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FL221338 Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 2245 GMT 21 Dec 82

[Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the closing session of the
second congress of the Federation of University Students held at the Lazaro
Pena Auditorium of the Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions in Havana
on 20 December -- recorded]

[Text] [applause and shouts of Fidel, Fidel] Dear students, fellow
countrymen: As you may recall, during the first congress, Comrade Machadito
[Politburo member Jose Ramon Machado Ventura] had brought a prepared speech
-- [laughter, applause] -- to close the congress, however, you forced me to
speak. This elicited those Solomon-like remarks I made here and Machadito's
speech had to be published in the newspapers. [laughter]

Therefore, this time -- taking that experience into account -- [laughter,
applause] there being no other speeches, I unhesitantly decided to fulfill
my basic duty to salute you and close the second congress of the FEU
[Federation of University Students]. [applause]

It is not easy to give the closing speech of an event when one has not been
able to participate in each and every one of the details and in every
minute of the event's developments, but I have tried to remain as
up-to-date as possible. I have read materials. I have, as a matter of fact,
read the [main] report, all 34 pages. [applause] I have received reports of
the discussions, and the questions of the universities and of the students
is a topic with which I have always remained abreast. Therefore, I will try
to fulfill my duty this evening.

The topic is far-ranging, so far-ranging that we could say it is infinite.
However, I want to direct myself to some basic ideas. It is said, quite
properly, that we have 40 centers of higher education, including the
military centers, and that over 200,000 fellow countrymen attend these
centers; that if in 1960 28 citizens of every 10,000 were enrolled in
higher education, in 1982 180 of every 10,000 citizens are enrolled in
courses of higher education.

Also, it is noted that 2 percent of our population is enrolled in higher
education. This is actually said. But what a task, what an effort and how
long has been the road to attain these quantitative and also, in part,
qualitative results.

At the time of the revolution's triumph, the universities were closed. The
number of university students at that time -- in the years prior to the
triumph of the revolution -- was around 15,000. The make-up of the
enrollment was totally distorted. Technical careers were very weak. Worker,
peasant and humble sector participation in university studies was very rare
and, in the few exceptions, participation was only possible through the
enormous sacrifices of the students' relatives. At the time of the triumph
of the revolution everything was lacking -- buildings, laboratories. There
were only three university centers and some private centers, which were
growing much more rapidly. Education was dogmatic, acquired by memory and
divorced from practical studies and from scientific research.

Beginning with the first revolutionary battles against imperialism, the
desertions of university professors began. Before the desertion, a purge
was necessary. [antes de la desercion fue necesario, incluso, la
depuracion.] The beginning was very difficult. There was no reason for
university development to be left out of the revolution's great educational
efforts. The base for the present development of our educational centers
began with the literacy campaign. It began with the sending of teachers to
the country's rural areas, particularly the mountain regions.

It began with the establishment of thousands upon thousands of classrooms.
I believe they numbered over 10,000 at the beginning if I remember
correctly. They say 10,000 in 1 day. Well no, the decree was signed in 1

All that effort -- in which our young people and students played such an
outstanding part -- but we did not have enough teachers. Yes, there were
teachers in the cities, but there were no teachers available to send to the
farm areas. It was necessary to call upon teachers known as volunteers,
many of them students. Some were university students and others were
secondary school students. That was a great effort made by the young people
aimed at overcoming illiteracy in 1 year. This was followed by a subsequent
effort called the follow on process. It was a special effort aimed at
establishing, from the beginning, the principle that each child would have
the opportunity to have an education; that each child would have a teacher
and a school.

Many times the school was the shade of a tree or in a modified hut. Those
efforts were made consistently for many years. Then came worker-peasant
education. Later, as masses and masses of children were graduating into the
sixth grade, the need arose to establish secondary education centers. And
under what conditions, don't ask. There were not even enough teachers for
primary education!

There were times when 70 percent of the primary teachers did not have
certificates. We had to mobilize the mass organizations -- the CDR's
[Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] -- every year to search for
teachers. There were not enough [teachers] for that enormous group. Besides
that, there was an exodus, not only of university professors but also of
primary and secondary school teachers.

An enormous constructive effort was made in the primary as well as in the
secondary schools to prepare teachers to confront that task and in the
process be able to teach 1 and 1/2 million -- at one time it reached 2
million -- primary school students and over 1 million secondary school
students, because there were also times when we did not even have enough
high school graduates to go to the universities.

Other needs of the country -- such as the one I mentioned regarding
teachers -- took away secondary school students, although there were not
many. The defense of the country and production activities took away
secondary school students. The first successes of the fight against
unemployment also resulted in the fact that many young people had to leave
their education to take part in production activities, and we did not have
enough high school graduates.

In other words, along with the constructive efforts and the investment of
resources a great human sacrifice had to be made in order to arrive at a
point where today we have 200,000 citizens enrolled in higher education.
Well, this great mass that makes up the FEU was born in 1959, 1960, or
1962. It was, for all practical purposes, born after the revolution or
after the triumph of the revolution. Naturally, workers and peasants that
had the opportunity to have an education joined this mass after the
revolution, and that is why we have such a high percentage of workers in
the total number of students attending higher education centers.

Important moments of this process were, for example the scholarship plan,
which provided the opportunity for students from rural and farm areas and
from the poorer families to be able to participate in university studies;
the university reform, it was an old dream, an aspiration and demand of all
generations of students and revolutionary combatants.

It changed attitudes, worked out new plans, changed the composition of the
student body, introduced the sciences as a basic element of university
education and the Marxist-Leninist ideology to create the bases for
subsequent development. There was the massive enlistment of university
students into the factories and into production activities, while at the
same time there was the massive enrollment of workers in the higher
education centers and later, the assignment of important research centers
to universities, such as the Cenic [National Scientific Research Center],
the Censa [National Animal Health Center], the ICA [expansion unknown], the
agricultural research centers that are the center of agricultural research
and many other research projects, the manufacturing of student equipment
for research projects and also for the country's development.

