Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Fidel Castro Speech on Candidacy Process
Havana Radio and Television Networks

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL0902020093
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-025          Report Date:    09 Feb 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     4
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       12
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       07 Feb 93
Report Volume:       Tuesday Vol VI No 025


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio and Television Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Fidel Castro Speech on Candidacy Process

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at a meeting of Havana City Province
government and mass organization officials held at the Lazaro
Pena Theater in Havana on 6 February-recorded]

Source Line:   FL0902020093 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish
2319 GMT 7 Feb 93

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a meeting of Havana City
Province government and mass organization officials held at the
Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 6 February-recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a meeting of Havana City Province
government and mass organization officials held at the Lazaro Pena Theater in
Havana on 6 February-recorded]

2.  [Text] [Castro] Dear comrades: First of all I want to apologize for having
held such a large meeting in light of the difficulties with transportation,
the date, and the time, but I thought it was important. I have attended
several of the sessions. I wanted to know how the process was coming along. I
asked myself what I could do to contribute to your effort in Havana's battle.
I would like, for example, to accompany some groups of candidates, make a
tour, do something, but it is practically impossible, not only for physical
reasons, but also because of time and work constraints. I was telling myself:
Well, what are the most vulnerable, weakest (?points), the greatest
difficulties in the campaign? What can we do to join forces, march together,
march with discipline in the same direction? What are the determining factors
in this struggle?

3.  This is why I asked the opinion of several comrades: Who should
participate in this meeting? We began to analyze this. First, all the district
delegates. [Jorge] Lezcano, what is the exact number? How many? There are
1,495. I estimated between 1,300 and 1,500 as the number of comrades elected
on 20 December. Of course, the candidates to deputies of the National Assembly
should also be present as well as the candidates to delegates of the
provincial assemblies. It is essential for every municipal and provincial
electoral commission to be present. It is essential for the mass organizations
to be present. I am not going to ask if there are members of the national
organizations present, because I was told they are not present. I regret this.
Probably the subjects discussed here also would have been important to them.

4.  We were trying to get an estimate to decide where to hold this meeting. At
first, I thought the meeting could have been held in the auditorium where the
Central Committee and other meetings are held. It has approximately 300 seats,
but it was not possible. Later on, we thought of using the Karl Marx Theater,
but after we did a tally, that theater was too large. We wanted to hold a more
relaxed meeting, a working meeting, not a large ceremony. I thought of the
Cuban Workers Federation [CTC] auditorium and asked how many seats it had and
whether there was room for all the participants. Finally, we concluded that
the CTC auditorium was the right place.  I believe we have here a little more
than 3,000 comrades.

5.  Yesterday, I met with the participants in the Latin American teachers'
conference, entitled Education 93. I saw that theater once more. It is
immense. For some reason this place seems cozier and more appropriate for an
intimate conversation. I wondered whether we should invite journalists. I
would have liked them to be present, but this meeting was not for the media.
Naturally, the role of the journalists is to report, and it would be a
contradiction to ask them to attend but not to report on the event, because
this is not a meeting for everybody. It is not that we are going to do
something sinister here or anything like that. It is not that we are going to
propose improper things that can not be publicly defended, but the nature of
the meeting is that it is a work meeting to communicate with those who have
the main responsibility in this battle. This is like a war. The general staff
meets; the officers meet. Those are the ones who have to attend that meeting,
and no one else, to analyze these issues. The media will report on this from
the same angle or from whatever angle they believe is better. We have to
analyze here the details of this battle, of this great challenge, as Lezcano

6.  Where should we direct our efforts? I could begin by explaining that there
has been strict and total compliance with the principles guiding this process,
the principles agreed upon in the National Assembly meeting on constitutional
reforms and the principles stipulated in the electoral law. We had already
arrived at a concept, a basic idea, which is not new: the idea that the people
nominate and the people elect.

7.  I gave a lot of thought to the role of the party. The role of the party is
not to nominate candidates. It is not for the party to nominate candidates.
The role of the party is not to elect. The party does not elect candidates. We
are very pleased that we have one party, just as the Mambises, the Cuban
rebels, had during the final years of our wars for independence. We wondered
what the party's role should be. We said: The role of the party is to direct
the process and ensure that the principles of this process are strictly
followed. This is the role of the party. Because we have faith in our ideas,
we have faith in our principles, which are the most correct and most just. We
realized this had to be the role of the party: To ensure the strict
implementation of those principles. I am very pleased to report the party has
fulfilled this role and has ensured compliance with those principles, so that
the people will nominate and the people will elect.

