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FL1031357 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1859 GMT 27 Dec 86

[Interview with President Fidel Castro during a break in the 27 December
session of the National Assembly of the People's Government at Havana's
Palace of Conventions, by unidentified women reporters -- recorded]

[Text] [Reporter] How are you, Commander?

[Castro] Fine.

[Reporter] I wanted to tell you that your remarks yesterday have had a
great effect on the population. We have learned from national news agency
reports that lightning rallies and spontaneous demonstrations have occurred
in various provinces in support of the measures. We have also learned today
that this is still going on on a large scale. I am telling you just some of
the things that have been happening. What do you think about the Cuban
people's immediate reaction, since we can categorically say that it is the
people of Cuba?

[Castro] I expected that. The people have always reacted like that in times
of difficulty. They have always had a spirit of cooperation and
determination to surmount all difficulties. That is why it does not
surprise me. The reports I have been receiving about the people's reaction
make me very happy. I have also been told that many people have called
radio stations to ask when the measures will be implemented.

[Reporter] That was the other question.

[Castro] There is a schedule for the implementation of the measures. Not
tomorrow or the day after. We will start applying some of the measures
sooner, in early January; others will take longer. For example...

[Reporter, interrupting] Which ones?

[Castro] Well, we have not decided. The easiest ones to apply will be
applied from the beginning of January. Others might take a little more
time. For instance, the separation takes longer. The regulation of state
vehicles will also take more time, because we have to make the new plates.
I feel that many of them should be applied beginning in January.

[Reporter] The great majority.

[Castro] The schedule is being worked on. No one need worry because we will
inform everybody exactly when each will begin.

[Reporter] The media could play an important role.

[Castro] The simple fact they are published is a tremendous help. Right now
the media is helping because they are allowing this explanation. There is a

The board and the central group are in charge of explaining each according
to its individual characteristics. We must try to apply them as quickly as
possible. But there will be plenty of advance notice.

[Reporter] Commander, you talked about the afternoon snack: some people
heard about the central organs and did not really understand how this
works. Perhaps you could explain.

[Castro] The state's central administration organ -- this means all the
ministries, all the state committees, all that, and the local people's
government organs also. That is, this does not include the enterprises.
This measure applies only to the central and local administration organs.
The provincial people's government, the municipal people's government, all
that. It does not affect work centers. They remain the same. As you will
understand, these measures are many and the intent was to select those that
affected the least and produced results, as I was explaining yesterday, in
terms of savings and internal finances. Some measures were taken in
connection with the rice, for example -- the substitution of certain
amounts, because we have such a severe drought, because the reservoirs are
empty. It is to be supposed that rice production will be affected by this
drought no matter how good a job they do there. That is why some supplies
for the Agriculture and the Sugar Ministries have been reduced, because
they are producing and self-sufficient.

[Reporter] What about milk and meat?

[Castro] Actually, milk was affected only minimally. After all the
calculations were made, the effects were estimated of not importing
powdered milk -- some quantities are always imported each year -- and we
looked into what had happened to the powdered milk, to the 20,000 we
received from the GDR. A few years ago, in agreement with the comrades in
the GDR, we invested in the milk that they used as food and for other
purposes. They turned this surplus of milk into powdered milk. We exchanged
a ton of powdered milk for a ton of torula yeast. That is the type of
exchange we have because they are more interested in torula because of the
vitamins it contains. In brief, they expressed a great interest in torula
and we agreed to an equal exchange between torula and powdered milk.

We invested in the factory that produces powdered milk. Since they eat a
lot of butter in the GDR, they have surplus milk after the butter is taken
out. Consumption of butter is one of their national habits. The surplus
milk was used as animal feed. Of course, this is made into powdered milk
and I imagine it is easier to handle the torula for fodder. We exchanged
20,000 tons of torula produced in Cuba for 20,000 tons of powdered milk
from the GDR. This was arranged several years ago. We are going to try and
obtain 3,000 tons more.

[Reporter] More?

[Castro] Yes, but giving them a little more torula. This one-on-one
exchange is very beneficial. It is very economical for us. We are
discussing an amount slightly greater than 20,000 tons. We also receive
9,000 tons from the USSR. We receive a tremendous amount from the world
food program.

Add to this national production and anything else will help. If it rains
now in Pinar del Rio, just a little amount of water, 15 mm of rainfall,
[does not finish sentence]. It seems as if nature agreed with us -- we were
complaining so much about the drought [reporter laughs] -- because we did
get some showers. I asked how much rain fell, if it was 10 mm or 11 mm.
Fifteen or more millimeters of rain helps in the production of animal feed
and it can help the sugarcane a little.

