Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Views Cooperatives, Prospects

FL2405220888 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0000 GMT 23 May 88

[All speakers other than Fidel Castro identified by caption]

[Text]  The third national meeting of agricultural-livestock production
cooperatives ended this afternoon with closing remarks by Commander in
Chief Fidel Castro.  The meeting was held at Havana's Palace of

[Begin Castro recording]  I see good prospects for agricultural
development, good economic prospects for the cooperatives.  In general, we
should also reach the section... [corrects himself] the conclusion that
there is a great deal to be done in the area of state agriculture.  A great
deal.  We were talking here of paperwork, bureaucracy, excess personnel, a
lot of things that cost money and are hindrances.  It was good to discuss
that here.  I believe that the comrades working in agriculture will have to
ponder all this.

As I said, this must not be done overnight.  It can't be done.  However, we
have to start looking for maximum efficiency in state agriculture.  We must
save resources, materials, fuel, human resources.  If by working well the
cooperative can be profitable, then the state enterprise, by working well,
can also be profitable on the basis of some predetermined prices.

I believe the country is going to advance rapidly.  I believe we are going
to recover the lost years.  We are going to make up for it in a few years.
I have never felt as much optimism about the prospects for agriculture as I
do today.   I really am optimistic and I should say so.  And this feeling
is based on the fact that I have been at many discussions at various times,
from the times when people with 3d or 4th grade education managed the farms
up to today, when we have thousands and thousands of engineers.  And from
the times when the cooperatives were just a big mass of land, with a lot of
inefficiency everywhere, and a lot of ignorance.  Once there was a large,
dispersed peasant mass, today, we have a strong cooperative movement.  The
cooperative movement should not only be measured by the percentage it
produces for the agricultural economy, but on the influence it exerts over
the whole peasant sector.  The cooperative will make it possible to
incorporate that mass of peasants that is still isolated.  It contributes
ideas, knowledge, initiatives, examples.  It can help the state
agriculture.  The cooperative's efficiency can be a point of reference for
the state enterprise.  That is, the role the cooperative sector is called
to play in the economy is a very large one.

In addition, it consolidates and strengthens the revolution; it makes it
politically stronger.  Thus, we do not in the least underestimate nor do I
believe we are exaggerating when we assess the importance of the
cooperative movement. [end recording]

[Reporter Marta Carvajal]  We now give you some excerpts from the last day
of sessions of the third national meeting on cooperatives.

[Begin recording of Santiago Rojas, from the Pinar del Rio
Agricultural-Livestock Cooperative, CPA]  Comrades, it was not easy in
1979, when we didn't know what a CPA was, to convince 30 comrades, 16 of
whom contributed land--6 caballerias--to give up property we thought we
shouldn't give up because we might lose it.  Why?  Because of tradition,
past history.  I was at the first, second, fourth congress.  I viewed it as
the farmer I used to be, exploited all my life.  I had to go through a lot
of hard times.  I picked thousands of tobacco bunches for 4 centavos each
in order to support my family.

When I see the progress achieved today, what's the least a non-profitable
cooperative can do?  I believe that the answer is to struggle, to work
hard, to organize, to talk with the peasants a lot.  Not to appear as a
leader, but as one more member of the cooperatives.  [end recording]

[Carvajal]  The agreement to change the CPA management structure was also a
topic discussed.

[Begin recording]  [Castro]  I imagine you discussed what the Politburo
examined, the Politburo decision about the president of the ANAP [Nation
Association of Small Farmers] and the president of the cooperative?  Was
that made clear?

[Orlando Lugo Fonte, ANAP president]  Yes, Commander, I can tell you that
we have explained the Politburo decision to all the ANAP cadres in the
provinces and the municipalities.  We also met with them and explained the
Politburo accord, the structure, to all the comrades here.

All the comrades--at least based on their remarks--said they had understood
it all very well.

[Castro]  Of course.  The comrades have increasing administrative loads.
The cooperatives are increasingly complex.  Have they understood that it is
practically impossible to take care of the two jobs at the same time?

[Lugo Fonte]  They have.

[Castro]  It is political work and administrative work involving technical
management.  Have they also understood that our interest is in having the
more experienced cadres remain at the head of the cooperatives?

[Lugo Fonte]  We have brought it up with them.

[Castro]  All that, as well.

[Lugo Fonte]  Yes.  On this subject, we might perhaps listen to two
views--from Paquito [nickname for Francisco], Elias.  The comrade from
Ciego de Avila is asking for the floor.

[Suarez]  Francisco Suarez, from the Cuban-Nordic Countries Friendship CPA
in Guira de Melena municipality.  This has been widely discussed, both at
the provincial and community levels.  We feel that it is going to be a
great help to the cooperative movement.  This possibility had been talked
about for many years.  In fact, we had met in recent years with Comrades
Julian Rizo and [Esteban] Lazo and examined all those problems.  We saw
that it was the only way to develop the ANAP's political work and the
cooperatives' administrative work.

A lot of statements have been made here about the excessive number of
meetings, the paperwork, etc.  Well, the meetings can be resolved to a
large extent because there is going to be an organization in charge of the
political aspect and another--in this case, the president of the
cooperative and his governing board--in charge of administrative work.
This is also a big help and it compensates.  It doesn't mean that there are
problems within the cooperatives.  However, there should indeed be
political representatives who will talk with the administration.

[Castro] It is not so much that the political work, or at least not that of
the ANAP, will compensate for that of the cooperatives.  The objective is
to avoid having the president of the cooperative, who has so much work and
responsibility, also getting involved with political issues.  That was fine
when the cooperatives had only 10 or 12 people.  However, with cooperatives
becoming stronger institutions that require a higher level of organization,
technology, and efficiency, there's not doubt that the cooperative
administrator can no longer be in charge of political problems, or rather,
more than political problems, because it's not a matter of party work.
There is also the young people.  There are secretaries of nuclei.  We can't
say it is union work because the cooperative members are the owners of the
cooperative.  They own the means of production.  So, it's more like part
social and part political work.  There's the work with the peasants, to
convince them, to persuade them.  That has to become the ANAP's work in
part.  Otherwise, the ANAP would disappear.  The ANAP should not disappear
because it will continue to have a lot of work to do as a mass
organization.  The ANAP is the peasants' mass organization.

This doesn't mean that the ANAP is going to do the party's work.  Just as a
party nucleus exists and poses no problem, just as a youth nucleus exists
and poses no problem--on the contrary, they are the means to unite and
support-- the ANAP's presence need not be a problem in any way.  It is also
a means to unite and support.  In addition, I believe it must be made very
clear that the authority of the cooperative's president must be
unquestioned.  [end recording]

[Carvajal]  The commander in chief also spoke of the importance of the
cooperative movement for the country's economic development.

[Begin Castro recording]  We want the individual peasants to come together
in order to apply technology--machinery, irrigation systems.  You know that
an effort has been made in Havana to concentrate people in one area.  When
you are going to build a canal, it's impossible to do it when you don't
know how many people are affected.  You can't use the combine, the plane,
the technology.  Everything is rendered more difficult.  Social services
are more difficult.  It's not possible to take child care centers to the
peasants who live in isolated spots.  You can't take schools to them.  Not
even family doctors or anything else--electricity, water, recreation,
anything.  There really can't be progress in our countryside if the
peasants don't organize.  [end recording]