Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-236 Daily Report 7 Dec 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Inaugurates Melia Cohiba Hotel

FL0812015694 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0100 GMT 7 Dec 94 FL0812015694 Havana Cuba Vision Network Spanish BFN [From the "NTV" newscast]

[FBIS Translated Text] Early this morning, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, president of the Councils of State and Ministers, chaired the awards for the more than 90 percent of the [words indistinct] of the Melia Cohiba Hotel and the complete illumination of that important tourist installation.

Fidel was present, along with members of the Blas Roca Contingent and other forces that participated in the completion of the Melia Cohiba Hotel. This five-star Hotel has 462 rooms and 22 floors. Fidel toured the interior of the hotel, accompanied by Juan Mario Junco, head of the Blas Roca Calderio Contingent, and other party and government leaders. He viewed the lobby, some of the rooms, and the restaurant, where on one of the wall tiles he wrote the date of his visit and his wish to memorialize this historic moment.

At about 0200 local time, Fidel began the ceremony with the builders. The Cuban president described the Melia Cohiba as a monumental project, not only because of its size and quality, but because of the challenges that needed to be overcome in order to complete the project in the midst of the special period.

[Begin Castro recording] There were many obstacles. Our partners did not have enough funds. The projects were behind schedule. Many difficulties began to emerge that delayed the construction of the project. But the construction of the hotel had already begun. We decided to build the hotel with national funds. Even if it costs the skin off our backs, we decided that this hotel could not remain the way it was. We had to do it. We said: Let us get the funds from wherever we can get them; let us complete the projects; and let us complete the hotel. [end recording]

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro said he found the thought of this hotel being 100 percent Cuban and the total property of the nation very nice, even though in seeking experience and a secure market of tourists, it will be jointly managed by the (Sol-Melia) hotel chain.

[Begin Castro recording] But this hotel has been completed, taking into account the flooding caused by sea penetration. The Riviera Hotel is being adapted and prepared to resist such natural effects. But this hotel has been built with preventative measures in case of flooding. You can see that the first floor is high. There are walls so that when the water level rises, it does not reach the halls of the hotel.

It is truly an impressive project. [words indistinct] A hotel such as this one has never been built in Cuba. The fact that we completed this hotel during the special period is a great and extraordinary feat. [applause]

Nothing that has been built before is similar to this, not only in size, but in quality as well. We can feel proud of this project and the fact that our people and the construction workers are capable of waging such a battle.

Now we have a great hotel here. This will help us collect funds and collect foreign currency. If we have to spend millions on projects that are being completed, to prevent flooding in this zone, then we need that money. This hotel will generate important resources for the country. This hotel will generate jobs for many workers. This hotel will be the pride of our city.

Just hours ago we inaugurated an excellent center for scientific research and production that will generate important revenue in foreign currency for the country, aside from the benefits it will yield to our people. The fact that we were able to inaugurate, in 1994, two important projects such as these, and others, is reason enough to feel encouraged and hopeful.

In spite the enormous obstacles, the disappearance of the socialist bloc and the USSR, the unipolar world, and the empire's strength, we are capable of doing things such as these, which have never been done in Cuba and which are being done at great savings in materials and fuel.

In the past, we used to use more than 700 kg of cement per cubic meter of concrete. Today we are using approximately 300 kg. Just look at how we have been able to save. Just look at how. in spite of these difficulties, we are learning to be more efficient. On the day when the nation begins to recover from this great tragedy, we will be able to use the work force, material resources, and economic resources more efficiently. [end recording]

Fidel underscored that the construction workers, besides completing this project, also knew how to boldly confront the enemy on 5 August

[Begin Castro recording] The builders of this hotel have not only been capable of completing a project that impresses all of us, which makes us all proud, but also knew how to be the first in the political battle to face those who thought the days of the Revolution were numbered.

For five years now they have been making calculations. I am sure thet will be doing the same in another 50, even 500 years, trying to figure out when the Revolution will end.

Even though we are a small country in the Caribbean, just an inch away from the empire at the Guantanamo Naval Base, and just km away from the State of Florida, we are a nation with a dignity that very few countries have demonstrated; with value and decisiveness that very few peoples of the world have had; and with a capacity for sacrifice that very few peoples in the world have had. That has not only been demonstrated today. [applause] It was demonstrated yesterday as well. It was demonstrated by Cespedes, Maximo Gomez, Maceo, Agramonte, and Marti fighting for ten years with nothing, and struggling for approximately 30 years for the independence of this country so that it could later be turned into a Yankee neo-colony.

And we are not willing to become a Yankee neo-colony ever again. And if our heroes struggled for 30 years, we are willing to fight 300 years, but we will preserve our independence and sovereignty. [applause]

These are the men of our times. And those who have the privilege of living in this era will be honored in the future. They will always be remembered as the small country that knew how to resist everything; as the small country that when left alone did not fear or hesitate, but decided to fight and continue fighting, not only for honor, or for glory, but for victory.

And on this morning, as we look at this hotel, we realize that we can do it, that there are possibilities for victory. And when we remember these hardhats [cascos blancos] confronting the antisocials on 5 August and displaying the Revolution's iron fist, we know that yes, we can do it, that there are possibilities for victory.

These men did not go there to kill anyone. They did not go there to destroy anything. They went there to defend the achievements of the Revolution. We do not know of any enemy who died from a bullet fired by our guardians of order, because we are not cruel. The blood shed was ours. The sacrifices made were ours, because our blood and sacrifices were created to fight against powerful enemies. They were created to shed the last drop of blood against the empire that controls the unipolar world. We did not train or prepare, nor did we use tanks or machine guns to fight against the undesirables. We have these weapons, but truly powerful enemies must know what the children of this heroic people are capable of if someday they dare to invade this soil. [applause]

Let us congratulate these construction workers, these exemplary compatriots, on this day, or on the dawn of construction workers' day, because everyday and every dawn will be construction workers day. We hope that you remain united and that you continue building new hotels, perhaps not as tall as this one, but as beautiful, and even more beautiful, than this one.

Today, tourism really does not need skyscrapers. It needs other types of edifices that are not as tall, or complex. It is true, in some places, there is less space and the hotels must be higher, but where there is space we will make a different type of hotel. That is how we are working. That is how we are building our hotels. We will, someday become a tourist power just as we are becoming a scientific power. Someday, that branch will represent thousands of millions of income for our country.

[Words indistinct] so much, it has struggled for a better life, It has resisted the harassment of the empire just 90 miles away. With our effort, sweat, and intelligence, we will reach those goals and we will keep ourselves even more pure and revolutionary, because as we have said on other occasions, virtue is cultivated in the fight against vice.

Our people cannot live in an ivory tower. We will be virtuous in spite of the vices that might surround us. We will remain virtuous in spite of the vices that might be brought here. Not all of them are brought here because many of those who visit this country bring sympathy, admiration, and recognition for our heroism. Many of them bring resources. Sometimes the vices do not come from abroad. Sometimes they appear right here, just as worms appear in decomposing flesh.

But we, this noble, heroic, proud, and worthy people -- regardless of the circumstances, even if half the world were to pass through here with all their vices, or regardless of what happens -- are and will always be a virtuous people. That is what we expect of the new generations because dignity, pride, patriotism, [words indistinct] the glorious work of the Revolution cannot be sold or exchanged for a bowl of lentils. [applause] The glorious work of the Revolution lives and will always live, and future generations will always feel proud of us.

Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win! [Crowd shouts: We will win!] [applause][end recording]