Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

President Castro Inaugurates Building in Havana
Havana Cuba Vision Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000001751
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL3001193391
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-021          Report Date:    31 Jan 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       7
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       30 Jan 91
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 021


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   President Castro Inaugurates Building in Havana

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro during the inauguration of a
housing/medical building in Havana on 28 January--recorded]

Source Line:   FL3001193391 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0132 GMT 30
Jan 91

Subslug:   [Speech delivered by President Fidel Castro during the inauguration
of a housing/medical building in Havana on 28 January--recorded]

1.  [Speech delivered by President Fidel Castro during the inauguration of a
housing/medical building in Havana on 28 January--recorded]

2.  [Text] I had the same experience Victor had [not further identified]. I was
not told that I had to speak but I saw a microphone the minute I got here.
[laughter] Wherever I go, there is always a microphone around. Most of the
time, I generally make unscheduled and unannounced visits to places such as job
sites and camps. This gives them no time to install any microphones. It is
during these occasions that I engage in chats with workers, scientists,
students, and peasants.

3.  Well, I know that on these occasions one is supposed to make a statement. I
was amused when Victor explained that sometimes people do not know how to start
a speech. I was just thinking that many times people do not know how to end a
speech. [laughter]

4.  Victor was an exemplary speaker because he delivered a brief speech and
those who make short statements are usually the ones that are appreciated the
most. Do you know what I mean? [crowd shouts: no; laughs, and applauds] This is
why I am going to speak very briefly here today. [Castro chuckles] [applause]

5.  Victor recalled that they have completed this project in honor of [Jose]
Marti's anniversary. It is a simple homage but a very significant one because
of this project's significance. Firstly, it is one more contribution the
revolution makes to the people's health. I was talking with the doctor and,
although she works at the polyclinic, she knows all the area residents. I asked
her: Who lives across the street? She said: Magaly lives there. I believe she
said Magaly. She said: Magaly lives there. She has a small child who had some
problems but the child is fine now. She explained to me that the baby was born
premature and underweight. [someone in the crowd shouts: We cannot hear you.]
She says she cannot hear over there. Come closer. [laughter] Come over here,
get closer. [Castro chuckles] They stay up there on the roof and expect to
hear. [laughter]

6.  Well, they said the child was born weighing two pounds but he was saved.
They said the child is doing fine. I asked how old he was and I was told that
he is already four months old. I asked how much he weighs now and I was told he
weighs six or seven [pounds]. I said: Did you inflate him? Does he he not weigh
six or seven pounds now? [someone in the crowd says: nine pounds] The child,
who is four months old, already weighs nine pounds. He was treated at the
Gonzalez (Coto). This is a first-rate specialized institution which is getting
more and more experience. There is no doubt that that child has survived a
difficult test and this has brought happiness to his parents and everyone else.
Undoubtedly, his life at this time--that life that makes doctors, family
doctors, and area residents proud--is the result of this project the revolution
has built in the health field.

7.  The mere fact that it has been reduced to.... [changes thought] Infant
mortality rate has been reduced to 10.7 [not further specified] nationally this
year. This places Cuba among the top countries in the world. Some day we will
rank 10th and in the future we will rate even better than that. We will see.
This is a place in which women have a lot of babies. There are some countries
[chuckles] that rate a little lower than we do. They are very rich countries in
which there are few births.

8.  Perhaps they lack some of the problems Cuba has such as women bearing
children at a very young age, very young mothers. As you know, infant mortality
rate is affected by these risk factors. The percentage of mothers who give
birth at an age at which their bodies have not yet reached their full physical
development is still very high.

9.  All these factors have an effect on the infant mortality rate. The climate
is another factor that also has an effect on the infant mortality rate. Cuba
has a warmer climate.  It has a humid climate. Such a climate is unfavorable to
our health. Cuba is an island and respiratory diseases, in particular asthma,
are characteristic of all islands.

10.  All these factors have an effect on the infant mortality rate. There is no
tropical country in the world that has been able to reduce the infant mortality
rate to the levels that Cuba has achieved. I believe that the tropical climate
and the conditions Cuba has are more adverse than those places with a dryer or
cooler climate. There are always more insects, more vectors, and all types of
problems in the tropics. It is very encouraging to think that our country has
been able to reduce.... [changes thought] This has been a true feat in the
field of health.

