Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks at Main Anniversary Celebration

FL0501133389 Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish 2300
GMT 4 Jan 89

[Speech by President Fidel Castro at the main ceremony marking the 30th
anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution at Cuba's permanent
Economic and Social Development Exhibit, EXPOCUBA, in Havana--live]

[Text] Please sit down; you'll get tired like that.

Distinguished guests, compatriots:  I don't know what the acoustics are
like here for a ceremony that is not large but where many people are seated
and where the seats extend a considerable distance to the back.  I don't
know if the people in the back can hear well.  I think they said they
could, right?  [crowd murmur]  This may require a little patience on the
part of those participating in this event who are located behind the press.
You have made a sort of mural there.  One can see a few dozen--or rather, a
few hundred--people there [chuckles] but you can see the main platform.  We
hope you will remain there, in discipline, and that you will not talk a lot
among yourselves.

First of all, I want to thank the hundreds of hundreds of foreign
visitors--although they are inappropriately called foreign visitors and it
would be better to call them brothers from other countries--who have come
[interrupted by applause] who have come [repeats himself] to our country to
participate with us in the commemoration of this historic date and on this
happy birthday, which is the 30th anniversary of the revolution.

Happy does not mean that everything is done and everything is well.  It
means that we are happy to mark the 30th anniversary of the revolution and
we feel truly grateful for your presence, because our revolution is not
only our project; it is also, in large part, a result of international
support and cooperation.

If this pygmy that is the island of Cuba was able to confront the
imperialist giant, one must say that it would not have been possible
without the support of socialist countries and the progressive and
democratic forces throughout the world.

I am not going to make a long and interminable review of the revolution's
events, projects, and successes.  Instead, it would be better to ask you
to excuse us if those of us who speak at a ceremony such as this praise,
our own work too much.  However, that happens on all birthdays.  From
children to adolescents, on a child's birthday, you don't stress his
faults; instead, you stress his virtues.

There may be a few things, some features, that we can mention to our
foreign guests in connection with our country's colossal effort.  And, we
may mention some of the results obtained.

I will begin with the topic our enemies start off with.  I will speak of
health, or rather, education and health.  Our enemies say that we have
colossal successes in education and health.  Some super-renegades, however,
dare to question our success in education, health, and sports.  Later, I
might explain why they talk about this.  They do this to deny other things.
However, that which is very obvious cannot be denied.

Our country does not have many statistics on the past.  It has been easy to
find data because statistics weren't even kept.  A census was conducted in
1953, and that is the year our struggle began.  The military dictatorship
of Fulgencio Batista had been directing the destiny of our country for
about a year by 1953.  some of the statistics pertain to that census.

For example, it was said that illiteracy was 29 [corrects himself] 23.9
percent.  Around 24 percent of the country's population was
illiterate,based on the ideas on illiteracy that prevailed at the time.  An
illiterate person was considered to be someone who could not sign his name.
He did not know how to write his name.  He did not know how to add.  He did
not know how to write anything, not even a sentence.

Today, in keeping with modern concepts, many of the people who were not
included in this illiteracy count are today considered illiterate.  That
calculation had been kinder because it was based on the lower standards
used at the time to determine that the illiteracy rate was around 24

I think that based on contemporary standards used to define illiteracy, we
could say that our country was about 60 or 70 percent illiterate.  The
average level of education was no higher than second grade.  In no other
part of the world today is a person with a second grade education
considered to be literate.  Those who knew how to read and write, who
finished second or third grade, barely learned how to sign their names.  I
think that school attendance in 1953 was around 45 [corrects himself] about
45 to 46 percent.  That was for elementary school.  Attendance in secondary
schools was around 8 or 9 percent.

Technological education practically did not exist.  There were six or seven
schools for arts and crafts, as they were called then.  In regard to
university education, there were between 10,000 and 15,000 university
students.  Later, during the period of the Batista tyranny, the
universities were practically closed.  There was 1 basic university and
other universities began operating in the eastern provinces.  Some efforts
were made in Camaguey and Holguin.

Concepts such as special schools did not even exist in our country.
Schools for children with problems,with difficulties, did not exist.  As to
child care centers, no one in this country even know what a child care
center was.

The vast majority of women did not have jobs and the jobs they had were
generally very depressing.

Speaking of health indexes then, our conservative estimate is that there
were more than 60 deaths per every 1,000 live births.  This is not a
statistic; we know this because of what we had when we began keeping
statistics.  There were around 60 or 50 deaths per every 1,000 live births
but we really don't know how many deaths there were.  We say that it was
around 50 or 60 deaths for every 1,000 live births.  More than 12 mothers
died for every 10,000 women.

Our country had 6,000 doctors.  That was not a small number, but they were
almost all concentrated in the capital and many of them were unemployed.
It is estimated that life expectancy was less than 60.  It would be a lot
to say that life expectancy was around 60 years of age.

There was no public health system.  A large part of the population had no
public health service.  We could say that in our rural areas where more
than half of the population lived, there was no public health service.

More than 30 percent of the active population was affected by unemployment
or underemployment.  Social security barely reached 50 percent of the
population and in many cases the pensions were a pittance.  All the
retirement funds at the triumph of the revolution were truly broke.  They
had no funds.  That was the situation, the major characteristics, of our

Some changes can be automatically measured, and international organizations
are familiar with the reliability of our statistics.

Illiteracy today, technically--I say technically--has been reduced to 1.5
percent.  People who, because of age or other problems, were not able
to learn to read and write account for that figure.

What we can say is that illiteracy has been reduced to 2 percent.  Today,
100 percent of the children in the country are able to go to school.  This
is in the entire country, in the city as well as in the countryside.
Today, 100 percent of all youths who have graduated from primary school can
go to secondary school.  This does not mean that 100 percent of them do;
this does not mean that 100 percent show up.  There are some children who,
because of some type of physical or even social reasons, do not go to
school.  This is why we do not say 100 percent; we say 99 or 98.

Mid-level education--as we were saying, it stood at around 8 percent before
the revolution--can reach 100 percent of the youths of those ages.  In
reality, 97 percent  go to school.  That is, between 12 and 16 to 18 years
of age when they begin high school.  Unfortunately, there are always cases
of early marriages.  This is unavoidable.  Socialism has not yet been able
to find [chuckles] the way to prevent early marriages.  It tries to promote
sexual education, it teaches prevention, but there are some social factors
that make it impossible for 100 percent of children between the ages of 6
and 18--youths, adolescents--to go to school.  However, it is not because
they are not given the opportunity to go to school.

Almost all the country's 14 provinces have universities today.  In the area
of medicine alone, there are 21 medical schools in our country.  Each
province has a medical school.  Each one of the country's 14 provinces,
which correspond to the new political-administrative division, trains its
physicians and its specialists.  There are around 28,000 students in
medical schools.  This also includes students who are enrolled in dentistry
and in bachelor's degree programs in nursing.  Out of the 6,000
physicians--well.  I am talking about education and university-level
schools and not about medicine.

There are hundreds of technical schools and skilled workers in the country.
There are around 100,000 regular university-level students and over
200,000--if one includes those who study through various programs, workers
who study through tutor programs [estudios dirigidos], nurses who are
working on their bachelor's degrees, primary school teachers who are
working on their bachelor's degree on special primary school education.
Their total accounts for over 200,000 university-level students, although
many of them are workers.  That is, they are not university graduates who
need employment but are studying something related to the job they already

There are over 1,000 child care centers.  Over 100,000 children attend
child care centers.  It is an ambitious program.  Suffice it to say that
Havana built 54 child care centers, with room for 210 students each, in
1987.  Some 56 child care centers will have been built in 1988 and the
first day of January.  In 2 years, 110 child care centers were built.
There was need for 19,500 slots and approximately 24,000 have been created.
Of course, it is somewhat difficult to determine the exact demand.  Since
no possibilities existed some years ago, perhaps some who needed the
service did not ask for it.

The country has over 40,000 slots in special education and 40,000 more will
be created within the next 3 or 4 years.  We will have the total number of
slots we need in special education.  This is for children who have hearing,
sight, social, or certain learning problems.  It can also include mental
retardation or behavioral problems.  In short, there are a number of causes
that force society to create those types of special schools.  Within 5
years we will meet the needs .... [leaves sentence unfinished]

There is a program that began in Havana.  All of the special education
needs of Havana, with its 2 million residents, will be met in the year
1989.  We estimate that all the needs of the rest of Havana City Province,
which is also preparing its own program, will be met in 3 to 4 years, at
the most.  These are truly extraordinary steps that our country has taken
in this area.

There are lots, lots of different types of schools.  There are big exact
science schools, pre-university schools in rural areas, different types of
technology schools, and sports  and science schools.  It would be a long
list but I said that I wanted to talk only about the major feats.

In the area of health, we can say that, for example the infant mortality
rate, which in 1987 had been reduced to 13.3 for every 1,000 live births
during the first year of life, was to be lowered to 13 in 1988; we were
able to lower it to 12.  Our infant mortality in 1988 was 11.9 which is
where we are now.  We have sustained this progress and it makes us one of
the 20 countries with the lowest infant mortality rate in the world.  It
places us below several developed industrial nations.  I think this has
been an extraordinary achievement.

