FBIS-LAT-94-002 Daily Report 4 January 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Addresses Sixth UPEC Congress FL3112023693 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0129 GMT 25 Dec 93 FL3112023693 Havana Cuba Vision Network Spanish BFN [Speech by President Fidel Castro closing the Sixth Congress of the Union of Cuban Journalists, UPEC, at the Convention Center in Havana on 24 December --recorded] [Text] In view of the late hour and the fact that this session has lasted for almost 15 hours of intense activity -- and, in my opinion, truly productive work -- I am very glad to have spoken at diverse moments, because this gives me the opportunity to be as brief as possible now. I take responsibility for what I have said, at least for everything I have said, and I do not ask you for any kind of discretion. I believe that I spoke both carefully and freely. This time I am not going to ask for any discretion at all. I believe that regarding what [Politburo member Carlos] Lage said -- he presented more specific data -- it would be have to be thought through a bit more; but I think that, in general, it can also be reported [words indistinct] that material but, I repeat, we have to see again in writing what kinds of things are more or less fitting to be reported or not. [Sighs] I have already expressed my opinion of the debates. The truth is that we all feel pleased with the development of the congress. We are happy, we are very happy. We truly feel committed to this congress. Many important ideas and concepts have been debated. Marti has been mentioned on several occasions. I was thinking about Marti's words and truly believe that he was referring to the media in general. I believe he was referring to the media of his time, the U.S. media. I do not think he was referring to or describing the revolutionary media. The question I asked myself was: What would Marti do in these circumstances? How would Marti think? What would he say of the role of the media in these circumstances? What would he say of the revolutionary media? I do not think that he would say anything different than you have said here, which will remain as important premises. It was evidenced here that your most important mission is to defend the Revolution. To defend the Revolution is to defend socialism. When we speak of this Revolution, I cannot think of it without socialism. They are inseparable. I view the media as, let us say, a force, a formidable instrument of the Revolution. I see the media and think of Radio Rebelde in the Sierra Maestra. We are living during times that are no easier to endure than the Sierra Maestra days. We are living in more complex times, more complex than the ones in which we lived back then. I view the media as a force of enormous importance, a decisive force. They are truly a decisive force in this struggle we are waging, in which everything is at stake. We are not only putting our own work at stake, we are putting the work of all those generations that came before us at stake. We are also defending the inheritance of all those that will come after us. We have to see it from this point of view. No doubts have been expressed here regarding the path of the Revolution; the Revolution has a leader, and the leader of the Revolution is the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC]. I believe that no one has disputed this idea. It is an essential principle. [Sighs] We are not living in normal times. It is not known when we will see normal times again. As was said here: Everything is susceptible to development, everything is susceptible to change. Remember that there were many people before us who thought of a revolution, social justice, equality, fraternity, and socialism. [Sighs] There was even the hope that the state would disappear someday, as would classes; that the state would disappear in a communist state. Today we see how far away a communist society is; how far away even the disappearance of the state is; how far away the disappearance of imperialism is. How long will we have to fight? Almost 35 years have gone by since the triumph of the revolution, and many more since the struggle began. You can see that the conditions under which we must fight today are very difficult; you can see the difficult battle we must wage today. Therefore, I believe that the role of the party for a long time must be an important and essential role. The party must play a role in regard to our media. Why do I say this? Well, it could be that the times in which we are living, the confusions that can occur, the current confusions, the issues being broached here could make some doubt the role of the party in regard to the media. I am not saying this because of you; I am saying this because of others who may have their doubts. The Revolution must be directed by the party. Among the instruments of struggle, the media are an important instrument in the struggle. We discussed at length how the party should play that role in regard to the media. We must also remember that our media are not privately owned. Let us say that the media are social property; they belong to the people. I believe some things will not be privatized, and the last thing we would privatize when socialism no longer existed would be the media. We know how the media work in the capitalist world. They have, simply put, their owners. The owners are the ones who rule the capitalist media. They are the ones making the decisions, the ones who appoint the directors, the ones who establish the political path. And something extremely hard and acknowledged by everyone: The international media belong to the international bourgeoisie. The immense majority of the capitalist society media has a right-wing, reactionary character. Unfortunately, one of the tragedies of our era is that the mass media are in the hands of the economically strongest forces -- the wealthiest, essential, economic interests of those societies. I hear everyone say that, out of 15 or 20 newspapers, there are two or three that follow a fairly objective path; but the immense majority of the mass media is in the hands of the right-wing powers in the world. This is one of our tragedies, the