11.  This is not measured by the fact that 99 out of 100 children have survived
the first year. Even mathematically speaking, this is a very difficult thing to
achieve considering that Cuba is a tropical and Third World country.
Undoubtedly, what I have just mentioned constitutes a true feat.

12.  I am sure we will continue to reduce the infant mortality rate because we
have many other things working for us.  We have pediatric cardiovascular
surgery services. This saves numerous children who used to die because of birth
defects. Today the majority of these children survive thanks to the
cardiovascular surgery services available. We also have the early detection of
serious birth defects. This allows the mother to terminate her pregnancy if she
so wishes. We also are able to provide perinatal intensive care services, that
is, during the first days of life, which is when most of the children's deaths
occur. We have been able to develop perinatal intensive care services in the
last few years.

13.  We have the family doctor services. A good evidence of the fact that we
can reduce infant mortality rate to less than 10 [not further specified] is
that several provinces have infant mortality rates that are lower than 10. Some
provinces are around seven. We have some provinces with an infant mortality
rate that is lower than the ones in the United States, the richest country in
the world.  This shows that lower infant mortality rates can be achieved even
in the tropics and under the climate conditions we have.

14.  I did not mention that there are also genetic factors.  Some populations
are genetically more resistant, stronger. We have not mentioned those factors.
It would also be another element to take into consideration when all those
infant mortality figures are analyzed.

15.  It also says a lot.... [changes thought] Little Pioneer, you need to be
more disciplined. [someone in the crowd whistles] What is that? [Castro
whistles and laughs] [crowd laughs] He did not hear me before but heard me
immediately when I whistled.

16.  I was saying that another proof is the fact that wherever there are family
doctors the average mortality rate is under 10. This happens wherever there are
family doctors because family doctors really helped a lot in the prevention of
accidents and certain diseases. This is why when we talk about the fact that a
family doctor office is being inaugurated today, 28 January, I would say that,
although simple and modest, it is a sincere and great homage to Marti.

17.  There are also many more things to consider. This project was not built by
construction professionals but by law students. I believe this truly
symbolizes....  [applause, chanting] Marti, who conceived education as being
closely related to work, would also be happy to see a reality such as this one
in which advanced law students were capable of getting organized in contingents
and launching a project such as this one. They took it to the end with the
cooperation of the rest of their classmates.  I believe this has a great
symbolism and speaks of the quality of our youths and students. You could not
even dream during capitalist times nor in any capitalist country of having law
schools doing a project such as this one. You could not even dream of having
them go to the Sierra Maestra and the Turquino Peak as the comrade was saying
here they are. These are new things. You could not even dream of them becoming
militiamen nor that they form part of the Territorial Troops Militia.  [someone
in the crowd makes indistinct remarks] There are so many differences between
our students of the past and our law students of the past. [sentence as heard]
They are so different from what happens in those capitalist societies full of
individualism, selfishness, and lack of any type of solidarity.

18.  Here these students were able to complete this project in volunteer
hours--in some cases hundreds and even over a thousand of volunteer hours. They
did this not for themselves but for the residents of this area, of this
municipality's district here in the capital. They have not only built the
family doctor office but also seven apartments. They made good use of the land.
They tell me that there was a sort of quarry here. I do not know with what they
had filled it. I do not know what kind of problems they found when this
project's foundations were about to be laid. They built seven apartments. One
is for the family doctor, another one for the nurse, and five for university
workers. So, five families of university workers will have the opportunity of
getting a safe, comfortable, clean, well-located apartment thanks to the
efforts made by law students.

19.  It should be mentioned also that other ideas are contained here. The
architectural design was modified. As you can see this building is not the same
as the others.

