Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Castro Speech to 1 May Contingent
Havana Radio Rebelde Network

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL2611141392
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-231          Report Date:    01 Dec 92
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     8
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       17
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       24 Nov 92
Report Volume:       Tuesday Vol VI No 231


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio Rebelde Network 

Report Name:   Latin America 

Headline:   Castro Speech to 1 May Contingent 

Author(s):   Cuban President Fidel Castro at a banner-awarding ceremony for the
1 May Contingent at the Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 23 November- recorded]

Source Line:   FL2611141392 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2230 GMT 24
Nov 92 

Subslug:   [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at a banner-awarding
ceremony for the 1 May Contingent at the Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 23
November- recorded] 

FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE: 1.  [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at a
banner-awarding ceremony for the 1 May Contingent at the Lazaro Pena Theater in
Havana on 23 November- recorded] 

2.  [Text] [Castro] Comrades: We have just presented the banner to the 1 May
Contingent in honor of the 15 sugar harvests it has participated in since its
creation. Some brigades are older, from before 1978. But here we are really
honoring the contingent that was created at that time. [Alfredo] Morales
[Cartaya] has spoken to us about the production records of this contingent, and
they are truly admirable. He told us that in these 15 years, they have cut
1.708 billion arrobas of sugarcane in Havana Province. I do not know if you
have thought about what 1.708 billion arrobas signifies. More than 2 million
tons of sugar can be produced from the sugarcane cut by this contingent in
these 15 years. 

3.  It is truly an impressive figure. The figures of the cane cutters who have
cut 100,000 [arrobas] or who cut 100,000 [arrobas], or the number of times they
cut 100,000 [arrobas] are impressive. I do not know if they are the same cane
cutters or if this s all the harvests added together, but I think the men of
the contingent have cut more than 100,000 arrobas of sugarcane 3,527 times. I
think that more than 200 men have cut or averaged....[pauses] No, more than
200. The 200, Cartaya, who were they? Morales? 

4.  [Morales] [Words indistinct] 

5.  [Castro] Two hundred twelve, right? Three thousand five hundred twenty
seven cut 100,000 [arrobas]. 

6.  [Morales] Three thousand five hundred twenty seven cut 100,000 [arrobas]. 

7.  [Castro] Right. 

8.  [Morales] Two hundred twelve cut 200,000 [arrobas]. 

9.  [Castro] That is 200,000 arrobas. There was another figure, 274. What did
this refer to? Let us see.... 

10.  [Morales, interrupting] These are those who have cut 1 million [arrobas]. 

11.  [Castro] Ah, 274 have cut 1 million [arrobas]. [applause] This means that
274 men have cut cane to obtain approximately 350,000 tons of sugar. Seriously,
when one thinks of the sweat and effort, the sacrifice which has been necessary
to cut this amount of sugarcane, it is an extraordinary list of records. We
could call the 1 May Contingent Olympic champions in cutting sugarcane, gold
medal winners. [applause] That is why, in presenting this banner to the
contingent and each of the brigade chiefs, e make them a symbol of what this
movement of volunteers has signified throughout the years. 

12.  I think there is another figure. The cane cutters of the millionaire
movement, or of the Cuban Workers Federation [CTC] movement, had cut 20 billion
arrobas in the past 20 years. This equals almost three harvests of mobilized
CTC members and volunteer workers in general, along with the farmers. That is,
the millionaire movement, including the Youth Labor Army [EJT], has cut 35
billion arrobas, which equals almost five harvests of more than 8 million tons
of sugar. Suffice it to say, for example, that the members of the 1 May
Contingent have cut in 15 years-because there are two figures here, that of the
millionaire movement over 20 years, and that of the 1 May Contingent, which was
created 15 years ago as a separate contingent-enough sugarcane to equal more
than three harvests in Havana Province. 

13.  I wanted to cite these examples to give you a much better idea of these
numbers which have been mentioned here by Comrade Morales. This belongs to the
history of the workers movement, to the beautiful history of the workers
movement during these years of the Revolution, to the extraordinary
participation of the workers. This history is not completely known. It has been
written anonymously sometimes, as [Pedro] Ross [Leal] said, but it expresses
what our Revolution is, its social content, its proletarian content. 

14.  Cutting sugarcane is one of the hardest tasks. Proof of this is that there
are countries where sugar production disappeared because the cane cutters
disappeared and there were not machines to replace them. In Puerto Rico, sugar
production has practically disappeared. There was a time when they produced and
exported 1 million tons.  Today, I do not know if they produce enough to supply
themselves. In Santo Domingo, [Dominican Republic] they have a very large work
force of immigrants, who are the ones who cut the cane. Cane cutting has not
really been mechanized in either of these places. 

15.  But even in Cuba, with the Revolution, it would have been difficult to
continue harvesting cane with 350,000 cane cutters, because an unlimited number
of new opportunities arose for our workers, and naturally the number of men who
stood in line in the cane fields began to disappear. Those who stood in line,
in the initial years of the Revolution, by the third or fourth harvest they had
disappeared. Not all of them, but there were no longer any lines. Each year
there were fewer cutters. They were primarily replaced by volunteer workers. 

