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Castro Views Income, Economics

FL091953 Havana Television Cubana Network in Spanish 1800 GMT 9 Jan 87

[Remarks by President Fidel Castro at 9 January session of Third Congress
of Federation of University Students, FEU, held at FAR Universal Hall in
Havana -- recorded]

[Text] Is the students' situation the same? [chorus of "no"'s] Now, there
may be students who belong to families with higher incomes. and there are
others who belong to families with lower incomes. It is possible that
students in lower income families may be affected more than students in
higher income families. Is that not so?

I remember that I was once visiting an Isle of Youth factory and I asked
what the family incomes were. I found it [as heard] was rather high. I
believe the families with incomes that are rather high can very well bear
that. But there might be problems with those who have low incomes. In any
case, if the problem arises, we will discuss it. That is one of the
missions of the students and the FEU. If they can find those cases, if they
find that they are intolerably affected, then the solutions can be

Of course, in the matter of transportation, the measures were basically
taken to try to economize. It was not as the newspaper had it. The
newspaper made a mistake. If the newspaper can be wrong, it is not
surprising that the students may be, too.

It was reported that they were measures to make internal finances sound.
And some might have asked: Well if it's a matter of financing, why don't
they raise cigarette prices? And yet they are reducing the amount of milk
given to an intermediate-level student and they are cutting down on milk in
medical diets. That was confusing people. Of course, we know how much we
can earn by raising the price of cigarettes or maybe beer, which is in
demand, because the wheeler-dealers who were buying beer at 60 centavos
were selling it at 90 or a peso or even more. We know all those secrets.

And there are other things that could also increase earnings but they don't
really help us solve the main problem, the principal cause of these
measures, which is the non-availability of foreign exchange for imports.
The drafting of a plan... [changes thought] I could say that it is a heroic
plan, because to draft an economic plan with $600 million in convertible
currency is almost heroic. You can't imagine the calculations you have to
make. You know that medicine has to be imported and it is worth a certain
amount. A series of raw materials, other items.

To tell you that the country has been spending $1.2 billion, $1.3, $1.4
billion on imports -- dollars, I am talking about dollars. Well, I assume
that the majority of you are not students of economics. The dollar, 20
years ago, 15 years ago, was worth 3 or 4 more times than it is now. When
you talk about $1.2 billion in 1980, that is approximately half now. Those
1.2 are now worth half. When you make a plan with $600 or $350 million in

In those years, the plan was generally made with 1.2, 1.3, or 1.4 billion.
In other words, the plan has to be made under very difficult, truly very
difficult conditions. And you almost have to be paying cash for whatever
you bring in. Then there is the debt. Yes, somewhat higher imports could be
made because the Third World countries at the time took out loans when they
ran out of money. That is what happened to everyone. Well, at least the
loans were invested in what the country needed. Sometimes it was because
sugar was at 2 centavos, 2.5 centavos, and you had to bring in milk for all
the children, import large quantities. When he sugar was 2 centavos, no one
suffered the consequences of that. No one noticed. Some people never found
out. They could care less if sugar was 2, or 10, or 15, or 20. Of course,
when you say sugar is 6 centavos now, you really mean 3 centavos in
relation to what the purchasing power of the dollar was 3, 4, or 5 years
ago. It's been going down each year.

But no one even knew that there were problems. Because credits and loans
were obtained. But loans mean debt, loans mean paying a debt and paying
interest. The Third World countries have been mercilessly exploited,
because they are being sold things at increasingly higher prices, and they
are buying their products at increasingly lower prices. That forced all
Third World countries to mortgage themselves. That is why they owe a
million, millions of dollars. Even oil-producing countries like Venezuela,
exporting 1.5 million barrels a day at $30 a barrel. Before the stampede of
oil prices, the barrel cost $2, $2.50. It went to 30. And big oil-exporting
countries like Venezuela owe 34 billion. Big oil-exporting countries like
Mexico owe more than 100 billion. And the same happened to Brazil; it owes
more than 106 billion.

It has been a universal phenomenon stemming from the same factors, the same
causees: theft and looting. It is a form of looting. That was evident even
in those countries that earned money easily. Because the easiest way in the
world to earn money was to have oil, an oil that went up in price about 10
times. In spite of it all, they owe tens of thousands of dollars. Not only
Venezuela; Ecuador, Peru, Nigeria, and many other oil producing countries.
Imagine the non-producers, those who had to earn their bread by cutting
sugarcane by hand. At least ours is machine cut. In most of those
sugar-producing countries cane is cut by hand because they cannot introduce
machinery. If they do, there will be a revolution because they will leave a
large number of people jobless.

Imagine the situation of those countries that have been selling products
other than oil. A really serious situation. Now anything that is
bought...[changes thought] I have mentioned the example of the ice cream
machines. A few hundred were bought once. They were distributed all over:
factories, schools, colleges, many places. There are not many of them. Some
are missing parts but there are many left [as heard]. They cost $2,000.
When we had the industrial exhibit here recently, I visited a stand
[preceding word in English] with Italian ice-makers. I asked for this
particular machine. I had already asked before. It cost 8,500. Of course, I
asked because I knew. This is four times the price it used to be.

I was also looking at the cranes there. There were some that cost $20,000.
We found it very hard to buy a $20,000 crane, a 30-ton crane. It now costs
$140,000. A bulldozer [preceding word in English] that cost 25,000 today
costs 80,000 or 100,000. When oil prices went up, all these rich countries
adapted quickly. They upped the prices of all their manufactured goods.

They multiplied these prices by 2, 3, 4, even 10, some of them, and then
sold these goods to Third World countries, while the prices of copper,
aluminum, iron, agricultural products, sugar went down. There are countries
that experienced terrible situations and they still do.

In our case, we came out better -- we have been able to get by all these
years -- because of our trade with socialist countries.

But let me tell you that oil at $30 -- I figured it out once -- would be
the same as if we were paid 80 for our sugar. But producing sugar is more
trouble than producing oil. Even with machinery, producing, let us say, 10
million tons of sugar, even now that we have cut down on the number of
macheteros from 350,000 to less than 100,000, requires some 300,000 or
400,000 workers for the various tasks: harvesting, cultivation, industrial

At the prices on the so-called world market -- because that is not the
world market, that is the world garbage heap, and it is the world garbage
heap because all the sugar that cannot be sold goes there. It is the world
garbage heap because the EEC imported 5 million tons and now it exports 5
million tons of subsidized sugar. That is another of the terrible problems
that the Third World countries are facing. These industrialized countries,
the looters, the rich, the colonialists of yesteryear, the looters of
today, neocolonialists, as we could call them, -- these have money. They
subsidize agriculture. They export subsidized sugar. The EEC exports 5
million. The United States, which imported more than 5 million tons, now
exports 1...[corrects himself] It is going to import 1. All that surplus
sugar of the sugar-producing countries has turned up in the heap of the
so-called world market, where prices have nothing to do with sugar costs at