20.  If we look at buildings that were built in the times of capitalism for
families who were able to afford housing, we can see that their architectural
design are varied.  Some of them have an attractive design. There is a variety
of designs in buildings. Since the minibrigade movement was revived, projects
began to be dusted off and new aesthetically appealing apartment buildings were

21.  I believe that this was achieved the most at the Pan-American villa.  The
beauty of the Pan-American villa is truly impressive. It was built with the
same elements with which we used to build in the country. A great diversity of
buildings have been built. That area is truly beautiful. It is also going to
become housing for workers.  We are going to have some 1,500 housing units. I
would say that 1,500 family units will live in the most elegant neighborhood of
Havana. We need to continue promoting that idea. I can tell you that the towns
we are going to build at the miscellaneous crops enterprises are going to have
the same architectural design as the Pan-American villa. This is why I believe
the Pan-American villa will revolutionize urban construction in our capital and
our cities outside the capital.

22.  The scale models are already being prepared for the over 130 towns that
are going to be built in the southern area of Havana Province. The day will
come when a permanently settled population of workers will make mobilizations
unnecessary. People are being mobilized. There is a certain over-staffing in
many areas. It is admirable to see the spirit which with those workers from the
capital, whether organized in contingents or mobilized for 15 days, are
working. Our people, our workers are generally working with the same spirit you
have shown here building this project.

23.  In reality, the revolution made a great effort in the last few years to
increase its production of cement, stone, sand, bricks, blocks, pre-fabricated
panels, reinforcement rods, everything. An enormous effort was made before the
special period situation came about. This has logically forced us to reduce the
pace of constructions.  This is why new housing projects have not been
initiated in the capital. Work is being done in those that were being built.
For the moment, we have had to make a considerable reduction of construction
projects because of the limitations in energy, limitations in fuel for cement
production. Projects of social interest have not been initiated. For the
moment, new housing projects are not being initiated. There are over 20,000
housing units under construction in the capital, however. There are between
20,000 to 30,000 under construction. We are going to continue working hard and
as much as possible to finish all those housing projects. We will have to wait
a little more to be able to begin building new housing projects.

24.  All resources have been guaranteed for priority projects.  There are some
housing projects among the priority projects, such as those towns we were
talking about in the southern part of Havana or the houses that are in the area
around a dam. One dam alone, the Cauto dam which is going to be completed in
Granma Province this year, requires the construction of 1,000 housing units. 
There are 1,000 people living in the area surrounding the dam. The dam will be
completed in April. It will be closed at the end of April. Housing for those
1,000 residents needs to be available.

25.  These is a number of essential needs linked to these development programs,
to essential needs that involve building a minimum of some 20,000 new housing
units.  I am not referring to the ones that are being built and are completed
but new housing units in places where there is no other solution such as the
case of the dam. Work is being done in 30 dams in the country. Tens of
irrigation canals are being built. We have tried to distribute resources in the
most convenient possible way, in the wisest possible way.

26.  It is also true that with a ton of cement we are doing twice as much as
what we used to do five years ago. Over 700 kg of cement per cubic meter of
concrete were used five years ago. Some 400 kg are being used now and there are
some institutions that are spending less than 400 cubic meters of cement ...
[corrects himself] not cubic meters but kilograms of cement per cubic meter of
concrete. This is a result of experience, savings, and of a greater efficiency.

27.  Our construction levels for priority projects continue to be relatively
high. One cannot be discouraged by the current situation because we will
overcome this stage.  We built new industries that enabled us to construct up
to 100,000 housing units per year. The time will come when we will be able to
do this because of the efforts we are making now. It is true that those efforts
are serious ones. We have had to impose restrictions. We have had to cancel
practically all domestic electric appliances imports such as refrigerators and
air conditioners, with the exception of a certain number which was already
committed for cane harvest workers or workers who had already been handed out
bonuses. Those have been generally honored with the exception of air
conditioners which use large amounts of electricity.

28.  Suffice it to say.... [changes thought] Let me give you an example: 5,000
air conditioners running simultaneously require the same power needed for 1,000
cow farms. The program we are working on calls for 1,000 cow farms.  We are
working on a program which includes over 200 cow farms per year. So that you
can see how much power these types of equipment use, I am telling you that the
power the air conditioners use can be used in the 1,000 cow farms program we
are working on. We are working on a program of over 200 cow farms per year.
Some 5,000 air conditioner units need the same amount of electricity required
to run the approximately 1,000 cow farms program we will be working on during
these years.  We are going to build them in four or five years.

