Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Fidel Castro Reviews 'Difficult' Year

FL010000 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0100 GMT 29 Dec 87

[Report by Lucia Gonzalez from Palace of Conventions]

[Text]  The draft for the country's 1988 General Economic and Social
Development Plan and budget was approved this afternoon by the Cuban
parliament.  The bill was drawn up with extensive participation from the
state organizations and territories, and further enriched with the workers'

Next year, limitations on the availability of freely convertible currency
will be maintained, although the effects will be kept to a minimum.
Therefore, increased exports, tourism development, and imports substitution
continue to be of vital importance for the Cuban economy.

The main objective will be to make products more varied, to extend the
social projects program throughout the country, and of course, to generally
maintain the consumption levels of the population.  The investment plan
will be guaranteed, although the established priorities are eliminated.
The basic aims are now to ensure completion of projects and to channel
efforts toward the most important economic and social objectives.  In one
of his comments, Deputy Fidel Castro made an analysis of the year that is
about to end.

[Begin Castro recording]  I think we have gone through one of the most
critical and difficult years, one most full of stumbling blocks of all
kinds.  We worked with much care throughout the year.  I think the country
has made a truly heroic effort in 1987.  It cannot be described here with
easy, simple words.  The first conclusion is we have not grown in volume
but I think we have progressed considerably this year.  I would say that
doing what has been done in 1987, in the conditions in which it has been
done, actually constitutes a heroic feat by our people.

In almost all areas, there was a much more serious effort in construction
and industry, a very serious effort in the rectification process against
high salaries without the work to justify them, as well as a great effort
in agriculture, sugarcane sowing plans, sugarcane cleaning.  We have
manually cleaned more sugarcane than ever.  Administrative officials came
down to the sugarcane fields to clean up during all those months.

We have really been able to surmount with successes and encouraging
results, with encouraging results [repeats himself] the most difficult
year; or, well, one of the most difficult years.  We will keep having
difficult years.  We cannot even for a second imagine that the others are
not very difficult or as difficult as this one.  We will have them in 1988,
1989, and maybe even 1990.  These must be years of heroic feats by our
people.  As I said, doing what has been done with the minimum resources
available to us from the freely convertible currency area, I say, was
really a heroic effort.  This does not mean we should be satisfied.

I can say that approximately 300,000 more tons of cement have been used in
construction.  We have used more cement, sand, rock, more of everything.
We have finished many [incomplete] projects because many of these
commercialized enterprises were interested in only one thing.  They would
begin a project, move the land; this meant a lot of accumulated value.
They would put up four columns and then they wouldn't go on building,
because finishing would produce little value.  You have to keep
giving...[changes thought]  They start with a bulldozer and finish with a
screwdriver, by hand, installing a bolt, a valve; that was the kind of
finishing they did.  The truth is we will have to examine all those things
carefully, see how much influence the price reduction had.  The truth is we
have invested more materials in construction.  That is, much more has been

Above all, this effort's main purpose is to find the solution to important
economic or social problems.  I think the best thing about all this is we
can begin to face severe social problems without affecting in the least the
economic development of the country.  All of our great energy projects,
including the electronuclear plant, oil refinery, exploration, drilling,
and nickel plants are beginning to show more potential because we have
finally started to get things rolling and more.  We have found a way to
deal with the serious problems we had in the famous Punta Gorda factory.
The construction of the CEMA I plant is once again gaining new momentum.
All fundamental industries--mechanical, energy, mining, food, and light
industry, all the areas, and the most important ones--are coming along;
they have been taken care of, and are developing at a greater pace.

One of the things we have done during 1987 is to create the conditions so
that 1988 will begin, from the very 1st day, as it is supposed to begin.
And it will not begin from the 1st day, it will begin from the 4th day.
Because we have Friday the 1st, Saturday, and Sunday, and I think it is
fair that during those days people rest.  We have even imposed an
obligatory rest on the minibrigades from the capital.  Obligatory rest on
1, 2, and 3 January.  We do not want people to arrive all worn-out on 4
January.  We want them to arrive with the desire to gobble up the projects,
to build it all.  [End Castro recording]