Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Addresses Blas Roca Contingent

PA046193089 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0030 GMT 2 Jun 89

[Speech by President Fidel Castro Ruz to five construction brigades of the
Blas Roca contingent on 31 May; place not given--recorded]

[Text] Comrades of the Blas Roca contingent:  We have a long day ahead of
us, a day of contingency; therefore, I must be brief, because I must visit
approximately 10 projects today, and this is just the first.

I am very pleased to award you with a banner.  These brigades were
organized during the past few months, as Comrade Bautista--I think he is
better known as Chiquitico--has just said.  He mentioned when the brigades
were formed, one by one, during the past few months.  The brigades already
have a lot of prestige; I know each one of them and am aware of the work
they have accomplished from the day they were organized.

For example, I know the Ninth Brigade was assigned an urgent task:
building the road from (Sayajabo) to Cabanas.  As I recently said in a
public ceremony, we realized the need for the road after the dam was built.
The dam could not be closed, because it would cut off the old road;
therefore, we decided to build the road during the dry season.  Who could
do the job in such a short time?  A brigade of the Blas Roca contingent,
which did not even exist, had to be organized.  However, based on past
experience and what the other brigades have been capable of, we know this
one would also do its job.

It was the first brigade of the Blas Roca contingent in Havana Province;
others had been organized in the capital city, and we wanted the contingent
to expand its activities to the rest of the province.  The work was
coordinated with the party, with Comrade Lemos and provincial leaders who
immediately recruited the work force, a good-working work force made up of
young people, many of whom had just completed their military service and
others who had returned from internationalist missions.  That is how the
first brigade in La Habana Province, the Ninth Brigade, was organized.

I know how that brigade worked during the dry months and that some days
they worked 15, 16, and even 17 hours, because they wanted to take
advantage of the dry months.  The road was built in record time.  Only a
bridge was missing, which had been delayed while recruiting members of
another brigade.  However, I understand the bridge is ready now and the
road is being covered with asphalt.

The construction of the Guanajay-Mariel railroad was carried out quickly.
it is a very important project; hundreds of thousands of tons must be
transported using that railroad.  There is the port and the cement factory,
which produces almost a million tons and will be capable of producing
1.3-1.4 tons of cement.  We also have La Molina factory [Molino La
Molina]--a poet must have given it than name--which will produce
approximately 600,000 cubic meters of stone and sand, which will have to be
transported.  If it had to be transported on the Nino Bonito [name
indistinct] highway, it would have to cover 25 km, going through mountains,
rugged land, curves, and other obstacles.

The material must be distributed throughout the capital.  The railroad will
be used as the main transportation means to carry the stone and sand that
will be produced at a factory that is also being built at full speed by a
Construction Ministry's brigade.  We visited the project this morning and
saw they are working at a very good pace.

In addition, almost everything exported from Pinar del Rio must leave
through Mariel port and must be transported by land.  However, with this
railroad section, it can be transported by train; at the same time, many
products imported by Pinar del Rio will be sent by railroad.

The Ninth Brigade is in charge of this job.  They have committed themselves
to have a few kilometers ready by 13 August.  I think that.... [changes
thought] We must build that railroad quickly, and I am sure the Ninth
Brigade will do its job.

Each new brigade will be provided with six small earth graders
[microtraillas] from the small graders brigade; I believe that is the 15th
Brigade.  In a few days, the 15th Brigade will join the construction
project on this section of the railroad.  It is now working on moving earth
at the market centers [mercados concentradores] and helping to move earth
at some terminals.  I do not think that this will take a lot of time, and
perhaps in June the remaining 15 graders from the 15th Brigade will join
the Ninth Brigade to make a total of 21 Ninth Brigade earth graders.  How
long can it take to perform these projects?  I do not want to set a
deadline because you are the ones who set deadlines.  However, I am
certain that by the middle of next year, with all these resources and with
the capacity to move over 10,000 cubic meters of earth a day from that
terrain, I believe that two brigades can finish the embankment.  We will
see later how fast the Transportation Ministry can install the rails over
the embankment you will construct.