29.  We have had to impose heavy restrictions on many of these imports because
it was not safe. If you are going to buy more domestic electric appliances you
are going to make the electricity problem worse. We have looked for a balance
between the population's consumption and the industrial area's consumption.
Progress has been made in the population's consumption but not as much as we
should have. This is a problem that needs to be analyzed.  A considerable
saving has been achieved. Much more savings has been achieved in industries.
Much more electricity savings has been achieved in the industrial sector than
the one achieved in the population sector.  You know how things are. Some
cooperate and others are irresponsible, there are those who do not care about
what they spend. The revolution has attempted to avoid having to increase
prices because the increase of the price of electricity affects those with
lower income.

30.  Blackouts have been avoided. We have tried to avoid blackouts because they
are a sort of forced spending.  Some kind of measure will have to be taken
especially with those who are incorrigible, those who do not comply with their
quota and repeatedly violate the restrictions.  There will be no other
alternative than to take some measures soon regarding this. We should be ready
to face even worse situations. The current world situation is very unstable.
The international situation is terrible. The situation in the countries with
which we have our main trade is also complex and serious. They have not solved
all their problems yet. So, there are uncertainties. I can assure you that the
strict policy followed by the revolution is to spread out the sacrifices that
can be spread out so that not a single citizen is left without employment.

31.  It would be incredible if a capitalist country could do this. It is true
that we have had to regulate more goods.  This was done with the approval of
working mothers and a large portion of the population that saw that many goods
went to the parallel markets to buy .... [changes thought] People made their
living by standing in line at the parallel markets. Many times they made it
difficult for the rest of the people to buy goods. We have tried to distribute
things so that there are no people without employment, without resources for
their survival. This situation could never be solved in this way in a
capitalist country.

32.  A certain amount of money will be accumulated. This is unavoidable. It is
going to be accumulated. This is logical in a special period situation. It
would not make sense if we started laying off people today, if we deprived
hundreds of thousands of people of their source of income to find a financial
balance. This is why our revolution is facing the difficulties in this way. The
concern over the people, the concern over the population, and the greatest
considerations given to the population prevail.

33.  A big effort is being made in the food program. A big effort is being made
to maintain the levels of food and medicine of the population. We know that
there are some shortages at this time. Sometimes, anxiety makes people buy more
medicines than they need. Investments have been made on medicines. Normal
levels of imports have been made.  Efforts are being made to alleviate the
shortages of some of these goods. Some measures of greater control are being
taken in the distribution of medicine. As you know, medicines are very
inexpensive in Cuba. There is no country in the world in which medicines are
more inexpensive than in Cuba. I can assure you this. If they are freely
available, some may want to hoard them because of their anxiety and artificial
shortages may occur. We are studying these problems.

34.  I was saying that we have been working with the same criteria of spreading
out the difficulties among everyone.  We are truly impressed by the patriotic
and revolutionary way in which the people have understood these situations. It
would be very difficult to face the special period problems without a high
level of awareness by the people.

35.  I would say that this has also brought some positive things.  We are
entering the bicycle era. The bicycle era began with students. Some tens of
thousands of bicycles have already been distributed. Some 700,000 bicycles will
be distributed within the next six or seven months. A large number of them will
be distributed in the capital simply because this is where there is a greater
average distance between work [and home]. This is a very big city.

36.  This is where fuel shortages can create the most serious problems for
people to move around. We bought 700,000 bicycles from China; 200,000 were
bought last year, which are the ones that are arriving, and 500,000 were bought
at the end of the year, which will arrive during the first half of the year.

37.  We have installed virtual bicycle factories in technical schools. Anyone
may think that it is easy to assemble a bicycle. I can assure you that it is
easier to put together a Swiss watch than a bicycle. [Castro chuckles] It is a
complicated thing. You would not think so when you see it. I believe it
requires 347 different parts. You have to put each spoke, one by one, in each
one of the bicycle's wheels. It has to be placed with the same amount of
pressure because if not the wheel will not be properly balanced. Those kids
have to put the little nuts and bolts, tighten them and loosen them up until
the exact level of pressure is achieved. It is a difficult, difficult task.

