Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Fidel Castro Addresses Santiago Working Meeting
Havana Radio Rebelde Network

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL1602233693
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-030          Report Date:    17 Feb 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     4
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       13
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       13 Feb 93
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 030


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio Rebelde Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Fidel Castro Addresses Santiago Working Meeting

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at a working meeting to analyze the
progress of the electoral process, at the Heredia Theater in
Santiago de Cuba on 11 February- recorded]

Source Line:   FL1602233693 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2100 GMT
13 Feb 93

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a working meeting to analyze
the progress of the electoral process, at the Heredia Theater in
Santiago de Cuba on 11 February- recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a working meeting to analyze the
progress of the electoral process, at the Heredia Theater in Santiago de Cuba
on 11 February- recorded]

2.  [Text] [Castro] Dear Comrades: A few hours after coming to Santiago de
Cuba, and based on the experience of the working meeting in Havana on 6
February, I proposed to Comrade [Esteban] Lazo the idea of holding a similar
working meeting for Santiago de Cuba Province at the end of this lightning
campaign we were doing. We could say this meeting would be a follow-up, not
the conclusion, but rather a follow-up to this work we have been doing. Then
we also had the idea of inviting the comrades from the eastern provinces,
where we knew there was a more or less similar situation to that in Santiago
de Cuba, to analyze the experiences of these days.

3.  I think important changes have occurred in the past week, although the
week has not yet ended, starting with the working meeting in Havana. We are
aware that the meeting was very necessary, because there was confusion. There
was a need for general guidance, because each person was
interpreting....[pauses] Because people were interpreting the ideas and needs
quite well, but each person was putting their own nuance, stamp, or thing on
them. We are waging a hard, difficult battle. It is a very important one
within the special period. This does not mean that the special period will be
over when the elections are over, but they are a very important step forward
to prepare us for the great struggle of the special period.

4.  One of the most important things, and one that most concerned us-and this
was clearly seen-was the great danger of making mistakes when voting. This was
very present. This came up everywhere. A trace appeared here, when the comrade
from Segundo Frente explained after the little trap....[pauses] Because at
least the impression I got was that it was a little trap set by someone who
asked which of the two candidates he was going to vote for. But that problem
was very present.

5.  This is primarily due to the kind of elections we have had in the last 15
years. They were base-level elections to elect the district delegates. These
elections made us accustomed to voting for one person out of several, up to
eight sometimes. There was a minimum of two and a maximum of eight. In the
first elections there were seven or eight. There were more candidates. Some
candidates consolidated their positions and were nominated by different areas
in the same district, and the number of candidates dropped to two or three.
(?In some cases there was only one.)  But we had to choose from among them.

6.  Now all of a sudden there are elections where it is precisely the
opposite. They have other principles and another basis. However, we had to
start with the other kind of elections, the traditional kind, the election of
district delegates. These were the same: choosing. Then all of a sudden, a few
weeks later, we are changing to a system that does not consist of choosing,
although one can choose. The Constitution and the laws give the right to
choose. One can vote for one, two, three, all, or none.  That is the option
that the voters have the right to. We respect that right from the legal and
juridical point of view.

7.  We are not trying to obtain anything through pressure or coercion. Rather,
we are trying to use persuasion. It is a matter of persuading people about
what we should do and how we should do it. It is a matter of persuading the
populace about the difficulties that could result from our new method of
holding elections. The first difficulty-I repeat-is that of making mistakes.
Mistakes could have very negative consequences, within our concept. Because we
would like to improve our electoral system, not complicate it, not lead it
into a blind alley. Rather, we wanted to lead it to true improvement.

8.  Once more, I should say that our system was very democratic, from the
beginning. I remember the day when it was discussed and thought out.
Everything hinged on the problem of who would nominate. Thus the idea arose
that the people should nominate, that the residents of each district should
meet and propose and nominate without the intervention of the party, that it
should not be the party that nominated. Because we had a single party. If the
party nominated, it would serve to strengthen the reactionary factions against
the historical idea of a single party in our country. Because the republic
arose, or at least was born, out of the last war for independence, with one
party. Parties did not exist.  Unfortunately, factions formed during our first
war for independence. But there was a single force. A multiparty system did
not exist, nor did it exist during our second war for independence. The
multiparty system was introduced as an instrument of division and
disintegration of our society and for imperialism in our country.

9.  Those were the methods, and that was what they introduced. Starting with
that, well, they disbanded everything. They disbanded the Marti party. They
disbanded the liberating army. They left us with nothing; we were totally
defenseless. We did not have a party or an army, which were precisely the two
things which did not happen at the triumph of the Revolution in 1959. We were
not left unprotected or defenseless. We were left with one party and one army.
We cannot say exactly that we had only one party. Rather, we could say we were
left with the remnants of a multiparty system, of several parties. We had one
army and a movement that had played a primary role in that struggle, a unitary
movement, not a sectarian movement. It was a movement that always tried to
absorb, join others to it, and unite.

