Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-087 Daily Report 1 May 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro Speaks at Closing of 17th CTC Congress

PA0205230796 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish, 0100 GMT 1 May 96 PA0205230796 Havana Radio and Television Networks Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro closing the 17th Cuban Workers Federation, CTC, Congress at the Conventions Palace in Havana -- live relay]

[FBIS Translated Text] Ross [secretary general of the Cuban Workers Federation], I am really grateful for these demonstrations of affection, but I protest for all of it [laughter]. Distinguished guests, comrades: It not really that easy, and I wonder if you can hear me over there? [crowd shouts: "Yes, we can"] It is not really that easy, to close a congress like this one at a time like this, under circumstances as complex as the ones we are experiencing. For anyone, however, it is a big honor to be granted this privilege, because I think this is one of the best congresses I have seen. First of all, this is a political congress, as stated the first day. A revolutionary congress. An ideological congress.

Very accurate and profound things were uttered when someone said here this was not a congress for workers seeking a share of power or seeking power, but rather a congress of workers who hold power. We have learned many things over the years of an intense revolutionary struggle, but we have learned new things here. That same impression of what the people who hold power is... [pauses] This had never been seen before as clearly and as importantly. At least that is how it is for me, how I have seen it in this congress. It is not just that workers hold power, but also that they have been holding power for 37 years. They live and express the work accomplished in those years. We have seen a few workers' congresses. The numbers say so. So many workers with university degrees, so many with technical degrees, and so many other things that can be said except one: Not one illiterate person; not one person who does not know what he is doing and why. Only under these circumstances can something as moving and encouraging as this congress be achieved. This congress also gathers the years of accumulated experience. This was said from the first day. As someone rightly said, this is not a four-day congress, it is a year-long congress. In one year, Cuban unions worked day in and day out in a truly admirable manner to hold this event. It is not that they came back from a vacation, because during this special period you have had to participate in activities and a process of the utmost importance, in very hard tasks, as part of this great battle for the survival of the revolution and the fatherland. First, there were the labor assemblies. One cannot forget that we were having to resolve problems that were practically unsolvable. How could it be done by a country that was suddenly left alone, that lost everything overnight -- markets, raw materials, fertilizers, fuel, loans, a country also being blockaded and morally beaten? It was a big blow to all of us to see our erstwhile allies in the struggle collapsing while the empire emerged stronger, wealthier, and with greater influence than ever. In that task we had the sacred duty to defend many sacred things. We had to defend the fatherland, the history of the country, the revolution, independence, dignity, and even the life of the country. Can any of you conceive life without the revolution? [Crowd shouts: No!"] Can the millions and millions of patriots who have fought for so long conceive life without the revolution? [Crowd shouts: "No!"] Therefore, even the life of a nation was at stake in the unipolar world in a small island without large rivers, without fuel, without major natural resources, and neighboring someone who was not easily resigning himself to the existence of this country, the courage of this country, the defiance of this country, and the victories of this country, and never renounced to the destruction of the revolution and its work. Every day, there are news reports, especially when archives or documents are published, of all the many things they did to harm us.

This nation has had to face the taming of not one tiger, not two tigers, not three tigers, but the taming of 1,000 tigers. Someone once said that it was a paper tiger, and it is, from a strategic point of view, because some day it will cease being the world's owner. For a small nation that has had to fight every day, beginning on 1 January [1959], against this monstrous force, it is the same as having to tame the beast we do not know how many times. I believe that even though, deep down, they are arrogant and imperious and tend to scorn others, they cannot scorn this country and people. However, we will undoubtedly continue to play our role as tamers for many years.

And I think the upcoming tamers, male and female, like the child I met today, or perhaps Vilma's granddaughter -- she turned out to be a granddaughter after all [applause] -- can be better tamers than us. This is our hope. And this hope is strengthened when we have a chance to participate in an event like this one.

We do not know how many measures they have taken in these long years. We are certain and have the most profound conviction that they have resorted to even bacteriological wars against our country, wars that have adversely affected plants, animals, and people.

How much it must hurt them that in this congress we talked about a child mortality rate of less than 10 percent, and even less than 9 percent, after at least five years of special period in times of peace! How much it must hurt them the news that life expectancy has increased and that, despite the shortage of resources and medicines, our doctors attain higher and higher achievements! How could they compare this Cuban miracle with what we know happens in the rest of the world, particularly in Latin America? They have tried to destroy this country and have even accused it of human rights violations, although the lives of approximately 1,000,000 children and youths have been saved through the work of the revolution.

This reduced child mortality rate in the first year of life from 60 to less than 10 percent means that the lives of hundreds of thousands of children have been saved. To this we must add the hundreds of thousands of children more than one year old whose lives have also been saved, the persons whose lives were saved by the revolution, and the increased life expectancy by approximately 20 years. And they endorsed all the bloody governments that made tens of thousands -- some say hundreds of thousands -- disappear. There are countries, such as Guatemala and in South America, where more than 100,000 disappeared after their intervention with their weapons and instructors. They are experts in torture and the application of inconceivable methods that they learned in the war against Vietnam, methods they transmitted to the repressive forces in Latin America so there could not be another Cuban revolution.

They did not care if 100 children died every year. The rate in some countries was higher, much higher. It can be said that, if we have the right to say we have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, we can also say that tens of millions of children died in Latin America thanks to the imperialist policy during the years of the Cuban revolution. Although that cause ceased, they continue to die because their living conditions get worse all the time, with both old and new diseases.

To destroy this and advance that, or destroy this and defend that; can a moral comparison be made between the socialism that we have been building with so much unselfishness and heroism and the imperialism and capitalism they represent? All this must hurt them badly, like the things that take place in many other places of the world, this unipolar world. Recently, all of you read that a number of people got sick in the United Kingdom with a disease that affects the brain. This disease is more or less familiar, and affects other species as well, like sheep. The disease is caused by a type of molecule, not to use a technical name, and some times affects humans, as well as sheep and cattle.

There are common things, and as a number of [words indistinct] takes place, young people... [pauses] panic spread throughout Europe and almost the entire world. There is talk about sacrificing millions of cows only because of a theory. In this same period, as the first news on this disease in the United Kingdom arrived, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people had died of meningitis in eastern, pardon me, western Africa [words indistinct] without medical attention. What would happen in Europe if 8,000 to 10,000 die of a disease in a few weeks? However, people practically do not talk about it. The world has been immersed in such a selfish situation, such lack of solidarity, these things can happen. This is how diseases such as AIDS and others -- cholera and tuberculosis associated with all these AIDS cases -- are spreading. There are terrible problems, but they could not care less.