fact that that mass media are used exhaustively against us. This cannot serve as a model or example for us. Everything, in general, is marked by a commercial spirit. Those media have been allied to the forces that oppose socialism, progress, and the most progressive movements. Unfortunately, what we said of our media cannot be said of those media; those media are private property. We cannot state that they never tell a lie. We cannot state that they are always honest and objective in their reporting. One of the virtues of our media, ethics, cannot be ascribed to those media. Logically, our media ought to be at the service of the people and the Revolution.I wanted to begin with this subject because it is an issue about which I harbor no doubts at all. I mentioned this afternoon what I thought about the way our media ought to work. I said here that we had no fear whatsoever of the analysis of mistakes, of reporting bad news; rather we fear, for the reason I explained, having to omit reporting good news. I am aware of the various debates and points of view and I believe nothing at all that has been said cannot be analyzed and debated. There is absolutely nothing regarding our media that cannot be improved or perfected. I believe that through an open discussion like the one we conducted here today we can truly attain our goals. I believe that, regarding the issue of relations between the party and the media, any type of problem between the party and the media can be solved. Any type of complaint that our journalists may have can be taken care of and can be resolved. As much as you like to provide it, the country needs the highest quality from the media. The country needs optimum work from the media, if it is possible to do optimum work. We do not have a congress, as we said earlier, every five years. I believe that the [Media] National Committee can meet with the PCC leadership, at the appropriate level, and I will be glad to participate also, whenever I have a chance, in that type of meeting to analyze any sort of problem. I believe that from this congress we should obtain greater attention to the media. We should obtain better relations between the party and the media. This is fundamental. If we do not get the media to play an optimum role, then we will not win the battle of the special period. I do not see how we can win the battle of the special period without the efforts of the media, without the great ideological battle we must wage. We are truly involved in a great ideological battle. We cannot win this ideological battle with organization, conferences, the work of the members of the PCC and the Union of Young Communists, and the work of the mass organizations alone. The media must be in the front line of that battle. We need top quality media, high morale media, and media aware of the role they have to play in this struggle. We have very serious problems. At a Central Committee meeting the other day, I was saying that no other generation that I can remember in the history of revolutions has had a harder or more difficult task than the one this generation has had to tackle. I cannot find a similar case in history. I have found no other country facing a situation like the one we are facing. We are a small country in the hemisphere, confronting the strongest power in the world. It is not only powerful but arrogant, haughty, selfish, and relentless, and has for the past 35 years been trying to destroy us. It is a hegemonic power opportunistically attempting to crush us as quickly as possible, and even more quickly since the collapse of the socialist bloc. Our country is practically alone in this hemisphere, struggling under incredibly difficult economic conditions in times of crisis for the revolutionary movement, in times of crisis for the revolutionary ideology, in times when all means are being used to exult the values of capitalism; in times when capitalism has launched itself into new phases that we could now describe as total control of work, in times of the so-called globalization of economy. We who lost our allies; who are today more than ever suffering the effects of the blockade because we no longer have the support from abroad that we had for so many years; we who, based precisely on that support, built so many social and economic things that are today so difficult to maintain, cannot envision more difficult conditions. We may have lost many things, but we have not lost our serenity, patriotism, revolutionary spirit, dignity, decorum, dignity, the memory of our heroes and our dead; we have not forgotten our memories of 1868 and the 10 years of war; we have not forgotten our memories of 1895 and the struggle of our people for approximately 100 years after the pseudoindependence. We have not lost our values. This is why the Revolution has been able to resist. There is no other way to explain it. I truly believe that in this area our country is writing a truly glorious page in history. We should all feel proud of what we are doing. Naturally, all these tremendous problems, the limitations, scarcity, and suffering experienced by our people today serve as a cultural medium to dishearten our people and weaken their faith. The domestic and external conditions promote all those political debates you were talking about, they promote the situation broached by our TRABAJADORES comrade when he said that today we are not working as we did when we had the support of almost all the people. There is no doubt that the number of disheartened and pessimistic people must grow under these circumstances. The number of people who defect or betray the fatherland also grows. As we said recently, it is easy to be revolutionary in easy times, but it is truly difficult to be a revolutionary during truly difficult times. Those who are disheartened and demoralized, those who defect and betray do not surprise me; however, I am truly amazed by the extraordinary number of people who remain firm, with high morale and strong faith. I have witnessed this in many places and I saw it here today [words indistinct] statements made. Truly admirable. What is even more admirable is the degree of patriotism and revolutionary spirit