8.  The people have been nominating at the base level for some time. All of
you know very well how the elections are carried out at the base level, how
the candidates are nominated in the districts, in the neighborhood assemblies,
with the participation of all those willing to participate. They are open
assemblies. We wondered whether the counterrevolutionaries, the unpatriotic,
those who serve imperialism, those who are against the Revolution and the
fatherland and on imperialism's side, were going to participate or not. No one
was stopping them from participating, discussing, or making nominations at the
assemblies. But the Revolution has great moral strength, great authority, and
great vigor, which the counterrevolution, the enemies of the fatherland, and
the supporters of imperialism do not have.

9.  For this reason, they did not come forth at the assemblies. The people met
as usual. On this occasion, the people nominated with greater breadth, because
before they had been asked not to nominate many comrades as district delegates
due to the many responsibilities those comrades already had. It is well known
that it is very difficult to juggle certain district delegate duties with
certain national, provincial, or other types of duties they might have.
Naturally, this limited the number of people nominated as district delegates.
On this occasion there is much more breadth. The district elections were very
close in many cases.

10.  The party did not nominate anyone, favor anyone, or carry out a campaign
in favor of anyone. This was the people's task. Our electoral law established
the candidacy commissions. I think we came upon a very good solution which no
other country has. Who nominates, or who is going to draft the candidacy
proposals to be presented at the municipal assemblies? Before, the municipal
assemblies elected the deputies. The fundamental change is that now, since
someone has to make the nominations, our Constitution and laws gave to the
municipal assemblies the role of nominating candidates.  Therefore, those who
have been nominated and elected directly by the people are not the ones who
are going to elect the deputies.

11.  This was perfectly just, perfectly acceptable, and perfectly, totally
democratic. The system we had was democratic, but we wanted to perfect it, to
make it even more democratic. Since someone had to make the nominations, this
duty was given to the municipal assemblies.  How is the nominating done? How
do the municipal assemblies meet and nominate candidates? Municipal assemblies
are very aware of many of the municipalities' problems. In some cases, many
delegates are aware of not only municipal problems but also the problems of
their districts. How could they nominate candidates to the National Assembly?
It was necessary for other sectors to participate. This is how the idea came
about for the mass organizations-representing the people, because the vast
majority of our people belong to the mass organizations-to organize the task
prior to the nomination process; that is, to draft the lists of candidates.

12.  The candidacy commissions were formed by the mass organizations at the
three levels-municipal, provincial, and national. Of course, we were setting a
new course.  What would the outcome be? No one knew or could have known,
because it was totally new. We were basing this on a series of principles and
ideas. It had to be subjected to the test of reality, the test of practice.
The first thing we discovered was the enormity of the task assigned to the
candidacy commissions. They made up the commissions themselves; the party did
not. The mass organizations made up the candidacy commissions and appointed
representatives at the national, provincial, and municipal levels. They
drafted a work plan. We cannot say their ideas were perfect, because this was
the first time this was put into practice. At one point, we realized that 12
delegates, or 12 representatives, of the mass organizations were too few to
undertake that enormous task. We suggested that the candidacy commissions be
expanded and that every organization send a number of members until it reached
36, so the national-level work could be divided among them. However, that was
not enough. I believe that if anyone has worked harder than the contingents
have, the comrades of the candidacy commissions have, particularly the members
of the National Candidacy Commission. [applause]

13.  On many occasions, their workday began at 0800 and ended at 0200 and 0300
the next day. They had to direct a consultation process, because as part of
those principles, the consultation process was essential. It was not a matter
of gathering together a group of comrades representing the mass organizations
and then starting to develop ideas on how to draft the candidacy lists. 
Rather, an enormous number of people had to meet.  First, they had to listen
to the opinions of the mass organizations. Then they had to hear the opinions
of the institutions, every possible institution, the work centers, the
candidates for delegate, because the elections had not yet taken place when
they started working, and it was not known who was going to be elected.

14.  Therefore, they had to ask the opinion of every candidate nominated. 
They did so. They asked for their opinions on who should be a candidate. By
the end, they had consulted over 1.5 million people. This has never happened
before anywhere. In the rest of the world, the four fat cats who rule the
parties meet and draft the lists of candidates. They do not consult with
anyone else. Our candidacy commissions consulted 1.5 million people. I was
told the pool of candidates that emerged from the consultation process totaled
over 60,000 people, between 60,000 and 70,000 people. You can see the scope of
the task of selecting candidates from among the thousands of people proposed.

15.  They had to use certain methods to do this. They had to give
participation to the base level, the municipalities, the provinces, and the
nation. They had to choose from different sources. First, they had to choose
the district delegates who were going to be proposed as candidates to deputies
of the National Assembly, which according to the law is approximately half, or
up to 50 percent. This requirement was the result of a very logical thing. If
the members of the assembly were to nominate candidates, it was a matter of
principle to establish a limit on the number of people they could nominate. An
assembly could nominate people within that municipality and no one else. It
was not possible. It was not consistent with the concept being implemented.
But the principle that up to half of the nominees could be members of the
assembly was established. Up to half of the base-level delegates could be
members of the assembly.

