FBIS-LAT-93-219 Daily Report 17 Nov 1993 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro, Delegates Comment at Havana PCC Meeting FL1511232293 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 0135 GMT 11 Nov 93 FL1511232293 Havana Tele Rebelde Network Spanish BFN ["Summary" of comments by President Fidel Castro, City of Havana Historian Eusebio Leal, and unidentified delegates at the Havana Communist Party of Cuba [PCC] Assessment Meeting in Havana Convention Center on 6 and 7 November; monitored in progress -- recorded] [Text] [Castro]...tourism is gold, because hard currency can be exchanged for gold. That is what the country needs to import those things we need so much. Faced with this situation, are we taking advantage of those resources effectively? How many problems are we trying to solve at once? The mobilization of workers to work in agriculture is marvelous, but I ask myself whether a tourist center should have one worker more than it needs. I imagine that those workers also eat plantains. If they have 8,000, the agriculture of Havana is not enough. If they have 638 instead of 600, 500, 400, or 350 workers, we must feed them all and it is more expensive. I say to myself: If a tourist center such as the [words indistinct], it must have a highly inflated roster to be able to send approximately 430 workers to work in agricultural tasks in the city. Should we distinguish between one type of center and another? But then I realize that they sponsor this or that child care center; they sponsor and support who knows which school; they take care of who knows how many other things. Is that the proper direction for our work and should all this revolve around that center's unending need for workers? She said something interesting: They have sold 10 million [not further specified]. This means that the decision was correct. It should have been even more correct but we were not insightful enough. We were building that entire edifice with professional builders. But since we are so mediocre, or we have been so many times, we did not have enough professional builders to convert all that project. It could have been a center that would produce $30 million or $40 million a year. When we look at it, minibrigades were introduced in order to complete it. When it was turned over to minibrigades, the percentage that corresponds to the minibrigades went to the minibrigades. That should have been a great scientific center that would have self-financed its construction cost every two years. Our real goal was to recover the money we had invested in the Pan-American Games, which, as you know, we discussed at length. We discuss everything here and that was discussed. That was a commitment. We had to build that regardless of the cost because we had been struggling for the Pan-American Games for many years. That was a political battle. We had to do it. We wanted to do it. But when we went to see how we could convert this into a small gold mine, we should have built the whole thing as a tourist installation and modified it with warehouses and the things necessary for a tourist center. One day I estimated that we could have grossed $40 million per year. It, alone, every two years would have paid for the cost of the Pan-American Games. Of course, it was not done that way. A political problem even developed because, obviously, once the minibrigades went in, they were governed by the principle that they were entitled to a certain amount of what they built; so there was no backing out. Despite this, it took many explanations, because they said it was 30, 20, or 15 percent. The fact is that it was half completed when it was given to them. Despite this, [coughs] 30 percent was lost to them [coughs] more employees [words indistinct]. I believe it is a great mistake that 47 apartments were dedicated to that. Occupations are another thing. The occupations are mistakes made by the tourism institutes. Not only the director of the institute but also the National Institute of Tourism [Intur] should answer for those examples of shoddiness. The institution in charge should answer for this. That is not tourism; it is a caricature of tourism. It seems to me that there we are doing it wrong, just as we are doing in many other tourist sites, by forgetting the principle that the goal of tourism is to dig for gold so that the country can live. This is how we have to look at this, very clearly. This way, we can save one of those children that we have saved. We are 9.8 or 8.9. Was that the figure you said? Then it is of immeasurable importance. The work in tourism has political importance because we must confront vices and problems and the influence of the western world. Each tourist center must be a bastion. Since that is one, it has not been marketed sufficiently. We should also hear from those who are responsible for this, since we are talking about tourism, and tourism in Havana. Havana used to be opposed to tourism; now, it is becoming one of the main tourist attractions because everyone wants to come to Havana. Tourism is a serious issue in Havana. It should be the primary front because it is where the battle is most difficult. Here in the capital they either snatch tourists' purses or they pester and harass them. That is why tourism must work perfectly in Havana. This comrade posed a problem that makes us ask how the rest are doing. How was the Habana Libre doing? How many employees did they have? What problems did they have? How is the Habana Libre doing now? What role has the Galician played in the Habana Libre? I call him a Galician but I do not know whether he was born in Galicia, Valencia, or is Basque or from Madrid or Seville. In Cuba we always call all Spaniards Galicians. The Galician at the Habana Libre Hotel is well known because he established discipline, which we Cubans do not establish and do not know how to establish and cannot establish. When two Cubans get together, one says: This is my cousin; he has to put up with and tolerate everything I do; he cannot demand anything from me. On the other hand, they listen to everything the Spaniard tells them. The psychological makeup of the Cuban people is quite a sight. They listen to the Spaniard; but when a Cuban speaks, they do not listen. Since we are talking about tourism, we are going to discuss tourism in Havana. This is even a good place to discuss national tourism. Today, if there is anything that is decisively important, strategic, and