Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-195 Daily Report 4 Oct 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro Addresses Municipal Assembly

PA0410233096 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks in Spanish, 0050 GMT 4 Oct 96 PA0410233096 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the closing session of the second national meeting of presidents of the People's Government Municipal Assembly, at the State Council Building, in Havana, on 13 September; from the "NTV" newscast -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] We faced a most difficult situation. I am sure that no other country anywhere in the world would have been able to resist one single month what we have been resisting for six years. This has not been worthless, it has served to inspire confidence in our country.

Many people believed Cuba would survive no more than three weeks after the fall of the Soviet Union, but we, without renouncing socialism or our achievements, decided to continue struggling. No one doubts this.

That fall was a terrible, very terrible, economic and moral blow.

When our country demonstrated its huge capacity for sacrifices, struggle, and resistance, confidence began to increase and the possibilities also began to improve.

We did things calmly, without haste, consulted everything with the people, the workers, seeking the consensus of the huge majority, and waging difficult battles to maintain the trust and faith of the people. The results are evident. The results are what we have been securing.

In the beginning we could not obtain credit to plant tobacco, sugar, rice, or buy equipment. Investments began to be made little by little. At times, we had to be reckless and we carefully chose partners. We also had to work with our own resources.

For example, nowadays tourism is the most vital sector. Tremendous. It has fostered most other activities. What we have done in tourism has been done, essentially, with our own resources -- and not making very large investments either: 40 or 50 million [no currency given] annually. There is also foreign capital, but I would say that foreigners brought, for the most part, experience. They manage our hotels better than we used to. Some of them are partners on an equal basis, but we benefit from the salaries, from what we sell them, from the services we give them.

This was done with our resources.

We have other important partnerships, as in nickel, and this has helped us. There have been other associations that have helped us revitalize enterprises that had been idle, which did not have raw materials, and the miracle -- a true miracle -- began to happen: The economy began to surge.

When you read news from the USSR [as heard] you see that the GNP keeps falling every year. It dropped in 1994, in 1995, and in 1996. No one knows when this is going to end, despite its huge resources. This is happening because of the chaos that was created.

When the Helms-Burton Act was approved, it almost destroyed what we had done in four years by imperiling loans and the things we are doing. Despite that, we have been able -- despite that and the other adverse factors, such as the food price increase and the oil price increases, what has risen even more on account of this whole Yankee adventure in Iraq -- despite that we have been able to maintain fundamental activities, begin the school year, continue with all the plans Dotres explained here for public health, and revamp and improve all of the country's activities. The main scare, the tremendous scare, of many businessmen is easing. The law had been having an effect when the Chamber's committees approved it, and the Senate approved it by a wide margin. It was already causing us...[pauses] it was not stopping our march. Businessmen are also recovering.

Everybody reacts when provoked. Businessmen, who had many plans, fell by the wayside, but our will, our firmness, could not be destroyed.

They are making us work much harder. They may be able to slow the pace of our recovery; they are creating obstacles, causing delays. We were able to maneuver in a way that they could not ruin the harvest by impeding the arrival of material and implements we needed.

I was also thinking when Lage brought up this problem that the United States had never found such a great resistance all over the world. Never since its creation, had the OAS been able to make a decisions against a U.S. law. The Juridical Committee and the meeting in the United States...[pauses] This had never happened. All over Latin America, Europe, Africa -- everywhere -- there is a tremendous resistance. The U.S. President sent his envoy to all those countries, and he was given a tremendously cold reception and has not had a major impact.

Yesterday, we were speaking with some of the 100 Pastors for Peace who came. This movement has grown a lot. They have been courageous. They carried out a 90-day hunger strike. This was heroic, a great deed that sparked support and sympathy from other pastors and other churches. They came with optimism, happy to have been able to bring the computers for the hospitals.

The ambassador was telling us that they leave from two or three points. The rest of the United States has a more understanding, a more friendly attitude toward Cuba. This is true for news people, intellectuals, businessmen -- who are the ones who suffer the most and exert pressure. We have to wait and see what are the significant results of elections there. For the country or the world, it would not beneficial should the extreme right win the elections in that country.

Right now there is a level of coordination, understanding, unity, that never existed before in the country. We have to continue enhancing this spirit. The people have very much recovered from the tremendous shock. The fact that we resist, as Lage has said, is a great deed, not just a deed, but a great deed. You cannot imagine how much Cuba is admired throughout the world!

In spite of the U.S. capabilities to spread slander and falsehood, the people of the world feel great sympathy for Cuba! This amazes us! From outside they see better than we, inside, what Cuba has done. How much sympathy, how much admiration, even among people in the United States!

I have met with at least 100 people and you should hear what they say. They applaud, applaud, and applaud the fact that Cuba exists, struggles, survives. The people of the world are reacting. They are seeing now what we have been seeing for awhile. Now they have a growing attitude of rejection. This evolution is undeniable.

We must not forget this angle of the problem.

We have hopes in spite of the very, very, very serious world problems. How these problems are going to be resolved no one knows. But world resistance to merciless and blatant hegemony will continue to grow and we will not be alone.

It has been shown that we, with less than anyone, are doing more than anyone. Before, when we had a lot, we did not do enough. This phase has shown us that a lot can be done with very little. There is not one child without school or teachers; there is not one sick person without a doctor. What country has that? Without blockade and big resources and many things. They are captives and divided into many fractions and parties. That is what has been imposed on them, what has been demanded of them. They are driving Africa to war, slaughters. They have turned tribes into parties. We did the contrary. We have turned parties into a tribe. [laughter, applause] We turned parties [chuckles] into a single family. That is why we must defend our institutions so much. That is why we must strive so hard against everything that tends to divide us, because that is the weapon they hope to use to carry out the dream of crushing us. We must maintain that unity and our democratic principles that are 100 times more democratic than theirs.

They have invaded the world with their vices, their corruption, their prostitution, child prostitution, drugs. They are immersed in a hell from which they don't know how to climb out and from which they cannot get out.

We do know that their path leads nowhere and that our path, if the world survives this madness, leads to success, dignity, happiness, and well-being in our country.

That is why no one should become disheartened in the least. It does not matter if our dream for 1997 is postponed until 1998 or 1999. I really see that many things are being done. We are working more efficiently and there is a greater spirit. [applause]