Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro Exchange

FL022115 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1152 GMT 2 Apr 87

[Conversation between Cuban President Fidel Castro and Sancti Spiritus
delegate Ramon Balmaceda at 1 April session of the Fifth Congress of the
Union of Young Communists, UJC, in Havana's Palace of Conventions --

[Text] [Balmaceda] I am Ramon Balmaceda from the Sancti Spiritus
delegation. We are also going to refer to the seniority problem. We wanted
to discuss this because another study should be made on the seniority
process. We are not contradicting what the comrade secretary of the trade
union [no further identification provided] said, but we are saying that it
is also an obstacle to youth development and it is also an obstacle to the
enterprises themselves on some occasions.

We know of unqualified workers who have been working for years, and those
years of service give them the right over a youth to claim and keep a job,
which should be occupied by a youth, who can resolve the problems there. In
reality, the evaluations are not good enough to defend these positions and
this has been made very clear. There are clear examples in the
agricultural-livestock enterprises. There are important positions held by
people who are 50, 45 and who have been doing shoddy work their entire
lives but defend their positions with the argument that they have been
working 20 years [words indistinct] in the company.

A young, capable comrade may not be able to claim a job. Why? Because that
other person has 20 years of service. He is not submitted to an evaluation.
No, his position is unquestionable. The job is claimed by that person who
has 25 years of service so the young man does not have a chance to get that
job. This is how it becomes an obstacle.

Now, of course, there is another situation, which we also want to bring to
the attention of the trade union. In the case of the agricultural-livestock
enterprises in our province, we think that the problem of seniority, the
seniority problem in the agricultural-livestock enterprises in our province
-- we have attended many trade union assemblies even though we are not
trade union leaders, we have represented the UJC at at these meetings --
the seniority problem is also a contradiction in claiming a job and the
contradictions are created by the workers themselves in seeking a position.
There are cases of typists who claim a job... [changes thought] We have a
comrade typist with 20 years of service who played an important role in
1960-61 but still makes spelling errors from top to bottom, and who
produces work that has no quality whatsoever. Then another typist arrives,
who works well and who produces so many words a minute and who turns out
very good work. But, no way, Petra has 20 years of service and nothing can
get her out of there. That is the thing... [interrupted by applause]

[Castro, interrupting] One thing, what are you going to do with Petra?
[audience laughs]

[Balmaceda] What? Well we...

[Castro, interrupting] What is going to happen to Petra? Let's see.

[Balmaceda] Ok, I don't...

[Castro, interrupting] You can teach her to milk cows. [Balmaceda laughs at
Castro's remarks] How would you address the problem?

[Balmaceda] Look, Commander, I would not remove Petra from her job.
[audience laughs] What would I do? I do not want her to retire either
because I have great respect for the elderly and I would like to continue
working when I am old because I like to work. In that case, Petra should
hold a position in accordance with the evaluation I do of her. She should
occupy a job for which she is qualified. I gave you an example...

[Castro, interrupting] Now we must be careful that the press does not
publish everything you have said in this congress. [laughter]

[Balmaceda, interrupting] No, no, no.

[Castro] Because she can't spell; she is over there doing I don't know
what; she is I don't know how many thousands of years old. [Castro,
audience laugh] Petra is a goner in this congress.

[Balmaceda] No, Petra is a character...

[Castro, interrupting] Ah, you invented her.

[Balmaceda] Petra is a person I invented. I don't know Petra.

[Castro] Ah, ok, that's good. [applause, laughter] This is good. The
example is good because you were telling me of Petra and [words

[Balmaceda] We (?were proud that) we were able to speak to Education
Minister Jose Ramon. At that moment, I felt like a student again because
what he said about the possibility of training a competent specialist, who
can go to an enterprise and solve the problems we need to solve, would take
care of a big problem. We are optimistic about this and we will convey this
message clearly. Now, Commander, what I want is our part, the Young
Communists [words indistinct] because on many occasions in the Sancti
Spiritus agricultural-livestock enterprises [words indistinct] Joaguin
Bernal, first secretary of the Sancti Spiritus Province, told us very
optimistically that we are at a standstill in the cattle industry and we
have to develop it, and this is up to the youth. Commander, the technical
part is now the fundamental part.