16.  The law established a category of candidates: the delegates coming
straight from base level. The base level had to work on this. Who could
provide the best opinions but the base level itself? The role of the
organizations at the base level, and the delegates' opinions, was decisive in
selecting the candidates to delegates and later the delegates.

17.  The commission also worked with the provincial commissions, because the
other pool of candidates was made up of provincial-level figures. There, no
one could give better opinions than the provinces themselves. Finally,
national-level figures also had to be selected. They would be essential in the
National Assembly, well-known people with important responsibilities, people
who have distinguished themselves in national activities. Naturally, the
national leadership of the mass organizations played an essential role in
this. They made preliminary estimates of how many candidates would come from
the base level, in accordance with the law; how many would come from the
provincial level; and how many from the national level. The percentage of
national-level candidates was the smallest.

18.  They finally reached the conclusion that there would be 274 base-level
candidates; approximately 180-I am not giving the exact figure, but around
180-provincial candidates; and approximately 134 or 135 so-called national
candidates. I say so-called national candidates because there were provincial
candidates who were well known on the national level. Therefore, you cannot
say they are provincial-level figures. Yes, they come from the province, work
in the province, and were nominated by the province because the province so
chose. Sometimes it happened that a province had a major figure but did not
nominate him or her because they thought that individual was going to be
nominated at the national level.

19.  Of course, each province hoped to have the greatest number of local
figures on its list. The national figures were left so that the National
Candidacy Commission would include them on its list as national candidates. 
This was not a trick, but it was a certain tendency that was taking place in
some cases. Of course, this category for the National Candidacy Commission
could vary.  They established it themselves. They could pick fewer provincial
candidates and more national candidates, or vice versa, more provincial
candidates and fewer national candidates. No one knew what was going to
happen, what was going to be the result of the consultation process.

20.  I tried to keep informed of the progress of the whole process. I insisted
on the idea of the consultations. I insisted that the consultations were
essential and decisive, particularly the consultations with the base level. 
This is why the consultation process was held again.  Thus, for example, the
national commissions....[pauses] The national leadership of the mass
organizations had proposed over 500 candidates during the consultations with
the national leadership of the mass organizations.  They had to reduce this to
less than a third of the number they had proposed, or approximately 135. This
was the opinion of the national leadership of the mass organizations.

21.  However, there still was an unanswered question. What opinion do the
people in the provinces have of these national figures? Those consultations
had not been held yet. On 29, 30, and I believe 31 December, they met in
plenary sessions with the mass organizations of all the provinces to ask them
to provide the names of the national figures who in their opinion should be
nominated. Some names arose which had not been included among the 500 or so
names selected by the national commissions. Some new names arose. These
consultations were very valuable, because through them the opinions of the
provinces, of the provincial mass organizations, regarding the so-called
national figures became known. This was very important information for the
National Candidacy Commission. On the basis of this information, they had to
make decisions.

22.  The candidacy commissions also had to solve the issue of the resumes. You
have no idea of how much work they did to collect so many resumes. They had
the final task, within that continuous consultation process, of drafting the
final list of 589 candidates to the National Assembly.  This is what I have
the most information on. What took place at lower levels to select the
candidates to the provincial assemblies must have been similar, but it is
impossible to know all that information. What was important was for the full
consultation process to be completed. This took a lot of work and was an
enormous responsibility. They discussed province by province and category by
category. When they had any doubts they held further consultations and asked
the provincial level again, and the municipal level again.

23.  The first task was how to reduce that immense pool of candidates. They
held other consultations. They asked the provinces to please tell them which,
in their opinion, of the large number of candidates proposed should be kept if
the number was reduced to half or a third. Every province, of course, had
presented many more possible candidates than could be included on the list.
The provinces gave their opinions. The reductions were done by the provinces
themselves. They had to take that immense pool, and on the basis of the
information gathered during the consultation process, reduce the list of
candidates all the way down to 589. This task, comrades, was not easy at all.
We have to acknowledge the extraordinary merit of the National Candidacy
Commission in accomplishing this task.

24.  Next, they had to prepare the list of alternate candidates.  Not only did
they have to make a list of official candidates, but they also had to make a
list of alternate candidates in case any candidate was rejected by the
assembly. They had to have other candidates ready. For this reason, they drew
up lists of alternates at the base, provincial, and national levels. This was
a complex and difficult job. They also had to prepare the resumes not only of
the official candidates but also of the alternate candidates. They also had to
review the biographies to give them a certain uniformity. They had to reduce
them to a certain amount of space, a number of lines. They had to include the
highest possible number of facts about the individuals.

