The lard problem and imperialism
Radio & TV Interview with Fidel Castro
First published in Revolucion, Havana, 6 July 1961
Mark-up and editing by the Workers' Web project, 1998
In a sensational and eagerly awaited appearance before the entire nation on television and radio, the Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government, Comandante Fidel Castro, made an exhaustive analysis of the problems of supply, the recent economic aggression by the imperialists, and also, in contrast, the renewed aid from the socialist world. The panelists questioning him were Comrades Raul Valdes Vivo, Comandante Guillermo Jimenez and Ithiel Leon, with Comrade Luis Gomez Wanguemert acting as moderator.
The Prime Minister said that the problem of fats in Cuba will be resolved within 18 months, that is to say, by the beginning of 1963. He stressed that the Soviet Union has said it will ship 10,000 more tons of fats to Cuba during the balance of the year, while our country is taking steps necessary to deal with the recent imperialist economic aggression. He emphasized the labor increase in Cuba and the resulting salary totals, which had already exceeded 1,100,000,000 pesos in 1960, representing a 15% increase over the preceding year.
The interview developed as follows:
Moderator: A very good evening, television viewers. Today, the transmitters of FIEL bring you an appearance by the Prime Minister, Doctor Fidel Castro, in which the highest leader of the revolution will certainly deal with important subjects such as the economic aggression of the US imperialists, of which there are new and more provocative manifestations every day; the lard embargo imposed by the State Department, using third persons so that the US public itself will not realize that it is trying to force the Cubans to surrender due to hunger, contrary to what the Washington government pretends to be doing; and the question of supply, in which all television viewers are certainly interested.
For the first question, I will yield the floor to Comrade Valdes Vivo.
Journalist: The task of the panel members tonight is a very easy one, particularly following Comrade Wanguemert's introduction, in which he has for all practical purposes formulated the first question.
Commander Castro, the people of Cuba all over the country are awaiting your word with regard to the criminal embargo on lard the US imperialists are imposing, the problem of supply and the measures which the revolution is undertaking in this sector, with particular regard to production goals, which we understand reflect a real leap in comparison to 1958.
Castro: We must begin with a big of history about this lard problem. First of all, I do not know whether the people will already have forgotten that almost all of what we consumed in Cuba was imported from the United States -- the vast majority, in all sectors. We must remember, for example, that even the balance of payment has been unfavorable to us in the past ten years, such that we have bought from the United States, that is to say, there has been a balance of payment favorable to them in the past ten years, thanks to the imbalance in trade, the expenditures on transport, insurance company -- in a word, we have paid them a billion dollars more than they have paid us.
In fact, when we sold our products in other parts of the world, it was to offset the imbalance we had in our trade relations with the United States. Thus, we see that we depended absolutely on them, and that also we were working for them.
This balance was also influenced by what we had to pay in interest every year on the utilities owned by the monopolies and the American companies and American businesses in Cuba.
Thus, all of the food which was consumed in Cuba, a large part of the foodstuffs which were consumed here, came from the United States, along with the vast bulk of the agricultural, transport and industrial machinery. The replacement parts, naturally, came from the United States, too, because it was there these machines were manufactured.
Then, the Cuban revolution occurred, and the revolution undertook to transform this state of affairs, in brief, to implement the desire to make the country economically independent, and at least to establish a balance in our trade, in our exchange with them, in our balance of payments with them, in which connection it was necessary to take a whole series of steps, steps which first of all tended to establish a just social regime, and secondly, a system of trade exchange, a foreign trade policy which would also be just, freeing us from subjection, from the conditions wherein we were completely at the mercy of the United States, economically -- and then we began to pass the first measures which affected them, naturally, in various ways, first of all, affecting the interests of the monopolies and secondly, affecting that trade policy we had with regard to them.
Of course, they tried to avoid this by every means. In no way did a policy which might also be imitated by other peoples in Latin America and which in the long run might ruin the entire system of exploitation they had established throughout the world, suit them.
Then -- and this is the story known to the people -- the economic attacks against us began. They thought it would be easy, they certainly thought that it would be easy to liquidate the Cuban revolution, since our economy is one entirely dependent on the US economy.
"Economic independenceä was the slogan of almost all the politicians in Cuba, something which was repeated in all the speeches, by all the parties, including the bourgeois parties. Everyone said that it was not possible to have political independence without economic dependence. And this is true.
