Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks on `Economic Reality' at ANPP
Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks
Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL1407204092
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-136          Report Date:    15 Jul 92
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       6
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       12 Jul 92
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 136


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speaks on `Economic Reality' at ANPP

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at the evening session of the National
Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, at the Havana
Convention Center on 11 July -recorded]

Source Line:   FL1407204092 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in
Spanish 1700 GMT 12 Jul 92

Subslug:   [``Summary'' of comments by President Fidel Castro at the evening
session of the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP,
at the Havana Convention Center on 11 July -recorded]

1.  [``Summary'' of comments by President Fidel Castro at the evening session
of the National Assembly of the People's Government, ANPP, at the Havana
Convention Center on 11 July -recorded]

2.  [Text] There is a reality: There are not enough services.  there are not
enough products. Not only do we have....[pauses] We have many of these
facilities which are not being used because we do not have the resources to use
them. For the amount of money in the people's hands- and particularly now, now
more than ever, since no one has been sent home, no one has been left on the
streets, no one has lost a job, no one has been left without income-all those
hotels are not enough to even satisfy a minimal part of the demand.

3.  When we have not had enough products, what have we done with many products?
We have distributed them, we have implemented selective distribution. When the
first television sets arrived, there were not enough. They were distributed by
factories. They were not distributed for money. Because if they were
distributed for money, whoever had more money, even if he was not a worker or
did not contribute anything to society, could buy the television. We
distributed them by factories. Refrigerators were distributed by
factories...[pauses] or by work centers. In other words, we distributed them to
the workers in a selective manner. Motorcycles were distributed by factories;
washers, by factory. In this country, cars were never sold freely; there were
not enough. Any illegal vendor would pay 30,000 pesos for a car. Here, cars
were sold for 4,000 or 5,000 pesos to a worker, a sugarcane cutter, a mill
worker. The revolution did not have enough resources, and so it distributed
them in a selective manner. Therefore, there were simply not enough.

4.  Once I asked [Pedro] Ross this-or the Cuban Workers Federation, I do not
remember exactly, this was years ago-I said: Ross, the available accommodations
at hotels, beaches, and places like that, why do we not distribute it
selectively like the refrigerators and the television, as we have done with
many items? Some of these products were sold freely once there was a surplus. 
Once there was a surplus of television sets, and they were freely available.
Then came the color televisions, and these were distributed in a selective
manner to social and work centers and to the workers. I said: Let us distribute
hotel accommodations for vacations, not like it is today when it is whoever is
first in line, whoever has nothing else to do, whoever has more money, whoever
bribes the reservation agent. Let us also distribute it among the workers like
many other items. If there are not enough hotel accommodations, we have to
distribute it selectively.

5.  Now, do we have all the accommodations available? We do not have all the
accommodations available, because we find that we need to sell a portion of
these accommodations abroad. We find ourselves forced to sell a portion of
these service, but it is not in an attempt to discriminate against anyone. This
does not have any discriminatory purpose. It does not wrong human dignity, it
does not lessen anyone, it does not slight anyone, but it is an effort to earn
resources, income that the country needs desperately. We can truly not renounce
this export.  Yesterday, I used the example of the tobacco. The best tobacco is
exported. Almost all the lobsters in this country are exported, those which are
not sold in certain restaurants or diplomatic stores or places like that. 
Almost all the shrimp in the country is exported. In the past, we exported
almost all the citrus fruit. Today, we are consuming much more citrus fruit
because there is a surplus since we have lost its markets. I was saying that
even the tobacco that we consume in cigarettes is imported, and we export the
other kind. Almost all the tobacco used at the cigarette factories is imported,
because the amount we have available is not enough to satisfy the market

6.  Tourism is an export service, and we export a portion of this service. This
portion of the service...[pauses] We cannot consume all of it. If today, at
current hotel prices-listen closely-we say everyone who wants to go to a hotel
can go ahead to any hotel, even the joint investment ones. What would happen at
the joint investment hotels?  We would have to pay in foreign currency to our
partners all the income received from Cuban tourism. This would represent an
expenditure of income for the country which the country cannot afford. Is that

7.  For every 10...[changes thought] for every five people staying two or three
days in one of those hotels, the country would have one less ton of meat to
distribute to the people. For every six or seven people, we would have one less
ton of powdered milk to distribute to the people.  We would be spending foreign
currency if we were to say that all the hotel capacity was freely available. We
would not be able to export any, we would not earn any income, and would have
to expend foreign currency not only to pay our partners but also for every
bottle of any kind, for every service, for every pillow, for every carpet,
every can of paint. All these expenses are in foreign currency. A considerable
portion of the food consumed there is exported. We would be spending foreign
currency on all these things. We do not have it. Therefore, we find that we
need to export a portion of these products. We have no other choice.