16.  There were no professional cane cutters any longer. The harvest was
becoming mechanized. In recent years, some 50,000 or 60,000 manual cane cutters
worked, no more than that, of the 350,000 cane cutters who worked in 1970. It
would not have been possible; it would have been very costly, very complicated
for our economy to maintain the sugar harvest based on 350,000 cane cutters. 

17.  Even in the special period, the strategy we have employed has been to try
to obtain fuel for the combines in any way possible. The cost of the camps,
mobilizations, food, clothing, shoes, and other expenses for 350,000 manual
cane cutters would have been more costly for our economy. That is why we must
manage to obtain the 50,000 or 60,000, approximately 60,000 tons of diesel for
the combines to work in the harvest.  Coincidentally, [Juan Ramon] Herrera
[Machado] includes the cost of trucks that transport the cane, only the [word
indistinct]. In any case, the cane must be transported, but the combines are
what replace the cane cutters and loaders. The combines traditionally consumed
approximately 60,000 tons of fuel. Now, I think, they consume a little less.
But this strategy was followed. 

18.  Nevertheless, it was always necessary to employ a force of volunteer
workers, volunteer cane cutters, in addition to the professional workers and
farmers, because there are areas that cannot be mechanized. In the first place,
because not everywhere could be mechanized right away, but rather over the
course of years. In the second place, because there are areas that are hilly,
which cannot be mechanized. They are very hilly, or rocky, where we had to
maintain a force of volunteer cane cutters. In this regard, the CTC has played
a very important role. 

19.  This, which is part of history, has become a very special need this year,
because we are in the special period.  [member of audience shouts indistinct
comments] [applause] I cut some sugarcane in my time too [laughter] but of
course, I could never compete with Braulio [not further identified] or with the
people. Just one time, I got it in my head to cut 1,000 arrobas. We were
mobilized for a week, more or less, a number of days during that historic
harvest, and I got it in my head to cut 1,000 arrobas. The sugarcane was good.
It was the 4372 variety; unfortunately, we no longer have this kind of
sugarcane. It was over there in Camaguey in Vertientes. 

20.  I used to work four hours in the morning and four in the afternoon. It was
not like those of you who cut 100,000 arrobas, but we worked four hours without
stopping. It was a habit. I liked to do the same thing I used to do in the
mountains. When we had to make a march, I did not sit down along the way even
once, because if you sit down you have to get up again and again, and every few
minutes one wants to sit down. When you are cutting cane you cannot take the
liberty of stopping. I cut four consecutive hours, and then another four hours
in the afternoon, and with good cane, I averaged 400, 400 and a little,
[arrobas] more or less. I do not want to exaggerate, sometimes it was a little
more. Sometime it was a little more. [repeats] 

21.  As you know, during the first few days, even with gloves and everything,
you get blisters and all that, a cane cutter's bones and everything hurt, and
only after several days have passed is one really in training, as the athletes
would say, ready for he test, right? That was the last day.  I worked until
2300. The truth is that day I was part of the 1 May Contingent [laughter], and
I cut 1,000 arrobas.  [applause] I try to imagine all the people who cut 1,000
arrobas every day. I have an idea of the effort that means. 

22.  Well, we were talking....[pauses] Braulio, do you remember when those nice
words by the comrade were suggested? No? [indistinct comments from audience]
Yes, in fact, it was when I said we are in a special period that he asked for
the floor. I was saying that now we are in a special period, and it needs an
effort, I would say a special effort, an effort like the one you are making,
because the contingent has made a special effort every year. A more efficient,
more organized, more timely effort is needed in this harvest, since we do not
have a lot of sugarcane, or we could say, we have less sugarcane. 

23.  We performed a heroic feat in the last harvest, in the special period, of
producing 7 million tons of sugar. It was truly a heroic feat, and I know that
many people in the world admired the fact that even in a special period, our
country could produce 7 million tons of sugar, and that we produced it with 30
percent of the resources with which we had historically done the sugar harvest.
Even though we were already being affected by a series of problems, and limited
resources, there was enough sugarcane to produce 7 million [tons]. If we had
been able to produce a little more, if the harvest had been done perfectly, if
the harvest had not been greatly delayed, if the harvest had not extended into
June....[pauses] Because when the harvest 

extends into June, it is equivalent to cutting hundreds of millions of arrobas
with a yield of 6 percent or less in June. 

24.  We could have had yields of 11, 11.5, and in some cases 12 or more,
percent of sugar in March. Sugarcane that is cut in June produces half of the
sugar. In the past harvest, a lot of sugarcane was cut in June. Sugarcane that
is cut in the second half f May-and this year a lot of sugarcane was cut in the
second half of May, when the rains had already begun-is sugarcane that produces
a lot less sugar. I calculate that a perfect harvest with the same amount of
cane would have been able to produce approximately 7.3 million tons of sugar.
Those 300,000 tons of sugar would have been very good for us, because the
supplies needed by the harvest, as small as they might be in this period, are
essential, and they cost tens of millions of dollars. 