There is the 11th Brigade, which I believe was the second brigade
organized; it was desperately needed.  Equipment was being received for the
La Molina Mill, and therefore no earth had been moved.  I had to
emphatically protest this at the Materials Industry Ministry and at the
Construction Ministry.  I asked:  Hey, are we going to start piling up
equipment again without [words indistinct]?  Why had there been so many
obstacles to begin the earth movement necessary for this mill?  Therefore,
with the understanding that it was necessary to gain some time, we decided
to create another brigade, the Blas Roca contingent brigade in Havana
Province--that is, the 11th Brigade.  The 11th Brigade began to complete
[rephrases] began to work and, in a few months, it concluded the earth
movement project for this industrial complex.

Of course, when the 11th Brigade was about the complete the project,
someone did it again.  When we were about to finish the project, we asked
how much earth had to be moved.  We were told 300,000 cubic meters,and
there were still 300,000 more to move--this was for the Lobo or the Cola
Lake; I do not recall what it is called.  They did not mention this to us
at the beginning.  This brought about another strong protest.  They gave us
the information bit by bit; first they said that they were 300,000 cubic
meters to be moved, and then they said that there were an additional
300,000.  Obviously, we made precise calculations to determine how long
would it take to do this project; we found out when it had to be
completed, and then decided to give the brigade other very important

The 1th Brigade was assigned earth movement projects for the cold storage
house in Havana Province, one of the three cold storage houses we are going
to build; I say this so that you will have a better understanding.  The
brigade arrived, moved earth, finished the project, and quickly moved on to
the Jaimanitas Santa Fe bus terminal, and, as Comrade Chiquitito--the
comrade who mentioned the 11th Brigade--explained, they plan to finish the
projects by 5 June.  This is a serious commitment; today is 31 May.  They
are certain that they will complete the projects.  I believe that they will
do so, unless there are rainstorms and if it rains everyday.  I know that
they will fulfill their commitment, and even if nature prevents them from
completing the project on time, the world is not going to end just because
it takes 3 or 4 more days to do the work.

I want to tell you this now, although I think that the weather is fine.
Although it rained heavily yesterday, the brigade can finish by this date.
The brigade has to return here to La Molina, to the famous lake.  They have
to return to move 300,000 cubic meters of earth.  The brigade already has
work to do afterward; they will work exclusively in Ariguanao at that time.
I believe that they have some work to do in future months following their
work on the lake project.

The 12th Brigade was organized to build a two-way railroad between El Cano
and Caimito.  The 14th Brigade was organized to work on the same section of
railroad between Caimito and Artemisa.  These two brigades are in charge of
constructing an important part of this two-way railroad, all the way to
Pinar del Rio.  A brigade from the Blas Roca contingent--I believe it was
the Third or Fourth Brigade--is constructing this section of the two-way
railroad between 100th Street and El Cano.  The embankment projects should
be completed soon.  The 14th Brigade [corrects himself] the 12th and 14th
Brigades should work on the section heading in the direction of Artemisa.

We must bear in mind that a contingent from Pinar del Rio--which is working
on the Havana-Pinar del Rio expressway and is scheduled to complete the
work by the end of the year--will be available in a few months and will
then begin work on the section from Artemisa to Havana and will meet up
with these two brigades.  At that time, Pinar del Rio will be linked to
Guanajay, part of it with single tracks, and other parts with double
tracks.  Merchandise will be transported back and forth from Pinar del Rio
to Mariel Port.

This is very important, because the Pinar del Rio contingent workers are
very good construction workers.  They are building the expressway, and it
is very important that they join the work at the other end.  Therefore, I
do not doubt that with all of these forces, the railroad embankment will be
finished by 1990, particularly if those who are working on this highway
from Guajay to Mariel will be free by the end of the year.  In that case,
they will go as reinforcements to work on that same stretch; that  is, if
another task does not come up.  We always have to consider that.