Some provinces.... [changes thought]  One province in the interior of the
country, Cienfuegos, has brought down its rate to less than 10.  Last year
we asked ourselves which would be the first province to reduce its infant
mortality rate below 10.  Cienfuegos was the first, a province in the
interior of the country.  It reduced its rate to 8.9 deaths for every 1,000
live births.

Another province in the interior, Pinar del Rio, which was called the
Cinderella province prior to the revolution because of the number of
disasters that occurred there, reduced its rate to 10.

isle of Youth lowered its rate to 10.4 and the capital of the republic
lowered its rate to 10.6, 10.6 [repeats himself].  The capital's rate was
lowered to 10.6.  In terms of infant mortality, Havana's is much lower than
the rate in Washington, the capital of the empire.

Our infant mortality indexes are now similar to those of the United States,
the richest nation in the world.  It is not the first in low infant
mortality rates.  Even though the infant mortality rate has come down to 10
in the rich sectors, the white sectors, the black population, the
descendants of Latin Americans, the Chicanos, have an infant mortality rate
of 15, 17, 20, or more than 20.  It's not the same.  It is not equal.

When we speak of the infant mortality rate in Cuba or of education, we
speak equally for all the residents of the country.  There are some
provinces that are more advanced.  A few are less advanced in the matter of
infant mortality but all are progressing and the rate is more or less
similar.  The highest infant mortality rate is 14 and it is coming down.
If it's not 14, it's 15 and it's coming down.  I think it was Las Tunas
Province.  Last year, its infant mortality rate was 18.  This year its'
around 15.  It is making progress.  All the provinces are making progress.

The mortality rate for mothers in 1988 was reduced to 2.6 for every 10,000
deliveries.  This is among the lowest rates in the world.  This gives you
an idea of how safe women, mothers, and families are even though the
number of deliveries increased.

There is an interesting statistic on tuberculosis.  In 1988, the rate was
5.9 for every 100,000, which places us ahead of Canada and the United
States, this is significant.  The tuberculosis rate in Cuba is below those
of Canada and the United States.

There is a.... [changes thought]  We could talk about this extensively but
it would take too long.  We could mention what we are doing with rubella,
measles, and other types of diseases.  Some of these have practically
disappeared, such as tetanus.  We are eliminating a series of diseases from
our society and it is only possible to do this with a good health network.

The family doctor program was established.  It is a very novel institution.
There are over 6,000 family doctors.  We will have 20,000 family doctors in
a few years.  The first family doctors are already being placed in
factories, schools, and child care centers.  Thus, we are going to have a
truly extraordinary network.

We are graduating--I believe that we will graduate 3,600 doctors in 1989
and some 4,000 in 1990.  In our country today, we graduate more doctors
each year than the number that imperialism left us here.  Imperialism took
3,000 out of the 6,000 doctors we had.  Barely 3,000 doctors were left
here.  Today we have over 31,000, and in 1989, when the new groups
graduate, we will have almost.... [rephrases] we will have around 35,000
doctors.  These are doctors who are trained not only academically but also
in practice, in the constant participation in the country's medical
services.  The entire country--urban and rural areas--is covered with
medical services.  This is exactly what explains these results.

We developed medicine in new fields.  Our country is already performing
heart transplants.  Kidney transplants have been performed for a long time.
Neurological transplants have begun to be performed.  We already have a
center dedicated to the development of this activity which has a pretty
good outlook.  We already have ocular microsurgery.  We are developing
considerably in a number of fields which are included in what we can call
sophisticated medicine.

In the social area, unemployment is a practically nonexistent problem.  It
is not that statistically there might be a number of unemployed people.
They exist not because there is a lack of a certain job; we still need
manpower in many areas such as agriculture, on the mountains, forestry
planting, construction.  They exist because of the preference of some
youths who look for certain unemployment options [as heard].  It does
not mean that there is a lack of jobs for any young person in our country
though he may not always get the type of employment he might like the most.

Social security covers all workers in the country, 100 percent of the
workers.  Of course, one of the state's most sacred responsibilities is
that related to pensions, retirement, and other social security benefits.
Of course, imperialists, reactionaries, and their allies in the entire
world attempt to ignore the other advances made by the revolution.

For example, the revolution has advanced considerably in the scientific
field.  We have over 100 scientific institutions.  They were practically
nonexistent at the triumph of the revolution.  Imperialism wants to deny
our advances in economic development, agriculture, industry, and
construction.  How has our country achieved social results without economic
development despite of the fact that we have to develop under very
difficult conditions?  We have had imperialism's blockage for 30 years.
What other countries have been subjected to this blockade?  There are very
few.  The empire has done this with furious hatred.  It bans the export of
medical equipment and even medicine to Cuba.  Not even an aspirin can be
brought from the United States into our country.  It is a merciless
blockage. A few socialist countries are subjected to it.  I believe the
DPRK, Vietnam, and Cuba are subjected to it.  This blockage against Cuba is
a ferocious one because imperialists pressure their allies everywhere so
that they do not trade with Cuba, so that they do not give credits to Cuba,
so that they do not transfer technologies to Cuba.

Nevertheless, our country's economy has grown at a rate higher than 4
percent per year during these 30 years, under these blockade conditions.
Some figures can be given.  For instance, the generation of electricity has
grown more than 8 times in these 30 years--8 times.  This is just one of
the examples.  Steel production used to be very low in Cuba.  It has grown
over 16 times.  Cement production has grown over 5 times; 700,000 tons were
produced and today we produce over 3.5 million tons of cement.  We have the
ability to produce more.  There was no adequate maintenance during certain
years but now we intend to increase cement production until we reach no
less than 4.6 million tons.  This is in line with our economic and social
development plans.

Production of fertilizers has grown five times.  Production of citrus has
grown 17 times in our country.  Production of eggs has increased eight
times.  All areas have grown.  Nickel production has doubled and continues
to grow.  All our agricultural production has grown to a greater or lesser
degree.  Our industrial production, in the light and textile industry, in
all areas, have grown several times.  Some more and others less.  Fishery
production has increased 10 times during these revolution years.

It would have grown much more if it had not been for an international
measure.  We supported it even though it did not favor us because it was a
just one.  It was the 200 miles of economic waters.  Had it not been for
that measure, which we supported as a Third World country, we would have
increased fishery production 25 or 30 times.  We already had a fleet and
the staff was ready to fish in the ocean.

The country has made real, serious efforts in many fields of the economy,
not only in the fields of education, health, and sports.  The empire tries
to deny it all.  It suits its purposes to say that we do not prosper, that
we do not solve our problems.  This is a type of idea, of lie, that many
people take as a fact.  Many people who speak positively of Cuba say we
have had great successes in health and education.  They do not talk about
other successes of the revolution and think that socialism is a failure.

What did the country have to deal with development plans?  The country
faced development plans with personnel who barely had more than a sixth
grade education.  All managers, a great number of engineers, university
professors, and technicians had left to join their imperialist masters.
They went to join the bourgeois and the landowners.  There were few
agricultural engineers, few veterinarians.  Very few were left.  A good
number of them left the country--engineers, managers, all of them.  The
country had to begin at zero and face those problems.  Often, a sugar mill
was managed by a worker who had barely completed the sixth grade.  We had
to operate in this way during the first years of the revolution.

The revolution did not have experience.  We could say that it was the first
revolutionary process in a Third World country.  There was no experience in
the construction of socialism in a Third World country.  Only Vietnam,
which is a Third World country, was before us.  It had achieved liberation
but not in the entire country, only in part of the country.  It had to
mainly focus on the liberation struggle.  We had the experience of building
socialism 90 miles from the United States--actually; a little bit closer
because we have a Yankee base in Guantanamo, in the eastern region, and
there is no distance between the Yankee base and our territory.  We built
it with a ferocious blockade on the part of the United States.

We made mistakes.  We have made many mistakes.  There was a certain logic
to these mistakes.  We made two types.  At one stage, we made errors of
idealism.  At another stage, in an attempt to overcome the errors of
idealism, we committed errors of economism and mercantilism.  I sometimes
use a word that is a bit stronger to describe these errors of profiteering.
We are not rectifying those errors.  It is very important to rectify them
without committing the earlier errors of idealism.  We are doing it
slowly.  A number of results can begin to be seen everywhere.  This is not
an easy task.  No one should think that all these things that have to do
with theory, methods, and ways of building socialism are easy in a given

All countries are different.  There are no two countries that are exactly
alike.  I would say that a revolutionary process cannot be carried out in
exactly the same way in any two countries.  Our revolution was creative.
Our revolution did not lack creative spirit.  It really had creative
spirit.  Other revolutions had taken place before the Cuban revolution.

For example, I believe that the way we conducted the agrarian reform was
truly creative.  What was known historically.... [rephrases]  All
countries that had begun the construction of socialism distributed the
land in small parcels among millions of people.  They began to collectivize
them little by little later--sometimes faster, more abruptly or less
abruptly, sometimes with more political methods, and other times with
coercive methods.  This never happened in our country.

