Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Fidel Castro Delivers Speech at Education 93
Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL1002134493
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-027          Report Date:    11 Feb 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       9
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       09 Feb 93
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 027


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Fidel Castro Delivers Speech at Education 93

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at the closing ceremony of the Education
93 conference at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana on 5

Source Line:   FL1002134493 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0254 GMT 9
Feb 93

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the closing ceremony of the
Education 93 conference at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana on 5

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the closing ceremony of the Education
93 conference at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana on 5 February-recorded]

2.  [Text] [Castro] That is the Japanese's worst invention, those little
cameras that do not stop flashing for even a second. I noticed this during the
opening ceremony. You could not see a thing. Well, it is one of the evils of
our era and it seems that the Japanese have been successful in taking the lead
over the Americans in the camera market.  [applause] Dear Latin American
teachers, distinguished guests, compatriots: Fortunately, the theater is big
enough, because yesterday no one knew what was going to happen. There was not
enough room for the Cubans, due to the high number of Latin American guests
and participants. There was not enough room in the theater.  It seems that
some of the guests went home yesterday, and now there is room for all of us to
participate together here in the closing of this event. [applause]

3.  Undoubtedly, I am not the best qualified person to give the closing
speech, because I have not participated in the discussions. I always like to
participate in these meetings and become familiar with what is being discussed
in order to be able to give my opinion and speak of those things that have
piqued the interest of all the participants. I have only been able to ask a
few questions of the comrades who are the commission chairs. Therefore, I am
here to fulfill my duty in consenting to the request of the organizers of the
event, and the wish you have expressed in recent days when you wanted me to
make an impromptu speech at any cost. I do not want to speak at length, which
is not usual. [laughter]

4.  I am aware of the long hours of discussions and the schedule you have
followed. Yesterday, I asked and was told that following the morning or midday
discussions, you would proceed to the theater early on. I believe many of you
are anxious to return to your hotels at last.  [Crowd: No!] I also believe
that although the weather is cool, you want to take a bath [Crowd: No!] and be
done with this excellent event.

5.  I have thought about this event. What happened on the opening day truly
caught my attention. Everyone here was amazed by the number of participants.
First, they said 3,000, then 3,500, and finally, on that day over 5,000 Latin
American participants had registered.  [applause] That surprised everyone.
This is the biggest theater we have, and there was not enough room here. I was
asking myself what is going to happen if we continue at this rate. It does not
seem appropriate to hold an educators' meeting in a stadium.

6.  In other words, what has been truly significant is the extraordinary
participation. Approximately 2,000 people participated in the first conference
in 1986.  Approximately 1,500 people participated in the second one.
Approximately 5,200 Latin Americans, without including the Cuban participants,
are attending this third conference. [indistinct comment from audience
followed by laughter] Well, I have to include the Spanish participants as
Latino-Spanish, more or less from the same family. [applause] We really cannot
forget the people responsible for the existence of so many Latin Americans.
[applause, laughter].

7.  This makes us wonder what the reason is for this. We believe that first of
all, it is the result of a feeling of solidarity. We do not believe that we
are so deserving as to be worthy of such a high privilege. I believe we are
witnessing here the feelings of fraternity and support for Cuba, in coming to
Cuba precisely now, at such a special and difficult time. I have also
reflected on the educational efforts of the Revolution. I believe a lot has
been accomplished in this field over the course of the years. It is not
necessary to give you many facts.

8.  We could opt to do what [Luis Ignacio] Gomez did on the first day by
explaining that there is a booklet on education in Cuba during the
revolutionary period, which contains many facts. I do not know if all of you
have this booklet. I believe that it was included in the briefcases, but I
understand that in the end there were not enough briefcases for everyone and
backpacks were used. Some people preferred the backpacks over the briefcases.
They liked them better. [applause]

9.  I think that if there were not enough booklets on Gomez's speech, which I
was able to listen to....[pauses] I was not able to listen to [Ricardo]
Alarcon's speech, nor [Fernando] Vecino's speech. I asked him how it went. He
said very modestly that it went fairly well. [laughter] I believe him. I also
believe he is modest. So for now I think it must have been very good. These
materials can be printed and mailed, and I guess we will have your addresses
at least. It would not be hard to send you copies of the speeches, at least
two or three copies of the most important materials. [applause] Among them, I
would like to suggest the booklet on the history of the educational process
during the revolutionary period.