exhibited by our people. [applause] We do not ignore the fact that we have difficulties. We do not ignore the fact that there is a certain ideological deterioration. We do not ignore that, to a greater or lesser degree, there is a certain disciplinary deterioration. For example, there are a few thousand teachers who are now performing tasks other than teaching. There are some teachers who have transportation problems and it is difficult for them to get to the school. There are some teachers whose families earn enough to cover expenses. However, more than 250,000 professors and teachers keep our education system intact. They work at the universities, schools, and daycare centers. They work everywhere. There are millions of people who work because it is an honor to work. Only recently I was thinking about an article carried in an issue of TRABAJADORES. As a matter of fact, the TRABAJADORES crew is doing an excellent ideological job. The TRABAJADORES article discussed moral and material encouragement. In principle and theory, the article cannot be refuted. However, I kept telling myself that in practice, our workers are working out of a strictly moral sense of duty. They are motivated by their morale, honor, and patriotism. We are in no condition to provide material encouragement. We have no doubt that material incentives are good; however, we do not have the money to do this. Whenever we have the money to improve a collective, we do it. The contingents are proof of this. We paid more attention to the workers, improved their housing facilities, gave them work clothes, gave them food. Proof of this are the measures implemented in the agriculture sector. We had been implementing those measures in the past; however, they had been affected by the scarcity of supplies and other material. Further proof of this is the creation of the Basic Cooperative Production Units [UBPC's] where we wish to apply the principle that the worker will receive in proportion to the work he does. This is a socialist principle. Proof of this are the measures implemented to ensure the self-sufficiency of the UBPC, the land we are distributing throughout the country to ensure self-sufficiency. Much of this land is in isolated areas. These are things we are doing to enable the people to contribute through their work to improving the self-sufficiency situation. Wherever we can provide material incentives, we do. But the objective truth is that we have practically nothing material to give our workers. It is truly admirable, even though it has been described as good, that you have admitted we have absenteeism. There has always been absenteeism. Today we have more of it. However, the objective truth is that there are millions of men and women in this country who are working and fulfilling their duties out of a sense of honor and patriotism. That is why I keep telling myself: The issue is not giving the workers moral and material encouragement, but rather, keeping their morale very high. If we do not keep the people's morale very high, we will not win this battle. I would say that at this moment the battle is at its worst moment. We can say we are facing a situation similar to the one we faced when the enemy soldiers were marching on Radio Rebelde and our territory was getting smaller. We are truly engulfed in a desperate struggle for survival, but we have an army, because the revolutionaries represent a real army. When I speak of the army, I am not speaking of the Armed Forces; I am speaking of the revolutionary people who represent a real army, capable of winning this battle if we know how to lead them. How do I see you, the journalists? I see you as commissars of the people in this battle. [applause] Yes, we must reverse trends, we must reverse currents. We have not reversed currents yet. We must all struggle: party, government, organizations, and Armed Forces. Not a military Armed Forces, but an armed forces helping in the field of agriculture, as it is doing, and by cutting back on expenses. The Armed Forces has reduced its budget by 50 percent. Tens of thousands of soldiers are helping produce food, and we are not talking about self-sufficiency, which is one of the tasks we have been talking about. The Interior Ministry forces are working with the people to fight the big battle against crime. That was also a dangerous trend that was making progress. Now we are seeing changes in this area. Lack of discipline is another dangerous trend we must reverse. Discouragement and doubt are two dangerous feelings that must be changed. We must win this battle with ideas. We must win this battle with the ideas of socialism, with the ideas of our socialism. Someone said that our socialism is ours. We could also say, as Marti said about wine: This wine may be sour, but it is our wine. If we want to be a bit hard on ourselves we could say: Our socialism is ours, but it is inefficient. I am not going to say that we are inefficient in all we do, but we have not been able to be efficient in everything, and we are inefficient in many ways. We cannot say that we have stopped copying. We have copied some things from socialist experiences. The socialist experience had some good points, but we also copied some of its bad experiences. That was unavoidable. Even though some of us were very allergic to the idea of copying the experiences of others, we did. In this case, we copied experiences from the Soviet Union, the socialist bloc, the first revolution in history. It was the first socialist revolution in history -- some say the Mexican Revolution was the first -- capable of carrying out great feats that were admired by the world, that influenced the world, that contributed to the process of liberating the peoples of the world, that resisted imperialism for many years, that fought and defeated fascism at a tremendous cost in lives and sacrifice. It was only logical that this process would influence us. Many of our people went to school there. Many of our textbooks came from there. They advised us in many areas, and their advice was very important in many areas. For example, their advice in organizing our Armed Forces was very important. But then one day we