That and national production allows us to maintain the most important items
of consumption. We do not have to touch the children's quotas.

The quota for intermediate-level students is also very slightly affected.
It is reduced from one-half a liter to one-third. The worker's quota is
reduced from one-third a liter to one-fourth, as I indicated yesterday.

The quotas will also be reduced in some diets because of these
diets...[changes thought] From 1 liter to 3/4 liter, for those who receive
a quota for 1 liter.

Many times the criteria for medical diets are very different and there has
to be more control because there are about 1.2 million.

[Reporter] The figures you gave yesterday are very impressive.

[Castro] There are 1.2 million medical diets. Some are prescribed and kept.
The need has to be determined. A diet may require beef and you may require
boneless beef. Some are relatively high.

[Reporter] Which ones, for example?

[Castro] Some are 3 pounds, 2 pounds, or more. A small reduction will be
made. In general, it will be a one-fourth reduction. With these measures
and the milk available, children's quotas will not be affected.

[Reporter] That is very important.

[Castro] We have also tried several methods to conserve rice. At one time
it was thought that reduction of 18 percent was needed in social
consumption. Lunchrooms sometimes wasted rice. I have seen large plates of
rice served by some lunchrooms and half is left over. There truly is waste
in lunchrooms.

An effort is being made to get an additional amount of rice from the USSR
and not touch the quota for workers' lunchrooms. Originally, it seemed that
this quota would be affected.

[Reporter] Yesterday, you discussed increased consumption of potatoes.

[Castro] That applies only to 2 months, those 2 months when there is a
large potato harvest. There will be a good harvest, despite the drought,
because of the amount of caballerias planted thanks to the Masposton Dam.
The problem of the drought is that the groundwater level has been greatly

If water is extracted, there is the risk of salinization. But, we have
approximately 80 million cubic meters of the Masposton reservoir, which,
thanks to this canal, allows water to be transported to several farms. In
the future it will be transported to more farms but we need to use the
irrigation systems and we will construct them.

I made an error yesterday. I said the Soviets were supplying us with 25 of
those irrigation systems but actually, they are supplying us with 25 over a
5-year period. This amounts to 5 per year and we propose to make 50 [as
heard] irrigation systems per year beginning in 1987. This involves the
mechanical industry.

[Reporter] Mechanical industry?

[Castro] We have made that obligation. We have already studied the
workshops involved.

[Reporter] This was done in the report back?

[Castro] It is a production that is not very difficult. Making KTP-1's
[cane harvesters] is more difficult. By the end of the 5-year period we
expect to be making 150 irrigation systems that are efficient and conserve
water. We are interested in irrigation systems that conserve water.

Havana, thanks to that canal...[changes thought] And we expect that this
situation will not be prolonged indefinitely, and the groundwater levels
will have to recover. As you know, the water situation has also had a
social impact. It is impressive.

I read and reread the rainfall figures and they always call my attention.
The drought figures are horrifying. They are 65 percent of the average
rainfall. After 1 dry year during a 6-year dry period, it is a very
impressive figure. I had forgotten to mention this.

We have to support more plans for constructing reservoirs. I was speaking
to Pinar del Rio provincial officials and they had some ideas. Aside from
the Vinales Plan, which we want to make a prototype, the Pinar del Rio
comrades have a dam which has a certain amount of water now, to be
connected to a canal in a rice area. There is a program with an investment
of 10 million [denomination not specified]. We would obtain 137 million
cubic meters more and it would allow irrigation of 600 caballerias of rice
during a time when irrigation would normally not be possible.

The first province to implement a rapid water system is Pinar del Rio. They
have reserve equipment that will be assigned. I was speaking to Lugo
[Orlando Lugo Fonte, first secretary of the Pinar del Rio Province
Executive Bureau] about this. Now we immediately supplied Pinar del
Rio...[changes thought] Give me the materials I had around here. See if
someone has them.

We are going to work in the Cauto basin. The Cauto basin is very important.
I asked Rosso, the party secretary responsible for construction, to give me
some figures on the reservoir that needs to be built in Cauto del Paso.
There could be a reservoir there that could deliver approximately 300
million cubic meters.

Construction of this is planned to begin in 1988, but I am going to do
everything possible to gather equipment, to see if we have reserve
equipment to begin quick construction of that project. It may be possible
to advance the beginning of that project to this year. This would also
advance the construction schedules.

I was looking at a list of equipment that will be available in December. We
[corrects himself] they have a project to begin. That is what we are seeing
now. They have a preliminary project. The executive project will be
completed in December 1988. It will be totally completed. The project can
begin when equipment is available. This needs to be concretely established,
as it was done before.

