Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL122031 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 0200 GMT 5 Feb 87

[Closing remarks by President Fidel Castro at the annual meeting of
directors of the Ministry of Basic Industry, MINBAS, held on 30 January in
Savana -- recorded]

[Text] It seems to me that we have made a good review of the work
accomplished last year. But there is something much better. We have
reviewed the things we propose to do this year. In fact, well beyond 1987.
I would also say that this was an optimistic review. Not everyone spoke. If
we had more time we would also have had the pleasure of listening to the
fellow representatives from other areas such as geology and rubber. Maybe
next year we will begin the other way around so no one is left out. If we
had more time we could even give the opportunity for all to speak.
Undoubtedly we should have been able to make conclusions, receive
interesting information from those areas that are so important to the
economy. But the review has really been optimistic and it is justly
optimistic. We can see the work, a serious effort, a large commitment has
been made; we have a very clear idea of what is to be done and how to do

I was telling the comrades a few minutes ago when we had the last recess,
that after spending an afternoon here we can see how the country's work is
being conducted more efficiently in some areas, less in others, but
undoubtedly with more efficiency than before. It is clear that despite
difficulties we `are walking the good road. When we were listening to the
statements that we were going to put the Santiago de Cuba refinery into
operation, that we were going to inaugurate the first stage of the eastern
thermoelectric plant, that the 300,000-kilowatt one was working, that we
are going to produce nickel this year because we have defined the specific
problems and we have the formulas to solve the problems of the nickel
plants; when we see how petroleum is coming along, what is to be done, how
everything is going to improve; when we see the report on the glass
factory, the problems that are being dealt with, and the maintenance
problems and costs, and how we are facing the situation where we were
having the most difficulty, which is the paper factory -- when we see all
that, we can see that we have resources. Because I believe we do have
abundant supplies.

I was explaining to you today that maybe next year we can mobilize 50,000
workers -- maybe. It will depend on the availability of enough cement, iron
bars, and other material. Mobilize them in the construction one way or
another of housing units, social facilities, in some cases even economic
projects. We may be able to mobilize 50,000 workers. It is clear that the
country has enormous resources everywhere and those resources amount to
billions of pesos during a 5-year period. I could cite some examples but I
am not going to do so. In other meetings I have attempted to show you what
all this rectification process involves from the economic and material
viewpoint. Of course, in the case of the basic industry, it is not so much
the result of a rectification process but a result of work that has been
underaway for many years. But this is multiplied with the rectification
process and the struggle against negative tendencies and, in a way, it
becomes a model of how we should work. But what several comrades indicated
here, among them Comrade Martin [not further identified], about the fact
that they were thinking of some 500 workers and that this can be reduced to
almost half, also shows that you are thinking about these very fundamental
and decisive matters which can help so much the economic efficiency of the
country, and the development and growth of its economy through the adequate
use of human resources and by thinning out payrolls.

It is shown everywhere that more housing is needed, more transportation,
everything is needed and people cannot be allowed to produce practically

If we work like this, with our sights set on 1990, 1995, and 2000, we can
say this is going to be the best 5-year period of the revolution. There is
no doubt. Regardless of difficulties. Yes, yes.

And we are working with more rational, more economic, correct bases. If we
analyze all these things that we have talked about, including those areas
in which we have a crisis such as the oxygen and argon plant that is going
to be built in Santiago de Cuba, which is going to open this very year, and
all these things that are planned, we could say that the year, even with
all the problems droughts, and all disasters, and all the measures that we
have had to take, and the low oil prices, and the dollar devaluation and
all those things we could say that 1987 is going to be one of the best
years of the revolution.

If we work as we have said here we are going to work -- and I think we are
going to work - in the basic industry and if construction improves in the
country, and if health improves. Look at the [infant mortality] rate we
had, 13.6 perhaps... [changes thought] this is one of the many we could
cite. Maybe we can bring it down. If we overcome the difficulties we have
in education, if we work with this same spirit in all the industries, there
is no doubt that 1987 will be one of the best years of the revolution.