We started by not dividing up the land.  We kept the large capitalist
enterprises as units, large production units.  They were turned into state
agricultural enterprises.  We exempted from all types of payment those
peasants who were already partners, tenant farmers, and those who already
had plots of land.  We exempted them from paying rent, paying leases, or
making any other kind of payment.  We made them owners of the land.  They
became small independent farmers.  Through the years, after we boosted
state agriculture enterprises, which had the same characteristics of an
industry, we began to promote cooperatives slowly, calmly, and with
political and economic methods.  We began to cooperativize those
independent farmers.

The process of joining cooperatives has made progress.  Eight percent of
the land is still in the hands of tens of thousands of independent owners.
We do not have to invent independent owners.  We do not have to discover
them because we know them.  They were there from the beginning of the
revolution and still are.  They will continue to exist as long as they want
because we are not going to force anyone to join cooperatives.  We avoid
this.  There is not a single case of an individual who has been forced to
join cooperatives.

The cooperatives movement is making headway.  Eighty percent of the land
belongs to state enterprises, 12 percent to cooperatives, and 8 percent to
independent farmers.  We help them.  We cooperate with them.  We encourage
them to produce.  We supply them with technology, credits, everything.  We
excuse them from paying their loans every time there is a disaster,
cyclone, plague, or any of those things.

I can say that the majority of the country's agricultural production in all
the fundamental areas such as sugarcane, livestock, citrus, rice, meat,
milk, eggs is what supplies our country.  It is a result, first, of the
work of state farms and, second, of cooperatives.  State farms and
cooperatives supply the vast majority of agricultural produce in the
country.  Sugarcane is our main agricultural item. Eight percent of our
small independent farmers contribute and cooperate but they do not play a
fundamental role in Cuban agriculture, in the development of our
agriculture.  Of course, agriculture gets better and better.  It used to
have the same problems.  We had no agricultural engineers, no economists,
no veterinarians.  Initially, farms were administered by workers with fifth
and sixth grade education.

Our agricultural industry exports foodstuffs for 40 million people around
the world.  It exports foodstuffs for 40 million people with its sugarcane
production.  It exports calories for 40 million people with its production,
such as sugarcane, citrus, and other crops.  So, had we not carried out the
type of agrarian reform we did, sugarcane production, sugarcane agriculture
would have ended.  We would have ended up with small farms;
self-sufficiency and basic supplies for the population would have not been

I believe our revolution was creative, for example, when it carried out
the agrarian reform [corrects himself] not the agrarian reform but
education, the campaign against illiteracy.  It turned into a model.  We
were the first country to eradicate illiteracy within practically a year by
mobilizing hundreds of thousands--mainly students--in that campaign.  This
is how it started.  Then a follow-up campaign was carried out.

I repeat, our revolution has been creative in many ways.  I would say that
some of the things we have done have been done by us alone.  Other
countries have not done them.  We are really proud of some of these things.
For example, I believe that the work-study program implemented in our
education system is one of a kind in the world.  No other country has it.
Combining work and study is the result of the implementation of Marx's
ideas.  It was not only Marx who had the idea.  Marti--two great thinkers,
two great revolutionaries--also came up with the idea.  At a given time, we
were determined to put it into practice because we believed in the idea,
because we were absolutely convinced that if education became universal,
work had to become universal, or else future societies would simply become
societies of intellectuals incapable of working with their hands.

This can be of the most serious problems that the world can face in the
future, especially for those who want to build a just social system, those
who want to build socialism.  It is terrible, for men to evade manual
labor.  We decided to make that practice universal.  First, through the
vacation time agricultural labor program and, later, through rural schools.
Therefore, practically all of those under 40 in this country have
participated in production with their own hands.  It is a generalized

I believe that the excellent traits of our youth, those thousands of hours
of voluntary work they are capable of giving, the tasks they are capable of
carrying out here or anyplace in the world have a lot to do with the
education system implemented by the Cuban revolution.  It has a lot to do
with the work and study system.  [applause]

We now begin to harvest the fruit.  We see it everywhere, every day.  No
one becomes scared here when he is called to engage in construction,
agriculture, or any other kind of task.  There are examples that are truly
impressive.  We have the largest citrus grove in Matanzas Province.  It is
around 45,000 hectares of fruit.

One day it will be 50,000, perhaps 60,000 hectares in this hard and rugged
terrain.  Not many people lived there.  The citrus plan developed was based
on the rural schools program, with students participating 3 hours daily.
This program does not make anyone dull; one the contrary, it makes the
student smarter.  It teaches him more about life, to appreciate his
schooling better.  I wish I had been sent to a school like that!  This
year's plan has already produced over 400,000 tons of citrus fruit.  Over
400,000 tons of citrus fruit this year.  Over 100 million pesos in citrus
fruit.  This system is based on the rural schools.  The small rural
;schools are the soul of this plan.  I could ask you to search the world
for a similar plan--that is, a plan that produces 400,000 tons.  To be
sure, it began years ago and it is now yielding fruit.  This plan is based
on the work study program and on the efforts of young people.  They are
proud of their production and increase it every year.  I have no doubt the
plan will someday produce 1 million tons of citrus.  This plan has become a
scientific and educational complex.  It entails diverse systems of
irrigation, fertilization, and treatment of plants.  And the program is
moving, moving fast.  In the past 2 or 3  years, this plan has made great

However, this is not the only program.  This program exists in almost all
of the country's provinces.  The biggest program is on the Isle of Youth.
It is one of the basic features of our educational system.  This program is
unique in the world.  We also have volunteer work.  In our country,
volunteer work has reached levels unheard of anywhere else in the world.
Here, we can say calmly, objectively, and realistically, that the masses'
participation in solving problems has become a cultural trait of our
people.  Contributing to society is part of our revolution's way of
thinking and ideology.  These levels of participation have not been reached
anywhere else.  These things happen systematically in our country.

The idea of minibrigades is another contribution of our revolution.  It
helps to rationalize the use of materials.  The problem of the
participation of the masses in the country's social development....
[changes thought]  We have to build many children's centers, schools, and
polyclinics.  First of all, we have to build many houses.  We can develop
stone, sand, and cement production.  We can do many things to produce
materials.  However, we need a labor force to build all these projects.
Often there is not enough manpower for economic and industrial projects.
Social development requires a labor force.  The concept of
minibrigades--which I will not explain to guests here--emerged in or around
1970.  It was very promising, but went into decline, precisely because of
errors of profiteering, of economism, and because of certain mechanisms
that were introduced in our country's development that turned out to be
truly negative.  I cannot say otherwise.  The minibrigade concept has been
revived now in a more perfect and stronger form.  It is the means to pursue
our special social development.  It is not the only way, but a fundamental
one, especially in Havana.  Before the minibrigades were revived, we could
not talk of building a child care center, simply because we lacked the
labor force to build it.  One child care center, gentlemen!  One
polyclinic!  In the year we revived the minibrigade concept in Havana, we
built 53 child care centers.  The 5-year plan called for five centers.
Building them was totally forgotten simply because we lacked manpower, yet
54 child care centers were built in 1 year, including some days into
January, approximately 56 centers were built; 110 in 2 years!  At the pace
we were going without the minibrigades and with old methods, it would have
taken well, 100 years, to build a center.  The minibrigades were a
resounding success in the people's social development; that is, in building
homes, child care centers, and schools.

Thanks to the minibrigade's work, this year Havana will have 100 percent of
the polyclinics it needs.  We had them, but some were converted
installations.  We built them, or we are building--we have finished two of
them!  We are building others until we reach the 20 polyclinics that the
minibrigades will build this year.  This year, the minibrigades will build
or complete the 24 special schools Havana needs to meet its entire
enrollment for special schools.

I do not know [chuckles] if our guests know what minibrigades are.  It is
very simple.  We ask the factor:  How many meritorious workers do you have?
Send 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 workers.  Whether in a socialist or capitalist
system, every factory has a surplus of people due to reasons too numerous
to list.  This happens due to poor planning, paternalism, or an inflated
number of workers.  We say:  Send me 50, and let the other workers do the
job.  The workers who stay do their job without working extra hours, easily
and with little rationalizing.  The minibrigade members earn the same wages
they did in the factory.  There is only one difference.  How many hours did
he work at his job?  They say 44 hours.  I want to see what factory really
works 44 hours at full capacity.

The minibrigade members come here to work 60, 65, or 70 hours.  What did
they come to do?  Build homes for the factor's workers, and to build social
projects like children care centers.  Not all the work is for the factory's
workers.  The state makes a contribution.  The factory pays the workers'
wages, while the state reimburses the factory for the wages it paid.  So
the minibrigade members earn their factory wages.  The state provides
materials, land, plans, equipment, everything!  The workers.... [changes
thought] It is up to the factor to build 50 percent of housing.  We will
increase that percentage this year.  We will raise it to 60 percent
[applause] in 1989.  There is always something missing because there are
people who cannot work in the minibrigades such as mid-level school
teachers.  It is not easy.  Many needs emerge.  We need a housing fund.