How they suffer when they think that, despite their long-lasting blockade, the fall of the socialist world, and the special period -- as I was saying yesterday -- we have been able to guarantee, in one way or another, a liter of milk to all children under the age of seven and yogurt, lots of yogurt to children between seven and 12 at affordable prices, at prices absolutely affordable to the people! How they would suffer if they could hear the story that a comrade from southern Camaguey Province was telling us about the manner in which he created an UBPC [Basic Cooperative Production Unit]. Well, they said it was in Amancio. Thank you very much. Well, I believe it belonged to Camaguey a long time ago. [laughs] It now belongs to Las Tunas Province; I hope they do not take it away.

There is hatred; they said respect, not scorn. But there is hatred against this country. They believed it would collapse on the fourth day after the socialist world and the Soviet Union collapsed. They saw that years ago, and it does not collapse; exactly the opposite is true, without exaggerating. Exactly the opposite is true, without exaggerating. We are beginning to move forward; we are moving forward. It has to be truly unbearable. They make up laws and measures such as the Torricelli law, because they want to destroy us from within or starve us or [words indistinct] economics. There are even crazy people who also think about destroying us by force, without any sense of responsibility. The mess [avispero], which is not only in Cuba, but I am certain it is continental, will continue if the crazy idea of military actions against our country would some day become a reality.

They made up a law, a blockade, measures after measures, a great deal of pressure on the world, without completely giving up on the obsessive idea of annihilating the revolution. All this certainly makes us think, helps us explain the reasons, especially now that they are haughtier and more arrogant than ever before, more irresponsible than ever before. They do not resign themselves to what they will some day have to resign themselves. This feeling by our workers and people has been firmly and patriotically voiced here with a resolve to fight and work, with a major understanding of the historical threat that our country has experienced and is experiencing and the difficult battle it must wage. All this was voiced at the Congress. The clear ideas that Ross voiced received your unanimous support. These ideas, which had been discussed at the workplace and which had been supported at the assemblies, proclaim that what we are doing is socialism, that what we want is socialism, and that what we defend is socialism. [applause]

So that none one will ever have a doubt... [unidentified attendant shouts Up with Socialist Cuba! Crowd chants Viva!] This is socialist Cuba we are defending, this is people's power we are defending, these are revolutionary works we are defending, because I concur with what a comrade said on the afternoon of 30 April that the revolution was precisely the first accomplishment. We say a revolutionary accomplishment, and among these accomplishments, we must defend the first one.

This revolutionary resolve was voiced here today as never before. How much we have recovered -- morally, politically, and consciously speaking -- from that overwhelming blow we sustained five to six years ago while proving -- I am making another big allusion -- that our country, as a boxing champion, has a hard, very hard stamina, no one can knock it out! [applause] [one-minute break in reception] material [words indistinct] but this Congress has also been a congress of very high economic and social significance. In this one-year process, we have discussed everything and we have examined everything. It is a significant problem [one-minute break in reception] throughout the island to determine how the harvest and the recovery were coming along -- first, the sugarcane recovery, the planting and cleaning, the harvest, everything. Many ideas have been examined; a great deal of knowledge has been acquired, and a spirit has been instilled -- the spirit with which our people worked during the period comprising the last six to seven months or more, from June or July, while planting, cleaning, constantly mobilizing as part of this task. It is a spirit that had not been seen for a long time, at least not to such a high degree.

There is a spirit with which workers have reacted during the harvest, which is a harvest that still faces many difficulties that piled up during previous years, such as sugarcane fields that had not been cut in four or five years. Not even the best sugar combines could cut them. Men and women have been cutting sugarcane in this difficult harvest. This battle is not won in a single day.

We had countless machines missing parts, we had no spare parts in stock, we had combines that had not been repaired in years, we had no steel for the sugar mills, we could not purchase motors or replace motors. We have earned the resources because we have resisted, because the revolution did not crumble on the third day, and men began to gain confidence in Cuba and Cuba's capacity to struggle and resist; and resources began to appear. In the beginning we could not even think about getting financing for the tobacco, financing for the sugarcane, financing for the rice, and financing for new products. We are talking about getting a considerable sum, quite an amount of funds, although we must truly pay dearly for this. We have to pay higher interests. No country in the world has to pay the interests we pay. Hence, the need for financing. This is a result of the blockade and the pressures, circumstances we must pay for in each of the measures adopted to obtain resources, but they allow us to do this.

This is how we began to increase the production, with minimum resources, but see what is done today with a ton of fuel, a ton of steel. With the machinery we have now we do three times as much as we did before. However, we have earned those opportunities, those possibilities, with our fortitude and our resistance; and this exasperates them, because they have spent hundreds of thousands of millions, they have loaned, they have donated, and they have given away in other countries, yet the production dropped, and dropped, and dropped.

We had to withstand everything, even a complete shortage of everything -- fuel, raw materials for the textile industry and mechanical industry, for numerous productions. Whole factories, entire thermoelectric plants ground to a halt because they had no electricity or the materials to repair them, or enough fuel to cover minimum needs. How many factories have ground to halt in the country! There were no raw materials for the production of milk, beef, eggs -- in other words, everything -- even the fodder that our country imported.

In the transportation sector we had to see how almost 30,000 trips per day in Havana were reduced to 6,000 or 7,000 trips. The country had to purchase or manufacture 2 million bicycles to solve the transportation problem of the workers, students, and people who had to move around -- 2 million bicycles! And we had to improvise bicycle factories, as it was seen yesterday, and seek all kinds of solutions. There was a shortage of raw materials to manufacture shoes, clothes, everything.

It was hard to envision such a blow to the material sector. See how factories that had ground to a stand still started again, how raw materials began to appear, how the mechanical industry picked up, how the nickel industry picked up, how the sugarcane production picked up, how the food production picked up, how the transportation sector does miracles. Yesterday we were told about contributions from the transportation sector, its expenses and the contributions it currently makes, practically incredible, and the fact that 60 million in foreign currency are being requested for medicine. See how scientists, researchers, and efficiency experts have worked, seeking all kinds of solutions -- from medicine to mechanisms, spare parts, etc.

All these are visible things. Nevertheless, there is one thing that draws my attention most of all: The people's reaction, how they evolved from the most critical moments of intensive physical therapy to the encouragingly healthy condition that is perceived nowadays; what people have learned and how the idea of economic efficiency has taken hold. This is one of the most important and decisive results of this congress. All of the controls, savings, efficiency, cutting of losses, increase in profits and earnings, and the struggle for the enterprises' earnings that are now perceived; the tremendous struggle being waged to save a factory and prevent its closure, given its economic and social importance; the spirit of studying everything -- all the processes called the streamlining of the work force and the famous word you use, the redesigning of a factory, these are the most important results of this congress.

