Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Castro Speaks at Second Havana Elections Meeting
Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL2302135093
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-035          Report Date:    24 Feb 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     3
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       12
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       22 Feb 93
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 035


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speaks at Second Havana Elections Meeting

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at the second working meeting for the
elections , held at the Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 20

Source Line:   FL2302135093 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in
Spanish 0127 GMT 22 Feb 93

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the second working meeting for
the elections, held at the Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 20

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the second working meeting for the
elections, held at the Lazaro Pena Theater in Havana on 20 February-recorded]

2.  [Text] [Castro] Dear comrades: During this week, almost since the start of
the week, and because of the things we were seeing about how this contest,
this battle, this campaign was going, we reached the conclusion that it would
be a good idea to hold a second working meeting to analyze the experiences we
had been gaining and so that all of us would have the opportunity to hear the
views, opinions, and impressions of many of the comrades who were
participating in this struggle.

3.  It is not the same for one to hear things in accumulation, one after
another, as if we all met to think about the problem together. To hold this
meeting, we needed to use the Karl Marx Theater, since we wanted to invite a
larger number of comrades who are participating and whom we have seen at the
base level. But the Karl Marx Theater was already booked for the jazz
festival, which is an activity that should not and could not be interfered
with. Therefore, we had to fit in here, in the Cuban Workers Federation [CTC]
theater, our CTC theater, with the same comrades who met the first time and
would have participated anyway, and a few hundred more people we had invited.
I do not know how they have found room, but I think there was still some room
last time; there were 200 or 300 empty seats. So we were able to invite a few
more comrades, and they are present here.

4.  You have listened to the many comrades who have spoken. It is a shame we
cannot listen to more, but time is pressing. I do not have much to add, as far
as impressions, to what they have said. I was trying to remember a little, to
recall the last few years which have led us to this time we are experiencing.
Everything began with the Fourth Communist Party of Cuba [PCC] Congress, with
the basic document for the Fourth Congress.  The fact is that in a relatively
short lapse of time, we announced our congress and held our congress, on the
eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Events abroad were moving faster and
faster. When we were thinking about the Fourth Congress, the problems in the
socialist bloc had already begun. While the congress was being held,
circumstances were already difficult, and we could see very serious events

5.  In spite of everything, we did not hesitate to hold the congress. We said:
Whatever the international circumstances may be, we will hold the congress. At
the time there was a great crisis in the USSR, although it had not yet
disappeared. It still had a few months to live, or a few weeks to live. We
felt there was no hesitation. That congress was very important. I am not going
to talk now about all the issues that were discussed. But one very important
issue concerned the elections. Rather, not the elections, but the people's
government, improving the people's government, as we called it, what we should
do to improve the people's government.

6.  At the congress, we came up with very important definitions, but we also
had to modify the Constitution. We also completed the task of modifying the
Constitution.  We had to draw up the new electoral law. We completed the task
of drawing up the new electoral law. We were already in the special period, at
a very difficult time.  Even so, there was no hesitation in announcing the
elections. There were more than enough pretexts and reasons in the conditions
of our country, under a double embargo, in a situation which closely resembles
a war, and while we were involved in so many activities, so many urgent,
pressing, and vital tasks....[rephrases] We did not seek pretexts. We did not
accept, shall we say, reasons or even the idea that the elections should be
postponed indefinitely until the special period was over.

7.  Anyone could understand how tremendously difficult an election process
would be in the midst of a special period. I think one of the most courageous
actions the Revolution has taken is holding these elections during the special
period. This is something that is also, in my opinion, the right thing to do.
Far from regretting having done this, today we are happy we have done it this
way.  Now we have held the first part of these elections, those of 20
December, in which the district delegates were elected, and in three or four
days, we will be in the final phase of this election process, the final and
most difficult phase of this election process, which are the direct elections
of the provincial delegates and the deputies to the National Assembly of the
People's Government [ANPP]. These delegates and deputies have to do with state
government, on the middle and highest levels, since the ANPP in our country is
the highest state government body. Fortunately, when we drew up the first
Constitution, we did not copy. Rather, we worked out ideas about what
elections should be like in our country. It cannot be said that all the merit
has come from the Fourth Congress, since we drew up the
Constitution....[pauses] in which we copied things, we must say, but
concerning the electoral issue-such a key issue as the form in which the
people exercise their rights, sovereignty, and power-we developed entirely new
forms which were not being applied in the socialist countries. That is how the
people's government bodies were formed.

8.  But in the entire process of discussing the basic document of the
congress, this issue of the direct election of the ANPP deputies did not
appear in the debates.  Everyone understood our system was very democratic, in
and of itself. At least, it was more democratic than all the others being
applied both under socialism and under capitalism, because we had established
a key principle that was being expressed in concrete terms for the first time.
This is the principle that the people do the nominating and the electing. This
took place from the very start, when the people meeting in assemblies
nominated the candidates for district delegates and approved them.

9.  During elections, they were elected by the same people, who chose between
several of them, because this selection at the base level could not be done
any other way. A minimum of two and a maximum of eight candidates was
established. Even then, we were concerned that politicking not occur there at
the base level. It was even said that campaigns would not be conducted.
Rather, they would be known primarily through the candidates' resumes and the
residents' knowledge of the candidates, since these districts covered a
limited space, a limited area, of our populace. But it was to be the resumes
that defined the voters' conduct. Those delegates-elected directly, nominated
by the people and elected by the people-were the ones who in turn elected the
provincial assemblies and the ANPP, as I have said other times.

10.  That seemed so reasonable and right that this system was not challenged,
and when we talked about improving the people's government system, we talked
about other issues. The idea of a direct and secret vote to elect the ANPP is
a PCC initiative. It was taken in the preparatory commission for the congress.
It was proposed at the congress. This was a courageous, daring, revolutionary
step to establish the principle that the people should nominate and elect not
only the district delegates but also the delegates to the provincial
assemblies and the deputies to the ANPP.