10.  But we had the privilege in the initial period of the Revolution of again
having the possibility of having a single party to guide the people in the
Revolution. That is how, through persuasion, the uniting of the different
revolutionary forces into a single party happened. This happened almost from
the beginning, because from the beginning there was coordination among the
different revolutionary forces. The 26 July Movement played a very important
role, precisely because of its nonsectarian nature, because of the
nonsectarian spirit that prevailed among its leaders. Although to tell the
truth, there was also sectarianism in our ranks. We had to struggle a lot, and
explain the tendency for division between those from the plains and those from
the mountains, the underground struggle and the guerrilla struggle, some
factions with political ideas and other factions with different ideas. But
everything was gradually resolved. It was mainly resolved through persuasion.

11.  Thus, we succeeded in uniting all the political forces into what were
called the integrated revolutionary organizations, then the party, until we
had what we have today.  We have returned to what had been the country's
history, what Marti advocated before beginning the last war for independence.
If we had a single party, there was a very serious problem, a dialectical
problem, to be resolved. That was the issue of nomination. This argument could
be used by the enemies of the idea of a single party. So we said: No, the
party will not nominate. The people will nominate.

12.  That is how the districts, the assemblies in the districts, the proposals
and elections, arose. Who can deny this?  There was some intervention by the
party sometimes, but this intervention did not occur by violating a principle,
but rather because there was a need for the president of the people's
government to be elected as a delegate. So there was some promotion of cadres,
some promotion of some comrade of whom it was thought that he could be the
president of the people's government.  This gave rise to some participation by
the party. But then in the second....[pauses] In the last congress, we
analyzed how to improve the people's government. We also discussed some ideas,
whether the president had to be a delegate, whether we had to show that the
practice of being a delegate and the president had some drawbacks and resulted
in some instability.

13.  We also discussed a lot whether they should have two-and-a-half-year
terms, or whether the delegates should have five-year terms. I confess to you
that I still have doubts about this. We had reached the conclusion in the
commissions, in the preparatory commission, that they should have
two-and-a-half-year terms. There are arguments pro and con. But stability had
a lot to do with this.  They told us that many delegates move house and then
they are no longer delegates. So we came to the conclusion that the provincial
delegates should have five-year terms, and that the two-and-a-half-year terms
for the municipal delegates, the district delegates, should continue. But the
district delegates were the ones who then elected the provincial delegates,
who later elected the deputies to the National Assembly [ANPP].

14.  This is democratic. No one can deny that at all. So our system was very
democratic, and it was already the most democratic, because the people
nominated and elected.  It was just that they nominated and elected directly
at the base level. But they did not elect directly on the intermediate levels;
that is, the provincial assemblies and the ANPP. That is extremely important,
because the ANPP is the highest body of state government. Our step forward and
our challenge was to establish the direct election of the delegates to the
provincial assemblies and the deputies to the ANPP. That is our great step
forward and our great challenge.

15.  This task was not at all easy, because we had to solve many practical
problems: what it would be like, how to campaign, if it would introduce
politicking into our country again, introduce division between the candidates,
war between the candidates, competition for votes, those historical publicity
methods we know of, which are repugnant and disgusting. They fill the walls,
posts, and buildings with placards, banners, and posters.  It is ridiculous
propaganda, in a contest of every man for himself, in a war. We asked
ourselves: How can we have direct elections without all those drawbacks of
politicking and all those disgraceful things the old system entailed? How can
we maintain the principle that the people nominate and the people elect?

16.  The principle that the people nominate and elect is what puts us in first
place among the democratic countries of the world. Because before, a group of
people nominated and even elected. There is a system, one of the most common,
in which each party by itself picks the candidates. Then, the different
parties run in the elections, and they vote. Sometimes they vote for all the
candidates; this business of voting for all the candidates is nothing new.
They have one column. They must elect 20 deputies, and they have 20 names. So
they vote at the top for the 20 deputies. But who gets elected? The ones they
have put as number one, number two, and number three, and no one else. All the
others are filler candidates.

17.  What is really more ugly or detestable than a filler candidate? He works
and seeks votes so that the one they put as number one will be elected,
because it is the party that gives the ranking, and puts them there as number
one or two. They calculate more or less how many votes they are going to get.
They put all the others to work for the number one, or number two, depending
on the share of votes they get. Some get two elected, others get three, and
others get more. Sometimes there is a large number of parties, and I do not
know how they fit on the ballots.

18.  Besides, this system divides society. It atomizes it. The ideal society
for exploitation is a divided society, an atomized society. The ideal society
for imperialism is an atomized society, a divided society. Because the
nation's strength is divided up. The nation's forces are at war against each
other. They are not at the service of the nation, but rather at the service of
party interests, and at the service of imperialist domination. This is why
imperialism tries so hard to establish this system in all countries, and why
these countries are terribly weak, incredibly weak, and our country is
tremendously strong, incredibly strong.

