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Fidel Castro's Jose Marti Contingent Speech
Havana Cuba Vision Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000000845
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL1501221091
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-011          Report Date:    11 Jan 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       6
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       12 Jan 91
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 011


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Fidel Castro's Jose Marti Contingent Speech

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro Ruz during the ceremony marking the second
anniversary of the Jose Marti Construction Contingent held at the
Geraldo Abreu Fontan Social Center in Havana on 11 January--

Source Line:   FL1501221091 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0207 GMT 12
Jan 91

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro Ruz during the ceremony marking
the second anniversary of the Jose Marti Construction Contingent
held at the Geraldo Abreu Fontan Social Center in Havana on 11
January-- recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro Ruz during the ceremony marking the
second anniversary of the Jose Marti Construction Contingent held at the
Geraldo Abreu Fontan Social Center in Havana on 11 January-- recorded]

2.  [Text] Comrades: This event started a few minutes earlier. Apparently, the
fact that there was going to be a luncheon had something to do with it.
[laughter] When I got here I asked the reporters: Who were the fools who missed
lunch? [laughter] I said this after I saw the table you had set.

3.  Since the minibrigade movement began, especially while ExpoCuba was being
built--I visited that center many times--I had contact with you, if not with
all of you, with most of you. I saw you working at ExpoCuba with an
extraordinary determination. I saw you many times during the day, at night, and
before dawn. At times we toured the project with some visitors. That project is
now a reality. That project was inaugurated two years ago and has been a
success. A large number of fellow countrymen have visited it. I believe over a
million people visited it last year. Was this not so? This project was handed
over by you, a very dedicated group of workers who have increased the
reputation of the institution.

4.  It can be said today that the city is proud of ExpoCuba and that ExpoCuba
is appreciated very much by all the people, especially young ones. ExpoCuba is
improving every day. It is the center of international events. International
events are held there. It even makes a certain amount of foreign currency for
the country every year.  That is the result of your work and I believe you
should be pleased with all the efforts, those of you who participated in that
project, made there. I know that not all of you come from ExpoCuba.

5.  During those days there was talk about the need to fulfill an
internationalist mission. Many of you expressed the willingness and desire to
go. I remember that there was a group of women who always said: Do not leave us
behind. This is how the idea of creating the internationalist contingent,
especially with minibrigade members from that project, came about. They had
already established a great reputation in their work and gave us the confidence
that they were the right people to fulfill that task. It was the first time
that the minibrigade movement organized an internationalist contingent.

6.  This is how the comrades of the minibrigade movement, the comrades of the
party, and the comrades of the city's Assembly of the Peoples' Government paid
a great deal of attention to that mission. I remember it because I talked with
them many times. They paid a lot of attention to everything, they looked into
how it was organized, how they were being settled, how they received supplies,
in sum, the many details the organization of such a mission requires. We
frequently asked about the progress of the work and frequently got news about

7.  There was a little problem. At the beginning they only sent men and the
women protested. They had every right and reason to do so. I remembered the
many times they had asked not to be left behind. So, the logical and just
decision was made for women to also participate in the mission. This is how the
internationalist female contingent was organized.

8.  Well, we also got news about the weather because it was one of the most
difficult places to build in the world since it rained every day and every
night. I tried to imagine the condition of the equipment. Equipment such as
bulldozers, cylinders, levelers, trucks, and loaders was assigned to the
contingent. A great deal of equipment was sent there. I tried to imagine that
equipment working under those conditions, building streets and roads. It was
difficult to understand how one could build in a place where it rains
year-round. I believe there are only two months, May and June--I do not know--
when they say it rains a little. It rained the rest of the time. From the
beginning I understood that it was a hard and difficult task.

9.  With the contingent we not only wanted to convey our experience in housing
construction but the experience in the organization of the people in the
solution of important matters.  The latter was much more important. I know that
hundreds of Nicaraguans joined in the work quickly and they toiled with
enthusiasm alongside you in the building of that town which was destroyed as a
result of that huge natural disaster. We saw pictures of Bluefields and nothing
was left there. I asked myself, how will they be able to build? How will they
be able to meet that goal? Because there were other difficulties in addition to
the weather. There were the difficulties of the war. Many times it was
difficult to get some materials from the Nicaraguans such as wood.