10.  This morning, thinking of the need to speak this afternoon, I read that
29-page small-print booklet at top speed. For me, reading that history was
truly thrilling, because in reality it contains many of the things that
happened and many of the experiences we underwent.  Perhaps what I found most
thrilling was remembering that it all began with the literacy campaign. All
that we knew about education at the beginning of the Revolution was that
education had to be developed. We had certain ideas about how to accomplish
this, but of course, while we were fighting in the Sierra Maestra, we did not
even imagine what this whole program was to become later, or the things that
emerged along the way. Since the time of the Moncada Barracks attack we had
talked about the problem of education as one of the main problems.  Everyone
in Cuba was aware of that. Life, the battle, the struggle to develop education
in Cuba, is what gave rise to the set of programs that were carried out
through the years.

11.  I remember that we talked then about school campuses, where [the concept
of] a combination of work and study was already present. We thought of large
school campuses in every province. In fact, at the beginning of the
Revolution, we began building at least the first of those school campuses in
what was then called Oriente Province. It was clear that education had to be
brought to the mountain regions. The first efforts in education were conducted
during the revolutionary war period. The first problem was to move the
teachers to the countryside.

12.  There were hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers without
teachers in those regions. We were aware of that and had promised the peasants
that we would send teachers. This was one of the first things we did. From
this came the need to recruit the first teachers, whom we called voluntary
teachers, to go to the mountains. But where were we to find so many voluntary
teachers? The teachers colleges were in the cities. Living conditions in the
mountains, and the countryside in general, were very harsh. Very few people
could tolerate those living conditions. One of the first things was the
creation of the famous 10,000 classrooms, because there were 10,000 unemployed

13.  There were 1 million illiterate people out of a population of 6.5 million
people. Over half the children did not have schools. The existing public
schools had practically no resources. They lacked materials, facilities,
everything.  There were a few private schools-generally considered good
schools-for an insignificant minority of the population. This is how the idea
of the literacy campaign arose one day. I truly believe that it became a
historic event which could be described as a feat. (?How could we do it?) We
made a pledge to eliminate illiteracy in one year. This is the type of pledge
that should not be made, but we did it. [words indistinct] and we also
fulfilled it.  [applause]

14.  It became necessary to mobilize the students, 100,000 students, plus tens
of thousands of teachers, a few tens of thousands [words indistinct] some
voluntary teachers, and so we had a number of people that totaled almost
170,000. We sent them to live in the houses of the illiterate people, in the
mountains, and everywhere. I believe that given the existing illiteracy rate,
we became the first country-I believe the only one-to eliminate illiteracy in
one year. We truly eliminated illiteracy in one year. [applause]

15.  They were committed to teaching everyone to read and write, including
people 80 and 90 years old. They did not want to miss anyone. I believe that
at the end they had taught almost 800,000 people during that period. [Words
indistinct] served as an example for other efforts to promote literacy with
similar measures, mass mobilizations, student mobilizations, and they have had
some success. But of course, no one has been able to do it in one year alone.
This could only be done in the midst of a great revolutionary effervescence.
It happened that precisely in the middle of the literacy campaign, the Bay of
Pigs invasion took place.

16.  Not even the Bay of Pigs invasion was able to interrupt the literacy
campaign. After the literacy campaign, when all those young people returned, a
plan was organized [words indistinct]. All those young people who participated
in the campaign were given the opportunity to study.

17.  At that time there were still only one or two universities.  There was
not a university in every province, there were no schools, no institutes, no
secondary schools. In order for many of those young people to [words
indistinct] by using the houses in Havana of the upper bourgeoisie which had
emigrated to the United States hoping that the Revolution would only last a
few months. Those houses became schools, those houses and other facilities,
for more than 100,000 young people.

18.  Many peasants also came. The literacy campaign was followed by a process
called a follow-up process. Of course, I am not going to tell you this
history. I am simply trying to stress that that was the beginning of it all.
By continuing that effort, we arrived at some of the sophisticated things we
have today.

19.  The development of our ideas, the will to forge ahead, and the full
awareness of the vital importance of education are what have brought us to
where we are today.  How many solutions was it necessary to find along the
way? There was the problem of the [shortage of] teachers.  Of course, we made
mistakes. The process was not free of setbacks and errors. At the beginning we
thought that if the teachers were not taught in the mountains we would never
have teachers for [passage indistinct]. We made efforts to create the teachers
colleges in the countryside.  This was very difficult.

20.  Thousands upon thousands went, but thousands upon thousands also
returned. We would have never arrived at the total number of teachers we
needed that way. One day, we discovered it was necessary to change the concept
and also organize teachers colleges in every city, everywhere. Finally, we
were able to develop a large pool for training teachers. The people enrolling
in the teachers colleges were sixth-grade students because there were no other
students available.

