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Castro Speech at Soviet Childrens' Facilities
Havana Cuba Vision Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000011499
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL0407000190
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-129          Report Date:    05 Jul 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     3
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       6
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       02 Jul 90
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 129


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speech at Soviet Childrens' Facilities

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro presenting the facilities to be used by the
Chernobyl children at the Jose Marti Pioneer City in Tarara on 1

Source Line:   FL0407000190 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0130 GMT 2
Jul 90

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro presenting the facilities to be
used by the Chernobyl children at the Jose Marti Pioneer City in
Tarara on 1 July--recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro presenting the facilities to be used by
the Chernobyl children at the Jose Marti Pioneer City in Tarara on 1

2.  [Text] Comrades and guests: Since it is so hot here....  [changes thought]
I cannot give you air conditioning or a breeze. Are there any of those consoles
around here? No, there is no air conditioning here. It is not the same here as
it is in the rooms of the houses and the hospital, where it is very cool. When
we arrived here, it felt like it was on fire. [laughter] I said, we cannot give
them air conditioning, but there is something we can do for those who are here
and that is to speak for a short time, to be brief.  [Audience says: ``No!'']
Do not worry; the people always say no, and I always do the opposite, but this
time it is true. [laughter] [Castro chuckles] This time it is true; I have to
be brief. [video shows Castro, in uniform, perspiring]

3.  Yesterday and the day before, I participated in about 20 hours of analyses,
debates, and speeches. There are other things that I have yet to do today, but
under no circumstance did I want to miss the opportunity to express the
appreciation of our people, party, and government for the true feat of labor
performed here. I did not want to miss the opportunity to thank the men and
women who participated in the accelerated repair, remodeling, and
reconstruction of the Jose Marti Pioneer City. Thousands worked on it. At one
point, there were 7,000 workers here. The minibrigade comrade said there was an
average of 4,000 workers here, but we have to consider how many were here from
the start. He is talking about an average. At one point, however, there were
7,000 workers here, so there was no lack of effort.  This project involved
everyone's cooperation; the People's Government, the party, the administration,
all municipalities, all organizations. There was the special and outstanding
participation of the FAR [Revolutionary Armed Forces] and the Minint [Interior
Ministry]. We could say the same practically about all the organizations that
worked toward finishing this project by the beginning of June [as heard].

4.  The idea was barely mentioned of using the Pioneer City to provide
treatment for the thousands of children who were affected by the tragic
Chernobyl accident when everyone reacted with a great fraternal spirit, with a
spirit of internationalism. That spirit is reflected here because the people
have had to be patient since we cannot get any more people in here. They
fulfilled ambitious plans, not just plans for remodeling, but also plans for
expansion and adaptation for the new functions that this city will undertake.
The construction of new projects was also part of their plans, for example, the
construction of pools. In addition, they planned to repair existing pools. Here
once again, as I said earlier, a true labor feat has been performed.

5.  When we presented the diplomas this afternoon, at midday, we had the
privilege of listening to the comrades who received the diplomas. None of them
knew they were going to speak here. No one told them they would speak here. I
got the idea with the first person. I asked him something and then told him:
Why don you not tell the rest of the people here? That was Lazaro. He was
followed by Desiderio de Armas. He is a man of arms.  [play on words] [audience
laughs] He says he retired 16 years ago and was one of the first who took off
to work here. He settled down here and worked tirelessly. How nice, is it not?
Lazaro and Desiderio expressed themselves well. One could tell that they were
deeply motivated in their souls, hearts, and intelligence.

6.  They were followed by Silvio. He was nervous because he saw that the other
two had to come up here. [laughter] Silvio thought: They are going to do the
same to me, too.  I told him: Yes, you will have to say something here, too. 
[Castro chuckles] He also made very moving remarks that truly reflect the idea,
awareness, and motivations that encourage our people to do things in all areas.
Our people are noble, a fighting people, combative, internationalist, and

7.  The motivation here is very profound. We would do this for any child in the
world. Many children come to our hospitals from other countries and many adults
come for the same purpose. They come from Nicaragua, El Salvador, or Latin
America to undergo cardiovascular surgery or to receive specialized treatment
in an area in which our country has advanced. In this case, we are not doing
this just because it involves children--and children always win the hearts of
the peoples--but, in addition, they are children from the Soviet Union, a
country with which we have extensive ties, which is so closely tied to us, and
which has given us so many gestures of solidarity.

