Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-173-S Daily Report 5 Sep 1995 CUBA

Castro Discusses Bill at ANPP Session

PA0509165495 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish, 0236 GMT 5 Sep 95 PA0509165495 Havana Tele Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Remarks by President Fidel Castro to the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, session in Havana on 4 September; from the "This Very Day" program -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] [words indistinct] For a single reason: to look for arguments. [words indistinct] persuade the persons, those who have doubts, in view of the political importance the matter has. I would say that there is the impression that many (?new) compatriots believe that the day after the law is approved we are going to have many capitalists of Cuban descent in Havana and throughout the Republic, making investments [words indistinct] and there are no possibilities. Many years may pass before that problem could arise. It is possible that it may never happen.

We will handle all this opening and development process in accordance with the things the country needs, the things the country is interested in.

In practice, this law could be passed and nothing would happen because, as Lage said, there is a ban on investments here. They cannot invest here.

However, I know North Americans and Cubans who rack their brains thinking of ways to invest. They are not that many, just a few of them, but they can't. Investing is prohibited for them. Thus, it makes no sense to discuss this, this aspect of the law, from an economic point of view. It has more of a political sense. The day when the blockade disappears, and no one knows today or can say for sure when the blockade will disappear...[pauses] because the situation within the United States is uncertain. Who will rule that country within 15 months or more? Will it be the extreme right? Will there be something to stop such a trend? This is what we are discussing now, and it will be a valid discussion when the blockade is lifted.

What would we be doing now from the political standpoint? What Robertico [Robaina] said: we would be sending the wrong message. We would be sending a totally inexpedient message [mensaje impolitico] because in our zeal to prevent those people, certain people, from investing, we would be banning the others -- those who are not the same, those who have a different attitude or stand toward Cuba -- in advance, from investing in Cuba some day. We would be practically removing every hope they have to invest in Cuba.

What would we be doing? We would be adding all those people to those who back the Helms policy that Cuba has to pay at least $100 billion to compensate the properties that were nationalized. One of the most monstrous aspects of that bill is that it intends to include even those who had property in Cuba and left the country.

Consequently, all those Cubans -- even those who left through Mariel, perhaps set up a small store and did well, gathered a little bit of money [chuckles] and have nothing to do with all those others -- would never have the hope to invest money. It is not even a matter of hope, but of the fact that our law would become discriminatory.

Many of our friends, Canadians, North Americans, Europeans, all of those who, in one way or another, are interested in investing in Cuba, would not understand why we would exclude, just for the sake of excluding, the Cubans from this law. They would see it as something strange. They would see it as a very inexpedient action. They would see it as the strengthening of the positions of the most recalcitrant and reactionary individuals, the worst enemies of the revolution, those who have not the most remotest intention of investing in Cuba. On the contrary, they would do everything, and are doing everything possible, so that no one invests in Cuba, not even the Spaniards, the French, or the Italians.

When there is talk of investment in Cuba, they send many letters with threats that, when the revolution is over, they are going to seize everything that was invested, everything they spent in Cuba. They tell investors that they will lose everything. Those people engage in doing just the opposite of what we are doing. Thus, we must not give those people the opportunity, and there are a lot, a big bunch. I would not dare say that they are a majority, because there is a silent majority. Things keep changing, many things keep changing among the emigrants.

However, those who have a positive attitude would become irritated. They would say: we are irritated because we are Cubans. They would say: we are excluded because we are Cubans. It would be a terrible blow to all that policy Robertico mentioned. It is a policy of broadmindedness and work with the emigrants.

We would not be the first ones, because the Vietnamese also had a large emigration. They devoted their time to working with the emigration and giving them advice. They devoted a great amount of time and energy and the work was fruitful. [25-second passage indistinct] The biggest share of the emigration from Cuba to the United States was for economic reasons, just like the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Colombian, and other countries' emigration.

One must not be mistaken; most of them used excuses to receive the advantages of being an enemy of socialism, the revolution, and all those things. But the biggest share of the migration was for economic reasons.