It was a big effort, requiring all kinds of resource investment, to
establish and distribute university centers throughout the entire country.
There was the plan to train teachers: an emergency method which consisted
of relying on the more outstanding students from each class to carry out
the role of teacher.

Today, we have around 10,000 university professors -- over 800 of them with
science degrees -- and numerous installations and laboratories throughout
the country. The plans for the development and construction of university
installations are proceeding.

This can be said in I minute, but it has actually been more than 20 years
of continuous work. We have only mentioned a few achievements. We could
include, in addition to the reforms the educational improvement programs.
Naturally, these ideas have been evolving over the years; they have gone
through transformations and improvements. We can certainly not avoid this
process, all ideas have to be renewed. They must be adapted to new
conditions. They must be improved.

As we have said, we have reached these levels in terms of quantity and to
some degree of quality, but we cannot, in any case be satisfied, despite
the progress we have made, despite the great improvements described in the
report between the prior congress and this one. We can never be satisfied
with what we have achieved in terms of quality. I believe we will have to
make a firm determination to continue to improve the quality of our
university education. This is the reason you have been discussing new
problems, quite different from the problems discussed during the first
years of the revolution.

These improvements have been achieved with the efforts of our workers,
peasants, intellectual workers, teachers; the good seeds left by
revolutionary teachers; the teacher patriots who helped us so much in the
development of education. These helped us so much to achieve this success,
a success which can already be measured through all kinds of data as for
example, having 100 percent of grammar school teachers with diplomas at the
primary educational level, having tens of thousands of teachers at middle
level, having many teaching institutes distributed throughout the country,
having an entire system which does not only educate professionals and
teachers, but develops them through postgraduate courses in which about
14,000 professionals are enrolled this year.

These are really impressive achievements, achievements which have been
obtained with the effort, sacrifice, determination and courage of our
people; in other words, these achievements have been obtained with the
revolution, the revolution which began more than 100 years ago, a
revolution remembered here tonight, from the time of the struggle of the
Mambi Army up to the present; a revolution in which, as we have said on
other occasions, the students themselves, particularly the university
students, have participated in a very outstanding manner.

This participation began during the war of 1868. The execution of students
in 1871 was due to the need -- the hate of the mother country -- to punish
the spirit of rebelliousness among the students. Tens, hundreds of
university students marched to the war for liberation and joined the Mambi

This tradition was maintained throughout the struggle for independence and
it continued during the republic. The students were always in the front
rank of the struggle against corruption, in the struggle against
oppression, in the struggle against colonialism, against imperialism. They
struggled in the 1920's, in the 1930's, in the struggle against Machado, in
the struggle against Batista, in the struggle against that long list of
government officials made up of thieves, corrupt individuals and puppet
regimes that afflicted our country.

The students participated in an outstanding manner in the last phase, in
our last war of liberation. This enthusiasm you have demonstrated during
the congress -- the rallies and marches -- remind us of those great
struggles, with the same determination, the same firmness that students
showed in the years after Moncada when they participated in many heroic
deeds, fighting in the streets against the police, against the fire trucks,
against the shots fired at them, against the most brutal repression of the
Batista tyranny. The students not only fought in the streets, but also in
the underground. They fought in the mountains and all over. In other words,
the university students have always been very faithful to the revolutionary
traditions of our country. Upon the victory of the revolution, the students
joined the revolution in large numbers.

During the years of hard, difficult struggle, in this determined
confrontation against imperialism, its threats and aggressions, the
revolution always had the full support of the students from the very
beginning, when they began to participate in all revolutionary activities,
in all campaigns, in all efforts by massively joining the revolutionary
national militias, joining as technicians in defense tasks, a cooperation
which continued in subsequent years when the university students began to
train as reserve officers. All this effort was capped with the massive
incorporation of university students into the territorial militias.

We cannot forget that just a few days ago, on 11 December, there was a
complete regiment of university students at revolution square. [applause]
Throughout these last 24 years, they have participated in all important
historic events, in the political struggle, in the ideological struggle,
during the difficult days of when we had to clear the Escambray
[Mountains], the mercenary attack at Giron [Bay of Pigs], the October
crisis. Throughout those years of great political and social reform in our
country -- beginning with the literacy drive and through the successive
agrarian reforms, the process of proclaiming the socialist nature of the
revolution, and of the Marxist-Leninist principles of the revolution --
they have participated. [applause]

Regarding the university students of the first years, beginning in 1959,
one must say that despite the fact that their class composition was not the
same as it is today for historic reasons, those who thought that such a
student body would be against socialism, or against Marxism-Leninism, made
a mistake, because revolutionary tradition and patrotic spirit were
stronger in those student masses than were petit bourgeois prejudices.

The students of those first years of the revolution -- they were the
foundation of those first years of the revolution -- they were the
foundation for thousands and thousands of technicians working today in the
revolution -- unhesitatingly gave everything to the revolution, their
youth, everything.

Now, having reached maturity, they are giving everything to the revolution.
This constitutes proof of the strength of the revolutionary ideas, of the
strength of just ideas. This makes it possible for us to say today that
there was neither a lapse or stain in the history of the revolutionary
student body's support for the Cuban revolution. They were closely united
with our workers and peasants in these struggles and were the foundation
and the reason that we can assert today that we also have a revolutionary
intellectuality. [applause]

That is very important, to have workers, peasants, students, intellectuals,
manual and intellectual workers closely united. This explains why
imperialism has not been able to penetrate the ranks of the revolution, how
we have defeated its aggression and campaigns and how we have defeated, are
defeating and will continue to defeat its ideological diversionism.
[applause] There have been divisions where and, on the contrary, there will
be increasingly more unity between manual and intellectual workers. Aside
from this, all manual workers are studying and, to a certain degree, are
intellectuals. All intellectual workers are capable of working with their
hands; to a certain degree they are also manual workers. [applause]

Throughout these years -- something very honorable that must be taken into
consideration -- the students, all students and, especially, the university
students have always been present in every effort. They have helped to
solve really important problems. Let us cite for example something we have
always noted: Their participation in the solution of the insoluble,
apparently insoluble, problem of intermediate level students with the
creation of the Manuel Ascunce Domenech Pedagogic Detachment. [applause]
This is nearly 10 years old.