For example, we have... [changes thought] In the province we only have two
dairies, which have technical chiefs and I would like to tell you that I
don't like it but, since the comrades asked me, I was given the
responsibility 2 weeks ago for a livestock enterprise in Yaguajay, the
Venegas Enterprise. [applause]

[Castro] What did you study?

[Balmaceda] Veterinary medicine.

[Castro] Hmm. [laughter from the audience, Castro] That is a broad

[Balmaceda] Yes it is a wide field... [laughter]

[Castro, interrupting] Yes, it really is...

[Balmaceda, interrupting] And it is very old. It is not a new specialty,

[Castro] Of course. And they have made you administrator of the enterprise.

[Balmaceda] I have been made administrator of the enterprise.

[Castro] That's good. How are you going to explain free hiring? [Castro,
crowd laughs]

[Balmaceda, laughing] Look. I have only been there 15 days and I haven't
had time to think about free hiring, because we have such big problems...

[Castro, interrupting] Is that where you have Petra? [crowd laughs]

[Balmaceda, laughing] I have her.

[Castro, laughing] Your own enterprise. She's there, isn't she?

[Balmaceda] Look, I can talk about a Petra in (Cebasur) too. I'm from the
south and now live in the north, Commander.

[Castro] So you have two Petras: one in the north and another in the south.

[Balmaceda] What? Yes. [crowd laughs] There are Petras everywhere.

[Castro] Well, you were talking with such affection of Petra, you said you
were crazy about her. [crowd laughter, applause] So, what is the name of
the enterprise?

[Balmaceda] Venegas Agricultural-Livestock Enterprise in Yaguajay

[Castro] Yaguajay.

[Balmaceda] Yes. It is 753 caballerias in area. It has...

[Castro, interrupting] How many head of cattle? how many dairies?

[Balmaceda] It has 21,198 head. It is way above...

[Castro, interrupting] Meat or milk?

[Balmaceda] Milk. There is so much crowding...

[Castro, interrupting] How many dairies?

[Balmaceda] We have 33 traditional dairies.

[Castro] How much milk a day?

[Balmaceda] We are producing 11,673 liters at the most.

[Castro] You must be unprofitable, because ...

[Balmaceda, interrupting] Completely unprofitable. The figure is 3.2 to
3.5, tops. [crowd laughs, applauds]

[Castro, laughing] Of course. You have been taken to undeveloped cattle
country. You have to develop the place.

[Balmaceda] We are going to face (?the problem).

[Castro] How many workers do you have?

[Balmaceda] At this time, the figure with the tabulation centers is 1,030
or 1,040 workers. That is the figure.

[Castro] What about without the tabulation centers? Those centers had to be
set up to save the cattle.

[Balmaceda] Right. Without the tabulation centers, the figure is 900.

[Castro] You are producing about 12 liters of milk per man.

[Balmaceda] And keeping a staff in the traditional dairies averaging 3 to
1, because they are traditional and they require...

[Castro] How many full staffs in Yaguajay?

[Balmaceda] What's that?

[Castro] What's a full staff in Yaguajay?

[Balmaceda] Well, a full staff for dairies there means that if they have
six milkers, they must have six even if they are producing 100 liters of

[Castro] Six milkers and six what?

[Balmaceda] Six milkers even if they are producing 100 liters of milk; I
have to keep them on the payroll because that is the requirement.

[Castro] Is it mechanical milking?

[Balmaceda] Milking is done with machines.

[Castro] You have six men per dairy.

[Balmaceda] Six men per diary.

[Castro] Then you have 120 in the dairies along and about 750 elsewhere.

[Balmaceda] Yes.

[Castro] What do the others do? How many do you have in the office?

[Balmaceda] Well, I would like to say that this is not only in the Venegas
office. This happens in almost all enterprises.

[Castro] Everywhere, yes.

[Balmaceda] In the office, you can load up a truck and send them to hack
away and clean up the hills. That is really something! [applause; Castro
laughs, claps his hands, and turns to person sitting next to him and asks:
"What is his name?"]