8.  The idea of providing cooperation for the Chernobyl children did not emerge
immediately. We did not know what the situation was. It is possible that the
Soviets themselves--and I am certain of this--were not aware of the magnitude,
the seriousness of that accident until years later. A group of Soviets, a
Soviet association--the Komsomol, yes, it was the Komsomol of the Ukraine--
asked us if we could take some children for medical attention. They told us
they asked all the countries in Europe, as well as other countries, and the
only thing the other countries sent to Chernobyl was journalists. They said
that only Israel received a group of vacationers for a few days.

9.  We immediately answered: Yes, you can send as many as 200. They cited a
certain number. Initially, they talked about sending a hundred children. We
told them they could send up to 200. That is how this matter arose. They sent
us children. We sent doctors there to study the situation, to select the
children. That is how we received almost 140 children. I do not recall the
exact figure of the first group that arrived. [Unidentified speakers respond:
``There were 137 in the group.''] We received 137 children, and a few family
members accompanied them.

10.  When I received them at the airport, I listened to news from the family
members, from the doctors themselves.  They said that it was a big problem, the
problem is serious, grave. I asked one of the mothers from a mothers'
association how many children were affected.  She told me that there were at
least 100,000 children. We then got news from Cuban comrades and news from the
Ukraine, as well as from the Russian Federation and Belorussia. They told us
about the problem. We received letters saying that there were many children
affected by this. They said it was not possible to know how many are ill. There
is only one way to find this out and that is to conduct diagnostic tests there,
to conduct a diagnostic analysis there. We said, if the number is very high,
the USSR will need cooperation. It is a large country with resources and it
needs cooperation from abroad. That is how the idea emerged to offer help for
10,000 children.

11.  At first, we thought about converting schools into hospitals. Then we
remembered the Pioneer City and the role it played during the dengue epidemic.
Going against our plans, we asked whether we should suspend vacations. We said:
Do not suspend them. We can create conditions so they are safer in the Pioneer
City than in their own homes. Of course, at home, they do not have a doctor
alongside them. If a child had any kind of symptom, they might have to wait
before calling a hospital, before taking the child to the hospital. We knew
that here, however, as soon as the first symptom was seen, we would have to run
tests on the child. Of course, we can guarantee that there are no mosquitos
here, not a single one. We took measures to ensure that there is not a single
mosquito here when the children come.  [chuckles] Of course, the children that
come might have the virus but they cannot contaminate anyone else because there
are no mosquitos. We determined immediately who had the virus and we used
interferon, which we recently created. [corrects himself] No, we did not create
it; we developed it. It is very efficient in treating viral diseases. No child
became seriously ill. We adapted hospitals, everything. We had two or three
right here, two or three hospitals. I think the city's public health department
was responsible for it. They sent someone here, and he organized all of this.

12.  Then we contacted the Pioneers and asked for their opinions. We asked them
if they were willing to make the Pioneer City available. We knew they would
have to make a sacrifice to treat the Chernobyl children. They met, analyzed
the matter, and, without hesitation whatsoever, offered the Pioneer City.

13.  The Pioneer City was going to mark its 15th anniversary, and it was being
remodeled and repaired. Now, it was more than a matter of repairs. It turned
into a project to reconstruct the Pioneer City and expand it services.  During
the brief time between the arrival of the first Soviet group and the Pioneers'
offer to turn their city over to the Chernobyl children, a great construction,
repair, and labor movement was initiated to get the city ready by the first of
June. We were talking about June. It took us some time, a short time. It was
finished just a few days ago. There are a few isolated projects that have not
been finished yet because of their characteristics, such as the pools or
elevators we had to purchase and build [as heard]. They have been purchased and
are being installed.