It has contributed substantially to the education of what we could say are
millions of youths, millions of them became their own teachers and at the
same time became teachers of the future generations of intermediate-level
students. The youth as a political organization, the Federation of
Secondary School Students FEEM -- and the FEU have participated
significantly in the organization of this detachment and its work. To a
large degree, they make possible this large number and quality of
university students that we have today. From the Manuel Ascunce Detachment
emerged the Che Guevara Internationalist Detachment, which has already sent
four contingents or generations of teachers to Angola and which has great
prestige in both Angola and Cuba.

Now the Manuel Ascunce Domenech Detachment has been created. This has been
done also with the participation of the youth, FEEM and FEU.

More than 4,000 students, well-selected students from the intermediate
level are members. You, the university students, have organized the Mario
Munoz Vanguard Movement and, very recently, have organized the (Piti
Fajardo) Detachment which is present here. [Applause and chants in the
audience] That is our youth, those are our university students. That is the
quality we have. It is the continuity of the historic tradition, of the
revolutionary tradition with new steps, and in a superior phase. There is
nothing that is asked from the university students that is not solved.
There is no cooperation, no matter how difficult, [that we request from
them] that is not met with a positive response.

We have had many examples of that, but we can cite some. For the reasons we
gave on 11 December, with the arrival of the military equipment scheduled
for the 5-year period in less than 2 years, we needed university students,
technicians, those who were training the armed forces were not sufficient.
Another thing we have cited as an example several times is the spirit of
our youth.

We needed a number of technicians from the specialties of electronic
engineering and from other schools. We asked those students in their last
year of those specialties to join the armed forces.

Out of 300 students, the 300, 100 percent, gave a positive and enthusiastic
response. [applause and chants in the audience] Before this, we had some
problems in the sugar mills. There were big sugar mills, important sugar
mills, most crucial for our sugar industry, which lacked engineers and
technicians. We explained that we needed hundreds of students from the
senior year of the course to solve this problem. Contact was established
with the youth. Contact was made with the FEU, and immediately -- in the
first call -- the hundreds of technicians needed at the time made their
presence known. [applause] They went immediately to the sugar mills. The
number was expanded the following year.

Thus, in a very short period of time, thousands of students from the senior
classes joined the sugar industry directly from the university. This was a
shot of young and fresh, essential, fundamental blood in the arm of that so
important branch of the economy. The results of their work can already be
seen in more efficient harvests and better performance of the sugar mills.
This idea led us to others, to organize a similar movement coordinated with
the FAR to send thousands of intermediate-level technicians to sugar mills
and sugarcane agriculture tasks.

This idea continues to generate new ideas, and then the formula for solving
the problem of technical personnel in the steelworking industry and in
basic industry was found. The same procedure was used. The idea of sending
100 students to Nicaragua from the senior class of the school of medicine
came up. They were asking us for more physicians and we did not have them
at the time. We again called on the students who were in their last year of
medical school to select 100 and to send them there as interns to work and
help in the hospitals under the guidance and education of the many graduate
doctors we have in that country in order to do their internship there
during their sixth year of school and to serve for 2 years providing
medical attention. We again experienced the same situation; out of the
1,000 university students, 1,000 students expressed their readiness to go
to Nicaragua. [applause]

It was not just the case of students requested for the armed forces; it was
the need of an internationalist mission. This was a new phenomenon, new and
unusual, even incomprehensible to many people. How was this possible?

This year the need for a new group of students emerged. This time there was
a need for 200 students. We had about 2,000 students in their last year of
medical school. An appeal was made to the medical students and out of the
2,000 medical students or more than 2,000 students, the more than 2,000
students expressed their desire to go to Nicaragua. [applause] Two hundred
were chosen and they are now there. We then said, what we are doing in
Nicaragua we can do in Cuba. We have problems in municipal hospitals, we
have problems in rural hospitals. The idea is a bit more complex because it
is related to the idea of improving the quality in all of these municipal
hospitals, clinics and rural hospitals. This is also related to the idea of
converting all of the country's medical centers into teaching centers. This
idea developed only after we saw the excellent results of the work carried
out by the first 100 medical students in Nicaragua due to their attitude,
work and positive outlook. We said that we can do this in Cuba. We then
asked the students in their last year of medical school if they were
willing to go to any place in the country, to municipal or rural hospitals;
one hundred percent of the students in their sixth year of medical school
expressed their willingness to go to any place in the country. If they were
willing to go abroad, they certainly had better reasons to go throughout
Cuba. [applause]

We have problems with some specialities. We have deficiencies. The students
have not shown a great aptitude for some specialties. These specialties are
very important in medicine, for example, anesthesiology.

There are others for which we lack specialists. An appeal was made to the
students in their last year of medical school; this problem had to be
solved and we had to assign a determined number of students to these
specialties to that they could then do their direct internship. Again 100
percent of the students expressed their willingness to to into these
specialties. Therefore, we had more students than we needed for these
specialties. In these cases we tried not to act like robots; if there were
seven or eight students, we try to make lists, see the options, see the
student's preferences among these specialties and try to select the
students in accordance with their preference or aptitude. In many cases,
students who were already working as aides in surgery and other medical
specialties were willing to give up their specialty to go wherever it was
necessary and to specialize in whatever field was necessary. Naturally, we
believe it is more practical, in these cases, to keep them in their
specialities when we see students with devotion to those specialties, the
specialties they like most. In other words, we try to reconcile the
personal preferences with the needs of the country, but the important thing
is their unconditional willingness to do whatever is necessary to resolve a
problem, their massive willingness, a 100 percent willingness

This has allowed us to think of many things, useful and promising ideas in
these fields due to the decision made by the students with regard to the
specialties. As we said during the inauguration of the Centro Havana
Hospital, we want all doctors to be specialists. We want the new graduate
doctors to be specialists. This is possible when all of the students are
willing. This is proof of a new morality, a new pride. I do not believe it
would be utopian to expect a response of 1,000 students out of 1,000. They
all have the same degree of enthusiasm for fulfilling their duty. We have
proof that the enthusiasm is widespread and unanimous. In our society we
now have new values and a self awareness of character, spirit and virtue.
There is a new appreciation of these traits in our society. Therefore, in
our society there is practically no one who is willing to challenge this
new ethic, this new morality, this new dignity, even though for some people
this means more difficulties and more sacrifices in carrying out new tasks
-- because individual conditions are not exactly the same and family
conditions are not exactly the same. However, there has not been a single
student who, before their people, their fatherland, before their fellow
students was willing to reject the fulfillment of a responsibility, the
fulfillment of a duty.

