 and 1975, and to date not
even the most optimistic theoreticians of the system are capable of
predicting a way out of the contraction of investments and production, the
unmanageable rate of the inflationary processes, the rise in unemployment,
the upheavals in the monetary system and the surge in bankruptcies flooding
industrialized countries, which are being transmitted with multiplied
effects to the weak and precarious economies of backward or lesser
developed countries.

It is undeniable that this crisis is intimately associated with phenomena
that complicate it and deepen it still more, such as the increasing prices
of energy and the future depletion of its conventional sources in a
relatively brief period of time, the growing lack of basic raw materials,
the endemic deficit of world food production, the worrisome outlook of an
exaggerated growth of the population in the poorest and most neglected
areas of the world, and the destruction of agricultural lands, waterways,
forests and other irreplaceable resources for the reproduction of the human
species itself.

As at other times, the monopolies have reacted to the crisis by reducing
production, diminishing investments, underusing the potential of factories
and firing tens of millions of workers. Relying on the advances made by the
scientific and technical revolution, monopolies and big transnational
enterprises are taking advantage of the crisis to intensify the
exploitation of the workers and downgrading the working conditions through
mechanisms which have brought to unprecedented extremes the exhaustion --
especially nervous exhaustion -- of the working masses. Unemployment has
reached unprecedented limits in the last five decades. In the developed
capitalist countries, members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, the official unemployment figures reached 25 million in
1981, 4 million more than in 1980, and 10 million more than during the
1974-1975 crisis. It is calculated that in 1982 this number will surpass 28
million. These are dramatic numbers which, however, do not reflect the real
magnitude of unemployment, since the statistics used in the affected
countries employ different means to hide it in a deceptive manner.

Meanwhile, how is unemployment reflected in the underdeveloped countries? A
report of the ILO said that in the Third World in 1980 there were 455
million workers who were unemployed, which represented more than 43 percent
of the population of working age. In Latin America that year, 46 percent of
the workforce was affected by open unemployment or underemployment. And
since then this situation has continued to worsen in an amazing manner.

Furthermore, there is the absurd paradox that in 1979, 75 million children
under the age of 15 were working in the world, especially in underdeveloped
countries, doing in many occasions debilitating work, and always badly paid
and lacking all rights.

And what is happening to the working woman in general? According to
estimates of the ILO, 575 million women are employed, which represents 35
percent of the workforce in the world. But women, who represent more than
one-third of the total labor force, only receive one-tenth of the world's
income. The scourge of unemployment falls on women with special violence,
as does the antilabor offensive being waged by the exploiters during this
time of crisis. Many laws of the capitalist states acknowledge the
principle of equal wages for equal work, but in real terms the differences
in pay between men and women are between 20 and 50 percent. In the
enterprises that have been transferred by the transnationals from the
developed capitalist countries to the underdeveloped countries, local women
workers are scandalously badly paid, and their average wage is around
one-tenth of what women are paid in developed countries.

The World Health Organization has reported that among the workers of the
capitalist countries, women are the most affected by certain types of
work-related illnesses, especially in the companies which manufacture
products from toxic materials, such as asbestos, zinc and lead. The
intensification of work and the harmful work conditions do not only
endanger the health of women, but also endanger their essential biological

Other victims of the present situation who should receive the special
attention of the international trade union movement are the large masses of
migrant workers, who, cornered by unemployment and poverty in their native
countries, go to the most developed industrial countries to sell their work
under precarious conditions, doing the hardest and worst paid jobs,
deprived of their essential rights and suffering in many cases repugnant
types of racial discrimination.

Also, the Third World is deprived of its best trained workforce through the
so-called brain drain, which is a highly deplorable way of looting and
despoiling the human resources which received the most costly and difficult
training in the underdeveloped countries. Studies done by the UNCTAD show
that in the last 15 years, the looting of highly capable university
graduates and specialists from the Third World reached more than 300,000.
In the United States between 25 to 50 percent of the doctors who start to
work each year, between 15 to 25 percent of the technicians, and about 10
percent of the scientists are immigrants from underdeveloped countries.