38.  We have 10 technical schools in which bicycles are being assembled. We
used to have eight. I believe they are going to start assembling bicycles in
two more. I recommended that 15 technical schools assemble bicycles. It was
expected that each technical school assemble 300 bicycles per day. The kids are
working in four shifts.  [corrects himself] Three shifts. They have four
brigades.  They work Saturdays and Sundays, night and day. They are working
with great enthusiasm and interest. Their snack was improved so that they do
not run out of physical or mental energy [chuckles] in their eight-hour work
day. They are fulfilling the discipline of true proletarians.

39.  Seeing the difficulties and the fact that students take turns ...
[corrects himself] they rotate. They stay there for about 40 days and another
group takes over. The new ones have to learn all the tricks involved in
assembling bicycles. This is why they are not going to be productive enough to
maintain the level of production. They have reached close to 70,000 or over
70,000 bicycles. I told them not to worry because we have to watch quality. 
Quality is maintained at a very high level because there are some Chinese
technicians from the factories that sold the bicycles who are very demanding.
You cannot even imagine how strict they are. They sent back all the first
bicycles that were assembled. They had to take them apart and assemble them

40.  A lot of quality control checks are made throughout the entire process.
The manufacturers' specifications are being followed. They are interested in
having the bicycles are assembled well because they are good-quality bicycles.
[sentence as heard] A situation came up during a visit I made to one of the
technical schools. I noticed that the Soviet bicycles have a dynamo and a small
bulb in front. I saw that the Chinese bicycles did not have neither the dynamo
nor the little bulb in front. I asked: What is this? I asked what consequences
will this bring.  I already knew that they were buying a pump. They had to
change the measurements of the air pump to adjust them to the ones gas stations
have. I do not know what these stations are going to do when there are 500,000
bicycles in the capital. This is a problem that needs to be solved by providing
an individual pump with each bicycle. The little tool boxes, the little pumps,
and the bicycles' locks were being purchased. The front light issue had not
been solved. At least nobody explained to me that it had been solved.

41.  The same night I visited the technical school I started to investigate the
matter. There were doubts about whether we should buy the dynamo or not.
Various views were considered. We continued to investigate. We had all the
information by the next day.

42.  The conclusion had been reached--perhaps a reasonable one, perhaps a
reasonable one of placing a front and rear reflector on bicycles. This is a
safety device. It was also decided to place other reflectors on the wheels.
They make the bicycle visible from a great distance.

43.  The comrades did take the decision of not buying the dynamos. One of the
arguments used was that they cause a lot of wear to the front wheel and also,
and also [repeats] it causes more resistance to the bicycle's movement because
of the resistance made by the dynamo to the wheel. In any case, instructions
were made to buy 700,000 dynamos with the little bulb. We will see later how it
goes. At least, we will have the option if someone wants to have the dynamo in
his bicycle in addition to the front and side lights. We are not going to spear
$3 or $4, which is what that dynamo may cost. We can spare $4 when it is a
matter of ensuring safety.

44.  All those measures have been taken. The first bicycles are coming out
without that front reflector. People will, therefore, have to be careful. Those
front reflectors have not arrived yet. I am talking about being careful when
people ride their bicycles at night. Logically, there will be many--especially
in the city--who will have to travel at night. Those reflectors are under way.
The side reflectors will increase the safety of those bicycle riders.

45.  Traffic laws and measures and the possibility of reserving some streets
for bicycles are being studied.  Logically, the situation will be more
complicated when there are hundreds of thousands of bicycles because traffic is
still heavy in the city. How many bicycles will we get? Not only will we buy
bicycles but we are going to manufacture them. We are thinking about getting at
least half a million per year and manufacturing no less than half a million per
year. We plan to manufacture 100,000 this year. We plan to manufacture 500,000
next year and import one million. The day will come when everyone who wants to
have a bicycle will be able to get it.