This signifies, really and truly and in a proven manner, a new morality,
because it simply was the case of an absolutely voluntary activity. That is
why there are hundreds of students completing their final year in municipal
hospitals. That is why the municipal hospitals will become educational
centers. That is why the quality of services will be raised, because we
will have professors in those hospitals, including the rural ones. Who
would have believed it? Who would have dreamed it? That is why 272 students
from the sixth year, after attending some lectures, after visiting several
hospitals, will go to rural hospitals in January, 272 students from the
final year. [applause]

In this manner everything is possible. That is why when we asked for
teachers to go to Nicaragua, more than 29,000 offered their services. That
is why when the gangs, armed, encouraged and organized by imperialism,
murdered some Cuban teachers in Nicaragua, 100 percent of Cuba's primary
teachers were offered [by Fidel] to teach in Nicaragua, [prolonged applause
and chanting] because there is a new morality, dignity, consciousness. I am
referring to these events because, more than any other argument, more than
any other statement, they reflect realities. They give us an idea of what
our university students are capable of doing and what they will be tomorrow
if we continue working well, if we work increasingly better. We are well
aware of the value that it has for the revolution and the country.

We could ask ourselves within the Latin American context -- to cite an
example -- if this is possible in other Latin American countries. The
imperialists have orchestrated great scandals because of the presence of
our teachers and our physicians. They came back for a vacation, and they
(the imperialists] did not say a word. When these 2,000 teachers went, they
said they were special troops. Yes, they are special troops of education,
culture, morality and dignity. [applause] Those teachers do their work in
the most remote and isolated places under the most incredibly difficult
conditions that can be imagined.

Look in other places and see if that kind of teacher can be found. Those
teachers are teaching 100,000 children. The imperialists want 100,000
children to be left without teachers. Because the children do not have
teachers, the imperialists have to pay salaries, a great salary, a super,
super, great salary, [applause] and teachers cannot be found. And if the
imperialists go to other places in Latin America to look for teachers,
unfortunately -- I have to say it is a disgrace -- they will not find them,
unless the teachers are offered millions, enough to make them millionaires.
I would like to see those aspiring to become millionaires teaching in a
thatched-roof hut [bohio], a very humble home of peasants with 10 or 12 in
the family, where even the small hen or swine, if they have them, or the
cow, if they have one, where everybody, including the animals, is inside
the house, a place where the only available food consists of corn, if there
is any. I would like to see those aspiring to be millionaires there.

However, we have the human beings, the teachers, by the thousands, by the
tens of thousands ready to do that. I cite the teachers because they have
been put to this kind of test, but I could cite physicians or any other
type of professional or intellectual worker of our country. I am not
speaking of manual workers, those who build in many places in the world, of
our internationalist combatants, or our physicians and health workers in 26

Those are the extraordinary values, unbelievable. If this had been said 20
years ago, nobody would have believed it. Then there were no teachers to go
to Villa Clara, or Escambray, or Sierra Maestra. The same was the case with
physicians. That was the inheritance from the capitalist society, the
bourgeois society, the egotistic society, which far from cultivating the
best values of man, cultivates the worst instincts. Why do we have them?
Why did we achieve them with the revolution, with the cultivation of the
best values of the human being, with the feeling of solidarity, with
internationalism, with socialism, with Marxism-Leninism?

We challenge any other system, any other doctrine to achieve among the
masses of a people what socialism, what Marxism-Leninism, what the
revolution has achieved among our youth and our people. [applause]

We are observing this every day, everywhere. It is an unquestionable sign
of progress. It is obvious that the new generations will transmit that
spirit still better: Those who today are in primary education, the Pioneers
and those in intermediate-level education. We must continue to advance
along that path, an encouraging path, in a world with so many problems,
with so much egotism. We have more than enough reasons to feel satisfied,
to continue to seek formulas and to find ways to develop that spirit of
unity, of fraternity, of real solidarity among human beings.

You have discussed in this congress current problems, and there are many.
We understand that the congress was very good, that there has been a
profound spirit of criticism and self-criticism. I did not participate in
the debates but I was able to learn about that spirit from the main report.
I noticed all the problems that were taken up, and practically all were
taken up. I know about the fundamental problems that were discussed in the

I also know the results. I believe one of the prevailing points was the
issue we call the willingness -- you have chosen to call it the total
availability -- to fulfill any task. [applause]

You have examined very serious matters and have placed, in the midst of all
your concerns about matters dealing with study and the quality of study,
the issue of promotions with quality and the methods of studying,
collectively and individually, the responsibility of each student to train
technicians with optimum knowledge, with optimum preparation. That has been
the focal point of this congress. I know you have discussed diverse
problems and difficulties. Let us cite the educational bibliography, which
came up in the discussions in the congress -- the matter of books and
availability of books.

I believe this is an important problem, a justified and reasonable concern.
I believe Armando [Hart] spoke here. Someone said Armando was very
self-critical in his speech at the congress. It is good that Armando was
self-critical. [applause] I hope he was self-critical on behalf of all of
us for the share of blame we must bear. I know there are difficulties with
books. However, we will not solve that problem with Armando's
self-criticism alone. Armando's self-criticism can be a guarantee that the
printing press which was acquired sometime ago to produce the short
editions that are so necessary -- not a novel by Garcia Marquez -- but a
book for a specialty in technology, in medicine -- something that only
requires a small number of copies. The problems we have had with that
printing press, with the personnel. I believe there are some problems with
the resources.

