Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


F1032000 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0005 GMT 1 Dec 86

[Exchange between Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Communist Party of
Cuba, and a delegate to the deferred final session of the party's third
congress at Havana's Palace of Conventions on 30 November]

[Text] [Suarez] My name is Reynaldo Suarez, first party secretary in Union
de Reyes. Commander, the topic I would like to discuss is party work which
in a way is linked to all that we have been talking about. We cannot leave
out the party's deficient work in all this. Before taking up this topic, I
would like to bring up something that you mentioned earlier. Also, in your
most recent speeches you have spoken about services in our country.

In all this rectification process in which the party has moved away from
the bureaucracy of meetings and the [word indistinct] to the
administration, we have not had to come into contact [vincular] further
with the workers or take part in assemblies of production with our groups.
What has not been mentioned yet? As we were explaining some days ago to the
comrades at the municipal plenum of the Central Organization of Cuban Trade
Unions -- and were we to ask the delegates here -- very few would know what
the real wages of a worker are. This is because our workers have a false
concept, no appreciation when it comes to realize, to evaluate the benefits
they receive from our revolution along with the nominal salary they get
each month. We had to go talk to three workers because their norm in iron
cutting [partidur de hierro] was raised from 9 to 13 tons. We spent 2 hours
talking to them because when we checked we found out that they were earning
350 pesos. This was a management error, first of all, because the norm was
not changed when technical conditions were. It was also deficient work by
the party because it did not demalid that management do it. When we began
to talk to them, they were unable to understand why they had to go from 9
to 13 tons. In addition, when we started talking with them and got the
information out of them, they were overfulfilling in 16 and 18 hours
[corrects himself] 16 and 18 tons. They began to understand what the
problem was.

We kept talking and found out that we had come from the same place and
grown up barefooted under capitalism. We had to remind them of the hunger
we experienced under capitalism. I want you to know that if the party has
had deficiencies in anything, it is that a percentage of our working class
has lost sight of the hunger it suffered under capitalism in this
rectification process. We have to undertake a hard ideological battle. We
asked the comrades: Tell me how much you pay pay to go to the polyclinic.
How much do you pay to send your son to school? How much do you pay at the
child care center? We pay 200 pesos for a funeral service in our
municipality. Under capitalism, we used to say that the death of a relative
was sad but the funeral bill was sadder. we had to go into hock. I was a
kid but I have not forgotten the misery of capitalism. We have talked a
great deal about labor discipline, but capitalism at least taught men to
work out of need. I feel that if there was anything that we lost in this
battle over these past years, it has been the open discussion with the men
about what their role and obligation are in the socialist society. Our
society has given them benefits. Today, the living standard of our people
is unquestionably superior to that under capitalism.

[Castro] You have raised some very interesting issues. I believe that some
of your arguments in speaking to the workers, when you asked what society
gave them aside from their wages, could be supported with a lot more cases.
For instance, the food subsidies. The cost of transportation, which was
discussed here because people feel it is time to reform the system. After
all, people take the bus to go three or four blocks. The defense of the
country takes a high, very high percentage of the overall social product.
Defense and security. But what are we going to do? You cannot wage a
revolution for free. Free was what we had before. But if you wage a
revolution and then you have to defend it against a powerful empire, does
not that cost a great deal? Iron, wood, steel, manpower. Military
construction, fortifications, all that kind of thing. There are many
things. Actually, you probably have used these arguments in your
conversations with workers. There are many arguments that can be used.

[Suarez] Allow me. In the special meeting of the provincial committee, I
said that if our press needed to play a bigger role in any element, it was
precisely this: it has to serve as the vehicle to teach and inform our
workers what the revolution is giving them for free that they used to have
to pay for. Commander, there is a great percentage of our workers who have
forgotten this.

[Castro] They are young. They were born in the revolution. How can they?
They did not suffer the hunger that you yourself say you had to when you
were young.

[Suarez] Some of those who lived under capitalism have also forgotten.