We can talk about all that without shame or embarrassment given the way we have done it. We were here, alone, when all that I have mentioned happened. When I say alone I do not include sympathizers, mass organizations, labor groups, political groups, and all kinds of groups that amply stated their solidarity and sympathy toward Cuba. We were alone as a country against the situation. I do not think that has occurred in any other country, at any other time, or at any other phase in history. How we have countered the problems. It was the opposite of what is done everywhere and what is advised everywhere -- the World Bank, the IMF, the United States. All those theories of neo- liberalism that you know about, all those practices -- throw out tens of millions of workers into the streets, close schools, close hospitals, cancel essential public services without consulting with anyone, without talking with anyone.

It could be said that all through the special period in times of peace no measures were adopted without first consulting the people, all the people, and workers in particular. This has been a lengthy process, which has taken us from the former stage to the present one. And we have had to adapt ourselves to unpleasant realities that make us suffer, as a patient suffers in intensive care or throughout a serious crisis. In addition, we have had to resign ourselves to many things which our minds had refused to accept. Our minds had been educated in a spirit of [words indistinct] fairness and equal opportunities for all, a situation we enjoyed for a number of years in the stage in which the world was at the time.

Ramon [not further identified] and others have spoken about a mental block. But we had a number of things, even many good things, in our minds. This people's solidarity spirit, generosity, willingness to help and give, and love for justice are unparalleled. This is the communist spirit of our people. We had a communist spirit but without an economy to make communism possible. This is why it was always stated that socialism was one thing, and communism was something else. Now we are applying socialist ideas much more consistently. There was idealism before, too, as well as possibilities and resources. There were so many resources that they were often squandered. But the people create a spirit of equality and justice. They are aware of their rights as citizens and men.

The revolution never failed in its zeal to help the people to the utmost and do everything possible for every one. The revolution achieved all of the things we have mentioned, things that have not been achieved by any other Third World people or many peoples for that matter. From a social viewpoint, the things we were able to accomplish were not pulled off by almost any other people. I cannot overlook the fact that Vietnam, the PRC, and other countries made enormous efforts under difficult circumstances, as we did. But, what capitalist country has attained our level of social security and justice? Or the respect for the people we have attained in our country? Of course, certain very rich countries, which became rich at the expense of the nondevelopment of the rest of the world as a general rule, had so much money at their disposal and were so afraid of communism and socialism that they tried to redistribute their available resources. That was before. Now the Cold War is over, the socialist bloc collapsed, and now measures come and go without any consideration whatsoever. Capitalists and imperialists exaggerate neo-liberal measures to such an extent that even the IMF speaks of social development. And this is because they see that the world is becoming like a volcano and that the situation is becoming untenable.

These feelings are voiced by our visitors when they speak. They begin to be fearful again, fearful of social outbreaks, explosions and chaos. A fear they had lost when they thought injustice could be perpetrated with unprecedented freedom in the world. They have become so frightened that the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions are saying it is necessary to allocate something to social development. But neo-liberalism, the globalization of the economy, hegemonic policies, and monopoly over all resources are incompatible with any social development measure. To tell the truth, no one knows what happens with the money that these institutions intend to allocate for social development. In addition, a wave of corruption has spread in the world to such an extent that it now includes not only Latin American countries and African countries, as it used to be said before, but European and developed countries.

Just as the waves of violence and drug consumption have spread, so have the measures to balance the budget, and reduce workers' pensions, public health expenses, and payments for the retired and the elderly. This problem can be observed in Europe to a large extent. At all costs, they want to balance their budgets, even at the expense of social benefits. In the United States, there is a tremendous wave of measures against social benefits for the North American people, measures that work to the detriment of the retired, the elderly, and the sick. They are wiping out everything that smells like progress [words indistinct] impose a savage, merciless capitalism with a fanatical faith in that a market economy can solve everything.

This is why they no longer have the euphoria and hope that they had five years ago. Now they are worried because they do not know what will happen. This differs a lot from what happened in Cuba during the special period in times of peace. What a difference in the procedures to adopt measures! Many and hard measures had to be adopted. Someone who participated [in the Congress] on behalf of foreign delegations remarked on the way in which a few people meet and adopt certain measures, and later apply them mercilessly and at all costs, with the mounted police on the streets, tear gas, police patrol cars, as we can see from the foreign newscasts aired on television every day.

This is what happens. And this is how measures are imposed. What a difference with the procedures used by the revolution to solve extremely difficult situations! First of all, no one was left on the street. And the workers of plants that shut down continued to collect, if not 100 percent, at least a considerable part of their salaries. It was at least sufficient to buy a few things. No one was left on the street. And, of course, the financial situation that ensued was very difficult. If people do not go out to the streets [words indistinct] and this increased tremendously the amount of money in circulation. This was inevitable. This is the only way they do [words indistinct] the people are left on the street and there are millions of homeless people. A revolution does not and cannot do such a thing.

Doing this would not only be, let us say, counterrevolutionary or at least stupid. Any revolution, let alone this one, could not take this type of measures. Not one of us was willing to take this type of measures at a time when we had many advisers of all types here. We remained firm; we did things as we thought they should have been done. Things were discussed at the National Assembly, in the streets. Things were again discussed at the National Assembly and the streets. All the [words indistinct] the economic openings, the joint enterprises, and all the set of activities we have carried out to face the situation in the manner we thought it was the right way to face it. There were measures of all types.

The financial situation had reached a stage that was going nowhere. There were 12 billion pesos in the streets, and at a time when we needed to work more than ever, many people stopped working, because one's money was enough to meet the needs of many. At a time when we needed to work, there were people who left their posts here and there. All this happened during the transportation, the transportation crisis. There were terrible things [6-second break in recording] and we started winning the battle by implementing these revolutionary and democratic methods, and we started reducing the circulating money. Remember how many measures we discussed, how many measures we had to take, how many millions of people voiced their opinions, and how we definitely took the measures that had been discussed and that had been approved in a broad consensus. Some of these measures were harsh, but not on food; they were harsh on cigars and alcoholic beverages. Free services were suspended. These things hurt and had an impact.

Money collected at our sports center is not a great deal. A baseball game ticket does not cost 20 pesos [words indistinct] however, educating [words indistinct] charging a small price, one peseta, or whatever for a school lunch had to hurt us a great deal. It did not resolve the problem [words indistinct] in small quantities. Those were the measures we took.