25.  Three hundred thousand tons of sugar could have been worth about $60
million, and you can imagine what can be bought for $60 million, in supplies
for the harvest and steel for the sugar mills, a little herbicide, a little
fertilizer.  We produced 7 million [tons] under these conditions, but this
year, as I have said, we have less cane.  Naturally, we have allocated fewer
supplies for agriculture this year. That is, for some time the cold season cane
has not been fertilized. That is the most productive cane.  The cold season
cane from the previous planting, the 1991 cold season, did not receive any
fertilizer in 1992.  The spring cane planting has not been fertilized at all in
1992. Of the cane shoots, approximately half of them have been fertilized. The
other half has not been fertilized at all. 

26.  Why are the cane shoots given priority? Because the greatest increase in
production when fertilizer is used is seen in the cane shoots. The cold season
cane-because of its age, because it is a new planting, because of its density,
because of the biochemical phenomena which take place in the soil-the cold
season cane produces more than even the spring cane. But if fertilizer is
added, production increases by several thousand arrobas. But it does not
increase by as many arrobas as the production per caballeria increases for the
cane shoots. The cane shoots are already weaker and the land is more depleted
as successive harvests are done, and it needs fertilizer more. The cane shoots
need fertilizer more than newly planted cane. That is why the cane shoots have
been prioritized, to give them what little fertilizer we have, but it was not a
complete fertilization. It was mainly ammonia. The thing is that we need the
potassium and phosphorous we have mainly for the direct production of food. 

27.  Potatoes, plantains, and other crops must be fertilized.  Nitrogen is
being used almost exclusively on rice crops.  We do not have enough potassium
and phosphorous for all the rice. Of course, the sugarcane has received only a
little complete fertilizer. Next year, we plan to give a little nitrogen to all
the cane shoots. We are studying how to do this. We already have the so-called
ammonia bases.  They work with ammonia, and it is injected directly in the soil
by using some equipment. This year we could distribute ammonia on approximately
20,000 caballerias. Next year, we plan to apply ammonia directly into the soil
on more than 30,000 caballerias. The plan was a little more extensive, but it
will depend on the supplies we are waiting for, the materials and tanks for the
ammonia bases. All this has to arrive on time. In any case, I think we can
increase the nitrogenated fertilizers with ammonia to at least 30,000

28.  We are also planning to have ammonia to produce ammonium nitrate in our
factories in Nuevitas and Cienfuegos, because this is cheaper. If you buy a ton
of urea, you have to pay about $160 per ton. There is the price, plus the
shipping. If you buy ammonia, it is about $105 or $110 per ton. Now, for one
caballeria of cane you need at least two [tons] of urea. That makes more than
$300 per caballeria. With ammonia, one ton of ammonia is enough for one
caballeria. So it is $110 as against $320. That is why it is so much cheaper to
use ammonia. We had already started that process, but it depends on the bases
of ammonia you have. Each base makes it possible to fertilize about 1,500
caballerias with ammonia. 

29.  But our plants can produce ammonium nitrate, and this is also cheaper. It
is not as cheap as applying the ammonia directly, but with one ton of ammonia
you can produce a little more than two tons of ammonium nitrate. With one ton
of ammonia, processed in our factories-with some expense that must be made in
our factories-we can fertilize one caballeria of cane with two tons, not in the
best way, but a pretty good way, with nitrogen. These are plans we intend to
put into practice in 1993 so that all the cane shoots, at least, will receive a
certain amount of ammonia. 

30.  Right now we cannot plan to give them the right amounts of phosphorus and
potassium. We must work based on the phosphorus and potassium that is in the
soil, and also use the wastes, all the ashes, from the sugar mills. These ashes
contain potassium. We have to take them to the fields. We must use all the
organic fertilizer possible. But of course, with ashes and organic fertilizer
we can fertilize a few thousand caballerias, but not 100,000 caballerias. It
would be nice if we could solve the whole problem with ashes, but there are not
enough ashes to fertilize 100,000 arrobas [as heard] of cane with potassium.
There is not enough organic fertilizer to fertilize 100,00 arrobas [as heard]
of cane, the cane shoots, or almost 100,000 arrobas....[pauses] caballerias of

31.  There are not enough ashes. There are enough for a few thousand, but not
even 10,000 [caballerias]. That is why the only alternative....[pauses] The
main element, the most important one, which is nitrogen, must be applied to the
new shoots in some other way. We cannot yet think about fertilizing, we do not
have the resources for fertilizing, the cold season and spring season cane;
that is, the planting. Of course, the situation will be better in 1993. There
were also reductions in cane planting in 1991, especially in the cold season.
This year there has been an increase in the cold season planting. How much will
we have by the end of the year, Herrera? [response indistinct] We had 8,000 and
what? Almost 9,000 [caballerias]. You plan to plant a little with irrigation
now. You had areas with irrigation reserved. [response indistinct] Well, last
year how much cold season planting did you do? You did 6,800. With cold season
and spring season planting, how much will we have this year? We will have
20,000. Will we reach that? If we do not plant (?11,000) at least 19,000. How
much is spring season planting? It is 8,900. How much new cane was planted last
year in total? [Herrera: 16,200.] That is at least 3,000 caballerias more of
new cane in spite of aving less resources. 