I realized there were difficulties when I was asking about and concerned
with the problems which the medical sciences detachment was going to have
and, above all, with the number of books they had. There were difficulties
with the books of the medical sciences' students. Some of these books are
imported and many are printed here. Sometimes there are problems with the
titles. Cuban professors are being encouraged to make the titles. Some
because of the small number needed, are better to import; others are better
to print here.

I realized there was something very seriously wrong and this was not the
first time I have been concerned about books for university students. Some
years ago we had that problem, those concerns. A number of measures were
adopted, even new printing houses were built. We had no other alternative
but to print some books and declare that scientific knowledge is a
patrimony of mankind.

But in those days -- some 12 or 14 years have elapsed -- the number of
students was one quarter what it is today. Now we have the same problem
with many more students. Perhaps we will need some funds. We would have to
determine the quantity.

I was telling Robaina and Comrade Lage that we should discuss this with the
Culture Ministry and even the Education Ministry, which owns excellent
printing houses. [laughter] Someone told me that the pedagogic institutes
did not have so many problems with books that they were in somewhat better
shape. Perhaps, we will have to determine quantities. Let us make an effort
to find a solution to the problem of the textbooks now that the level of
students has been raised so high.

In the case of the school of medicine, I learned a lot. I learned that
because of that scarcity of books, the student cannot keep his books.

This is really unfortunate because after studying anatomy, microbiology,
pathology or any of these subjects you are then left without textbooks
after finishing the courses. You are then removed from just about all the
things you have learned. You are not going to remember by heart all the
things printed in those textbooks. We believe that you are going to need
these textbooks for consultation practically all your life. [applause]

Many people like to write in textbooks; they enjoy writing all over them.
Some even like to write a new page on the page of textbooks by writing
comments. These are personal habits. It is presumed that this textbook is
going to be used by another student who is going to find it full of
writing. The new student is probably interested in other methods of
studying, therefore the textbook becomes a headache.

A textbook is a very personal thing. We proposed to the comrades of culture
[Culture Ministry] the idea of making an effort to start the courses by
making available all the textbooks needed to all the students of the first
year. This was done in a matter of weeks because the formation of the
student detachments was about to begin. This was the idea for the students
in the first year of medical school, but with the idea of extending it to
the other medical students. The idea was to study textbook availability and
the need to sell the textbooks to the students so they could keep them.

You can rest assured that the idea of selling the textbooks to students is
by no means based on stinginess [laughter] or a question of getting some
kind of income. That was not the question. As we could not implement this
program with all the students, the basic idea was to sell the textbooks to
a group of students and then extend this program to the other medical
students and finally to all students at the university level. This is the
program. Students were even given some help to pay for the textbooks. The
textbooks were not sold at flea market prices [laughter]. They were sold at
cost. They were sold at cost and not at the parallel market prices and --
let me warn you, I am not criticizing this at all [laughter] they solve
problems -- they were sold practically at cost considering transportation,
administrative and other expenses. The textbooks were sold very cheaply and
students were even given aid to pay for them. Uniforms were also sold to

I repeat that we want to extend this idea to all medical school students. I
believe that we have to keep this idea in mind for all university students.
You cannot imagine the trouble I have got myself into [laughter]. Comrade
Fernandez told me: Just think, textbooks should even be sold in grammar
schools. I say once again that this has nothing to do with stinginess
[laughter] or an economic solution for a country that spends 1.4 or 1.5
billion pesos in education, therefore, the income from selling textbooks
will not solve anything. What is involved here is the problem of having to
collect the textbooks every year; the hunting for textbooks [laughter]. We
said, we are going to see whether the sale of textbooks saves paper or not.
Fernandez said on one occasion during the meeting of the Executive
Committee that possibly these textbooks will be passed on to a younger
brother and then to another younger brother. I wanted to tell him that the
ways things are right now, after one younger brother there will not be many
other younger brothers, but [laughter] perhaps the textbooks will be passed
on to a friend.

The idea of selling grammar school textbooks is not aimed at getting
income, but is aimed at making savings and taking good care of the
textbooks. This is why we are implementing this measure with university
students so that they can keep their textbooks. We have already given a
reason for this. We cannot go around giving free textbooks to some students
to take home and not have enough for others. This is the first reason,
therefore we had to plan on the basis of selling them. The second reason is
that the students are going to have a different feeling about textbooks,
therefore they will take better care of them. The basic idea is not to have
to give textbooks to some students and leave others empty-handed. There is
agreement on this.

However, I got myself into trouble. Fernandez said that Article 52 of the
Constitution -- [I] did not remember Article 52 of the Constitution, now he
says it is Article 50 of the Constitution -- established that textbooks
must be free. I said, well that is fine, no one wants to violate the
Constitution. We, who worked so hard for the Constitution, can now ask
ourselves whether we did well in adding this detail in an article of the
Constitution. What concept are we now going to give to the textbooks? We
are not going to return the money to the students [laughter], the textbooks
will be leased for life [laughter]. We will have to invent something
[laughter, applause].

Just imagine changing an article of the Constitution [laughter] to resolve
an important problem. This is the question. The jurists and courts will
have to interpret this situation, or the National Assembly will have to
interpret it because the National Assembly has constitutional powers. We do
not want, we do not like, in the least, to touch the social legality that
has been established in the Constitution. We will have to look to the
specialists and I believe that we are not very strong in this field, in the
specialties of the law, I believe we are not very strong in legal science
but -- somebody there is protesting [laughter] -- we have to see how we
interpret and resolve this situation. We have to resolve the problem of the
textbooks. The idea is that, at least at the university level, the students
have the necessary textbooks and be able to keep them, because they may
need them for the rest of their lives. This is a problem we are now
studying. You were right in bringing up this problem. This is not the only
problem. You also vigorously disclosed the difficulties of studying and
working in production and service centers as teachers. This was another
point vigorously presented. We have to study what the problems are and how
they can be resolved. As I said, these ideas and concepts on the
development of our centers of higher learning have been evolving. At one
time we established a determined number of hours which all university
students had to contribute to factories as manual laborers.