14.  This is how we created the conditions here to provide care for up to
10,000 children. Now that we have the experience of the first group and we
know, more or less, the amount of time required; they stay an average of three
months. Some are here longer, others are not; we determined that throughout the
year, if the Soviets wish, they may send up to 30,000 children here for medical

15.  We have created all the conditions. This would be the ideal situation
because many times the small child feels fine even though he may have a
problem. Problems could arise later. A problem could develop later. If you keep
him in a hospital, he will feel imprisoned. The perfect institution for
treating these cases is an institution like this, the Pioneer City, which has
its own hospital that now has been expanded, along with all the other

16.  I do not mean to imply that all hospital services will be rendered here.
We can render many hospital services here. Services can be fulfilled perfectly
well here with the installations we have and with everything we have, but we
have our own specialized hospitals. We have pediatric hospitals, such as the
William Soler, the Juan Manuel Marquez--which is brand new--and other hospitals
that have a lot of prestige. So when children need superspecialized care, they
go to those hospitals. However, as long as they are being tested and until the
moment arrives to move them to a hospital that will treat them, this is the
ideal place for them, unless a child has a serious symptom that requires
immediate attention at a specialized hospital.

17.  Even the recovery period is better here. For a child, it is depressing to
be imprisoned in a hospital. That is why we organized programs for the first
children that came from Chernobyl. We planned recreation and vacation programs,
trips to the sea for them. They like fruit a lot. We have done everything
possible to guarantee that they have fruit. They are crazy about bananas.
[laughter] They also like pineapple, citrus. They arrived during mango season.
You know that pineapple production increased a lot in Ciego de Avila. That area
is supplying Havana with pineapple. There may be a few months in which citrus
is not abundant but there is frozen citrus juice for the children that come
here. All measures have been taken so they can have the fruit and juice they
like so much.

18.  They have people accompanying them. It is good because the mothers can
accompany them here also under optimum conditions. This is the perfect
institution for this situation. It is the perfect solution for these cases.

19.  The children like the adventure of the trip. They like the climate, the
sea. Right now it is spring in the USSR, but in the winter months you can
imagine what a trip to Cuba means to them.

20.  Now, good, following Cuba's example--and I must stress: following Cuba's
example--some Western countries have followed our example, and we are happy
about this. Some Western countries have offered a to take some vacationers.
Even the United States, the United States [repeats himself], that large,
immense, rich country has offered to take 300 healthy children. Several
European countries have also offered to take healthy children. I think that
between 10 and 12 countries--I do not know how many--have offered to reserve
1,000 spaces for vacationers. We have offered 10,000 spaces for simultaneous
medical care and even up to 30,000 in a year for medical attention. Analyzing
these matters in the last executive committee meeting, we stated that if it is
necessary to bring children from that area here on vacation, for psychological
reasons, for compensation, we also will be willing to receive them. If they
come on vacation, we may have 50,000 children here during the course of a year.

21.  In two months, facilities for 10,000 can accommodate 50,000, assuming five
rotations. If the idea of vacations is accepted and if the idea of vacations
will help the Chernobyl children, we will not oppose it. We can contribute to

22.  The figures the West has proposed to cooperate with the Chernobyl children
seem ridiculous. Regardless of the absurdity of it, we are glad that they have
at least made a minimal gesture, a minimal gesture [repeats himself] of

23.  This camp, as you know, can hold 20,000 children.  Under these
circumstances, we have reduced the capacity by half so they can be more
comfortable, have more room.

24.  There is always someone who asks, not just about this, but about other
things.... [changes thought] We have offered to treat the Soviet Union's former
Afghan combatants--up to 500 in a year--who were maimed or are seriously ill. I
recently had the opportunity to greet almost 100 of them who are in the Frank
Pais Hospital.  I spoke to them. I learned of their concerns. I asked them if
they like the sea. They said they like it a lot. I think they call it (morreh).
[chuckles] They said they like it a lot. It seemed truly.... [changes thought]
I felt good about that attitude, about the possibility of cooperating with
those combatants. We have been doing it for years. We have cooperated with
hundreds of Salvadoran combatants who were maimed. They were treated in our
country over the years. They were rehabilitated as much as possible.