[Castro] That is possible, yes, and you said that they,did not consult the
party, it was passed over. It's only logical that the party is an obstacle
for anyone who wants to do bad things. There is no doubt about it. It is an
obstacle. Without the party, people would feel free to do whatever they
wanted. You also spoke about some party members who fail to understand some
of these things, some of the needs. We would have to see whether we might
have grown too fast. If we have lost quality in growing. This is always
painful. [applause] This is what we all were saying in earnest. Nothing
makes us happier than a new school, a new hospital, a new residential area.
Anything. What has never crossed my mind is to use the standard of living
as motivation for the masses. I believe that it is not what motivates men,
what motivates revolutionaries. That is one of the fundamental objectives,
to always appeal to man's conscience. If we spoke only of living standards
-- and I have never even liked the term -- we could unleash a terrible
national selfishness. Marxism-Leninism is internationalism. If we, for
instance, thought only about ourselves, there would never be anything left
for the practice of internationalism. We have 1,500 doctors. We would love
to have those doctors on the mountains, do as we did in Guantanamo, a
mountainous province, where we have 150. But we have 1,500 overseas. We
fulfill internationalist duties. We have many students here, we have many
people abroad, tens of thousands of people, because we have fostered an
internationalist awareness. If the masses are taught only in terms of
living standards, then they will never have an internationalist awareness,
because everything that you do to give to another you are taking away from
yourself. Imagine, if we were not internationalists, we would be the most
ungrateful people in the world. Yes, we would be the most ungrateful people
in the world, because no one has received so much from internationalism as
we have. That is why I said once that we were paying our debt to mankind,
our own debt to mankind. That is so. We have to educate people in
solidarity. That is what we have to educate them in. In the spirit of
struggle, in the spirit of sacrifice.

Living standards will be a by-product of the revolution itself, of
development, of all that. I must speak with absolute sincerity. I believe
that if we have been able to allow ourselves the luxury of many of these
blunders, and at the same time we have been able to enjoy defense,
education, health, development, real standards of living, it is in large
part due not to our work but to what we have received from
internationalism. When there is a fair exchange -- which is what we have
been seeking for all Third World countries -- when we get 20 odd cents for
a pound of sugar when prices are 7 or 8, do you truly believe that this
country is in a position to afford the luxury to consume 10 million tons of
fuel? If someone were to buy all the sugar on the world market -- and I am
not talking of now that prices are down, but over a 10-year period -- all
the sugar that the country exports would not be sufficient to buy the fuel
that the country consumes. Thanks to that we have been able to have
resources. We have allowed ourselves the luxury of being wasteful ad
infinitum. If we have been able to do it, it is really because of the way
we conduct our exchanges. That is the truth. We could engage in very harsh
self-criticism. All the things we have done wrong, incorrectly. All these
vices, all these tendencies. We, our revolution have allowed ourselves the
luxury. Yes, because this was not the Bolshevik Revolution. The Bolshevik
Revolution has no one to help. They had to go barefoot, export wheat, furs,
hides, everything. No, our revolution is nothing like the sacrifices the
Bolshevik Revolution had to endure. I feel that our revolution is special
in positive ways.

In many ways. It has certain historical merits. But we have not
experienced...[changes thought] the people under capitalism have forgotten.
If the revolution had had to start out toward development without outside
assistance, without credit, without the prices our products have, we would
not have been able to manage. Well, we have to educate people and they
cannot be educated by appealing every day to the material rewards of the
standard of living. Otherwise, you would not have internationalists,
teachers going to Nicaragua for 2 years; those people would be thinking
only of money. You would not have tens of thousands of men abroad
fulfilling military and civilian missions. A man who thought only of the
standard of living would be incapable of solidarity, internationalism.
Hence the role of the party -- and what is the role of the party after all?
How is it going to deal with this problem? How is it going to wage the
struggle? This is very important. We could say that like the mass
organization, the party has lived in great part for itself. To organize
[words indistinct] large party, a party with a lot of members who are a
force. I feel that the party has to tackle this reality; as it is doing
now. Who else is going to take over the job if not the party? Who can wage
this battle and who can win this battle if not the party? Of course, this
means the party with the masses. That is why I have been glad to see the
number of times that reference has been made here to discussions with
workers, meetings with workers, discussions with workers [as heard], and,
what the comrade here said, the fact that they even went to the ships to
meet with fishermen out to sea to discuss the problems. After all, the
party has to work with the masses, the mass organizations, the youth. What
emerges from all this, all that has been discussed here, is the fact that
the party is truly engaged in the struggle. It is growing aware of the
difficulties. You have said that there has been an answer to this, to that.
But there are still many things unanswered. [applause]