And naturally they, relying on this dependence of Cuba upon the United States, a highly industrialized country, a country which is economically powerful, by a country which is small and underdeveloped, they thought that this country could not advance along the path of economic independence and revolution, because it would be crushed.
So true was it that economic aggression represented a powerful weapon that the peoples of Latin America, the governments of Latin America, reached certain agreements about it, and expressly condemned economic aggression in agreements of an international nature, because even the bourgeoisies and the dominant oligarchies in these countries had come to understand the danger represented by the weapon of economic aggression against the peoples of Latin America, such that they decided to form a clause condemning economic aggression as a principle of international law which should govern the relations among countries on this continent.
The first thing the United States did against Cuba was to use this weapon, economic aggression. Possibly there are many people who believed that it would be very difficult to wage this struggle. The people of Cuba have waged it. Naturally the struggle has been facilitated by the new balance of forces existing on the international level.
The campaign of economic aggression against us began with the policy of threats: "We'll get them;ä "We'll pull out.ä There were statements in the Senate, statements in the press, in a word, a whole campaign to strangle the national economy.
The first battle which was waged here was that concerning oil. They simply tried to leave us without oil. Doing this to a country is a truly serious thing. Cuba immediately signed its first trade agreement with the Soviet Union, in accordance with which they would buy a million tons of sugar, selling us in exchange a considerable quantity of oil, which, moreover, they would sell us much cheaper than oil sold us by the US monopolies. Soviet oil was almost a dollar a barrel cheaper than that sold us by the US monopolies here, oil which we had to pay for directly in dollars, and which was one of the reasons for the imbalance in exchange payments.
When Cuba made this agreement, which was perfectly legitimate, exercising its sovereign right, implementing its desire to establish broad trade relations with all the countries of the world, a desire which has been one of the goals and aims of all nations throughout history, as soon as Cuba decided to sign this trade agreement, selling sugar, which was one of our problems, because if we left much cane standing, the harvests would have diminished progressively, and so the best thing the Cuban people could do was to sell sugar, then when we made a profitable agreement, as Brazil is currently doing, for example, having established trade agreements with the socialist countries involving several billion dollars, agreement very advantageous to Brazil, because it will be able to place its surplus on the socialist market ...
Journalist: Two billion five hundred million...
Castro: Two billion five hundred million, in five years, is it not? I believe it is more...
Journalist: A third of all Brazilian exports...
Castro: Well, they will be able to place the surpluses they have on the socialist market, in coffee, cotton and other products, for example, which has always been a tremendous headache for that nation. Well, similarly, Cuba signed a trade agreement, except that immediately, the US monopolies, which was the repercussions this kind of agreement might have, which saw, among other things, the possibility that Cuba was establishing a pattern which eventually, because of all the advantages it offered the nation, might be followed by other countries, as it is being, well, then, they decided, high-handedly and disdainfully, that they were not prepared to refine Soviet oil.
Those days seem very far off now, because naturally we have advanced. But analyzing it coldly, it seems truly absurd that a group of refineries established on our national territory and obeying the laws of the country could tell the government that they were not prepared to refine Soviet oil. Well, today this seems very far off to us, but then they did it quite naturally, as they do all these things so casually which represent a humiliating insult to other to other governments and nations. So they decided not to refine Soviet oil.
As soon as Cuba said that they must indeed refine the Soviet oil, then they planned a maneuver which would leave us without oil. You will remember that the problem was created entirely by them, because they could have refined the volume of oil requested of them by the Cuban government, which was less than a half -- I think it was a third of all the oil they were refining.
They figured that if they refused to refine it, then we would have to do one of two things: either accept their refusal or simply take steps against the companies, in which case the country would remain without a source of oil. Because in their thinking about this, they assumed that we would not be able to resolve the problem of oil supply.
Obviously, the problem confronted by a country deprived of oil, or deprived of a half of the fuel it needed, was a very grave, a tremendous problem, which would create a truly serious situation for any government in any country. This was their first maneuver.
This maneuver, then, ended in the seizure of the refineries and the problem was resolved thanks to the effort the Soviet Union made to supply us. They knew that the Soviet Union had oil, but they believed that they would not be able to provide the transport necessary to supply us with all the oil we needed.
The Soviet Union made the effort, managed to contract for the number of vessels needed, and you will remember that this was done just in time, because just as we were beginning to run short of fuel, the first Soviet vessels began to arrive bringing oil. In other words, Cuba succeeded in resolving a great problem: the first great problem to be dealt with by the revolutionary government. The monopolies lost their refineries, and the country had its fuel. This was the first serious blow they dealt us.