realized that their ideas were not adequate for a country such as ours. Our country was confronting the United States. It was then that we drafted and established our doctrines. But they taught us military technique. We learned important lessons, but we also learned that those experiences could not be the doctrine of a small country confronting a colossus like the United States. We had to change some things and develop the idea of the war of all the people. They influenced us in the field of economics. They provided advice in many areas. We knew that in some areas, the technology was inefficient. I already explained the idea of trucks. Some of their technology was efficient. Their thermoelectric plants are efficient; their mechanical equipment, their winches, are efficient. In many areas, they provided us with efficient technology. They were also isolated for a long time. Technologically speaking, they were behind, and we got some of that, as I explained earlier in the session. We have been influenced. We cannot deny this. We were influenced despite the enormous spirit of independence our Revolution and party have always had. Despite the strong differences we had with them, we were influenced. The most palpable proof of this was during the October Crisis. There came a time when we had to tell them: You are making serious political mistakes. This was in regard to the missiles. Something has been said about this. There came a time when we had to tell them: You are making serious military mistakes. There came a time when we had to tell them that we disagreed with this or that. We never agreed with the way they solved the missile problem. That soured our relations with them for quite some time. They made a mistake. Only a single phrase was missing to turn a mistake into victory. Had they said: We are willing to withdraw the missiles if you will guarantee that Cuba will get what it wants, we would have asked for a few things: that the pirate activities cease, that the economic blockade be lifted, and that Guantanamo Base be closed. No one in the world would have approved of a war breaking out over a naval base in Guantanamo, an economic blockade, or pirate actions. We could have stopped the economic blockade and closed Guantanamo Base back in 1962, but they did not act and we are still facing those problems. A little bit of equanimity on their part would have achieved this. The papers still exist. Those papers prove the degree of independence and freedom we had in our discussions with the Soviets. Despite all this, it was impossible for us not to be influenced. I remember back in the days of the Playa Giron incident; when we were being threatened back then, we printed hundreds of thousands of books of a heroic nature. In those books we narrated the main feats and prowesses of the Soviet people during World War II. This was done to lift the morale of the people. We were influenced, but I do believe our revolutionary process has been the most fitting revolutionary process. We did this despite our enormous dependence. We had to depend on them because of the blockade. We needed supplies, raw material, and food from the Soviet Union, and we needed their markets. However, I reiterate that our socialism is very much ours. Our freedom is the greatest a people has ever attained. We were constantly being referred to as a Soviet satellite. There is no longer a USSR and we continue to exist. This is why I used the metaphor: They said we were a satellite when we were really a star that shined with our own light. I truly believe that this has amazed the world. We dreamed of a better and more perfect socialism. To a certain extent, that enormous aid and help we received was bad for us. We became spenders and squanderers. We were receiving unlimited amounts of fuel. I want you to know that for years all we had to do was send a telegram saying that we were running out of fuel oil, that the gasoline was not enough, that we needed more diesel, and then ships were immediately sent with fuel oil, diesel, or gasoline. It reached such a point that our fuel consumption, which was 4 million tons in 1960 -- that was when the blockade was imposed and we were left without fuel -- was approximately 14 million tons 30 years later. We were even exporting oil. When we began saving oil, the sugar mills were using 500,000 tons to produce crude. Today they do not use one ton to produce crude. We exported the surplus of oil, and the Soviets approved the export of any surplus of oil we had. Let me tell you that there came a time when our oil exports became our largest foreign exchange provider. That will give you an idea of how much we had as a result of that relationship. All that taught us to squander. This country had 89,000 tractors. Everyone went to ball games, to outings, to visit a girlfriend, and to parties in tractors. We had all the services and tractors. We could have built more aqueducts. Today we continue to use a lot of fuel because water must be taken to the workers' villages in tractors. In other words, we could say that to a certain degree that relationship corrupted [pervirtio] us. Today we are truly learning to save. Today we are saving. It seems incredible that with such small amounts, relatively small amounts of money, our media are operating. This gives you an idea how well we have learned to save. It seems incredible that even after losing 78 percent of imports due to the U.S. blockade, which makes everything more expensive, this country remains organized and functional despite all the limitations. The foods that we now have to bring from great distances cost much more, and fuel is more expensive. Everything is more much more expensive. Now is when we are learning to save. If in the future we begin to pick up our economy little by little, someday we may have to erect a monument to the special period. One may say that we talk about the special period but there are even worse problems than the special period in the world. The world has the problem of underdevelopment, the Third World, and uneven trade. Those are some of the problems of many countries. In other words, there are very serious problems to be solved. We have to