11.  How to do this was an issue that had to be examined and studied, how to
do this within our system, how to do this within the concept of a single
party, within the ideas and concepts we must defend as one of our country's
most important accomplishments. We had to reconcile the concept of a single
party with this idea of the people doing the nominating and electing. We had
to reconcile it with practice, because what was known in the world when there
was not a single party was a multiplicity of parties. Those were the only
known procedures for holding elections.

12.  So we had to create something new, and something more just, equitable,
democratic, and pure. Our major concern was to preserve the purity of our
election process and not to introduce politics. If we had made a mistake in
drawing up the methods for carrying out this electoral process, we could have
run into serious problems and really corrupted democracy, as it is corrupted
almost everywhere in the world. Because now this concept of democracy is
penetrating much deeper into our awareness and blood.  We can see the abysmal
differences between our system and the system being applied in other
countries. We have had the opportunity today to hear some opinions about how
beneficial and extraordinarily useful and instructive this process has been.
This is a great incentive for us, because I think we are really handling in a
fortunate and revolutionary way issues that are fundamental to the life of any
revolutionary and truly progressive society.

13.  I think these elections have taught our people a great deal about
democracy, something that is talked about so much in the world. In these days,
we ourselves have been gaining much greater knowledge of the ideas concerning
this issue, from what we have seen in the street. We ourselves have been
learning a great lesson in democracy. We who thought we knew what we were
doing, we who were striving to find the most just, perfect, democratic system
possible, have been learning great lessons in democracy. We have been able to
make many comparisons, since no one knew what this process was going to be
like. It was a new path, a path we had to open up, because ideas in theory are
one thing, and the practical application of ideas is another. Since we had
never experienced such a process-and it had been experienced nowhere-there was
no possible point of comparison. Many comrades have explained here honestly
that they did not know what this campaign was going to be like. I would say
none of us knew completely what this campaign was going to be like.

14.  We were concerned about certain principles, which were above all that
politicking not be introduced into our electoral process, that war,
competition, the struggle for votes, demagogy, the corruption of our cadres,
our candidates, hypocrisy, and lies not be introduced. How could we avoid
this? We thought we had managed this in the electoral law. That is what
explains the difference between the system for electing the district delegates
and the system for electing the provincial delegates and the ANPP deputies. To
tell the truth, for a long time our concern focused on the election of ANPP
deputies. It was precisely when the principle of their direct and secret
election was accepted that the decision was also made to apply the same system
to the delegates to the provincial assemblies. There were still questions
about whether the provincial delegates could be elected indirectly. But we
reached the conclusion that we should include them in the same concept as

15.  But we did not think as much about that as we thought about the ANPP.
That is why these ideas were debated quite a bit at the ANPP meeting to
discuss the electoral law. What should we do? How should we do this, choosing
between the many alternatives that could arise?  How could we avoid division,
war, and politicking in our elections? That is how the formula we are applying
arose.  It was as simple as giving the citizens the right not to one vote but
to as many votes as there were candidates. We gave them more votes. We did not
give them one vote.  They could use that vote however they thought best.  They
could vote for one, two, all or none of the candidates.

16.  I have repeated this several times, and we must continue to repeat this,
and not only so that we will understand it.  The better we understand it, the
better. But we must also help others understand it. When all the citizens of
this country understand it, it will be useful to repeat it so that the
citizens of other countries, who are used to other systems, will understand
it. It may be difficult for them to understand our system. Their jaws may drop
when we talk to them about it.

17.  Now, the citizens were given as many votes as there were candidates, but
a requirement must be established, a harsh, truly difficult requirement. They
had to get more than half the valid votes. That is, any of those provincial
delegates or deputies had to get more than half the valid votes. I think this
really capped, we could say, the democratic nature of our system, when we
established this requirement. So we established it. But it had to be tested in
practice. [Words indistinct] then, and we must say we discovered new things. I
already talked about some of them at the first working meeting. We discovered
our populace was used to a different voting system, and abruptly, suddenly,
they had to understand the new voting concept, and the reasons for these new
concepts, and the values these new concepts were meant to preserve: the
cleanness, honesty, and purity of our elections.

18.  How could we meet all these goals? We realized these goals were still not
understood. Concerns began to be voiced about the possibility that the voters
would vote as they do in the base-level elections, and as a result an enormous
number of votes would be wasted. As a result of this, plus the requirement for
more than half the votes, many candidates might not be elected. But there was
something even more painful. Although it might be painful that many candidate
would not be elected- because it would force us to hold further elections,
through the procedures established in the Constitution, which give the Council
of State more than one option, and anyone could understand that we could not
hold elections like these every day-there was something even more painful.

19.  That was the fact that only the most well-known and popular....[pauses]
who are certainly the minority among the candidates for the ANPP. They are the
minority. I would say that the ones who are known nationally are about 20
percent, the ones we could call popular or very popular, or very well-known,
if we do not want to equate the word well-known with popularity. If I am not
mistaken, they would be a little more than 20 percent. But we realized many of
the extraordinarily talented people in our nation, who had been recognized and
nominated, ran the risk of not being elected. They would have to be replaced
by others who would surely be less well-known than they were. They might have
the same merits, but not more.

20.  We were running the risk of committing a great injustice, which was the
impossibility of having wonderful, excellent citizens elected. But this was
not only an injustice.  There was also the danger that our ANPP would not be
representative, that the greatest number of talented people, and if possible
the most talented people in the country, would not be present in our ANPP. We
realized one of the characteristics of our democracy and our legislature,
which no other country has, could be thwarted. That is the fact that almost
half the deputies would be base-level delegates. Many things have become
evident in this process, and one of them is this, that we have many things in
our system that no other country has. The capitalist countries cannot even
dream of this, because a base-level man has no opportunity to be in the
legislature, or the senate if they have two chambers. The equivalent of a city
councilman, as I have said before, could not be in the legislature. He would
have no chance.  The mayor of a municipality, the equivalent of our municipal
assembly president, would have no opportunity to be in the legislature.