10.  So the news about each house you finished was received here as good news.
It made us proud because we knew about the difficulties you faced in the
construction. It was truly very difficult for all of us not only for you [words
indistinct] finished the town we had intended to build there. It was very
difficult because we knew with how much love, affection, and sympathy you were
looked at by the Nicaraguans from Bluefields. I do not know if this was the
case from the first day, but I was sure that you would win the affection and
trust of the population. We later heard news about the great appreciation they
had for your work.

11.  Big political changes took place, however. The political changes were not
the ones that made us stop our activities. We would have never been capable of
not fulfilling our promises and commitments for political reasons.  There were
other types of reasons, security reasons. The civil war was still in progress
at that time. Peace had not been reached in the country. There were no safety
conditions for the Cuban personnel in that isolated area.  In spite of the
affection the population felt for the contingent nobody could guarantee that
our contingent was not going to be the target of provocations. This is why we
said that the contingent should return under those conditions, that the
equipment would remain there, and if the day came when there were favorable
conditions we would return.

12.  All the studies we did indicated that under those conditions it was
convenient for the contingent to return to the country. For us, the safety of
our workers was the most important matter. A change of government had taken
place. The opposition won the elections and the government....  [changes
thought] Circumstances were completely different.

13.  This was a large number of Cubans who could have been subjected to any
type of provocation by the enemies of Cuba. The same thing did not happen with
the doctors [passage indistinct] in Nicaragua. We made a commitment with the
people and not with the government. This is how it went. The equipment was left
and remains there in the event that the day comes in which the circumstances
are such that our cooperation is requested so that we can finish the mission in
that country. I repeat, this was very painful for you and for us.

14.  We immediately discussed what could be done when the contingent returned.
The first thing that was decided was that they should not be dismantled, but
remain intact.  We had already thought about a project for the contingent. We
were not in the special period at the time. It was a very important project,
very important for all the people and even for international tourism. We had
already assigned you the construction of the new aquarium--the expansion of the
aquarium--which is a truly marvelous project. The groundwork was being done at
the time and it was then decided that you should go to support the Pan-American
Games projects and that, later, you would work in the aquarium.

15.  As months went by, new international events began to take place and very
serious problems began to arise.  They led us to what we call the special
period or the first stage of the special period as a result of the significant
reductions of fuel and other raw material we counted on.  This forced us to
enter into the stage we are at presently.  New projects were not started in
many areas. We basically worked on the projects that were already under way.

16.  One of them, which entails an important international commitment for our
country, was the Pan-American Games facilities. It is not only a project of
great social benefit for the entire population--a project that was under
way--it was a project in which the honor of the country was at stake and had to
be continued. This was a project in which the basic investments and spending
had already been made. Tens of thousands of fellow countrymen of the capital
had made their contribution to this project by going to work at least once like
those Havana union mobilizations I recently saw the same day I visited you.
That day there were some 2,000 workers in the Pan-American villa. I know that
they rotate on Sundays working in that project. That project is being built by
our youths, our students, and our workers. We are taking it forward. Some are
at a very advanced stage and others are a little behind.

17.  All the work on the installations of the Pan-American Games will be
completely finished by the day the Pan-American Games are scheduled to start.
The beauty and the love with which our city has built these works are truly
impressive. We had the privilege of being at this site on 28 December for a few
minutes during the great youth rally. We could admire the beauty and the
magnificence of these works covered by the semi-darkness of the night with the
velodrome, the pool, and the stadium in the background. [Words indistinct] and
we saw how marvelous these works are. How gratifying to know that after 30
years of revolution, our country will have a great velodrome which is almost
finished; that our country will have Olympic-size pools for the joy of our
youth, our people, our athletes; and that they will enjoy them for decades to
come either as participants or spectators.  How gratifying to see the stadium
that you are building.

18.  This is where I met you on 6 January. I do not know how many people were
at the stadium or in what precise site because there are several works there.
Suddenly, when I reached the velodrome--which I was inspecting because I was
interested in learning about the progress of this work, how the cranes are
working, where they are, how many spare parts are missing, what remained to be
done--I was surprised to see you there working at the track. I was surprised to
see you and you immediately gathered around.