25.  But as you know, with these kinds of candidacies, all kinds of people
appear, of all different ages. A 55-year-old person and a 20 or 19 or 18 year
old have not accumulated the same merits. Naturally, the students had to be
represented. They also had to be included in this entire consultation process.
There had to be represented for the various important sectors of the nation. 
This was a factor they had to keep in mind. The list of candidates to the
National Assembly could not be drawn up without a single student from the FEEM
[Federation of Secondary School Students]. There are FEEM students with great
merits and abilities who are not candidates because they are not old enough to
be candidates.  It was discovered that the right to vote started at age 16,
but they had to be 18 to be a deputy. They had excellent cadres under age 18,
and they could not be nominated.

26.  But they had to nominate people who were 18, 19, or 20, and the resume of
a comrade of 18 or 19 was not like the resume of a comrade of 40, 50, or 60.
They had done everything possible during their short lives, and the others had
done everything possible during their long lives. But, well, those students
had to provide the greatest amount of information possible so that their
resumes would not be too short. Those who had done many things during their
lives had to summarize as much as possible since all their lifetime merits
could not be listed. The resumes had to be one page long. When information was
lacking, they had to search it out, make telephone calls, do research. They
had to become writers, or even poets, because writing a resume is not at all
easy.  They had to ask for help. They asked for help from some journalists in
drawing up that lengthy list of resumes in such a short time.

27.  I repeat once more, this was a road we were traveling on for the first
time. It is said that one makes the road by walking, but we were walking on it
for the first time.  There was not even a trail to follow. They had to have
the candidates with their resumes, and the list of alternates with their
resumes, ready to be presented to the provincial assemblies on 25, I think it
was 25, or 24 January, Sunday, 24 January. They had to have all that ready. I
know they were working up to the last day and the last hour to finish that
extremely difficult and complex job.  You cannot imagine what it was like. It
must serve as an experience for the future.

28.  Of course, this could be prolonged under the circumstances we are
experiencing. With all the tasks the country has at this time, no one could
afford to prolong this entire process for one more month. Because if we did,
there would be no cold-season planting, or sugar harvest, or anything else in
this country, since thousands and tens of thousands of cadres have been
involved and are involved in this process, and they also have to carry out
other obligations. You can calculate how much work this was and also calculate
the feat they have accomplished in reaching the second phase, which was the
presentation of the candidates.

29.  No one could then affirm, and no one will ever be able to affirm, that
work of this kind is perfect. That is impossible. The work is not perfect. But
I am a witness to the fact that the effort that was made was the maximum
effort that could have been made to do a good job, and it was as perfect as
possible. It cannot be free of mistakes.  That is impossible. The process
could be even more perfect. That is possible. But it would have been
impossible to do better what has been done, in the time in which it was done.
It would have been impossible to do more. That is how the lists of candidates
for the National Assembly were drawn up. I repeat that I do not know, I cannot
talk about all the details with respect to the candidates for delegates of the
provincial assemblies, but I imagine they are more or less similar. The two
elections have been put together; they had to be put together.

30.  But after that, a terrible problem arose for the candidacy commissions:
where to place the candidates. Where should they be placed? Because they had
to be placed somewhere. There was no problem with the base-level candidates.
They live there; they were elected by the districts and municipalities. That
did not create any problem. But the candidates from the provincial and
national levels, in the so-called national category, had to be placed. Where
were they to be placed? Everything possible was done to place them within a
municipality, or something that had to do with a municipality, where they had
been born or worked sometime or something.

31.  But it was impossible. Because naturally a lot of very deserving people
come from certain parts of the country, and there are not enough places for
all those provincial and national candidates there. Whatever was possible was
done to associate the candidates with a place, but this was impossible for
some of them. There are many municipalities....[pauses] As you know, each
municipality has the right to at least two deputies. There are small
municipalities that have the right to two. One was necessarily from there, and
the other necessarily had to be from somewhere else. But there are people from
Havana-because a lot of well-known people live in Havana-who had to go
somewhere else. They live here, but could not be candidates where they live.
It was impossible if there (?were already) candidates there.

32.  I know a cadre from Havana City, a very young cadre, who is a FEEM
candidate who was born in Havana and was nominated for a small town in the
eastern region.  Well, there they wondered: Why are they bringing in one from
Havana? But that FEEM cadre, who has a lot merit and prestige, has to be
nominated for a municipality.  Where were they going to put a young person of
18 or 19 in Havana City, where they did not know him and could not know him or
his background? The candidacy commission had to persuade, and know how to
persuade, those people about why that person should be a candidate there. 
Because there was a proportion of base-level candidates, another proportion of
provincial candidates, and another proportion of national candidates, and it
was impossible to solve that puzzle, which was already so complicated in and
of itself. It was not possible to make each piece fit exactly and perfectly
into its own municipality.

