Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-086 Daily Report 3 May 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro 2 May ANPP Closing Address

FL0305183494 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in Spanish 0055 GMT 3 May 94 FL0305183494 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks Spanish BFN [Closing address by President Fidel Castro at the special session of the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, at the Havana Convention Center on 2 May -- recorded]

[Text] I am going to speak very briefly. Yesterday, I expressed some essential ideas on this issue. Today, we heard a brilliant exposition by Comrade Alarcon that should be considered a summary of what we have discussed here. I believe that now the most difficult part begins: the implementation of the recommendations and duties the National Assembly of the People's Government [ANPP] has entrusted to the government.

I believe that what was agreed to here is coherent and it provides a broad, extremely broad, framework in which to make the most appropriate decisions. Logically, the most difficult part is the implementation. As I mentioned yesterday, all this requires a plan and time. Time does not mean that this will be left up to the Greek calendar, but a minimal time. Some of the practical applications of the measures discussed are complicated. Almost every organization involved in the implementation of these measures needs time. Even the comrades from the electric service, once it is decided whether to implement the principle of increasing electric rates, will need some time to implement them.

Anything having to do with the change of currency is a complex issue. This requires a lot of imagination, original thinking in order to implement any measures of this kind in the most frugal way possible.

This accord has the advantage of flexibility and a broad scope to allow the government to analyze and consult in order to take these measures -- not only the measures recommended here but also those whose adoption might be considered appropriate within these principles. We have to analyze well which measures from the relatively long list divulged by Comrade [Finance Minister] Jose Luis Rodriguez are truly appropriate .

I must repeat what I said yesterday: We have to act so we do not stop halfway down the road. We have to act decisively. We have to act so the problem is solved. The worst thing would be to leave things half solved. We must solve it completely, not only to guarantee recovery from the excess currency, but also to ensure progressive improvement in the situation until a time when we can say: This is it, the moment when we can be sure the problem is not going to replicate. It would serve nothing to have to meet here again, in one or two years, to say that we have a similar situation.

We have to figure out how to avoid that. Therefore, the measures taken ought to guarantee it. This is of the utmost importance. It is decisive. We must act serenely, thoughtfully, speedily; assume responsibility; be courageous; work, explain, and divulge.

I believe everything discussed here, without exception, ought to be divulged through radio, newspapers, and television in order to attain the people's understanding, or the greater possible understanding, of what has been said here by several comrades, and to continue explaining. The media have to help in explaining the importance of taking all these measures. The population has to understand. I am convinced the people are going to understand.

I believe the fact that many aspects of Cuba's history are well-known, or supposedly well-known, is no reason not to disseminate as widely as possible Comrade Alarcon's words before the recess. What he said, with great accuracy and clarity, is part of the ideological struggle we are waging. They want to bring capitalist prescriptions to Cuba. There are no such prescriptions: Even the developed capitalist countries have many problems they have not solved. What is reported in that magazine from Florida is evidence of that. Similar things can be said of the wealthiest capitalists countries. Their unemployment problems are appalling. They have a special situation where the economy is growing and the number of jobs, dropping. They cannot boast of being models to the world when that is the model they parade before the world.

We have the great merit of resisting and have time in our favor. We also know what is happening in the rest of the world, particularly in the Third World, and the dire crises into which neoliberal theories are dragging those countries. We do not have a smidgen of neoliberalism or capitalism. We are truly facing a world completely ruled by neoliberalism and capitalism. This does not mean that we are going to surrender. This means that we have to adapt many things to the reality of that world. That we are doing, but with much equanimity, without relinquishing our ideals, our goals.

I ask that you have complete trust in what the party and government do. They are defending, to the last atom, socialist ideas, principles, and goals. Even if we have to it under conditions as difficult as these.

I want to tell you that the world is in the hands of the multinational corporations; the world is entirely in the hands of capitalism, and it will last a relatively long time; and a revolution as pure as ours, as firm and committed as ours, is forced to take those realities and factors into account.

At times, I have talked about the fuel situation, where for us to be able to explore for fuel, to be able to use it -- if we find it -- we need to make agreements with multinational corporations, and we have to adjust ourselves to the interests of those enterprises, combining them with our own interests. But these are things that we would not have done if we had had the capital and technology to exploit those resources.