The truth is that we have paid little attention to this problem. Some efforts were made a few years ago. These are not the first efforts made in this direction. Now, we have a more coherent and strategic policy than in the past. But this policy would receive a tremendous blow. It would mean endless discussions with every Cuban who came here and asked: why are you excluding us? It would involve feelings of frustration and irritation. The emigrants have been holding discussions and asking for things: That they be allowed to travel, that the paperwork not be so complicated when they are to travel, and things like that.

However, I am certain that this deliberate exclusion, this exclusion written there in black and white, would be very much exploited by our enemies, not only with the Cubans but with those who are not Cubans. Well, they would say: are you idiots, fools, dumb, why are you doing that? Where would that lead you?

Besides, on the day they could invest, it would be very difficult to prevent -- one way or another -- anyone investing. In practice, we cannot prevent direct investment or negotiations with anyone. We will hold negotiations with anyone we consider worthy of negotiations. We will hold these negotiations; after all, we are the ones who are handling this; they are not the ones who decide this. Cuba makes the decision. Our country will have to do what it deems advisable in each case. It is in our hands to prevent the participation of any of these people who are not worthy of any type of association with the Cuban state.

Now, there are ways of evading this. Many of these companies who do business with us have shares in the stock market. They can go to the stock market, purchase shares, and divide these shares. If they are careless ... [pauses] Well, we always have certain requirements, some type of business, some things, right? However, in general, they could make up, let us say, these front companies as they are called in order to make investments.

Gentlemen: Let us not be dreamers. That is not going to happen that way. Nobody should believe that the investments will pour into this country. Investments never pour in anywhere. One thing I do believe is that without the blockade the investments that we need at this time would have been made. Still, let no one dream of a shower of investments. In addition, it is clear that on the one hand there is [words indistinct], the struggle against corruption; nobody is asking anyone for money to make business. I am referring to the comrades who have important responsibilities and who work in this field.

Everything is very well defined in the law. This country is certainly not going to become anyone's property. This law is not going to make that feasible. That is why this deals with an issue that is political, not economic. The treatment we must give is a political treatment. That is correct. The other aspect is very apolitical. I mean it. I share the feelings of the vast majority of those present here, that is, any feelings of sorrow, sadness. [words indistinct] And if we return to the idea that much of the emigration that took place was for an economic reason -- although it was politicized by the United States -- it should not be a reason for us to be swept away by strong sentiment and to establish the exclusion that -- I repeat - - is going to be criticized by the entire world, not only the... [pauses] and everything for the sake that they not invest here what they are never going to invest ever. Why should we give them that gift? Why give Helms and company this gift now in Congress? They would then say: Look, no wonder we are demanding this and the other.

Cubans who live in the United States are excluded from this. That is right, they are being discriminated against, merely because they live in the United States. There are others who live in other countries, and not the United States; there are some who live in Venezuela and Mexico, as Leal explained. They have had relations, some of them had them from some time ago, and some of them make donations and provide help. Some of them come here, some of them come in with the brigades that come here to work every year in the field of agriculture. We welcome investment from there, and we never even ask who their fathers were.

If one day the son of a henchman [esbirro] arrives with a new conscience and wants to work in one these brigades, he can be sure that no one will forbid him to come and work in that brigade provided he has a patriotic conscience and repudiates what his parents or all those people may have done. There are many people who are sons or grandchildren of Cubans.

There is also the other matter, gentlemen, which is clear, and Argentino [not further identified] reminded us of it: the famous depenalization and money remittances to Cuba. I believe that politically speaking this was more delicate and harder to understand -- that many people who have relatives abroad can receive things that others cannot. That was a much tougher political step, but was explainable. Nevertheless it was more useful, because one way or the other hundreds of millions are remitted. How do they do it? Not even we know. And even if we knew, we would be unable to tell, or should not tell. But it means an income that the country cannot give up, which solves a certain number of problems.

We cannot stop anyone from sending a remittance to a relative here. There could even be the case of a remittance, and some have even said this, to establish a small business or small shop here. Those are other sorts of problems we would have to face up to, and the people here do not really have the money for those sorts of operations. But who can tell where the money comes from? What sort of people send it?