The growth rate of the gross national product in the developed capitalist
countries reached an average of 3.7 percent in 1979, and dropped to 1.2
percent in 1980 and remained at this low level during 1981. The growth rate
of industrial production fell from 4.7 percent in 1979 to minus 0.5 percent
in 1980 and 0.2 percent growth in 1981.

The inflation rate reached 9.8 percent in 1979 and remained above 10
percent on average in 1980 and 1981.

The crisis has not been overcome, as allegedly claimed by some bourgeois
economists in the bonanza years. Far from it; it evidences itself with
driving force, assuming new characteristics that are disconcerting to the
bourgeoisie, such as the combination of economic stagnation with inflation,
which has tossed the traditional economic policy formulas of the postwar
era down the drain. The phenomenon of inflation is hypocritically presented
by many bourgeois government as public enemy No one, which should be
opposed by all, by all social classes alike, as a result of which workers
should observe moderation in labor demands, including the acceptance of
wage cuts.

The fact is, however, that the inflationary process that was triggered at
the end of World War II and that has gone out of control in recent years is
the genuine product of monopolistic capitalism and of the intermingling of
interests between the big monopolies and the state, which acts as an
economic agent through its monetary and fiscal policies.

The policy of increasing the amount of money in circulation applied by the
regimes of the capitalist developed nations in the past 35 years was
neither casual nor simply technical. Essentially, it responded to the price
hike policy promoted by the monopolies and to the imperialist wars such as
Vietnam, during which billions of dollars were minted to finance this
criminal, genocidal and inhuman adventure.

Capitalism's economic crisis is reflected today more harshly than ever in
the nations of the underdeveloped world, where it is made worse by the
scarce general development of productive forces in those countries and the
deformation of their economic structures.

Statistics show that the rate of growth of the underdeveloped nations'
gross national product as a whole dropped from 4.8 percent in 1979 to 3.8
percent in 1980 and to 3.2 percent in 1981. These figures, however, do not
reveal the entire truth. It suffices to recall that the annual growth rate
of the lower-income nations in the underdeveloped world was only 1.8
percent in the decade of the 1960's and 0.8 percent in the decade of the
1970's. Seen from other angle, these facts mean that the lower-income
countries, which account for one-fourth of the world's population, would,
at their present economic growth rates, require 400-500 years to reach the
current per capita income level of the more developed capitalist nations.

That is the most vivid characteristic of the insulting gap that separates
the richer nations from the poorer.

The underdeveloped nations' portion of world exports, excluding fuels,
dropped from approximately 25 percent in 1950 to less than 12 percent in
1980. The continuous deterioration in the exchange rate between basic and
manufactured products, made more critical by the rise in oil prices, has
also contributed to the increase of the huge chronic deficit in the balance
of payments of the underdeveloped nations that import oil, which reached
approximately $53 billion in 1980.

The most significant result of this entire situation on the economic order
is the monstrous indebtedness of the underdeveloped nations. It is believed
that the foreign debt of the so-called Third World had already reached the
astounding figure of over $524 billion in 1981 and it tends toward a
continuous increase in a brutal vicious circle involving interest payments
on debts with increasing interest rates and additional debts. Naturally,
the great majority of the underdeveloped nations will never be able to
settle such huge debts.

The present capitalist crisis, added to the rapid population growth in the
underdeveloped countries, the stagnation or reduction of their agricultural
production, and the general absence of industrial and technological
development, has placed the underdeveloped world as a whole in the most
acute and difficult economic situation in its history, which can only lead
it to progressive indebtedness, growing impoverishment, the weakening of
its independence, financial paralysis and total economic suffocation.