of first order in getting Cuba out of the special period and helping Cuba develop, it is tourism. It is the activity with the most growth and where the subjective factors of treatment, attention, and organization play an important role. We would like to hear from those of the tourism sector in this assembly. [First delegate] Commander, the Nacional Hotel has already accrued approximately $13 million. [Castro] You said you have 32 installations including.... [First delegate, interrupting] All together we have 32 installations. Twenty-five of them are operating and the other seven are being renovated. Those are the old hotels that are going to be repaired this year and next. [Castro] So you have 25 installations currently in operation. [First delegate] Yes, 25. [Castro] How many workers do you have? [First delegate] We have 6,200 workers. That is approximately 1.1 workers per room. [Castro] How many? [First delegate] Approximately 1.1. [Castro] How many did you have before? [First delegate] Commander, we used to have 6,700 workers. We are working hard with regard to the experience we acquired from the Spaniards and through other studies that we have made. [Castro] What happened at the Habana Libre hotel? [First delegate] From 999 workers at the beginning of the year, we are down to 577 workers. [Castro] Why were there so many workers? [First delegate] Commander, in 1989 there were 1,200 workers. [Castro] There were more. There were 1,200. Go ahead. Now you have fewer than half. [First delegate] It was because of their inefficiency. [Castro] What were all those people doing there? [First delegate] I guess they wandered around, because today we do the job with 577 and we get the job done right. [Castro] Is the job done better with the workers you now have? [First delegate] Yes, of course. Furthermore, the people who left there.... [Castro, interrupting] How many people who should not have been eating there were eating at the hotel? [First delegate] Seven hundred twenty workers. [Castro] How many? [First delegate] Seven hundred twenty. [Castro] Who were not workers at the hotel? [First delegate] They were not workers of the hotel. [Castro] But they ate at the hotel. [First delegate] Yes, they ate at the hotel. [Castro] Do you think a tourism industry can prosper that way? I ask you, comrades, tell me the truth: Do you think a hotel where approximately 700 people with nothing to do with the hotel are eating can be a hotel for tourism? In what country of the world? Until when did that go on? [First delegate] That went on until June. [Castro] June, this year? [First delegate] Until 1 June, when the Spaniards took over. [Castro] Why did that happen? Why was that tolerated? Why did Intur put up with that? Why did your supervisors allow such a mess, deprivation, and chaos? Why lie to the country, telling them that we have a tourism structure and a tourism sector? [First delegate] Commander, at the moment we are solving those problems. Today we inaugurated a restaurant, a cafeteria, to take care of all the people who should not be eating there. It is on O and 23d Streets. We did that in tribute to this assembly. [Castro] How much does a hotel cost? What profitability and administration can a hotel have with 1,200 workers, three times what it should have, plus 700 more who go there to eat? Is that how we are going to overcome the special period and obtain income for Cuba? Is that how you are going to create an economic awareness? I want this to be known. [First delegate] I wanted to reassure you that we are working on this. We have precise plans. In a meeting we held with the provincial bureau, comrade Osmani participated with us.... [Castro, interrupting] Good, but why did you wait so long? [First delegate] Unfortunately, these things....[pauses] You are right, we should have started sooner. [Castro] We organize contingents for this and that, mobilization of workers here and there, and the Habana Libre was [words indistinct]. How many rooms do your facilities have? [First delegate] We have 5,200 rooms right now. It should reach 6,000.... [Castro, interrupting] Are all those dedicated to international tourism? [First delegate] No, Commander. Three of the hotels are dedicated to national tourism. There is a small percentage allocated to national tourism, mainly vanguard workers, the Cuban Workers Federation, youth, the Interior Ministry. [Castro] That followed a set, organized policy, one that is also rational, to give a portion of something we cannot give to all and to avoid letting hoarders or scoundrels use the facilities. It is preferable to have vanguard workers enjoying the hotel. This was the policy set, a small percentage so that our workers can somewhat enjoy the facilities. Although we now desperately, desperately need the hard currency collected from tourists at those facilities. [First delegate] That is not all, Commander. The Habana Libre and Riviera Hotels, which are under this [Spanish] administration, also welcome a percentage of nationals; this is planned for all the hotels. This is a study we are conducting in the new structure we are proposing. We believe this is going to cover all the problems of inefficiency and the mistakes that we have made all these years. [Castro] The Riviera was in the same condition as the Habana Libre, experiencing the same problem. [First delegate] However, based on the experience we gained at the Habana Libre, we have not had to remove workers at the Riviera. We had already eliminated any excess. This can be resolved in practice. We have now begun managing the Neptuno Triton Hotel and are already working to make this happen again. This is truly so. We have an excess of approximately 1,200 workers. [Castro] Our worst problem is that we think we know. This is one of our characteristics -- great self-confidence. We are champions at this. Others come and tell us: Look at this, and that, and the other. It is like flying a plane. No one can be told: We have just brought a new plane; since you know how to drive a car, please go ahead and take this plane loaded with passengers to Santiago de Cuba. That is like the hotel business. [Second delegate, identified by caption as president of Intur] We have not said clearly here that a process is taking place in the entire province to analyze and reduce the personnel roster, including various hotels and the Pan-American Village. I will explain how we worked the Pan-American Village. There might have been