Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-145 Daily Report 27 Jul 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Interviewed After 26 Jul Ceremony

FL2707180795 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish, 1155 GMT 27 Jul 95 FL2707180795 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN ["Conversation" with Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz and reporters Felix Fernando Garrido, Aroldo Garcia, and Jose Mejia, following ceremony commemorating the 42d anniversary of the Moncada Barracks attack in Guantanamo -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] [Mejia] Good evening, Commander. In your speech you mentioned the development of joint enterprises in Cuba and the progress made. You also talk about other issues. As a young man, I have this question: The strategy of the party, the Revolution, after five years of special period?

[Castro] The strategy? In what sense?

[Mejia] For the next few years, the forthcoming times in which we are beginning to make headway and progress.

[Castro] We have to continue spurring on what we have been doing -- all these activities. We have to consider the situation that Cuba found itself in -- terrible. People fail to understand the full impact of losing 70 percent of our imports overnight. No one knows how we have been able to make it through. This is what I wanted to say. The schools, the hospitals are feats, everything. The country has kept things organized, has worked hard. Now we begin to experience the first signs. See what is happening in Europe, where countries being lent tens of millions of dollars are not getting ahead. Those countries that took that path of market economy are facing a disastrous situation. They destroyed the state, the history, everything. Their situation is extremely dire. That is not the case of the PRC. For almost 20 years, the PRC has been conducting a policy of opening and all that. However, there is a reality I wanted to stress today.

We do not have the same conditions as the PRC or Vietnam; we are blockaded. There is a rigorous economic blockade which seriously hampers our path. Yet, we are making progress with the things we have done. I would say that we are experiencing a renaissance of revolutionary ideas, the revolutionary spirit. This is seen in many parts. I speak all the time with comrades who travel all over the island and they tell me how everything is progressing.

[Garrido] Commander, Radio Rebelde has been here for several days and one of the most important things we have observed is your phrase, Eastern Cuba was not divided but multiplied in five vigorous provinces, is a reality here. Not five, nine provinces [corrects himself].

[Castro] It is what I was thinking about, because whenever you observe any of these provinces, you see there is the spirit of a new province. I was wondering today: Heck, why isn't there more progress in Guantanamo? It has one of the best bays in the world. The reason is the Yankee naval base; because it has prevented the use of that bay for the development of Guantanamo. I saw Santiago from the air during the flight. I told myself: Santiago has all kinds of things -- factories, and other things -- and it is not as good as bay as Guantanamo's.

[Garrido] This is the third best in the world.

[Castro] Had the base not been in this bay, Guantanamo would have experienced an incomparably greater development. Just look at all the factories in Santiago, they are around its bay. And here that has not been possible. The bay is occupied.

[Unidentified female speaker] We are poor here but we have honor to spare.

[Castro] Undoubtedly. When I said poor I was stressing the reality of this province. This province has had less possibilities, yet is has developed. Guantanamo is very different today. However, from the industrial point of view, we have always endeavored to locate factories in this region, such as the bicycle factory, the two furniture factories, the rubber....[changes thought] I think a documentary was shown about that. We have endeavored to see what can be done in Guantanamo every day -- even before it was a separate province -- as part of following the concept of seeking national development, increasing jobs, wealth for every region.

There is no doubt that the political-administrative division helped greatly to develop Cuba because now almost every province has a square like this one. When this region was Oriente Province the main square would have been in Santiago, but today we find these squares in Bayamo, in Holguin -- do you see? -- in Las Tunas. None of these cities would have experienced the development they have experienced if it were not for the political-administrative partition conducted. If it had not been for the special period, the number of factories we had built, all the cement, block, brick factories, construction steel expansion to make hospital furniture; if we had all those resources we had, these cities would have grown like rising foam because we would have attained the level of 100,000 homes we sought.

I was talking today with Lage about measures being taken, or that could be taken, to produce more construction steel, to produce more cement. He was telling me that one of the production lines of the Karl Marx Cement Factory is going to be restarted. We are going to find the oil, or use ours and restart on the three lines capable of producing between 400,000 and 300,000 tons to be used to meet these urgent needs and mainly construction of low-cost homes which only use 400 kilograms of steel. Others techniques use at least one more ton. We have to consider the low-cost homes option and endeavor to build about 50,000. That should be the goal. Of course, the low-cost options are better suited for cities in the interior of the country. Every time I mention the interior of the country, I remember the deputy that said: Commander, but what are the rest of us? Well, let's call them the rural regions which is an honorable title; regions other than Havana, the capital. We are thinking about building 50,000 homes as expediently as possible. This year we are striving to build between 25,000 and 30,000 homes. But restarting one of the production lines at the Karl Marx Factory, currently closed, would provide a significant amount of cement to be used for this goal, to meet this social need. We need to produce about 20,000 tons of construction rods. We have the new ovens, electric ovens at Antillana de Acero.

