Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks With Mid-Level School Students

FL151605 Havana Television Cubana Network in Spanish 0200 GMT 9 Dec 87

[Dialogue between Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, president of the
Councils of State and Ministers, with delegates to the Seventh Congress of
the Federation of Mid-Level School Students (FEEM), held at the Palace of
Conventions in Havana on 4, 5, and 6 December; delegates identified by

[Excerpts] [Passage omitted] [Sashie Hernandez] Please excuse me for being
a bit hoarse.  I have been shouting for the past 3 days.

[Castro] Who is everyone hoarse?  What's going on?  This is going to be the
hoarse people's congress. [laughter]

[Hernandez] Commander, when we were on the train we were already happy...

[Castro, interrupting] But you were coming to attend a congress.  You
should have taken care of your voice.

[Delegate] When the comrade [not further identified] and Jesus Sanchez
visited Holguin they were told of the problem we were having acquiring some
textbooks because they are not being printed on time.  In Holguin, for
example, those textbooks arrive too late. [passage omitted]

[Castro] What levels are the most affected by this lack of textbooks?

[Hermes Herrera, vice minister of culture] Thermology and special education
have been pretty affected.  The printing of 9th-grade history books has
also been delayed.  Too many of these books are needed and we have been
printing them in sections.  Secondary education has been the most affected.
All this is relative because the fact the books are not available affects
everyone; however, the areas of health have been the least affected.

[Castro] We are making do this year with practically half our usual
imports, with half our convertible currency expenditures on imports that
were described as indispensable.  This has required great efforts.  It has
not been easy.  We have so many students and too many books must be
printed.  This is why I wanted to get an idea of how many books we needed.
Has this been the main cause of the problem or has it been the paper

[Carlos Aldana] Both. In 1987...

[Castro, interrupting] Now many tons of paper did you need?  I am not
speaking of paper to print newspapers but of paper to print books, because
I don't think you use the same paper to print the newspapers.

[Aldana] No, it's not the same.

[Castro] I have not noticed a shortage of newspapers.  We may not be
printing enough of them, but we do have newspapers.  If we can't get the
paper we need we must do something else, find another solution.  Aldana, do
you think that this unification will help the printing activity?

[Aldana] Yes.

[Castro] Do you think that the textbooks... [changes thought] I wonder if I
am getting hoarse also? [laughter] It must be a virus. [clears throat] No,
I'll just drink some tea and I'll be fine. [laughter] Do you think this
organization [not further identified] will help solve this textbook

[Aldana] I am sure it will.  Like Comrade Hermes said, if this organization
receives the raw material it needs then it can handle the needs of the
country.  A very serious study of this situation has already been made.
Because of the current system, because of the number of organizations
involved in this work, we have big machines printing fewer books than they
should, and we have smaller machines printing more than they should.  This
is the result of a lack of organization.  Our GDR comrades who are
cooperating with us in the field have pointed out we could be much more
efficient if we were to create a single organization.  Now we are only
waiting for a decision to be made.

[Castro] I see.  Is there something we can do to resolve the problems we
encounter every time we can't obtain the white paper from Uruguay used to
print textbooks?  Isn't there something we can do?  Can't we use the same
paper used to print newspaper to print those textbooks...

[Aldana, interrupting] Yes, we can.

[Castro] Isn't that better than having no textbooks?

[Aldana] That is something we can do.

[Hernandez] [passage indistinct]

[Castro] Give her the microphone, let her speak.  Are you also hoarse?

[Hernandez] A little, but I can still speak.  What I was saying was that at
the municipal and provincial assemblies some suggestions were presented.  I
think we have a delegate who has some suggestions..

[Castro] Booklets, stencil [preceding word in English]; anything is better
than nothing.

[Hernandez] She suggested the various schools be supplied with the stencils
they need and they will do the rest.

[Castro] If we find ourselves with an emergency such as this one, a year
when this and that went wrong, then we should find ways to resolve the

[Delegate] I think all the provinces are having problems obtaining the
textbooks they need, but the Villa Clara Health Polytechnical School found
a good solution to this problem.  Whenever a textbook was not available,
material from the book was printed and distributed among the students.  For
example, we could not obtain the pharmacology textbook that was needed and
the professor and the students [words indistinct] distributed pamphlets
[words indistinct].  We used these pamphlets to study.  This is something
all the schools could do while they are waiting for the textbooks.