After participating in a meeting like this, one is more reassured about
that. I believe many possibilities can be seen.

Also, with all these measures that have been taken I asked how much income
the [higher] electricity rate was going to bring. The most important thing
is that it saves 140 tons of oil. This is very important. Those savings
allow us to go through these difficult times by saving now. later, new
resources will allow us to increase electricity and all those things. We
have already redistributed those 60 million because we have given some 40
million pesos to retirees, so these measures do not have such a big impact
on them. We have invested some 20 million pesos, actually 24 million, to
increase the minimum wage to 100. Some are going from 93 to 106, those who
are laborers, and we are considering what to do with construction helpers
who are making 106 pesos, we are looking into how we can improve that and a
number of categories. Actually, this year we are going to have about 600
million pesos available. Some 200 million to put an end to the disorder and
chaos with the excessive salaries that were being paid everywhere, all that
money was being thrown away with excessive budgets. A conservative estimate
puts it around 200 million pesos plus some 400 million pesos we are going
to collect with transportation fares. Collection was not the main purpose
for this measure but, in order to deal with the foreign financial
situation, it is estimated we should collect with all these measures
between 300 and 400 million pesos.

These measures, this process will make available approximately 600 million
pesos. Of course not all of this should be redistributed. We should use
part of it to also heal the domestic economy because the fundamental goal
is not to recover funds but to have a better situation, a better domestic
financial balance. But 100 million, 150 million, possibly even 200 million
pesos can be redistributed.

This would not only be socially just but would achieve greater stability of
the work force in all areas where the salary gives the impression that the
work is miserable, that it is not appreciated, or that it is of no
importance to society.

It is indisputably difficult to find helpers for the construction area. I
imagine that there are other areas. I have asked the ministry of [corrects
himself] the State Committee for labor to analyze those areas where an
improved situation could stabilize the work force and aid the economy. We
are also considering in the near future paying seniority to public health
assistants who are receiving an income, because they are the ones who are
cleaning the hospital lavatories and bathrooms. Their work is very hard. It
is truly hard and it is very important. I do not know what all those
doctors and nurses would do without all those people who wash, clean,
launder, and who do everything in the hospital. It is very hard work. [The
salary] should at least appear to reflect society's appreciation for their

Comrade Panchito [not further identified] was telling me that the very
modest increase to 100 pesos caused a series [corrects himself] several, a
number of people who were requesting retirement to change their minds

I think that if we combine resources -- and the number of resources we can
combine is unknown -- in terms of pesos we could do whatever we wanted to
do. I say that these rectification measures that eliminate the
wheeler-dealers [merolicos], prohibit the wheeler-dealer's activities,
which were stealing from the population and prevented the production of
many useful things, and substitute this with an orderly process of
production with machinery, equipment, with raw material, we estimate that
approximately 13 [as heard] could be produced, a production that
if...[changes thought] selling it at a lower price than the wheeler-dealers
would allow the collection of 250 or 300 million pesos a year with just
that measure alone. We need to see if we can find resources for income and
other things.

I think that in 1988 we will not be too far from having all the things
[percheros] that are lacking here and hundreds of articles of that type to
satisfy 10 times [corrects himself] to produce 10 times more, to sell at a
cheaper price, and to collect 300 million pesos.

What can be done with 300 million pesos? Who knows what things could be
done with 300 million pesos. I think that measure alone will not only
generate 300 million pesos; it will prevent some people from becoming
millionaires, others from stealing raw material to build things, and
prevent others from doing [corrects himself] violating the law. It will
eliminate millionaries with all the negative consequences millionaires have
in socialism. This is to give you an idea of what can be done with just one

Retirement will improve a little. For more than 800,000 persons, it cost 40
million pesos. If the same 800,000 persons had their pensions raised, they
would not have 5, they would have 10 pesos for a total of 80 million [as

As I said before, to improve those who were earning less than 100 pesos, it
cost 24 pesos. To pay 10 pesos more to the 74,000 construction helpers will
cost approximately 9 million pesos. To pay seniority to the 34,000 public
health assistants would cost 9 million pesos. This would total
approximately 1.1 people with 82 million pesos.