Therefore, I believe that by the end of 1990, provided they have enough
rails and strength, the railroad workers might have partly--it not
fully--linked Havana to Artemisa with double tracks, and Mariel to Guanajay
with single tracks, which is sufficient.  Once this stretch is completed,
we plan to work on the stretch from Artemisa to Pinar del Rio.  We will ask
the Pinar del Rio residents to come on over, because the Havana residents
are also going over there--that is, from Artemisa to over there.

This is going to take the Havana residents somewhat far from their homes.
However, I do not think that being away from home will be a problem for a
member of a brigade--where there are so many internationalists, so many
party militants, so many youths, so many good revolutionary workers, so
many good communist workers--even if they are not yet party members.  Going
away to Pinar del Rio will not be a problem.  Therefore, I ask you if these
brigades working on land movement are willing to work on the area bordering
between Pinar del Rio and Havana, or is this perhaps asking too much of the
Blas Roca contingent?  [crowd shouts:  No!  We are willing to go beyond the

Very good; that is great.  [applause]  The members of the 11th Brigade will
have to work hard.  They will not be too happy about this, because that
brigade has a task assigned here.  That brigade is conducting land
movements in the province for several important projects, such as the La
Molina project.  They are working on land movement, terminals, but, if at a
given time we need them, then we will give them a stretch of the highway
to work on.

We also have here the 16th Brigade, one of the last two brigades, and it
has been assigned to the cold storage plant.  For a long time now, we have
had in the country practically all of the components to build that cold
storage plant.  Who can quickly build this cold storage plant in the
province?  A Blas Roca contingent brigade.  Therefore, the 16th Brigade was
created for working on buildings, and not for land movement.  The 17th
Brigade was created, and it will also work on the construction of other
cold storage plants.  We do not yet have the components here, but we are
purchasing them.

There is a third cold storage plant which will be built by a brigade of the
MICONS [Ministry of Construction], which, I believe, is trying to emulate
the Blas Roca contingent brigades.  We must admit that in MICONS a large
group of contingents has already been organized, along the lines of the
Blas Roca contingent.

I know that they are working hard on the cold storage plant, and I am sure
that they will surpass the goal they agreed to here if they keep working at
their current pace.  These are the five Havana Province brigades that today
we are presenting with flags.  We still have the 17th. [crowd shouts: The
15th and the 17th!] We still have pending the 11th Brigade, the one working
on the cold storage plant. [crowd shouts: We have the 8th, and we still
have the 10th pending.] What do you mean, you have eight; no, wait, we have
five here.  What is the 10th working on? [unidentified man shouts: The 10th
is working on hog raising.  We have the 17th working on the cold storage
plant; the 15th is working in Havana.] I thought that one belonged to
Havana. [crowd laughs] We will just have to hire more people.  Someone lent
you some people, but they are from Havana.  I had not counted that one, but
it is here; that is correct.  There are eight brigades,and they are
powerful ones.  On land movements, they work the equivalent of three
brigades. [unidentified man shouts: An average of 10,000 per day this
month, out of a total of 243,000 in 24 days.]

Yes, of course, because this was a relatively dry year.  It is impossible
to work during the rainy months at the same pace as during the day months.
One of these days, we will also have to dedicate those brigades.  Flags
have not yet been given to the 15th, 10th, or the 17th.  We will find some
time to present them with their flags.  [applause]

As you know, comrades, the organization of the Blas Roca contingent is
truly revolutionary in the field of construction.  We had done something
similar back in the seventies.  We had organized the construction brigades.
That was a great step.  As a result, hundreds of schools, dozens of dams,
and thousands of kilometers of highways and roads were built; those were
the brigades.

Later enterprises were organized with contraband, erratic ideas, ideas
imbued into our economic structure, which was essentially the work of
technocrats.  Let us say that the economy was in the hands of technocrats.
They were very wise, intelligent, but actually they copied many things.
Why talk about that, anyway?  I mention this only because one of their
mistakes was in the field of construction.  I will not even refer to the
rest of the economy, which is where they made many mistakes.