mistakes. I am sure we made mistakes in many things in the Pan-American Village but I am going to tell you the concept we used in the Pan-American Village. I want to stress that we have worked on this basis. One has much to learn. I can tell you that I am learning and that every one of the comrades working with us, including at the hotels, each day learns much about things we did not know. Tourhoteles achieved the marketing of approximately 42 percent occupation, up to August. This percentage is low. We have discussed that the issue is not that there was 10- or 12-percent growth but that we have to work to attain, not 40-, but 60-percent occupancy. I believe that in terms of marketing, although we carried out an entire restructuring of the marketing, worked on each market, we have not truly reached 60-percent occupancy in Havana or in Cuba in general. This has not been attained. We have achieved growth, but not 60 or above, as has been done at certain facilities. In Havana we have nine facilities that have over 60-percent occupancy. [Castro] Then why does the Tuspan Hotel in Varadero have 92-percent occupancy? [Second delegate] I would say, because there is strong work in marketing, because there is a strong enterprise in marketing, because the flights are tied in with the marketing, and also because this enterprise is good at marketing. They have all these ties and Germans like facilities with tailored services. Their marketing is good. [Castro] When do you plan to increase marketing in connection with the accords reached with Guitart and that other group? What is it called? [Second delegate] The (Loquero). Commander, the contract reached was on the basis of surpassing 60 percent. Actually, 60 percent is the baseline, a point of departure. The goal is to achieve over 85-percent occupancy. This is the principle discussed and agreed upon. [Third delegate] There are enough of us to do it. I believe we do have to import a bit of demand for quality and reject paternalism. The Habana Libre Hotel, a 34-year-old hotel with workers who averaged 48 years of age, was a hotel that demonstrated how much in need of change we were. Unfortunately, or perhaps luckily, the Guitart Hotel company took charge of our main hotel. When they began to take steps toward efficiency, it allowed us to reflect on all the problems we have. Previously, the Habana Libre had absenteeism of between 10 and 11 percent; presently, its total absenteeism is -- there are no unjustified absences -- only 2 percent, normally due to problems such as the conjunctivitis outbreak; last week, because of the weather change, many workers have allergies and asthma problems. However, we truly do not have a problem of absenteeism any longer. The Habana Libre workers....[pauses] The political organizations were a bit extremist and had even established the times to show up for work; we have changed their hours. We were saying: Heck, how will this be seen in light of the situation the country is experiencing? Yes, we have gotten ourselves in trouble. Everyone in this country talks about the Habana Libre, even Radio Marti; but it is true that Habana Libre workers no longer arrive late. We have not issued more bicycles. We have issued them at the same rate as before. I do not know how the workers have solved their [transportation] problems. Much is demanded from the Habana Libre workers. We have to demand much from tourism workers because right now, I believe, they are highly privileged workers. I believe we have to put it this way. As privileged as they are in general, service workers directly involved in production are as privileged as well because we know that, one way or another, they get certain benefits. If they have benefits, we must make greater demands of them because they have a job they should be the first concerned about taking care of, instead of we. Presently, the average age of the workers at the hotels is 32 years. Many silly things have been said about the ethnic composition. In the hotel we have blacks, whites, and mulattos; there is a bit of everything. Commander, I also believe that the Habana Libre experience, as Paco [not further identified] said, has helped to energize Intur and we are trying to disseminate this experience to the rest of the hotels. This is a job that, to be done right, cannot be done in two months because we have to observe and test the workers. Steps are being taken to retire all those who have reached retirement age but do not want to quit their jobs and are therefore blocking the progress of younger workers. I also think that this idea, which is already five months old and first began to yield good results in October, has to be extrapolated. That is our goal in Havana and the entire country. [Castro] Was the experience of the Spaniards who joined the hotel not worth anything? [Third delegate] We have done this thanks to that, because alone, as a Cuban, I would not have been able to do any of this. This is what makes the difference. [Castro] Then we had to import Galicians? [Third delegate] Yes, at least initially. [Castro] Right, but you think that one day we can do this by ourselves? [Third delegate] I am fully convinced of this but I also have to be given the powers that were given to him. [applause] [Castro] Yes, of course. [applause continues] I applaud because I agree that we must have the necessary power and authority. Can you tell me what these are? [Third delegate] First of all, I want you to know that in addition to having a process of suitability, begun in 1990 or 1991, and having completed it, it was very difficult for us at times to reconcile administrative criteria with political and union criteria. [Castro] How is this? Can you explain? [Third delegate] Look, Commander, in order to explain I have to get into a delicate issue. [Castro] But are you not asking to be given the same powers? If we do not know what they are, how are we to know how or where to get them? Is there a supermarket or a country that grants these powers? [laughter] Tell me about it to see whether, among us all, we can do it. Lady, go into every delicate issue you want to. This is what we are here for. [applause] [Third delegate] Here I go. Besides, you said it a while back: Here, we have to speak the truth. First of all, I want you to know that it has been difficult to make everyone understand the Spaniards' system, which I personally very much agree with and which was highly needed. At times, it is not possible to spend every day in a quarrel with everyone. What has happened is that because it is a Spaniard who is in a management contract approved by the top leadership of the country, he has to be respected. [Castro] The top leadership is those seated here. No, it was approved by the government, by the party. How many things have been approved in this manner? And how many are fulfilled? [Third delegate] No, I believe that what was approved is well known. I am convinced that the government knows what it approves. [Castro] It is a policy the country follows as the result of an overpowering need. [Third delegate] Exactly. Before, there might have been a worker maybe 55 years old....