Well, then, they began to consider the sugar problem. The United States was the main market for our sugar. Thus, sugar was the main source of our foreign exchange income. The country was adapted to a sugar export economy, importing a whole range of food and manufactured articles. Food and an infinite number of other things which could be produced here were also imported from the United States. Naturally, cutting off a market abruptly, the basic market, the sugar market, for our country, also represented a tremendous blow to our economy, and was a deed which also involved the need to resolve a problem.
At the time when the US government decided to suspend our sugar quota, the revolutionary government, by means of a foreign exchange saving policy consistent with our national interests, that is to say, by investing its foreign exchange in all the essential consumer articles, those needed by industry and also for economic developlment, succeeded in increasing our monetary reserves, which had dropped from 500 million pesos to less than 70 million. And with an austerity policy, involving ceasing to import a whole series of luxury articles which were going to a minority in the country, a privileged majority, we achieved a great increase in our reserves.
Naturally, the imperialists could not accept this calmly, and they decided to take an aggressive step against our country, making an attack which further violated that principle of international law on which all the nations of Latin America had agreed. And in a violent and unexpected step, they entirely blocked our exports of sugar to the United States.
Given this situation, the Soviet Union and the socialist countries again acted, and in view of the situation in which the imperialists had left our country through their economic attack, they decided to buy 4 million tons of sugar from us at a price above the world market quotation. Taking into account that the Soviet market and those of the other socialist countries are cheaper than the US market, this step, with the purchase of 4 million tons of sugar at 4 centavos, served again to offset the tremendous blow dealt to our national economy by the suspension of the sugar quota.
The imperialists found themselves faced with failure once again. They failed first with oil, and they found that they had failed again. In taking the aggressive economic step of suspending our quota, they perhaps felt that they could liquidate the revolution, but they found that the revolution emerged victorious from this new test.
Since the imperialists could not accept this situation, they had to think of new forms of economic aggression.
They knew, for example, that all our rolling stock for transport and agriculture had been bought in the United States, and that therefore, we needed to continue purchasing replacement parts from the United States, although we did not want to, because they were American machines, and we had to obtain our parts there.
The imperialists knew that all our national industries, the majority and the most important of our national industries, were US manufactured, had been produced in the United States, and the country needed to purchase replacement parts from the United States.
They also knew that our industry was installed by them here, and that our industry was not basic industry, but processing industry, transforming important foreign raw materials, and that they therefore depended on raw materials coming from the United States as well. Then they took a further step, which was to block exports of raw materials, of replacement parts for transport vehicles, tractors and agricultural machinery and in general, and moreover, for all the industrial installations of US origin.
We must realize that the embargo on replacement parts meant, in view of the fact that every industry, for example, the electrical industry or a refinery, and industrial plant, maintains a stock of replacement parts, of thousands and thousands of them, from the tiniest spools to the most complex kinds of motors.
Thus, they thought that this, too, would create an insoluble problem for the country.
Naturally, the revolution had been taking certain steps, had purchased some millions of dollars worth of replacement parts for agricultural machinery and transport vehicles before the embargo was imposed, with a view to being able to maintain our agricultural production.
But they took a further step, that is, they placed this embargo on all replacement parts. What were they thinking of? They though they would be able to leave our country -- to paralyze our factories, our agrarian revolution, our transport. This was their third step.
In other words, all these steps were designed to liquidate the revolution. They were taking measures in order to kill the revolution. First, they wanted to deprive us of oil, second, they suspended the sugar quota, that is, they took away our market, and third, they deprived us of raw materials and replacement parts for agricultural and industrial development. In other words, they wanted to paralyze our factories, our tractors, our transport, and these are measures which can really place any country in a difficult situation.
Again, the revolution confronted the problem and took a series of steps. Some measures had been implemented in advance. We also sought replacement parts on other markets. We made efforts, and searched the markets and sources in socialist countries for a supply of these parts. At the same time, we promoted a policy for their manufacture here, making use of the ingenuity, the skill and the enthusiasm of the workers to produce the largest possible number of replacement parts. And the fact is, that as of the present, the revolutionary government has also survived this test, and has emerged victorious following this new attack by the United States.