Keeping in mind that we had already introduced the study-work program at
the secondary level, it appeared to us that we could free the students of
higher education from those hours of manual labor in order for them to get
a better theoretical education and have the practical education come
according to the outlines of their specialty. It was a decision we reached
some years ago. Now we find that there are some difficulties in applying
that principle. We have to find out which are objective factors and which
are subjective factors.

You were also concerned about the problems related to the placement of
university graduates. This is a very important question. We must create
methods through FEU participation. You said you were encouraged by the good
results of the preassignment arrangements. Now we must study the way to
establish the method of placement taking into account the student's merits,
placeability and his political-moral evaluation.

According to the comrades' explanation, you expended considerable energy in
debating the matter of cheating and the struggle against it. well, that is
not unique. I don't know if you are aware of it, but the [medical sciences]
detachment has a more strict regulation on the question of cheating.

Some of you were suggesting this or that punishment for cheating. In the
teaching detachment...pardon me, in the medical sciences detachment
cheating means final and definite dismissal of the student. There is no
other way because of the nature of their speciality. Because we cannot
conceive that anyone, who later will be responsible for a life, could be an
academic cheat. The struggle against cheating must be tireless and

You discussed problems related with the [word indistinct] hospital
regarding the complex structure they have and FEU difficulties in attending
to them.

It appears that the same thing happens regarding the young people -- the
students -- attending the hospitals called [word indistinct]. I was asking
for solutions. Solutions are being considered. It appears to be easier in
the provinces. I believe there are some answers in Cienfuegos -- when the
faculty and the hospital get together. You say the matter is more complex
in the capital of the republic. I asked the comrades of the FEU and the
youth to study, consult the party, and find a way to respond to those
students' concerns.

You also brought out and discussed matters related to how students could
express their concerns and the role which the FEU should play. I certainly
thought very wise what was proposed in the main report: The need to take
into account the real objective needs of our economy. Although it is not
dealing directly with that, it is a good thing to keep it very much in
mind. The fact that there are limitations in providing for such a large
mass of students is real.

But here, we are addressing all those problems which can and should be
solved, problems that can and should be attended to. We have guessed and
sometimes we have asked: What are the problems in one place or another? I
believe that the major problems are in Santiago de Cuba and Havana. I also
believe there are problems in the Moa Mining and Metallurgical [Complex],
according to what I was reading in the report.

All those problems were addressed. Other problems related with the work of
the brigades, related with the students' vacation work -- those who
committed themselves and did not show up, those who would show up and later
would leave, and so forth -- were discussed. You also discussed matters
related to culture, sports, recreation and so forth. That is why I was
saying that you left no problem unreviewed. You studied the work
accomplished between the first and the second congress. You studied the
process of awakening consciences -- through which university students
erased some small stains resulting from a little carelessness. This obliges
us to recall once again that the price we pay for the revolution is eternal
vigilance. Therefore we should not act carelessly.

We are supposed to be more selective, careful and more demanding; just as
you have suggested in your congress. Perhaps it is true that we should
change the entrance requirements.

Because of the establishment of the Carlos Finlay Detachment, new ideas
regarding selection came up that were very important and very interesting.
Some of these were the evaluation of the political-moral character of the
student and analysis of the career before the secondary [school]
commissions. I have been thinking of the possible advantages of gradually
extending that procedure for the selection of students entering the
universities. Of course, there is the [student's] record, because the
computer alone can serve to select given predetermined parameters. We must
consider that in the student and then go to the record.

It is essential -- and I may talk about this later on -- this matter of the
fine selection of the students entering the universities. But finally, the
congress has examined, however small, a series of questions of all kinds,
some related with ideological and political education and the results of
all those processes. It is a university with very high standards, where
individuals who should not have entered were dismissed. We hope that this
process of awakening consciences does not have to be repeated. Consciences
should always have such depth that there should be no room to penetrate any
deeper. [laughter, applause]

That conscience you were speaking of -- which exemplifies who our students
are -- that process preceded the march of the fighting people. The march in
which university students played such an active, militant and outstanding

It is our duty, the duty of the comrades of the party, state and youth
leadership, to get together and study all these questions brought up in the
congress and offer our best cooperation in resolving them. I believe that
Armando [Hart, culture minister] has already promised that he was going to
do something about the books, and we can modestly offer to do what we can
about this and about the rest of the problems that have a solution and do
not depend on human factors -- those problems that are up to us to resolve.

Now we must watch over this quality we have achieved in the university
student body. That is why selection is so important. I know that you also
discussed the passing rate. The passing rate is not high enough. We cannot
be satisfied. Consider the resources we are investing. When we have an
approximately 50 percent passing rate in the day student courses, it is
low. This is due to various factors. In part, this is related to the
difficulty of the university students' education. How good are the
foundations of the university students -- those who enter the university?
What difficulties do they encounter? Of course, the greater problems are
encountered in the first years.

Again, in the farm areas we were able to observe some things that were not
good in the [procedure for] entering the school of medicine -- the entry
for workers. Now we have limited it. Basically, we have limited it to
midlevel health technicians [tecnicos medios de la salud] who have received
their certificates, have worked and studied and passed their examination.
We are talking about the entry of workers [into the school of medicine],
and for the first time the examination was established in the school of
medicine. There was a very low passing rate among those who took the test.

Of course, because the programs had not been established for a sufficient
amount of time -- a very long time -- an opportunity was offered. An age
limit of 25 was established for regular studies in the school of medicine,
because we already had thousands upon thousands of high school graduates --
thousands upon thousands of good students, with good records, who could
enter studies at 18 or 19 years of age. It was not logical to allow a
person entry through another channel -- whatever his qualifications -- who
was 15 or 20 years older. [Therefore], we established the age limit of 25
for the regular studies and established the entrance examination.

Before this, it was possible to begin studies, but the person would fail
within the first semester -- they could not cope with the difficulties.
They were not well prepared. We saw many persons who did not have
sufficient education enter this way. They were not able to get to the sixth
year and were lost along the way.