[Castro] I believe we must make this a priority.  We must find a way to
solve this problem.  We have to choose what we are going to spend our
limited funds on.  Sometimes this money is spent on health projects,
education, food, equipment, medicine, on this or that.  However, textbooks
are necessary, and I think we here in the country must pay much attention
to this problem.  We must study this situation and find a solution.  We
must do it even if we don't have all the money we need.  We may not have 20
or 25 million [currency not specified] to invest in this, but we could
invest 2 or 3 million.  We must find a solution for this problem.

[Lavinia Lafitta] We were having very big problems with students who were
always presenting medical certificates.  Every weekend they would present a
medical certificate to cover them for 48 or 72 hours, sometimes even for a
week.  We knew they were not sick because we saw them over the weekend on
the street; but on Monday they would come in with their medical
certificates.  We knew these were forged medical certificates. [passage

[Castro] Regarding this problem of students presenting medical
certificates: How many students miss school on Monday and later present
medical certificates?  Give me an example.

[Lafitta] I will use my school as an example.

[Castro] Yes.

[Lafitta] We have had 15 or 16 students skipping classes on Monday.  Three,
four, five students from my group don't show up on Monday.

[Castro] Your group or the whole school?

[Lafitta] My group.

[Castro] You say three, four, or five skip classes on Monday?  Have you
ever tried to discover the name of the shameless doctor who is issuing
those medical certificates?

[Lafitta] That is something we wanted to talk about.

[Castro] Yes.

[Lafitta] We have even met with the Provincial Medical Commission to
discuss this problem.  We found ourselves facing a very serious problem at
the July 26 IPUEC [Pre-University Institute in the Countryside]; 64 medical
certificates were presented in a single weekend.  We met and we...

[Castro, interrupting] Where were these medical certificates issued?

[Lafitta] In Matanzas.

[Castro] Why didn't the FEEM find out the names of the doctors signing
those medical certificates?

[Lafitta] We did that...

[Castro, interrupting] Why don't you speak to the union or someone.
Investigate those doctors issuing all those medical certificates.

[Lafitta] We did that.  We even checked with the hospitals, even the
Military Hospital.

[Castro] And what did you find out?

[Lafitta] We found out one doctor had issued 15 medical certificates.

[Castro] Did you find out the name of that doctor?

[Lafitta] Yes, we did.

[Castro] Did you report him to the party, to everyone?

[Lafitta] To everyone.

[Castro] There is no doubt this is a shameless action.

[Lafitta] Yes.

[Castro] I would like to ask you another question.  Do you think the day we
can have a family doctor issuing the medical certificates at each school
this will solve this problem?

[Lafitta] Yes, and I think this is very important.  I believe the family
doctor should be the one issuing those medical certificates.

[Castro] The day will come when we will have family doctors all over

[Lafitta] Yes.

[Castro] I don't think a family doctor will issue those certificates
because he will know better; his ideas and concepts will be different.  The
family doctor will know who is really sick.  It will be much more difficult
when the family doctor lives in the same community as the student; it will
be much more difficult when the family doctor is at the school where that
student studies.  Our plan is to have a family doctor in every school.

[Lafitta] We already have family doctors at 10 schools.

[Castro] What?

[Lafitta] Ten family doctors at the schools.

[Castro] One in each of the 10 schools.  We don't have enough doctors at
this moment.  But what you have said is true.  In the future it will be
much more difficult to get those medical certificates because our doctors
will not do what the shameless doctors do.  They think because they are
friends of the family they can help corrupt those students.  What you have
done is good.  Keep. up the battle against these shameless doctors.

[Lafitta] A strong battle.

[Castro] Do your political work; explain the situation and present charges
when you see something is not right.  Discover the names of the doctors
issuing those medical certificates and send a letter to the party, to the
People's Government, so the doctor will be investigated.  Write a letter to
your local newspaper; let them know when too many students do not show up
for classes on Monday.  Isn't it strange one doctor should sign 15 medical
certificates in a single day?  I wonder if there was an outbreak of

[Delegate] I want to talk about a problem 531 students have.  They are
concerned about the quality of graduating students.  I study at a livestock
polytechnical center in Cabaiguan municipality.  In the past this center
functioned as a pre-university center.  This polytechnical center was
inaugurated 2 years ago; however, it has no livestock for us to work with.
We don't have the equipment we need to train.  We need this training.
After we graduate we won't get a job if we don't have this training.  There
are centers around the school that lend us a few animals, but all of us
cannot be injecting those animals.  We are going to have problems once we
graduate and we won't be able to serve the revolution as veterinary

[Castro] Where is your school located?

[Delegate] In Sancti Spiritus Province, Cabaiguan municipality.