21.  It became evident that in no legislature in the world are there so many
base-level people as in our legislature, people who are in direct contact with
the masses, direct contact with the people. They are not well-known.  Because
a district delegate-I repeat once again-is known there in the district. Now
the elections were not going to be decided by a few hundred votes. By
establishing the requirement of more than half, the elections were going to be
decided by thousands of votes, in spite of the fact that we created the
districts. Because imagine elections in Santiago de Cuba, with almost 500,000
inhabitants. What would that be like if we had not created the districts?

22.  We had to create districts in the major cities. How could we have held
elections in Havana, or Diez de Octubre Municipality with 240,000 or 250,000
inhabitants, if we did not divide it into several districts? But even divided
into districts, a candidate has to get a very high number of votes. I was
extremely worried about the risk that many of these base-level delegates would
not be elected, if that tendency to be selective, that habit of being
selective, or that tendency to vote for a person one knows well, or to vote
for a neighbor one deals with personally would mean that votes were divided,
scattered, and very few base-level delegates were elected.

23.  Some would say: But the resumes are available. I have talked about this
before and I will talk about it again.  The resumes cannot solve everything,
even assuming they were all read and studied. The resumes could not be the
same, and when one compares the record of someone who has spent 45 or 50 years
with the Revolution with that of a comrade who has spent 3 or 4 years, is only
18 or 19 years old, who is a student who has been outstanding since he was a
Pioneer, whose comrades selected him from his merits, who has to be a good
student, among other things, because he could not be a cadre in our student
organizations if he were not, that young person cannot have the record of a
comrade with 30, 40, 50 years in the Revolution. His resume could not be the

24.  Our ANPP has to have men with 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, and 5 years of
experience so that it can be representative.  How could there be an ANPP
without representatives of the students, of whom there are millions in this
country?  How could there be an ANPP without researchers, of whom there are
tens of thousands in this country, who are playing a decisive role in this
battle, and who have great talent, although they are not well-known? The
innovators are not well-known, and many other candidates for deputies are not
well-known. How could we have a truly representative ANPP without them?

25.  How could we decide everything based only on the resumes, and also by
being excessively selective, super-demanding, in electing a candidate? I am
not going to talk-because I have done so many times-about the excellent
selection process. The candidacy commissions are essential, and on the
provincial and national levels the candidacy commissions have played the role
of the people in the principle of the people doing the nominating and
electing. It was not the party. We had previously freed the party from the
task of nominating the district delegates and participating in the elections. 
But the party chaired the candidacy commissions. The principle had been
established that the candidacy commissions were made up of the mass
organizations and chaired by the party.

26.  This time, we freed the party from that task, which clashed with the
principle of mass sovereignty, one of the most sacred principles the party has
to defend as society's vanguard. This is not a matter of reducing the party's
role at all. On the contrary; it elevates the party's role even more so that
it will be society's leader and strategist. But its mission could not be to
nominate the candidates. The candidacy commissions would carry out that
mission, but this time they would be chaired not by the party but by the CTC,
the organization of our workers in a socialist state.

27.  It has become clear that this was a very correct solution.  It
strengthens the whole idea, the whole concept, of our system, and it
facilitates its defense. We can challenge other countries in the world to do
what we are doing and to have the mass organizations, chaired by the workers,
do the nominating. This cannot be done anywhere else.  It was demanded that
those commissions do almost perfect work. We have always said we cannot assert
that it has been perfect. It is very difficult to do perfect work.  They must
try to make it perfect. They may make mistakes. A person can even change, in
exceptional cases, and be one way today and a different way tomorrow. No one
can prevent that.

28.  We did not claim that the work by the candidacy commissions was perfect,
but we do assert that they made the greatest effort to do perfect work. That
was essential, because it was necessary precisely to find a correct strategy
to forestall the dangers we were seeing. It was necessary to have faith in the
work of the candidacy commissions. This was essential. Without this, we could
not have worked out the correct strategy that we are applying right now. This
work will become more and more perfect, because now we have the experience. If
1.5 million consultations were held this time, the next time there may be 3 or
5 million. The next time they may have more time. They may do much better work
than they did now.

29.  Problems will be overcome, because many candidates will be better known,
because cadres have arisen from that entire pool of candidates for the
provincial assemblies. People who will become outstanding will come from those
1,190 delegates to the provincial assemblies-I think that is the number,
1,190. Great knowledge will come from these contacts of the delegates and
deputies with the people. Thousands of people will become known, not a few
dozen or a few hundred.  Because we have to draw the conclusion from this
experience that these contacts must be made systematic.  Not with the
intensity they have today, but we must continue to apply them as a political,
revolutionary method and as a practice of constant contact between the
country's representatives and the country.

30.  All this will be easier in the future, and the work by the candidacy
commissions will be much simpler and easier.  The work of the elections will
be much simpler, much easier, because I think the millions and millions of
explanations we have had to give in these few days will not have to be given
in the future. Everyone will know them.

31.  I have repeated ideas and concepts, but I do this for a reason: Because
it is very important we understand the strategy. We wanted a correct strategy,
and we found the correct strategy with the concept of the united vote. We
found the correct strategy when we said the vote should not be divided or
scattered, and that negative consequences and injustices could result from the
scattering and division of the vote. The need for a united vote....[pauses]
Sometimes I say a united and concentrated vote, but it is known as a united
vote. That word covers the concept we are referring to. This can be expressed
in many different ways, but I think that saying a united vote expresses the

32.  We already had the strategy. Very well. I was amazed in Santiago de Cuba
that 48 hours after our first working meeting, the majority of people in
Santiago de Cuba understood. I was amazed. However, I saw a certain danger.
The problem is not that people should vote this way. The problem is that
people should internalize, in their awareness, the raison d'etre, the cause,
of this strategy of a united vote. Because if they see it as a matter of
discipline, that is not what we wanted. If they see it as accepting a plea or
request by the Revolution, that is not what we wanted. We did not want them to
do this because they were being asked to in the name of the nation, in the
name of the Revolution, to do this because they were being asked to in the
name of socialism, to do this as a matter of the desire to win a great
victory, or as a simple tactic without meaning.