19.  Our country is showing this in this special period, and how! Who would
have been able to resist with another system what we are resisting? But how
could we maintain the principle that the people elect and the people nominate,
and avoid politicking, avoid war, avoid competition for votes? I think that
the best thing about our result is having succeeded in maintaining all these
principles without any of the drawbacks we feared.

20.  But the principle could not be so easy or simple. This principle cannot
be easily applied in just any country. To apply this principle, a country must
first of all have carried out a very profound revolution. The exploitation of
man by man would have to have disappeared. The exploitation of some classes of
the people by some privileged minorities would have to have disappeared. 
Without a system of social justice like that in our country, without a system
of equality like that in our country, it would be absolutely impossible to
apply this system.

21.  But it did have drawbacks, I repeat once again. First, we have to know
how to vote, understand the change, understand the new concepts, the new
principle being applied. That is why we wanted to maintain....[pauses] How
many were needed? If 589 candidates were needed, then we would have 589
candidates. That is what the ANPP needed. If we needed 1,190 provincial
delegates, then we would have 1,190 provincial delegates. This prevented
competition, because if you put up 2,000 to contest 1,190 posts, a general war
will break out. If you put up 1,000 for the 589 seats, a general war will
break out. We had to prevent a general war, and at the same time have
democratic, absolutely democratic, elections.

22.  That is why we established the principle that if....[pauses] Well, the
citizens have as many votes as there are candidates. They do not have a single
vote; they have more than one. If there are seven candidates on the two
ballots, the citizens have seven votes. Nothing is being taken away from the
citizens; they are being given more votes.

23.  So they do not have the dilemma of asking themselves: If there are two,
three, or four very good comrades, why should I choose between them? If all
are good people, they do not have to ask themselves why they would exclude
this one or that one, because this other one has such a good resume, or has
merits, or is young and in the future may be an asset to the country, etc. The
citizens have more rights, more options, but they are their options. Nothing
is being taken away from anyone; more is being given. They are given more
rights, more votes.

24.  Now, of course, the candidate has to get more than half the votes. That
is the great requirement, getting more than half the votes. This requirement
to get more than half the votes, which is absolutely democratic, is what
complicates the electoral system. This is what could give rise to trouble,
problems, injustices, inequalities, and everything. These would be
inequalities of another kind, not the inequalities of capitalism, where the
candidates have to be rich. What factory worker would think of running or
being nominated? What schoolteacher? What hospital doctor? In the small towns
where there were so few doctors, the doctor might have been like a king, and
have been nominated to be a city councilman or mayor.  But that was because
there was one doctor. But we have tens of thousands of doctors, and more all
the time.

25.  We have hundreds of thousands of professionals. Before, they would
sometimes look for a professional to run, because they needed to have a
professional who had funds, who had money, to do the campaigning. But the
candidates were mainly the rich, the landowners, the sugar mill owners, the
bankers, the (?landlords), the owners of the big businesses, those who could
pay for the election campaign, or those who could find candidates from their
class, representatives, to make them senators so they would represent that
class's interests.

26.  An ordinary, humble person could not even dream of running. There might
have been a small leftist party without funds, with 20 legal restrictions,
that would run against the [words indistinct] and get one or two candidates
elected, not to change the country through those infernal electoral mechanisms
thought up to maintain the system of exploitation. The rich had money for
radio and television programs, press, etc.

27.  I lived through some of that experience, and I had nothing of that. I had
no money, I had nothing, but I had to invent things. I cannot forget the work
I had to do personally with a group of comrades to carry out clean politics in
the midst of all that. It was impossible. And it was to get votes, to get
votes. [repeats] But fortunately I had the idea about persuasion from the
beginning. But that was very exceptional. That did not occur. The norm was the
other thing. The norm was totally different. Even the best parties, the
populist parties, immediately fell into the hands of the electoral machines.
Senator So-and-So was a wealthy landowner. He was the party chief in a
province, the chief of the populist party. I do not want to name names. The
other extremely rich man was the party chief in another province. Each one had
his electoral machine.

28.  Under those conditions, it was terribly difficult to gain any ground. I
participated, I began to participate, but with revolutionary intentions. Do
not imagine that I thought it was any use at all for doing a revolution or
changing the country. I was trying to reach certain points from which to
develop a revolutionary strategy, by beginning to propose revolutionary laws.
Because I already had the Moncada program in mind, when I was participating in
one of those campaigns I am talking about. I was thinking about proposing laws
in that congress, where they would never ratify them. But it was to have a
banner under which to proclaim the need for a revolutionary struggle, an armed
revolutionary struggle to carry out the Revolution. [applause]

29.  That was one part, one stage, to be able to publicize all those ideas,
and to be able to present that whole revolutionary program as draft laws. With
that society, it was very clear to me that it could not be changed except with
a revolution. But what would happen now, with our new concepts and our way of
electing the deputies and delegates directly-a clean, healthy way-if we were
not aware of certain dangers? If we were not aware of certain inequalities?
Because other inequalities would arise, not between rich and poor, but between
a very well-known person and a person who is not well known. So we must add,
as a great privilege and advantage of our system, the fact that almost half of
the ANPP deputies have to be base-level deputies. No other country in the
world has that. That is another thing that is sui generis about Cuba.