19.  As an example there is the case of that 22 year old youth who had been
working for 27 consecutive hours in one of those marathons, in one of those
Olympic contests you often set up--because you are also members of the Olympic
work team. [laughter, applause] This boy is a true example. He was not in
Bluefields? He was admitted later. [laughter, indistinct words] This is all
very good. It is very good for you to admit such highly qualified people and
for them to continue being members. If someone was stationed there with the
equipment, if some were sent to Ghana to fulfill other missions, if some had
been transferred to other activities, and at that time were not needed at the
stadium, you still have to keep the contingent united; you have to improve it
not only with those who were in Nicaragua, but with many others who have joined
it later, or who may join the contingent.

20.  During that visit, you reminded me that you were about to commemorate your
second anniversary. Since I owed you something because I had been unable to
greet you since your arrival from Nicaragua, I was very happy to learn that you
were planning to stage a great ceremony on 11 March. I believe it was
originally scheduled to be held in another site, somewhere.... [Unidentified
speakers answer: Near (?Polar).] We talked about the ceremony, when it was
going to take place, what time it was scheduled to start, what it would consist
of, and what time it would end. Right then and there, we started to study the
situation and see how we could help you on the occasion of the second

21.  Later some people--[Havana People's Government President Pedro] Chavez,
[Havana Party First Secretary Jorge] Lezcano, and other comrades--started to
discuss the issue and they decided to change the site of the ceremony. It seems
that they thought this was a better site. They should have offered it to you
before; but well, I did not know anything about what you had organized. 
[laughter, applause]

22.  Well, all this took place at the (?Polar). It was then that it was
discussed which beer would be served at the ceremony. Well, I think that at
that time we even assessed consumption levels. [laughter] The number of people,
how much beer would be consumed, what kind of beer--and of course it had to be
the very best to commemorate the second anniversary--and which brand.
[laughter] Well, it could not be just Polar beer because we cannot force people
to drink Polar beer. We had to figure out how to arrange it tactfully so that
the Polar people would not be mad if a case of Hatuey or Cristal suddenly
appeared around here. [laughter] Or perhaps some cases of....[changes thought]
What is it called? [Indistinct responses] Well, there are two now.  [Indistinct
responses] The Tinima factory in Camaguey, but both of them are here?
[Unidentified person answers: Both of them are there.] Am I correct in saying
then that all our illustrious beer factories and their highest quality products
are represented here today? Excellent.  [applause]

23.  Later, I was informed that the site of the event had been changed, that it
would take place....[changes thought] What is it that you call this place?
[Unidentified persons respond: The Abreu Fontan Center] Yes, but what is it
that you call this place? The Abreu Fontan Social Center.  Well then, I said,
this means the event was upgraded. It indeed had been been upgraded. Well,
there are many people involved in this.

24.  Finally the day of the event has arrived. It is being held at the time
that I suggested so that you could stay longer but not until very late. I also
suggested that the snack be light because you told me that you were planning to
have a heavy snack. I said: No heavy snack. What they should be having at noon
is a light breakfast. [laughter] Tea.  Because you can easily wait for lunch.
Yes, I know that they have prepared for you a very good luncheon, a very
pleasant and nutritious luncheon like the Jose Marti Contingent deserves.
[applause] In addition to several hours of partying, there will be a snack, but
Chavez wanted to complicate things. [laughter] He said no, we will have little
boxes, and this and the other. I said no, nothing about this and the other.
There will be a snack so that they will have enough time and so that you will
not go home only with beer in their stomachs. So that you will have your snacks
tomorrow in the Pan-American Games projects.

25.  I sincerely tell you that I was very pleasantly impressed with the meeting
I held with you at the time. I was impressed with your serious attitude, your
commitment, your capacity. We are proud to have workers like you and with
organizations such as yours. There is no question about it.