Other measures did yield a great deal of revenues, such as cigars and alcoholic beverages. There were 12 billion [not further identified] circulating in the streets. Other measures such as the farmers markets were taken to promote food production, to seek possibilities of being able to purchase certain items that were impossible to purchase given the situation we were experiencing. Of course, these were not measures that had been taken before, when we could distribute pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and all that. Those measures were better. We had to seek ways to make money circulate a little bit; we had to collect a little bit of money, because there were many people fully convinced that the farmers markets were solving the situation and because those who had lots of money in their pockets and had nothing to do with it used to say that there better be someone... [pauses] At the farmers markets, they are complaining about, according to what I understand... [pauses] those who complain about the markets are defending them [words indistinct] not the ideal solution, but it was on the right track, on the right track. It was a measure we had to take with all its advantages and inconveniences.

Intermediaries inevitably emerged, and they are here, because they are characters linked to free markets. Many people say we have to lower prices. The minute we start regulating prices, we must see how things turn out. It is like regulating the black market. Either we regulate prices or let prices fluctuate freely or we do not regulate. Indeed many people started harvesting mangoes, guavas, and products that were not harvested to sell them at the farmers markets. However, the situation has reached such a point... [pauses] a dollar was worth 150 pesos; it was incredible. They exchanged dollars there, and now we have a place to exchange dollars and pesos freely. Certain measures were taken, and some tests were performed. The convertible peso was also established; it is used in certain forms of incentives in specific quantities. We started taking many measures, testing some of these things. No one knew what was going to happen. It was inevitable: people starting spending less. In the first year, we collected approximately 2 billion; we collected 1.953 billion. Approximately 600 million [currency not specified] were collected in the second year, about a third of the amount collected in the previous year. Naturally money was being spent.

The state has collected a relatively small portion; this small portion was anti-inflationary because of taxes and other reasons. The new UBPC collected another small portion in their status as new organizations. [sentence as heard] The state enterprises collected another portion that was [word indistinct] as they collected money. One of the sacred principles we certainly had to uphold was to guarantee a minimum amount of vegetables, tubers, and other products, a substantial portion of which had to be imported. So after a substantial amount was spent on imports, the people were left with a reduced amount of money. Thus, to guarantee the supply of rice, a specific amount of grains [words indistinct].

Eighty-percent of the production of the UBPC, the cooperatives, and the remaining state enterprises was destined for the people or what we refer to as market places. We have seen a miracle this year regarding products sold freely; that is, cabbage and potatoes. Hydroponic farmers began producing everywhere, sprouting in almost every point of the country, and we began seeing fresh vegetables at low prices. As a result of these measures, I believe most of the products sold at farmers markets came from independent farmers and were delivered by intermediaries. These individuals had not paid taxes although they were supposed to [words indistinct] and the confusion created by those sectors that do not want to pay taxes. They have argued that taxes make the price of products increase, but what really makes the price of products increase is stealing. One might find a cabbage being sold for 15 cents or a square-shaped plantain being sold for 5 cents in these markets. Has any tax raised the price? Only increasing production can lower prices. The farmers markets and the [word indistinct] market have created a huge differentiation regarding the income the people have earned.

The resources earned from the farmers markets have accumulated partly in the hands of a growing sector of nouveau riche; this is illogical and quite unjust, and workers should never be deceived by the argument that taxes are to blame for the negative effects of stealing and as a justification not to pay taxes. In nice shape we would be if we allowed a rich sector, a sector which might earn millions, to emerge while we struggled to procure funds for child care centers, schools, hospitals, polyclinics, family doctors, as well as all the social services which the revolution provides and which we would never relinquish. [applause]

We can live without millionaires. You can rest assured that almost none of us--I am saying almost, because there might be someone who would--would shed a tear if there is not one millionaire in Cuba. We do know honest people who have worked hard during the many years of the revolution, always abiding by the law of the country and the [word indistinct] who have amassed fortunes, but these are exceptional cases, not a majority. There are people who would charge any price for any product or service, and this is how they amass their wealth. In addition, the money they earn has increased in value, because 150 pesos equaled one dollar before, and 22 or 23 pesos equal one dollar now.

The rich are getting richer as a result of the measures we have had to adopt inevitably, a point which we must understand and be aware of. The rich also are getting richer because the peso has increased in value, something which is not bad. The bad part is that the rich are getting richer, but we have nothing against the rich. What we want is for them not to steal from the other people.

Some people have asked why we do not set prices. Who could set prices? If an individual is going to fix a [word indistinct] talks to a person and they make a deal, how can we regulate this? We cannot regulate the repair of a bed spring or a piece of junk. One thing is certain: We all must pay taxes.

Taxes are the way to collect the excess money some people have earned by committing abuses. Of course, it hurts all of you and us that the salaries we pay many workers in this country are lower than the salaries some people earn in one day. There are people who earn up to 500 [currency not specified] or more in one day. For instance, the owner of a vehicle can rob an entire family only for moving their furniture. There was a family that almost had to leave its furniture on the truck just to be able to pay the moving fee. You all know this happens; this is why we have introduced harsh measures that do not adapt to our mentality or views on many things, but these measures were inevitable; we had to adopt them. When buses stopped operating in Las Tunas, the drivers appeared. To solve this problem, we decided that a 10-minute ride would cost one peso. These workers were earning 3,000 or 4,000 pesos then.

Members of the ANPP [National Assembly of the People's Government] were trying to collect more taxes than the established amount, because anything dealing with taxes [words indistinct] is a difficult task. Any action taken regarding taxes must be thoroughly organized, controlled, and studied. We were compelled to adopt these measures before having set up an organization for tax collection, but steps have been taken to collect the taxes we must collect.

How can we give better salaries if the resources are in the hands of a few? This has happened in a short time as a result of the serious nature of our current needs. Not all the situations will resemble that of the plantain or the cabbage. One day, this situation will affect many products. We can already say that one thing is certain. As the production of the UBPC, cooperatives, farmers, fruit, or vegetable gardens, family gardens, and state enterprises increases, the prices at the farmers markets, as you all know, will continue their descent. Prices did not drop at first only because of an increase in production but also because of a decrease in available cash. Anyone who bought a mango for 20 pesos the first day would not pay more than one peso now.

People used to say: I have pieces of paper here; let me change them into mangoes, papayas, or a pound of pork. Those meat products are the most difficult, because they are not produced in the city gardens. This requires feed and other more difficult things, but the price of meat has gone down for those two reasons, because production rose, and, let us say, the amount of money went down. It is important that you understand, however, that the amount of money has not been reduced sufficiently. I would say that the reduction totaled 2 billion [currency not specified] during the first year and about half that amount during the second year. In sum, we have collected approximately $2.8 billion out of almost 12 billion [currency not specified]. Afterward, the products which the government sold and produced at higher prices naturally began to drop. The sale of cigars began to go down. The obsession subsided, the amount of money went down, the supply remained unchanged, and health improved. I am not talking about financial health but, rather, human health because of all that talk about cigars, cancers, and other illnesses. There was a reduction, and now our earnings from the sales of cigars and liquor were cut in half or more.