[pauses] Let us speak of a young worker. We are not always going to pick on older workers. Some might be 55 and work harder than a 20 year old. We have a certain worker of a certain age who [words indistinct] and we spoke with the party and the party supported us administratively. Then we spoke with the youth movement and they were also in agreement. However, when we got to the union, the problems started. In this case, initially, I believe that there were certain problems. Later on, the system took its normal course and we began to reconcile political and labor organizations with the administration in one main concept: to seek efficiency and truly to fulfill what the government had agreed on. This was much easier for the Galician than it would have been for me if I had tried to do this at the Presidente Hotel last year. This is one point. The Galician has a so-called total economic independence. If he tells Cantillo [not further identified] something and Cantillo disagrees, he cannot do it; but he usually convinces Cantillo because he is usually right. Frutas Selectas arrives with a truckload of fruit that does not meet service standards. That truck is not unloaded at the Habana Libre. At the Presidente Hotel, I had to accept that truck. He would threaten me by saying that if I kept up such silliness I could end up without fruit for three months. And: Go ahead and reject them. We will never again bring you any fruit. The Galician decides which products he buys; that is part of efficiency because he buys products that will not cause losses, and no one complains. [Castro] Why is the fruit taken to the Galician? [Third delegate] Because he demands it. [Castro] And if you make the same demand? [Third delegate] They do not bring it to me. [Castro] They do not want to respect Cubans. [Third delegate] That is true. [Castro] They mistreat and even insult them; and the one who says the same thing and rejects the fruit is still receiving fruit. [Third delegate] He also clearly established that he does not go out; products are to be brought to him at the hotel. This is within the control mechanisms. [Castro] What other attributions? [Third delegate] What else does he do? He works free of the hassle....[pauses] not hassle, but he is not constantly being visited by all our state committees. The Galician can be more efficient than any other hotel manager because he sets whatever prices he wishes, not those set by the state committee. [Castro] Give me some examples. [Third delegate] For example: We are going to sell a fried chicken. We begin with the cost estimate, what we need to make one fried chicken: eight ounces of chicken, so much oil, so much garlic, and whatever else it takes. In the end, after establishing the cost of preparing it, we set the retail price. Not so, here. Here we have many hotels like the Presidente, where selling a fried chicken was a loss but I had to have it on the menu because the Service Directorate demands it of me. However, I could not raise the price. My hands were tied. In his case, this does not happen. He estimates the cost and he sells at a profit and no one gets in his face or sets fines or takes him to court. [Castro] Very good. I think you have given a very good example. Our mission is not to lose money on fried chicken, it is to profit from fried chicken. We need that money from abroad. What are we achieving by giving a tourist a free chicken? This is a good example, something worth analyzing. We have to decide how a hotel is supposed to run in this country. What do we have to eliminate? What price policy must we follow according to the type of hotel? What is the minimum we must make on each chicken? We have a good need to profit on those chickens. If we sell them and end up losing, we are dead. Do you have other examples? [Third delegate] They have the possibility of going out to sell their product anywhere they want and at whatever price they want, as long as the owner agrees. Cuban hotel managers cannot sell their own services. Somebody else does it and that somebody, who has no need to sell it, sets whatever price he wants without consulting with the hotel. [Fourth delegate] Our inefficiency is immense. We cannot continue to afford the costs we are incurring in all the tourist facilities, in general; some are more efficient, others are less efficient, but our costs are truly unbearable. These costs include everything, even what we are always talking about -- the excess work force in our facilities. Naturally, this also includes marketing. The results already achieved at the Pan-American Village, 37-percent occupancy, and the total of the Tourhoteles example, 46-percent occupancy this year, do not compare with levels above 60 percent and up to 85 percent as average occupancy. Of course, when we have 36- or 46-percent occupancy, most of the fixed costs remain. We have the facilities in operation, the workers employed, and we are consuming electricity, fuel, and many other things. Yet the biggest profit, the greatest need, ranges between 80-percent and 36- or 46-percent occupancy. In this level of occupancy the purest gold lies. In other words, marketing is extremely important for us to attain bigger profits from tourism. We believe that, although the effort made in Havana and in the rest of the country is meritorious, as we were saying in the meeting the time we could afford to lose has already been used up. We are overdrawn. We are in the red. We do not have the right, nor can we, nor will we be allowed to lose a single minute in the effort we have to conduct in tourism. We also mentioned that we have grown 30 percent in the last few years. Between 1991 and 1993, we grew 36 percent in annual average income in tourism. However, in the meeting we said that we have to hope to serve 