This began to decline because of several factors. Insufficient resources
were assigned. There was insufficient awareness of the need for investments
in agriculture. Investments are important because without them, you cannot
maintain sustained increases.

We are producing approximately 11 million quintales of rice during the
harvest with the use of harvesters.

We could even produce 16 million quintales. However, it is still humid. The
rice needs to be dried and then processed.

We also have acquired three precooked rice plants. This product will soon
be on sale. The first plant in Pinar del Rio is now operational. That rice
has more vitamins, protein, and it allows greater yield of large, husked
rice. It also has a good flavor, excellent flavor. The first plant is
ready. It will be sold, it will be sold [repeats himself] on the parallel
market, this precooked rice.

The second province that will be promoted will... [changes thought] You
should see the Corojo reservoir. It had resources assigned on the
assumption that it would take 20 years to construct. Money cannot continue
to be sunk into something that takes 20 years to construct without getting
a single cent in return.

[Reporter] That is the same problem that exists in the investment process.

[Castro] Yes, it is the same problem that happened in road construction and
in other areas. Unfortunately, at one time, they did not move at an
adequate pace. We have 25 roads that will be [words indistinct] years,
those that correspond. We are going to promote the Pinar del Rio highway.
When one goes to Pinar del Rio, there is a detour that ends in La Herradura
and there is tremendous traffic. We are going to finish a road, a two-way
road, by mid-1988. The remainder of the year will be used to construct the
rest of the road. It is a four-lane highway. One has to find a direct route
to Pinar del Rio because one loses an incredible amount of time, despite
the detour.

Simultaneously with Pinar del Rio, we are going to promote a project in the
Cauto valley. The Corojo River project has to be stepped up to complete it
in 2 or 3 years. The Jicotea project needs to be completed because the
shrimp hatchery plant is located in the Cauto area and if that plan is one
day affected by a flood, it will be the end of that plan and one has to...

[Reporter, interrupting] You discussed that matter a short time ago at a

[Castro] One must protect this. The Cauto del Paso Reservoir and the
Jicotea Reservoir will not only supply more water, but will also protect
investments in shrimp production, which could provide income in foreign
exchange that are very important to the country.

What we will do then... [changes thought] and we can cultivate another
1,000 caballerias of rice. With the yield we are obtaining, another 1,000
caballerias of rice would amount to 1,200, 1,300, 1,000 [corrects himself],
from 1.2 million to 1.4 million, 1,000 quintales [figures as heard].

What is lacking is water. It helps us combat salinization in the area
because the Cauto has several salt springs. They have salty water and that
is a problem because the Cauto is the canal, as we call it, that circulates
water. It transports water a great distance. That would almost complete the
network of [words indistinct]. More is required. The cost...[does not
finish sentence].

We still have the potential to make reservoirs with relatively few
investments. The Pinar del Rio project calls to attention the [investment
of] 10 million pesos [allowing for an additional] 137 million cubic meters,
[which would allow the irrigation of] 600 more caballerias.

[Reporter] [Words indistinct] realize the process of constructing this

[Castro] We are carrying out this struggle. We are carrying out the
struggle to elevate construction everywhere in general, including Havana.

They are doing very rational things. Now, what the Micons [Ministry of
Construction] does has to be limited. Certain smaller projects have to be
assigned to the people's government.

The resurrection of the microbrigades will solve big problems because they
will build 600 [family doctor] homes/offices. The microbrigades will build
50 child care centers. Despite the difficulties, look at the development.

Twelve, there are approximately 12 polyclinics that will be constructed. I
said 12 polyclinics. There will be 10 or 12 special schools that will be
constructed within a year in Havana province with microbrigades and they
will work on 10,000 homes. They will not complete them all but they will
work on 10,000. There are more than 100 microbrigades working. Circles of
this type are now being created. Polyclinics are waiting for drafts because
construction was to begin during these next few days. Several things are
being done.

The care centers program will then be taken to the provinces. We are going
to begin in Havana because there is a great demand and there is a high
incorporation of women in the work force. But this program we are carrying
out now... [changes thought] and precisely for this, we considered cutting
back a meal, the evening meal.

[Reporter] That is a measure the population has accepted well and they
understood it well.

[Castro] Yes, clearly. The children have their quota. They have everything.
They will fatten them, if they give them a meal, potatoes, and then they go
home and eat again.

[Reporter] But generally, the mothers take the children home from school
and feed them again.