solve the special period amidst underdevelopment. We still have pretty difficult tasks ahead of us. We must overcome the special period and develop ourselves. These are our two tasks in today's world. When we reach these objectives we will triplicate our efficiency, our capacity to use the resources efficiently, and our capacity to save. Times will be better once we get through today's poverty and need. We will manage our resources much better, which is something we are learning with this terrible test we are going through. Those times will be indefinitely different from these, from abundance and waste to the situation we are facing today. We need to work little by little, gradually, from the point we are at right now. If we do everything we should do, we should begin to recover little by little. It would be a lie to tell the people that under these circumstances and in view of the economic blockade.... [pauses] without the economic blockade, without the sabotage, without the harassment that constantly victimizes us, we could in a shorter period of time -- not immediately, as Robaina said -- start overcoming the special period. If the business dealings we are making now were not sabotaged, things would undoubtedly be much easier. Now, just look at the difference between the things that have happened in the USSR. The USSR collapsed -- a country that produced 630 million tons of oil, 700 billion cubic meters of gas, hundreds of millions of tons of coal, with great power plants, great hydroelectric plants, great nuclear power plants, and a limitless amount of raw material, wood, and minerals. That country collapsed. As we explained earlier, we were pleased, all of us were pleased with the news we got from the USSR in regard to their attempts to perfect socialism. We wanted to see how they went about doing it, and what they did. Undoubtedly, some of the things they did we did not like in the least, especially when we saw that they were beginning to destroy the history of the USSR. A country cannot exist without its history. No country has ever had a history as heroic as the USSR. They began to destroy their history. They began to destroy the party. They began to destroy the government. They began to destroy the state. They ended up without a party, without a government, without a state, and without history. When we saw this process we realized that that was not going too well. Today we can clearly see that they did not have a clearly defined idea of what they wanted. They began to play with all those things and the fact that this country collapsed is truly saddening and grievous. It is saddening and grievous in a special way to us, and it is saddening and grievous for the Third World. It is saddening and grievous for the entire world. Now they do not know what to do. As much as the West wanted to have the USSR disintegrate, now that it has happened it is a cause of sorts of concerns for the West. There are conflicts in all areas, production has dropped extraordinarily, and I ask myself if that was necessary. That is why when they talked about socialism and more socialism, I also read the book on perestroyka from cover to cover. By then it was clear that we could not do some of the things they were doing in a series of areas. We carried on with our country's spirit of independence and with the experience we had obtained. We were very careful. You may remember that when Gorbachev came, I clearly explained at an ANPP [National Assembly of People's Government] that the conditions were very different and that we did not have to do exactly what they were doing, that if they wanted to experiment with the individual parcels of land -- I mean individual property -- that we did not have to make the same experiment because we had 70,000 individual landowners. We knew how the individual parcels, the cooperatives, and the state farms operated. Instead, we went after a copy or a serviceable imitation of all that. Comrades, we must say that perestroyka had a striking influence on our country. The world has begun seeing the tragic and serious consequences of all those things. You would have to see the suffering all this has brought to those peoples. Who knows what sufferings will follow because they should have perfected socialism, not destroyed it. Gorbachev never spoke of destroying the Soviet Union or of destroying socialism. He always spoke of improving and perfecting it and the other socialisms. Who could oppose such propositions? Hard and terrible events followed and all this had consequences for our country. What fault do we have in all this? That that country, which had such solid commitments in all areas, would cease to exist is something that seemed incredible but that should be and has been a lesson to us. It should be a lesson for the doubts, vacillations, and confusion of people discussing whether capitalism or socialism is better. We must stress that while under the capitalist system, this country never attained what it has attained through socialism. We would probably be another Haiti, with 11 or 12 million inhabitants. Population growth in this country was reduced when jobs were created and people were educated. We would probably have some 13 or 14 million inhabitants. Oil at today's prices. [sentence as heard] That was the kind of future we had to look forward to. No one got permission to enter the United States. The Revolution opened the doors of the United States to hundreds of thousands of emigrants. The first emigrants left the country for political reasons, and many others left for economic reasons. These were people who wanted to go to live in the United States and have a higher standard of living. There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who want the same. The Mexican-U.S. border is crossed by more than 1 million Mexicans, and there is no socialist revolution in Mexico. The Mona Passage has been crossed by hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens, and there is no socialist revolution there. Long caravans of Haitian boats try to get to the United States. There also are many, many Colombians, Central Americans, and Latin Americans trying to get into the United