When many other things go up (there are other formulas), but collecting taxes is no compensation, because we are not collecting taxes yet, and who knows how many taxes were not collected because there was no time to prepare and organize the collection of those taxes from tens of thousands of self-employed workers, and tens of thousands of people who had one kind of business or another or were middlemen [word indistinct].

Part of that is being organized. One of the matters we must instill in the conscience of our fellow countrymen is taxes, something which the people are not used to in this country, much less after 35 or 37 years of revolution. I am not talking about [word indistinct], which is unimportant. The issue of social security was discussed at length at the CTC Congress. You have seen how much it is growing without any subsidy. We did not want to be hasty about any of that, especially in a situation in which there is a growing scarcity of currency. We have requested that steps be taken, but that has not happened. These are problems we must resolve, but we will have to help social security in some way, because social security is becoming more and more costly and has even been abused.

We were pained to hear about or learn of the dramatic rise in the number of cases of people retiring with total disability payments. We have even been thinking about making an inspection, even though it may be a way of educating people, of the number of years. The fact that one-third of pensioners have received full pension before reaching retirement age indicates disarray, lack of control, the lack of morals by certain doctors who sign a certificate, the lack of an adequate means to grant retirement with total disability in necessary and justified cases. These are things Cubans do, and they are very costly later on, and millions add up.

We talked here of people, families who receive assistance from social security, and we need revenues. Other formulas have been sought from the sales of certain products. Stores have been set up to collect funds; they sell some of these products in convertible currency and pesos, but at a higher price. We are still collecting money but less each time.

There is one thing of which we all must be convinced; that is, it is impossible to return to the situation we used to have. It is impossible to return to the 12 billion [currency not specified]. It is impossible to renounce the need to lower currency in circulation to the necessary amount if we want the value of the peso to continue rising, if we want investors, who may be our partners, to trust us. That was a process that was gaining great force; that is, the demand for investments. It was advancing rapidly. As I explained to you yesterday, tourism and other sectors were growing despite the pressure and tireless actions by imperialism. Something useful was taking place as the price of the peso was going up. It generated confidence in those loans.

I also want you to know that no country has achieved what we have with regard to raising the value of our national currency in a year and a half. It will be two years soon, in 1996. When we explain to visitors, businessmen that the country achieved this, they find it hard to believe. How can the value of the peso have gone up?

When the measures were taken, the budget amounted to 34 percent of the domestic gross product. It was [words indistinct] and this year it will most likely be 5 percent. Look at the effort in another field. We are not just collecting, but saving money, pressuring [word indistinct], persuading, doing everything, to lower subsidies to factories, agriculture, and industry in general. We have cut millions of millions. Otherwise, we would be collecting money on one hand and throwing it out on the other hand. Can we say billions? I do not know. Perhaps. [person identified as Jose Luis is heard to whisper something to Castro]

The budget deficit. Jose Luis says it went from 5 billion pesos to 500 million pesos. When we tell foreigners that, they do not understand. They cannot understand it; this is something they cannot get through their heads. Through all these means we have been able to raise the value of the peso, decrease the amount of money in circulation, and balance the budget, otherwise we would have ruined everything. This instills confidence, stimulates loans, financing, joint ventures, and the whole set of activities with which we are defending ourselves. There are factors that help us, such as our neighbors from the north, because they are becoming the enemy of the entire world. They are becoming more hegemonic and arrogant, traits that do not win the goodwill and understanding of others. The world does not want to be governed. It does not want to be governed as poorly as it is being governed. The United States is governing the world -- but very poorly. Every day, there are more people who decide not to pay attention to it, to defy it, and fight. This does not mean one must underestimate its strength, which is very big, very big [repeats himself], and has a great influence. We are watching the number of annoyed people in the world growing like wildfire. There are people coming up with formulas to invest or do business with Cuba one way or another. Since the measures [against Cuba] are more absurd each time, we are watching this sentiment grow around the world. The Helms-Burton law seeks to encourage all this, to keep people from daring to lend us a money or to invest here. What a paradox, I was thinking today. Helms and Burton are defending socialism in Cuba. They are defending socialism because a joint venture is still, in part, a capitalist venture, an investment of capital. Helms, Burton, and company want a 100-percent pure socialist Cuba. [applause]

They want nobody to invest in Cuba. [Words indistinct] also this great historical battle we are just beginning. What is going to happen with those measures, and what will happen in Cuba? Who will win this battle, and how is it won? If they, after passing a monstrous law undermining the sovereignty of the rest of the world, all other nations, something which they closely monitor [words indistinct] they are being governed but want a bit of autonomy. The poorer countries have fewer hopes. Those who have more power hope to gain more autonomy.

There also are serious contradictions between the big, economic superpowers. Here is a law Lenin discovered a long time ago: Economic contradictions between these countries that sometimes create a dogfight over markets, products. Let no one believe that life is happy. As I said before, if they were very euphoric at a certain time, they are now more depressed because of what has happened despite all the money they have spent to dismantle socialism. Production does not increase; production declines; those illusions are more expensive each time. That capitalism resolves nothing. Things are going down not only where socialism has existed but also where capitalism has existed. Then they are bitter over that.

They also have become bitter over their contradictions, their dogfights over markets. All those phenomena are taking place. Meanwhile, the Cuban Revolution perseveres and is able to speak about the things we have talked about these days or tonight. Not one school has been closed. Not one day-care center, elderly home, preschool, institute or school, or research center has been closed. We have more research centers now than in the past. What we have to spare now is professionals in certain areas. Of course, we would have liked to have continued building schools to replace the old ones, but the ones we have work now. Not one clinic, hospital has been closed. Not one family program has been canceled; on the contrary, we now have--and this is incredible--more family doctors, as the comrade who spoke on behalf of the health sector has stated.

It is not better to have.... [pauses] Revenues also have decreased, because we had made other estimates in the past. We estimated the cost of foreign aid even though we are being asked to provide doctors. A country such as South Africa has requested 600 doctors, to be paid for at a reasonable, fair price. You know what a doctor costs in a [words indistinct] country, but they are there. I believe there are 70 doctors there, and there will be a couple hundred doctors there soon. They also will contribute to public health, and we can do the same with doctors as we did with teachers.