[Castro] That can be converted into duplicating the number of child care
centers in 3, 4, or 5 years. But in Havana, in Havana [repeats himself] the
figure will be elevated 50 percent in 2 years. Havana has approximately
30,000 and a capacity for 100,000. Now, in 2 years, Havana will acquire a
capacity for 20,000. I do not remember the exact figure. It is between
30,000 and 40,000 but in 2 years Havana will acquire the capacity to enroll
20,000 children.

That will resolve a very important problem because I have seen many cases
of women concerned about where they will place their child. This is what I
can tell you on these things.

[Reporter] On hearing you now, I can reflect on our people's reaction,
which reflects their attitude in confronting this. Yesterday, you stated in
one of your speeches that some would feel some discouragement but that is
not proper revolutionary conduct and I would like you to explain...

[Castro, interrupting] But it is not the people that become discouraged. If
there is discouragement, it is in the cadres. There is no discouragement
among the people. When I speak about discouragement, it is in the cadres.
The situation becomes difficult, complex. How can it be resolved? I was
referring to the cadres.

[Reporter] And how do you think the party now, in general, can confront
everything related to this policy of cadres and the deficiencies they have

[Castro] Well, the party is playing an excellent role. Here in Havana, the
party is playing an enormous role but Havana was one of the most difficult
tasks for the party because there are many chiefs in Havana, many chiefs.

In the provinces, the party has control of the situation. The party has
great authority. It is the highest authority there. Then there is a
province like Havana City, which has a good party and good cadres, but
since all the ministers and chiefs are here, many organizations do not even
have representatives here. Many want to manage factories from the central

As I said at the congress, the municipal party secretaries have to be given
the responsibility that the provincial secretaries have so that they have
[does not finish sentence].

If there is a school, he has to have control of that school. He has to have
control of all the hospitals, constructions, and industries that operate

The party is carrying out important work in the ironwork factory, which I
referred to yesterday. It is a new factory, which is why it is easier
there. It is a new factory that is now operational but it has a staff of
1,900 and the staff needs to be adjusted to what is needed there, which is
1,020. Imagine, the extra personnel they have there. When the staff was
calculated... [does not finish sentence]. There is a tendency among people
to organize an empire under their jurisdiction. I have been struggling 27
years against this tendency. This is not new.

This is an old problem. For the first time in 27 years, I am finally seeing
an awareness of the problem. In this battle for the rectification of
mistakes, there are new mistakes and negative tendencies, but there are
some old ones as well. This business about inflated payrolls is as old as
the revolution. Actually, it is older than the revolution because this
comes from capitalism, especially in government offices. The industrialist
tried to have a smaller payroll but interests had to be considered too. His
interests conflicted with those of the works. And the workers, rightly so,
made the attempt. [as heard]

Only under socialism can you afford to have rational payrolls. This does
not mean deflating the inflated ones. Those cannot be deflated suddenly
because you would create a social and political problem. But I will give
you a good illustration of this. That is the CEN [electronuclear plant] and
another is the factory. Two examples only that demonstrate how much
rectification of old and new negative tendencies, of old and new errors can

What was brought up at the assembly helps a great deal in understanding the
importance of this. Take the CEN. It is not the same to build a plant with
17,000 workers as with 12,000. And they are going to build it with 12,000.
When the problem was raised, they began to work in the right direction, the
utilization of the workday. Before, they did not make the effort. They kept
asking for more and more people. And they allowed the vices to go on. Now
they have begun to organize the snack hour. The workers don't go out for
it. They are brought the snack. They closed down the cafeteria. They are
making the effort. Now if they achieve 85 percent utilization, and of
course, there must be a rigorous control so the pace won't be interrupted,
they will build the CEN with the 12,000 workers. And not only that, the
people are more enthusiastic, more aware. We don't need 17,000. Do you
realize what it is to save 60,000 workers? And to save half in that other
factory? We know that the workers on hospital payrolls are more than
needed. That is figured in. We are not going to deflate them as their
services end, we will transfer the workers from one area to another. That
is how we have to do it: slowly. You should see the excess number!

Now, the microbrigades were wrongly said to clash with the economic
management and planning system. But this was false. They were really
organized to do extra work [plustrabajo]. They were conceived to do extra
work. But there will be no extra work because there are too many workers.
The fact that there is no extra work...[changes thought] we were working on
the premise that there would be no excess workers and there are, there are
more excess workers than before. One way you can use this extra force is
building housing and social projects. That is what we are doing now. With
the interruptions alone we could carry out a plan. With the wasted hours of
the workday alone we could carry out a construction plan. With the excess
we could carry out a plan. In addition, you have extra work. People will
accept working 10, 15, or 20 minutes more to release 30 or 40 men to solve
important social problems.