However, the idea of having the factory provide workers is very attractive.
The factory rationalizes its work, reduces its expenditures, while the
minibrigade members build homes for the factory's workers or do the other
social projects I mentioned.  This turns out to be a very attractive
formula.  This movement is quite strong.  We have the social minibrigades,
which is another idea.  We have neighborhood residents build their own
homes in run-down areas or where housing is poor.  If a housewife joins, we
pay her.  If a young man not working or studying joins, we pay him.  If a
worker is not indispensable to his factory, his factory releases him.
We have social minibrigades.  In Havana we have 35,000 minibrigade members.
Whatever is not solved with.... [changes thought]  The problem here is not
one of labor but of materials.  We are applying an intensive program in the
construction materials industry.  We have no shortage of labor.  We can
almost say [chuckles] we have too much.

This concept really gives the masses specific and direct participation in
solving problems.  If there is no labor force, who will build homes?  Well,
the masses.  We must say, this project, this project [repeats himself] was
primarily built by minibrigades.  Perhaps the most amazing thing [applause]
perhaps the most amazing thing [repeats himself] for our visitors, amazing
for our visitors [repeats himself] was that the minibrigade members were
not professional construction workers.  The visitors were amazed.  How can
these people undertake this sort of job?  Without the concept of
minibrigades and without the revival of the minibrigade movement, we could
not even dream of building this type of project.  Before the concept of
minibrigades was revived, any person talking of doing this sort of project
would have been immediately locked up.

There was no labor force to build a child care center!  Yet, this year
alone, minibrigade members have built over 50 child care centers, many
projects, and thousands and thousands of homes, in addition to this huge
EXPOCUBA project.  They have completed dozens of construction projects, in
addition to this truly colossal work.  The minibrigades did this.  I think
this says a lot, or better explains, the concept of mass effort.

If we are satisfied with this work, if we have succeeded in building an
extraordinarily useful work such as this Permanent Economic and Social
Development Exhibit, it is because of the minibrigades.  EXPOCUBA has many
uses:  It serves as a quality control mechanism for products; it brings
people's opinion of products to the industries that produce them; and it
stimulates the economy because products and services can be exhibited
there.  A work such as EXPOCUBA was completed because a mass organization
that solves important problems appeared.  I believe that this is one of the
most notable elements of this work.  Perhaps this work will give visitors
an idea of what the minibrigades are.  Our compatriots do not need to know
what they are, because they have been hearing about minibrigades for a long

I believe the contingent of construction workers is another conception
typical of our revolution and another unique institution.  [applause]  I
dare to talk about these contingents, because I have already asked you to
forgive me for all the positive things I was going to discuss on this
birthday, on this day on which we celebrate the birth of our revolution,
which was in fact a few days ago.  I would also like you to tell me....
[changes thought]  I know there are many good things throughout the world
and in many revolutionary countries, but I believe there are no workers'
group such as the workers' contingents we have organized in Cuba.

We created these contingents based on specific principles and on our
dedication to work, and we did not begin by building small things.  We
built a scientific center.  The results achieved by the contingents of
construction workers are fabulous and we already have thousands of these
contingents.  We created the first contingent in 1987 within the
rectification process and we already have between 10,000 and 15,000
builders in those contingents.  We will continue increasing the number of
contingents systematically.

The first contingent we created, the Blas Roca Contingent, did incredible
things.  [applause]  The important thing is that the idea of contingents of
construction workers spread and they are now found in all Cuban provinces.

What is a contingent of construction workers?  It is a group of workers who
put organization and remuneration together.  We apply the socialist formula
in the remuneration process.  Contingent workers get paid in accordance
with the amount and quality of work.  There are no other mechanisms,
because other mechanisms complicated and disturbed the quality of our
construction.  We sought adequate remuneration principles.  The first
principle is that those workers do not work for the money they receive.  No
man would do for money what those contingents do.  To pay them in
accordance with what they produce is a proof of consideration toward our
society, but those are part of [words indistinct] There are no schedules.
The 8-hour schedule has been forgotten.  Work schedules may be very good
things in England, the FRG, or in countries with high productivity and
automatic lathes.  However, one of the worst things we inherited from the
former colonies, and from our colonizers or neocolonizers, is their level
of consumption--or aspirations to that level of consumption--and their work
schedules, when productivity in those countries is incomparably higher than
ours.  We have often lacked labor, because sometimes there were not enough
hands to build or because some do not prefer that type of activity.
However, we did not abolish the 8-hour day.  God forbid.  They would call
us the most backward people in the world.  No, no.  We invented something
much better.  We created workers' contingents and they forgot about working
hours.  We have free Saturdays and working Saturdays.  Previously, we used
to work until 1200 on Saturdays; then we began working every other
Saturday.  Contingents forgot about free Saturdays. [applause] All
contingents forgot about labor laws in the sense that discipline within the
contingents is not set by legislators,the law, judges, Labor Ministry
officials, or an administrator.  Discipline within those contingents is set
by the workers themselves.  They criticize and punish, because contingents
do not tolerate idlers, absenteeism, or people who are late for work.  It
is an amazing fact that there is practically no absenteeism in our
contingents.  Contingents are in charge of their own discipline. n to work
rules among the construction workers contingents--this does not mean that
things will always be this way.  This is a phase, the struggling phase of a
Third World country wanting to build socialism and to develop.

Of course, if we happen to have too many workers available, that does not
bother us.  We can then say:  Let us work three shifts.  The contingents
work 12-hour shifts and more often 14- and 15-hour shifts.  These
contingents are made up of workers with whom you have to fight to get them
to leave work.  This is a most interesting situation.  Historically the
problem has been getting people to work, but here we have to keep an eye on
the workers to tell them:  Do not stay.  We already have too many workers.
Go home and sleep.  They always come up with excuses for working, excuses
such as:  One day it was raining and I did not work; or: We are falling
behind and we want to finish.  Contingent workers are the best fed workers
in Cuba.  Care for the workers is of key importance.  The contingent
workers get prompt medical attention, and a doctor is readily accessible
to them.  This is a principle.  The contingent construction workers have
air conditioning.  They have no mosquito problem and they have no heat
problem.  They have adequate quarters, food, and clothing.

In the building of socialism, attention to the people is of key importance.
The capitalists, who are neither foolish nor lazy, often invent programs
that five the appearance that man is being cared for; however, what the
capitalists really want is to exploit man, to make a profit.  To assure
this, they often afford attention to their workers.

In socialism, the system forgot about man because, since work is considered
an obligation, the system trusted everything to the workers' sense of duty.
We insist that it is of key importance to attend to man so that workers
will realize that they receive the respect they deserve and that they are
trusted so that they dedicate themselves to work.

We trust in these things.  If I did not, I would have left the revolution.
To carry out the revolution, we had to wage a very difficult struggle in
the mountains.  There we saw demonstrations of everything a man can be and
can do.  If we do not believe in the people, then the best thing for us to
do is to put our revolutionary card aside and forget the whole thing in
order to dedicate ourselves to other activities.

If we do not believe in man, the best thing we can do is to forget the
socialist label and to invent something--but not socialism because this has
been in existence for a long time.  Capitalism does not have to worry about
any of these things.  Capitalism was invented by history.  It is the result
of laws that emerged spontaneously.  Socialism has to emerge as a result of
work and programs.  It represents the opportunity to program development
for the first time.  This is an extraordinary privilege.

If we trust in man, we can see the miracles man can perform during
revolutionary wars to seize power and in the struggle to build socialism.
We did not know these things in the past as we know them now.  We did not
see things clearly.  We were not born revolutionaries.  We have been
learning during the march.  Every day we learn something new.

A $100,000 bulldozer is worth three bulldozers in the hands of the
contingent, and the maintenance the equipment receives is impressive.  It
is a promising situation.  This is a creation of the revolution, one of
the most recent creations of the revolution.

I believe that the institution of the family doctor, within the conceptual
framework of the Cuban primary health care system, is unique in the world.
This idea came up some years ago.  It was tested and then implemented.  It
developed and now the most remote mountains in the country's east have
family doctors.  In the capital, the family doctor services are available
to 63 percent of the population.  This service will be available in child
care centers, in schools, in factories.  This institution is having
incredibly good results.  It is also a creation of the revolution.

We could mention other things, I believe that the way the revolution has
implemented our idea of a mass organization and a broad and complex mass
organization system is unique.

I consider our electoral system unique.  We have a revolutionary system
that is very often questioned, but the way representatives are nominated in
each constituency--which is the basis of all the state's power--is unique.
It is the people and not the party who nominate the candidates.  There are
no more than eight candidates and can never be less than two.  They are
nominated by the masses, the people, without the party having any say in
the matter.  It is citizens from local neighbors who meet as constituents
and nominate the candidates.

This does not happen in any other country.  We need not feel embarrassed
over the shameless slander against our revolution when we have an electoral
system that no other country has.  We established it this way because this
revolution emerged and developed very close to the masses.

If the majority of people were counterrevolutionaries, they would only need
to nominate other counterrevolutionaries and most of the representatives
would then be counterrevolutionaries and would go against the revolution
and socialism.