We can offer improvement courses, turn that technical force into an instrument to improve the skills of medics, to reclassify them, to train them better. We had this idea in the past with other university careers. The situation that suddenly came upon us made it impossible. An excess of professionals may help train others, may prompt professionals to take a sabbatical year, etc. As I said before, in the afternoon or yesterday, it is more reasonable to have a doctor than to have a scum bag on the streets who does not know anything.

Thus, we are not concerned.... [pauses] Of course, fewer people are enrolling in the universities, because we have had to limit the number of entries under the current situation. In a sense, we have changed quantity for quality, because we have made university entrance requirements tougher, but all those accomplishments we have made--I repeat--together with what is taking place around the world.... [pauses] This country was left empty-handed, left absolutely empty-handed, and I ask again, what would they say if they had heard those who spoke here.

The cutting of marabou weed.... [pauses] We could flood the world with sugar if sugarcane flourished like marabou weed. Marabou weed grows alone. I wanted to ask comrades who came from Guantanamo and all other places who planted that marabou weed, because it seems that we devoted ourselves to planting marabou weed for five or six years. What a courageous battle it is, however, to confront marabou weed with machetes and axes. What an intelligent idea it is to use it for energy, wood, fuel for cooking, etc. What a courageous work.

In reality, the things we heard here today were admirable; that is why I spoke about the economic and social importance of everything you have discussed this year and, above all, in this congress. I was surprised to hear the reports by the Santiago de Cuba Contingent in Villa Clara, what they have done, how they have done it, their willpower and determination. I was surprised to hear about the accomplishments of the Mambises Division in Holguin, which has asked for one and a half [words indistinct] water, what the comrades from Guantanamo have said about what they were doing, or what the comrade from the UBPC about which we spoke earlier said about what they were doing. I was surprised to hear the accomplishments of the other UBPC.

We have heard things we had never heard before, and I know that this spirit prevails all over the country, particularly in the remaining provinces of the country, given that the struggle is a little bit harder and more difficult in the capital [words indistinct], but the comrades from the Politburo received a tremendous impression from their visits to various places, provinces. Some like to go to the provinces to see the spirit prevailing in the provinces. What a tremendous improvement people have shown.

In the past, no such plan could be conceived without a bulldozer. In any event, we cannot send the bulldozers from the Antillana Iron Company that Jordan says he has left; he needs to get spare parts for those bulldozers. He knows how to do so and knows how many spares are needed to get them in good shape. As for some of these provinces making efforts in this regard, when we can help them with a little something, we do so. The idea is to have extra spares on hand.

I want you to know that all those [words indistinct] were bulldozed by the revolution, and it planted them with pasture, rice, sugarcane, and many other things, but everything.... [pauses] I still recall that invading brigade which, aware of [words indistinct] reached Pinar del Rio, just like the revolution built the dams and everything it did, but there were many resources, fuel, trucks, spare parts, and there was money. The miracle is that they are doing what they do with the resources we have and with the awareness that much more can be done, that they can be more efficient.

I say we are truly on the right track and it is an enormous joy to see how our labor class understands this. [applause] This means the battle has been won. We need to develop the same spirit in the administration of the state and in the people's government. And this is already happening with the new work methods the party has established. The party is increasingly assuming its responsibility, as well as support and control duties, on everything that is being done, encouraged by the experience it is gaining.

As for the application of this experience, we must move faster. Some comrades and scientific experts said that here. If there is experience in Ciego de Avila using basic farming methods, it must be applied in other provinces to see what results can be obtained, but this must be done quickly. We cannot wait two to three years.

Not all land is equal, not all crops are equal. And I think that [Agriculture Minister] Jordan and [Sugar Minister] Comrade Nelson have made great efforts to apply positive experiences in other provinces. The idea is not to go crazy trying to achieve everything in a year, but not one minute should be lost in extending positive experiences. One such very positive experience is the one in the sugar industry... how do they call it? The reconstruction of the countryside... [pauses] its rehabilitation. Many do not know the great savings this brings about and what this means.

Yesterday we talked about hundreds of millions. A good part of those hundreds of millions are in the grass that grows next to the sugarcane. We must cultivate as many caballerias as possible. We must take into account the planting depth, the way fertilizers and herbicides are applied, and drainage, wherever possible. Besides all these measures... [pauses] and with all these measures we can achieve those hundreds of millions of arrobas. They are there but it is up to us.

And the month of May is something else. We have had some small untimely rains. They have reduced the cutting and harvesting rhythm in nearly all provinces. The national observatory did not announce this [chuckles] but we cannot ask it to be a fortune-teller. They help a lot, they help as much as they can. But we must plow and prepare the land with those machines. We must plant, clean, fertilize, and do all chores that were mentioned here, and we must also complete the harvest.

The harvest is facing the difficulties I mentioned. I can give you good news: As of today we have harvested 4.15 million arrobas. [applause] This means that with an additional... Did I say arrobas? I meant metric tons, but you understood anyway. With another 350,000 metric tons of sugar we will reach the minimum goal we had established.

This is just the minimum goal. Everything now depends on weather and other circumstances. There is sugarcane for a little more, but if rains come not only work will be hindered but sugar yields will be reduced. It is the same to grind with 12 as with 10. [sentence as heard] Those elements are present, but we have to make an effort as soon as possible. And combine this with everything else that we must do, because the congress is currently taking place and comrades from the provinces will be talking about planting and crops.

This is why Nelson [first secretary of Cienfuegos Province] is not here; he could have talked about this. This is very important. It is indispensable that we reach the established goals, because all the things I mentioned are involved, including trust and financing, which we need very much. This is why the month of May will be a month of a lot of work. June and other months also but May will be decisive, because we must harvest the sugarcane planted in April [passage indistinct] that is more or less the situation we are facing with regard to sugarcane.

We need to achieve growth next year, another important growth in January, and we can achieve it if we work with the spirit exhibited here. It was voiced by many comrades. I repeat, there were impressive things. There were impressive results. We are anxious to see what Santiago residents will do in Ciego de Avila with their early cucumbers, cabbage, and potatoes, and all those things; [applause] to see how tobacco experiments develop in other provinces to produce outer leaves, because there is a huge demand for Cuban cigars, a huge demand. There is not enough to go around. We need outer leaves, we need to plant them, because outer leaves have a great value; this is not the regular tobacco leaves. We need to monitor rice programs to increase production because there is a shortage of rice. A metric ton of rice costs nearly $500 when it used to cost between $240 and $250. At times rice cannot be obtained even if money is available to purchase it.

Thus, we must work swiftly in rice farms, but we need certain resources. We are also advancing in the citrus industry. A number of formulas have emerged and we will continue to search for formulas to increase the country's employment and resources.