32.  In 1992, we have had much more problems with fuel than in 1991. So all
this is affecting the cane, the planting that we were able to do before.
Another element is the fertilizers, the planting, the fuel for preparing the
soil. To save fuel we are using the multiple plows. We have made a large number
of multiple plows to save fuel in preparing the soil. The multiple plow is a
new piece of equipment thought up by Cuban engineers. [Words indistinct] is not
here? Comrade (?Bosch). They forgot to invite him, in spite of everything they
have to thank Engineer (?Bosch) for. [applause] He invented the multiple plow,
and it can save 30 or 40 percent of the fuel in preparing the soil. This year
we have worked with the multiple plow in preparing the soil for cane and the
miscellaneous crops enterprises, for tubers, vegetables, etc. 

33.  Fuel also has affected irrigation. It has been necessary to sacrifice
irrigation in many cane areas when we had the machinery for the irrigation
equipment but we did not have enough fuel over the course of this year to use
the irrigation. This has also had an effect. I am talking about objective
factors. The lack of herbicides has had an effect. We have had very little
herbicide since it is a very expensive product. When we have had to choose
between herbicide for the cane or powdered milk for the children, we have had
to allocate those resources for the powdered milk, for food. Keep in mind that
many things compete here for every dollar, or every bit of hard currency. 

34.  There has been little herbicide, and there are some kinds of weeds that
require-especially where the lianas grow-they require certain kinds of
herbicides because otherwise there is a problem. It is very difficult to
eliminate them with a hoe. However uch you hoe, there are some kinds of these
grasses, especially the lianas, these weeds, which cannot be taken care of with
only a hoe. This also has an effect on the sugar harvest, because it is more
difficult the cane without lianas than with lianas. [sentence as heard] 

35.  There are other factors added to this. There is the issue of the burning.
This is an important element. Why is it necessary to reduce the burning? We are
reducing it to a minimum. But, well, there has been a higher percentage of
heavy weed growth. If e add that there were not enough mobilizations to do all
the weeding it would have been necessary to do in June, July, and August, among
other reasons because the sugar harvest had been extended....[pauses] If the
sugar harvest is extended until June, you are using almost all the work force
and almost all the resources on the sugar harvest to produce less sugar in
those months. Therefore, there is a lack of all the work force needed to plant
and weed and replant in those critical months. That is the reason for the
enormous importance of finishing the sugar harvest on time. It is very
important. It is decisive. 

36.  All these factors have had an effect on the availability of cane this
year. We have less cane. We cannot even think of getting a harvest of 7 million
tons. But we must use the available cane in the best way. That is our problem
for 1993. Because 

sugar is our primary product. We buy fuel with sugar. A large part of the sugar
is used to buy the fuel the country needs to function [words indistinct]. Do
not forget that we are in a country where more than 90 percent of the
population now has electricity. When the Revolution triumphed it was less,
almost half, not half but a little more than half of what we have today. Only
50 percent of the population had electricity, if that. They used less
electricity. Families had fewer household appliances. Now we have almost twice
the population, and 90 percent of the population has electricity. 

37.  The rate of exchange of sugar for oil is unfortunately not that of 1959.
If we were in 1959, with 1 million tons of sugar we could get all the oil we
need today, besides domestic production. But we are not in 1959 or 1960 when
the U.S. embargo began. e are in 1992, heading for 1993, and we must use almost
all the sugar to buy fuel to keep the country functioning. Another part is used
to buy food. Another part has to be used to buy inputs. We are referring to our
most important product, sugar. We get income from nickel. Nickel prices have
also dropped.  We get income from fish exports, primarily lobster and shrimp.
We get income from tourism. That is what is growing the most. Tourism is
growing rapidly, but it is very far from being enough. Years will ave to pass
before income from tourism begins to compete with income from sugarcane. This
needs time. We have other important programs under development which should
increase the country's income, but time is needed. 

38.  Today, as a result of the wars and the cartels that have been formed among
the oil producers, today with one ton of sugar, as has been said on other
occasions, only 1.4 tons of oil can be bought. In 1959 or 1960, I repeat, it
was around eight tons. In trade with the Soviet Union, we maintained a more or
less similar price ratio. We bought about seven tons of oil for one ton of
sugar, in all the agreements with the Soviet Union before the boom in oil
prices. That is perhaps one of the most difficult problems we have today: the
price ratio between sugar and oil. 

39.  But it is decisive. Each ton of sugar exported should produce between $180
million and $200 million....[pauses] Every million tons, every million tons of
sugar, between $180 milllion and $200 million; 500,000 tons less are 100
million less. One million tons less of sugar are $200 million less for the
economy. Because in spite of all the things that have happened, we have managed
to find a market for our sugar in addition to domestic consumption, which is
relatively high.  Domestic consumption is robably not less than 700,000 tons.
But in addition there are unfulfilled commitments.  Sometimes the deliveries
are delayed, and they must be delivered later. 