Simultaneously, in the agricultural sector we have been tying to establish in Cuba the groundwork for the breeding of poultry, swine, livestock, a whole series of animal husbandry enterprises. Because, for example, we depended for chickens entirely on US production. Cuba imported chicks from the United States because they were bred there. All of the poultry raising in our country depended on the import of chicks from the United States.
Turkeys were imported from the United States full grown. Hogs were brought from the United States. We bought ham, bacon, butter, fat. We imported some 50 millions pesos worth of fat. Then, almost at the very beginning, the revolutionary government initiated a policy tending to produce such chicks here as well. There was no reason to have to import them from the United States if we could establish our own breeding base here, too, that is to say, flocks of laying hens which would eventually produce and reproduce. In other words, we wanted all the poultry breeding enterprises to be national, while at the same time, we imported purebred hogs to establish a breeding base here. We imported milk cows, too, to develop the dairy industry, and to be able also to satisfy the growing demand of the population.
Then, when they realized that we were importing, trying to establish a national policy, a policy tending toward self-supply of all these projects without depending on foreign sources, they took a further step, and they placed an embargo on chicks, hens, hogs and cows, too: they even placed an embargo on cows!
Then it became impossible to import even these things from the United States.
They, with their always hypocritical policy, stated that they would not place embargos on food. Of course, "they are so noble, so good.ä The US government is "go generous,ä and has "such respectä for our country, such a desire for a "higher standard of living for our people,ä as the committee of these "good peopleä said. Of course, they have deprived us of oil, they had suspended our sugar quota, they had refused to sell us raw materials and deprived us of replacement parts for factories, for trucks and for agricultural equipment. They also made it impossible for us to import these things, but they were "very goodä and "did not want us to suffer from hunger,ä and thus, therefore, they stated that they would not block exports of foodstuffs. Well, hogs are food, cows are food, cows produce milk, which is food. Poultry yields meat, which is food. But what was important to them was to prevent us from developing production here, so that we would have to continue to import. Then the only thing on which they did not place an official embargo was foodstuffs, in a typically hypocritically policy.
I think that the most characteristic aspect of the policy of the US government is hypocrisy. In other words, while they commit the most horrible deeds, they try to make it seem that they are noble and good. If they were so noble and good they would not have blocked the shipment of foodstuffs to Cuba! We have seen all of these hypocritical evidences in all the aspects of the policy of the US government.
So they refused to help us even to this point. Cuba continued then, with greater efforts, purchasing the stock for poultry breeding from Canada, cows from Canada, and also hogs from Canada, in order to continue with the plan of development for these branches of agriculture.
And then what happened? They had imposed an embargo, but the poultry and the swine were passing through the United States from Canada en route to Cuba. Then they took still another step: they prohibited the transit of hogs and chickens and cows to the United States en route to Cuba. Thus the cows and pigs and the chickens had to make a longer trip, they had to come from Canada by plane or ship, because they didn't even want them to cross the country.
Meanwhile, there was a tremendous volume of traffic in bombs, planes, war material, mercenaries and war equipment from the United States to Guatemala and Nicaragua, while there was traffic in chickens, cows, pigs and production goods from Canada. They then, naturally, while they were promoting this other traffic in weapons, explosives and sabotage, they tried to prevent our people from obtaining supplies. In a word, they simply wanted to strangle our economy, and to asphyxiate the revolution, simply through hunger and misery. In other words, "we will force the people into a situation of shortage, we will force the people into hunger, to annihilate the revolution.ä
Thus it was that they took a whole series of steps of this nature. Naturally, these were not the only ones. They were not content to try to deprive us of fuel, to suspend the sugar quota, to place an embargo on the shipment of raw materials, and replacement parts for transport, agricultural and factory machinery. They also placed an embargo on the shipment of these animals which were intended to promote the agricultural production of our country. Also, they began to prohibit other exports from Cuba.
Thus, for example, Cuba exported molasses. This was not covered by the law they had passed in Congress, and they, of course, had already attacked Cuba in many ways through legislative measures. Now they began to use another tactic, exerting internal pressure to prevent the importers from purchasing Cuban products.
Cuba was selling sugar cane molasses worth approximately 12 million dollars to the alcohol industries and also for fodder and other uses in the United States, and so they exerted pressures on the companies to prevent them from buying our molasses. And thus, one by one, all of our export articles have been blocked, by means of direct pressure or internal pressure.