We hold two grass roots elections every 5 years, and the representatives
can be reelected by the voters.  The electoral system established by the
Cuban revolution is really unique.  We have no need to go elsewhere to
learn anything.  In fact, we could really say why not come here and learn
how a democratic electoral system can be made.  [applause]

There is something else that is associated with this:  I feel that our
concept of defense is unique and that our country has developed in a unique
way, with the total participation of the masses.  Do any other countries
have anything like this?  I do not deny it--there are other countries.  We,
however, believe that we have the right concept, our way of organizing the
defense system with the participation of all the people--workers, students,
men, and women.  Millions of people take an active part in our defense
system.  There are some capitalist countries that question democracy in
Cuba.  There can be no democracy better than a democracy where the workers,
the peasants, the students hold the arms.  [applause]

To all the Western countries that question democracy in Cuba, I say:  Go
ahead and give the arms to the workers, to the peasants, to the students,
and let us see if you can start hurling tear gas canisters to put down a
strike, or at any organization that struggles for peace [applause], or at
students.  We would see if these countries could send out the police,
covered with shields and all that equipment that makes them look like
astronauts.  We would see if these countries could attack the masses with
dogs every time there is a strike or a peaceful demonstration or a people's
struggle.  I think the litmus test for democracy is to arm the people.

When defense becomes the task of the people and arms become the prerogative
of all the people, then there is democracy.  Meanwhile, there are
specialized police teams and armies to put down the people when the people
show discontent over the abuses and injustice of a bourgeois system.  It is
the same in a Third World country as in a developed capitalist country.  We
see this constantly on television newscasts from the United States and
Europe--Europe brags so much about their democratic systems.  We see how
the people are run down by specialists in repression and brutality,
something that has never ever been seen in our country in the 30 years of
our revolution.  These are not the typical characteristics of our

I would venture to say--and I would feel sorry if someone were hurt by
this--that the levels of massive internationalist awareness that our
country has achieved have not been attained by any other country.

We see proof of this every day, and it is not only seen in statistics.
Over 300,000 fellow countrymen have participated in the FAR's
internationalist missions in Angola.  [applause]

This figure does not include the civilians who have also participated in
cooperation programs aboard.  Currently, there are 50,000 fellow
countrymen in Angola.  There is something even more important:  If 50,000
more fighters were needed, our country would be capable of sending them
there.  [applause]

Another proof of this is the fact that when 2,000 teachers were needed in
Nicaragua.  30,000 teachers volunteered to go.  When the counterrevolution
murdered some Cuban teachers.  100,000 teachers--practically all primary
school teachers--offered to go replace them.  [applause]

During the earthquake in Peru, over 100,000 people donated blood throughout
the entire country in 10 days.  [applause]  Following the earthquake in
Armenia, over 30,000 Cubans from Havana--not including those in the entire
country--donated blood.  [applause]

I saw in the spirit of Havana residents the willingness to donate blood
hundreds of thousands of times if necessary.  They tried to be well
organized so not a single drop of blood would be wasted and so the blood
would be well processed.  I am sure the period to make blood donations has
a limit, but we could have easily had 50,000 or 60,000 blood donations in
Havana, which is equivalent to 200,000 or 250,000 blood donations in the
entire country.  You can tell they have spirit.  Normally it takes a year
to make 400,000 or 500,000 blood donations, but our people are capable of
doing that in a month.  If only there were some way to collect it, to store
it, and to process it, it could be done.  It is an extraordinary proof of
our internationalism.  I saw it every day when I visited that blood bank.
We saw that one of the problems was getting included in the list of blood
donors.  They said:  Hey, count me in.  Hey, I want to be included in the
list.  Hey, we want to go to Nicaragua, we want to go to Armenia.  Every
time we have a group of workers, we see this.  They all want to have the
honor of helping out in Bluefields or in Armenia.

I believe our people's internationalist spirit has reached high levels, and
we can feel proud of that.  Was it like that before?  Could you find
someone in a bourgeois society wanting to travel to Bluefields or to
Armenia or even to help out in Angola or any other country?  This is
inconceivable in a bourgeois society, where man is alienated and where
ethical and moral values do not count at all.

Those values are the most common thing among our workers and youths.  I
believe the spirit of cooperation our people have expressed toward several
Third World countries has not been expressed by any other Third World
country.  A Third World country like Cuba, which is a developing country,
has reached high levels of international cooperation.  Our doctors,
builders, and teachers are in dozens of countries as the result of our
spirit of cooperation.  We have the highest number of foreign students per
capita.  There are over 18,000 foreign students on the Isle of Youth.  I
believe the experience of those students is also a unique and extraordinary
experience that unites our people with the rest of the world.  Our spirit
of cooperation characterizes the creation and spirit of our revolution, of
which we feel very proud and which we must trust.  We must maintain our
creative spirit, and we must continue with this noble work of building
socialism in our country.

By the way, I almost forgot about EXPOCUBA.  [crowd laughs]  We not only
forgot about EXPOCUBA but also about our botanical garden.  We had agreed
we would also inaugurate our botanical garden today.  In fact, we are not
located in the middle of those two works:  the botanical garden here on one
side and EXPOCUBA on the other.  The botanical garden took many years to
build.  It took us 20 years to build, because obviously to have a botanical
garden we had to plant very small trees, many of them from seeds.
Sometimes, we got impatient and wondered whether we could transplant
animals--no, not animals.  I mean trees.  [crowd laughs]  Animals are for
the zoo, which is not far from here.  We are also building a big zoo.

Anyway, the technicians said we could not transplant big trees, because
trees that are born from seeds are stronger, but there are still a few
transplanted trees, especially certain types of palm trees here, because we
had no choice.  We worked for 20 years on this 600-hectare botanical
garden.  I believe it is an extraordinary scientific center.  This garden
is the work of our university students.  It was assigned to the University
of Havana, and especially to the Biology School.  This botanical garden is
a reality today.  The construction of this garden began 20 years ago.  It
has been in use for some time, so we had to inaugurate it someday, and I
think today is the day.  EXPOCUBA is on one side and the botanical garden
on the other.  The main facilities are up, but in this type of center one
always has to be building or adding something.  There are always new needs,
but the botanical garden is already as much of a reality as EXPOCUBA.  The
only exception is that trees here are already green while trees there
eventually will turn green, because the green areas in EXPOCUBA were just
planted, and it will take a while for them to turn green.  We decided to
inaugurate these two works on the revolution's 30th anniversary.

We must mention the cooperation of a German scientist, a true disciple of
Humboldt, Professor (Bise), who helped us with the project of the botanical
garden.  Unfortunately, 4 years ago while working in Cuba, he was killed in
a car accident.  He, however, bequeathed us many of his ideas for this

We have talked about EXPOCUBA here today.  The comrade director of EXPOCUBA
brought very interesting data here today, and the comrade responsible for
the construction itself also brought information.  We already said EXPOCUBA
is the result of the work of our minibrigades.  If there is anything that
has not been said about EXPOCUBA, it is that from the construction
viewpoint, this work is a real lesson.  The practical methods used, the
savings of materials, and the use of a certain light steel represent a
building method that can help us build things that must be built quickly,
because the construction techniques used here can be used to build stores
and supermarkets.

In Santiago de Cuba there is a plan for the application of this technology
on a train terminal that should be completed before the beginning of the
fourth congress.  Many problems can be solved as a result of this
construction technology and our experience.  Usually industrial plants with
steel structures have 60 kg of steel per square meter.  These structures
have 20 kg.  We have to say that the planners, the designers, the
technicians--all Cubans--who performed this work have earned much respect
from their performances.  This is my opinion.  They were able to produce
structures that are both functional and beautiful.  They were told what was
wanted, and they grasped and brought about the realization of the idea.
They enhanced the idea and they have achieved truly impressive results.  Th
work done by the planners of the project--the architects, engineers, and
designers--must be pointed out.

Something else that must be pointed out is the spirit of cooperation among
the workers:  More than 100 heads of families who have jobs with other
enterprises worked for EXPOCUBA as well.  There is the support also of
other organizations that felt they had a commitment here, knowing that they
would have a pavilion in the plant and that they would be able to show thei
products.  They also contributed in an extraordinary way.

A few days ago, I met with workers who built EXPOCUBA, and I told them that
I had visited the center on several occasions but had never really seen
EXPOCUBA until a day when, going past the building.  I noticed how enormous
this work is.  I believe this has been a great achievement, an achievement
that will be very useful.  The experience we have gained will be very
important for our economy.  This experience will have an impact on the
economy, not only through expositions but also because of the knowledge
gained in the construction of EXPOCUBA.

This center was built in record time.  It took less than 24 months between
the time the idea was conceived and explained to a group of comrades who
were assigned the task of making the idea tangible and the moment when work
was completed.  The planners were on the job from the moment the project
was initiated.

Land removal work began only 20 months ago, with few resources and with a
not-too-large labor force.  The big push began about 1 year ago, in
December 1987.  The workers performed the feat of finishing just a few
hours ago.  We could say that EXPOCUBA was finished this morning.
[applause]  I came here 5 days ago and there were sidewalks and stairs to
be built.  The essential work is finished.

Whenever visitors came here, they wondered if this work was going to be
finished on time.  I remember that one day, when I was about to ask if this
center was going to be completed by 1 January, a construction worker,
Comrade Avelino, told me:  We wrote a poem entitled Yes, It Will Be
Finished, and we recite it to everybody who comes here harassing us with
questions about whether or not this work is going to be finished.

I was lucky I was told about the poem before I asked if they were going to
finish on time or not.