30.  In what other country in the world is a city council member, which we can
say is the equivalent of a district delegate, a member of the chamber of
deputies, the legislature, or the senate? In what country in the world is the
mayor of a small municipality, which more or less is the equivalent of our
president of the people's government-although the president of the our
people's government has more authority, that is something else, but in order
at least to establish a comparison-a member of the legislature or the senate?
In no other country do the local cadres or officials have the possibility of
becoming members of the senate or the legislature.

31.  In Cuba, almost half are base-level delegates. Another number is made up
of provincial-level figures, as I explained recently. A minimal number,
perhaps 20 percent, approximately 20 percent, are national-level figures. In
other words, the vast majority of our legislature is of popular origin.
However, they have to obtain more than half of the valid votes. Many of them,
as we have explained several times before, are well known at the district
level. With the creation of the people's councils, which has been a great
development and a truly revolutionary change in the process of improving the
people's governments, we already have better known cadres at the municipal
level because they are elected by five, seven, eight, 10, 12, or even up to 15
districts. They are better known, but only in their districts.

32.  If we want an example, such as the case of District No. 7, which
nominated us, it is a large district with over 50,000 people. It has rural and
urban regions, the region of Boniato is here, the region of Cobre,
Hongolosongo, and all those districts there, the Jose Marti mini-district,
here in the city. The residents of Boniato do not work with those from Cobre.
They are not known in Cobre.  They do not work with the mini-district
residents. They are not known there. This has created a great problem of
differences in popularity between the different candidates. We were not going
to begin to fill the cities with posters in several days in order to increase
the popularity of our candidates.

33.  We should not have to advertise in the newspapers, because we only have
enough paper to print newspapers once a week. Now, they can appear in
television ads but nothing else: Vote for So-and-So, he is a good person. 
Television time has also been reduced. There is a lot less of it. There was no
way, there could not be any way, within our concept, to make those people, who
were presidents of people's councils or districts delegates, who were
nominated as candidates to the provincial assemblies or candidates for deputy
to the ANPP, into popular people. This is a big disadvantage, which we are
running up against in practice, in real life.

34.  But, of course, fortunately, there was a solution for this, in the
principle that the people nominate and the people elect.  Because who
nominated these candidates? The party? No, it was not the party that nominated
these candidates. These candidates were nominated by the municipal assemblies,
which were directly elected by the people. These assemblies are made up of
delegates nominated directly by the people and elected directly by the people.
It is just that earlier they used to elect the delegates and the deputies to
the ANPP.  Now they were not going to elect them; now they are going to
nominate them.

35.  Who proposed the candidates? Of course, they would not be proposed by the
same assembly. The municipal assemblies could not have any idea of national
problems.  They could not have the complete and absolute function of proposing
and nominating the candidates. They did not have all the information to do so.
They could run the risk of negative tendencies, like the tendency to
nominating everyone from the municipality as a delegate or deputy. It was very
important to find the method for proposing candidates.

36.  Before, the candidacy commissions were chaired by the party. Now the
candidacy commissions are not chaired by the party. This was another daring,
courageous step showing faith in the people. The candidacy commissions were
chaired by the Cuban Workers Federation [CTC].  Because, if we are a socialist
state and a state of workers and farmers-and today we are a state of
revolutionary people-what better thing could we do, through our congress and
constitution, through the Constitution of the Republic, than to assign the CTC
this task of chairing the candidacy commissions and fill them with the mass
organizations? More than 90 percent of our population belong to these mass
organizations. And our population, through their mass organizations, formed
into candidacy commissions, proposed the candidates through a rigorous
selection process and constant consultations of all kinds to propose the
candidates for consideration by the municipal assemblies.

37.  We completely saved the principle that the people do the nominating and
the electing. Where else in the world does a similar process exist? Where else
in the world is anyone asked who is going to be a candidate? In this way, we
have implemented a wonderful procedure which we must continue to improve,
which we must continue to enrich with experience. It has allowed us to carry
out some very important steps, and to have considerably moved this process
forward. The fundamental part of the process-24 February-is still to come.

38.  We have chosen an unobjectionable process: to select the lists of
candidates to be proposed and to approve the lists of candidates. If the
appropriate lists are not made, the assemblies will not approve them. They
must pass two tests: The assemblies must accept them, and in addition, the
people must accept them. This process will work better to the degree that the
selection process is better and to the degree that the work of the candidacy
commissions is perfect or almost perfect, because of all the steps that must
be taken, all the approvals that must be obtained in the assemblies and the
candidacy commissions themselves.