States. In Europe they are experiencing the same situation with the millions of Turks, Yugoslavs, and North Africans who want to live in Europe. The North Africans are the ones who work the hardest. They have always been chosen to do the hard work. Without revolution, there would have been no immigration; without revolution, that privilege granted solely to the Cubans would not have been possible. No citizen of any other country in the world can enter the United States illegally and ask for residency. In its hateful war against Cuba, the United States decided that all Cubans who arrived in the country claiming to be political refugees and saying they wanted to stay would be authorized to remain in the country. No citizen of any other country has that right. Only recently, a ship full of Chinese citizens tried to dock in the United States. The U.S. authorities were alarmed and went crazy doing all they could to send the Chinese citizens back. However, all of you know that any lumpen or common criminal, who in any other case would not be authorized legal entry to the United States, is automatically admitted to the country once he gets there in a boat, raft, stolen boat, plane, or whatever. The United States openly encourages this. The United States does not hide that it encourages illegal departures from this country. These illegal departures result in the deaths of many people. The United States does not care if children, women, old people die in the attempt to get to the United States. All they are interested in is publicity, the publicity they create by using the people who reach the United States under those conditions. The number of illegal departures has increased since the country's economic situation has become more difficult. Without the revolution or socialism, this country would not have been anything. It would be like the rest of the Central American, Caribbean, and Latin American countries. It would not even be able to dream about the levels of universal education, health care, culture, recreation, sports, employment, social secutity brought about by the revolution. What would Cuba be like with capitalism? I think it would be the world's greatest brothel, the world's greatest casino or gambling hole. That is what Cuba would be. For many years they had carried out a work of perversion, deformation, and corruption of our country through all available means. We would never have been able to see the examples of dedication, heroism, virtue, and morale that we see today under such difficult conditions. The revolution came to consolidate the independence of the nation. Today the revolution and the people have to defend that independence, because that is the independence for which Cubans have been fighting for 150 years. We escaped from becoming a U.S. colony. We escpaed from becoming a Miami. We escaped from becoming a Puerto Rico. Today we must defend all this. In that struggle, I believe it is not necessary to remind you of the importance of your work. Let us look at other experiences that are already better known to all of us. The Chinese experience, for example. The Chinese people have made many reforms, but they established four principles. Look at the difference between the policy followed by the Chinese and Soviets. The Chinese established four basic principles. One can understand this better every day. First, to persist in socialism; second, to maintain the role of the party; third, what they call the people's democratic dictatorship -- in other words, the government of the workers, the government of the revolutionary people, they call it just that: people's democratic dictatorship; fourth, support themselves on the ideas of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong. Just look at their wisdom. Despite the serious mistakes Mao Zedong made....[pauses] it would be objective to say that he made mistakes during the Great Leap Forward. He also made mistakes during the Cultural Revolution. Despite many of these Chinese leaders having suffered the consequences of the Cultural Revolution, they preserved Mao Zedong's figure and ideas. They criticized the mistakes that were made. They rectified the mistakes but they did not destroy Mao Zedong's stature: his history, the Long March, the great merits he earned in the fight against Japan and in the fight for liberation. They preserved his stature. In other words, they preserved the idea of socialism; they preserved the party and its role; they preserved the ideas of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong; and they preserved their history, all of which is contrary to what the Soviets did. They understood that this gigantic country of approximately 1.2 billion inhabitants -- its approximately population -- could not be led and developed if they destroyed these four pillars. That is why the Chinese people have achieved considerable progress with their reforms, because they made those reforms in an orderly manner. There it is really difficult, because there are 100 million hectares of cultivable land to feed more than 1 billion Chinese people. I believe the Vietnamese, who maintain similar principles, are also making important progress. We have had a great deal of contact with the Vietnamese and the Chinese. We analyze all experiences. That does not mean we are going to start copying what the Vietnamese and the Chinese are doing. They are the first to counsel their friends not to copy. If we study the experience acquired in those countries, it could be useful. It is clear that the conditions are very different. In Cuba, 80 percent of the population is located in the cities. All agriculture is mechanized. In China, 75 percent of the population -- 800 million peasants -- live in rural areas. They even made some agricultural reforms. They gave very small portions of land to the peasants. Chinese peasants plant the rice plant by plant. They obtain two harvests. They have enough time, because they plant in seedbeds before the actual planting. By doing this, they are ahead by one month. By doing this, they obtain two harvests on insignificant amounts of land. We cannot do this. In Sancti Spiritus, for example, we have a rice crop of 