8.  We cannot say: Let us sell all of it. That would aggravate our situation in
an extraordinary manner. I would not limit this only to the special period. We
should not associate this phenomenon with the special period. We have to
maintain this for as long as the country has a need for foreign currency and
does not have other means of acquiring it. Therefore, this is not going to be
only limited to...[changes thought] It is going to be tied to a longer period
of national development, for which we need these resources.

9.  We cannot solve this on the basis of prices, because if we were to say: Let
us charge 1,000 pesos at the hotels.  There are enough people here who would
pay 1,000 pesos at all those first-class hotels. There are thousands of
millions [of pesos] on the streets. You know well who would come to these
hotels if we were to charge 1,000 pesos. However, the tourists cannot afford to
pay $1,000.  The tourists will pay the same as they would pay in Jamaica, the
Dominican Republic, or any other of those places, or they would not come here
if you increase the price fivefold. Therefore, you would have to discriminate
in price, and set a price of 10,000 for the Cubans and a price of 200 for the
tourists. That could not be.  There cannot be solutions for this problem based
on pricing. We have no other choice but to separate a portion of our hotel
capacity for export, to sell it abroad, which is the same as bringing a tourist
here and selling him the services. We can use the rest of the capacity for the
country. What percentage? Maybe 80-I do not know how much it would be-75
percent for national use and the rest for export, which are precisely the most
expensive hotels, the higher quality hotels, as a rule.

10.  Now, this gives rise to a situation. We cannot have people paying in
dollars, either. That would be worse, because we would be creating a [word
indistinct] here.  Every whore [jinetera] around would be looking for dollars.
They could come to the hotels if they did a trick with a tourist and were paid
in dollars. Then, those with dollars could come to the hotels. But here it is
not a matter of who has dollars. Rather, it is a service exported abroad, not
exported within the country to Cubans with dollars. If we were to do that, the
effect would be disastrous because it would promote all sorts of immoralities
and shady deals. It would be incredible if we were to say that Cubans can pay
in dollars, because that would establish great discrimination between Cubans
who have dollars and Cubans who do not. The most honest people would never see
the hotels. The most loose, corrupted, dealing, scheming people, those in
contact with foreigners, would have dollars. There is the real situation that
there is not enough capacity, that we need these facilities, this income, that
just as in the case of tobacco and many other things, we have to export them.
We cannot consume them.

11.  We have a problem of insufficient resources for distribution among
everyone, and we have no choice but to ration them in some manner, distribute
them selectively to Cubans. There is not enough for everyone, but those Cubans
who deserve it the most, those who produce the most, those who contribute the
most to the development of the country, these workers get to use these
facilities, and the rest is exported. It is an economic reality. It is not any
form of discrimination. It is not any form of social, religious, nor racial
discrimination of any sort.  We have no other choice. It is a reality imposed
by the economy. It is the reality of having to export a part of these services.
This is simply what we are doing. This is a problem that cannot be solved
through pricing, because what I said would occur. Tourists would not come at
the prices we would have to set to make the price the distributing factor.

12.  Only those with the most money could visit the hotels.  The thieves, and
there are quite a few thieves in this country, would be visiting these hotels
all the time.  Those who have the highest income, not the ordinary workers,
would be able to use the hotels. To ask for payment in foreign currency cannot
be allowed because it would instigate corruption. Therefore, we have no other
choice but to do it in the manner we are doing it.

13.  The enemy is aware of the reality of these economic needs. They are aware
that there are joint-venture hotels where, as a rule, payment is not made in
national currency and also Cubans do not visit these hotels to pay in dollars
because they cannot come. These are services exported to the tourism
corporations which are the ones who use these services. It is a reality. Yes
sir, Cubans do not go to the Sol Melia and other such hotels, because the hotel
services are exported for the tourists. The country has this need.