33.  We wanted-and I think we are on the way to achieving this, and we have to
continue to struggle to achieve this, and what we are doing tonight is an
effort to achieve this-the idea of a united vote to be not a slogan but rather
a revolutionary strategy. We wanted the idea of a united vote not to be seen
as an act of discipline but as an act of awareness, that would be understood
and seen as being the most just thing in the world that we could do with our
votes, [applause] the most just thing in the world if we wanted a truly
representative ANPP, if we wanted the humble citizens of this country to be
able to be elected as ANPP deputies or delegates of the provincial assemblies,
if we wanted justice, if we wanted equality, and if we wanted our system to be

34.  How could we achieve this? Teaching people to vote is one thing. As we
have said, it is a technical, juridical thing. You say to the citizens: You
have these rights, this many votes. You can do it this way, that way, or some
other way. You can vote for one, two, all, or none. That is your right. So
teaching people to vote is not a strategy.  A united vote is not a technical
matter. It is a political matter. It is a strategy. It is the strategy of
patriots. It is the strategy of revolutionaries. We needed a strategy, and
this began to be seen as a need. At the beginning, it was presented as
something dangerous, or it was accompanied by a certain fear. What is the
fear, in my opinion?  It is the fear that some comrades have that a slogan
will be applied as a slogan, [as heard] that something will be demanded as a
matter of discipline, the fear of the idea of a straitjacket, of saying to the
citizens: You have to vote this way.

35.  This was giving rise to fear of talking about this, when the problem
really had to be discussed publicly and clearly, argued from solid
foundations, since we have very solid reasons for arguing the idea of a united
vote as a revolutionary strategy, as a political strategy, as something that
is very moral, as something that is very just, as something that is very
legal. Because this is the right we have as revolutionaries to demand or ask
something of ourselves, the right we have as patriots to demand or ask
something of ourselves, but for a reason, for a profound reason. We must do it
this way, and we would feel happier if we did it this way, if no one did this
as an act of discipline but rather if everyone who did this did it as an act
of awareness. We would be happier if everyone who did this did not do it to
comply with a slogan but to comply with a revolutionary strategy, knowing the
reason for this strategy, the reason for this awareness.

36.  To illustrate things, I explained to many of the comrades with whom I
spoke in these past few days at the public meetings that they should calculate
the number of votes a deputy would have to get in a district with 45,000
voters. He would have to get more than 20,000 votes, and getting 20,000 votes
is a truly titanic task. It would be a titanic task for the base-level
delegates, who are nominated and known in the districts or a somewhat larger
area. They are well- known there. Or a people's council president is better
known. There is no doubt that the creation of the people's councils was a
great step forward by the Revolution, an enormous step forward, a very
important step in improving the people's government bodies.  Because they are
doing wonders, especially in the rest of the country. They can do many more
things there than they can in the capital, and in the capital they are doing
quite a lot, quite a lot. [repeats himself] [applause]

37.  If it was difficult for one of those base-level delegates, whom we are so
proud to have in our ANPP, how much more of a problem would it be for the
delegates to the provincial assemblies? Naturally, they are even less
well-known, and newer as a rule. How could we demand that a district delegate
nominated to be a provincial delegate get 20,000 votes? If everyone puts
crosses all down the column, how many ballots would be annulled by mistake?
Because many ballots are annulled by mistake. How could we ensure the election
of the delegates to the provincial assemblies?

38.  That problem was even more serious, and we realized it.  That is why we
have insisted more and more on this idea.  It is said 99 percent of the
citizens understand it, or know how to vote. They are familiar with the
system. But there is still 1 percent. We must make them understand.  We cannot
resign ourselves to having 1 percent that are not familiar with this. But what
interests us, with regard to the patriots and revolutionaries, who are the
ones who decide and who will decide, is that they should understand this very
well, be well aware of this, have internalized this. You know I do not use
these words a lot, but I think they are perfectly good for explaining what we
mean. They must become aware of how revolutionary, just, legal, moral, and
beautiful this idea is. [applause]

39.  Because this is an act of awareness, and that is how we want it to be.
Because this is an intelligent strategy of the Revolution and the people. This
is a key issue. I think we must continue, and it is now easier to take this
concept to the masses. No one can impugn it. No one can challenge it. We have
enjoyed listening here to the ideas, the impressions of the comrades who have
been waging the battle here in the capital. The battle in the capital has
enormous importance, because it is the most difficult.

40.  Conditions will always be the most difficult in the capital. The
imperialist enemy has always done his greatest work of undermining, his
largest amount of propaganda, in the capital. The enemy has concentrated his
efforts and subversive actions in the capital. All kinds of problems have
accumulated in the capital, in the capital of our country and in any capital,
especially when massive migration occurs. There have been countries that have
legally banned migration. We have never wanted to use those procedures. We
have preferred the idea and concept of developing the rest of the country, as
we have done.

41.  But in spite of this, the capital continues to be very attractive. It
continues to be very attractive, and the phenomena of migration continues now
in the special period. I am told by the comrades who are candidates for some
of those difficult districts that they have met some compatriots from the
eastern provinces who have arrived recently, in those districts, where they
have put up a roof or something, but they have arrived. They are from
different provinces, but especially from the eastern provinces. They come for
many reasons. As you know, at one time the inhabitants of the capital did not
want to be construction workers, and the city was filled with construction
workers from other provinces, mainly from the eastern provinces. Havana
residents needed migrants in order to build, because there were not enough
construction workers from Havana. They had many other opportunities.