I, of course, had confidence that the work was going to be finished on
time.  I know what man can do when he sets his mind to something.  The work
hours here were 14, 15, and more hours a day.  On not a few occasions, the
workers worked two shifts, one after th other, working for 24 and even 30
straight hours.  Volunteer work is the work carried out after working the
regular 8 hours, and the work done on Saturday or Sunday.

It is amazing, I remember that one day they introduced me to Comrade
Avelino, and they told me he was going to put in I don't know how many
hours of voluntary work.  And he succeeded.  How many hours did he work?
How many?  [Someone says:  "3,500"]  He put in 3,500 hours of volunteer
work.  Every time I went there, I found him working.  Sometimes his eyes
were red from working so much.  It is the type of thing one would not want
workers to do, but who can forbid them from doing that?  Who can stop them?
No one told workers to do that.  No one encouraged them or asked them to do
that.  They themselves said:  We will put in a few thousand hours of
voluntary work.  I sometimes came at night or early in the morning and saw
Avelino there with his sometimes red eyes, and I wondered how he could do
it.  He is here today.  He is the first one to receive a diploma for having
put in 3,500 hours of volunteer work, and he looks younger than ever.

While the diplomas were being distributed, I was impressed when some people
came and told me:  I am already on the list of those who are going to
Bluefields.  Others told me they were not on the list yet but wanted to be
on it.  [Castro pounds the podium] I told them not everybody can go to
Bluefields and Armenia.  Regarding Armenia, the Soviets still have to decid
whether they will use foreign volunteer builders.  We agreed to help
Nicaragua rebuild Bluefields.  I believe in a few weeks our volunteers will
be working there.  Of course, not everyone can go to Bluefields or Armenia.

When I spoke about our people's spirit of internationalism.  I should have
said that 300,000 Cuban builders offered to go to Armenia.  That is another
truly impressive figure.  [applause]  Of course, we cannot send 300,000 or
30,000 or even 10,000 volunteers.  We will make a partly symbolic and
partly real contribution.  We will probably send 1,000 or 2,000 or perhaps
even 3,000 men.  We are waiting for the Soviets to make a decision, but the
important thing is that 300,000 men offered to go to Armenia.

If something must be said about EXPOCUBA, it is that if visitors tour the
entire complex--they would have to walk several kilometers to do that, by
the way--and if someone tells them Cuba spent $50 million on imported parts
from the capitalist world, they would think it is logical and normal for
Cuba to have done that.  In this work, however--in which each cent has been
accounted for, in which the money spent to buy raw material for painting,
or photographic and electrical material, or motors or special lights we do
not have, was accounted for--we did not even spend $5.6 million in
convertible foreign exchange.  And we are talking about the dollar, which
is worth practically nothing these days.  It is truly unbelievable when we
see this work.  Experts are carefully calculating the cost of all the
socialist material we used.  They are not calculating the cost of the
finished product, but the cost of the material to the enterprises.  In othe
words, we are calculating the cost of raw material, mainly steel, from
socialist countries, primarily from the USSR.

We thought that material would not cost more than 7 or 8 million rubles.
If anyone were told this work cost $150 million, they would not question
that figure.  I am sure this work in the United States would cost no less
than $150 million, without taking into account the land, which increases
the cost of construction projects there.

This work cost approximately 30 million pesos.  If we take into account
that it was built by minibrigade members, we could subtract the cost of
salaries.  In other words, this work did not require a single extra centavo
for salaries.

Of course, some organizations helped out, but they did not hire new
employees for the project.  I believe the convertible currency spent can be
recovered in less than 3 years.  We believe that the upcoming international
fairs scheduled to be held in Havana should be held in this national
exposition center.  If this were done, the convertible currency spent would
be recovered in a short time.  I really believe the workers have made a
worthy contribution on this 30th anniversary.

I know I have talked long enough, but I have a few things I cannot leave
out today.  They are matters of international interest.  It is very
difficult to not associate, to not associate [repeats himself] this 30th
anniversary with the peace agreements on southwest Africa.  I spoke on 5
December on the factors tat gave rise to the last effort our country
undertook in Angola, the critical situation that had been created, and the
need to rescue that situation.  I explained that to you, and I should not
repeat myself.  You, my fellow countrymen, may also recall how we said that
any peace agreement should be based on principles, otherwise there would be
no peace agreement.  We clearly stated, following certain demands made by
the South African racists, that no agreement would be signed if these
demands had to be met.  We said that if necessary, we would be willing to
remain there 10, 15, 20, or more years.

We acted on this in extensive coordination with the Angolan Government.  In
the end, the final obstacles were overcome, and the peace agreements, with
which you are familiar, were signed.  I also believe that it was an
extraordinary victory of our people's internationalist spirit.  This is not
the time to defend the things that were done, however.  That is a historic
work, and some day it should be written down with every detail.  The
important thing now is the fact that the agreements were reached and that
they have been signed at the United Nations.

Now a very important part of this process is the application of Resolution
435 decreed by the United Nations more than 10 years ago.  This is a
fundamental question, because it is associated with the matter of Namibia's
independence, for which SWAPO [South-West African People's Organization]
combatants have fought many years and have sacrificed tens of thousands of
lives.  Now the conditions need to be created so that elections can take
place in an independent Namibia that needs to decide its destiny.  We are
basing this on the premise of the huge support that the fighters for
Namibia's independence must enjoy among their people.

Nevertheless, some obstacles have arisen.  On this topic, so as to not
leave anything to improvisation and to say everything with precision and
clarity.  I have brought a few pages that I want to red to you.  It is
necessary that our people and international opinion are clearly familiar
with the difficulties that arose in the attempts... [corrects himself] due
to certain attempts to modify Security Council Resolution 435.  The idea to
make these modifications came from the United States, which is a permanent
member of that council.

Early in the quadripartite negotiations, our delegation stated that it was
necessary that the UN Security council act as guarantor of the agreements
to be reached and that the United Nations act as guarantor of compliance
with those agreements.

Following the signing of tripartite agreements between Angola, Cuba, and
South Africa and of the bilateral agreement between Angola and Cuba, the
group of Nonaligned Movement countries that currently form part of the
Security Council presented a draft resolution that the United Nations act
as guarantor of the agreements.  This draft resolution was presented in
addition to another resolution that the Security Council has to approve, on
that has to do with the steps that must be adopted now to comply with the
original resolution that ruled on the Namibia independence process.
Resolution 435, which was approved more than 10 years ago, in September

As you know, the Security Council is composed of 15 members, 5 of which
are permanent members.  The other 10 positions are rotated among other
countries elected to the council.

Simultaneously with the proposal made by a group of Third World countries
that includes seven nonaligned countries and Brazil, the five permanent
members of the UN Security Council--the United States, the Soviet Union,
France, China, and the United Kingdom--presented another proposal to the
council.  This proposal refers to the agreements but also includes points
that are modifications to the plan on the implementation of Resolution 435.
Because of this, this proposal was rejected by the nonaligned countries in
the Security Council.  This group is composed of Yugoslavia, Nepal,
Senegal, Algeria, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Malaysia.

The essence of the five permanent members' proposal is that it is necessary
to reduce the costs of the Namibia independence process.  The proposal
argues that the costs were estimated 10 years ago and that right now, in
addition to the inflationary situation in the international economy that
increases costs, the United Nations is going through financial
difficulties.  It also is being argued that the signing of the agreements
has created favorable conditions that permit cost reductions that would
result from sending fewer international forces than what was originally
estimated in Resolution 435.

It must be stated that the approval of either of these proposals represents
a key point in the process started by the quadripartite negotiations.  This
is because an approval would be a mandate from the UN Security Council to
the UN secretary general to begin Namibia's decolonization and to lead that
country to independence.

Cuba shares the concern of the Nonaligned Movement countries in the
Security Council, because financial considerations must take into account,
first of all, the political consequences that such consideration may have.

It is fitting to recall that Resolution 435 of 1978 has become the
essential element that defines how Namibia will achieve independence.  This
resolution is the product of an agreement by Western countries, including
the United States, so it cannot be accused of being biased in favor of
SWAPO or of not taking into consideration the demands made at that time by
South Africa, with which the resolution was discussed in detail when it was
being drafted more than a decade ago.

Following a period during which the resolution was ignored by the South
African Government, the possibility of a real implementation of the
resolution has emerged now, thanks to a peace process to which Angola and
Cuba have made important contributions.

The international forces that should arrive in Namibia have a fundamental
role in the stages scheduled for the process leading to independence.
These forces must oversee the cease-fire, the withdrawal of the South
African and SWAPO troops to specific areas, the supervision of the South
African troops' withdrawal, and the prevention of infiltration through the
Namibian borders.  They must also oversee the dismantling of the local
troops created by South Africa over 7 decades of colonial domination.  The
civilian component of the UN group providing assistance during the
transitional period in Namibia must also play a fundamental role in
monitoring over 400 voting tables estimated for the elections in a
territory of over 800,000 square km.  These calculations made 10 years ago
had taken into account the Namibian population at that time, which has
since increased by 50 percent.  Therefore, the number of voters has also
increased, and they will decide who rules the country after the South
African withdrawal.