How many times did I warn them that even though they organized the
enterprises, they should not disorganize the brigades!  They used to tell
me:  No, we will not touch the brigades.  They said that they had not
touched the brigades, but, in fact, they began to disperse and dissolve the
brigades.  They created all sorts of enterprises.  They mixed oil, vinegar,
and water.  Some worked on highways, dams, railroads, and others were
involved in other tasks.  We lost the specialization that had yielded such
positive results.  We began to think over this situation and wondered what
we could do with construction.  We might as well admit that construction
was at a standstill.  I think the construction industry staged the longest
strike in history; the industry was on strike, one could say.

When I asked what they had built during a 10-year period, there was really
no answer.  The projects for highways, railroads, and dams began to take
forever to be built, dozens of years.  There were industries, schools, and
so forth, but they all began to take forever.  None of them was finished.
When something was completed, there were always many things missing.  They
were operating, but they were lacking many things.  They built ghost towns,
without any streets, without water works or sewage, without schools,
without any day-care centers.  It was crazy, and it would take a very long
time to list everything here.

The plant that was to furnish spare parts for a certain factory was not
ready.  It was actually finished after some screws were tightened.  The
[word indistinct] in Santiago de Cuba was under repair for quite a few
years.  I remember the day I visited the projects.  Only 1 of the 20
freezers had been built, the dining room and other areas were in terrible
condition, and the place was wet, for rain had accumulated more on the
inside than on the outside of the projects.  This can be blamed on both
foreign and local planners--on foreign planners because they suggested the
wrong kind of roof, a flat one; and on our local planners because they were
silly enough--pardon the expression--to agree to that.  [Words indistinct]
I have said this once before, and I do not want to hurt feelings or mention
names, but our planners did agree to that flat roof.  Now we have to put
one roof on top of the other.  No houses were built, and so forth.

Of course we cannot blame the construction workers; it was not their fault.
There was a corrupt movement among the workers calling for a wage increase
of thousands of pesos, although it did not correspond at all with
production.  The gross product, or social product for the construction
industry was millions of pesos per year, but this had nothing to do with
construction projects; this had to do with the transportation of workers,
which amounted to millions of pesos in such places as Moa, Cienfuegos, and
so on.  In addition, food and lodging also appeared under construction
accounts, as well as things that had nothing to do with the roads,
cement, land movement, or project materials.

I repeat:  This is not the workers' fault.  Efforts were made to corrupt
them.  This situation was accompanied by the appearance of street vendors
who had a lot of money.  Some of them could afford to go from Pinar del Rio
or Santa Clara to Havana in trucks to load them with material that they
could then easily sell on the black market.  Meanwhile, some hospitals and
schools did not have sufficient maintenance material.  The street vendors
were getting rich as a result of the black market in the countryside and
involving other businesses that were proliferating there.  Some of them
were operating with tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of
pesos.  They used to buy truckloads of merchandise.  These gentlemen used
to steal construction workers from the state to have those workers build
houses for them.

The [word indistinct], believing that with capitalist schemes they could
resolve everything, eliminated time-clocks.  There were some people in some
enterprises that checked in at 0800 and left at 0830 and nobody noticed.
They worked and had fun with the street vendors and received their
paychecks from the construction industry.  All these horrible things
happened.  How can a country make progress this way?  What a level of
deterioration in organization and productivity!

My goodness, if construction fails, then everything fails.  If there is no
construction, there cannot be schools, hospitals, day-care centers, houses,
factories, ports, roads,highways, trains, dams, or channels.  If there is
no construction, there can be no development.  Construction was once one of
the worst sectors here.  It was really sad.  They made us lose years, years
that we have to recover now by making the efforts you are making.  Nowadays
we function at a higher level--that of necessity.