42.  That is one of the ways. I know about many of the ways that phenomenon
has taken place. Even though this occurred in our country to a lesser degree
than in any other country, in any case the fact is that a few hundreds of
thousands of people have increased the population of the capital, overburdened
the services, and worsened demand, especially the demand for housing. I do not
say the demand for jobs, because here the Revolution has had to [words
indistinct] citizens to ask them if they will do the favor of joining a
construction force or a factory.  There were job opportunities, but there were
some jobs that Havana residents no longer wanted to do.

43.  There are different ways. The defense of our capital also had to be
stronger than that of other places in the country, and many compatriots had to
come from other provinces to serve in the armed forces. Many stayed here
afterwards, because coming to Havana, historically at least-and I say at least
because now we are in the special period-has been easy. Returning to one's
original province has been much more difficult. Naturally, this worsens our
housing problems, our water problems, and our problems with services in the
capital. This is the reality.

44.  So there are objective factors and also the enemy's work, the work of
imperialism, which is primarily concentrated in the capital. It does this
throughout the country. You know they wanted to direct that radio station
primarily at the capital. They wanted to direct that television station
primarily at the capital. They have always directed their main subversive
actions at the capital, knowing the objective problems the capital has. That
is why the struggle is harder here, and what the comrades have said about
their visits to all those poorer areas in the city is admirable. The attitude
with which they were received, the fact that no one asked for anything or
brought up personal problems, is admirable, more than admirable, amazing,
knowing the needs they have, and we know them.

45.  The comrades who have been in those difficult districts know. Naturally I
did not know what a comrade said here, that the counterrevolutionaries were
saying that the candidates were not going to go to the difficult districts.  I
did not know anything about that, and I am happy I did not, because I might
have gone to more difficult districts.  [applause] I did not know that. It is
a matter of mentality, idiosyncrasy, and character, to go to places that are
complicated, complex, and difficult. I tried to see in Havana, since I could
not go everywhere, what districts had the most problems. I tried to go to
those districts, those places, those meetings.

46.  But the comrades have seen much more than I have, and I have been in
those districts over the course of the years.  I know a lot of their problems.
I have visited houses. I have visited those places they call barracks, or what
is the other name? Tenement houses. I have visited tenement houses, and I was
very aware of the problem of the tenement houses. I know how they live in
those tenement houses. Now, the Revolution worked throughout the country. The
Revolution worked in all provinces. It transformed entire regions. The
capitals of the 14 provinces are not even recognizable today, many of them,
with their roads, their buildings, and their facilities. The face of those
cities has changed.

47.  The Revolution worked a lot, and it was very right, to develop all the
provinces in the country. That was precisely the way to discourage migration.
It was not only a matter of justice, but a method to reduce the problems of
migration to the capital, which occurs throughout Latin America. We are
talking about 2 million inhabitants. There are cities in Latin America that
have 20 million inhabitants. An example is Mexico City; it has 20 million
inhabitants. Sao Paulo has 16 or 17 million inhabitants, I think. I think Rio
de Janeiro has around 10 million inhabitants. Caracas has between 4 and 5
million inhabitants. Bogota has about that many.  Lima has about that many. It
is a universal phenomenon.

48.  The fact is that in our country, we feel an obligation to give every
citizen, all citizens, a pension, a job, education, public health care,
recreation, culture, a certain material standard of living. We cannot resign
ourselves to the idea that there is a single person living in terrible
conditions. That is why the Revolution exists, to help all citizens. We cannot
forget anyone. You know how in the capitalist world, as a rule, they forget,
and horrifying things happen. We all know about this. There are even death
squads that kill children. They not only kill criminals, which is dreadful.
Forces are organized, paid by landowners, which have the task of killing
criminals, and they kill children 8, 9, and 10 years old, because many of
those children have become involved in crime.

49.  So the phenomena that can occur in any capitalist society....[rephrases]
If there are people who sleep in doorways, we cannot resign ourselves to
seeing anyone sleeping in a doorway. We cannot resign ourselves to seeing
anyone homeless in the street, neither in normal times nor in the special
period. [applause] We cannot resign ourselves to any of the many horrible
things to which the capitalist societies have resigned themselves, especially
in the Third World. Because we must not forget that the vast majority of
humanity lives in the Third World, and that only a few privileged people live
in the developed capitalist societies. They developed at the cost of looting
the rest of the world for centuries.

50.  That is why these problems take on great importance for us. Our citizens
rightly feel that they should be helped and aided. If they come on their own
account, without consulting anyone, and stay, and start to live anywhere, they
feel that something should be done for them and that the problem should be
solved for them. The Revolution has tried to solve the problem. It does not
forget them.

51.  Because if it is true that the Revolution has done a lot for the rest of
the country, the Revolution has never forgotten the capital. The numbers, the
figures, the facts, show this. The enormous social and economic development
our capital has undergone show this, especially social development, because it
already had a certain level of economic development. But our capital has
undergone considerable economic development and colossal social development.

52.  Think, for example, of the childcare center before the special period. In
only two years, 114 were built in the capital, 114 or 112. I think that two
more were built later. There are 114 in the capital, with capacity for more
than 200 children, very modern institutions with everything that is needed.
The capacity for children in the childcare centers increased by more than 50
percent in only two years. In those years, on the eve of the special period,
20 new polyclinics were built, and all the polyclinics- polyclinics and dental
clinics-in the capital were put into suitable facilities.