[Castro] Hey, Balmaceda, my fear is that they sent you not to promote you
but to punish you. [crowd laughs]

Maybe you were too critical and someone decided to send you there so you
would shut up. [Castro, crowd laughs]

[Balmaceda, laughing] Look, Commander. In this case, Comrade Risquet knows
about this because he often visited the place where I was. However, because
of the province's need, the provincial party had discussed the situation.
The situation at the Venegas Enterprise was critical. The Young Communists
were asked for support at the provincial assembly. Months before, as part
of the cadre policy, Victor, the comrade who is in charge of the
agricultural-livestock department, had brought this up, the willingness of
young technicians to take positions of responsibility because the Sancti
Spiritus enterprises were headed by comrades without any formal training.
Sometimes the management was poor. They did not even know very much about
economy, I am just learning now. I am like that comrade...

[Castro, interrupting] Remember there is a surplus of about 10,000 around

[Balmaceda] Where?

[Castro, laughing] Economics graduates, from the schools of economy.

[Balmaceda] Well, I want to tell you that I have to study trade union
issues because otherwise I will be facing very hard problems.

[Castro] You did not have problems with seniority?

[Balmaceda] No, no, not at all. Commander, I wanted to tell you, since we
are talking about the employment of technicians, we in the enterprise have
only four agricultural-livestock engineers. We have six veterinarians. None
of those professionals is a section head. The heads of the five sections of
the enterprise are comrades who founded the enterprise in the sixties. If
you discuss an economic problem with them, a production problem, a wage
problem, they know nothing. And we are facing...

[Castro, interrupting] In that specific case, those positions, those
section chiefs, I don't know what they are called...

[Balmaceda, interrupting] They are not in the seniority scheme.

[Castro] Are they included in the seniority program?

[Balmaceda] No, not those. They are the ones we have to revolutionize. But
not in a brusque manner. We are going to prepare ourselves gradually.

So, the situation, Commander, is that the enterprise's growth is going to
create its own food basis. We have only 7.7 caballerias under irrigation at
present. We cannot cut them to provide feed for the animals. They are
poorly tended; no application has been made of agricultural technology.
Pasture lands are unfenced. Privately-owned animals come over to feed. They
live off it and make it through the drought. Spring comes around again and
nothing done! That is what I was able to observe when I got there. I found
that I came from an area where grass is now plentiful and I found myself in
a rather difficult situation. I would also like to tell you that,
concerning technical work, there were 10 agricultural-livestock engineers
in that enterprise. Of the 10, 4 remained because technicians did not
receive proper attention. The house where they lived had been closed down.
As part of the work being done with the technicians, we took the measure --
that took only a few days, that really was a quick resolution -- to open
the house and fix it up. This is also for the trade union's information:
there was a guest house on a hill and I turned it into a house for the
workers, Commander, because it had no recreational use. And there are very
good good workers. That guest house I turned into a workers house so they
can hold events for outstanding collectives and workers. We are getting the
support of the trade union. [applause]

[Castro] What did he say his name was? [someone whispers "Balmaceda"] Hey,

[Balmaceda] Yes, sir.

[Castro] Who visited that unproductive latifundia? [crowd laughs] that
unprofitable estate?

[Balmaceda] Well, Commander, the thing is that the Venegas Enterprise was
doing well until the big drought came along. They never had low production
because the rains always came, but they did not lay the groundwork for
these hard dry years. When the drought came, it lay bare what Venegas
really was. That is my opinion.

[Castro] What are your irrigation sources?

[Balmaceda] Well, the Jatibonico del Norte River runs through the
enterprise. We have the resources.

[Castro] But you have no dams.

[Balmaceda] We have microdams from the Caonao tubers plan.

[Castro] Hmm.

[Balmaceda] The Caonao Valley in Yaguajay. Commander, the enterprise had
very good fodder land in that area. As a result of the growth of the tubers
plan, it lost part of the fodder land.

[Castro] Were irrigated lands from the enterprise transferred too...

[Balmaceda, interrupting] Yes, yes, that.

[Castro] How about fertilizers?

[Balmaceda] Well, right now, Commander, we received the amount of
fertilizers assigned for this quarter.

[Castro] How many tons?

[Balmaceda] The figure in tons? I don't know the exact figure.

[Castro] I got you.

[Balmaceda] What?

[Castro] I got you.

[Balmaceda] You got me. [crowd laughs]

[Castro] Imagine. [someone in background says: "He was tougher than a
bull"] If your problem is that you have to feed the cattle, that you have a
food deficit, if you suddenly lost the irrigated lands, your most valuable
resource today is fertilization. That is the only thing you have
immediately at hand that could bring you 50 or 100 percent [words