[Indistinct remark by unidentified speaker]

[Castro] Yes. But the problem is making them. Making construction rods is not as hard as producing the iron. One needs to have [word indistinct], metal scraps. We have considered all those options in order to boost this effort. If we are able to boost the constructive impulse experienced in the provinces, we can being to solve problems and begin to increase housing construction levels significantly.

[Garcia] Commander, progress is being made, above all, thanks to innovations. I am aware that the Sugar Industry, for example, is endeavoring to reduce the amount of steel needed by adding other materials which also reduce the amount of cement needed. There are results. In Holguin I observe good results.

[Castro] Recently I read that paper is being used -- no, what was it? Roofing material.

[Garcia] Coconut fiber is being used here in Guantanamo.

[Castro] And fibers from the paper factory in Camaguey.

[Garcia] And bagasse fibers.

[Castro] The people keep coming up with new solutions, but construction requires a minimum of cement and steel; so does the making of hospital equipment. We are trying to see how, with a minimum of resources, we can begin to boost low- cost housing construction in rural areas rather than in Havana. In Havana, areas are being sought to build homes but it is not the same if you can build higher density construction, perhaps two stories. You can build up to three stories with the low-cost technique, right?

[Unidentified speaker] Yes. With the brick half-vault, consumption ranges from 4.5 tons to 6 tons per home. The use of cement increased because wood is in short supply, and we had to resort to using lattice windows. And, we did not have steel of the right diameter and this resulted in more consumption of cement. The average is normally between 4.5 and 4 tons per home.

[Garcia] Commander, I came to inaugurate Radio Rebelde studio here in Guantanamo Province. Perhaps you have heard the phrase: From The Eastern Heights [el alto Oriente], which Radio Rebelde has coined since it opened 4 April.

[Castro] Where?

[Garcia] No. Right here, in front of the square.

[Castro] It's not that high then.

[Garcia] But it is the summit of the men and women of this province. Commander, I have one question, a comparison: Surpassing the distance in time -- Marti, Fidel; Raul, Maceo.

[Castro] No person alive can be asked that. Remember that we have followed an unwavering policy against personality cults. Legend can only be rendered upon our dead. Let future generations decide if one deserves such homage, but that is unthinkable while alive.

[Mejia] Today, today we had the privilege of hearing you state that precisely 50 years ago, you began the revolutionary struggle. You have taught that every goal reached is a new starting point.

[Castro] In the midst of so many centennials, all of a sudden I remember that it is going to be fifty years; I began in 1945. It is hard to believe; but it has been intense, without rest, very intense work all along. It came to mind here. I was going over the issues I had to discuss today, very delicate issues. I did not want to leave it to improvisation. I wanted to avoid saying one word too many, or one word too little; having one comma too many, or one comma too few. Although I like standing at the dais, there is always the risk of not being able to say everything as clearly as required.

I was putting some ideas down on paper, and next thing I knew, I had an entire speech; but I had so many issues to discuss and I worried I might miss some things I had to mention. There were important issues such as the strategy against us, terrorist plots, and a series of important things I believe are important. Next thing I knew, I had written it rapidly in a small notebook. I was worried about how to bring together so many issues such as the elections and other economic issues involving new concepts. I believe everything we are doing regarding the economic opening -- the changes, the implementation of new concepts -- are very important. I was worried because I did not have that much time. At first I thought I would do it as usual, but then I realized that was not the best. I had almost no time left.

[Garrido] Commander, the emulation campaigns earning the right to host the 26 July ceremony have brought a new mood lately. All the provinces are requesting the privilege of hosting it. They compete like the three armies.

[Castro] I believe there should be about at least 10 provinces vying to host the ceremonies, rather than just one claiming this right in light of its accomplishments. It should be an emulation in which all participate.

[Garrido] Commander, I believe it is going to become like the emulation campaign between the three armies, which in the end, as Raul said, is going to require your intervention.

[Castro, laughing] I hope they do not start fighting among themselves.

[Garrido] I want to thank on behalf of Cuban reporters for your words.