33.  That has to be explained. Because of our concept and our system, it was
impossible for each candidate to be a figure in his exact municipality. This
happened, but it only happened when nothing else could have been done.  The
candidacy commission also had well-known people to distribute, and it could
not put together all the people who were well known and very famous. It had to
distribute them, and say: One famous person for this place. The same thing
happened as with the student.  They put another famous person in another
place, and some other famous person in some other place, and so they
distributed them. Because the problems do not arise with the more well-known
candidates. The problems arise with the less well-known candidates. That is
the primary reason for these cases that require explanation.

34.  The primary problem in these elections, in my opinion, is teaching people
how to vote. Teaching people how to vote is key. Comrade Lezcano explained the
difficulties, because people know one style of voting in the districts, where
there were two, three, four, five, or even eight candidates and they had to
vote for one. Now it is the reverse. They have two, three, four, or five
candidates- for the provincial assembly there are more sometimes- and they can
vote for all of them. They can vote for all of them. [repeats] This is exactly
the opposite of the voting system for the districts.

35.  This is why it has such great value. Because when we decided at the
congress to have direct election of the deputies, the most serious danger that
could arise with this system was divisiveness, struggle, and competition
between the candidates. We wanted to prevent politicking at all costs, at all
costs. [repeats] We wanted to have a fair process, truly fair, and make the
person's merits, resume, qualities, and representativeness the primary factor.
Because when we talk about a very young man, we cannot talk so much about his
merits, many of which are yet to be obtained during his life, or about what he
has been able to do. But he is representative. He represents the students of
the FEEM or FEU [Federation of University Students], or young people.

36.  It was necessary that any modest, humble, ordinary citizen could be a
deputy of the National Assembly. We had to guarantee that, and if we did not
guarantee that, we could never talk about democracy. [applause] If a man or
woman has great merits, has given extraordinary service to the country, they
should have the right to be a deputy. If they have great talent, along with
those merits, they should have the right to be a deputy, even though they are
not well known. [applause] So we did not want to set up competition, and elect
five out of ten. What a terrible struggle that would have started! What chance
to be elected would those who have great merit but are not very well known
have? What opportunity would we have to elect base-level delegates who have
great merits but are only known in a small region, in a district or a people's
council? We cannot forget that there are municipalities in which 50,000 or
more than 50,000 people vote. What opportunity would those comrades have in
competition like that? And if our [National] Assembly does not have deputies
from the base level, we cannot talk about democracy. [applause]

37.  That is what distinguishes our Assembly from the other assemblies in the
world. [In the other assemblies] they are all very well-known national
figures, but a city councilman, for example, can never be a deputy. They do
not have the slightest chance. A local leader does not have the slightest
chance of being a deputy. Not only because of the party system, because the
parties alone, meeting around a table, draw up the lists of candidates.  Then
depending on the number of votes each party gets-and they more or less know
that from surveys-the ones they put in the number one, two, and three spots
are the ones who are elected, and all the rest are filler candidates. We did
not want to have filler candidates, but rather good candidates, with equal
chances of being elected. All should have the same chance, even if some were
not very well known. Because you know very well that there are comrades who
are very well known and others who are not well known.

38.  There may be a very eminent scientist who has worked quietly for years
whose talents are not known. The electoral commissions also had to work on
this. What did they do in these cases? They were not guided so much by
popularity or the number of times a person had been nominated. Rather, they
went to the science institutes and asked. They went to the sciences centers
and asked.  They went to the work places. They went to see all the people who
had information about the scientist and his merits and they asked them.

39.  But in another kind of election they would not have any chance of being
elected. Now, when the opportunity is given to vote for all of them, for five
instead of one, no rights are being taken away from the citizens. More rights
are being given to them. They are not being given one vote. They are being
given five or six votes. There are municipalities where they have to elect
eight. They are not being given one vote but eight. One candidate does not
fight another for that vote. The citizens are not put in the dilemma of voting
for one and not another who is also good. They are given the opportunity to
vote for one, two, three, or all of them if they think all of them have merit.
Rights are not taken away from the citizens; they are given more rights.

40.  But there is a number of seats equal to the list of candidates. Why?
Because all of them have a seat in the legislature, they all have the right to
a seat in the legislature, they all have the right to a seat in the provincial
assembly, if they get 50 percent of the votes plus one. The citizens have the
right to vote for all of them, and all of them can win if they get 50 percent
of the valid votes plus one, as the law says.

41.  So nothing is being taken away from the citizens. Something is being
given to them. Competition is eliminated.  The dangers of politicking are
eliminated. You can imagine what a battle there would be, because those who
are nominated would want to be elected, out of a basic sense of honor and a
sense of responsibility. Instead of perfecting our democratic system, we would
corrupt it if we accepted any other procedure. There are as many candidates as
there are seats in the National Assembly, and as many candidates as there are
seats in the provincial assemblies. So they can all be elected if they get
more than 50 percent, or half of the votes plus one. But they say you are not
supposed to say half plus one, but more than 50 percent. I do not know what
the mathematical reason is. It could always happen that there could be a
fraction. I did not make up that formula, so I do not take responsibility for
it. But I said more than half the votes, or more than 50 percent of the votes.
That was the requirement that was established.