46.  This is happening under exceptional circumstances.  There are countries,
we know this, where almost everyone rides bicycles because of environmental and
health reasons in spite of the fact that they have many buses and resources. We
have entered into the stage of the bicycle but when the special period ends we
should not abandon the era of the bicycle because of what it means in terms of
health. I have talked to many people who had to worry about exercising every
day and now they do not have to exercise. In a sense, this is a revolution. I
know some research center technicians and engineers who ride their bicycles 14
or 15 km. There is a comrade who works at a research center who goes from San
Francisco de Paula to the CENIC [National Center for Scientific Research] which
is in western Havana, in the western part of the city. He rides 21 km every day
each way. Do you know what he says? That it takes him less time than riding the
bus. [laughter] It takes him less time than riding the bus.

47.  These are the measures that are being taken. If the situation became more
complicated and we could not make the number of bus trips we are making now, we
can at least have hundreds of thousands of bicycles. These are the measures
being taken. I have seen that the young people are pleased. They not only ride
bicycles to go to work, to the university, to visit the girlfriend or
boyfriend, but they also use them to take a leisure ride. I have no doubts that
when the summer comes, bicycles will be swarming toward our capital's beaches.

48.  In inaugurating this project it was essential for me to express how much
it hurts us to have to restrict construction projects when we had already
created all the material facilities for construction and when we had created
the forces for construction such as the minibrigades. We had created university
student forces for many construction projects related to students. We are
maintaining some projects such as the CUJAE [Jose Antonio Echeverria University
City], the ISCA [Higher Institute for Agricultural-Livestock Sciences], and
other projects, of course. We could not begin building some projects we had
planned to begin to improve students' living conditions.

49.  Students have been assigned 170 apartments in the eastern part of the city
to lighten up the load of buildings on 12th and Malecon Streets and some other
places.  Even under these circumstances we have managed to find housing units.
A number of technicians from socialist countries who were leaving left one or
two buildings with about 100 apartments in Reparto Bahia.  We said they will be
assigned to university scholarship holders to lighten up load of some
buildings. This also happened in Alamar. Even in the middle of great
difficulties we have continued to struggle to find solutions to problems. Of
course, it hurts us to have to halt many of the programs that we had already
organized in order to continue boosting other programs of great economic
importance for the country. We will continue to work in this way in the next
few months. We still have some projects left such as the Pan-American Games
project.  They will be completed in a matter of two or three months. All the
material investments have been made.  They constitute an important commitment
made by the country. In addition, there are almost 1,500 housing units for
working families. We are going to finish them, the people of Havana are
completing them.

50.  Those restrictions hurt us but we are confident and know that when this
special period is over, even when it gets even more difficult, our people, who
rise to the occasion during difficult times, our people, who learn a lot from
difficulties, will come forward and will be more efficient.  In the future, we
will be able to make more things than the ones we would have made if we had not
had a special period.

51.  I know that you have ceremonies and marches tonight. I have not wanted to
look at the time. I did say, however, that the best speeches are the shortest
ones. It is not that I did not know how to finish but during this informal
meeting with you a lot of ideas always come up and one feels like talking about

52.  I thank you for the invitation you made to me some weeks ago when I went
to the university, to the School of Pharmacy Sciences, to visit you here. I was
thinking about visiting you but I did not. When I learned that this was going
to be inaugurated today, I had the firm resolve to be here in this project. I
congratulate you for what you have done. I believe you are setting an example.
I hope that you continue doing things such as this because we always have
things to do even during this special period.  We will continue to maintain as
much as possible some programs and, of course, the family doctor program will
continue to develop because there are doctors there at the universities. The
ones we have been training, the ones that are in their sixth, fifth, fourth
year will start graduating. Although our doctors will be willing to work under
any conditions, if not in the same numbers that we have been doing up to now,
we will continue to build a certain number of house/consultation offices for
family doctors. This is why I am certain that you, law students, will have new
areas in which to show that patriotic and revolutionary spirit.

53.  I congratulate you all. I am glad that this effort has not taken away a
single hour from your studies. Even Victor, who worked 1,200 hours and lives in
Calabazar, which is pretty far away from the law school, was able to fulfill
those many hours of work and maintain five point average in all subjects.
[applause] This shows that one can be very revolutionary, very active and be a
good student and the same time. I hope that in the future, you will be as good
attorneys as you are good construction workers and revolutionaries. [applause]

54.  Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win!  [crowd joins in: We
will win!] [applause]