39.  The candidacy commissions have worked feverishly in a very short time.
They made a colossal effort to present us with work that we could call
perfect. No, it would not be fair to call their work perfect. But it is very
fair to say that they made the maximum effort to do the best work, to do
perfect work. I am sure that at some future time they will do better, because
they will have more time. We have been very pressed for time because the terms
of the ANPP and the people's councils had already ended.  They had been
extended, and we had to hold elections in the midst of the special period.

40.  I think we are the only country in world, living in almost war- time
conditions, with the imperialist embargo and the consequences of the collapse
of the socialist bloc, that would dare to hold these kinds of elections in
these conditions. I think it is tremendous evidence of the courage of our
Revolution and our people. Nevertheless, we are doing it. These elections had
to be held, not only in the midst of the special period but in the midst of
the sugar harvest, which with the difficulties brought by the special period
has become a really tough and difficult task; in the midst of the cold-season
planting and harvesting of tubers and vegetables; in the midst of the tobacco
planting and harvesting; and of an infinite number of all kinds of activities
in which we are involved.

41.  We are carrying out this process, and it has been held in a minimum
length of time. What has resulted from the effort these candidacy commissions
have made is incredible, but when we have more time, as I have said, when we
are not as rushed as we are now, the effort and results will undoubtedly be
much better, and we will have much more experience.

42.  Now, what was a principle that prevailed in the work of the candidacy
commissions? Consultation, constant consultation, incessant consultation. It
was necessary to find out what was thought, not by the delegates already
elected but by the candidates for delegate before they were elected. They
began to ask questions. They asked the fundamental actors and sectors of the
country's economy. They consulted with the work centers and consulted with
everyone. Approximately 1.5 million consultations were held to form a pool of
tens of thousands of candidates, in order to present finally 190 candidates to
the provincial assemblies and 589 candidates to the ANPP.

43.  But there was the tremendous requirement of obtaining more than half of
the votes. Do you think this is easy?  How can it be easy? There we ran into
one of the biggest obstacles, because a tendency toward preciosity, excessive
selectivity, developed. Everyone was looking for the candidate they knew, whom
they had seen face to face, greeted, spoken with, had an opinion about, or who
was known through the mass media and whom they knew very well. They were going
to choose. Votes were going to be wasted, to be lost. The chances of electing
those humble men and women of the people, chosen from the factories, schools,
hospitals, and communities to represent their people in the provincial
assemblies or the ANPP, were going to decrease.

44.  The best part of our system would be threatened. That is why the
candidacy commissions' work was so important, because confidence in that work
had to be created.  Confidence in the quality of the nominated persons had to
be created. Without this confidence, it is not possible to talk about a united

45.  It is true there are resumes, but the resumes are not all the same. That
is why we have said that some differences were erased and other differences
arose. Now the differences between the rich and poor were going to be replaced
by the differences between those who have a long revolutionary history and
those who have a brief revolutionary history, between someone who has 50 years
of service to the Revolution and someone who has five years of service to the
Revolution and therefore cannot have as good a resume as someone else.
Differences had to arise.

46.  Nevertheless, our provincial assemblies and the ANPP could not select men
with 50 years of revolutionary service and super-resumes. They had to select
young people, yes, many young people, and they had to choose students so that
they could begin to receive education and training. Not just any students, but
very outstanding students, very well known and with a lot of prestige among
their comrades, students in the Federation of Secondary School Students [FEEM]
and the Federation of University Students [FEU]. They had to select
innovators, scientists, and talented people, people with a lot of merit and
ability but not well known, because they have worked hard and they are not in
the newspaper every day, or they have never been in the newspaper.  They are
not known.

47.  Of course, they may have excellent resumes. They may have done this or
that, made these contributions or done those things. But our representative
institutions have to represent the people, the different sectors of the
people, the different forces of the people. They must represent the different
ages, some older, some middle- aged. They must represent young people. Because
this is a chain, a ladder, which begins on one rung and goes up to the last
rung. It is a lengthy ladder, which the comrades must climb, acquiring more
and more experience to serve the Revolution, to serve their nation.

48.  The candidates were not going to be all equally well known, and their
resumes were not going to be the same.  But even a good resume was not enough.
There are people who do not read the resumes. There are people who do not read
the newspapers, or if they read the newspapers they look for the political
section, or the sports section, or the Americas section, or the comics, or
whatever, or they look for cultural things or entertainment things, etc. If
all the resumes were published in all the papers, no one could be sure that
every citizen had read the resumes. There are many people who do not have time
to listen to the radio, so not even reading the resumes on the radio would do,
or using television.

49.  The resumes are very important, but they do not ensure everything. The
resumes do not ensure that the voters know the deputies or have seen them some
time. They have to go exclusively by the resumes. If they start to pick and
choose, many of these comrades with excellent resumes might not be elected,
and we would be wasting votes. We would be adding to the votes, or the
nonvotes, of the counterrevolutionaries. Because disaffection with the
Revolution is expressed that way: I will not vote for that guy, because he is
an outstanding cadre of the Revolution, etc.