14.  All this is used as propaganda in a perfidious, perverse, cynical manner
to present it as a case of discrimination.  The fact that 80 percent of Cuba's
recreational facilities are for the use of the workers is not mentioned. What
Ross said is not mentioned. They stress that there are hotels for tourists, yet
there are tourist hotels everywhere throughout the world. Spain is visited by
approximately 40 million tourists. How do they solve it? Through pricing. The
tourists have more money than the Spaniards. The 40 million come and pay. Spain
does not have a special period; it is not a country under an embargo. It is a
developed country. They have been building tourist facilities for 50 years.
This results in unrestricted prices, and 40 million tourists come to visit.
There is a large number of countries which export much more tourism than Cuba.
Jamaica exports much more tourism than Cuba. The Dominican Republic exports
much more tourism than Cuba. The people of these countries do not have the
money to pay for these services.

15.  We live in a country where money, the peso, is very abundant. It is a
reality. This is a situation that in the past we tried to keep balanced, but
today we cannot do so because we would have had to apply the shock policies
which many Latin American countries have implemented and would have to leave 1
million people unemployed. That makes no sense, nor it is revolutionary, or
socialist, or anything. What the revolution has done during the special period
is to protect every citizen. But there is a great abundance of money.

16.  Many countries export a higher percentage of their hotel capacity than
Cuba. That is, of course, what is used.  What are we going to do regarding
this? We have no choice. I have been pondering formulas even if at the expense
of a part. Ross mentioned this. We have tried some ideas. In some of these
hotels designated for foreign tourism, we have allocated a percentage for the
use of scientists, for those at scientific research centers, certain
categories. That is one of them. As an incentive to the scientific research
workers. We have been seeking other formulas, at hotels which are not joint
ventures, to assign a percentage of the capacity to Cubans, to workers. This is
what we have done at the Santiago Hotel, where there are 30 rooms permanently
assigned to workers. We have also done this in other hotels. Certain hotels are
always filled with workers, or honeymooners, or all that type of thing. We have
been trying to make sure that there is not a single hotel left that does not
have a quota for Cubans. But not for any Cuban, not for those who arrive with
lots of money to bribe the workers.

17.  Of course, when dealing with a joint-venture hotel we have to discuss this
with them. And it is obvious that we have to pay in foreign currency or
discount from the Cuban share of the earnings the cost in foreign currency of
the Cubans' stay. We are trying these types of formulas. With the youth, we use
the formula that we established for the discotheques. In Santiago de Cuba, we
also use the formula for the discotheques. At the Tuxpan Hotel in Varadero,
which is a joint venture, they are also using the discotheque. We are trying
formulas so that a portion of that capacity can be enjoyed by the workers. We
have thought that it is a type of formula that we need to find so that there is
not a single one of these hotels which a Cuban cannot visit, but a hard working
Cuban. We are going to discriminate against illegal vendors, although it is not
contained in the Constitution.  The illegal vendors, the lazy, the bums, the
crooks are not going to enjoy these places. That is the truth. We do not have
enough to go around and we have to distribute this in the same way we have
distributed so many products, in a selective manner.

18.  There are a few restaurants. They are really not joint ventures. There are
maybe half a dozen at the most. We have tried to maintain the least possible
number of restaurants. The main restaurants in Havana, the most famous, a few
years back-I do not know what their current supply situation is-but La
Zaragozana, El Castillo Farnez-these restaurants were created for everyone's
use. It was a sacrifice. We had to spend foreign currency to transport and buy
the food, to supply them. A few restaurants were opened, but we try to keep
them to a minimum.

19.  What we cannot guarantee is that not many joint-venture hotels will be
built. Logically, at joint-venture hotels we will be limited for the economic
reasons I have explained. We will be limited, yet we have to seek a portion for
national use even if we have to spend foreign currency, and make this portion
available to the workers.  I would say that this need of the joint ventures to
export a percentage of our hotel capacity will be with us for many years to

20.  We have to be realistic and courageously accept these realities, but we
have to acknowledge that these limitations exist.  It is not enough to mention
how many people visit the hotel. This shows the possibilities our country has
even in conditions as difficult as these. But there is the reality that the
available capacity is limited and that a portion of this capacity has to be
exported and that the problem cannot be solved neither by pricing nor by
allowing access to Cubans able to pay with foreign currency, because that would
be a truly corrupting formula. It would be a formula that would promote all
sort of immoralities, vices, and negative tendencies in the country.