21.  It has to be said that the Revolution, with its many tasks, gave jobs to
an enormous number of students. There were thousands of young people who
joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces, for example. These forces needed
skilled personnel and many people, because the great threats began early on.
Many young people also joined many state institutions and administration
services. We had an ample pool [words indistinct] to carry out the programs,
the education program for every child in Cuba as well as the follow-up
program. Our first teachers enrolled in the teachers colleges with a
sixth-grade education.  Today, they have completed secondary school.

22.  There came a time when the explosion of sixth-grade graduates was so
large that there was no place to send them. It became necessary to develop a
large program for building schools. We built hundreds of schools. At that time
the schools in the field came about [words indistinct] secondary and
preuniversity schools, but there were no teachers. It became necessary to
improvise teachers. The Manuel Ascunze Contingent was created in memory of a
young literacy campaign teacher who was murdered by counterrevolutionary gangs
in the Escambray mountains.

23.  We asked for 10th-grade students-they were the first- and then secondary
school graduates to be trained as teachers. We could not wait until they
became teachers.  We turned them into teachers and students. We used the
work/study concept. They went to their class and also gave classes. For many
years, that was the job of the education contingent. Without that formula we
would have never reached the number of teachers needed.

24.  The vast majority of the teachers during that period did not have
degrees. There was a time when only 30 percent of the teachers had degrees.
Later, we had a problem with preuniversity school teachers but we followed the
same procedure. Later on, we had problems with university professors.

25.  We also have to add that imperialism did everything it could to promote
the exodus of professionals and leave Cuba without professors and doctors.
They opened wide their doors. Many people had dreamed for years of the
opportunity of working in a more developed, wealthier country. It was a
long-time dream for many people. In this way they took away a large part of
the teachers of many schools. They took away many professionals. One of the
fields where we were fairly well off in terms of personnel was medicine. We
had 6,000 doctors, and they took away 3,000. They left us with only 3,000
doctors.  They took away a large number of the medical school professors. This
is why we were also forced to wage an intense battle in the public health
field in order to have what we have today.

26.  This could give you an idea, without getting into all the details, of how
long and difficult the struggle has been to reach what we could call the
present conditions, trends, and ideas on education.

27.  There were no universities, only one in Havana and one in Santiago de
Cuba, which was fairly new. A couple more were built quickly someplace else
before the Revolution, I believe in Camaguey and Holguin. It was not the same
situation as we have today.

28.  In the universities we had to improvise professors, pick many of the best
students and leave them there as professors at a time when Cuba needed them in
production. Because besides the fact that we had few engineers and skilled
personnel, some of those we had were also taken away. They went to the United
States along with their bosses. We waged a bitter fight against the pressures,
the embargo, and the exodus of skilled personnel in order to reach the levels
which Gomez spoke about and which are mentioned in that booklet.

29.  Filling 29 pages with small print means that you have a high number of
accomplishments; for example, the special schools, the other schools,
technological schools, physical education schools, teachers colleges,
teachers' aides schools, childcare center teachers schools, vocational
schools, and military vocational schools for those who chose a military
career. A set of institutions were developed. There were years when over 100
schools in the field were built; the technological schools for the different
branches of the industrial sector, including the sugar industry; the fine arts
schools. The program was thorough. It was an integrated program.
Unfortunately, we were not able to develop all of it as it was conceived. 
Countless university facilities were built, to the extent that nowadays we
have 47 university centers with an immense number of students and different
types of education. There is regular education, training for workers,

30.  I mentioned the special schools. We had a program to build all the
special schools we needed. Naturally, many of these schools were established
at facilities which sometimes did not meet all the requirements. We already
had a program to build all the special schools we needed to serve 80,000
students, many of them new schools. In Havana, for example, the 24 special
schools needed were built, but construction was also taking place in other
parts of the country. [Words indistinct] that was the required enrollment.

31.  You know that these concepts are relative. They can be debated. There are
special schools which are unquestionable. There is no way to handle certain
problems without these schools. Certain problems can be handled in the regular
schools, or there might be other ways. But, in accordance with all the
estimates, we needed facilities for 80,000 students. We had reached 60,000. We
did not reach 100 percent. We needed to build approximately another 100
schools. Each one of these schools has a prototype. They were especially
designed for each function. A school for students with hearing problems is not
the same as a school for students with physical handicaps. I have seen several
of these schools and I know they have special characteristics. All these
different branches of education were developed in this manner.

