Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-194 Daily Report 2 Oct 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro Speaks at Santa Clara Rally

PA0310201696 Havana Cubavision Network in Spanish, 0030 GMT 2 Oct 96 PA0310201696 Havana Cubavision Network Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the Ernesto Che Guevara Revolution Square in the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara Province on 30 September; poor reception precludes fuller processing -- recorded]

[FBIS Summary] On the occasion of a mass rally held during the visit of President Fidel Castro to the city of Santa Clara, Villa Clara Province, Castro delivers a speech that lasted an hour and 39 minutes. He starts by thanking the people of Santa Clara and the province for turning out in such large numbers to attend a rally that was organized "a few hours after my arrival" the previous night. The crowd laughs and applauds when he states, Comrades like Machadito [Jose Ramon Machado], [Jose Ramon] Balaguer, and Maria de los Angeles [Garcia Alvarez] "had no knowledge of" the rally, "but it seems someone told them about it, and they wanted to be here." Castro adds that while in Santa Clara, "I have had the opportunity to see something unbelievable. They could have had, like any of us... [pauses] to feel the admiration and privilege of seeing something that cannot often be seen in other parts of the world. The imperialists are more convinced now, and I say this because I think they are watching this even if it is via satellite -- Yankee satellites are prowling all over the place and spying everything. Though they may be thousands of kilometers away, I imagine they can also watch this crowd. If they would be so kind to (?send) photographs. Since they boast they can take the picture of a cat on a roof -- then they could, please, send us some photographs, so we can have a photograph taken by a satellite [passage indistinct] or cyclones. What is this? What is the revolution? A great system."

Castro goes on to describe the importance of the 26 July date in the history of Cuba. "For me, it will be a historic date that will last forever in the memory of this city and you, and which fills all of us with pride and fills us with confidence and faith." Then he praises the energy and force of the people of this province, stronger than any "nuclear plant." The fact he does not often visit the province, has nothing to with the "fondness, respect, and admiration I have always felt and will always feel for Santa Clara and Villa Clara," he tells the cheering crowd.

He states the number of provinces have more than doubled. When one used to visit Sancti Spiritus, one would also visit Santa Clara. "Now, time forces us to use airplanes and helicopters more. Time, also, makes greater demands on our [word indistinct]. What is more, work is more divided now. Many comrades are constantly visiting the provinces. All of us have our share of work. I cannot go to all the places as I would wish, and I do not have the energy I had back then when I rode a jeep through the Escambray mountains, grazing fields, plains, all those places, everywhere. I liked to do that and I was able to do it. Now, we also [words indistinct] different commitments, the country has developed its institutions. There have been times that have required a little more of my time for bureaucratic work. Believe me, however, it makes me happy every time I have the opportunity to visit some place and meet with the people and all the more so when it is a historic place [words indistinct] and a place as special as this province and city."

He explains he has visited the places that were facing the greatest problems, such as Las Tunas, where the heavy rains were creating doubts as to the final output of the sugar harvest. Santa Clara, he notes, does not fit into this category.

In another part of his speech he extols the participation of the people of Santa Clara in Cuba's struggle for its "definitive independence." It is impossible to forget, he adds, Santa Clara's role" in the final war of independence, in the struggles that led to 1 January 1959. We will never be able to forget the feats Che and Camilo performed here." The Cuban president then talks about the years following the triumph of the revolution, "when we had to fight for years against mercenary groups organized by imperialism. How many children of this province fought and fell in the patriotic effort to clean the Escambray mountains?" "At one point," he adds, "there were mercenary groups all over the Republic, Havana Province included." The focal point of the counterrevolution, however, was "here in Escambray. On one occasion, we deployed up to 40,000 men, tens of thousands of men from Havana City to encircle, defeat, to keep the movement from succeeding. We would reduce their numbers. If there were 1,000 we would reduce that number to less than 100, but it would not take many months, with the encouragement and assistance from imperialism, with the encouragement and assistance of the U.S. Government and the CIA, for them to grow again like marabou weed. Until 10,000 workers and peasants from Santa Clara and [words indistinct] fought tenaciously and intelligently until they totally cleaned up Escambray."

Castro adds: "We cannot forget the participation of this province in the fight against the mercenaries. There has not been a fight in the past or present where they have not been there in the front row."

Mentioning his visit to the local biotechnology center on 30 September, Castro explains: "One cannot imagine all the things they are doing. One would like everyone to witness what they are doing. The slides showed us how the work is done through the application of the most modern technologies to improve the strains and increase varieties and the work done with plantains following the sigatoka, which practically wiped out the plantain. Sigatoka caused great harm to existing varieties of plantain. This plague was most surely introduced by the enemy, because the enemy does not tire of doing things that serve as obstacles to our development and block the people's food supply. The plague appeared along an air corridor. In Camaguey Province it caused great harm to plantains, one of the main foods. Now there are new varieties that have been introduced and are being improved. When a new variety is introduced it must be done rapidly. The country's acquired capability to multiply varieties through the use of absolutely new techniques is amazing."

Castro then talks about the province's successes in the social field. He says the province of Villa Clara ranks first in education and that the infant mortality rate in the province has dropped.

Castro admits to becoming mixed up with the names Santa Clara and Villa Clara and explains: "I correct myself: Wherever I said Santa Clara I should have said Villa Clara [applause] and wherever I said Villa Clara I should have said Santa Clara. Please, those who edit and prepare the speeches for publication please make this correction. Well, everyone understood. I now ask myself, how [words indistinct]. It is said that Villa Clara is the entire province. Then why do they call it villa? Why do they call a province a villa instead of calling a city or a town a villa? Logic tells me this."

Castro goes on to talk about the revolution and asks: "What country has been respected more than ours? We have a revolution that has not known a single case of a missing person in more than 36 years, something of which the newspapers talk about every day" in other countries. Castro continues: "You see riot police in full gear going against the people [words indistinct]. You can watch that on television everyday. We have a country without death squads, something that unfortunately has existed in the brother Latin American countries. Tens and tens of thousands of people have suffered there." Castro asks: "Who has the right to destroy this noble work? What country of the world has more participation of the people and the masses in the things having to do with its everyday life? We can do this because we have the constant presence of the party and of the mass organizations. Everything is discussed everywhere." Castro adds: "We are not a people of political or military leaders [caudillos]. These leaders have disappeared with the triumph of the revolution." Castro continues: "We are not a people of political or military leaders, we are a people of ideas." He says the revolution has outstanding men but they did not receive those posts by inheritance. "A man can change, but what cannot change are the people and when they change it is simply for the better. This same people we are seeing here today are better off than 20 years ago, better off than 10 years ago, better than five years ago," Castro says.

Castro goes on to talk about Cuban history and the independence movements of the 19th century. He said the Cuban people fought for their independence for many years. "Along came the imperialists to grab the fruits of the victory, which was the country's independence," Castro says. He adds that in present times, nuclear weapons, the sophisticated weapons, and the so-called intelligent weapons are different ways of domination. He says the power of the superpowers and their rotten ideologies cannot defeat the Cuban people. "They cannot defeat us ideologically or militarily," Castro adds. "They want to dominate the world, but the world will tell them no in one way or the other." Castro adds that others understand, perhaps more than Cubans themselves, the value of the Cuban example for the world. They understand the political, patriotic, moral value of the Cuban people's position. "There is no power on Earth, there is no arrogance capable of crushing a people like the Cuban people," Castro says.

Castro concludes by saying he knows the people of Villa Clara will be able to fulfill their duty to attain victory. Castro exclaims: "Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win!"