When the first Blas Roca contingent appeared, given past circumstances, it
had a revolutionary impact.  That contingent began to function based on new
concepts.  Its members were saying:  We do not want salary linked to
production; we want no extra hours--meaning that they did not want to get
paid for working extra hours.  There will be no such links between salary
and production, because that became a madness that worked against quality,
because it makes workers do things on the run, hurting themselves and
damaging equipment.  Imagine high salaries and idle workers existing
together.  Those workers destroyed, broke whatever equipment they could get
their hands on because the system contributed to that situation.  Quality
disappeared from the construction sector.  Now we say:  There will be no
links between salary and production.  What extra hours is one talking

If you say that you have worked 12 hours, then this is not the 9th hour, or
the 10th, 11th, 12th, not even the 13th, 14th or the 15th.  [sentence as
heard]  It is all work, with a communist spirit and socialist retribution.
We would have to pay you for the number of hours, the quality of your work,
the amount of your work, and according to the various jobs and tasks.

I think this formula of retribution is the most just:  to pay by the hour.
For example, in a workshop you cannot work more than you are authorized to
work.  We cannot be working and looking for more productivity, killing
people on the streets, destroying the equipment, or killing equipment
operators.  The first thing that we must guarantee is the safety of the
operators.  Discipline, among other things, is what guarantees the Blas
Roca contingent's and other contingents' general productivity.  We always
have men on bulldozers; we always have men working the mechanical diggers.
However, if someone is missing; then there is always someone to take his
place.  A bulldozer can replace 12 or 14 pieces of equipment, 8 or 9
trucks, grading equipment, or other vehicles.

The idea is that a person should be able to do many jobs. I have even seen
seen nurses driving tractors because they realize that they had some free
time.  How about that nurse we recently saw working with the 11th Brigade?
She learned because she wanted to contribute to construction.  It is truly
outstanding.  The concept of giving attention to mankind has prevailed.
How about the medical doctor that joined the First Brigade?  Food and
attention for all men, the establishment of discipline based on collective
authority--these are revolutionary concepts.  There is a certain way in
which the contingent establishes discipline.  It emanates from the
collective will of the workers of each brigade.

Discipline was established and did away with unproductive and ridiculous
paternalism that had characterized all tasks.  Everything led to the
creation of this force, which is impressively organized and productive.
With the use of their equipment, they seem like magicians after a week.
Just look at the high technical level in the construction sector.  That is
why we say that the contingents produce twice as much as any other group of
people.  They produce twice as much as before in those tasks that had been
left unfinished.  They produce twice as much with half the people.  They
produce three times as much with the same equipment that was used before.
In addition, the contingents finish the projects, and these projects are of
good quality.

This concept of discipline, this concept of attention to mankind is
fundamental.  To trust man, to trust the patriotism of the men and women of
our country, to trust our construction workers is to have a sense of honor,
of dignity, and of revolutionary conscience.  To be a revolutionary, one
must be aware of the historical moment in which one lives.  To be a
revolutionary means taking a step forward, to change, to transform, to
develop the country.  This is our people's basic task.  Of course, this
also means defending what we do, what we create, and defending our right to
a better world.  [applause]

That is why I say that the greatest revolution in the construction sector
has been the creation of the contingents.  This has been the greatest
concept in our country's history.  It proves what can be done, what
socialism can do.  Only socialism is capable of performing this miracle.

Contingents today enjoy nationwide prestige.  High prestige [words
indistinct].  This prestige has influenced the rest of the construction
workers.  Today many construction brigades work with the spirit of a
contingent.  The workers have become infused with the contingents' spirit.
There are thousands waiting to join the contingents.  There are farming,
communications, and transportation contingents--even a special kind of
contingent in some of the construction industries.

This contingent spirit is spreading throughout our working class.
Generally speaking, the men and women of this town take their hats off to a
contingent worker because they recognize his extraordinary working
capacity, his extraordinary working spirit.  There are now about 60
contingents nationwide.  The Blas Roca contingent started with one brigade
and now has 17.  Other contingents have several brigades; others, I
understand, still only have one.