32.  Now it is shocking to remember that there was only one technological
school in Cuba at the triumph of the Revolution. This shows you what
colonialism and neocolonialism is- only one technological school. There were
six agricultural schools. There was a very small number of teachers colleges
in the capitals of the six provinces. It is shocking to remember all that and
compare it with what was built later. In the teacher training field, all types
of facilities were built. Fortunately, almost all those facilities were built.
We still have to complete three of four new facilities. (?We reached) [words
indistinct] schools of education in each of the country's 14 provinces.
Likewise, schools of medicine were established in each of the country's 14
provinces. In certain provinces, there are several of these schools.

33.  It is truly sad that our whole program, as it was conceived, was not
completed. [Words indistinct] preuniversity schools we were building, often to
improve existing facilities. The problem was often to provide new facilities
for old institutions. We had a program to build practically all new secondary
and primary urban schools which did not have suitable, ideal conditions. We
had a program to build all the childcare centers needed, and we had the idea
that one day, as the country developed, every child would be able to attend a
childcare center, not only the children of working mothers.

34.  As I mentioned, a number of special schools were not built, as well as a
number of vocational schools which were insufficient because they had
inadequate facilities.  But in a few more years, if the events that occurred
had not taken place, we would have been able to complete that whole program,
with the facilities, in its entirety. Of course, what we did was enough to put
us in first place among all Third World countries and above several developed
countries. [applause] The effort made under those conditions was such that we
now have more teachers or teaching personnel per capita than any other [words
indistinct] country. [applause]

35.  It is said that in developing countries....[pauses] to call them
something. They should be called underdeveloping countries if we keep in mind
that the abyss between the developed and undeveloped countries keeps growing. 
These are not countries which are developing but rather they are
underdeveloping, falling further and further behind in their development. It
is said that in those countries, the number of students per teacher is 26.
That is the average. In some countries it is less, and in others the total
number of students per teacher is much higher.  It is said that in developed
countries the number of students per teacher is 16. In Cuba, the number of
students per teacher is 10. [applause]

36.  Another figure is the number of inhabitants per teacher.  In Latin
America many countries have 100 inhabitants per teacher. The countries with
the best rates are the United Stated with 77 inhabitants per teacher, and
Canada with 52 inhabitants per teacher. Cuba has 39 inhabitants per teacher.
[applause] This is why other figures have improved greatly. For example, we
have reached 100- percent enrollment at the primary school level. Few
countries have 100-percent enrollment in primary school. There is always a
fraction [words indistinct] but in practice it is equivalent to 100 percent at
the primary school level. Enrollment in secondary school is over 90 percent. I
believe that in Latin America, enrollment is 57 percent. Student retention,
which in our hemisphere, in Latin America, is [words indistinct] approximately
50 percent, is over 90 percent in Cuba.  [applause]

37.  In Cuba, a child begins receiving care before its birth.  Somewhere I
read that every pregnant woman receives 15 prenatal checkups before delivery,
so that the students are being cared for since they are in their mother's
womb. [applause] Naturally, infant mortality was also reduced until we reached
the current levels, this year, during the special period. This is truly
incredible. Even we ourselves did not think that we could maintain the rate of
10.7 [per 1,000 live births] with the tremendous, enormous difficulties of the
special period, but the rate was reduced to 10.2. [applause] We find
ourselves, not only in first place among all the Third World countries but
also among the top 25 countries in the world. We are getting close to getting
under 10. When we will do so is impossible to say in these circumstances, but
it is a fact that some provinces have less than 10.

38.  Villa Clara Province, a rural province, has an infant mortality rate of
6.6. This is one of the lowest rates in the world. There are municipalities in
the mountains where no infant has died for three or four years, municipalities
there in the mountains where before no one even knew the number of children
that died [words indistinct] children died while being taken by boat. There
were no roads. There were no communications.

39.  The institution of the family doctor has been extended, and we have
approximately 18,000 family doctors. I mentioned that there were 6,000 doctors
at the start and 3,000 stayed. But with these 3,000 as the seed, the doctor
training program was developed, the universities and schools of medicine were
developed, in such a way that now we have more than 40,000 doctors. For every
doctor taken from us by the Yankees, today we have 14 doctors.  [applause]

40.  The prestige of medicine in Cuba is growing to the extent that many
people, growing numbers of people, seek medical care in Cuba. Not only
children have benefited from the program, but all the people of the country
have benefited. Mothers have benefited to the point that infant mortality
rates....[corrects himself] Maternal mortality rates are insignificant. I
believe it is approximately 3.2 per 10,000 live births. Before, these rates
were very high.