21.  We had to accept tourism as an economic need, but we said that it will be
tourism free of drugs, free of brothels, free of prostitution, free of
gambling. There is no cleaner, purer tourism than Cuba's tourism, because there
is really no drug trafficking, no gambling houses. There are hookers, but
prostitution is not allowed in our country.  There are no women forced to sell
themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist. Those who do so do it on
their own, voluntarily, and without any need for it. We can say that they are
highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the
lowest number of AIDS cases. There are nearby countries which have tens of
thousands of AIDS cases. Therefore, there is truly no tourism healthier than

22.  We can tell this to those who accuse us. We can use all these arguments,
the arguments that we have been listing here. We can present it as it is, as an
economic necessity, the necessity of exporting a part of these services. What
type of tourism do we have here? It has not occurred to anyone-and I hope it
will never occur to anyone-to set up a casino, or a brothel, or a drug
business. We know that all these problems affect tourism everywhere in the
world. Many of the tourists visiting Cuba are retirees, Canadians, and from
many other countries. They are humble people; Cuba does not even have tourism
for millionaires. Of course, we hope that more people with more money come to
visit us. We hope that they spend more in the country.

23.  Can we renounce this during a special period? Can we renounce this export?
It would be as if tomorrow we were to say: Let us stop tobacco exports and let
us smoke all of it here, because there is discrimination when the foreigners
enjoy the famous tobacco brands and we do not.  Let us give up lobster exports,
which give over $100 million to the country, because there is a discrimination:
Cubans do not eat lobster. Foreigners eat it in France, or in Spain, or in
Japan, or in Canada. We have renounced shrimp, and all our export products. We
would like to consume them here. We would have to renounce coffee exports and
consume all the coffee here. We would have to practically renounce all the
exports and consume them here. Yet, that tourism is an export product which is
not consumed in Paris; it is consumed here. It is not consumed in Canada. It is
not consumed in Germany. It is consumed here.

24.  Are we, during the special period, going to renounce this?  And when are
we going to renounce this? What is a country under an embargo, such as ours,
going to live off of, with over 30 years of embargo?. A country whose
commercial activities are rigorously persecuted by the enemy?. What is our
country, our revolution going to live off of since the socialist bloc has
collapsed, since the USSR has disappeared? Since, as I was saying yesterday,
for a ton of sugar we get only 1.4 tons of oil?

25.  In 1959, when sugar was 5 cents a pound, oil was $14 a ton. Today, sugar
is priced at 9 or 9.5 cents, more or less; yet oil is $140. For every ton of
sugar that we produce with so much effort from the cane we plant, tend, keep
free of weeds, cut, transport, convert to sugar at the refineries, take to the
harbor, and export, for every ton of sugar we get 1.4 tons of oil. That is the
situation. Who has the right to criticize us for trying to make a living, for
trying to meet our needs, for trying to develop this sector of the economy, for
exporting a certain amount of services? This is not the only service we export.
Sometimes our vessels also transport other countries' merchandise. There is a
series of services which we export.  Sometimes we also repair foreign vessels
here for the revenues it brings to the country. Who has the right to criticize
us for all of this?

26.  As revolutionaries, what are we going to do? Be ashamed because we are
fighting, be ashamed of resisting, be ashamed of seeking ways to solve our
problems and continue developing amid such immense difficulties as an economic
embargo, the disappearance of the socialist bloc, the disintegration of the
USSR, the loss of our markets, a 60-percent reduction in imports? Who has the
right to criticize us for doing this, as if what we are doing was immoral, as
if it was unfair, as if it was discriminatory? And for what we find ourselves
forced to do? Every country has to export a portion of the goods or services it
produces. This is simply what we are doing, and all countries also do so. They
export a part of their goods and services, some in a larger amount, some in a
smaller amount.