Now then, the contingent is a sort of enterprise.  It is a better
enterprise, which does not have millions of people shuffling papers in
offices and a minimum number of nonessential [indirectos] workers.  Most of
their workers are out doing tangible work.  The administrative workers are
indispensable.  Administration is very efficient because, since their
foundation, one of the contingents' characteristics has been their
cost-effectiveness, their accounting.  How rigorously have they kept
accounts of the costs, of every cent, of all costs of each project, like
never before!  We know how much everything costs in our shops.

In some works, the production costs can be reduced, but this is only in the
very mechanized ones.  There are some that are less mechanized,
particularly the construction projects in which it is more difficult to
reduce the production cost per unit.  [Words indistinct] the prices of
buildings.  Perhaps all of these concepts should be reviewed now to make
them more rational, more realistic (?so they will be useful to analysts).
However, we will never use the changes in prices to say that we have
increased the millions and millions worth [currency not specified] of
construction projects.  If any change is made at some point, we will have
to calculate the increase in construction costs on the basis of stable

I said that a contingent is an enterprise, but a better enterprise.  [Words
indistinct] 17 brigades [words indistinct] or 25,000 enterprises.  This
enterprise is different from that one.  There are enterprises that are
guided by different criteria and work with a truly socialist spirit, which
is no way resembles capitalism's mechanisms, calculations, and wheelings
and dealings.

I must add that we have almost completed our study on the question of
salary rates.  We found that because the first contingent originated in the
minibrigades and because we later organized construction contingents, some
had one salary and some had another.  To resolve this irregularity, we are
establishing a special rate for contingent workers.  In general, it
increases the salaries of the contingent workers--which is very fair.  It
increases the income of those who devote themselves in such a way to their
work, so they will receive some recognition from society and have a better
standard of living.

There will perhaps be some isolated cases, such as with those who had very
high salaries in the construction sector, who may turn out to be affected,
but they are actually very few.  Generally speaking, with the new rates,
the salaries of contingent workers--who currently include approximately
25,000 builders--will improve.  We have removed many of the pretexts and
have left only a few causes.  (?Abnormal conditions) do not exist and do
not have to exist.  [Words indistinct] sleeping on the floor or eating in a
dirty hovel.  We have taken pains to give the contingents the best lodging
in the country, with air conditioning whenever we can provide it--it is
impossible for us to install it in all housing--and with the best food in
the country; the contingents get the best food in our country.  Given all
these conditions, there should be no abnormalities.

We maintain the seniority system in construction projects and hence the
necessity of some of these measures.  This will, of course, make the
projects a bit more expensive.  When we increase salaries, what we produce
today for 51 [not further identified] will perhaps increase to 56.27; what
we produce for 80 will perhaps increase to 85 or 86.  We would have to look
at this in practice, according to the salaries they now earn and see what
the cost increase is.  However, this should not discourage us.  How much is
a project like this worth anywhere else in the world?  We do not even know.
The prices of the [word indistinct] will be set here rather arbitrarily.
However, this same road may have cost half a million [currency not
specified], but this cost is not what it is worth.  Perhaps something that
is said to be worth a million [currency not specified] in Cuba costs 3 or 4
million somewhere else in the world, in an industrialized country.  We do
not even know.

The pace the contingent workers maintain, their achievements, and the
prestige they have gained is truly extraordinary.  As I have said, we do
not have to work 14 or 15 hours a day all our lives, but we do have to
recover the time we have lost.  We lost time under capitalism, and we have
also lost time under socialism.  This is why we have to work with this kind
of spirit.  We have to show the world what socialism can achieve.  At a
time when capitalists believe that socialism is going through a reversible
crisis and that socialism is running out of stream on this small island
only a few miles away from the empire, we are showing them what socialism
is and what socialism can do!  [applause]

I am convinced that 100,000 men, working with the contingents' spirit,
could do the work that previously required 400,000 men, and these
contingent workers do the work well and on time.  Now we face construction
as a continuous process.  We do not ridiculously say that we are going to
stop because there is no budget.  We have to have a budget to work
year-round, to have continuous construction.