26.  This is not understood by foreigners. Foreigners may go mad here
[laughter] because they do not understand a thing. [laughs] If they see youths
on 28 December at the rally, they are confused; if they see students at a FEU
[Federation of University Students] congress, they go off their rocker and ask:
What is this? If they see a contingent like the one I visited yesterday near
Nueva Paz, the Guanabacoa contingent.... [changes thought] There are almost 300
people there. I arrived at that time because you cannot go there at noon.
People cannot go there at noon, at mid-morning, or at mid-afternoon because
there is no one there. I toured some camps there. I arrived at 0550 but there
was only a small group in the camp at the time. The others had not yet returned
from work. They were working in harsh activites: digging up onions, etc. I
found some truly extraordinary, excellent people there.

27.  Well, we met there. We saw everything: the dormitories, the camps, we
asked how everything was. We saw the dinning room. I must say that these people
compete with you in how much they eat for lunch, breakfast, dinner and snacks.
The contingent members and those mobilized from Havana City have more things
than those in the Havana Libre [Hotel]. I can also tell you that they are
learning to eat vegetables; something which people around here have almost
forgotten [laughs] to do.

28.  Over there.... [changes thought] I even suggested some recipes. I tell
them: Remember that bananas are great to make chatinos [local dish]. Remember
that if you cut it lengthwise, it absorbs less grease. It is softer. It tastes
better. Well, I tell them, you have to learn this. And they are learning about
it. I always talk with cooks about the yield per hectare of bananas we obtain
with the surface or air microjet irrigation systems. I always talk with the
cooks but you do not have to do a lot of talking. What one must do is sit down
and taste what they are cooking.  What they cook is similar to what five-star
hotels make, well, may be a four-star hotel. [laughter] They have everything.

29.  Well, it is really marvelous to meet people. I always joke with people. I
tell them: Where do you come from? I tell some: You are from the East. You are
from the east, I can tell by your face. [laughter] Gentlemen: I can even tell
them the municipal district they are from. [laughter] I found a girl and told
her: It never fails. You are from the east. I ask her: From what part? She
says: Well, from Granma. I tell her: Well, Granma is about 800 km away.  You
are 50 km from Havana now. This means you are nearer than when you left.
[laughter] [words indistinct]

30.  There are many from the east who like to travel, but there are people of
all kinds. There are hard working people, men and women. There are mothers who
have one, two, three, and even four children who are looked after by some

31.  Well, if a foreigner visits this place he will be confused.  He is unable
to understand anything that is taking place in Cuba. Many people experience the
same thing. They are confused when they visit the research centers or some of
our hospitals [words indistinct] or when they visit some of our special
education schools or visit some of our child care centers. They really are
taken.... [changes thought] I talk to them because I generallly.... [changes
thought] I talk with some of them when they visit the country [words
indistinct] really so. I believe that even people who know you well are
impressed by this, we are encouraged by this and we are proud of Cuban workers.

32.  Yesterday evening, I was talking with a distinguished guest about his
country. I made some comparisons with what happened in some other places. Some
believed that the same would happen in Cuba. How wrong they were.  What a
difference. I used a phrase: We work for the people. We do not strive to buy
the people. Our people cannot be bought.

33.  Some people believed that they would make socialism by buying people.
[passage indistinct] The revolution is made through the participation of the
people and the revolution participates with the people in their great historic
battle in their struggle for their future, their great destiny.

34.  I said: We had never strived to buy people and whenever possible, we have
strived to raise the people's standard of living. We have always strived to
improve the material situation of our people. Even under the special period
conditions we are carrying out a large food program. We are making many things
for the people. We wanted the people to improve but we were not trying to buy
the people with imitation jewelry. We were not trying to buy the people with
consumer aspirations. I was saying the people can be won over but cannot be
bought. Our revolution won over the people. It did not attempt to build
socialism by buying the people.

35.  This is why we have the people that have made the Cuba of today, in spite
of the exceptions, in spite of the minorities, in spite of the lumpen or
antisocial individuals that may exist. I believe no contemporary political
process has the awareness our people. This can be seen during difficult times.
We could say that our people always rise to the occasion during difficult
times. We could say that our people are now proud of what they are doing, of
the mission they are fulfilling, of knowning that we are not a revolution
composed of kept people. The revolution is not built like a deck of cards but
of concrete, stone, and steel. [applause] Our people are aware of that and
begin to feel proud of that. That can be seen, it can be breathed and felt
everywhere in the response made to the tasks the special period demands.