10 million tourists and we have to work for 10 million tourist and this is around the corner. We, ourselves, have pledged to reach 1 million tourists by 1995. This should result in a 1 billion [currency not specified] income. The year 2000 is approaching. We must have from 4 to 5 million tourists in Cuba. This is as far in time as about tomorrow evening. Independently of the efforts our Revolution makes in all fields in order to overcome the current economic situation, tourism is a solution to the Cuban economy. Undoubtedly, our country has possibilities no other country in the world has. In the past few years we have been warming up our motors. Now we have to maintain that rate of 30- to 40-percent annual growth in order to have 10 million tourists and an income of 15 billion [currency not specified]. I hope, and we are working at this, we find other sources and continue increasing our possibilities so that our country is able to overcome the current economic situation. However, if there were nothing else, tourism alone could get us ahead. This is not a guideline or a goal or a wish. This is a reality in which we are already engaged. Our low rates of growth are miserable. Other countries in the world have grown at similar rates in previous years. However, we cannot do all this on a basis of inefficiency. We can use some time in certain other sectors in which our social and economic problems are so traumatic that in other sectors of the economy perhaps we can take longer if we continue to waste money inefficiently. [sentence as heard] However, in this business we have to seek maximum efficiency. We have to design and establish the mechanisms that will make us reach that top efficiency. Where there is a surplus worker, there is one surplus worker. And where there is one worker on the street better qualified to make this business more profitable, I have to employ that worker in this business. And anywhere our costs can be reduced, we have to reduce our costs to improve efficiency and the quality of the tourist product. Those 10 million tourists will transform this country, from the point of view of jobs and everything. Comrades, we are aboard this train. At the rate we are growing, by the year 2000 we will have approximately 4 to 5 million tourists as long as we maintain between 30-and 40-percent rates. In order to do this, we have to finish shaking off the dust of our inefficiency. The dust must be totally removed. We must seek top efficiency with all the politics, care, consideration, and immense humanity of our Revolution and our socialism -- but completely free of paternalism. As we said in the meeting, this is harsh; it must be harsh, and it must be through our cadres. We are even thinking about this: We will contract our management cadres on the basis of the new restructuring we are going to carry out. A hotel manager is contracted for three to five years and at the end of that period we make an assessment, independently of making early partial assessments, naturally. Whoever does not produce results will have to be removed. [Fifth delegate] Regarding tourism, although it has been fully debated and analyzed....[pauses] more than about tourism as such, about how tourism might influence the culture. [sentence as heard] [Sixth delegate] We have to advocate a crusade, a crusade for quality, a crusade for the best. We have to be free of prejudices, such as not playing a certain type of music because I do not like it. No, we do not have the right to impose our tastes on tourists. The tourists have their preferences and they must get the best. We have it. We have it. I believe that we have to continue fighting for this. For example, at the PCC assembly in Plaza Municipality, an agreement was reached to play so-called concert music -- I am not going to waste time explaining why -- classical music at the hotels. Why not? We did this. The accord was fulfilled with great speed. I am very thankful to the party for this. We have already had the first concert to a full house at the Nacional Hotel. It included Cuban and international concert music. I believe there is still much to be done in this field. We have to break down many barriers, much lack of information. I believe we have to continue this fight. There is another issue. What I call captive tourism. There is a trend in certain hotels to hold up tourists. I am not against giving tourists the best possible service but tourists also have to get to know the cultural life of the people. They have to go to the concert halls, galleries, exhibitions, museums, and monuments. They have to see our habitat. It is true that it is rundown and perhaps, as comrade Osmani was saying the other day, we have to see what investments can be made on those places. For example, we began very modestly. I am not an economist. I believe the economy is something every revolutionary must get to know better because we have that need, regardless of where we are. We informally organized the first cultural tourism tour, for 22 Spaniards from Valencia, and housed them at the Nacional. One day we had Jorge Luis Pratt with the Symphonic Orchestra; another day we toured the Havana Museum, which was an extremely beautiful visit. I felt uncomfortable with all the displays there against the Spanish, as I was visiting the place with Spaniards: This hero was killed by the Spanish in this or that battle. However, by the exit there was a beautiful banner -- there were several Spanish generals in the group -- that read: I would have liked to show the Spanish, the brave Spanish soldiers, but the Americans stole the victory from us. It was something to that effect by Maximo Gomez. You should have seen their faces. The trip to the museum was a truly beautiful experience. We had a very good soprano accompanied by a pianist in the museum. Anyhow, every day we had a different cultural activity for them. Now they are coming back; but this time there will not be 22, there will be 60 coming to spend New Year's Eve in Cuba. They did this in New York last year. They bought jewelry, silver, records, musical instruments. They went to the Music Museum and listened to the Exaudi chorus. One of the Spaniards from Valencia told me: I am embarrassed. In Valencia we have 400 musical groups and we do not have a museum like this one. I am going to donate the house where my father was born to create a museum like the one in Cuba. We have beautifully preserved musical instruments from past