In other words, even though we have had to make concessions, we make the conditions... [pauses] the concessions that are unavoidable in order to survive and to be able to develop ourselves. Because we are not only talking about living in a world dominated and hegemonigized by capitalism and imperialism; we are talking about a world in which our country is blockaded by the world's most powerful economic, political, and military power. It carries out any action it wishes to block our economic work.

Despite this, I must also add, the number of foreign companies interested in dealing with Cuba increases. These firms are interested in Cuba's security and stability. I should also mention that we occupy one of the [pauses] an important place on the list of countries considered safe for foreign investments. The number of firms, I repeat, interested in dealing with Cuba is growing, despite enormous pressure by the United States.

Comrades, I must also say that our problems are not limited only to internal finances, excess currency, and the problems that this brings to our daily work. We must constantly face a great scarcity of resources, the problem involving the purchase of food for the population, the problem involving the purchase of medicine for the population, the purchase of fuel for our economy, the purchase of spare parts and all types of materials, so that our economy can remain in operation and so our plans can advance.

A comrade spoke of the very real situation we have, even with agricultural tools like plows. He was right when he said our industry can make plows. That is true. But each one of those plows requires a certain amount of steel of very different types that must be purchased for hard currency on the world market. We have been working without fertilizers. Many times we have been working without pesticides. Guaranteeing the fuel needed each day for transportation and agriculture is an agony.

With this I want to say to you that we are working under very difficult conditions. But we are not discouraged. We continue to struggle, invent, and work. We look for solutions. I can assure you that our country is facing these difficulties, which are not discussed every day, in an exemplary manner.

We could also say that many times our cane cutters have had to work barefooted. Many workers have had to carry out their tasks without proper clothing. The food that is given to the workers does not always supply the nutrition they need for the tasks they perform, despite the effort being made to increase food production and self-sufficiency. We cannot, for a single minute, forget the extraordinarily difficult conditions under which we are working.

I believe there was a reason that Alarcon mentioned Guaymaro. This is not only Guaymaro; this is the 10-year war in which we are trying, despite the many shortages and difficulties, to keep the population from being in need; to see that the population never lacks even recreation, when it is possible; that children and their mothers never lack essentials.

I believe our people are truly writing a page in history. I believe that what we have agreed to here is an example of courage, of awareness, of how we, without ignoring all the other things, dedicate ourselves to solving these problems because solving them helps us continue our struggle. We must keep all these things in mind. The enemy tries to plant discouragement and tries to dishearten our people. We must wage a parallel struggle to encourage, to strengthen them morally, to lift their spirit of combat.

Just look at the news we hear from all around the world on the magnitude of the ceremonies marking 1 May. There are places where, I was told, more than 100,000 people gathered to celebrate this day. We considered it an appropriate arrangement, instead of making the great mobilization of all these years and continuing the style of the 26 July festivities, to meet here and discuss these problems with which we are giving tribute to the working class because this is the Revolution of the working class.

We have met here precisely to adopt all those measures that will help save the Revolution of the working class. This does not mean that we will never again meet at the Plaza of the Revolution to participate in parades. As soon as circumstances allow, we will parade with even greater enthusiasm than ever.

I believe today we are doing the things that we should do and that we are doing them in the way that we should. The comrades of the government will not rest a single minute in drafting and implementing all the measures. They will not be able to do all of them at the same time, I repeat once again. It will have to be one measure today, another tomorrow, and then another, etc. We must follow the order of the simplest, then the more complex.

And the first one is going to come out, I believe, this very week. It is a Council of State decree-law regarding the confiscation of ill-gotten wealth. [applause].

That decree-law has already been drafted and is being distributed to the members of the Council of State. It is that simple. It is seen as an expeditious method, without many complicated formalities. Now, I do not know where these money hoarders are going to put what they have because I do not think they will be able to get away so easily; they who have so notably and scandalously become rich from the people's sacrifice.

This reminds us of the first years of the Revolution, when a law was established to confiscate the ill-gotten goods of those who had grown rich during the tyranny. Later, each of the prices will have to be analyzed; they will be applied as soon as possible because calculations must be based on availability and different formulas.