36.  I cannot forget what you told me the Sunday I was there.  You wanted to
know in which task you could be more useful to the country and help more the
country once you finished there. It is true. We are now doing internationalist
work here to defend and strengthen the first socialist revolution of the
Western Hemisphere. [applause] [passage indistinct] I found a little bit of the
same spirit in the Olympic town, in the Pan-American village. It is a terrific
place. Once it is inaugurated or once the people begin to use it, it will be
the best neighborhood in Havana.

37.  Almost 1,500 workers will live under excellent conditions. Not only that,
I believe that the Pan-American villa will begin a revolution in the concept of
housing construction and urbanization. There will be two eras, before and after
the Pan-American villa because it has been proven there that excellent, varied,
and beautiful things can be done with the same materials. It is paving the path
of our future construction projects.

38.  Therefore, those towns that are going to be built at the miscellaneous
crops enterprises and others in our countryside will have the same design as
the Pan-American villa. [applause] A new design has been created. This will be
one of the great legacies of the Pan-American Games.  Towns for technicians and
scientists, towns for agricultural workers will have the same design. Many
scale models and projects are under way and are going to be built in the
provinces to guarantee a permanent work force. This will make future
mobilizations unnecessary.

39.  I was thinking precisely about that on Sunday, on the significance of that
Pan-American villa. I thought about your offer made to you to work in the best
place. This is what we have to think about. Where is your work more useful
among all the things we are doing? Where is your work going to use your
resources right away? Where is it going to give us more foreign currency right
away?  Which project is the best?

40.  There are some projects in which the materials are available and there is
a need to get the construction going. This could represent millions of dollars.
We could place you in some biotechnology project but work is already under way
there. We could place you in some tourist-related project, to complete or
remodel some hotel because from the time it is completed it will represent $6,
$8, or $10 million for the country every year. These are immediate things. We
have not forgotten about the old aquarium idea. We have not given up on it.  It
can be postponed now because there are other more urgent projects. There are
also other tourist-related projects.

41.  Remodeling work is being done at a place that used to be a hotel, the
Chateau I do not know. It will be turned into a very good, high-quality hotel.
We will have an impressive aquarium. It will be good for the population or for
tourists. Now we are going to have to devote our effort where there are
materials we have already purchased, that we have already imported, and has to
be used. Not a single minute can be wasted. Work may continue in some projects.

42.  A final decision has not been made but we will find a project and give it
to you. We will task you to finish such a project in a certain period of time
and with the quality you know how to work and with the necessary support.  We
do not want for this contingent to be dismantled ever. We do not want this
contingent to disperse. We will have to think about other problems a little
later. Not now. Circumstances do not allow us now, but we will have to figure
out how the contingents' housing matter will be solved. This is a problem we
will have to think about and find a solution because contingents have such a
work load that they cannot spare anyone. It is not like the way it happens in
other centers in which 10 workers can be pulled out and the rest do not even
notice it in 10 days because they have a surplus of about 50, just to give an
example. This does not happens with contingents.

43.  We want the Jose Marti Contingent to grow and grow in the way the Blas
Roca has shown it can. The Blas Roca Contingent started out with 150 workers
and it now has 4,000. It will have 5,000 or more because it has six
agricultural brigades. The Blas Roca Contingent has banana brigades. These
brigades will take care of over 200 caballerias of bananas. They will be able
to produce in those 200 caballerias more bananas than the capital is capable of
consuming. It is better that there is a surplus.  If nothing else, we can
export it. They can be given to other provinces if a small storm or some strong
wind goes by over there. The Blas Roca even has agricultural brigades.

44.  Therefore, we want this contingent--which has such a beautiful history,
which has fulfilled an internationalist mission--to continue developing, to
continue growing until it turns into an important and decisive force for the
tasks we may have to carry out here or in other places. It will basically be
here where we will have to fulfill our missions and duties because today to
preserve the revolution, strengthen it, and take it forward successfully is the
most important internationalist mission our people can fulfill. [applause]

45.  Comrades, I warmly congratulate you and I will let you go. [laughter] It
has been for us a great honor and a great pleasure to be with you on this
second anniversary. We are very encouraged when we say: Socialism or death! 
Fatherland or death! We will win. [crowd joins in and applauds]