40.  It does not mean that every ton of sugar is certain income. There are
outstanding obligations to be fulfilled.  Because to meet our commitments to
the Soviet Union in recent years, for several years, before the Soviet Union
disappeared, we sometimes had to take out sugar loans to meet our commitments
to the Soviet Union. These loans require certain amounts of sugar to meet those
obligations. So this is even a little more complicated, but I am giving you the
figures that will allow you to make a calculation, and so that our sugar
workers will understand the importance of optimizing the amount of cane

41.  That is why we must do an efficient, almost perfect sugar harvest, as
perfect as possible, so that the cutting will begin in accordance with the cane
estimates at the exact right time at each sugar complex. We must try to finish
the harvest in April, y the end of April. You cannot imagine how many things
must be done for this, because of the issue of the repairs to the sugar mills
and the combines, tractors, and trucks, without spare parts, since many of
these trucks and this equipment are from the socialist bloc, and we have not
received parts from there for a while. 

42.  You can imagine the country's effort to keep the cane combines in
operation, to keep the tractors in operation, the trucks in operation. It is
not just a matter of fuel.  There is the issue of the spare parts. Our cane
cannot be carried on people's backs. We cannot get millions of tons of sugar by
cutting it by hand today, and carrying it on people's backs. It must be
transported. We cannot even transport it in carts, since the collection
centers, the entire system for receiving it, is designed for working with
trucks and wagons, and is a certain distance away.  We do not have those old
lifts, of which we had thousands. They were relatively near the cane fields,
when nothing was mechanized, and when the cane was carted by oxen. We cannot
use them as eplacements, because those lifts no longer exist. Today, we have
the collection centers. There are about 1,000 in the whole country. 

43.  It is impossible to do without the trucks. It is impossible to do without
the tractors. Many of those trucks from the socialist bloc (?are without
parts). For the trucks, in addition to fuel and parts, we must get batteries
and tires. We do not manufacture all the tires in this country, and when we
manufacture them we have to get the raw materials to make the tires. We cannot
manufacture all the batteries in this country. When we manufacture batteries,
we have to get the raw materials. You cannot imagine the number of problems
that must be solved so that the sugar mills can operate. You must live day to
day with these problems to have an idea and see, within the shortage of
resources, how everything will be solved. 

44.  The workers, the innovators and efficiency experts, have been doing true
miracles. We must always get a few parts from somewhere, if they can be gotten,
or from somewhere else, the ones it is impossible to manufacture here.  We must
always buy a few tires, some inputs, some steel.  The sugar mills need steel
for their repairs, to make the parts, even if we make all the parts, and we
make the vast majority of parts here for the sugar mills. Nickel and other
kinds of production also need steel. The tractors that work in other kinds of
agriculture-rice, tubers, and vegetables-also need parts. The transportation
equipment also needs parts. They also need fuel. 

45.  This may give you an idea of the effort the country is making to meet all
these needs with such scarce resources. I am explaining this now that the sugar
harvest is about to begin in some mills, and here on the occasion of these
banners that are being given to you, so that the sugar workers, the workers at
the agroindustrial complexes and the agricultural complexes also, the manual
cane cutters, and the entire country, will know the importance of the effort we
must make in the sugar harvest, in 

all the aspects of the sugar harvest. 

46.  I should add the following. The productivity of the cane cutters is not so
high when the cane gives less yield. I was talking about my personal experience
with good cane with more than 100,000 arrobas, but if the cane has 60,000,
50,000, or 40,000 and some arrobas, the yield of the cane cutters also goes
down. The yield of the machinery also goes down. So cane with less yield per
caballeria translates into less yield per cane cutter. Now, cane that is not
burned also translates into less yield per cane cutter. We have been fighting
for years against burning the cane. 

47.  Of course, in some provinces like Matanzas and Havana, they used to burn
almost all the cane. There was not a lot of work force and the yield was
higher, necessarily. It was hard work, of course, because of the dust and ashes
and everything, right? Because of the soot the burned cane leaves behind. It is
very hard work, but the yield is higher. Nevertheless, burning the cane damages
the fields. Burning the cane can help when there are lianas, but along with
the....[pauses] When you burn the cane, tons and tons of organic material are
also burned along with the cane leaves. 

48.  Burning the cane has two problems. We resorted to it when we did not have
enough machinery or cane cutters, trying to get productivity through this
burning. But it is not the correct agronomical technique, because it destroys
organic material and promotes weed growth.  When you cover the canefields with
cane straw, and the spaces between the rows are covered, fewer weeds grow. 
This uses the organic material and recycles the nitrogen, phosphorus, and

49.  It also conserves water if it is a dry year. It helps to conserve water.
Cane straw has many benefits for the cane. I did not say, for example, that one
of the factors also having an effect this year is that there has been less rain
than in other years. There has been a real drought this year in some regions of
the country, and this has also hindered the planting. In those areas in
northern Las Tunas, Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba Provinces, the lack of rain
in the spring has often hindered the planting.  The drought has been so severe
in some areas of the eastern provinces that we have had to improvise solutions
to supply water to the city of Santiago de Cuba in the middle of spring, since
in the middle of spring the reservoirs that usually supply the city of Santiago
de Cuba with water were empty. It has rained very little in those areas where
the sources of that supply are located.  In some cane areas, it has rained very

50.  In others, it has rained more. We can see that in October, which is always
a rainy month, and in this case it could have helped the cane, it rained 60
percent of the historical average. There has not been a lot of rain in
November. There has been a bit in the central region, in the western region, in
certain areas. In recent days, there was a good rainstorm in the western
region, in the central region, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, but in the eastern
provinces it has rained very little in November. 