If we collect funds with one of these measures of rectification or with
what we collect in the parallel market in, let's say millions, if we are
tossing it away on undeserving salaries, throwing money away everywhere, we
do not know what we can do.

This is not only just, which is one of the obligations of the revolution,
it gives dignity to those people who many times do the most hard work, the
most difficult work, and who are generally the worst paid. This improves,
stabilizes the work forces, improves services. It resolves many problems in
production. Imagine what can be done with the 300 million pesos that are

Row much wealth will we create? I gave the example that a microbrigade of
500,000 members could produce 500 million pesos in the construction area. I
think the possibilities are truly great, very great and I think it is
demonstrated by what we have seen here today, everywhere. It can be seen in
the glass sector which is responding despite a catastrophe. It can be seen
in the refinery's production. It can be seen in the paper sector, in the
conservation of fuel in new plants. Some truly great, very great
possibilities can be seen.

We recently visited the mechanical industry fair. We know the mechanical
industry produced some equipment with problems. We know that. I can tell
you about it. There were five or six but there are many that have had good
results. For example, they have excellent tour buses with our own motors.
They have produced dump trucks with our own motors, transportation buses.
This equipment and others have been greatly integrated. We know what we can
depend on the mechanical industry.

I am truly sorry that the fair was not seen by a greater number of people.
There were many pieces of agricultural equipment, pumping equipment,
hydraulic equipment and mechanical industry equipment, which we are
exporting to socialist countries so that we do not solely depend on nickel,
citrus, sugarcane exports.

I recently met with the comrades from the electronics front and we are
developing a good, powerful electronics industry with a market which is
assured in the socialist area where we will be able to take in hundreds of
millions of rubles a year and not by solely selling sugar, citrus, or
nickel, but by selling boards, accessories. It should be a good... [does
not finish sentence].

This year, by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, we will
have two new factories producing medical equipment. Our scientists have
developed magnificent, excellent equipment, which could be sold in
socialist areas as well as in capitalist areas. We are doing big things in
the electronics industry. When I saw the mechanical industry exhibition, I
had an idea. I was deploring the fact that it would soon be over. There
were a lot of people coming by. and I told myself, well, let's close it.
Because the same equipment was going to be shipped to the Leipzig fair --
yes, the one in the GDR. We are even selling Cuban-made wagons to the GDR.

We have a market for our mechanical industry, our electronics, and it could
be quite big over there in the socialist countries. That is why you have to
take that equipment, a complete railway car, wagons of other kinds. Seeing
that, it occurred to me that we could have a permanent fair in Havana, not
only involving the mechanical industry but all industries.

Electronics should be there, with all kinds of equipment. Basic industry
should be represented there with its products too. In some cases,
petroleum, well-making equipment, all that; scale models of some of these
big factories. It's not just their products, their raw materials, the items
they produce, but we should also show scale models of the industrial
plants, light industry, food industry, which is developing hundreds of new
products. Sometimes they are small quantities but they are new products.
The pharmaceutical industry, the sugar industry.

This means having a permanent exhibition of all our industrial and
livestock production. In a livestock exhibition we can show all the new
animals we have bred. The public does not know about them. Cows, pigs,
goats, sheep, all that. A permanent industrial and livestock exhibition. I
am thinking not of half a hectare as the steelworking industry had there. I
am thinking of 20 or 25 hectares. So that everybody who comes, not only
people from the capital but all those who travel from the interior of the
country to the capital can visit the fair. I am certain that this is going
to stimulate the various branches; they will exhibit their articles, their
prototypes, everything they do, their new merchandise. It is a place that
will be an obligatory stop for all foreign visitors to Cuba. If 250,000
people visited the steelworking industry fair in a single month, I believe
it is perfectly correct to expect 2 million Cubans will be able to visit
that fair every year. School children could visit it in the afternoons. I
am sure because of my own personal experience, what I saw at that fair,
because I believe I am informed about the things we do. And yet, when you
see all the products of a single branch, which is new, you come away with a
great impression of the mechanical industry.