Regarding the entrance [into medical studies] from the military services,
this always seemed the most fair thing to us, because selection had already
been established -- selection for high school studies, selection from high
school graduates according to their records to enter the university and the
midlevel technicians were fulfilling their military obligation --
[therefore, we had to] give an opportunity to those leaving military
service to enter the university.

Regarding the medical detachment, recruiting was done among the good
reliable and serious young soldiers. We reduced the length of their
military tour and placed them in school for approximately 20 weeks to
polish up their education and to get them to study hard. When they took the
examination not all passed. A minimum of 90 percent had been set for
preuniversity students to enter the detachment.

We are going to extend this idea for all those leaving military service. I
remind you that according to Resolution 20 there is still a group that can
enter [the detachment] without going through these courses.

There are three schools already established for those leaving military
service -- some of them 10 months in duration with a minimum of 6 months --
to study and polish up their education, and then take the examination.

We are going to establish midlevel schools. We have the installations --
midlevel installations. We have sufficient [schools] so that all those
leaving military service who are midlevel technicians or high school
graduates and want to enter university studies can go through those
schools, polish up their education and take the examination.

Later, we are going to have to increase the requirements and the strictness
of the evaluations and entrance tests, although we may always have a number
of students who enter directly into the university as a reward for their
excellent grades. We should always encourage a [good] record, we should
encourage studies and encourage that possibility. That is why, in view of
the experience we have been gaining recently, we must study and work hard
on all matters regarding entry into the university, because that is going
to be an important factor which is also going to affect the passing rate. I
don't know if these comrades from the Carlos J. Finlay Detachment are going
to disappoint [defraudar] all of us, but I hope that the number of them
that complete the sixth year will be much higher than those before them.

We lose resources, energy, time -- we lose everything -- by entering twice
the number to graduate half. Because we cannot relax the demands and
strictness of the studies and education, then we must tighten our
requirements for entry into the regular day courses of the university.

The courses and this kind of student are very important. We talk about
having 200,000 students in higher level studies. Of these, over 76,000 are
enrolled in day courses. They make up the FEU itself. There is a high
number of them enrolled in evening courses. There are others enrolled in
group courses and others in extension courses.

It would be good to clear up some points, since you have been reviewing the
material and the remarks I made at the first congress regarding some
concepts of the universality of university education. The circumstances are
not the same in each field. For example, the situation in education is
ideal. Since the bachelors degree for grammar school teachers was created,
about 100,000 grammar school teachers will have an opportunity to engage in
higher studies. These teachers are not hurting us in any way. If the
teachers engage in higher studies they will get a bachelors degree.
Therefore they will be grammar school teachers, but at a high level holding
a bachelors degree.

A bachelors degree for nurses has also been created. The nurses can study
and we will be delighted if all nurses eventually get a bachelors degree in
nursing; their service will then be of a higher quality.

Well now, out of the 200,000 students, more than 70,000 are in the
educational field, pedagogy. This is no problem, their jobs are secure. If
there are too many teachers, they will form a reserve. These teachers can
then go on to higher studies. We have more than 27,000 students in
technological studies. This is a very important field needed by every
developing country. In medical sciences we have more than 17,000 students.
This is not a problem. We already said at one time that we do not know when
we are going to have a surplus of doctors. If we keep in mind the national
and the growing international demand, we have the possibility of having a
doctor in every factory, school, ship and in every rural community etc;
perhaps by the year 2000 we may have a surplus of doctors.

At that time the number of students entering medical schools could be
reduced and medical facilities used to improve the quality of doctors.
There are many possibilities. We are not worried about having many graduate
medical doctors. We have more than 16,000 students of economics among the
200,000 students; we have more than 15,000 students of agricultural
sciences; about 8,000 students of natural sciences and mathematics, etc.

What does this mean? What I am saying is that the number of students who
are taking regular courses in various studies can either grow or decrease.
I believe that the number of students will not grow in the forthcoming
years. The number could increase slightly, it may even decrease; this will
depend on the specialties and on the needs of the country. The resources
are limited. We must devote our efforts to the consolidation of our
education. The number of students may even decrease. I repeat, it does not
both us if through other means and other courses all grammar school
teachers get a bachelors degree and all the nurses get a bachelors degree
in nursing.

Extension courses [cursos dirigidos] have been created. What is the meaning
of universality in education? This means opportunity and the creation of
means of education in accordance with the resources available in society so
that everyone, without limitations, can study. Anyone who wants to get a
bachelors degree in history can become an expert in history. Another
student can study philosophy, art or other studies, etc. It makes no
difference if the studies are done under the extension courses of if a
person wants to study law or any other field. In law schools particular
attention must be paid to regular courses, as there is a complete program
for increasing the discipline in the study of law due to the needs of the

When we carried out the reforms, there were so many law students that we
felt there were too many and in some ways regarded them as a symbol of the
law of the past. We had to get more engineers, more specialists in the
various fields of engineering and this is why the study of law was somehow
neglected. We have now discovered that we need good legal science
specialists in the courts, prosecutors' offices and in enterprise.
Therefore we will also have to pay special attention to the regular law
school courses.

I want to emphasize that a society must grant the opportunity to engage in
higher studies in accordance with its resources. Logically, doctors cannot
graduate in extension courses. They must attend well-organized day courses.
It would also be difficult to teach engineering and other university
studies through extension courses. The country must provide an opportunity
for education through different courses in accordance with its needs,
through morning and evening courses, etc. We have said that if a tractor
driver becomes an engineer or wants to become an engineer, society should
give him the opportunity to become a mechanical engineer. An effort must be
made to give him that possibility. This does not mean that the tractor
driver will be given the position of engineer in a factory. He would have
to continue driving his tractor. I am not speaking of the present, I am,
speaking of the future. If a tractor driver becomes an engineer today, he
will immediately be hired because there are many people who need mechanical
engineers. I am not speaking of the present. I am not speaking of past
years of great scarcity of university-level technicians when it was
necessary to use all kinds of resources to get university technicians. I am
talking about the future and logically that future will come. It will be a
time when the number of engineers in a factory or a shop will be limited.
Of course, if every tractor driver becomes an engineer this would be better
for society and if society can give the tractor driver an opportunity to
become an engineer, let him become an engineer; the same thing applies for
people who want to become economists or experts in any other field.