53.  In those years, 24 special schools were built. All the enrollment-that
is, all the demand-for special schools in our capital was covered. No other
city in the country has that. Dozens of hospital increased their numbers of
beds or were repaired or remodeled. Hundreds of small food markets were built
in those years before the special period. Dozens of supermarkets and
minimarkets were built. Fifty video halls for the populace's recreation were
built. Eighteen centers for physical fitness, or eighteen gymnasiums for
physical fitness, were built. More than 1,000 senior citizens' clubs were
organized. More than 1,000 aerobics clubs, mainly for young people and
students, were organized. Nine completely new bus terminals were built in
record time to improve everything to do with urban transportation. Dozens and
dozens of bakeries were built with the idea of having bakeries close to the
populace, as had been traditional, to replace the large bread factories
because of their drawbacks in distributing the product, since people wanted to
receive it very fresh.

54.  It would take forever if we were to list the number of things of a social
nature that were done between 1986 and 1989 in our capital. I should not
forget facilities such as the pediatric cardiovascular surgery centers,
completely new pediatric hospitals, intensive care wards in all the pediatric
hospitals-this had been done shortly before-young people's computer clubs, the
main computer club center, the Expocuba permanent exhibit center, completion
of the botanical garden, great progress in building the new zoo. We were even
working on the design for the new aquarium. There were new highways; we were
building roads of all kinds. A great effort, a special effort, was being made,
starting with the creation of the Blas Roca Contingent. There were new sources
of water for the city, 30 entirely new brigades to repair roads, more than 60
brigades to repair water lines, new technology for rebuilding the old
pipelines that leaked so much water, reservoirs built to supply water to the

55.  In short, a lot of things were done throughout the years for the city. We
were thinking, we had drawn up the plans, for new secondary schools, also with
semi-boarding plans for working mothers. There were new designs for primary
schools in the cities. There was no longer a need for new buildings but rather
to improve the conditions in which all the children in the city were studying.
These designs were being drawn up. There were sports facilities, 2,420 family
doctor's offices, which now care for more than 80 percent of the population,
according to figures we received recently, 2,420 family doctor's offices in a
few years.

56.  Was the capital being taken care of or not? But the most important thing
of all was that we had started to develop the program to solve the housing
problem in the capital.  In the capital and throughout the country, but we
were making a special effort in the capital. The minibrigades had been reborn,
and considerable investment was made in hard currency to build factories to
make bricks, blocks, tiles, and sanitary fixtures, to expand the cement
factories, to expand the steel rod factory at Antillana de Acero, which almost
tripled its capacity, to increase the production of sand and stone. But we
were not just investing in Havana and Havana City Provinces because, comrades,
we had even run out of stone in Havana and Havana City Provinces. It was
already running out, and we were putting equipment in the last, relatively
small quarries. But we were opening quarries in Pinar del Rio, Matanzas, even
in Villa Clara, to transport the stone and sand to Havana by train.

57.  There are new sources of sand from the seashore in northern Pinar del Rio
Province, since we could not continue to take sand from the beaches in the
north of Havana Province, nor from Varadero. That would be a crime, a great
mistake. No responsible government could do that. That is what was done

58.  The conditions had been created to build not less than 20,000 new housing
units per year. That required electrical wires, aluminum fixtures, wood
fixtures, etc., etc., etc. You cannot even imagine what a program to produce
the materials needed for 20,000 housing units is like. Do not forget the
asbestos-cement, clay, iron, and plastic pipes. The industrial capacity had
been created not only to produce the materials for 20,000 housing units but
also to repair tens of thousands of housing units every year. We knew that the
city needed repairs, above all, and we had the information about the tenement
houses and the houses that were falling down in the city.

59.  How much effort was being made, over the course of the years but
especially in the years before the special period? Although the minibrigades,
as you know, were founded during the seventies, more than 20 years ago, and
they gave a great boost to construction, unfortunately, the movement lost
momentum later, for reasons we have explained. But now the social minibrigades
were created, and citizens were given jobs building, repairing, or maintaining
their houses. We had reached the extreme of saying to a housewife: Look, join
this minibrigade and we will pay you to work repairing your house and your
neighbors' houses.

60.  Thousands and thousands of housewives joined that movement. We were
looking for the work force to build new housing projects and repair the
existing houses. We built paint factories, even a white cement factory in
Siguaney, so that we would have the cement needed to make the paint for the
new buildings, because paint is extremely expensive. We sought solutions of
all kinds.  But the contingents also arose as a new idea, with tremendous
strength. These contingents were initially for construction. The first
industrial contingent was created in San Miguel del Padron. It is there, and
it has great prestige. It tripled productivity. It is one of the best
factories in our city. So not only were investments made, but ideas and
programs were worked out.

61.  A group was formed for the strategic guidance of the city's development.
As you know very well, in our capital the Revolution did not spend its time
building offices and public buildings. The public buildings the Revolution
uses after 30 years were almost all built before the Revolution. The
Revolution did build many schools of all kinds in the city, and sports
facilities, including the sports facilities for the last Pan-American Games,
in which for the first time in the history of this hemisphere the feat of a
Latin American country winning against the United States was accomplished.

62.  These facilities are being used. The Revolution did not forget the
capital, but it has always been aware of the complexity of the problems in the
capital. That is why we said that the battle was more difficult here. I really
think that the candidacy commission did an excellent job with the lists of
candidates from the capital. They are strong, and no one has shirked their
responsibilities. The party has not shirked its responsibilities. They
nominated eight Politburo members, and here they are in the capital, in the
most difficult place. [applause]

63.  No one has shirked their responsibilities. They have been waging a
tremendous battle. At first, we did not know how many days the campaign would
last. It was clear to me from the first moments that this campaign would have
to last up until 24 February, and be intense.  Because of course, some
comrades who have important responsibilities had to travel to the eastern
provinces or Camaguey. It is not easy for them to spend two whole weeks. We
must not forget that this special period....[corrects himself] No, these
elections are taking place in the midst of the special period, the sugar
harvest, the sugar harvest, [repeats] the cold-season planting-potatoes,
vegetables, tubers-the tobacco planting, and many other agricultural
activities, plus the tremendous work in managing the country in the midst of
the great tensions arising from the special period.

