Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Article by Marta Solis; Mexico City, Siempre, Spanish, 26 April 1972, pp

The second congress of the UJC [Union de Jovenes Comunistas; Union
of Young Communists] lasted for 5 days. The first congress was held 10
years ago. Undoubtedly this meeting of Cuban youth was the most important
event in recent years. In addition to studying the tasks which youths must
perform in the revolution, it opens a new phase of the Cuban revolution
where the future is organization, institutionalization, and planning. After
this youth meeting, within a few months, the unions will have their
congress and there is no doubt that the Communist Party of Cuba will hold
its own congress afterward, the first since its foundation in 1965.

In his first public appearance so far this year, Fidel Castro last
night closed the youth congress. Fidel was happy. He heard the reelected
first secretary of the youth organization, Jaime Crombet, read the general
resolution which traces the work for the youth for the coming 10 years, and
he received the pledge from the youth to participate in the solution of the
most pressing problems facing Cuba. Then with a young and imaginative
spirit, Fidel planned the great adventure for the coming generation.

Beginning with a self-criticism which included government, party,
and mass organizations, means of communication and so forth, Fidel
complained that the training of teachers and technical cadres has not been
up to the level of the enormous goals the government had set itself in
matters of education for the first phase of the revolution. He said that
while there are many thousands of young people enrolled in courses of study
not related to production, in technical careers there is apathy and
disillusion, and he blames this on slack ideological work and methods of
action, by the government as well as the youth organization itself.

On the other hand, he complained about school dropouts and the low
promotion rate (70 percent). He said that this is a warning that is not
right regarding the training of our youths. Some things are not right. We
are a thousand miles from reality."

Why are there even many technical, industrial, and agricultural
institutes which are empty? While in the language school there are 24,000
students, there are only 7,757 students in the agricultural school, and
200,000 children between 13 and 16 (education is mandatory up to 12
years-of-age) neither study nor work.

The fundamental problem the Cubans must resolve is that of
education. The training of the cadres which are to place the
industrialization, the technology of the country on the move is urgently
required. Fidel told the youth that this was their task, not because the
old generation is burdening them with all responsibilities, but because
just as in the past when the youth faced the solution of political
problems, today, now that revolutionary power has been consolidated, it is
necessary too for them to "take it as far as possible. You have a
revolution on your hands," he told them, "you must carry it forward,
breathe into it its strength, intransigence, its purity of spirit. You will
no longer have to spill your blood to make a revolution...and while other
generations had to perform other tasks, you have great tasks ahead of you
in this phase."

At the same time he demanded daily sacrifices from the youth in
resolving problems and in studying hard in school, "because here in Cuba
there is enthusiasm for certain forms of make a call, a
clarion call because the country is in danger, and no one ignores it. But
attraction to systematic daily work, the small shows of daily heroism,
steadfastness in attitudes, that is what we could say is not over abundant
in our country."

How frank was Fidel! With how much surprise the communist youths
present there received the challenge from the one in Cuba who has the right
to criticize because he criticizes himself! If there is something that the
Cubans and their sympathizers have exhibited with pride, it has been the
victories of the revolution in matters of education: the 1962 literacy
campaign and the incorporation of hundreds of thousands of children into
schools (there are 759,000 children in primary schools alone) However, last
night Fidel made it very clear that the problem is one of long range and of
difficult solution and that it is not enough to teach to read and write.

After the literacy campaign there was stagnation: lack of proper
strategy, low quality of the cadres trained, lack of cadres, lack of
concern by organizations over the problem which in the future will tend to
become worse if a proper solution is not found as of now. Between 1972 and
1976 23,000 teachers are going to be needed and only 1,990 will be
graduated. He then urged youth to get into teaching careers. He also
appealed to their conscience and asked them to choose careers which will
put them to work for the economic development of the country.

Fidel, who devoted the largest part of his three-hour speech to
the problem of education, explained the need for carrying out an
educational revolution, putting students to work. He also advocated the
construction of more secondary schools in the rural areas where study and
work may be combined. He said it is unquestionable "that the principle of
the combination of work and study is the only way for communist education."
Despite problems, Fidel was optimistic. He believes that with the existing
base, the revolutionary awareness of the people today, and knowing that
study, work, and ideological, theoretical, and practical training will take
the youth to higher stages in their commitment to socialism, problems,
although difficult, will be resolved.

On the other hand, we must not forget that for the solution of
countless problems, the Cubans have in their hands all the mass means of
communication, which used for the ideological training of the masses, will
undoubtedly contribute enormously to that educational revolution of which
Fidel spoke last night.

On the other hand, friend Pages [publisher of Siempre] this youth
congress was a wide window from which we could see the Cuban political
position, not only domestically, where the revolution has acquired deep
roots in all fronts, but also abroad.

Despite speculations that have been made for over a month by the
western press on a possible Cuban-United States rapprochement (alleged
meetings between Kissinger and Cuban officials and with Fidel himself and a
possible visit by Nixon to Cuba) all this has been discarded for now. Fidel
declared last night: "We want no arrangements of any type with
imperialism." He also hardened the Cuban position toward the deserters and
any help given them as in the case of the Cuban official killed in the bomb
explosion in Montreal.

On the other hand, the declaration by Cuban youth which underlines
the solidarity of the youth with the progressive and revolutionary movement
in Latin America was ratified and expanded by Fidel. He said: "It seems
good to us that the Latin American scope of revolutionary struggle was
emphasized...that the final declaration contains the idea of the union of
the peoples of Latin America through revolution, because it is simply
within this framework that the activity of this generation will take place
in coming decades."

From what can be seen, the Cubans do not abandon their positions
of solidarity with the Latin American revolution but rather they remodel
them, adapt them to an objective reality. The idea of the Latin American
anti-imperialist is acquiring more and more form in the objective
contradictions between several progressive countries and movements in the
subcontinent and the United States.

Some nationalist governments already demand for their countries
the rights usurped by North American monopolies. Many progressive movements
already support those governments and demand a radical position toward
indiscriminate looting. The policy of the "big stick" is on the wane. After
the beating the United States received in vietnam few are afraid of them.
Fidel assures us that "imperialism is weak" now.

Therefore, the Cubans view the situation in Latin America without
sectarism today. Support for the armed liberation movements yes, but also
support for all the progressive forces which struggle for independence and

Unrestricted support and contribution for the anti-imperialist
front which perhaps in the future shall be a counter to "the obsolete
ministry of colonies, the OAS" and in which would be all those who today
struggle not only for socialism but also for national independence,
recovery of their national resources, and their dignity.

Just as we reported from China during our trip with Fidel, the
dream of the founders of America continues to take form in Fidel's mind but
with more ample goals and for the true independence of our subcontinent.