I propose as an aspiration -- this must be an aspiration of society -- the
giving of an opportunity to anyone who wants to engage in higher studies,
but this principle is inconsistent with job allotment, it would not mean
this in every case. The teachers being trained in teaching schools, the
doctors, the engineers are going to have permanent jobs in their

Well now, we have to be careful in the study of school admissions, in the
structure of school admissions, particularly in the regular daytime
courses. We have to be careful not to take a youngster who finished high
school or finished the services into a daytime course and then not be able
to guarantee him a job in accordance with the specialty he studied. We have
to be very careful about this. Therefore, we must separate those studies
which are considered necessary for the economy and the services -- which in
the future must get their specialists basically from the students of the
regular courses -- from those cases in which the desire for
self-improvement or for having more knowledge are unrelated to the needs of
the economy and the services.

The idea which I have always defended is that an opportunity should be
given, as much as possible, to any individual to engage in any study he
desires but the degree of society's commitment in relation to allotting a
job to this individual should be clearly understood. We must be
particularly careful with the students of the regular courses. It is not
easy in today's world to say with mathematical precision what the needs for
specialists will be. We have our needs and our needs do change. We also
have the world's needs. The demand for Cuban technicians is growing. The
demand for medical doctors abroad is growing. At this time, no one is
prepared to say how many specialists we are going to need in the year 1995
or in the year 2000 because new situations are emerging and I believe the
country must have a reserve of technicians.

However, it is important to establish the obligations of society in
relation to those who are studying, the needs of the country's economy and
services in relation to the many people who want to study. I support the
idea of giving the greatest possibilities to people who want to study and
this is why the extension courses have been established. We are not worried
if the extension courses grow. They are not very expensive. I believe,
however, that in relation to the regular daytime courses, as a rule, we
must consolidate what we have and consider that this is a different
situation; like the case of the tractor driver who is working and wants to
become an engineer in comparison to the youngster who enters a
technological institute.

If the equipment operator or the tractor driver become engineers, they will
have to get more pay because their work will certainly be better. There is
no doubt that extra knowledge is never an excess; it always helps in
productivity. I believe that it is necessary to clarify these concepts. The
delegates, the students and the brigades read their speeches. I even
disclosed my aspiration of reaching 300,000 students by 1985. In reality,
considering the present circumstances, I do not believe we should aspire to
reach 300,000 students by 1985. I believe that in this 5-year period we
must maintain, more or less, the level we have now. We should not increase
the number of daytime students in order to prevent a surplus among some
graduate students. We can increase the number of students in the extension
courses if we have the personnel and resources for it. Of course, the
principle of merit must prevail in student admission.

I absolutely agree with the criterion proposed in the congress that the
most capable students, the students with the best merits, the students with
great qualities and with better political and revolutionary preparation
must have preference at the time of admission. These traits must be kept in
mind at the time of admission. It is our duty to study and to find
solutions to the problems presented by the congress.

The general impression of all the comrades who participated, who have been
involved in the congress is very good. They said that the congress was very
well organized, that it was carried out with responsibility and great
quality. The problems are new. Solutions must be found to these new
problems. We must continue forward. I am sure that we will continue to
progress. We will see how the Third Congress behaves. We will see how all
the agreements are fulfilled and we will see what the balance is in 4
years. I believe that your congress is held every 4 years, is that true?
This means that in four party congresses, the FEU has held five congresses.
Is this true? As long as I am able and you invite me, I will try to follow
the result of the congress. [applause]

Comrades, I want to say that we are very satisfied with the congress, that
we are happy, that it has been an opportunity to see the results of the
work carried out over these years, that you deserve the recognition of our
party and our people, that you deserve warm congratulations, that you
deserve all the confidence we have in you and all the hopes we have in you.
When we arrived here today we saw the enthusiasm of this congress. We saw
you full of life. I also know that you are full of experience and that this
experience will continue to grow, that you have a great deal of knowledge
and that this knowledge will also be enriched.

We feel stimulated and rewarded to see a new generation like the one you
represent. We feel that the problems of our country will be in the hands of
men and women of your quality. We are stimulated to see the revolutionary
spirit of this generation and we are full of optimism about the future.

We have accomplished a great deal, a great deal has been achieved. We are
pleased to think that you will never feel satisfied with these
achievements, that you will always try to reach higher goals. Tonight, you
remembered Mella, Villena, Jose Antonio Echevarria, Frank Pais, Abel, Che.
You remembered them with affection, respect and pride. If one goes back
into the past to think about their experiences, the life they lead, the
life they lived; we realize that when they fought, when they founded the
FEU 60 years ago, a day like today, they were full of dreams, full of hope
in the future. They wanted these things. They wanted these results. A
thought just came to my mind, something that happens to us revolutionaries;
revolutionaries have always been accused of wanting impossible things, of
wanting topic things. Marti was at one time accused of being a dreamer.
Marti responded that the dreams of today are going to be the laws of the
future. It has always been said that these tasks could not be carried out,
that they were impossible, but in my revolutionary life I can say that the
achievements made are many times more exalted than dreams. [applause]

I do not know what kind of dreams Mella and Villena had about the future of
the country, about the future of the universities, about the future of the
students and the people. We are already talking about 40 university
centers, 200,000 students. We are talking about this pride, this morality,
this dignity, this awareness, this spirit our youngsters now have and of
what they are capable of doing. We speak of our people's attitude and total
commitment to every task no matter how difficult but I do not know if our
heroes' dreams were below this reality. That is, I do not if this reality
is more than their dreams but I am convinced that all those heroic
fighters, those pure revolutionaries which you have mentioned tonight would
be proud of all of you. [applause]

Therefore, let us dedicate this excellent second FEU congress, on its 60th
anniversary to the memory of Julio Antonio Mella and to all heroes and
martyrs of the student body, heroes who came from the ranks of students,
who came from the ranks of our extraordinary youth. Fatherland or death, we
shall win.