centuries. We have Fernando Ortiz' drums. It is our duty to show all this wealth to the tourists. [Seventh delegate] We have to fight against an old concept stemming from the humanist tradition of understanding culture as a subsidized activity. We have to get involved in this without making concessions on esthetic and ethical principles to the artistic market because in the contemporary world, culture is disseminated through the artistic market. We can enter this market with a highly competitive level in certain areas. There was the example of popular music, music in general, the example of fine arts. The collective talent within the Cuban fine arts sector is very impressive. We could give many other examples. On many occasions, I have used the example of soap operas, an industry in many Latin American countries, particularly Brazil. Venezuela, Mexico, and Peru also export soap operas. According to the experts, the Brazilian soaps are the only ones of inferior quality. We have here producers, top actors, and script writers. We have the conditions to turn this into an industry. We are the fathers of the germ of the television soap opera, which is the radio soap opera. I have said many times that we have the Shakespeare of radio soaps, Felix B. Cane, who wrote "The Right To Be Born". He is ours and no one can take that away from us. In other words, we can also become exporters, without making concessions, of that type of television product, of musical videos, etc. The Revolutionary Armed Forces studios and the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television were studying a very interesting plan to create a production house. This would become a source of employment for our artists and actors. It would also be a form of filling our television with national products. It seems to me that the experience of Macia's soap opera was very interesting, its popular impact, as well as the impact this one about the Cienaga de Zapata is having. People like Brazilian soaps but people also like to see their own actors, their people, their culture on the screen. People are interested and follow it with interest. They relate in a very particular manner with that national and cultural message coming through television, which is the true cultural power. Unfortunately, at times it is for the worse. However, at times, we hope, it is for the best. I believe this offers many opportunities. I believe we have to make a collective effort with all the tourism, the cultural promotion entities, the intellectual movements, the help of economists, because we need economists of culture. This is a specific market, one that has certain peculiarities. It does not allow for improvisation. It is a market in which I guess that in order to sell pharmaceutical products....[pauses] We are going to speak about this according to what Lezcano told me during the recess. This is a market that requires knowledge. Our introduction in it is slow. There are transnationals. In the culture sector there is also pressure from transnationals. We also need our promoters or impresarios, whichever you want to call them, to know this market and enter this market with energy. We have talent and a high level of competitiveness. In other words, we should not view culture as ballast. We should not see culture as something the national economy has to shoulder but as something that is not only self-financed but also something that can help us overcome the special period. This is what I wanted to say. [Brief musical interlude] [Leal] I believe that we agree that we cannot conduct a tourist project in a country like Cuba, a country with such a defined political and social vocation and particular history, unless we think that on the shoulders of that herculean and tired figure the cloak of stars we place after the daily struggles is that of its sports, its science, and its culture. Thus, everyone who comes to Cuba is impressed by the work of the sciences, the work of our sports which are spearheading a great world challenge. These are also men of culture, of a moral culture, of a civilization whose values we have so firmly maintained. I believe a great writer said that when an athlete struggles in the arena for great Olympic glory what he cherishes above all other goods is the crown of laurel leaves. We, who have always struggled for the crown of laurel leaves above all else, truly believe that these reflections by Alicia, you, and Ruben on the role of culture are very important. I have worked hard with many other people in preparing what we might call the theater of operations. In this case the theater of operations has been a great cultural facility, Havana's Cultural Center. I believe that many tourists come to Cuba wanting to see not only see the gifts nature granted us with this island for so many ponderable reasons, but also the work of men, what men have accumulated in centuries of effort. I believe that there, in Habana Vieja, in Trinidad, in Santiago -- our moral capital -- there are values that cannot be relinquished and also values that can become profitable and a firm support for Cuba, today and tomorrow. I believe that to the same degree that we become aware of this, we are doing something good. This is still under the guidelines of Decree 143 which our commander reviewed line by line in an admirable exercise of leadership. I say this because a while ago a certain asp hissed to me that this has been called the Vatican. I answered: In that Vatican, I am the secretary of state but the Holy Father is he [Castro]. [laughter/applause] It is 9.4 square km of a dense and impressive concentration of monuments and an impalpable history. [as heard] In other words, you cannot walk a block without talking about a teacher, a school, a scientist, here Romai, there Espadero, here Marti, there Luz. Once we know all this, and it becomes stone and pride of the city, the city which is also a way of living and a way of thinking, it becomes something not only admirable but also that wants to be known. This is the reason I have always thought that to renege on any tourist project in Havana was unreasonable. I have always thought that everyone would like to come to the capital of the Revolution, to the last stronghold, the Carthage, the Troy. Everyone wants to come here, to Revolution Square. They inevitably want to see the stage of great events in history. I have also believed that in that project, the participation of Cubans as a group and