42.  We were seeking as perfect a system as possible, as democratic as
possible, as fair as possible, and as revolutionary as possible, even though
it is complex and difficult and even though it takes an effort to understand.
Well, it takes an effort now because it is the first time. I already know a
lot of people who understand it. I am not as surprised that there are still
many people who do not understand it as I am surprised that there are many
people who already understand it.

43.  I am explaining to you the reasons for the things that were done and how
they were done and why they were done. So we must first of all teach people to
vote. Now, if the votes are divided, the consequences could be very negative,
if the votes are scattered. The revolutionary and patriotic votes should not
be divided. They should not be scattered, because then we could commit a
tremendous injustice. If people say: I am going to choose from among the ones
I know, we would eliminate the chances for a large number of deputies from the
base level to be elected. The most well-known ones because of their jobs,
their duties in society, their (?background) in the Revolution, would have
better chances. But the district delegates who were elected district delegates
for the first time, and it was thought to be a good idea to nominate them and
include them in the list of candidates even though they were not very well
known, if they are in a municipality with 30,000 voters, what are their
chances of being elected? Now, if the revolutionary and patriotic votes, of
those who are most steadfast and consistently with the Revolution, is divided
and scattered, the chances for the delegates from the base level to be elected
would drop considerably, because they are less well known, for logical

44.  If by chance there is a Politburo member who is very well known-his life,
his background, the times he has been in the paper-or the party first
secretary for the province who is very well known, or a famous intellectual or
artist, or a famous journalist who is very well-known through the mass media,
what happens to a scientist who has great merit and is not very well known, or
an innovator who has extraordinary merit and is very well known only at his
work place or at the national [spare parts] forums?  I know people who have
extraordinary merit to be National Assembly deputies but are not well known,
and many citizens, especially at the base level, who have great talent and
ability, but they are known only in their small area and not throughout the

45.  Because getting 15,000, 20,000, or 25,000 votes is very difficult. Now if
we punish a man because we do not know him, and take away his chance of being
elected, the result would be....[pauses] If there is not a united vote, if the
patriotic, revolutionary vote is not united, if each person selects according
to his own particular taste, he will be acting to the detriment of the
election of many of his comrades, which would cause other problems. We would
have to look for other candidates. We would have to see if those other
candidates are better known, and the revolutionary election in our country is
not to elect well-known people but to elect people with merit, quality people,
capable people, patriotic people, and revolutionary people.  [applause]

46.  The elections are not a popularity contest. They are in any case a
contest of merit and a contest of ability. If I as a revolutionary have the
right to vote for five, why would I vote for one? Why would I vote for one
just because he is better known, because he is my neighbor whom I see almost
every day and know? I have to have faith in the process. I have to have faith
in the principles we are applying. I have to have faith in the judgment of the
candidacy commissions. I have to have faith in the judgment of the assemblies
that nominated them, the assembly members who were asked their opinions when
they were candidates and afterwards. That was what happened, with a few

47.  I think that in perfecting our system the day has to come when we will
hear the opinion of each and every one there about everything concerning the
base-level delegates, because they are the ones who know the most about the
base-level delegates. I admit that the candidacy commissions can make
mistakes. I admit that an assembly can make a mistake. That can be admitted.
We would be utopians if we thought that it was impossible to make mistakes and
that everything has been perfect. But we have to have faith in the good faith,
honesty, good judgment, and principles with which they have worked.  Of
course, I think that the candidacy commissions have sent their first string
into battle, the comrades who in their opinion had the greatest abilities, the
greatest qualities. It does not mean that the others do not have them. They
are in reserve, and there are thousands more, because it is very difficult to
measure exactly the difference there may be between the merit of one person
and another.

48.  But in their opinion they have sent forth the best. When an election has
to be repeated by any method....[pauses] You know the powers the Constitution
and laws give to the Council of State to hold more elections in those cases
with this same direct method, or assign the task to the municipal assembly, or
declare the seats vacant. But we really are not in a position, comrades, to be
holding repeat elections. I think that when the elections are over on 24
February, with so many tens of thousands of people involved and working on
them, we must turn to carrying out the infinite number of extremely urgent
vital tasks that the country has to carry out.

49.  So a victory on 24 February would mean, in general, in general
[repeats]-there may always be some exceptions-that the candidates on the lists
have been elected.  I do not want to know what hellish work the candidacy
commissions would have to do to find more candidates who would in turn be
elected, when they have presented all those who in their opinion are the best
for these lists of candidacy, and if the same problems occurred. That is why
it is so important to teach people to vote, and not only to teach people to
vote, but to persuade the voters that what is best for the country is a united
vote of revolutionaries and patriots, and not a divided, scattered vote. The
citizens must be persuaded that a scattered vote will harm the process, that a
divided or scattered vote is not what is best for the country. That is not
what is best for the nation. That is not what is best for the Revolution.