[Castro] In Cabaiguan.  What was in the area before the school was built?

[Delegate] A pre-university.

[Castro] What?

[Delegate] A pre-university.

[Castro] But what was grown in the area?  Tobacco, vegetables, what was
grown in the area?

[Delegate] The pre-university had to be moved because there was no
agricultural work done in the area.

[Castro] What kind of soil do you have in that area?  What kind of things
surround your center?

[Delegate] Much livestock.  There are dairy farms.  The problem...

[Castro interrupting] It is a cattle area?

[Delegate] Yes.

[Castro] Then your location is not bad because you are in a cattle area.
So what is your problem?  Don't you have a cat to experiment with?
[laughter] What's the problem?

[Delegate] The land does not belong to the center and the dairy farms let
us borrow the animals, but all of us cannot work on those cows, that is

[Castro] What?

[Delegate] That would hurt the animals.

[Castro] How many students do you have at the center?

[Delegate] How many?

[Castro] Yes.

[Delegate] We have 531 students...

[Castro, interrupting] What are you doing?  Training technicians for all of
Latin America or what?  Listen, we must study this.  We must find out how
many technicians are being trained, how many technicians we already have,
and how many we need.  But the problem is that you have no land.  You are
strangers in a cattle area where the interests of the school clash with the
interests of the cattle enterprise.  Who owns that cattle enterprise?

[Delegate] Cabaiguan Cattle Enterprise.

[Castro] What do you need?

[Delegate] We have nothing.

[Castro] [chuckles] How much land do you need?  For example, we built the
Martinez Villena Technological Center and we gave them the land they
needed.  We drafted a plan for them to follow.  Perhaps there is someone
from the center here today.  We started a genetics program to crossbreed
many kinds of animals.  However, we had to take some land away from them
and, unfortunately, one of these days we are going to ask for all that land
and move the center.  The city is growing fast and will need the land
around that center.  We can see this coming.

[Delegate] What we need are our own animals.

[Castro] Your own animals?  To cut them up and to inject them 500 times a
day? [laughter] What are you going to do with all those animals?  Perhaps
we will have to do as we did at the Nursing School, give you a rubber cow
for you to practice with. [laughter] What's the problem with your school?
Tell me whether you have other [words indistinct].

I am glad the comrade came and complained about this problem.  We are not
mindreaders and know what the students are doing in Cabaiguan.  They don't
have a single cow, a square meter of land, a tractor, or a plow.  They have
to depend on the enterprise to lend them the animals.  I think the
Cabaiguan school should have its own land, even if it has an enterprise
near it.  The Villena school has its own land.  This is good for the
students.  I think this type of school [words indistinct] a big plan.
These schools should have their own land, and I think It was a mistake to
set up such a school without giving it land.

During the recess Sashie [Hernandez] was telling me there are several
agricultural schools with this problem.  She mentioned one in Pinar del Rio
and one in Granma.  She mentioned three or four schools that don't have
land.  However, I don't think this is the real problem.  There is a
conceptual problem affecting all this.  Is there someone from Triumbirato

[Delegate] Yes.

[Castro] Comrade, I would like to ask you a question.  Are you still
planting vegetables and tubers in Triumbirato?

[Delegate] I am a 4th year veterinary student, and since I have been at the
school I have not done agricultural work.

[Castro] What happened to that area under irrigation, where vegetables and
tubers for the community were grown?

[Delegate] That is run by the livestock sector.

[Castro] Of course, but the students are not involved.  We built that schoo
beside the dam for a reason.  The dam would provide the water needed to
grow the vegetables for the community.  I don't know what is happening now.
We even built a secondary school for the children of the workers who are
under the work-study system.  The idea was for them to grow the food for
the community.  The school was to be the orchard of that plan.  Now the
students don't even have a plantain tree there.

Comrade, what do you do there?

[Delegate] I'll be honest with you.  During my 1st year at that school we
were never sent to a dairy farm to practice; we did no agricultural work.
All we did was go to our classroom or clean the hallways because there was
no place to practice what we were learning.  Only last week did the school
get its land.

[Castro] What do you mean? You just got land?

[Delegate] Last week the director met with the FEEM leaders to inform them
he had been given the land to build the veterinary and animal husbandry

[Castro] What about the plantains?

[Delegate] Nothing about that.  Since we entered the Triumbirato Center we
have been talking to the various organizations throughout the province to
explain that we must be involved in dairy farming or agriculture.  The
workers at the dairy farms want us to help, but we have been told we cannot
go into the dairy farms.

