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

Castro Exchange With Deputy on Investment Law

PA0509201195 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish, 0210 GMT 5 Sep 95 PA0509201195 Havana Tele Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Exchange between President Fidel Castro, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, president of the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, and Deputy Roberto Origuela Aldama, at the ANPP session in Havana on 4 September; from the "This Very Day" program -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] [Deputy Roberto Origuela Aldama] Roberto Origuela, deputy from Sifuentes Municipality, Villa Clara. Commander, Mr. President: I just want to ask about one point, for which I still do not have an answer. I think that before this draft investment measure is voted on, I want to know more about it. This being an economic law, it is based on certain ethical principles. This law excludes Cubans, that is, us, from the possibility of investing because we are not natural persons...[pauses] that is, we are natural persons. We are natural persons. It excludes other Cubans.

I feel that the fact that in this business some are eligible and others are not -- two categories of Cubans -- is something that does not convince me from an ethical point of view. The law itself is establishing two categories of Cubans. We are building a social project that is based on the concept and practice of socialized capital. Some Cubans who do not approve of this policy have emigrated. Some have been lucky, others have not. I ask myself: Is it ethical to invest this capital at this time in our economy? Would it be ethical in our culture?

Besides, why should there be two types of Cubans? The Cuban who emigrates and the Cuban who remains here? I am talking about the good Cubans; I am not talking about the bad Cubans, those are not Cubans. There is something ethical there that I do not fully understand. That is it.

[Alarcon] Thank you; do you want to talk?

[Castro] Do you want a lollipop? [laughter] The point that he has brought up, if you will excuse me, I think that is a lollipop. I am not going to swallow it. I will set it here. [laughter, applause]

I do not know where it is said that Cubans are not allowed to invest here, because they are investing everyday. They buy cars, they buy houses, they buy furniture; they buy everything, motorbikes, bicycles. How many of those have not been sold and resold, even with all the regulations and stipulations that some of those could not be sold? There are 200,000 self-employed workers. Even the smallest one has invested in something, a saw, a hammer, [words indistinct]. In addition, there are over 100,000 peasants, of one kind or the other. They invest everyday, every year, at all times; they plant sugarcane, they set up irrigation plans. You see? They buy tractors. There is one UBPC [Basic Cooperative Production Units] that has well over 1 billion [currency not specified]; it has not only invested, but it has received a loan for investing. [chuckles] What type of Cuban, who resides here, who was born here, has been banned from investing?

What we have not seen yet in any proposition is a mixed company of a Cuban residing in Cuba with 10 million, five million [currency not specified], I do not know who came up with the maximum figure? Or perhaps with one million, making an investment that will contribute to what we are seeking abroad: capital, technology, and markets. If a Cuban can contribute to that, and even if he cannot contribute to that, if someday there is a Cuban who has a certain working capital and has a certain enterprise with any possibilities of cooperation.... [pauses] that is not banned. Perhaps, legislation would have to be prepared, there would have to be some regulations, but that is not an existing problem. Not a single one has come up yet.

Small workshops, other small things are appearing, merely because the Cubans do not have money. Well, some have small amounts; there might be some who have a treasure, anything is possible.

[Castro continues] But they do not have the amount of funds we are seeking. The time will come when there will be an assessment on whether or not there could be a joint venture that includes a Cuban from here who claims to have sufficient currency. What we are looking for is currency, convertible currency.

Such a question may arise in the future, in which case it would be up to us to legislate whether or not a Cuban should be part of joint venture. Personally, I believe that in the course of time this issue of a Cuban from here with sufficient lawfully gained money, or who may have received an inheritance for example, or whatever -- but not a money hoarder -- will show up.

I do not rule out such a likelihood as something that may take place in the future, given the fact that what we are looking for is money, which is something Cubans do not have.

The fundamental objective of foreign investment is technology and markets. Therefore, I believe that it should not cause an impact when I explain it to the people that nothing is barred from Cubans, but simply that these problems have not shown up yet. When the opportunity comes for a Cuban who was born here, and still residing here, to fulfill the requirements stipulated for a joint venture, then the issue will be channeled and evaluated with all impartiality. This same concern of two different types of Cubans has already been posed by two or three comrades. If we get to the bottom of the issue we will notice that the problem does not exist here yet. There is no such thing as two types of Cubans.

If we were to acknowledge such a possibility, which is what we are discussing, and when we have not voiced an opinion, [words indistinct] and I do not know how long Alarcon will allow me to speak, but we are all pleased that this issue has been brought forth and discussed. We are aware that it would arise sooner or later, and we agreed on the need to discuss whatever was necessary, which is what we are doing in accordance with available time. I believe this discrimination issue is not what we are currently discussing, and has nothing to do with what we are debating. There is no such discrimination against Cubans living here.