The most varied types of people send relatives money, and they did this before it was depenalized, using foreign tourists. Many of them traveled with all expenses paid to bring money to relatives of people living in the United States at a time when there was no depenalization or stores.

Already in Varadero and many other places in the country there were dollar operations, and there were peasants who had piggy banks in dollars, and other people who sold other things. The dollar was in circulation even before it was depenalized, because tips were paid in dollars, or people received dollars through relatives. The dollar was circulating, and all we did was legalize something that was already taking place.

The best proof that we were right are today's efforts by the U.S. Government to prevent money from being remitted, to limit remittances, stop people from coming here. It is them who place obstacles, and the greatest pressure for these things to happen is exerted by these extreme right-wing elements through their influence, their money, and their lobby. Everything we do is being fought by this extreme right and is being fought by the most reactionary U.S. politicians.

Helms' law is the negation of everything we are doing, because they understand we have had results. The proof is that the revolution has not collapsed and the peoples' confidence is much stronger. It is very clear; the latest elections showed this in an obvious and unquestionable manner through the peoples' attitude and behavior.

Despite all these things and all those privileges -- because privileges hurt very much here, and this happens every day -- the people understood that it was necessary to support and suffer this, because for each and every one of those privileges there were a host of unseen things, which the people receive as part of what is remitted through our system of foreign currency-collecting shops and services. This has benefited the people a great deal, as is known. We could never list all the benefits to the people, the benefits the people receive from this income. But we had to do it; it hurt us. You can be sure that it hurt me and all of us much more compared to the hypothetical right, whenever the blockade ends, for some person to propose a business deal.

It is for this reason that I personally believe that the most intelligent, practical, and wise thing would be ... [pauses] I would say this same thing to those companeros who have made these recommendations with an honest awareness of patriotism. This is something which we feel glad about because anytime we are told that there are individuals who do not understand this issue, we in turn answer back that there are lots of patriotic and revolutionary people who are bothered by these things. Anyone would be resentful of it! Anything that represents privileges or touches our feelings tends to hurt us all without exception. It for this reason that we agree with what Susana, Agustin, and the rest of the companeros here have proposed. All those things bother us.

However, it is also pleasing to witness that the rest of the world is now starting to acknowledge that the revolution will not crumble and that the country is starting to move ahead. Some are even beginning to speak with amazement of the things that are taking place in Cuba at a time when the terrible crisis of neo-liberalism -- the most favored doctrine of imperialism --is now beginning to cause disasters throughout Latin America.

Everyone is watching developments in Cuba. We have our school term beginning normally, expressions of revolutionary fortitude, the past elections, the 5 August marches, or the mobilizations to the rural area. In addition we have had the efforts the population has been undergoing during the months of June and July, the hottest months of the year.

This recognition is a reward for all of the things we have had to withstand in doing the things we are currently doing after all the plans we had to suspend, sacrifices prompted by the special period, so many things we had to forgo. We are now beginning to receive our reward. The population understands this, feels more motivated, and their attitude is beginning to change. The population can be compared to a boxer who receives a tremendous punch, one of those punches intended to knock down an opponent, and can only rely on himself to recover from the effects of the blow.

So it was with us. We had to recover from the ideological confusion that came from outside during those days when it was being said that socialism was going to be perfected. We also had to recover from the disastrous results those events brought to our economy. It was a terrible blow! However, our people have been able to recover from such a punch as they are now beginning to react to everything that is taking place. Therefore, adversity also has a positive side, just like the difficult side of this situation also has its positive side.

It is teaching us to seek efficiency at a very rapid pace, as well as to do a lot of thing that we never did before. It is also forcing us to solve a lot of problems which we never solved before when we had sufficient resources to do it. If I can mention an example, I just have to recall what took place last Friday, the day when the school term began, and the tremendous sensation we felt on that day, all the details, the impressive number of students, the impressive number of teachers. Even the uniforms were not simply a matter of a piece of cloth. It was impressive because generation to generation, household to household, neighbor to neighbor, decided to distribute the used uniforms they had tucked away in their cabinets. We were all able to see the kids ... [applause]

We all feel more content because we are witnessing the revolution consolidate itself. I explain this simply to recall that adversity also brings its rewards. [applause]