50.  Some would do this for one reason, others for other reasons. There would
be disadvantages for the candidates, but the popular candidates were not
concerned.  The popular, more well-known candidates would normally have the
greatest chances of being elected. The less well-known candidates would have
fewer chances. We would be forced to hold many repeat elections. Would we find
more well-known candidates? More deserving candidates? We could find equally
deserving candidates, but it would be unlikely that we could find more
deserving candidates. It would be impossible, or almost impossible, that they
would be better known.

51.  The candidacy commissions launched in their first wave, we could say, in
their first string, in their vanguard group, those they thought were best
qualified to hold these posts. Thus this-the selection system, the principle
that the people do the nominating and electing, the work by the candidacy
commissions, the excellent work by the candidacy commissions, although we must
always admit that there were mistakes, as exceptions, the work by the
municipal assemblies which approved those candidates, and through a rigorous
consultation process-is what gives us the basis for bringing up the issue of a
united vote.

52.  This is what gives us the basis for bringing up the idea that the vote
should not be scattered or divided. The vote should be concentrated, united,
and should support the people's candidates and elect the people's candidates.
It is precisely how things have been done, the principles that have been
applied, that gives all the moral force and the entire basis for a united
vote. The people have understood this.

53.  Now imagine, comrades....[rephrases] and I will repeat the example of
District No. 7, and there are many like it.  It is a very large municipality.
Any of those four comrades who are running for delegate to the provincial
assembly has to get around 20,000 votes. Can you imagine a comrade from the
ranks of the Revolution, and we are demanding that he get 20,000 votes to be
elected? I was talking in the mini-district and I cited the example that if
right then those who were there were asked to count to 20,000, I could walk
all around Havana, come back after an hour, and they would not yet have
finished counting to 20,000.

54.  We are demanding that comrades who do not appear in the newspapers every
day get 20,000 votes. These are comrades who have worked modestly, humbly,
selflessly, for many years, and they are not well known. How can they get
20,000 votes, if the patriotic, revolutionary vote does not support them, and
does not support them in a concentrated and united way? We could not elect
them.  Our excellent system, which has such a solid moral foundation, would
fail because we had not understood that indulging in preciosity and choosing
one by one and voting only for the ones we know would mean taking votes away
from those comrades, refusing our votes to those wonderful comrades.

55.  It would be truly sad and regrettable. What incentive would there be for
effort? What incentive would there be for a scientist? What incentive would
there be for an innovator? What incentive would there be for the cadres, so
many good and brilliant cadres that we have? What incentive would there be for
their work if they could not be elected? What kind of quality would our ANPP
or our provincial assemblies have? What kind of democratic spirit would they
have if the most modest but highly qualified ordinary men and women could not
be elected?  If the young people could not be elected? If the students of the
FEEM or the FEU could not be elected? If many talented people in our country
could not be elected?

56.  That would be an inequality, from any point of view. It would be an
injustice, from any point of view. That is why the idea of a united vote in
favor of the people's candidates has so much power. That is why the
revolutionary, patriotic vote should not be divided or scattered. Fortunately,
we have been able to observe during this tour a very high level of
understanding of these ideas and concepts. We can say that these are ideas and
concepts of the masses, wherever we have gone in Santiago de Cuba. We should
not be surprised, although it is surprising. We should not be amazed, although
it may seem amazing, because what people are we working with?

57.  I am not thinking only of their patriotic, revolutionary virtues, but
their level of education and knowledge. I realized this today, there in the
mini-district, when Comrade Lazo spoke and asked them about the ballots, how
many ballots there would be, what color, what one was for and what the other
was for. When I heard the people's answers, I realized that really if instead
of two ballots of two colors, there were 20 ballots of 20 different colors,
our people would be able to figure it out and vote correctly. [applause]

58.  Not just two ballots but 20, because this nation is not the same nation
as it was yesterday. This is a new nation. We remember with affection the old
nation, which stood by us at the beginning of the Revolution and in the
Revolution's struggle. But when the Revolution ended and we met with the
masses, were they the same masses as today? Were they not illiterate masses,
the majority, or a large number, a high percentage, if not the majority?  They
were masses of people who had first-, second-, and third-grade educations.
That was the vast majority.  What could one have learned in two or three years
in those public schools that existed in our country, without books, papers, or
pencils and often without teachers?

59.  If the vast majority was not illiterate, the vast majority of our nation
was semi-illiterate. That is the harsh, cruel truth, but it is the truth. That
is not the truth of today. I should say that today we can see something else. 
Throughout these years, we have met so many times with the masses. We see an
energy, vigor, and health which could not be seen in those times. We see
learning, knowledge, education which could not be seen in those times. We see
clear, very clear thinking, which could not be seen in those times. In those
times, there was faith in men. That is true. That factor of faith in men
played a very important role at that time.