41.  Educational efforts have had an impact on all fields because education is
everything. Without education, no development can take place. Today our
efforts, in the midst of incredibly difficult conditions, are to maintain and
improve what we have, with what we have. It is impossible at this time to
think of building new schools.  Some are being finished, something is fixed or
added.  The construction of these schools has been stopped.  Nevertheless, the
rates continue to improve and education continues to improve, thanks to the
efforts made through the years which allow us to have almost 300,000 teachers
now at the different levels, almost 300,000.

42.  This is not counting the tens and tens of thousands of teachers who are
doing something else [words indistinct] at all the institutions, mass
organizations, the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC], the Union of Young
Communists. State institutions were always looking for teachers for some jobs,
since teachers were outstanding for their knowledge and training. This has
been a tremendous struggle, competition [words indistinct] the other state
organizations (?to get) those teachers, regardless of the number of
retirements, although our mass of teachers is primarily young. All the
institutions have professors and teachers. Despite this, we have almost
300,000 teachers.  I think the exact number is 282,000.

43.  We have a reserve of teachers which allows us to train them in different
ongoing education programs. This makes it possible for thousands of teachers
to study full time, thanks to this reserve of teachers. This is not a luxury,
because the problem of a human society is to organize itself in such a way
that all the people can be useful, that all the people can have sufficient
training for useful work, because the key to everything, more than money, more
than material resources, is human resources. [applause]

44.  What would become of these almost 300,000 teachers without these
educational programs? Could we have 140,000 teachers, and half of these
teachers could be at home, or being housewives, or doing other things? That is
what happens in the world. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people
do nothing because they do not have the training to do anything, nor the will
to do something. They live like sheep, and those who should be concerned about
them do not do anything or care.

45.  The problem of a society, as we see it, with our concepts, our
revolutionary and socialist concepts, is that people have the right to
organize themselves in a rational way, because if even ants are capable of
rational organization, and even bees are capable of rational organization, why
not human beings, the most extraordinary of nature's creations, the only being
provided with true intelligence?  Are not human beings capable of being
organized in a rational way? Can a society with hundreds of thousands of
unemployed people be considered rational? There are billions [of unemployed]
in the world. In superdeveloped Europe, there are tens of millions. In the
United States, I do not know how many millions of unemployed there are, 7 or
7.5 percent.

46.  The underemployed must be added to this. Those who have jobs that do not
produce anything must be added to this. Capitalism has been unable to create a
rational society. It creates a society full of contradictions and absurdities,
full of paradoxes. It has created a society which depletes everything, natural
resources but especially human resources, a society that alienates everything.
What we have obtained in education, health, and many other fields shows what a
society that tries to organize itself in a rational way can do.

47.  But without this rationality, without this rational organization, no
country in the world could have resisted what our country is resisting today.
[applause] In the midst of the chaos of capitalism, it would have been
absolutely impossible. How can we explain how a country that has lost 75
percent of its imports, a country that must work with 40 percent of the fuel
that it had, and all as a consequence of the disappearance of the socialist
bloc and the disintegration of the USSR- countries with which we had 85
percent of our trade and which gave us fair prices for our products-how is it
possible, given these terrible blows our country's economy has suffered, that
not a single school has closed? [applause] Not a single student has been left
without a teacher. There are teachers who are on sabbatical.  [applause] There
are thousands of teachers who are improving their qualifications, because we
have the personnel, and in any case they would have to be clothed and fed, and
would have to breathe and absorb a little of the solar energy that reaches us
every day. This is something that is possible solely because of the
rationalization of our society.

48.  How is it possible that in these conditions not a single hospital has
been closed, and not a single sick person has been left without medical care?
How is it possible that not a single doctor has been left without a job? How
is it possible that every teacher that graduates has a guaranteed job? 
[applause] That every doctor and engineer has a guaranteed job? That every
mid-level technician has a job or economic aid? Economic aid, because when the
lack of raw materials and other resources, the lack of energy, and the lack of
fuel prevent us from doing those economic activities in which we can employ
these citizens, they are not abandoned. They are not left without the support
of society. They are not left without a contribution from society.

49.  Although we do not have a lot to go around, at least we divide what we
have in an equitable and humane manner. [applause] Could any of this been
possible with any other concept of society? And now I ask myself why they want
to destroy it? Why does the United States want to destroy the Cuban
Revolution, which has obtained these very humane achievements, when we know
what goes on in the world. We know what has happened in many countries, the
reality, the terrible reality, the truth, not the lies which so many use and
so many abuse against our country to try to deny the merits of our revolution,
[applause] the extraordinarily humanistic spirit of our revolution. Why?