Our citizens often do not know what this country has created in this or
that field. Our own pharmaceutical industry has grown a great deal and
continues to grow. I believe it would be a source of great satisfaction for
our people and above all a great stimulus for all production units to be
able to have a permanent exhibit. And if the people witness what they are
doing, this would add to the incentive in the struggle for production and
especially quality.

I am sure that many of our compatriots would be amazed if they could see in
one place all the things that the country is doing. The sugar or mechanical
industry could show its sugar tandems, the centrifugal machinery; in short,
all the equipment being built, and the many more.. [changes thought]
perhaps at any moment we might have our transformer as well at the exhibit.

And we want to do it right away. We don't want to build it in the 1995
5-year period. We already have a comrade, Comrade Lage, whom I asked to
help me coordinate -- that Lage, not this one -- the execution of this idea
with all the agencies.

In fact, we got here a bit late today because we went to see a possible
location for that permanent fair in Havana. It is not too far away from
here. The place we have seen, that we like -- physical planning will have
to see to all that -- is the piece of land in front of the botanical
garden. It is very close to the Lenin Park, the botanical garden, not too
far from the zoo.

It is a magnificent piece of land, it has grass. It is owned by an
educational institution so if we one day need all that land for
construction we will have to take it and we will transfer the school. We
will build a new and better school and will provide it with as much or even
more land than it now has. That school, which is the Martinez Villenas
School, has been carrying out an important cattle breeding program. So we
even have the land for that fair.

I was saying we are thinking about doing it soon. Maybe with less
kilometers of road than the Nico Lopez Refinery. Structures such as the
ones you built there -- don't worry, Cabrera, because we are not going to
involve you in this new investment. [chuckles] Maybe we will ask for some
asphalt or something like that. We are going to plan and see if we have
this fair set up by 1988. We are not going to wait for 1989 or 1990. We are
going to proceed at the pace we have to proceed and I believe several
comrades I have talked with think the idea is going to be very useful in
every sense, production-wise and politically. I am sure that many people
cannot even imagine the things the country is doing. I believe this can
motivate some students also. The pioneers palace is not big enough for all
of them because only some students attend the pioneer palace. We need for
all the students from the capital to go there, all Havana visitors -- they
are many -- to visit that fair.

So new ideas come up. This new idea about the workers health was discussed
here. These things are really encouraging. I believe we are at a very good
juncture. I want to tell you that I believe we have had a good meeting and
that all of us are going to leave with a good impression about the meeting,
that we leave the meeting encouraged. We also need to be encouraged, moral
encouragement. So after a meeting such as this one, one feels morally

There have been present here ... [rephrases] we tried to have the maximum
attendance but we added to the guest list at the last minute. We have here
the comrades who are secretaries of the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC] in
Havana Province and the municipalities. They are involved in a large
project, it is a big project. They are involved in building tasks. They are
not themselves building but they are mobilizing the forces, providing
guidelines, directing them. They include 600 consultation offices-houses
for physicians, 12 special schools -- they are not small schools but pretty
large ones -- 10 polyclinics, and 50 child care centers with resources
acquired from the peoples' goodwill, the Antillana de Acero workers who are
producing iron bars, cement plant workers who are providing the cement, and
with some spending of resources which we logically have to. They are doing
very important work, intensive work with the surplus workers at production
centers. I believe they are also going to leave this meeting very
encouraged. I confess to you that I am very pleased at seeing how
everything is going, of seeing how everything is going. This does not mean
we can rest a single minute on our laurels or stop a single minute during
this struggle. This is not a 1-year struggle. This will take 5 or 10 years.