60.  But now there are more important factors than men, and there is a
different faith that we observe. This is faith in ideas, faith in justice,
faith in the values of man. That is what has replaced all kinds of political
bossism and personalism, cults of personality, etc., which have not been a
practice here, as you well know. But faith in men played a very important
role. Today faith in men has been replaced by faith in ideas. That is one of
the most impressive changes I have observed in our nation. We should feel
really proud of this, because we see these values prevailing today. We see
these ideas prevailing today. This is what gives the Revolution tremendous
strength at this time. This explains the reactions of the people, and I have
seen reactions in these days everywhere, in the mountains of Boniato and in
Hongolosongo and Cobre. What we saw in Cobre was impressive, incredible.

61.  It reminded me of the initial days of the Revolution, and I saw that
there was more joy among the people of Cobre-which now has 18,000
inhabitants-than there was among the people of Cobres on the day the
Revolution triumphed.  That says a lot, really. Were they from the generation
of the time when we were in the Sierra Maestra? No, many who were young people
during our time in the Sierra are now grandmothers, and they talked to me and
said: We grandmothers also have to be organized. I told them that the
grandmothers are organized everywhere. They are in the Federation of Cuban
Women, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. No one would be able
to live in this country without the grandmothers. But the grandmothers were
there, with their daughters, and the sons and daughters of the daughters of
the grandmothers, and they had the enthusiasm that reminded me of the
enthusiasm of the initial days of the Revolution.

62.  How could that be explained, in the midst of the problems, in the midst
of the tremendous difficulties we have and we know of? How could that
patriotic fervor, that revolutionary fervor, that political awareness be
explained? How could it be explained except through those ideas and values I
am talking about? That made me reflect and think and remember what we were and
what we are, and how people know what we were and what we are. Not only the
grandmothers but the children of the grandmothers, and the children of the
children of the grandmothers, know this.

63.  The Pioneers know this. The grandchildren know this, and even the
great-grandchildren are beginning to learn this, because many of the
school-age children there were great-grandchildren. Those children were very
impressive. They gave us an idea of what our schools are like.  Today one of
them spoke here at a school, by coincidence. I asked him a question, he
answered, and I continued to ask him questions. I am still impressed with the
things that child said. He is here, he was invited, but we do not want to ask
him to speak because he already spoke a lot. [laughter] But I saw in that
child the ability of an ANPP deputy. You may say that I am exaggerating.  The
child is in fifth grade, but it is unlikely that a person that age, in such a
spontaneous way, would be able to give the answers that child gave, with the
explanations he gave, and that showed us what our schools are like.

64.  So our people, young and old, teenager and child, know what the past was
like and what the present is like. The enemy's hope is that our great material
difficulties will cause our people to weaken and kneel down. That is
imperialism's dream. But they underestimate the powerful moral values, the
powerful intellectual values, and the powerful ideas our people have now. I
said to myself: Well, it is natural that someone who experienced slavery would
never want to go back to being a slave. Someone who knew that sexual or racial
discrimination existed, someone who knew that discrimination existed against
the poor....[changes thought] which was the vast majority of the people, and
because they were poor they were discriminated against, and more than
discriminated against, held in contempt and disregarded, like dogs, because
even a dog was better cared for by those bourgeois people than a worker or a
human being was.

65.  As I was saying today to a group of compatriots, they did not cry if a
man showed up dead in the street, of illness or hunger, but they cried when
their dogs died. I swear to you that I have nothing against dogs. [laughter]
They are noble animals. They are good friends to man, but those gentlemen were
incapable of feeling compassion for their brothers, for human beings, men.
They were more capable of feeling compassion for animals than for people.

66.  Someone who has experienced dignity, someone who has experienced freedom,
someone who has experienced honor, someone who has experienced equality,
someone who has experienced social justice-even though they did not live in
that time-does not resign himself and will never resign himself to living
without them.  [applause] No matter what the price. We are paying a high price
today, in the midst of the embargo and after the inglorious collapse of the
socialist bloc. Since the embargo has been intensified to try to make us
surrender out of hunger and disease, we have been paying a high price for
those values.

67.  But other generations of Cubans paid an even higher price. Our Mambises
paid it throughout the Ten Years' War, that war in which Santiago de Cuba and
the eastern provinces participated so much. They went 10 years without a light
bulb, most times without a candle, without a scalpel, without medical
equipment, without a hospital, without a school, without anything, 10 years in
the hills, defending what we are today, defending what we have achieved today.

68.  When some became discouraged, when some became demoralized, and the pacts
with the enemy began, and some began to speak of peace without independence,
Maceo and Baragua arose as an immortal example of heroism and dignity.
[applause] Not 20 years passed, and the Cubans took to the hills again. Then
they had to endure even greater suffering, and [Spanish General Valeriano]
Weyler's merciless concentration plan. That was the price our people had to
pay, when they had not yet obtained their independence. Then what happened? 
The Yankees came and took over everything, and did not even let the Mambises
enter the cities. They disbanded the liberating army and destroyed Marti's
party. They subjected us to neocolonialism for almost 60 years.