individually was essential. If against a series of prejudices which are nothing more than the reflection of our own fears, we reject letting revolutionary Cubans exercise their hospitality [passage indistinct] it produces the wrong image of Cuba and renders a poor service to this country. However, within that floating category of ties with the world abroad, many fear approaching a tourist beyond an obligation and they automatically relinquish this to the hands of black marketeers. I believe that this renovation of thoughts is very appropriate. I believe that from the first moment, in that swordplay which opened this assembly, the commander has tried to put the ethical value of this meeting exactly on track. I must add that Habana Vieja is an emporium of wealth. The commander, for example, was concerned by one fact: Napoleon said that three things were needed to win a war: money, money, and more money. Of course, he said that while he was standing on the battlefield. Therefore, I believe we need money and money; but we also need lucidity, enthusiasm, perseverance, roots, and an immeasurable will. Habana Vieja requires much money. Every building restoration cost thousands of dollars in work hours and essential materials. We had the anguishing pain of trying to solve this in the period it has been our destiny to live in. Ruben, for example, spoke of the museum. The nation has 254 museums. Some of its most important concentrations are in Havana and in illustrious Santiago, Trinidad, etc. All this has to become workable and, to get done, has to become payable. I have been a museum director for over 25 years and know that opening up the doors and turning on the lights costs $200 an hour. It has been only now that we have become fully aware of what this means. To those $200 dollars for electricity we have to add what we need for water and employees' pay. Every hour is highly expensive. Therefore, we who this year welcomed 1,207,000 visitors had, first of all, to make our museum a paid museum. Our museum was the first in the nation that charged an entry fee. This year, it is already contributing $125,000 to the national economy from entry fees. A third of what all the museums in the country produce comes from one museum alone. In addition to this, Cubans were not paying the entry fee and it was a discriminatory act for Cubans. Fortunately, we have overcome this. [laughter] Now, Cubans pay to come in and the psychological rationale of their behavior has changed significantly. Of course, school trips do not pay, nor that small group of children who always come in as an act of courtesy; students with ID receive a discount. I have no doubt that as we accrue funds we are also giving them an opportunity to understand that they should also contribute to maintain these efforts. We had to restore many buildings about to be lost. An idea came up: Let us ask our many friends throughout the world on the basis of the call made by the director of UNESCO and the fact that the historic hub is part of the patrimony of mankind. This call was issued not only to organizations and nations but also to institutions and individuals. There were generous people such as Osvaldo Guayasamin, who contributed to restore a building; even after doing so and being able to enjoy it for life, because we could not fence off this facility since it is part of the patrimony of the nation and mankind, Osvaldo wished to open it to the public, asking only his rooms be kept private when he comes to Cuba. The commander was saying: It would be great to have many more Guayasamins, people as generous as he; but if this practice becomes generalized, we would be losing the good achieved because we would lose that building's capacity to produce wealth. How many people tell me: We wish we could rent a house in Habana Vieja. And we think: That rent, first, could be used to contribute to the nation; second, to restore the entire city. I ask of destiny one more day, one more year in order to see more of the effort completed and to have more friends. I pray that there may not be a hurricane because if there were to be a hurricane I could end up losing three-fourths of my patrimony, which is mostly in ruins. We need to speed up the process. From this emerged the idea, first, of strengthening the system of restoration; second, we observed the fact that restaurants or economic institutions in Habana Vieja produced higher profits than similar facilities elsewhere in the city. Man lives by what is rational but he also needs fantasy. Maximo Gomez said that soldiers die better to music and drums. He had small bands in each battalion play, logically, patriotic music. I believe that the Bodegita del Medio is capable of making $2 million because it is on Empedrado Street next to the place where Carpentier created the characters of Century of Lights, on the street where Marti lived and worked as a lawyer in the office of Nicolas Ascarate. This place full of history and is conducive to tourists' spending money to seek out the invisible soul of our people; we have the sacred duty to collect it. [laughter] If we are capable of creating a coherent program which, with the historic appeal, allows us to collect ineffable and imponderable amounts of money for Cuba, we will have triumphed. The resolution also includes the creation of -- I will not say tax -- of certain jubilant contributions that organizations and individuals will make in the historic hub in order not to lose ties with the contextual reality where their business are located and from which they attain their profits. I believe, as the commander was saying, that is it imperative for us to see how we can legally achieve this. I believe it would be a mistake -- as happened, as a matter of fact, because we always have a tempting hand showing us a path which is not ours -- to begin selling oil, detergent, or sausages in a museum so that in the same locale tourists are paying for spurious services rendered by certain in-betweens. This cannot be the way. The path must be through slides, videos, cards, books, conferences, services, rooms, good food service, and everything else that promotes this path. This idea, which has emerged from a quarter century of work by many people, is aimed at the entire historical city. How many times have exiles told me: Havana's monumental cemetery is a marvel and is, as in any Latin culture, one of our great concerns. There rest the ashes and bones of our dead. Many