The family doctor, housing, child care centers, special schools are very
important. The polyclinics that we need. There are some new polyclinics;
others have been adapted to that use. Havana is going to have all the
services it needs.

We also brought back the microbrigades here. We did not want to resurrect
them nationally because we might suddenly run out of materials. Besides,
the problem is more serious here. The housing need is greater. We were
building 4,000 or 5,000 for a bunch of years. That is not enough even to
replace the old housing. The theory that there is no work force for
construction... [changes thought] Yet those workers when they go to the
construction sites are excellent, disciplined, reliable. The party has
mobilized contingents who are working on the Salvador Allende, the 10
October, a series of hospital works. They have solved a bunch of problems.
You should go to the 10 October to see how the maintenance workers, who did
not have materials to work with, who did not have materials to work with
[repeats himself], have now made an impressive sterilization plant there.
And the maintenance men are doing a lot of things.

And what the maintenance men can't do, as in the Salvador Allende, where an
intensive therapy ward is being built, the people's government can do with
microbrigades. And they are going fast. Those really start and finish,
start and finish, because you can't begin a project and not finish it.
Conditions must guarantee that if you begin a project you will finish it 4,
5, or 6 months later, and that's it. And you go on to another one. The
absurd thing is to spend 10 years on 10 projects and not finish any of

[Reporter] The investment spread [abanico inversionista]. Lastly,
Commander, because she would like to talk about international problems,
there was something that you were saying that is very important. I think
you were talking about the attitude of a person.

[Castro] Well, that is the decisive thing. In all these concepts we are
applying, the party has high profile role. We view the role of the party,
the revolutionary political work as fundamental. For a time that was seen
as a secondary thing and apparently without importance. Right. What did you
want to talk about?

[Second woman reporter] You already referred to Cuba's responsibility to
our friends in the building of socialism, and how our enemies would also
use these [words indistinct].

[Castro] Yes. They must be worried, because we are on the right course. And
if we are mistaken they must be happy, especially when they see that we are
beginning to take liberal-bourgeois measures. That is what imperialism
wants. Because it is bent on proving that capitalism is the ideal system
for development and all that. As if a starving Third World did not exist,
with its terrible problems. Now I say that (?communism) still has not been
able to overcome its own errors. It is in this area, by finding a way to
work efficiently and correctly, and by showing the possibilities of success
following that course, that we are rendering a service to socialism, to the
prestige of socialism. I have no doubts about that. When we see some
examples, such as the CEN and the ironworks -- look what we can do by
following that course; there's no telling what we can do.

Now, our people are different. We are united, a people who understand, or
at least the immense majority do. There might be some uninformed people,
but the immense majority know that when we take a measure it is not to
benefit the bourgeoisie, not to benefit anyone else but it is in the
interest of the people themselves. Look at these measures and all the many
things we are going to do. Economic development goes ahead. It doesn't
matter that development is not too great. What is important is that there
is growth. It could grow in many unimportant things. You can grow 2 percent
in important things, and that really makes a difference. So, we are not
sacrificing economic development. We are still building our CEN, our oil
refinery, and we prioritize all those industrial objectives that generate
exports and save imports.

Social development, [words indistinct] development of 10 or 12 special
schools in a year, build what we need in 2 years. And guarantee housing for
1,600 family doctors. What is that? High quality social development. No
other country has that, that program we are carrying out in the (?social)
area. No one else has it. Building a cardiac center. Creating special
services of high quality in all the maternity-children hospitals during the
stage... [changes thought] we have a prenatal program that saves lives,
especially in the most critical state, the first week. What is that if not
social development? The effort we are making to improve education, social
development. We are not sacrificing economic or social development except
in some aspects and at certain levels.

Logically, if you spend a little more on transportation, in electricity,
you are sacrificing something in that sense. But this does not affect
development. It is going to mean a bit more expense (words indistinct]
better financial balance. But this is positive. We could not have done this
in a (?poor) country. Other countries have bad debt problems. Their annual
growth slowed down. We will grow only a bit but we will grow in
fundamental, essential items. We are continuing to build our electronuclear
plant, which will give us a capacity of 2 million kilowatts. Can you
imagine 2 million kilowatts? That is merely six times the installed
capacity at the triumph of the revolution. The four reactors, along with
the hydroaccumulator [hidroaccumuladora], at determined moments spend
electricity when there is an excess and produce it when needed at peak
times. Two million kilowatts! A project of that nature. We are building the
projects in Moca, all the industrial projects. We continue to carry out
programs. Economic and social development continues.

We are doing the right thing. Truly the correct thing. It will take us to
the construction of communism, of socialism.