69.  That period brought a lot of suffering to our people, and that is what
the result of those struggles had become. But we have experienced the result
of an independent, victorious nation, a victorious revolution that has done so
many things in so few years, that has transformed the country in so few years,
that has transformed consciences, that has transformed the people, in so few
years. So that out of an illiterate nation there is now a nation that has tens
of thousands of scientists, that is a medical power, a scientific power,
and-allow me to add-a power in heroism, courage, dignity, and revolutionary
awareness. [applause, chanting]

70.  We can call ourselves a revolutionary power, because we have known how to
resist and been able to resist when others have surrendered, when others have
yielded. We have found enough courage to confront imperialism on our own and
say: Here we are, ready to struggle, ready to continue to resist for however
long it is necessary, at whatever price necessary. We have become an example
to the world. That is the importance, value, and strength ideas have.

71.  The enemy must be sent this message of a united people, not a wrong
message. A wrong message may be sent by those who share the enemy's soul, or
have the enemy in their soul, and follow the enemy's instructions and defend
the enemy's interests. They may send all kinds of wrong messages, but we
patriots, revolutionaries, men and women of honor and dignity have to send a
very clear message to the enemy about our unity, strength, and determination.

72.  Now that I am talking about the enemy, we should not confuse the
incorrigible, incurable, recalcitrant person who has an irreversible
ideological disease, with a confused, mistaken, bitter person who does not
understand.  We must do tremendous work with the latter, and that is the work
that I was talking about, house by house, man by man and woman by woman. This
is very important.  But it is important to talk even with the enemy to show
him the weakness of his reasoning, to show him the injustice of his positions,
to show him his error in having contempt for the nation, handing over the
nation, selling out the nation, to show him the error involved in selling his
soul to the devil.

73.  We should knock on every door and every heart, wherever there may be a
fiber, a small fiber, of patriotism, a small fiber of solidarity, a small
fiber of humanity. In this kind of political struggle, we must be politicians,
and we must always be politicians. The Revolution has always been political,
because those who left the Revolution did not do so because we expelled them
but because they wanted to leave the Revolution. In our country, since 1
January everyone had an opportunity and chance to be a revolutionary. The
Revolution did not reject anyone. That is why it is necessary to insist that
we must wage the political battle, what Lazo called quality. We must not think
only about numbers.

74.  That is why we said recently that everyone has to teach everyone to vote.
It is not a matter of students teaching students to vote, but of teaching
everyone. Women must not just teach women to vote, but everyone. The members
of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution must teach everyone to
vote. The Pioneers also have to teach people to vote, because they know how to
vote.  Everyone has to teach everyone to vote. Everyone has to knock on every
door. Everyone has to reach every heart.  Because the values we are defending
are very sacred, very noble, and very powerful. These are the values of the
nation, the Revolution, and socialism. They are the values of justice,
equality, dignity, and the honor of man.  These values have great strength.

75.  As I was saying to some compatriots from Santiago, no one betrays his
brother. No one betrays his mother or his father. No one betrays his children
under any circumstances, or relinquishes them, no matter how great the
sacrifices. This is how we must view the nation. This is how we must view
justice. This is how we must view freedom. We must be able to say that no true
Cuban betrays his mother which is the nation. [applause] No true Cuban betrays
his brother, which is the feeling of solidarity. No true Cuban betrays his
children, which are freedom, dignity, honor, equality, and justice. These are
the values that we revolutionaries defend. [applause]

76.  These are the values so many generations of Cubans have fought for, and
for which so many Cubans have sacrificed themselves. We should know how to be
worthy descendants of them. These are the values that make us strong. These
are the values that make us invincible. We must defend the fatherland. We must
defend the nation.  It cost a lot of work and blood to keep the empire from
swallowing us up. Now without the socialist bloc, now when that empire has
hegemony over the world, we have to show it that there is a nation with too
much decency, dignity, spirit, and awareness, and too many revolutionary ideas
to be swallowed up, to be made to surrender, to be made to kneel down.

77.  On this 24 February, which marks the 98th anniversary-almost the
centennial-of the start of our second war for independence, we will have the
honor of waging this battle. This will be very important, since we are going
to establish the people's government for the special period. The provincial
people's governments, the ANPP, the highest bodies of the Cuban state, will
govern the country during the special period. As we fulfill this basic duty,
as we wage this battle, we will be taking a very important step toward the
future. We will be taking a very important step in strengthening our
Revolution to endure today's trials and even worse trials if necessary. 

78.  If I have always had faith in our people, today I can say that I have
more faith than ever [applause] in the people throughout Cuba and everywhere,
but especially in the people of Santiago de Cuba and the eastern provinces. 
[applause, chanting] Our struggles began here, from the War of 1868 to
Moncada. We continued them here. We attained victory here. We took important
and decisive steps here to consolidate it. That is why to the rest of our
compatriots we can say, as a message of encouragement, enthusiasm, and
struggle, because they will be capable of doing what we do, we can say to them
that in Santiago and the eastern provinces, we have and will have invincible
bastions of the Revolution.

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