[Castro] We have been playing too much with those capitalist mechanisms.
We have practically become capitalists, shoddy capitalists, as we have said
many times.  This congress is getting good. [applause] It is getting good.

[Rafael Bernal, vice minister of education] We can train 6,000 in animal
husbandry and 4,000 veterinarians.  We have calculated that approximately
2,000 or 2,500 will graduate each year.  After studying the payroll and the
new cattle units, the Ministry of Agriculture has advised us they can
employ this number of graduates.  This is not only a broad profile career,
but the same technician is also trained as a qualified worker...

[Castro, interrupting] If he is trained as a qualified worker, the
agricultural sector will have much need for him.

[Bernal] There are unlimited possibilities.

[Castro] This does not mean they need 2,500 trained in animal husbandry
every year.  They need many more qualified workers to replace the workers
who are retiring.  This concept of a middle-level technician and qualified
worker is good and the agriculture sector can really use them.

[Delegate] As the minister already explained, this concept of a broad
profile was implemented 4 years ago in all the middle-level technician
specialties.  The broad profile system includes training in other areas
related to the technician's specialty.  When this technician graduates he
can immediately go to work as a qualified worker.

Now, going back to the cattle sector.  I mentioned earlier we have 12
centers where technicians are trained; however, only three of these centers
are equipped to train the technician properly.  The technicians practice at
the slaughterhouse; however, only the male animal is sent to the
slaughterhouse; very few cows are ever cent to the slaughterhouse.
Therefore, the technician who graduated was not a veterinarian or breeder.
Now, we have that problem solved.

[Castro] What happens to the cow?

[Delegate] A sick cow is treated at the animal health center...

[Castro, interrupting] In the end the cow is killed?

[Delegate] No. The enterprise takes back its old cow...

[Castro, interrupting] Poor cow, what a sad future awaits it. [laughter]
But the cow is not killed, is she?

[Delegate] The cow is treated, and after she has gained weight she is
returned to the enterprise.  This is what three of the centers do; however,
we still have nine centers which do not have the equipment they need.  We
are working with the ministry at this moment to get all the equipment we
need. [applause]

[Castro] I don't know what you would do on the Isle of Youth; in Haguey,
where there are 64 schools; in Pinar del Rio; in Ceiba; in Sola; or many
other places without the students who are in the rural school system.  I am
interested in knowing what would happen.  Can you give me an explanation.

[Delegate] Yes, Commander.

[Castro] I am not blaming you.  I am blaming the organization, but you
represent the organization so you must give us an explanation. [laughter]

[Delegate] Rest assured that as representative of the Ministry of
Agriculture I will assume my responsibilities in this matter.
Unfortunately, we were not able to be here this morning.  The truth is the
ministry did not handle the problem of the polytechnical institutes
properly.  But we discussed this problem a few months ago, and only
recently did it again.  We have concluded we are going to begin working
with the livestock polytechnical institutes and are going to adopt measures
to resolve their problems.  We have decided all those problems will be
resolved in 1988.

[Castro] I like the idea of having engineers heading the activities of the
productive sectors and I also think the middle-level technicians should be
given more responsibilities.  The technician is trained for this.  The
concept of the narrow profile is something we must overcome.  This was
another of those negative tendencies born from the idea of one man for one
job.  I think the only way to get some discipline is to have one man who
knows what he is doing [words indistinct] rather than a large number of
engineers and middle-level technicians [words indistinct] but for
bureaucratic reasons.  There are too many engineers who are bureaucrats and
who are producing nothing.  Had we known this we would have created another
school at the university; the school of bureaucracy, how to create a
bureaucrat.  To train an engineer to be a bureaucrat is a waste of time.

Do you have many technicians in the bureaucratic apparatus?

[Delegate] Sixty-six percent of the university graduates employed by the
ministry are working for the enterprises.

[Castro] What do you mean by enterprises?

[Delegate] They are leaders at the enterprises; they work with the

[Castro, interrupting] You said sixty what?

[Delegate] Sixty-six percent.

[Castro] Where are the other 34 percent?

[Delegate] At the institutes, delegations, and at the ministry.

[Castro] Yes, those institutes are more warehouses for the bureaucratic
technicians.  That's another matter.

[Delegate] Commander, what I have explained...

[Castro, interrupting] How many of the 66 percent are up there?

[Delegate] That is our big problem.  We are studying this.  We are getting
down from where they are.

[Castro] What are you going to do for the technological institutes?

[Delegate] Commit ourselves, before you and the congress, to resolve all
the problems we have in those areas. [passage omitted]