Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Take 11 of 17--Cuba: Castro Speech at Child Care Center


[Text] These are not children with their pioneer scarfs. These are not
children with their uniforms. Rather, these are children desperately trying
to earn a living, who have no schools or medical attention. Sometimes they
even entertain in the parks by acting as fire eaters [tragacandela]
[Unreadable text] earn a few centavos and not starve to death. You should
see the data that show the number of children who die during their first
year. This year, once again, we have reduced the infant mortality rate from
13.6 to possibly 13.2 or 13.3; we are still awaiting the final data. We
will see if next year we can make it under 13. The mortality rate is 60 or

It is not only a matter of children. I was told by the UNICEF director
that if Cuba's health programs existed in the rest of Latin America, 1
million children's lives would be saved each year. There are those who die
from ages 1 to 5, 1 to 10, 1 to 15. There's a big number of children
without schools, and even more between 12 and 16 who do not have
educational institutions to attend. That is the destiny of these children.
What can they learn? What will they become? What view will they have of
society and life? Imagine what they have to put up with at such an early
age, so many problems.

When we see the children in the centers, or when we see the pioneers
doing what they do, working, engaging in these activities, doing heroic
feats; the students out in the rural schools or the students who do
agricultural work in the countryside by the hundreds of thousands, then
you can understand why this movement today has acquired so much force. This
is because our youth, those who are between 20 and 30 years old, and even
those between 30 and 40, know what it is to work with their own hands,
because the revolution started very early to combine school and work. We
are seeing the results. We see it in the spirit of those pioneers and young
mini-brigade workers because they are not afraid or work. They do not feel
disgust toward work; they enjoy work. They know what it is to make a
physical effort and to sweat.

Look at those contingents of young people like the ones who
participated in the construction of el Gato dam.  The day we inaugurated
that project, I was able to speak with many people there.  They spoke with
me with a great admiration toward the contingent of 200 young people.
Thanks to their vanguard work and cooperation with the regular construction
workers, they have made it possible for our capital to have an additional
80 million cubic meters of water.  This was done after the worst drought
ever known in the country's history.

We say: Where did these young people come from? they come out of our
educational system. They come out of the system which combines school and
work. A system that other countries do not have, as our does our country,
which has it as a system in pursuance of the principles of Marx and Marti.
These ideas were taken from Marx and Marti. [applause] These ideas were put
into practice in our country. Now look at the new generations that we are
creating. Look how well this fits in with the socialist and communist
spirit, and how well this fits in with the formation of a worker's
conscience, a proletariat conscience, and with the ideas and dreams of Che.

He who in his life has never done anything with his hands, will have a
difficult time. He can do it; and we have seen it. Because of the
revolutionary spirit, even 75-year-old grandmothers are involved in the
projects. They do this out of a sense of honor and dignity, out of a
revolutionary spirit. But already this youth, systematically, does that.
What a great privilege for our country to have children such as these, and
to know that all the children can be like this. What a privilege to know
that all children have their schools, teachers, high schools, technical
schools; to know that those who are more studious and have the aptitude go
to the universities. This also explains why we meet with young technicians
in the industries such as engineers, architects, and scientists everywhere
making big efforts.