50.  The director of UNICEF has told me that if Cuba's health parameters
existed in Latin America, for example, 750,000 children would be saved every
year. This means that imperialism and capitalism are murdering 750,000
children in this hemisphere every year. [applause] I am not talking about
those who have no schools, those who walk the streets cleaning windshields,
the homeless, those who walk the streets eating fire so that people will give
them money. Not to mention those who are victims of the death squads.

51.  I am talking about those who are killed every year simply because minimal
health services do not exist. I am talking about those less than one year old
who are killed.  I am not even talking about the ones who are killed who are
older than one, from one to four and five to 14 years old. I am not talking
about those who are killed at any age, among so many people in this hemisphere
and in the Third World who do not have medical care. I am not talking about
those who are killed in the United States itself, because everyone knows that
when those great cold waves come, hundreds and thousands of old people who do
not have anywhere to take shelter freeze to death.

52.  According to basic calculations, in these years of the Revolution, our
country has saved the lives of more than 400,000 children who would have died
without the Revolution. They would have died without the health rates the
Revolution has. The Revolution's health programs have saved 400,000 children.
Not to mention the children who have received an education under the
Revolution. Not to mention the educational level of our people. Not to mention
the fact that illiteracy is something that is not even talked about here. It
is a word that is used here only when recalling the past.

53.  Imperialism wants to make the country that has reduced infant morality to
10.2, the country that has reduced illiteracy to zero, the country that has
reduced the primary school drop-out rate to zero, the country that has reduced
the drop-out rate among secondary school students to a very small percentage,
disappear from the face of the earth. Imperialism wants to annihilate the
country that has the most teachers per capita and the most doctors per capita.
Why does imperialism want to destroy the example of the Cuban Revolution? Why
not end those inhumane and merciless systems that the vast majority of the
human race are suffering from, especially the peoples of the Third World?

54.  Why do they not annihilate that criminal system called neoconservativism?
[applause] Why do they not annihilate those institutions that are trying to
privatize everything, from schools to streets and parks? [applause] Why do
they not annihilate those institutions that demand that education, health, and
social security budgets disappear?  [applause] They want to annihilate a
concept, system, and society that is the opposite of all that. Why do they
want to strangle it? Why do they want to smother it? To create what in the
world? To offer what to the world?

55.  We have these convictions, and that is why we defend them with such
determination and steadfastness. We know these truths, we know what the other
system means, and we do not want to be the others. We are willing to pay
whatever price is required. [applause]

56.  This event has coincided with an extremely important electoral process in
our country. To be exact, in a few weeks the elections will take place, with
the direct and secret election of the delegates to the provincial assemblies
and the deputies to the National Assembly, which is the highest governing body
of the state. However, you have not seen the streets of this city full of
placards, posters, and advertising of all kinds. You have not seen that war,
that struggle, that fierce fight. If you visit the neighborhoods, you will see
the candidates for deputy working together, campaigning together, visiting the
schools, institutions, and workplaces together, meeting, discussing, and
talking with people.

57.  This is because of a principle we have applied in our country, because we
had no reason to copy the inventions of imperialism, of the looting and
exploiting societies. We had no reason to copy from those who invented
colonialism, those who were responsible for slavery, neocolonialism, and

58.  We have no reason to copy them. Some who have tried to copy them have
become messed up. They have been fragmented into a thousand pieces. Who knows
if they will ever be again what they once were. [applause] They want to sweep
us from the face of the earth because we are resisting, because we refuse to
put on that yoke, because we refuse to stop being what we are, even if we have
to struggle under very difficult conditions. They talk about democracy, and it
would be worthwhile for them to think about what we are doing, and what
elections are like in our country, and how we have been perfecting our ideas.

59.  They are ours. We do not want to say that our prescription should be the
same for everyone or be used by everyone. We do not make those claims. There
are many things the Revolution has done that we know other countries are
beginning to do. Other countries would like to do them but cannot. There is
the work/study concept, the application of that principle of Marx and Marti.
We cannot forget Marx. It was not only Marti. Who can feel more love for Marti
than we Cubans? [applause] But Marx and Marti both stated the principle of
work/study, starting with those analyses Engels had made of English society
where they forced children of 7, 8, or 10 to work.  That pitiless society had
discovered that children were producers, potential producers, as has been
known and discovered throughout the world, where children of 8, 9 or 10 have
to work to earn a living.

60.  They discovered that work could be a great educational tool, that the
problem was not the physical and mental effort a teenager had to make, but
rather the reasons this physical and mental effort was imposed on those
teenagers under pitiless conditions. The application of the work/study
principle of Marx and Marti is something that in my opinion was a creation of
the Cuban Revolution. Its application was also elaborated on, because those
ideas had been talked about, but it was necessary to put them into practice.
The Cuban Revolution elaborated on the ideas in order to put that principle
into practice.