Builders have reacted in an excellent manner to criticism that was made. There is a clear outlook. Sugarcane growers, who were also criticized, also reacted in an excellent manner. This struggle will not be won, we will not defeat this special period if we do dumb things, if we get careless, or demoralized. The seed bank and other things should have not disappeared, they could have been preserved.

The past years were difficult, there was a degree of demoralization and some mistakes were made. We are making mistakes and we will continue to make them, but our struggle must be relentless. We must leave this congress as a courageous army. This congress has discussed nearly any topic. It did not hesitate to discuss the issue of salaries although we know what the feelings of many workers are. They have needs, they have less money. Products are a little less expensive now, but we must work very hard to lower prices even more and to keep them that way.

And we have not stopped making estimates. And sectors that we care a lot for, teachers for example, are making great efforts. The health and education sectors have about 700,000 workers.

This includes the different categories, such as doctors, nurses, hospital technicians, and staff. There are between 700,000 and 800,000 workers in this sector.

We are happy to know that with the measures adopted during the special period and new forms of payment, socialist forms of payment; with the things we did in agriculture, the creation of the UBPC's, and the improvement in the work of state-owned farms; we can hear that a farmer earned 11,000 pesos, by working and producing a lot. We are happy to hear that in many instances the income of thousands of farmers has been increased. By the way, farmers were the least paid in this country. This error was made in other times, when workers from sectors such agriculture earned the minimum wage, 80 pesos. This was not many years ago. This obviously prompted farmers to emigrate from the countryside to the cities.

Now, the situation has changed. It is good news to hear that thousands have joined the UBPC's, farms, the different plans. It is good to hear that they are building homes, that they are capable of building these homes, even from marabou weed. It is good news to hear we are producing a little more cement, a little more iron rods. It is good news to hear that our aspiration to build approximately 50,000 low-cost housing units [words indistinct] this was not a goal. It was an idea that spread around quickly. And we must now see how we can advance.

You already saw what the guys from Las Tunas UBPC did, the homes they have built, the problems they have overcome, and how they managed to move there. What struck me most was when the delegate explained how he moved, even though he had a good house nearby. And how he later managed to convince the guy from the union to move, then the guy from the party cell, the party secretary. He was able to make them all move. By doing this, we will win the battle. There is no question about it. He did what he had to do. [applause] He did what he had to do to erect thousands of kilometers of fence, although we do not have any wire. This is an important deed. He rounded up the cows that were loose and guaranteed the supply of milk of a town with hundreds of children. That is a feat and shows what we can do with what we have. There is no fence; there is a net. There are many other formulas. This is what our people have been inventing and discovering these years of special period.

I would not be surprised if one day we had to erect a monument to honor the special period. If we continue to learn, we are learning, if two or three more congresses are like this one, we would have to lay the cornerstone for this monument honoring the special period. [applause]

This period has taught us to live from what we have, to make better use of what we have. It has taught us about that invaluable treasure which is the intelligence of our people, their knowledge, their education. How much is this and who has it? The IMF must look to see how much money it would need to attain in any country in Latin America the level of education, culture, and health Cuba has today, during the special period. [applause] All the funds of the IMF would not be enough to do this in Latin America only. And we have it, and we must protect it. Every day we must look for one more penny to carry out this work.

In the past, we did it because there were resources available, and also because we wanted to do it, of course. But the resources were not a limitation. The limitation was our lack of administrative efficiency, efficiency regarding investments, etc. At the time, we did not really have today's experience to learn to live from what we have and from what we have created, the values that have been promoted in these years of revolution. Our country continues to move on with whatever we have at hand. And God knows how many more things are left to be seen or discovered.

We are living off what we have. A country that has intelligence can live off what it has. Without intelligence, nothing can be done. We have accumulated intelligence. This does not mean we are overestimating ourselves. We must be aware of the fact, as was stated here, that there is still much to be done, and there is a lot to be done everyday. And we must not fire the baker before he gets that oven going. That is the truth, and I ask my friends from Antillean Steel Enterprise to forgive me. I am a true friend of yours. But sometimes what has occurred many times, happens again. And sometimes it is the other way around. We have an inferiority complex with regard to foreign technicians. The two things have happened to us. If he is not here, I cannot do that.

Just look at how much this country has advanced regarding medicine. This is possibly our biggest advantage from the scientific viewpoint. And who taught us this? Ourselves. Of course, this does not mean giving up many possibilities. If we have new technology to widen the arteries, we should apply it immediately. With regard to the cardiovascular surgery on children, only a few foreigners helped us. We never counted them. But we had confidence in our medicine, our doctors, our scientists.

We organized research centers, we acquired bibliographies, we created all the universities that were necessary to do that. And we have made progress. We are a medical power. We are a cultural power resulting from the modest efforts that were initially carried out at the outset of the revolution, with the arts schools and all that. We are an education power. And we did it thanks to our own experience and our own professors. And we have all the universities that we want. In fact, we have universities to spare. We have all the university professors that we want. I am not going to say we have professors to spare because they may feel offended, but they can work and help you with their knowledge, their science, as was demonstrated here in this congress.

In many things we are at the vanguard and in others we are not. We don't have an industrial culture, although we have advanced a great deal. Others have the advantage of having an industrial culture, in regards to habits, discipline, respect for the technological norms. We don't have a culture with regard to management and efficiency, and we must acquire it at any rate. And we must develop it as quickly as possible. We need to promote men who have initiative, because someone said: If there were 1,000 comrades like the worker from the Las Tunas UBPC... [pauses] I am sure that in this country there are thousands of comrades like the comrades from Las Tunas UBPC, Ciego de Avila, Holguin, Guantanamo, or from any province of the country.

We must find and encourage those men who have initiative, ideas, will, strength of character, and talent to deal with people. This is because the subjective element has played a pivotal role in these efforts we have talked about here: Garnering the support of those involved in a specific activity. We went through a singular experience with the war. War is tough! Going up and down the mountains is hard. A war involves great sacrifice; however, many people joined in. In light of its difficult nature, we could never have won the war if we did not first garner the support of the people. The first thing someone who wants to win a battle or accomplish an objective must do is win people over. The moral incentive is not only giving someone a diploma, but also saying good morning or showing interest in a sick relative.

The capitalists who exploit the workers have studied many techniques on how to garner the support of the workers. They have studied them thoroughly. We, the socialists, who view work as a duty are not concerned with or, I should say, socialism in general is not very concerned with giving people this type of attention. Now, we are doing much better at coordinating material and moral incentives. However, I do not know with what money this comrade could have accomplished what he did had he not garnered the support of the people who were going to work with him. He even had to win over the affection of the cows to provide milk for the people of Guayabare. For some time, we were too optimistic and thought everything revolved around moral principles, and in fact, we did many things within this framework. What these people have accomplished is tremendous. How have we repaid the 500,000 citizens who have participated in the internationalist missions? I am saying this because we should never underestimate in the least the moral aspect, including saying good morning to people.