27.  We are not committing any indignity, any injustice, any discrimination. We
should not let the lies of our enemies, the campaigns of our enemies
discourage, demoralize, shame, nor embarrass us because we are the ones
defending our country. Not only are we defending it in the economic sphere; we
are also defending it in the ideological sphere, and in the defense sphere. We
are the ones willing to die in defense of the revolution.  [applause]

28.  We are the ones upholding the banners of principles, the banners of
socialism, the banners of internationalism.  We are the ones serving humanity.
Who has the moral right to criticize us? Let them go to the United States and
tell them to end the embargo. They are like those who come to ask us for
concessions. Do this and that so that the revolution collapses, so that it
becomes demoralized.  They do not go to the United States and tell them to end
the embargo. They do not go to their governments to tell them to give us
resources, to give us at least the part that would correspond to Cuba of that
pittance, those alms that they distribute throughout the world. They do not do
that but they come to ask for concessions from us.  They say: Make this
concession, and that other, and another.

29.  If we had followed that course, the Cuban Revolution would not exist
today. And if the Cuban Revolution exists it is because we have not made those
concessions.  And if they were to destroy the Cuban Revolution one day, may
they destroy it together with us. [applause] If the Cuban Revolution is going
to disappear one day, may it disappear together with us. But it is not going to
disappear as the result of concessions, submissions, capitulations, or
cowardice on our part.

30.  And if it fell to us to defend a revolution under such difficult
conditions, there is a reason why. It is better that it fell to us, because
others would not have resisted even a hundredth part of what we have resisted.
Others would not have had a hundredth part of our spirit. They would not have
had a hundredth part of our fighting capabilities. But if it has fallen to us,
if history has wanted to give us this role, the defense of this revolution
could not have been left in better hands. [applause]

31.  Therefore, we must not become discouraged or afraid because the essential
thing is that we understand this, that our people understand it. That is the
most important thing, that we be able to explain all these problems.  There are
countries that get hundreds of thousands [not further specified] without moving
a finger, and we have to work very hard to earn our bread, very hard. This is
the reality. We get nothing for free. We have to earn everything ourselves. We
have to do everything ourselves. We have to develop everything ourselves in the
face of pressure and a fierce embargo carried out by the largest imperialist
power in the world.

32.  Some people sometimes forget that the socialist bloc has disappeared, that
the USSR disintegrated, that the United States exists and is the mightiest
imperialist power in history. There are some people abroad who forget this, and
there are some people here who also forget this because they forget or want to
forget it. But we must be very clear and aware of our problems and how we must
solve them, how we must confront them.

33.  This is the reality. There is nothing else. It is the reality.  We must
understand this reality and know what we are doing, how we are doing it, and
why we are doing it, and in this situation, what we can do to smooth out the
most disagreeable aspects of this situation. I am sure that we will find ways.
We are looking for ways. Even if it is a small part of these large hotels, we
will arrange it so that Cubans can also enjoy them. We will calculate what it
will cost us. What will it cost us? Not everything, nor half of it, nor
two-thirds, not even 20 percent. But at least if it is 10 percent, even if it
is 5 percent, we will use it so that every one of our meritorious compatriots
knows that he has the opportunity. The illegal vendors will not have it.

34.  We are looking for ways. We have to work our heads off, find ways for our
people, right? To give our people something, as we do in other things, as we do
in other things. [repeats] If those hotels were given to us tomorrow, if our
partners withdrew, and no more tourism came to the country, those hotels would
have to be closed for economic reasons. So, we are not depriving anyone of
anything. This is the reality.

35.  These services are new, all these services that are being put into
practice. We could not make them available in any other way. The only way these
hotels can remain open, with hundreds and hundreds of our compatriots working
there, is through these joint enterprises. In the future, there may be many
more hotels. That is why it is necessary that we are clear on this. One day
there might be 100. We really thought, when we began to promote all these
programs and make causeways, to build a great part of the hotels ourselves.
With our hotels, it is easier to manipulate, devote one percentage or another
[to Cuban tourism]. It is less costly in hard currency.

36.  But really, today the greatest prospects for hotel development is through
joint enterprises. Because we have very few resources available to build new
hotels, and we need them for scientific research, biotechnology, the
pharmaceutical industry, the food program. We do not have the money to do this.
So really, we are not depriving any Cuban citizen of anything, because we could
not keep any of these hotels open.