61.  There are other things, like the family doctor, the Cuban concept of the
family doctor, which is tending to spread.  But I do not claim for that reason
that whatever we do in the political sphere is a universal remedy or panacea.
I know that it is our remedy, and we are very satisfied with our remedy. I
know that it is not easy to apply it, because to apply it, it is first
necessary to have a very profound revolution. It is not easy to have profound
revolutions.  [applause]

62.  We have established the principle that the people nominate and the people
elect. It is not the party, it is not our party that nominates. Nor does our
party elect. It is the mass organizations and the people that nominate. The
district delegates are nominated by the people who are organized into
assemblies, with no intervention by the party. That is where the district
delegates come from, and they are the ones who make up the municipal
assemblies of the people's government. But they are also the ones who nominate
the candidates for the provincial assemblies and for deputies of the National
Assembly.  This is with the participation of the mass organizations, attended
by the workers, the workers, [repeats] the farmers, the women, the Committees
for the Defense of the Revolution, and the students.

63.  They are the ones who make up the candidacy commissions and nominate the
candidates. It is not the party that does this. They are the ones who present
the candidates to the municipal assemblies. This is why a simple, humble,
ordinary man can be a National Assembly deputy. He does not have to be a
millionaire.  His background, life, and merits are known, and that is what
counts. Most of the members of the National Assembly are deputies from the
base level. Up to 50 percent are delegates from the base level. To be elected
as delegates to the provincial assemblies or deputies to the National
Assembly, they need 50 percent plus one of the valid votes.

64.  We are involved in this process right now, leading up to the elections on
24 February. Compare this process, these procedures and methods of ours with
what happens elsewhere. Where do the workers nominate candidates?  Where do
the students, farmers, women, and neighborhood residents nominate and elect
candidates? We are proud of these procedures. We are also proud that in the
midst of such a difficult situation, in the midst of a period [words
indistinct] we are undertaking the test of these elections, which assume that
the Revolution has the full and open support of the majority of the people. 

65.  The Revolution has not only the support of the majority of the people; it
also has the best of the people. It has not only quantity but quality.
[applause] All these tasks we are involved in at a time when the socialist
bloc has disappeared and a unipolar world has been created, the United States
[words indistinct] and is trying to make the Cuban Revolution disappear from
the face of the earth. We receive many messages from many parts of the world
which can be summarized in one word: Resist!  Resist! Resist! [applause]

66.  That is why we are moved by your declaration, your solidarity, and your
idea of collecting notebooks and pencils so that our educational program will
not come to a halt. We will do everything possible so that not a single school
will be closed, so that the children will have something to write on, even if
it is only cardboard, and will have study materials. [applause] But we are
encouraged [words indistinct] this noble effort [words indistinct] represent
not the rich people, but the poor or low- income people of Latin America. You
have had to come here by making great personal sacrifices, especially when the
distances are long and one must pay $1,000 for a round-trip plane ticket, or
more than $1,000. Some must pay more, others less, depending on the distance.
But all have the same merit and the same good will. [applause]

67.  We are moved when we think that our children are going to study with
these pencils and notebooks. But we see above all the moral value this has.
That is the important, fundamental thing. The battle against the embargo is a
political battle, difficult and tough, because those who organized and created
the embargo wove that tangle well, and they wound it around like a Gordian
knot. It is very difficult to undo. UN resolutions are not enough.  We must
wage a political battle worldwide to defeat the embargo, which today is 100
times crueler because before, when the socialist bloc and the USSR existed, we
traded with those countries. We sent our products there and we received fair
prices. We imported goods. We had fuel. We had food.

68.  In 1960, at the beginning of the Revolution, when the Yankee embargo
started, one could buy eight tons of oil for one ton of sugar. With the USSR,
because of the trade agreements that were reached over the years, if the price
of oil rose, the price of sugar also rose. We could buy seven tons of oil for
one ton of sugar. I want to tell you that today, one can buy only 1.4 tons of
oil for one ton of sugar. Sugar is difficult to produce, because it must be
planted, cultivated, cut, transported, milled, and loaded onto ships. The
effort of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of men is necessary. It is almost
as if what our country is consuming in the plants or factories is sugar,
because you can buy only 1.4 tons of oil for one ton of sugar.