51.  The rain is capricious. Sometimes when we wait for the rain to cultivate
and plant, and for the cane to grow, it does not come. Instead, it comes in the
middle of the harvest. Rain in the middle of the harvest causes damage, because
it hinders the machinery, hinders transportation.  Last year, this was one of
the characteristics that delayed the harvest. The rainy days came during the
dry season. It can be said that last year we had rain in the dry season and
drought in the rainy season. There is no remedy for these misfortunes. We must
adapt to what nature gives us. Irrigation was limited, as I said, because of
the fuel. 

52.  I was explaining that when less cane is burned, the cane cutters' yield is
lower. That is why it has been necessary to increase the number of those
mobilized for this sugar harvest by at least 20,000 cane cutters in spite of
the fact that there is less cane, to ensure stable deliveries to the sugar
mills. This is the reason for this increase in the work force. In Havana, I
believe the contingent had about 1,200 people last year. This year it has
2,000.  There has been an increase in the contingent of 800 more workers.
Havana Province has less cane. But the harvest cycle is also shorter. In some
mills, it is 80 days long, in others 100 days, 105, or 110. 

53.  This is the situation we have in Havana Province, and we still need 800
more manual cane cutters. We must manage to harvest the cane at the optimum
time. This is why we will have to make a tremendous effort, in the mills and
fields as well as in transportation, the repair shops, everywhere, to achieve
the feat of optimizing sugar production and to reduce the effects of the
reductions in the amounts of cane and sugar available for export. 

54.  I have spoken at length so that our workers will know about how things
are, the causes of this whole movement, and the importance of achieving an
efficient sugar harvest, so that they do not see this as [just] a slogan, so
that these goals will be based on a clear awareness with respect to all these

55.  But we do not have only the harvest at this harvest time.  We also have
the elections, and one of the things that I was thinking was that we have the
elections of the delegates to the municipal assemblies on 20 December.  We will
have a second round, ut the first round is on 20 December. I hope that many
delegates will be elected in many districts then, but we must guarantee the
voting by the cane cutters (?at the mills that are) milling on 20 May ...
[pauses] December. They will necessarily have to be part of elections,
participate in the elections. 

56.  But then we have the elections for deputies to the provincial assemblies
and the National Assembly, or to be exact, for delegates to the provincial
assemblies and deputies to the National Assembly. This will also be in the
middle of the sugar harvest 

nd when the sugar yields are highest, the months when the sugar yields are
highest.  It is impossible for our cane cutters and sugar industry workers not
to participate. We have to see how to arrange this, whether to take the ballot
boxes to the cane cutters, whether the ballot boxes will go to the cane cutters
or the cane cutters will go to the ballot boxes. I do not know how the experts
in this, the specialists, those on the electoral commission, will decide. We
have to choose, because they must fulfill both obligations. 

57.  We cannot do without the participation in the elections of such a large
sector of the workers. So we hold elections in the middle of the sugar harvest.
In addition, and based on the standards agreed to in the most recent electoral
law, the workers movement has a primary role in nominating the candidates for
provincial delegations and deputies to the National Assembly, since the CTC
presides over the other mass organizations, which with it make up the electoral
commission. This is hard, difficult, complex work, since the quality of the
candidates to the National Assembly depends on the quality of its work, within
our concepts and process, which has no reason to envy any other process in the
world, just as it is designed and is submitted to the people's verdict. 

58.  So the CTC and the workers movement also have these tasks. The party also
has to guarantee, to expend energy in guaranteeing the application of all the
standards and principles that have been agreed on for our electoral process.
Everyone will be busy ith this activity also.  Both are important; we cannot
let either one of them go.  I am only recalling this so that we will not forget
it. Ross has already mentioned here the tasks that the workers movement and the
CTC have. 

59.  These are the complex, difficult, hard circumstances we must handle during
this sugar harvest. We are confident that in spite of all these difficulties,
we will achieve the goals we have set. If there is anything that is in surplus
here in our country-and it is not in surplus, but is much needed-if there is
anything that is in surplus among our workers, it is the fighting spirit, the
spirit of struggle, the patriotic spirit, the will and determination to fight
and struggle and move forward, the ill and determination to save the revolution
and socialism. No one wants this country to become a Yankee colony ever again,
because the revolution saved our nation from that, because the struggle of
several generations from 1868 to today saved it from that. Our country can
never go back to being a Yankee colony. Our country can never go back to living
without the revolution and socialism. [applause] 

60.  It would be the greatest of the disasters that have happened over the
course of our history, the greatest setback over the course of our history.
This process can [words indistinct] we can never permit (?this setback) because
it would be irreversible. On these deep roots are based our convictions, our
spirit of struggle to handle these extraordinary, incredible difficulties which
have arisen for our country as a result of the disappearance of the socialist
bloc and the disintegration of the USSR.  This is an exceptionally difficult
period of history for our country, but it can also serve to show the measure of
our merits, virtues, and courage, our heroism. This is something that one does
not do simply because one has a vocation for 

sacrifice, but rather out of historical need, the vital need to do this. It is
yet to be proven what a people can do when it has the level of combativeness
and awareness that our people have. 