When could we have been able to rationalize, to apply all these measures in
all the areas of the national economy? I believe this is going to take time
because even though we know how to do it we cannot apply it. If we were to
apply the ideas we have been discussing here -- I am very encouraged that
the comrades are already thinking about competing with that center, with
scores of centers, trying to compete with that research center, it is very
good that everyone is no longer thinking about the worst one but about the
best one and is looking at the best one and seeing how they can do it
better or as well as the best one -- that is also encouraging.

I believe that during these days I have seen for the first time in 28 years
-- because some of our maladies, our vices, our negative tendencies are not
recent ones, they are 28 years old, or 25 or 20 years old... [changes
thought] this mad habit of filling out forms, of cramming offices with
people for whatever reason, of filling the work centers with personnel,
these habits are old ones, they have been going on for many years. I have
asked myself 20, 100, 1,000 times, how was it possible that
revolutionaries, that revolutionary militants were unable to understand
this, could not realize this, could not be aware of this. We have been
discussing payrolls for many years. This has not started now, we have been
discussing them since 1970, before 1970, always. I remember that we had the
experience of our war, and when we had 300 weapons, all 300 weapons were at
the front line, at the essential place. I remember that I had three
comrades -- the general staff, my bureaucracy on the Sierra Maestra during
the last offensive against Batista consisted of three comrades. One was in
charge of supplies, the other one of weapons... [leaves sentence

When we had 1,000 men, 1,000 combatants everywhere, I continued to have 4
or 5 people in that general staff, no more than that. All my life I have
been greatly concerned when human resources are wasted. Because if it is
hard to spend money, fuel, raw material, it is much harder to waste human
resources. That matter has been a vice, I wondered if it is a human habit,
that tendency seen everywhere of wanting to organize an empire to feel
extremely important because one has a large number of people under one's
orders -- what are the reasons for that? I have suffered that sorrow for
many years. I tell the truth when I say that for the first time I see many
people, scores of people, of cadres, hundreds of cadres thinking about
this. So we have to tell them to be patient, to implement these ideas in
new factories and to be careful with other ones. I am convinced that in
this country we are underutilizing the resources of hundreds of thousands
of fellow countrymen by not utilizing the work day to the full, in cities
and in the countryside, in material production and in services everywhere.
I hope, I have the firm hope that this time this battle is going to be won.

In the socialist countries we have a large market, many possibilities.
There are many possibilities if we are capable of producing the same way. I
believe there are exporting possibilities in the country despite the
difficulties in the capitalist area. I am convinced of that, paper here,
steel over there, shrimp, tourism, where there are possibilities. There are
possibilities. But where are the resources if we need 3 more billion, 4
more billion each 5-year period? Where are we going to get them?

From ourselves. That is the source of our resources so we may continue
advancing, get out of the difficulties, because there is no other way. I
was only citing two examples of what uniting resources, financial resources
or material resources means in terms of years. The time has come to put an
end to squandering, indiscipline, and irresponsibility. And I say the time
has come to win a place in history, not only as a country that is
courageous, heroic, willing to give up life, capable of fulfilling
internationalist missions, capable of resisting imperialism 90 miles away
from its doors, of resisting everything with an enormous political and
moral strength. We are also capable of winning a place in history as
producers, as producers [repeats himself] to solve all these problems which
have been mentioned here: bottles, paper, extracted oil, refining, more
production, construction, savings here, there, and everywhere.