30,000 hectares. The maximum a single Chinese family has been given is a quarter of a hectare. Many have even less than a quarter of a hectare. If we were to give 1 hectare to each family, we would need 30,000 families, whereas today, 1,500 workers labor with the aid of machinery. If we were to give what the Chinese give their peasants, we would need 120,000 families. Do you think that in the republic, we could find 120,000 families to give a quarter of a hectare to? [Chuckles] You will not find them. This became an irreversible reality when 80 percent of the population became urbanized. The Vietnamese are like the Chinese. They have 80 percent of the population in rural areas. In other words, there are some measures that we cannot take. We can create the UBPC, which correspond to population distribution. They have done many things and have given us some advice. Regarding the problem of excess currency, the Vietnamese warned us against certain mistakes they made. They have reiterated this to us, and have said: Be careful. Do not make certain mistakes we have made. Of course we must point out that the Vietnamese people have had a very friendly attitude toward us. China's attitude toward us has been very friendly. It was an honor to Cuba that Chinese President Jiang Zemin's first official visit was to Cuba. Contacts have been extremely useful because through them we have obtained a clear idea of what they are doing and how. Through those types of contacts and through visits with delegations from that country, we have been able to acquire a broad idea of what they are doing. I must say that this man is one of the most interesting personalities to visit Cuba. He is an educated, capable, communicative man. He knows several languages. He had to study English while a young student at the pre-university level. He had to study Japanese when the city he grew up in came under Japanese occupation. He later had the opportunity to study Romanian and Russian, besides knowing Chinese, which is probably his greatest merit. [chuckles] He knows the language of Shanghai and the language of Beijing. As many of you know, all the Chinese languages use the same signs, but the pronunciation is different. He is truly a very intelligent man. Text] The best impression that we have.... [rephrases] The most satisfactory thing that we have seen in those contacts is their unquestionable will to build socialism and to carry forth the development of socialism, and the defense of socialism. Of course, they have made a great number of reforms. The Vietnamese people have made changes more recently, and the Chinese for some time now, but they have done so with great wisdom and caution. Consider that they have made a series of new reforms. They are applying new methods that [words indistinct] but I have reached the conclusion that this gigantic country cannot develop, progress, and solve the historic problems it has....[changes thought] Keep in mind that in 25 years its population will be 1.5 billion. Each year its population grows two times Cuba's population. They have been able to clothe, feed, and improve the living conditions of 1.18 billion people. I have reached the most absolute conviction that without socialism, which was precisely what gave them the victory over feudalism and foreign occupation, and without the basic ideas of the [word indistinct], the party, and its history this country could not exist or develop itself. I have reached that conclusion, and they are obtaining great success. It is one of the fastest developing countries in the world at the moment. The Vietnamese are also progressing. For us this is excellent news because we see socialism consolidating itself in a country of more than 1.2 billion people and in another country of great history and of great heroism where more than 80 million people live. There are approximately 1.3 billion people living under socialism; that is why no one can talk about the end of socialism. Of course, they cannot treat China like they treat Cuba. Not even Vietnam. They live farther away. China does not suffer a blockade. The empire is softening the conditions with Vietnam. They are already allowing U.S. business offices in that country. They cannot take the risk of losing such a gigantic market as that one, especially a country that grows like Vietnam. That is not Cuba's situation. For us everything is much more difficult. But we must be capable of working and struggling under such difficult conditions. Lage [Politburo member Carlos Lage] explained how we are prioritizing a series of activities. He explained how the tourism investments are progressing. I must say that just yesterday.... [Changes thought] A few days ago, when we inaugurated the hotel in Cayo Coco, a joint venture agreement was signed to build 3,000 houses; this is in addition to another 3,000 houses that we had previously agreed on for the same place. They are agreements to build 6,000 apartments, not houses, in that key which was previously isolated and inaccessible. Today a beautiful road connects those keys. The first hotel that was built is ours, and it was built with our own capital. Yesterday we signed an agreement for investments in another place for $600 million. It also is in one of those places that we exploited by building up the embankments. In other words, these investments are maturing despite the imperialist resistance, despite the sabotage; investments that are not here in the capital are maturing. If there is one place where we would like to have a minimum of tourism, that place is here in the capital. We must develop our natural resources. The oil situation is very difficult. It is our Achilles' heel. If we solve....