61.  This does not mean that all citizens have this, but a majority of the
people do. The revolution has never ....  [applause] The revolutionary has
never had the support of 100 percent of the citizens. It was impossible,
absolutely impossible. But the revolution has always had the support of the
majority of truly patriotic, aware, dignified citizens. The revolution, which
began with very few people in 1868, and resumed in 1895, and was reborn
throughout our history, especially after the coup d'etat of 10 March 1952, did
not have the support of the vast majority of the population. Well, it had a lot
of sympathy, but the majority of the population were not active supporters. 

62.  Today, we have the majority of the population as active supporters,
experienced supporters, who have lived through a tremendous experience. When I
talk about supporters, I am not talking about the party. I am talking about the
revolutionary supporters, because there are many excellent citizens who for one
reason or another are not party members. 

63.  But we have yet to see what a revolutionary and dignified people can do in
difficult circumstances. No one would have believed that the revolution would
be able to endure so long after the disintegration of the USSR and the
disintegration of the socialist bloc. Now they are amazed by what our people
can do, by what our people are capable of doing. They are amazed, and they have
reasons enough to be amazed. Just as we have reasons enough to be proud of our
people, and especially proud of our workers. [applause] 

64.  What you are doing is proof of this. When almost 50,000 volunteers are
requested, they come forward throughout Cuba. Up to 98 percent of the
volunteers requested are already organized. When you think about the tens of
thousands of workers from Havana ity alone who are working in different
programs of diverse natures-from those who are working in self-sufficiency
tasks to those who are working in agricultural or cattle programs around the
city-there are thousands and thousands of workers mobilized in Havana
Province's agricultural camps, or those who are mobilized digging tunnels,
another important task that has not been abandoned in the least during the
special period. It pains us to think about the energy that we have to invest in
this-the fuel and resources-but it has to be done. It is an essential duty. It
is a shield, protection for our population, an expression of our will to resist
and fight on any terrain.  Morales spoke about approximately 40,000 Havana
residents. I think he was talking about avana Province. Or was it Havana City
and Havana Provinces? The capital.  Nearly 40,000 Havana City residents have
been mobilized in these activities. This is proof of the revolutionary spirit
of our workers and our people. 

65.  That is why I said that we have yet to see what a people like this can do
and can resist. The international forces of reaction, the international forces
of reaction [repeats] are not as optimistic, not as euphoric as in the past
when they saw nothing 

ut blows and more blows against the revolutionary movement and socialism. Now
different things are beginning to happen in many places. Things are beginning
to change in many places. The philosophy of neoconservatism is losing prestige
and strength in view of the failure it has brought everywhere, in Latin America
and the world, in the United States itself. 

66.  Neoconservatism, ultraconservatism, has suffered a heavy blow because of
the recent elections in that country. Naturally, this does not mean the
disappearance of that social system-not at all-or the disappearance of
imperialism as an existing, dominant, and hegemonic system in the world, in the
case of Yankee imperialism. But, well, when we analyze those elections, what do
we see? What sectors voted for the opposition in the United States? They were
the lowest-income sectors of the people in the United States: the majority of
the people over 60 years of age, retired people, all those who find themselves
without medical assistance, who have problems of all kinds; the majority of the
young people between 20 and 30 years of age who are affected by unemployment
and a number of other problems; the majority of college graduates; the majority
of the intellectual sectors; the vast majority of the black population of the
United States; the vast majority of the Hispanic population, except the Miami
exile community [gusanera] which primarily voted for the conservative
government. Most women also voted for the opposition.  Women are victims of
discrimination and mistreatment.  There are issues that are extremely important
for U.S.  women which were also being debated in this process. 

67.  In other words, the majority of the U.S. population did not vote for
neoconservativism, did not vote for those shock policies that totally ignore
and neglect issues related to jobs, social security, public health, and
education. For 12 years, the Republican administrations totally ignored this.
The opposition took upon itself these worries of the population, took upon
itself these realities, and obtained the majority of the votes. In other words,
even the U.S. people voted against the ultrareactionary policies of the current
U.S. administration. 

68.  This does not mean that we should harbor any hopes because there are no
grounds to think that there will be changes regarding Cuba. We should not
harbor any hopes. But the true fact is that the most ultrareactionary ideas
have suffered a heavy blow at the hands of the U.S.  people. There are
important reserves within the U.S.  people. I believe that that is one of the
lessons of these capitalist-style elections, where only 53 percent of the
citizens entitled to vote did so-53 percent!-despite the fact that there were
three candidates. It has been said that the third candidate mobilized a lot of
people in these elections and made them a lot harder fought, yet only 53
percent of the people entitled to vote did so. We expect our elections to reach
more than 53 percent. [applause] 

69.  But I believe that proof of the moral reserves of the U.S.  people has
just been given by these Pastors for Peace.  [applause] 

70.  Among them there arose a determination to challenge the embargo, collect
supplies, and bring them directly from the United States to Cuba via Mexico.
This could not be done through the United States itself because no Cuban ship
is allowed to dock in U.S. ports. After the promulgation of that criminal law,
that unscrupulous law, which reminds us not only of the Platt Amendment, but
also of Weyler's concentration plan during the Spanish attempt to starve the
Cuban people to death, to bring them to the point of surrender through hunger,
after that law, this attitude arose among a group of Americans who,
furthermore, acted with impressive conviction, determination, and courage to
challenge the embargo. They were willing to do whatever might be necessary and
in the end, they fulfilled their aim. They breached the embargo. 