Within the social order, this crisis becomes a tragic and desperate
situation affecting over one-fourth of the world's population, a situation
that can be briefly summarized as hunger, ignorance, ill health, misery,
unemployment, lack of opportunities, insecurity, despair and inequality.

There already are close to 800 million human beings going hungry or
undernourished in the underdeveloped world. The per capita production of
food, which increased 9 percent in the developed capitalist countries
between 1970 and 1980, remained practically stationary in the
underdeveloped world during that same period. Between 1971 and 1980, the
food production per inhabitant decreased in 52 underdeveloped countries.
Among them we find many of the countries regarded as the poorest in the

If one considers Africa's case separately, the data available point to a 15
percent reduction in this sector, with the resulting reduction in the
availability of food resources for the people of that continent. Sixty
percent of the African people are chronically hungry.

The per capita consumption of calories in the underdeveloped countries is
currently lower by more than 33 percent than that of the developed
countries, if one compares the two groups of countries. In the
underdeveloped countries, the average per capita consumption of animal
protein is almost 80 percent lower than that in the developed countries.
The average inhabitant of this underdeveloped world has 3.5 times less fat
for his daily nourishment than the developed world's people. Between
one-fourth and one-half of the children under 5 years of age in those
countries which the FAO regards as most seriously beset by nutrition
problems are malnourished. UNICEF has estimated that 100 million children
went hungry in 1981, while 95 percent of the children born throughout the
world weighing less than the normal minimal limit, are born in the
underdeveloped countries usually to poorly nourished mothers. WHO has
estimated that about 100,000 children under the age of 5 go blind each year
in those countries as a result of deficient nutrition. More than 1.5
billion people drink polluted water and there are almost 800 million
illiterates, who raise the illiteracy rate throughout the Third World to 48
percent. More than 200 million people lack schools or the means and
facilities to attend them. The average infant mortality rate is six times
higher in the underdeveloped countries, and in some of the poorest
countries it is up to 10 times higher than in the developed countries. Each
year more than 15 million children under 5 years of age die there. The
UNICEF executive director recently published a report in which he says in
connection with this situation: 1981 has been another silent emergency
year. Forty thousand children died silently every day, 10 million children
silently became physically or mentally deficient and 200 million children
between 6 and 11 years of age silently observed how others went to school.
In short, one-fifth of the world population struggled silently for mere

The workers and their children are the ones who go hungry, the ones who
lack schools, the ones who die without receiving medical attention. The
cause of this disastrous situation lies with the imperialist policy -- its
selfish, warmongering and aggressive nature -- and with the ill-fated
economic and social heritage which, through colonialism first and
neocolonialism later, bequeathed to the world the capitalist production
system with the sequal of war, blood, social injustice and exploitation of
classes and nations which characterize it.

We would have little faith in the gigantic potential for struggle of the
exploited masses in both the underdeveloped countries and the developed
capitalist countries, and very little confidence in man's chances for
progress, if we did not believe firmly that these problems can and should
be solved by mankind. The workers have a front-line role in this struggle.
The historic task of changing the unjust and unmerciful social order from
which these impressive realities stem falls to them first of all because
they are the most revolutionary class in society. [applause]

The gigantic capitalist propaganda machinery incessantly stresses the
alleged virtues of their system. It points to their wealth and opulence,
their economic indexes, their technology and consumption. it also
underscores their social model in an effort to counterpose it to the
socialist society. There is talk of democracy, rights and equal

In the United States, a country which seeks to pose as a model,
unemployment in 1981 reached 8.9 percent, with a total 9.5 million
unemployed people. This figure can be broken down as follows: white
population, 7.8 percent; black population, 17.4 percent. White youths, 19
percent; black and Hispanic youths, 42.9 percent. While 8.7 percent of the
white population were reported at poverty level, the Hispanic population
reached 21.6 percent and the black population 30.6 percent.