50.  The country must adopt these candidates, who have been selected with such
scrupulousness, honesty, and care. They have been selected by virtue of
principles and not influence, in a process where all the requirements have
been carried out to the letter.

51.  That is what would be a real triumph of our concept of elections and our
concept of democracy. It is a luxury that our country can afford and that very
few countries in the world can afford. That is why we have these two issues:
teaching people how to vote and defending a united vote, defending it with
principles, telling every citizen: This is what is best for the country, the
Revolution, and the nation. You are free to do what you think is right. We
respect your right. You can vote for one, two, or three [candidates] if you
want. In other words, we respect your right. But this is what is good for the
country, the nation, and the Revolution.

52.  Of course, we must appeal to our citizens' spirit of unity and
solidarity, their revolutionary and patriotic spirit. I have not mentioned
here the attitude that may be adopted by those who are not with our
Revolution, those who want Cuba to become another Miami, those who want Cuba
to become a Yankee colony, those who want the Revolution to be destroyed,
those who want the Revolution not to resist or not be able to resist. That is
another attitude, and I can imagine what they will do.  They will not vote.
They will nullify their ballots. They will invent things that in one way or
another will hurt us.  But it is clear that they will not vote for the best-
known cadres of the Revolution. They will not vote for the cadres with the
best background. That is for certain.

53.  But that is not what concerns us, because the best-known candidates have
the best chance of being elected, because we know how our people think and
feel. We have faith in the patriotic and revolutionary spirit of our people,
and that our people will rise to the occasion in this fight, this battle,
which is an important battle of the special period.  Because we still have the
entire special period ahead of us, and it is best for us to be a united
country. It is best for us to be a strong country. It is best for us to have a
solid process, which inspires the respect of the nation's enemies and the
Revolution's enemies. [applause]

54.  We want them to see a united people. We want them to see a determined
people. I said before, of course, that we must distinguish between
recalcitrant counterrevolutionaries and those who might be mistaken or
confused.  We must enlighten those who may be mistaken. We must get those who
may be mistaken to overcome their error and confusion. We must recruit them,
win them over.  We cannot give up trying to win the good will of a single

55.  Therefore, three things must be done. First, we must persuade them to
vote, wage the battle so that they will vote. We must teach them to vote. We
must urge them to vote united and not scatter and divide the vote. We must win
over everyone who can be won over. We must win support for the people's
candidacy from all those who can be won, all those who can be persuaded. This
is one of the very important political tasks that we must do. We are not going
to leave those who are confused for the enemy to confuse even more. We must
muster all our patience and intelligence, and use the infinite number of
arguments the Revolution has. Above all, we must make them see what is at
stake during this special period. What is at stake is the Revolution,
socialism, the fatherland, and the existence of the nation, for which entire
generations have fought for more than 100 years. What is at stake is very
sacred, too sacred to act without thinking, to act irresponsibly.

56.  Now, those that cannot be convinced, let them remain unconvinced. But
they should not remain unconvinced because of a lack of effort on our part. It
does not matter what they think. We have important political work to do with
all citizens. This is a task of the Revolution, a new task, we could say,
arising out of this process of perfecting our electoral system. I understand
you often have to have a lot of patience in order to discuss things. But we
must have patience. We must have a lot of patience to try to persuade them,
but we must try to persuade them.  We cannot let the enemy be the one to do
the work.

57.  Now, who should to do this work? The entire people must do it, the entire
people. [applause] Lezcano said that the electoral commissions are going to go
house to house to explain how to vote, to read the resumes, and all that.
Allow me to say that the resumes are very important, of course, but not
everyone here reads the resumes.  We cannot rely on everyone reading the
resumes, on 20,000 people reading and studying them and voting in accordance
with the candidates' merits. We must not forget that not all the resumes are
the same, as I said before. There are people to whom life has given
opportunities to do great things. But now, we cannot make comparisons between
an 18 year old from the FEEM and a comrade who participated in the attack on
the Moncada Barracks, and was on the Granma, in the Sierra Maestra, or carried
out many other tasks or missions.

58.  Many comrades would have been among the candidates if they had not been
killed in the struggle. Camilo [Cienfuegos] would have been among the
candidates, [applause] Che [Guevara] would have been among the candidates.
[applause] Dozens and dozens of brilliant comrades would be among the
candidates if they had not given their lives for the Revolution. [applause]
But we cannot compare Camilo's life history with that of an 18-year-old
student, with the members of the FEEM or the FEU. There are not a lot of them,
but there are few that are candidates, and for very good reason and very
rightly. They play a very important role in our society.  They are
revolutionaries and have talents and qualities in the same way municipal
cadres or outstanding women's leaders have been elected.