There will always be doubts, one way or another, as to whether it would have been better to do it this way or some other. Because we must also act with a political criterion. We must also be tactful. Some things are not so difficult [pauses] so easy to apply.

When cigarette prices are changed, because we must change them...[pauses] Cigarettes can be one of the main sources for collecting money. We must consider how many we have; how many are in production; what do we will do about people with the standing quota, who are probably the older ones -- I believe they are 38 and older; and what we will do about those who have the new quota.

The treatment is not the same today, and it can it be the same. We must take into account what we will do with the amount that remains available. We must consider whether all the consequences would be greater or fewer if we liberate that product. We must look at it from the political standpoint. We must figure out the numbers. The collection will not always be exact. It could happen that, at a set price, those figures are not met because there was not enough money to purchase them among those interested in buying them.

That is why some of these decisions about what to do are unquestionably more complicated and there will always be opinions: some who will say it was better to do it this way, and others who will say it was better to do it another way.

It would be nice if a set price were later to be reduced. But all these phenomena must be studied because one must also consider the political sense of each of the things done. We must also consider salaries, incomes, and the salaries of retired workers, which usually is not too much. All these factors must be considered when a decision is going to be made on setting a price.

There are some areas where there is no alternative. For electricity, there is no alternative. Because consumption has increased tremendously. In Havana City it has increased 24 percent. Comrade Marcos Portal explained this very well in great detail during his television interview. Many people have had to use electric stoves because we have lacked other types of fuel. Efforts are being made to find ways to redistribute the resources in such a way that they can use other fuels that would make that enormous use of electricity unnecessary.

A quota was established for the use of electricity. It was met, basically; but a moment came when it was no longer possible. Portal explained the problems we had with plants and maintenance. A special effort has been made and continues to be made and will continue to be made to increase production, improve maintenance, increase capacities in a way that...[pauses] But there is no way to satisfy a demand that increases 24 percent. I believe we can improve in some aspects.

We have gone through tremendous times of outages. Even broadcasts have been affected. One cannot be sure whether people are hearing them. They have to be repeated. If you want something to be heard, you have to broadcast it on Monday, and then maybe on Wednesday, and then maybe even on Sunday. Our most important sources of information are television and radio. But when there are outages, two or three times a week and sometimes even more, one cannot watch television. Often the radio cannot be used because there are no batteries. The newspapers are not enough. Communication today is a problem under the current conditions.

But I can assure you that no one rests a single moment in the search for solutions, economic solutions, in increasing exports and in the development of all the high priority areas despite the difficult conditions and the blockade. We are very aware of how difficult these times are.

These measures that we studied are precisely to help overcome these difficult times. That is what we should be doing. I am sure that is the way that the people of Guaymaro acted. Those who we know were not there did not hesitate to become combatants of the 10-Year War. If I am going to compare our current stage with anything, I will compare it with the 10-Year War. When I see all that the people...[pauses] Many of these people even had to fight barefoot, with scarcely any clothing. This does not mean that we expect people to cut cane barefoot or without clothes. We must do whatever is possible to [word indistinct] those resources among the workers.

We could even say that during that war Cubans fought without weapons. I am sure that those who have a great appreciation for the great merits of the people and the great value of history will agree with me when I can say that this struggle does not remind us of the Sierra Maestra or the Granma expedition; this struggle reminds us of the 10-Year War. It may be that, in the future, historians will find this epic as great as that one, because today we are confronting the hegemony of imperialism on the world level and the hegemony of capitalism on the world level. And under those difficult conditions we fight, defending our ideals, our cause, and our dreams.

We have demonstrated what many thought impossible. After the collapse of the socialist block and the Soviet Union, almost four years later, Cuba remains. The country they once called a satellite has today become a star of heroism, courage, independence, and light, capable of making history. When history is written, many will admire how this small country, here in the Caribbean, only 90 miles from the United States and with a naval base on its territory, had the courage, the integrity, and the spirit to wave the banners of independence and the Revolution.

After all these years of experience, we have the conviction that those banners will continue to wave and will be carried to victory. In conclusion, that is the reason I can say that some day, Alarcon, future generations will talk about this assembly as you spoke of Guaymaro and they will talk about our people as we have spoken here of the historic Mambis of the War of 1968. Thank you very much. [applause]