The opportunities to study for the various sectors of the population in the
United States are also an expression of the huge social differences that

The percentage of high school graduates has dropped in the last few years,
principally among the poor sectors and minorities. While 37 percent of
whites complete their high school studies, only 30 percent of blacks and
25.6 percent of Latins graduate. Of the overall number of university
graduates in the United States the ratio of white to blacks graduates is 50
percent higher.

The health programs that were launched in the 1960's -- as a way to bridge
the enormous differences in access to quality health services by the poorer
sectors due to the extremely high cost of such services -- have been
substantially reduced. The reduction in these programs was $16.4 billion in
1981 and $17.2 billion in 1982. These cuts affect 24 million people, of
whom 7 million are children. While the child mortality rate in 1977 was
12.3 per each 1,000 live births among whites, the rate among blacks and
minorities was 21.7 percent.

There are currently 27 million people below 20 years of age in the United
States. One-third of them suffer from instability, dissatisfaction,
rejection of society, great personal conflicts and depression accompanied
by serious crises within the family. Each year 1 million teenagers run away
from home and the suicide rate among them grows every year.

Eleven percent of students in the 7th and 8th grades and 15 percent of
those in the 10th and 11th grades suffer from serious problems of
alcoholism. According to data from the institute of social research of the
University of Michigan, 72 percent of senior high school students consume
alcohol, 34 percent smoke marijuana, 12 percent use pep pills and 5 percent

According to the FBI itself, a crime is committed in the United States
every 2 seconds, a theft every 4 seconds, a theft with violence every 8
seconds. One car is stolen every 28 seconds, a holdup involving injuries to
someone is committed every 48 seconds, an armed robbery every 58 seconds. A
woman is raped every 6 minutes and a murder occurs every 23 minutes. In
1981, admitted rape cases totalled 82,000. Half a million people suffered
burglaries. 650,000 were assaulted and 23,000 murders were committed.

Can this society be taken as a model? [applause]

During the last quarter of 1981, U.S. industrial production dropped 5.6
percent, reflecting a sharp depression. There was a negative trade balance
in the amount of $40 billion, reflecting the growing loss of competitive

The budget deficit -- which Reagan promised to reduce this very fiscal year
to $54 billion -- is projected to reach $109 billion. The promise to
achieve a balanced budget by 1984 is already part of the discarded
demagogic illusions. According to estimates, the deficit will reach an
astronomical $162 billion this year. This is a round and embarrassing
failure of the illustrious U.S. President, who was elected by only 26
percent of citizens with electoral rights in that country. The U.S.
Department of Labor admits that the current unemployment rate is 8.9
percent and it is felt that it will be more than 10 percent in 1982.

The brutal cuts in social security expenditures have turned even more
desperate the situation of unemployed workers and most particularly that of
women, the young people, the blacks and the overexploited ethnic
minorities. There are more poor, unemployed, persecuted, underprivileged
and exploited people in the United States now than during the entire period
following World War II. Today the elderly, sick, handicapped and retired
people as well as lower income families are watching their already cut
social benefits shrink further like never before.

Mr Reagan's administration has been characterized from the start by its
antipopular and antilabor attitude. With incredible harshness, he dismissed
the air controllers. He is reviving the most turbulent eras of antilabor
repression resorting to the full arsenal of legal provisions, use of the
army, ban on union activities, fines, jailing of workers and police

His economic program is the epitome of reactionary monopolistic policy. As
many of his compatriots have proclaimed, it is aimed at making the poor
poorer and the rich richer.