69.  I say this so that you will have an idea of the kind of difficulties we
have to cope with. Of course, we are seeking new channels, we are seeking new
formulas, but we have the implacable, systematic, merciless, intensified
Yankee embargo in front of us, and we do not now have that trade and those
advantages we had in our economic relations with the socialist bloc and the
USSR.  That is why the embargo is doing much more harm to us now, incomparably
more harm. In addition, the pressures are terrible against all those who trade
with us, or want to trade with us, or want to invest something in Cuba, or
want to carry out some trade deal with Cuba.

70.  That is why, Latin American comrades, the embargo is much harsher now,
because of these special conditions that arose when the socialist bloc
disappeared. Even so, we are willing to fight. We are willing to resist. We
are willing to wait however long we have to-because the world cannot continue
as it is, nor will it continue as it is.  The peoples cannot resign themselves
to having the world continue as it is, and you are not going to resign
yourselves to having the world continue as it is.  [applause]

71.  Teachers are not going to resign themselves to having the world continue
as it is. Your presence here shows this, this massive attendance, this
extraordinary number of more than 5,000 participants in this event from Latin
America and Spain. [applause] These trends will have to be reversed, and they
will be reversed, but it is a lengthy, tough, difficult battle, a political
battle in which you have ideas about what should be done and how it should be
done, how to organize and how to work to make the world's pressure felt
against that monstrous crime that is the imperialist embargo against Cuba.

72.  For our part, we will do our duty. We will do our duty to work above all
for the friendship and unity of the Latin American peoples. We wish that the
Latin American governments-and I say this here very frankly-had the same
awareness you have about Latin American unity and integration. [applause] I
ask myself: How many translators have been needed here? How many translators
have been needed so that we could communicate with each others? What would
happen if instead of being a meeting of Latin Americans, this was a meeting of
Europeans? For each delegate there would be at least four interpreters, so
that they could understand [words indistinct] try to unite to do something, to
be able to live and survive, to face the future.

73.  Can these peoples-about whose future men like Bolivar, Marti, Morelos,
Juarez, San Martin, O'Higgins, and so many other important people in our
history dreamed-continue as they are, fragmented, in pieces, trampled on by
those giants with seven-league boots that Marti spoke of and we recall today?
What will our fate, our future be? I was very sad-and I say this very
frankly-that at the Madrid summit the name of Bolivar mentioned not one single
time. [applause]

74.  (?I can) do so in the name of Cuba, remember those who fought against the
conquest and remember those who fought for independence. Perhaps I said
outdated words.  Perhaps I said inappropriate words. But it is time to talk
about Bolivar. It is time to talk about Marti. It is time to talk about those
who really dreamed about dignified nations and dignified destinies for each of
us. Almost 200 years have gone by since the wars for independence began in
this hemisphere, and what are we? Where are we going?

75.  I ask, as I asked in Madrid, are they going to discover us again, conquer
us again, [applause] and enslave us again.  Because there were a lot of
statements in defense of the 500th anniversary of that famous discovery, and
not a single word about the millions who die every year from disease and
hunger. There was not a single word about the suffering of hundreds of
millions of inhabitants of this hemisphere, the uncertainty in which they
live, the suffering in which they live. There was not a single word about the
tens of millions of men and women who were exterminated by the conquistadors.
If we do not condemn that, if we do not remember that, the fate that awaits us
will be that within another 500 years, there will be still more celebrations
occasioned by the crimes and violations committed against us, occasioned by
the conquests, slavery, and exploitation accomplished at our cost.

76.  You who are teachers know this, you who try to teach children and
teenagers the truth know this. You know this better than anyone else. You who
try to inculcate patriotism know this. You who try to inculcate values of
social justice and solidarity know this. Because without these values, we will
be nothing. We will be nobody. Or worse, we will be something. We will be
eternally exploited. We will be eternally enslaved. [applause]

77.  That is why we hope for so much from you, and we are happy that this
teachers' movement is multiplying, as the movement of doctors and many other
professionals who have a similar awareness of these problems is multiplying.
That is why I would like to express our deepest gratitude for your having kept
Cuba in mind, for your having remembered Cuba, for your having had faith in
Cuba, for your having come to Cuba. [applause]

78.  I consider that an institution, a movement, has been created with these
meetings of teachers. It was thought at first that they should be held every
four years, then it was decided to hold them every three years, I agree with
the proposal by [name indistinct] that we should hold these meetings every two
years. [applause] If we do not fit into this theater, we will think something
up-other places, other things, we will divide up into many groups, but we will
hold our meeting.

79.  Let me therefore take leave of you with those unforgettable words of Che
[Guevara], expecting to see you again soon: Onward toward victory always!