In 1978 it was estimated that seven UN battalions would be required for all
these tasks.  Those battalions must oversee the withdrawal of over 100,000
South African soldiers, more than twice the number of soldiers 10 years
ago.  The troops of the Territorial Army--natives dependent on South
Africa--are estimated to be over 20,000, and the police--also controlled by
South Africa--today number over 8,000 men, which exceeds several times the
estimate when Resolution 435 was issued.

On the other hand, the argument that the agreement allows a reduction in
the number of troops at the Angolan border is also far from reality,
because this zone has never been regarded as a factor endangering the
Namibian independence process.  It has always been estimated that the area
that would required strict vigilance during the elections and the
formation of an independent government is the Namibian border with South
Africa, the country that has taken over this territory.  There is a danger
during this sensitive transition period:  possible actions by paramilitary
groups that South Africa may organize with the members of the so-called
Namibian Territorial Forces, which contributed to the colonization of their
nation.  It is a fact that the presence of the international troops sent by
the United Nations are the only guarantee for holding elections and that
for years the South African regime has been preparing conditions that will
favor the groups supporting its colonial or neocolonial interests.

It is impossible to try to ignore the important role these international,
military, and civilian troops will play in the process prior to
independence, in the creation of the favorable psychological atmosphere,
and in building confidence among a population colonized in the most brutal
manner for 7 decades.  We do not oppose, should it be possible, a reduction
in the costs for the implementation of Resolution 435, which should not mea
a modification of its fundamental purposes.  There can be no reductions if
they affect what the UN troops should represent during the process to
oversee the following:  the South African Army's withdrawal, the
dissolution of the puppet army, the reduction of the police forces and
control over them, the protection of the population, the return of over
80,000 Namibian refugees, the preservation of an atmosphere that will allow
fair elections, the formation of a government, and an agreement on
independence.  This is what is being discussed now in New York:  If the
letter and spirit of the agreement for Namibia's independence or the
Namibian people's right to freely determine who will rule them are
endangered under the pretext of reducing costs.

Cuba has spoken out clearly on this delicate matter to the governments of
the USSR, PRC, France, and UK.  We also explained our position to U.S.
representatives in New York during the last round of negotiations.

The United States is the main sponsor of these reductions, which come under
the guise of cost reductions.  We feel that what is now being discussed is
not just one more agreement, resolution, text, or new pronouncement.  What
at stake is much more important; something for which thousands of Namibian
fighters have given their lives.  Angola's support also contributed to the
Namibian people's liberation struggle.  Our people's children have also she
their blood during over 13 years of confrontation against South African
arrogance in Angola.

What is now at sake is whether UN mechanisms are capable of carrying out
the legitimate will of the Namibian people; of guaranteeing the
international community's nearly unanimous ambitions for the peace process
in southwestern Africa.  This matter cannot be dealt with only from the
financial angle.  The United States, co-sponsor of Resolution 435, knows ve
well that any reduction in international troops favors South Africa.  Cuba
will maintain its position of principle in this current struggle, the same
way it did during the long months of negotiations with South Africa and the
United States.

Our country is not a member of the Security Council, but it is intimately
involved in the Namibian independence struggle, in strict compliance with
Resolution 435.  In addition, Cuba is also identified with the stance of
the Nonaligned Movement, clearly expressed by seven of its members at the
UN Security Council.  We also believe that during these times when at least
in certain areas, there seems to be an opening for prospects for a
negotiated settlement--which of course can only be possible following the
peoples' stubborn fight--there is a need to preserve as never before, the
United Nation's prestige and authority.  Here, we all have a
responsibility, especially the Security Council's permanent members.  This
is basically what it is all about.  That is very important, lest the
efforts of Namibians and other peoples for so many years become frustrated.

There is a new event surrounding this dispute:  It is the first time in the
history of the United Nations that the criteria and viewpoints of the
Security Council's permanent members are at odds--strongly influenced by
the United States--against the criteria of the Third World countries, in
this case represented by the countries of the Nonaligned Movement, over a
very important topic involving the people of the Third World.  It has to do
with the fight against apartheid, with wiping away the last traces of
colonialism, and with the sovereignty of a country like Namibia.

This exceptional, unusual event in which this controversy takes place could
bring under discussion--and I say this with full responsibility because I
am very concerned about what is happening over this problem--the question
of democratization in the United Nations.  Sometimes there are things tat
are so sacred, because of habit and custom, that they seem untouchable.
The time has apparently come to discuss this problem.  Otherwise, we could
not even think of developing new concepts of international relations.

We have the right to ask ourselves:  What kind of democracy exists in the
United Nations if what remains of the old British empire, the UK, which
colonized a large part of the world in every ocean for centuries and which
has 50 million inhabitants, has the right to veto the resolutions of the
Security Council?  However, a country such as India, for example, with 750
million inhabitants--15 times the population of the UK--and a former
British colony, does not have such a privilege.  We could mention other
countries with great economic and industrial power in the world or with
great authority or prestige in the United nations that do not have such a

Third World countries with 4 billion inhabitants can see that their most
sacred interests, aspirations, and hopes are dashed simply by the veto of
any one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.  Over 40
years have passed since World War II.  We live in a totally different world
that must also be ruled by different norms.  Today we are faced with the
reality that 4 billion human beings living in countries that were once
colonies, once exploited, and once enslaved have no similar rights.  I
think this matter is very important and is worth considering.  We have a
duty to mention it here at this time.

There are new aspects of this controversy that has emerged at the UN
Security Council, and I believe it is a problem that our nation and
especially international public opinion must follow closely.  We have
exhausted all means, contacts and arguments with the members of the UN
Security Council.  Apparently, as of now, the desired results have not been
achieved.  There may be other ways to cut expenses.  We can ask for the
cooperation of African countries.  I am sure many African countries would
be willing to cooperate with a minimum of expense to maintain the number of
troops that are needed in Namibia.  There are many ways to cut expenses.

We agree with that goal and that idea.  Too bad we cannot be there,
although we sent seven battalions and did not charge one single cent.
[applause]  We however, cannot be there, because we are part of that
conflict.  There are nevertheless, countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia,
Tanzania, and many other African countries that would have gladly offered
their cooperation at little cost, because they would not have high
transportation expenses or other types of expenses.  It is not so difficult
to put together seven battalions, but at the beginning they were thinking
of reducing the number of battalions from seven to three.  That was truly
troubling.  Now, however, we are facing that problem.  We have the duty to
explain the facts, because each party must assume its corresponding
responsibilities.  If South Africa comes up with the idea of somehow
thwarting Namibia's right to independence by using methods such as fraud,
terror, coercion, or by establishing a puppet government in that
country.... [changes thought]  We hope the problem will be solved and we
hope the permanent members of the UN Security Council will not make a
display of arrogance and prepotency and that fair reasonable solution that
will be discussed with Nonaligned Movement and Third World representative
to the UN Security Council will be sought.

Cuba worked very seriously during the negotiations hoping all those things
will be solved.  We will take the necessary steps for the strict
fulfillment of the agreement signed in New York before the UN Security
Council.  It is our responsibility to withdraw 3,000 soldiers within the
period from the day of the signing of the agreement until 1 April 1989,
when UN Resolution 435 goes into effect.

We have 3 full months to compete that withdrawal.  That is our commitment,
which is an initial gesture.  Cuba and Angola asked the United Nations to
verify the withdrawal of our forces within the aforementioned period.  On
10 January, the withdrawal of these 3,000 men will begin.  [applause]

We hope the first Cuban internationalist combatants to leave Angola will
arrive in the country around 11 January.  [applause]  This will be a net
withdrawal.  All details were discussed, because the period for the
progressive and total withdrawal of our forces will be the 27 months after
1 April.  During that period, we will have to rotate our personnel.  The
case of these 3,000 men is a net withdrawal of troops, and as far as we are
concerned, we are determined to strictly fulfill the agreements and we hope
the other parties will do so as well.

There is another aspect of our international policy, which I would like to
briefly refer to.

As you know, on 5 December, at the ceremony to commemorate the landing of
"Granma" and to deliver the flag that represented tat the capital's defense
forces are ready, in front of hundreds of thousands of fighters we analyzed
concepts involving defense and the need to remain alert and ready to defend
the country.

I think we should state something very clearly and sincerely:  We
completely support the Soviet Union's peace policy.  It is good to clarify
this because many times in Western countries, the imperialist and
capitalist press does nothing more than incite and incite, and try to
develop contradictions between Cuba and the USSR or stress contradictions
or exaggerate the contradictions that there may be, which do exist in some
matters and which have no reason to become a source of friction in
relations with the Soviet Union.

I think we should go on the principle of absolute respect for the roads
that each country follows or considers convenient to following the method o
socialist construction.

But there should not be the slightest doubt that we completely support the
Soviet Union's peace policy.  [applause]  We not only support it, we highly
appreciate it.  We are aware of the importance of avoiding the risks of a
nuclear war.  We are aware of the importance of stopping the arms race.  We
are aware of the need for a policy of peace and detente to prevail in the
world.  This is vital to Third World countries.