That same government, however, on occasion of the sorrowful events in
Poland -- unquestionably resulting from serious errors committed during the
process of socialist construction in that fraternal country -- where the
action of the imperialist foe unbashedly adopts demagogic stances and
promotes vulgar propaganda campaigns posing as defender of the interests of
the workers and the Polish people; that same government whose hands are
stained with the blood of tens of thousands of workers and peasants vilely
assassinated by the genocidal regimes of El Salvador and Guatemala, which
promotes plans of aggression against Nicaragua and Grenada, which maintains
against the Cuban people a hysterical campaign of threats and provocations
at the same time that it tries to exacerbate the criminal and total
economic blockade imposed on our fatherland more than 20 years ago; which
supports the Israeli massacres of Lebanese and Palestinians; which is a
close friend of South Africa, where 20 million Africans are discriminated
against, exploited and brutally oppressed; which is an accomplice of every
reactionary tyranny and fascist or racist regime that exists in the world
-- can never be a government that defends the interests of workers anywhere
in the world. [lengthy applause]

We have the deep hope that sister Poland, despite Reagan and his demagogy
and his economic blockades and aggressions, will, by itself and with the
fraternal and solidaristic cooperation of all the world's progressive
forces, be capable of overcoming the difficulties without civil war and
bloodshed and that it will successfully march on the just path of

The capitalist economic crisis is of such proportions that its effects are
also felt in the economies of the socialist countries, although these, as a
result of the nature of their social regime, do not generate it and they
are in better condition to counteract its negative consequences.

For more than a century, imperialism and the oppressors have followed the
tactic of dividing, counterposing, isolating and weakening the actions of
the workers. Today in our world which is increasingly smaller and more
interrelated, the universality of the problems is of such a nature and the
presence of the monopolies in economic life acquires such intensity that
the community of interests of all the workers is clearly evident, demanding
an increasingly more unanimous and international reply.

There are no longer peoples or events enclosed behind their borders. We
find proof of this in the activity of the transnational consortiums which,
on transferring industries and entire plants to countries with lower
standards of living, have tried to create rivalries between the workers of
one and another country, to multiply their profits and to evade, many times
with the support of repressive and bloody regimes, the just demands of the
working class. As has been charged, the transnational companies have in
this way paid in some countries wages that are 27 times lower than in the
highly developed countries.

However, despite these and other maneuvers, what we find at this time is
that there is development of the growing solidarity among the workers and
that in trade unions of regions throughout the world there is development
of the conscience of unity, and every day there are more strikes,
demonstrations and protests which express the working class struggle for
its legitimate and unrenounceable rights.

The movement of the workers of the world is growing, and it is not only
developing in numbers but also in scope and depth. The interrelation
between the economic problems and the most vital political aspirations is
increasingly more evident. If wage demands were up to some years ago the
essential reason for workers' strikes, today, however, there is the
struggle for the defense of employment, against dismissals, in favor of
trade union rights, for the sovereignty and independence of their
respective countries, against imperialist interference, in condenmation of
the arms race, for the transformation of the war industry into an industry
of peace, for detente, disarmament and peaceful understanding in
international life.

Half a million U.S. workers have joined to protest the Reagan
administration's domestic and foreign policy and millions more have shaken
the streets of the main European capitals in demand for work, security and

We have no doubt that in the future the workers' resistance to the cold war
policy, the arms race and the threats of war will be increasingly more firm
and determined.

In our socialist society the trade unions also occupy a place of special
importance. In our opinion, they are also called to be increasingly more
active and effective in the development of their tasks. This congress will
give you the opportunity to learn about our trade unions and how they act.
We Cuban revolutionaries are by nature dissatisfied and critical of our own
work. We do not pretend to have reached the ideal in the development of the
trade unions. Socialism, as a regime that is being born, is not exempt from
difficulties, deficiencies, searches and errors. But we have worked with
all honesty and loyalty to promote a deeply revolutionary, democratic and
class conscious trade union movement, capable of proposing and carrying out
great objectives.