emigrants tell me: We would like to contribute to preserving our tombs. We want to know how we can pay an annual contribution to the cemetery to protect our graves, which the Republic and Revolution have preserved without asking whose they are. The city is full of economic possibilities, all of them legitimate, born of the cultural roots of many of its entities. I believe that the Nacional Hotel is extremely important because tourists in the patio can see that it was built on top of an ancient battery where the largest Spanish cannon in the world -- 48 tons, an outstanding piece of artillery -- rests. The tourists climb down into the dungeon, more interesting to them than a brand new hotel. That cannon is an important attraction of the hotel. I believe that our contribution will be history. Since the firing of the nine o'clock cannon, hundreds of people have visited the forts; this has cost a lot of money. The Armed Forces work at this generously and magnificently, each Sunday putting a general in charge of the effort and at times Minister [Raul Castro] and even the Soviet adviser. I remember General (Zaitzer) pushing a wheelbarrow. The Morro Fort stands restored, a glory of the Americas, as is the Cabanas Fort with its square km of green; in order to mount 12 cannons, 150 tons of steel were required. We had it then; not so today. Therefore, to hear that cannon one must pay, inexorably. [applause] Doing all this and making sure that that which is most precious, our spirit, is not lost, will be our task; this is not a meeting of businessmen, it is a meeting of politicians. This morning our meeting began by focusing on philosophical guidelines and a major struggle. To what extent can machinery with many inefficiencies respond to each new idea that might be raised? I remember that the minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces used to note how hard it had been to introduce the doctrine of the war of all of the people because many people could not understand all the schemes we had to learn, the new thing that was causing us to return to our roots and face the immediate future. Someone was asking a few moments ago... [passage indistinct] [Castro] [words indistinct] and they buy the houses for $500,000 and resell them for $800,000. Some people have offered to lend us the money to restore it, which would be repaid in 20 or 25 years. We, however, wish to make an investment. We do not wish to set up a mixed enterprise there. A dear friend is interested in making an investment there, to form a mixed enterprise. Yet, the idea is that we are the ones who should make the investments because the value there lies in the place, and in the historical value. Perhaps we will have to spend 80,000 or 100,000 pesos in restoring a building that is worth $500,000, $600,000, or $700,000. We had better rent it or ask our people to open resturants, stores, and other shops there. The current trend is to get a house and live in those places. Thus, a large portion of this effort is culture-oriented: to restore the area, preserve our heritage. Another aspect is of a social nature: that is, to help our people. The third aspect is economic: to acquire a large income of money. In this case, we have taken advantage of the fact that we have an exceptional historian of our city, an active, energetic, very well connected man. I believe Leal has better foreign connections than the Cuban Foreign Ministry itself. [laughter]. He corresponds with we do not know how many kings, princes, heads of state; he seeks help and resources. I remember that he often received $100,000 for Habana Vieja, but he had to exchange it for 100,000 pesos, and he could do nothing with the 100,000 pesos. He needed the dollars because he needed to buy construction materials. Today, unfortunately, we need to buy everything. We need to use currency to buy lumber because we do not have it. Today we need to buy many other construction materials and pipes, which were earlier obtained from the socialist bloc, with foreign currency. Yet, this project has not only cultural significance, it is also socially and economically significant. I believe that if we implement our ideas, along with the tremendous push Leal can give such an idea because of the prestige surrounding Habana Vieja, then we will be able to make a significant contribution to our national economy by adequately developing the Havana heritage. This is the true meaning of this organization that we are working on. I hope Leal will be able to continue there, and that there will be others who work as hard and are as involved in as many activities. Let no one forget that Leal is in charge of six radio programs a week, a weekly TV program, and countless international lectures in various cities and universities. So long as we have a man like him there, we must keep the office united, as well as the restoration and economic institutions of Habana Vieja. We also have a great interest in having Leal continue to write. For his intellectual work, he needs the cooperation of many people. We need to find people who will do the everyday work for him, so that he may not waste his time doing this or that -- procuring sand, stone, or cement. Other comrades should be doing that. I believe the latest step is highly significant for the city and for a municipality with more problems than the others. It has been a worthwhile topic of discussion at this assembly. [Jorge Lezcano, first secretary of the PCC in City of Havana Province] I completely agree with your remarks, Commander, and this project is certainly very important for the assembly and for the City of Havana. In response to the appeal made here by Comrade Leal, I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate to him -- I say reiterate because I had conveyed this to him as soon as I had learned about the project -- that he and the other comrades working on this project, on this idea, may rest assured that they will receive every bit of cooperation and support from the leadership of the party, from the province, from the municipality, from the government, and from the entire leadership of our capital because we know he will be successful, because it is beneficial to preserve those historical assets of Habana Vieja. We know that it will bring social benefits to Habana Vieja, that it will bring economic benefits to Habana Vieja, to the province, and to the country as well. Leal may count on our full cooperation and effort. [applause]