[rephrases] When we solve the fuel situation, we will have the main problem solved. Today we have to save fuel in every activity and make the power plants contribute to the national network, conserving energy wherever possible. And there is still potential for more energy conservation. We must say that lately the main effort has been silently directed toward finding oil. We have reached 1.1 million [unit not specified]. We have needed modern technology. We have created partnerships that allow us to extract twice the amount of oil we had been extracting from many deposits and using different techniques. It is true that that oil is thick, it corrodes the boilers in a certain way, and that producing cement and electricity with it requires a greater maintenance of those installations, but we have the hope of finding light oil. Of course, in virtue of the steps that we have taken, today we use the most modern techniques and methods. Today we are working with the most modern equipment for oil exploration. In other words, we are working very hard on the oil problem. [Text] We also have been working hard in other areas such as the pharmaceutical and the biotechnological industries. Today it is an area that no longer requires too many investments. We have truly created an industry. Today the battle lies in finding markets despite the competition of multinational corporations. Despite this competition, I can assure you that we are advancing. Despite all the obstacles, we are advancing in those areas. All the other programs are being developed in extremely difficult conditions. The food program has faced fertilizer, pesticide, fuel, and animal feed shortages. In other words, the food program has truly been a difficult task because of the conditions it has been carried out in. The construction of housing is beginning to pick up with the construction of low cost housing. There is a strong movement to solve this situation in all the provinces thorugh these means. There are many other transactions and businesses that are being created. Consider the decrease suffered by the sugar harvest this year. From 7 million it dropped to 4.2 million metric tons. As Lage explained, it was 1.7 million metric tons short of the goal. It has deprived the country of close to $400 million. The low nickel prices also deprived us of many more millions of dollars. As he said, the low prices of the seafood exports because of monetary fluctuations also cost us many millions of dollars. I want you to know that it has been a true heroic deed to have supported 1993. You cannot imagine how great. You cannot imagine the work and effort that was necessary, the solutions, and how these solutions were sought for the next sugar harvest. The next harvest will not be much greater, but [word indistinct] a little better. Now we are working on the recovery of the sugar industry. We have established good agreements in the citrus industry; we have saved the citrus plantations; we have established commercial associations in the citrus industry; and the same goes for many other activities. I believe everybody is looking for something, but one must look in an orderly manner. Maybe one of the negative tendencies that is being developed is that everybody wants to set up a small shop. Everybody wants to get some foreign currency, and in whatever manner they can. That must be done in an orderly manner. Everybody wants to set up a store. That must be done in an orderly manner. It is true that when the depenalization was established for [foreign currency] the prices at the stores that supplied tourists and diplomats were low. That network of stores had to be used. Logically, prices were increased. Why? Because if someone has the privilege of buying something that others cannot buy, it is fair that something be left for the benefit of those who do not have the possibility of purchasing in a foreign currency store. Therefore, that policy was applied. Sales increased. Sales continue to increase and all that is being regulated. These transactions should make up a pretty important source of income, but with a cetain risk. I am not talking about the (Barbarita)- type transactions, because there is a mechanism so that everybody can consult, analyze, and approve or disapprove the suggestions made. What we cannot allow are free markets. But there is a strong tendency. There is a strong tendency of indiscipline. There are strong tendencies toward a free market, even within the state organizations and institutions. We must do this with great order; if not, everyone begins to horde and waste money. Therefore discipline is necessary. These types of transactions need to be analyzed and approved. No one should make inventions freely since there are mechanisms they can consult and get a prompt response. Even the idea for JUVENTUD REBELDE's small business, the printing of their small newspaper for the tourists-- it was submitted and then rapidly approved. Not a single minute was lost. We already know what is going to be done with those funds. That is why in the Central Committee meeting we made a strong call for discipline. Because even ministers could get involved in this indiscipline, and when you realize it, they are inventing something. We have said clearly and flatly that the established procedures for each one of these things will be rigorously applied. If rumors arise, as it was demonstrated here today, it is because someone is thinking about something. A minister comes up with an idea, he organizes a commission and begins to analyze it, and from that commission all kinds stories begin to emerge. It has even been established that to create a commission and analyze something, the idea must first be submitted. We have already heard the (Cuyo) story; Felipe finally gave us the entire version. How does its go, Felipe? It is better that you tell us. He says he might lose his hair stylist. Tell it to us clearly, the way you told it before. [Felipe] The hair stylist heard it while she was waiting in line from a woman who had heard it from her neighbor whose husband was working in this and knew all about these things. [Castro] [Chuckles] Alarcon, have you assigned someone to look into these transactions -- the transactions with excess currency? Some people organize something and then all kinds of stories emerge. Today it is very difficult to keep a secret here. It is very difficult. [chuckles] We must do what we can, because it is fair to say that journalists cannot be considered the only indiscreet individuals, that is if they are accused of being indiscreet. Today we must be careful with everything. Above all, we must be careful, considering the enemy's espionage. I