Our trade unions defend the revolution and they defend and represent the
interests and rights of each worker and each workers' collective. The most
honest practice of proletarian democracy serves as its basis. Our trade
union leaders are workers promoted from the rank and file by their fellow
workers to the highest responsibilities. As worthy inheritors of the legacy
of that extraordinary teacher of trade union cadres, the unforgettable
Companero Lazaro Pena [applause], our workers' leaders act closely and
permanently linked to the masses. They educate the workers in the love for
the fatherland and in the feeling of solidarity with all peoples of the
world. Tens of thousands of Cuban workers today give their unselfish
internationalist cooperation to the development of more than 30 fraternal
countries. Our workers movement is more vigorous and powerful than ever.
Its attributions and role in society are increasingly important and
decisive. Thanks to our workers' efforts and to our socialist regime, we
eradicated illiteracy years ago in our country. The minimal schooling level
is sixth grade and it is moving toward the ninth grade. Our health indexes
are comparable to those of developed countries. The scourge of unemployment
has been eliminated and there is no racial discrimination, prostitution,
gambling, begging or drugs.

Our example shows that an underdeveloped country's most serious social
problems [applause] can be solved. With the workers' support and the
backing of international solidarity, our fatherland has overcome the
hardest tests. We have come this far and we will continue forward, forging
our future. No force can either make us yield, intimidate us or force us to
give up a single one of our principles.

Today Cuba continues to be seriously threatened. The danger of new
imperialist agressions looms over the heads of our revolutionary people. It
is cynically announced that there are plans to intensify the economic
blockade to a maximum. At the same time, it is announced with great
expectation that any moment Reagan will make an important statement on
Cuba, and it is leaked to the U.S. press that the speech will be bard,
aggressive and threatening. Some U.S. news media even talk about aggressive
plans under consideration and possible ultimatums in connection with the
weapons that our fatherland received last year to strengthen its defenses
in the face of the repeated and increased threats made by the current U.S.
administration against our people, alleging that some of the aircraft that
our country recently acquired are offensive and thus violate the agreements
that resulted from the October 1962 crisis. That assertion is false from
head to toe.

Although our fatherland has never and will never recognize any limitation
on its sovereign right to acquire arms that it considers necessary for its
defense [applause] -- a right that is exercised by all countries in the
world -- Cuba has absolutely not received any type of aircraft that is
different in the least from ones it has been receiving for years, and all
of them are tactical; none are strategic. Therefore, it is a clumsy, gross
and cynical pretext wielded lately by imperialism to provoke tensions and
justify cowardly agressions.

With full determination we warn that no threat, no blackmail, no ultimatum
will ever be accepted. [applause]

Our enemies do not frighten us with the din created by their weapons, their
arrogant statements and their gross deceitfull campaigns. They will never
be able to put us on our knees by any means and if they dare attack us they
will find here an entire people, prepared and willing to fight house by
house, factory by factory and to defend every inch of our soil with Spartan
courage. [applause]

Neither are we thinking only about the risks that might await Cuba, We are
a part of mankind and we have cast our lot with that of the peoples, the
workers and the poor of the entire world. The challenge that the world
faces today has no precedent in any other era. For the first time in man's
millenial history, the real possibility has emerged that everything created
by the peoples' intelligence and work might be annihilated, that mankind
might disappear and with it, the dreams and noble hopes of achieving higher
goals of justice, well being and happiness.

If past experiences are to be worth anything, we must all become aware that
this time we would not have a second chance to rectify our own mistakes.
Above and beyond any philosophical, religious or political differences,
there is much more uniting workers than separating them. They are united by
mankind's vital interest in peace; by the determined struggle against the
mobs that favor war and the arms race; by the aspirations of workers
throughout the world to achieve a better, more honorable, more equitable,
safer and more just life; by the peoples' right to economic and political
independence; by the struggle against colonialism, racism and fascism; by
the fight against the exploitation exercised by the oligarchies and
neocolonialism plundering; by the universal battle for a new and more just
international economic order; and by the feeling of solidarity toward those
still fighting for their liberation. We are united by history. We are
united by destiny, we are united by future. Let us fight with all our
energy to achieve man's survival and a future truly worthy of being called
human. For this reason, allow me to repeat here the beautiful slogan of
those who were immortal and unforgettable paladins of the workers:
proletarians of all countries, Unite; Fatherland or death; we will win.