64.  But we were involved in this battle, and I have no doubt that all the
comrades have spent two, three, or four hours on their work every day, if they
could, but they spent the rest of the time in the electoral struggle, the
battle, especially here in Havana City. They have done the same throughout the
country, but I think the greatest effort has been made here. Here was where
the greatest effort had to be made. It was clear to me that the comrades were
going to be involved in this task up to 24 February. Since I had to be here,
and I had already been in Santiago de Cuba, I also wanted to participate in
some way in this great battle in the capital. Thus my modest-and I say this
sincerely-participation in this campaign. I went to two or three meetings.
Others went to five, six, seven, 10 meetings, to two or three meetings every
day, two or three different places. But I was aware that the hardest battle
was being waged here.

65.  Now, if it is true that the objective and subjective conditions are more
difficult in the capital, we also have tremendous patriotic and revolutionary
forces in the capital. I do not forget how many Moncada combatants we
recruited in the capital of the Republic, in addition to the large group
[applause] of comrades from Artemisa. I do not forget that we organized the
movement here, and it came to have 1,200 combatants. At Moncada and in Bayamo
we used about 160 because we did not have resources or guns. But we had
mobilized, organized, and trained 1,200 combatants. Then we did a selection,
depending on the guns we had.

66.  I do not forget the workers of the capital, who unanimously responded to
the call for a general strike which consolidated our victory on 1 January.
[applause] I do not forget the National Revolutionary Militia, made up of tens
of thousands of workers from the capital, [applause] and the hundreds of
artillery men. When artillery guns began to arrive here, surface guns and
anti-aircraft guns, we recruited young people and workers from the capital. I
do not forget the thousands of young people from the capital who participated
in the literacy campaign. I do not forget that at the Bay of Pigs, the highest
number of battalions was from the capital of the Republic. [applause]

67.  I do not forget that before, the capital of the Republic had sent 40,000
armed workers to fight the gangs in the Escambray, 40,000. [applause] I
remember this very well, because I visited the place more than once, because I
met with almost all of them at ceremonies at which I explained the importance
of that task. They surrounded the Escambray everywhere. They divided it up,
they split it up, and they put a squadron in each house, at times, when they
wanted to clear an entire area of bandits. That happened before the Bay of
Pigs, because the enemy's plans, before the clearing of the Escambray, were to
land at Trinidad, near the Escambray. They changed their plans when the
battalions from the capital cleared the Escambray.

68.  I do not forget the mobilizations of manual cane cutters, of the workers
from our capital. [applause] They mobilized even to Camaguey. I do not forget
those who are currently mobilized from here. I do not forget those from the
capital who joined the Territorial Troops Militia.  [applause] I do not forget
those from the capital who are building tunnels to defend the nation.
[applause] I cannot forget something I had not mentioned: the capital of the
October missile crisis. [applause]

69.  I do not forget the capital that organized the first contingents. I do
not forget the capital of the mobilizations to agriculture, [applause] the
capital that organized dozens of contingents and mobilizations. I do not
forget the capital, hundreds of thousands of whose children have participated,
contributing with their effort and sweat, in producing food for the city under
the difficult conditions of the special period. [applause]

70.  I know there are great revolutionary and patriotic forces in the capital,
and that here, even though the conditions may be more difficult, the capital
will be equal to the time we are experiencing. [applause] The capital will
give the victory to the people's candidates, [applause] however difficult the
circumstances may be, and we know them. I spoke before about everything we
were doing when the collapse of the socialist bloc and the disappearance of
the USSR dealt us such a terrible blow. That blow is felt, it must be felt,
and it is felt with great force.  You can see how bus trips have been reduced
to one third of what they used to be every day, with buses for which we do not
receive parts. They also need tires and batteries. They use quite a bit of
fuel. Of course, fuel has dealt a terrible blow to many of the activities I
spoke about. It has dealt a blow to transportation in the capital and
throughout the country.

71.  It has also dealt a blow to the supply of cooking fuel. It has dealt a
blow to transportation. The sugar harvest, the sugar harvest [repeats] has
suffered. Yes, it has been reported. Recently, I saw it on the television.
Different reasons were given but the sugar harvest has also suffered due to
the lack of fuel. On some occasions the mills and the combines have been
stopped due to the lack of diesel. This has forced us to make an even greater
effort and has caused greater difficulties. Fuel has dealt a blow to
everything. Likewise, the lack of resources has dealt a blow to the supply of
raw materials from abroad. It has also affected essential food staples.

72.  When Cuba suddenly lost 75 percent of its imports, we were forced to
reconstruct the country on a new basis under different conditions. Naturally,
this is being felt and has to be felt. The whole country has felt it. The
capital has also felt it.

73.  If these examples are not enough, I can point out that approximately
800,000 bicycles have been distributed in the capital of the Republic in order
to offset the problems with transportation. This figure is much higher than
the number distributed in the rest of the country, despite the fact that we
have built several bicycle factories in the rest of the country. Of course,
the distances are greater here. In a city with 10,000 inhabitants, or in a
city with 100,000 or 200,000 inhabitants, you do not have to walk far to reach
specific places. However, in a city with over 2 million inhabitants, when
sometimes you have to go from Habana del Este to La Lisa, or from Guanabacoa
to Playa or Marianao, or from Arroyo Naranjo to any other municipality, such
as Centro Habana, Habana Vieja or Plaza, it is natural that transportation
would make life much more complicated here. This is why I had no objections to
giving privileges to the capital in order to respond to the tremendous
situation brought on by the blow suffered by transportation in the special
period as a result of the collapse of the socialist bloc.