59.  There have been a large number of worker cadres elected, which pleases us
a lot. This list the National Candidates Commission has presented is very
representative, and it has been approved by the municipalities.  But of
course, for all the merits they have, there are many comrades who are not well
known. We cannot rely on people voting for them just because their resumes are
available. We must ask how many people have read them and how many people have
read them carefully to make a just decision. How many will understand that the
resume of a young person cannot be compared with a comrade who has dozens of
years of service to the Revolution? How many can understand that a base-level
delegate cannot have the same resume as another revolutionary figure, but
nevertheless is an excellent cadres who is going to represent his district
residents in the National Assembly.

60.  That is one of the best things about our National Assembly that other
assemblies do not have. As I said before, those people at the base-level are
represented there. Now, are we going to believe that because he was elected as
a district delegate and has personal merit, he is going to obtain the 15,000
or 20,000 votes that he needs?  How is he going to obtain them if we
revolutionaries do not vote for him, if we patriots do not vote for him, if
all those of us who want to defend the nation and the Revolution and have
faith in our principles and the process through which he has been nominated,
do not vote for him? In that case, we could not have the kind of assembly we

61.  That is why I have told you and summarized these very important things.
We must make them vote. We must teach them to vote. We must persuade them that
they must vote en masse for the people's candidates. We must persuade all
those who can be persuaded; all those who have even a single fiber of
patriotism, revolutionary spirit, and fairness. We must persuade them. We have
to wage this political battle. We will be acting within the principles that we
have agreed upon. We will be acting in the cleanest process that has ever been
carried out. We will be waging an extremely important battle during the
special period.

62.  Yes, this is a challenge. What country would have had the courage to hold
the elections we are holding under these special period conditions? What
greater proof could there be of our faith in the people? What greater proof
could there be of our faith in the abilities of the revolutionaries, the
morale and spirit of the revolutionaries?

63.  Who must wage this battle? We must. In the first place, all of us, the
vanguard, all revolutionaries. That is why I have said that all of us must
teach everyone to vote.  Everyone must help to persuade everyone of what they
must do and the way they must do it. I said that the visits of the electoral
commissions are not enough. There are the revolutionaries, the revolutionary
activists, the members of the mass organizations, who must also wage the
battle house by house. We cannot leave these tasks to the electoral
commissions. The electoral commissions are for technical tasks. The people
must carry out the political tasks.  They must visit the neighbors, visit
others, visit relatives, who is slightly discontent and does not understand,
who is furious about one thing or another, and try to persuade them in the
name of the values and the moral authority the Revolution represents.

64.  So this is a task of the members of the mass organizations and a task of
the revolutionary members of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Union of
Young Communists. They also must wage this battle house by house and person by
person. When has such a large army of revolutionary activists ever been
gathered together for elections? The whole process has been completed and all
the principles have applied, which fortunately have been fulfilled.

65.  Now there is still the battle of 24 February, a very symbolic day on
which our final fight for independence began. That battle is still to come,
and for all these reasons that we have explained, it is the most complex and
difficult one. But I am certain we will be victorious.  [applause] If we are
confronting the special period with an unshakeable spirit, if we are willing
to resist imperialism in all spheres, how could we not fight against
imperialism, and its corrupt ideology, its reactionary ideology, in the battle
of the elections, in the battle of 24 February? That day all our capacity for
organization and struggle will be tested. All the revolutionary assets we
carry inside, all the history our people have written will be tested. This is
in our favor, because we are defending the Revolution, socialism, the
fatherland, and the nation. [applause]

66.  We are fighting for the same things our compatriots fought for in 1868
and 1895, and the struggle of our workers throughout the history of our
country colonized by imperialism. We are fighting for the same things we
fought for at Moncada, on the Granma, in the Sierra Maestra, in the Escambray.
We are defending the same things we defended during the October missile
crisis. We are defending the same things our glorious and victorious
internationalist missions defended. [applause] We are defending the principles
for which we have never surrendered, when so many others have surrendered. 
[applause] We are defending the principles for which we are willing to give
our lives. We are defending the principles for which we are undertaking the
special period. We are defending the principles for which we are writing one
of the most glorious pages of history.

67.  What nation has been capable of doing what we are doing, here 90 miles
from the United States and when the socialist bloc has collapsed and
disappeared? We have been able to stand firm and continue moving forward. We
are upholding our banners; we are not taking them down; we are not
surrendering them. We are ready to continue fighting until victory. We are
defending these principles, our nation's honor, our people's honor, our
generations' honor, and the revolutionaries' honor. There are quite a few of
us revolutionaries.  There are many more revolutionaries than
counterrevolutionaries in this country. [applause]

68.  We have not only quantity but quality, and this is the spirit we must
carry into the battle of 24 February, so that Marti will be proud of us.

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