25.  Some people ask themselves if we are sacrificing the people to provide
these internationalist missions. There is always someone, some person who asks
this type of question. First, I would say that this is not costing our country
anything special. Why? Because the ones who will care for these children are
the same workers that are here.

26.  The ones who have made the sacrifice are our Pioneers because in one week
during vacation or during the school year, more than 2,000 [corrects himself]
200,000 could pass through here because of the educational and recreational use
of this institution. The children are providing their support. They are making
a contribution, and what a beautiful thing for our Pioneers to learn early
about becoming internationalists. They are learning to do things for others.
That is what they have done. This educates our people. This educates our
children. This trains our children.

27.  Some will come here on vacation, but not many. A few thousand will pass
through here this summer so they can accompany the Soviet children. There may
be 3,000 or 5,000 who will come here. There will be less than 5,000 children
who will be here simultaneously with the Soviet children. Normally, 20,000
children would come here.  There will be about 5,000 Soviet and Cuban children
here, if that many. It is true that they must have special food but only 25
percent of the number of children that would normally be here will be present
this summer. The same is true for the school year. During the school year,
10,000 children would come here. If you analyze this accurately, you will see a
reduction in spending, thanks to the contribution of our Pioneers.

28.  The doctors are the same ones that are working at our hospitals. We do not
have to pay an extra salary to Comrade Dotre because he is here or to the
doctors or nurses that have come here. They are the same ones that are in our
hospitals. In addition, we have graduated more than 4,000 doctors this summer
and we are going to put them to work as family doctors. This does not mean
medical attention for our population has been reduced by a single iota. On the
contrary, it is increasing this summer. We built a large expansion onto the
Frank Pais Hospital. It has 600 beds. We are not taking a single service away
from a single citizen in this country to help or cooperate in the treatment and
rehabilitation of the people injured in Afghanistan.

29.  This is the very clear reality, in case someone gets this stupid idea, and
there are stupid people. I can assure you of that. There are and will be stupid
people. OK, I have explained this.

30.  However, if we had to make a sacrifice, we should be willing to make it
without hesitation. Our cooperation is not a sacrifice for us, but if it were,
we would have to be willing to do it because a people that has been able to
send hundreds of thousands of its children into combat should be able to
sacrifice a few comforts or even a few material goods for solidarity with other
countries, especially when it has to do with the solidarity of the Soviet
people. [applause]

31.  We must speak clearly, and we also must speak clearly to those souls who
slither along the ground [claps hands once] or play them a tune like the snake
charmers do to calm them, to get them under control. We must speak with the
truth; clearly, transparently, and categorically.

32.  Thus we inaugurate this renovated and expanded city. I think the children
will be fine here. I think our workers will treat them with the greatest love
with which one can treat children. I think they will be happy here. They have
everything: recreational areas, sports areas, pools, the ocean, all the medical
attention they require. Not all cases are the same. All must be checked to
discover if anything is wrong or to eliminate any possibility. The diagnostic
testing, the immediate application of measures, will give them a great degree
of security. They will have the pleasure of traveling to this hemisphere, to
the tropics. The ocean will be available to them and they will have all these
things that have been repaired and remodeled with so much affection. This will
not seem like a hospital and, nevertheless, it will be the best hospital. It
will not only be the best hospital; it will also be the best of all the
possible paradises available during these times.  They will receive sun
whenever they want it. They will enjoy our blue waters, our blue and pure
waters. They will breathe the oxygen of our pure skies. I am certain that those
children--thanks to the generosity of our Pioneers, thanks to the love of our
people--the immense majority of them, if not all, will resolve their problems
and will have an eternal memory of our fatherland.

33.  That is why a day like today should be satisfying for all of us. We are
thus fulfilling our beautiful slogan of ``Socialism or death,'' because only
socialism can do this, and we are fulfilling the slogan of ``Fatherland or
death'' [applause] and the slogan of ``We will win''. [applause]