We have accumulated a lot of experience, who denies it? Anyone who has
witnessed today's meeting knows we have accumulated much experience and
knows that we are doing big things in many fields, in education, in health.
We have experience, we know. There are many serious men, many responsible
men in this country. We have everything that is needed to face these tasks.
So I believe the time has come to win a place in history as producers, to
win a place in history as true builders of a new society, as true builders
of socialism. Since I am absolutely convinced -- and I have been all my
life -- that the possibilities of socialism are great, of organizing, of
preparing, of planning and executing, of rationalizing resources, of
maximizing them, of doing such fabulous things as those we talked about
like having 20,000 physicians within the next 10 years, many of them as
specialists taking care of families, of everyone. Who can do what we do if
not with a socialist regime? I am convinced that in production we can do
truly fabulous things, fabulous things in the search for production,
productivity, in the application of science and technology in production;
we see that everywhere. If we discover equipment, who is supposed to
develop that equipment, generalize its use? If we discover a technique, if
another Ubre Blanca is found or a prodigious descendant of Ubre Blanca
capable of producing cows giving 100 liters, what can prevent us from
immediately applying that practice, that experience everywhere, to the
entire country, to all the cows of the country? If we discover a new type
of sugarcane, what prevents us from extending it? If we discover a
technique such as the deep ploughing or deep furrowing [solacion profunda].
There have been some techniques we have applied in the entire country in 24

I believe that only a socialist country with its organization, its values,
with the participation of the people can deal with any of these problems. I
am sure of this and I believe this meeting proves it, this meeting proves
it [repeats himself] that we can also do what capitalists cannot do in
production. We are certain that we can do much more than capitalists. What
capitalist country can have 30,000 students enrolled in the school of
technical sciences? What capitalist country can have as many engineers as
it chooses to have not only in top level positions but also at grassroot
levels and even operating a machine, an automatic lathe, or a mechanized
canecutter? What capitalist country can do that?

What capitalist country can raise education levels up to the 12th grade in
just a few years being a Third World country? To plan and organize with the
full cooperation of students, with the laborers' cooperation. Here young
people will never be seen confronting the state or the system, but
cooperating, struggling, asking what they have to do, enrolling in the
militias, and doing what they are asked. No capitalist regime can do that.
We can have an engineer there, if 100,000 are needed, 100,000 not just to
look but to work, supervising, operating machines, whatever.

That is why people ask how many are needed. The country needs to be told
how many engineers it needs. Broad profile engineers, of course. The
country needs to be told how many engineers it needs and when it needs them
to apply science, technology, and organize production They need to be told.
What capitalist country can do that? None. What capitalist country can use
all its human resources well? I maintain that if it gets to the point that
productivity is so high that there is a surplus of workers, we can reduce
the work day. We could easily reduce it from 8 hours to 6. The day we are
told that it is impossible to provide work for all under the country's
circumstances, after having rationalized everything, I would say: let us
shorten the work day to 6 hours.

I am talking hypothetically because I believe we have to continue working
many hours, for a long time, and all of us, and using the time well if we
want to travel the road we still have ahead of us, if we want to close the
gap that centuries of exploitation and incompetence, of colonialism,
neocolonialism, and imperialism left in our country because they cannot be
made up in a few years. But I believe that our revolution can be compared
to an airplane which starts slowly when it takes off but gains speed. I
believe our revolution is going to take off, it is going to take off
[applause] and it is going to fly fast. It is going to leave behind many in
many areas. But we have to surpass many in the area of material production.

I only have to say one more thing because I promised I was going to be
brief. It is that we have to make the commitment to work the way we have
agreed here and to meet again next year, after a year and with more time.
We are going to begin in the morning. And you make a short report like this
one and tell us about what we said we were going to fulfill. We begin in
the morning and in this way I believe all the branches will have the
opportunity to speak. And all of you will have the opportunity to explain
here how you fulfilled this program and how your work has gone in this
historic year, because 1987 is a historic year; 1986 was the turning point,
but this is the time of proof, to see how you have worked and what you have
done in each one of the industries, in each one of the branches. All of
them will speak up, the ones that spoke today and the ones that did not
speak today. So that we can make an assessment of what has been done in
1987, so we can say, not this year but next year, that basic industry is at
the vanguard in this rectification process. [applause]