71.  The value of this must be judged by its moral significance, not by the
amount of products, although we appreciate those products as if they were
millions of tons. We appreciate each ton as if it were a million
tons-regardless of whether it was 12, or 4, or 15 million tons or just 15 tons.
We appreciate what they were able to bring as if it were 10 or 15 million tons
of products because of their moral significance, because of the effort, the
sacrifices they made, going around collecting things all over the United States
and loading trucks to take them to the border and then to a Mexican port to
ship them to Cuba. This is a truly impressive thing, which in our eyes gives
dignity to the American people. [applause] We should not let ourselves be
confused by the deeds of their governments. We must remember that the American
people have been the victims of lies, deception, demagogy, confusion, all kind
of things, but that they have great reserves of morality. 

72.  These are new things that have been occurring since the collapse of the
socialist bloc and the USSR. These are a sign of the new times that are coming
and which sooner or later will arrive. Because the world cannot endure
ultrareactionary policies. It cannot endure policies that are indifferent to
the fate of thousands of millions of human beings. Capitalism and imperialism
have been, among other things, destroying our planet's environment. Consumer
societies are doing terrible damage to life and the natural conditions of the

73.  The planet has over 5 billion inhabitants. The earth's population has
practically doubled since the triumph of the Cuban revolution. A large part of
that population is suffering all kinds of hunger, poverty, [lack of]
necessities, and shortages of all kinds as a consequence of the constant
looting, past and present. The people are becoming more and more aware of these
events, these realities. This also includes the citizens of developed
capitalist countries. This is why we are seeing these types of ymptoms.
Solidarity with Cuba is growing everywhere, even at the government level.
Although in many votes, these countries of the former socialist bloc now vote
against us, most vote in favor of Cuba at the United Nations; for example, when
the Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC] vote took place at the United Nations.

74.  The ESOCOC is one of the most important organizations of the United
Nations. More than 100 countries supported Cuba, from the beginning. They
remained firm until the end when Cuba was elected, together with Mexico, as a
member of ECOSOC. This shows that many countries in the world, especially many
Third World countries, have confidence and faith in Cuba. This is shown when
the voting is secret, but when the voting is public there are other problems.
Now, before long, there will be another proposal that will have to face a
public vote. It deals with the Yankee embargo, with the Torricelli Law. It is
very well written, with great maturity, and with the goal of obtaining the
broadest support. Of course, a secret vote-when representatives of countries
vote secretly-is not the same as a public vote when they have to raise their
hand, because afterwards come all the U.S. reprisals, with its power and
influence in many fields. 

75.  Nevertheless, our people are waging the battle with this draft resolution.
In other words, these are symptoms of the new times. What will happen in the
end with this resolution on the embargo? No one knows. Naturally, there will be
a group of countries, those more closely allied with the United States, that
will vote against this draft resolution, even though this draft resolution is a
question of principle, which makes it very difficult to vote against it. 

76.  It is an historic responsibility, but we know that there are people in
this world who do not have any kind of scruples and cast any vote against any
principle. It is possible that there might be many abstentions, which in the
final analysis is an intermediate position to avoid making such a great
commitment. But it is also possible that a number of countries will vote,
together with Cuba, in favor of the resolution despite all the pressures. What
is being debated is not something between Cuba and the United States. What is
being debated is an international principle, a legal principle, a moral
principle. It is not a matter of a conflict between Cuba and the United States.
It is truly a matter of defending a principle at the United Nations. But who
wages these battles in this world nowadays? In the past, the entire socialist
bloc and many other countries waged these battles. Today, only Cuba wages these

77.  But, I have to say that solidarity with Cuba is growing and this is clear
in many fields. We can never disappoint the hope that so many millions of
people have placed in us. We have a very great responsibility, not only toward
our own people, but toward all the people of the world, particularly in the
Third World countries. By struggling, by working, by resisting, we are writing
the most noble and glorious page in the history of our nation. It has fallen to
this generation, the present generation, hese people, the almost 11 million
citizens who live in this country, to wage this struggle, this battle. If not
everyone participates in this battle, those who are the essence of the nation,
the soul of the nation, the patriotic and combative people, are participating
in it. This is the best guarantee we have of victory. 

78.  Time is on our side. We need time. Let us make resistance provide the
nation with the time it needs to move forward and come out victorious. Within
this patriotic and combative people, you, the workers, the laborers, the
volunteers who mobilize for any task, you, the members of the 1 May Contingent,
are the vanguard.  In the name of the nation, we congratulate you and thank you
for what you have done and for what you are going to do. [applause] 

79.  Socialism or death, fatherland or death, we will win!  [applause]