Billions of human beings are suffering tremendously the consequences of the
poverty and underdevelopment that colonialism left behind.  As we said on 5
December, every 3 days 120,000 children, who could have been saved, die.
this is like dropping an atomic bomb every 3 days.  For countries saturated
with debts, countries that are being mercilessly exploited by unfair trade
mechanisms, for countries that urgently need a new economic order, peace is
an indispensable premise.  Without peace it will be impossible for them to
face problems.  They would have no hope of resolving the debt problem, of
erasing the debt, in a let us say negotiated way.  There are other ways of
erasing the debt.

Without peace, without a climate of detente, if the arms race does not
stop, those countries would have no hope of having resources for
development.  The resources used in the arms race alone would be sufficient
to produce development in those countries.  The appearance of Comrade
Gorbachev at the United Nations has much historic and strategic importance.
He took the banners of the Third World and he waved them as his own.  Those
are the banners for which we have been struggling for many years.  He spoke
about the debt.  We have said that the debt should be erased, that it
should be erased from the world.

Comrade Gorbachev said there should be a 100-year moratorium.  For
practical purposes, postponing debt payments for 100 years and erasing the
debt are the same thing.  [applause]

Linking the objectives of disarmament and development with the need for a
new international economic order is a very serious and very basic matter.
We fully agree and also decisively support USSR policies on this issue.
Who could oppose a policy of peace?  Well now, regardless of the major
strides made--because Soviet policies have managed to create a new
international climate--these policies have categorically and unquestionably
proven who the enemies of peace are!  Who the enemies of detente are!  They
are not the socialist countries or the Soviet Union.  I think this fact has
been unquestionably demonstrated, as never before.

However, I warned we were running a risk, and that a very important matter
still remains to be defined:  How imperialists interpret peace.  What do
imperialists regard as peace?  What do imperialists understand peaceful
coexistence to be?  We voiced our fear that the imperialists could apply
their peculiar concept of peace--as they have done so often before--and
could regard peace as peace among the superpowers, while reserving to
themselves the right to oppress, exploit, threaten, and attack Third World
countries.  One day that country could be Nicaragua.  Another day it could
be Cuba.  Another day, any other country, as they have been doing all these
years.  The imperialists regard peace as the right to apply their policy of
being the world's policemen.

We said this was a very important, very fundamental matter that still
remains to be decided.  And it must be decided in a clear and categorical
manner.  Not even 30 days have passed since those words were uttered, and
here we have an example.  Several days ago, the United States raised a big
scandal about an alleged chemical weapons factory in Libya.  The President
of the United States openly spoke about the possibility of launching an air
attack on such a factory.  There is even a squadron [as heard] moving towar
the Mediterranean after his threatening attack was made.  There is a
hysteria campaign under way in the United States to create the conditions
for this attack.  The Libyans have said they have no such factory and they
don't propose to construct a chemical weapons factor.  What they are doing,
they say, is constructing a pharmaceutical plant.  However, I don't think
that explanation was necessary.  We cannot favor chemical weapons from the
earth.  The question here is whether the United States has the right to
decide who manufacturers chemical weapons, to decide that they will attach
and bomb a country that manufactures chemical weapons.  [applause]

The United States has the largest arsenal of chemical weapons.  It has a
powerful arsenal of chemical weapons in addition to its nuclear weapons,
and the United States feels it has the right to manufacture and accumulate
chemical weapons.  Why does the United States feel that it can deny this
right to any other country?  Is there an international agreement somewhere
in the world on the suppression of chemical weapons and the prohibition of
their production?  If the Libyans were constructing a factory to
manufacture chemical weapons, what right does the United States have to
bomb that country?  What right does it have to bomb that factory?  It
intends to apply the law of the jungle in the world, the law of the
strongest.  Is that the U.S. interpretation of peace and detente?  How can
any Third World country feel at ease under those circumstances?

And now a U.S. squadron is moving into the Mediterranean, and U.S.
television has even explained the type of techniques the Pentagon would
use.  Those techniques avoid endangering planes and avoid overflights, so
they would launch cruise missiles from a submarine stationed somewhere in
the Mediterranean.  In other words, modern technology will be at the
service of warmongering policies and aggressiveness, and will threaten the
world and its peoples.  The technology will be at the service of the war
against Third World countries.  It is something shameful, embarrassing, and
truly infuriating.  They continue to freely discuss the type of technology
they will use and they maintain their threats.  We are facing facts that
justify our asking:  What does imperialism understand as peace?  We want
peace and we must struggle for it, but peace for all peoples.  We want the
kind of peace to which all the peoples of the world are entitled.
[sustained applause] [crowd shouts:  "Fidel, be sure to hit the Yankees

We want peace with respect, rights, independence, and security for all the
peoples of the world.  That is the kind of peace for which we must all
struggle.  That is what the international community demands.  I believe
that now, more than ever, there must be a very alert international

I could talk a lot about those topics.  We could, for example, say that in
a special way imperialist propaganda and disinformation organizations are
concentrating on Cuba very much at present.  They are treating Cuba
brutally.  The Western powers would like to tell us what to do.  I do not
know why we have the strange privilege of having them worry whether we do
or fail to do this of that, or whether we imitate something, or whether we
copy or fail to copy something else.  They have turned this into something
related to our people's essential rights, and have made it a topic of almos
daily discussion.

We are not scared by that, of course, and we do not get discouraged.  On
the contrary, we are highly honored, because we never thought we were so
important.   The truth is we do not want to alarm people and we do not know
what we have done to keep so many people awake at night.  What I can assure
you of here, as I assured you in Santiago de Cuba on 1 January, is that the
revolution will not change.  I believe the secret of this revolution is
having been loyal to its principles from the beginning to have been loyal
to those principles during the last 30 years and to be willing to be loyal
for another 30 or 100 years.  [applause]

I believe that is the most significant heritage we can bequeath to future
generations:  The basic idea that one must be loyal to principles.  There
is only one way to survive such difficult conditions as the ones that Cuba
has experienced the last 30 years:  by being loyal to principles, by not
being intimidated by anything, and by not allowing anyone or anything to
change the pure and straight line of the revolution.  [applause]

That is what we can offer our friends in the world.  Cuba will continue
being loyal and faithful to those principles, and we feel we have the duty
to say it here, because, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the
revolution is not our work, but everybody's work.

In Santiago de Cuba, I said the revolution did not result solely from our
struggle against Batista; it is the fruit borne of more than 100 years of
our people's struggle, the struggles of several generations, which began
the moment our country started thinking as a nation.

The same can be said about our socialist revolution.  It is not the fruit
of our effort alone; it is also the fruit of centuries of struggle, of the
working classes' efforts beginning in the past century, of the Paris
Commune--even though it did not attain victory--of the October Revolution,
and of the struggles of many peoples to create a world free of slavery of
man's exploitation by man--a world in which justice truly exists.

Socialist revolution does not take place in an isolated world; it has a
place in today's world, where there are still big tragedies, where there is
still an empire as powerful as the United States.  Today imperialism still
exists; today there is still a group of industrialized capitalist nations
that are powerful and affluent, which impose their rule on a large part of
the world.  This revolution is the fruit of all of this.

This revolution is the fruit of international cooperation, of cooperation
with all the socialist nations, especially the USSR.  [applause]  I will
never forget the support we received at decisive moments.  I will never
forget the economic cooperation and the fair trade rules established
between the most highly developed socialist countries and Cuba, and between
the USSR and Cuba.  The capitalists do not tire of daily repeating that thi
cooperation is aid; that it is a way of subsidizing the Cuban Revolution.

Third World countries have struggled for decades for fair trade rules, and
by virtue of this struggle we have not become victims of the brutal
phenomenon of unequal trade, through which the developed capitalist nations
sell their products at increasingly higher prices, while purchasing our
exports at increasingly lower prices.  This is not the type of relationship
we have with the socialist countries and the USSR; with them we have fair
trade, as should exist between developed and developing countries, which is
even fairer within a socialist community.  The imperialists describe this
as a subsidy, as everyone can see daily on all the cable stations.  The
fact is that our sugar is bought at a different price and not at the rate
paid at the garbage dump of sugar at the world market, and where--for all
practical purposes--there is no sugar trade.

I will never forget that it was possible to establish this type of
relationship between the socialist countries and Cuba and the USSR and
Cuba, which has meant a great deal to us in our effort to develop in the
great battles waged, and the great successes achieved in many cases.

We do not think, not even for a minute that this is the result of our
effort alone.  Quite the contrary.  We think our people must keep making
greater and greater and more and more efficient efforts.  We keep saying,
as we say today, that our people must turn every year into three or even
four years.  I believe we are moving forward along this path.  But we do
not forget what we have received from the world and from other peoples, the
moral and political support and the solidarity we have received from all
corners of the world from Latin America, Africa, Asia.  We cannot forget
the support we have received from the progressive, democratic, and
revolutionary forces throughout the world, and even from capitalist
countries, were we have many friends who have not let themselves be
deceived by the abusive large-scale propaganda against our revolution.

We have not yet expressed the most important and essential part of our
thoughts.  This is why, at today's event and at this moment when we
commemorate the 30th anniversary, we want to express our gratitude to all
of you have have joined with us to commemorate this anniversary.  We want
to express our thanks to your peoples and all that you represent, the just
causes and the noble ideas for which you stand.

We want to thank the hundreds of guests who are here, and the people they
represent, in the name of our people.  Fatherland or death, we will win!