74.  [Problems with] fuel halted many of our plans, in the same way that the
lack of raw materials halted or considerably reduced production in many
factories.  Likewise, imported food resources became less accessible and
everything-the freight charges, the shipping- became more expensive, as a
result of the strengthening of the embargo and the double embargo. What took
place following the disappearance of the socialist bloc and the USSR became
the equivalent of a double embargo which forced Cuba to seek new markets for
its products and receive ridiculously low prices for its exports.

75.  We do not have enough fuel, yet we allocate for fuel the value of almost
all the sugar we produce. I can give you one example: With what we spend on
fuel every day we could purchase 15,000 tons of grain. These 15,000 tons of
grain a day would allow us to distribute-pardon me, but did I say pounds? I
said tons?-15,000 tons of grain every day would allow us to distribute 40 kg
of grain to every Cuban citizen every month.

76.  As I have mentioned on other occasions, today one ton of sugar buys 1.4
tons of oil. This was not the situation in 1959 or 1960; then we could buy
eight tons of oil.  However, today oil has a monopoly price. In trading with
the USSR we obtained at least seven tons. Today, we trade some sugar for a
small amount of oil from the USSR at these ridiculously low prices. Sugar is
sold at garbage dump prices, and oil is sold at monopoly prices.  These
circumstances did not exist when the USSR existed. I am giving you this
information to make you aware that, naturally, we are waging the battle in
very difficult conditions, but we have the courage to wage it.

77.  I was very impressed by what a comrade said because I also believe this:
The masses are aware of what independence is, what the Revolution is, what
socialism is, and what the Revolution has done for them. To this we could add
so much more that the Revolution wanted to do for the people. Those programs
we were talking about were perfectly feasible and we were developing them when
our sugar was worth something, when we had enough fuel, when there was no
shortage of raw materials, when we received considerable quantities of food,
not only for direct human consumption but also for producing chicken, eggs,
milk, beef, etc. Those programs were feasible. They were the result of the
desire to struggle and work for the people.

78.  We have worked not just for our people; we were capable not only of
receiving but of giving. We were capable not only of receiving help from
others but of giving our help to others. That is another Havana which cannot
be forgotten, the Havana which contributed so much to civilian and military
internationalist missions.  [applause]

79.  How many teachers, doctors, nurses, technicians, construction workers,
and combatants? These people knew independence, liberty, dignity, equality,
and justice. The justice we are now defending so much in these elections.  The
justice that we apply when we fight so that any honest and honorable man or
woman of our people can become a deputy or a delegate. The justice we defend
when we see our candidates, who are ordinary people.  Our candidates are not
millionaires. They are not wealthy. They are not sugar mill owners. They are
not landlords. They are not big industrialists or businessmen. Our people can
see this when they see all these candidates. Our people cannot say that among
them there is an embezzler, a thief, or someone who has become wealthy with
the money of the people. What the people see in these candidates who are
visiting them is humble, simple, hard-working people. They see them supporting
each other as brothers do. This has to be admired.

80.  They know that this is the Revolution. This is the result of the equality
of the Revolution, which some time ago brought about the disappearance of
every type of discrimination for reasons of race or sex, or poverty, as we
have mentioned many times before. The poor were terribly discriminated against
in this country. I believe that the comrades have mentioned this here to
explain the people's reaction. This is correct. I had reached the same
conclusion. When the people have had the privilege of knowing such values,
they refuse to live without them. When the people are no longer being
exploited or enslaved, they refuse to become slaves again. [applause] The
people have understood the battle being waged; they have understood what
values are at stake; they have understood the importance of making a show of
strength and unity, in order to wage the great struggle of the special period.

81.  We need strength and unity. We have to send this message. What would we
be saying to imperialism, to the enemy? If we show ourselves to be weak and
divided, they would redouble their efforts to destroy us. We have to make them
see that they will not be able to destroy us or will have to physically
destroy us if they want to destroy the justice that the Revolution has brought
to our nation. [applause]

82.  This has been perfectly understood by the people. This is what in my
opinion explains the reactions we have seen everywhere and that you have
reported today. As was said here, we have only three more days. We cannot lose
a single minute. We cannot lose a single second. We have three days of
campaigning, three days of battle-Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We do not have
a right to rest as long as there is a single vote to be won, as long as there
is a single mind to be persuaded, as long as there is a point that needs to be
clarified. We have to remain in the front lines to the last minute, to the
last second.

83.  This has to be our method. This has to be our style in order to obtain
not simply a victory but an energetic and resounding victory, a ``Yes for
Cuba'', for the nation, and the Revolution which will reach every corner of
the globe. [applause] I congratulate you, comrades of Havana, for the work you
have done. In this meeting, I see in your faces the result of the battle you
have waged.  If two weeks ago you were what we could call inexperienced
soldiers, today you are veterans. [applause]

84.  A united nation is priceless. A combative nation is priceless. A fighting
nation is priceless, capable of reaching mind after mind, house after house,
as we would have to do if, instead of being in a battle of ideas, we had to
defend the sacred soil of the fatherland with guns in hand [applause] to
fulfill what Marti...[corrects himself] what Maceo said, which is as important
today as when the fatherland was not even independent, when the things that we
have to defend today did not exist: the justice, dignity, honor, equality, and
brotherhood that we have to defend today. Without having lived the experience
of a revolution such as we have, he said very clearly: Whoever attempts to
take over Cuba will get only the dust of its bones [as heard] drenched in
blood, if he does not perish in the struggle. [applause] Let us say as Maceo
did: No one will ever be able to take over Cuba, certainly not this
revolutionary Cuba, which on 24 February will render the highest tribute to
our national hero Jose Marti. [crowd shouts: Viva free Cuba! Viva!] [applause]

85.  Once, while speaking about our Mambises, our predecessors, we said: Then,
we would have been like them.  Today, they would have been like us. Therefore,
all the generations, united in this beautiful, heroic, and honorable battle we
are waging, would say: Socialism or death, fatherland or death, we will win!