These people have accomplished great deeds with moral strength and moral incentives. Now, I believe that we are properly harmonizing incentives with effort to reward people for their work. I do not know if there is currently the same concern with the use of moral incentives as exists for the use material incentives, but at least, as far as our ideas are concerned, it is clear that these incentives must be harmonized. However, I am sure that there is no moral incentive comparable to the feeling one felt here when a majority of the comrades spoke about their accomplishments. The pride felt by these comrades reminded me of the pride of the mambises [Cuban natives who fought against the Spaniards]. Everything they did, they did out of honor, patriotism, and pride. Let's coordinate these two elements: The satisfaction of people for what they have done and the benefits they and their families can obtain from what they have done. I believe this is another major lesson we have learned from that special period.

The path is very clear. I do not want to omit how much all of us were moved by the different examples we saw here. Listening to these different cases enables me to assure that this congress has had a great moral and human quality. One could almost tremble at the thought of worker who donated 71,000 pesos earned from voluntary work, which he completed today, to defend the motherland. [applause] This was even a blow to the excess currency in circulation. He did not spend it and I am not criticizing people who spend their money at the farmers' market. He handed over the money without any objection. Equally touching was the case of a comrade who donated $16,000. I do not remember whether she was the first one or the second one. Where was she from?

[Unidentified speakers] Holguin.

[Castro] She was from Holguin and she donated this money in dollars. There was another comrade -- the guy from the farm -- who donated.... How much did he donate? [applause] He donated $20,000. Don't you think these examples will go down in history? These examples epitomize this period. We are not saying this just to urge the citizens to emulate these actions. It would be inconceivable! That is not our intention. However, one cannot help being proud of and admiring the human species when one comes across such altruistic, unselfish and generous persons. Similarly, one could sense here a great deal of feeling and morality from a large number of the comrades who spoke; I could say from all of them. However, some of them were impressive, perhaps because of their talent to convey their feelings. However, a comrade -- the one who gave $16,000 -- did not want to speak. General, she said, I would rather act than talk. [applause] Many comrades conveyed truly profound and admirable feelings. These comrades are true role models for all of us. To know that there are men and women such as these ones must be another reason for those of us who have responsibilities to do more than what we do now. Let's struggle more than we are struggling now, because it is truly worth it.

"It is admirable how ideas carry so much strength that they are truly invincible. This is why we, serene and calm, watch the enemy's maneuvers, what he thinks, what he might think, and sometimes, we also know what he thinks. However, we can take the time to analyze these maneuvers calmly. We know that the enemy suffers because of what we have done and how much we have resisted. We know that the enemy is enraged and can be dangerous. That country is in the middle of an electoral process that is crazy. Politicking reigns, and this makes the enemy dangerous. The presence of men with the necessary character is lacking. Sometimes we see signs of weakness that are shocking. The mere fact that this administration, in the end, backed the cruel, inhumane, brutal, and stupid Helms-Burton law shows an unquestionable weakness in character and a lack of ethics."

I did not come here with the intention of inciting anyone, much to the contrary. I came here to encourage you and ourselves to keep our composure and combine patience with intelligence. If there is something our enemies must know, it is what I once summarized in the following phrase: Intelligence will not lack courage and courage will not lack intelligence.

We have confidence in the party's serenity and equanimity. We clearly see all the provocations carried out in an effort to create conflicts, if such conflicts are possible, but not by resisting. Let us say that it is a heart condition; it seems that everything Cuba has done in all these years, the evidence it is showing, and the successes it is beginning to have, trigger serious heart pains, trigger heart attacks. We have very good medicines for heart attacks; we manufactured them in our laboratories. The streptokinase is excellent, and it does not even leave blood clots.

There is a superpower that is always acting prepotently, yet it lacks the strength of character necessary under certain circumstances, and has no ethics; it is dangerous.

The objective of this revolution is not to win wars; the objective of this revolution is to win wars if they are imposed on us. We are not set out to promote wars or let ourselves be provoked. This country's situation is very far from being desperate, and this is why we remain calm and hopeful. We have no need for conflicts; we can win our battles without conflicts. We do not want wars. But it would be better if no one came up with the crazy idea of carrying out military actions against Cuba, not even if they had illusions about their technological resources. It would be better if no one came up with the illusion of being able to make this nation kneel; it would be better if they never had the illusion that we would be unable to fight for a hundred years and for all the years that are needed to fight. [applause]

We want peace, the peace we weed to continue with this heroic work. Let no one interrupt these efforts we are making; let no one interrupt or attempt to destroy the works we are doing. Let no one provoke us, because if we have carried out the feats we have carried out so far, this nation is then capable of carrying out much greater feats. [applause]

This defines our policy. Our party, our country have an excellent leadership team, both in the party and the government, with the CTC, with the mass organizations. We have all that is necessary to reach our objectives and we have the desire to reach them. We want those million children to enjoy the work we are doing today. He who attacks the interests of Cuba does not attack our interests; we are not fighting for ourselves principally. We are fighting for children like that child we saw there today. We are fighting for our youth; we are fighting for our students. And we want to have the dream of them being able to live one day in a country like the country we know we are capable of building.

We cherish the illusion that all those hopes we got from our illustrious visitors will never be betrayed. We cherish the illusion that this symbol in which Cuba has become, not because it wanted to become a symbol, this symbol which duty and need as well as hostility and hatred from our enemies have turned us into, because we want to do what we deem fair and noble, because what we want is the best not only for our people but for all peoples... [pauses] That is why we are so satisfied with being called internationalists. We are satisfied with being called socialists; we are satisfied with being called communists. [applause]

And those who doubt what we are doing, the things we want to do, and the way in which we are doing it, without attempting to be wise, let them know for sure that we will remain socialists and communists. And we will be respected more because those who shift banners are not respected. Those who betray their ideals are never respected. Those who betray their principles have never been and will never be respected.

Therefore, we are confident that Cuba will be respected, Cubans will be respected, our people will be respected. [applause]

There are two things that make us strong and that are very clear after the plenum, the Central Committee, and after this congress. It is the declaration, the expression of what we have wanted to be, of what we are, and of what we will continue to be always. [applause]

It is with great pride that we can all say today, and so that no one has any doubt about it: Socialism or Death, Fatherland or Death, We Will Win. [applause, crowd begins chanting slogans]