In addition to the nonsense and the crazy inventions that were introduced
here in the past, there was terrible planning.  If five roads were to be
built in a province, then the planner would assign 100,000 pesos to each
road,so a brigade would work on one road for 2 months, and then he would be
sent to another road, and then to another.  A completely crazy plan.  I
wonder how that road you have finished could have been done with that
methodology, assigning 50,000 pesos in 1988, and another 50,000 in 1989,
etc.  That road would have taken 10 years.  Shifting brigades from here to
there is completely crazy.  We cannot work like that.  That makes no sense
at all.  Now when we start working, we keep at it until we are through.
This is the way you are working.

These ideas and concepts have been introduced, and, for this reason, we
say that we have had a true revolution in the construction sector.  This
revolution is spreading to other sectors, where it is possible to implement
some of the contingents' principles.  There are differences among the
various activities, and it is impossible to apply these principles to all
sectors, but they do apply to many activities.

I want to take advantage of this event to give you some good news.  The
country has already fulfilled its sugar production goal.  [applause]  The
goal called for 8.1 million tons.  We have already produced 8,124,000 tons.
The sugar harvest ends tomorrow, Thursday [1 June].  This means that we
have reached our sugar production goal, despite the terrible weather we
have had, as you know.  It began raining at the end of February, something
that has never happened before.  It rained heavily in March and April.  It
stopped raining in May, when we had practically harvested all the sugar.
May has been a dry month, and all construction workers know that.  There
was a little rain, but rainfall was below average.  Let us see what June
weather will be like.  We need a rainy June, even if this is what suits you
the least, because this is what the country needs the most.

Aware that these are the rainy months, you worked hard during the dry
months.  Eleven of the 13 sugarcane-producing provinces either reached or
surpassed their production goals.  Two--Matanzas and Ciego de Avila--did
not.  These provinces traditionally have been good sugarcane producers, but
the weather was ruthless with them this year.  In Matanzas we are
studying.... [changes thought] Cienfuegos, yes.... [does not complete
sentence as heard] What did I just say?  Ciego de Avila?  Forgive me--darn
it--Ciego de Avila reached its goal.  It struggled with the rain and
reached its goal.  The provinces treated ruthlessly by the weather are
Matanzas and Cienfuegos.  We are studying ways to greatly expand the
irrigation systems in those two provinces.  Matanzas has the industrial
potential to produce approximately 1,100,000 tons of sugarcane.

We are planning to irrigate as much as we can in Matanzas Province with
underground water.  We are digging wells to augment the supply, building
dams, and digging canals--even though there is not much potential for dam
construction there.  We are doing the same in Cienfuegos and will do the
same across the country.

Several provinces broke their previous records of sugarcane production.
This was because of the extraordinary effort of our very (?numerous)
workers last year--when we took advantage of the rains and cleaned out the
sugarcane fields--and because of the extraordinary effort made at harvest
time.  It would have been easy without the unseasonal rains that fell, and
we could have surpassed the goal by perhaps 200,000 tons.  The harvest was
characterized by many months of draught followed by an early--much too
early--spring.  However, sugar production has actually met the goals, and
we have produced 700,000 tons more sugar than last year.

However, this is not enough.  We find that it is imperative to continue to
increase our sugar production to meet our country's obligations.  That is
why we need to go increasing sugar production constantly, particularly
sugarcane production, so that we can have not only sugar but cattlefeed and
thus have more milk and meat for our people's consumption.  I spoke
recently about this, not far from here, during the inauguration of the El
Mirador community.

It is pleasant for all of us--and particularly pleasant for the men and
women of the Blas Roca contingent--to know that in other sites, in other
places, their example has been the inspiration for other workers to comply
with their obligations with greater devotion, with greater tenacity, and
with a stronger revolutionary spirit.

I congratulate all of you as you receive these flags.  I know that you will
do more and will do better every day.  The fact that 20 months have passed
since the first brigade was created with some 100 or so men and that the
movement now consists of a force of over 25,000 people shows that this does
not represent the enthusiasm of a day, of a minute, of a second, but the
enthusiasm and working spirit of a new stage of the Revolution.  Fatherland
or death, we shall win!  [applause]