Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks on Textbooks

FL141927 Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 1700 GMT 14 Jul 83

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, president of the Councils of State
and Ministers, attended today the morning session of the 2d day of work of
the Fourth Session of the Second Legislature of the National Assembly of
the People's Government, which is being held at the Palace of Conventions.

Deputy Antonio Martinez, chairman of the Constitutional and Judicial
Affairs Committee, opened this morning's session by reading the committee's
opinion on the interpretation of Article 50 of the Constitution, which
refers to the free distribution of textbooks to promote the right to

The deputies approved the opinion which states that Article 50 does not
preclude students from buying textbooks.

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro made a speech to clarify and to elaborate
on this matter. [Begin recording] I want to say that this interpretation is
quite correct. This is an example of how we have to deal seriously with
issues like this which concern legality and the Constitution. Last time we
did not want to make a decision on this precisely because were were not
fully convinced, because an in-depth study had not been conducted. This is
not a ruse or a maneuver to justify a measure.

It is in fact understood that the Constitution gives the possibility for
anyone to have a free education. What we have been doing in practice is
lending out textbooks. The constitution does not say the books should be
donated. The books should be made available. We have been collecting the

Thus, by acknowledging this I believe we are strictly and rigorously acting
in accordance with the law. Unfortunately, for practical purposes, we
cannot sell books as a rule because there are not sufficient books.
Initially, we thought about selling them to university students because
there are professionals who will need books for reference purposes. We
began to sell books to medical students and expressed the desire to do the
same with all higher level students. Perhaps it would be useful some day to
do it also with mid-level and even elementary students, who could even keep
the books as mementos of their school years. They could still make some use
of these books.

Yet we cannot sell books now because we are short of them and must keep
them so that they can be used for several years.

We have been selling books to medial students and we intend to follow the
same policy with other university students. Yet since these books are
required in small quantities we have to import them. We have to use foreign
currency to buy them; it is not just a matter of printing them.
Fortunately, most medial textbooks are printed here. Yet they still
represent an additional burden on the country's resources.

Thus this problem will be completely solved and no one should fear that
secondary and elementary textbooks will be sold beginning tomorrow. This is
not possible now. [end recording]

The deputies also discussed and approved opinions concerning the local
organs of the peoples government, complaints and suggestions, and financial
reports submitted to the ANPP by provincial assemblies. Eddy Fernandez
Boada, president of the Santiago de Cuba Provincial Assembly, made a speech
concerning the last issue. Jose Ramirez Cruz, member of the Politburo and
president of the National Association of Small Farmers, expressed the need
for greater cooperative between local organs of the people's government and