And they have not simply tried to prevent us from trading with the United States, but they have also tried to prevent us from trading with other countries. Whenever they have been able to, they have exerted pressure, as they did on Canada, and which Canada resisted, in an effort to prevent Canada from trading with us. In other words, they have not been content to try to block our trade with the United States itself, but they have also made use of their power and political influence with other countries to prevent us from trading with them, too.
And, of course, it has not been this alone, because they have also promoted the traffic in explosives, threatening to carry out a whole campaign of terrorism and sabotage and organizing counter-revolutionary bands, finally organizing a mercenary expedition against Cuba. In other words, this is the outcome of their entire policy against us, since they have not been able to liquidate us, for they then began a policy of destroying factories, placing a bomb in the electric company. The Central Intelligence Agency began to act through the traitors and those who will sell out their country and join in this campaign of the aggressors against our country to destroy the industries. If they sabotage the electrical industry, the refineries, if they could burn "El Encanto,ä or "Ten Cent,ä or "Fin de Siglo,ä if they could destroy or sabotage, they did not care if it cost them lives of workers or humble men of the people. This was not important to them. They were carrying forward their systematic and criminal policy of attack upon our country.
They did not care that "El Encantoä had always been a private enterprise owned by some gentlemen who earned millions of pesos from it and spent them in other countries. When that enterprise became the property of the people, when the workers at that center were not working for an exploiting boss who got rich at the expense of the workers, but came to be a national enterprise, then they said: "We will destroy this national enterprise,ä "We will destroy the electrical monopoly,ä which was certainly never sabotaged by the Central Intelligence Agency while it was a monopoly owned by US companies, when it collected such high rates from the people. But when it came to be owned by the people, when the electrical rates were lowered, then they said: "We will destroy the electrical company.ä
And so in addition there was this whole policy of sabotage, organizing counter-revolutionary bands, violation of our national territory, air attacks and the burning of our cane fields. "Not only will we suspend the Cuban sugar quota, not only will we try to prevent other countries from buying Cuban sugar, not only we will halt the purchase of molasses, but we will also destroy the cane!ä
This whole series of acts of sabotage and systematic aggression organized by the Central Intelligence Agency was to culminate, moreover, since they were not satisfied with all this, in a military invasion of the country. And in fact, they launched a military invasion, using their mercenaries, landed by their vessels, supported by their planes and completely equipped by their stocks of weapons, according to plans drafted by the Pentagon, in which the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the government of the United States, that is to say, the executive branch, also participated. Obviously, while they told the world that it was not theirs, that the problem of Cuba was a problem among Cubans, etc., etc., well, they were carrying out their criminal aggression, in which they also suffered a crushing defeat.
Then, if we analyze it, they took all the steps they did, and were defeated by the revolution. The sabotage was defeated, the counter-revolutionary bands were defeated, and the planes -- well, it will be daily more difficult for the planes to continue making excursions here, we will make it increasingly difficult for the planes dropping weapons to violate our national territory dropping weapons. They have to run some risks greater than those they ran before. And their planned and organized expedition of mercenaries was entirely defeated and the result is that they left here, abandoned to their fate, the men who undertook the adventure. The revolution has been triumphing over the imperialist measures one by one.
But these were not the only steps the imperialists took. The imperialists are trying to isolate Cuba from the other Latin American countries. At the Costa Rican conference, they did not succeed in imposing their will. The people reacted and took a step further, formulating the Havana Declaration, an historic one. As the months passed, they with their aggressive intent tried again to rally, to establish a coalition of the countries of Latin America against us. They sent a series of missions, they sent Berle, they sent a whole string of diplomats to hold gatherings within the Organization of American States, and finally, they sent their "star performer,ä Mr. Stevenson.
Mr. Stevenson had already done very badly in the United Nations, because of the role he played there, because of the lies he perpetrated, all of which were found out, because all of those were acted like master liars, deceivers of the worst sort.
It was Stevenson, with his so-called "alliance for progress,ä and his offer of 500 million dollars for all of Latin America in a plan for offering money first and making political conditions for it. The results to date have been in no way satisfactory to the imperialists. What has happened is that the other countries have also adopted a sovereign and independent policy, for example, Brazil, and they are carrying forward a policy of trade exchange with all the countries of the world. There is also an Ecuadorian mission within the socialist countries, and it is possible that new trade relations between the Latin American countries and the socialist countries will be established, while the emissaries of the imperialists are running from one end of Latin America to the other, offering dishonest plans to the government.
There has been a tremendous reaction from the people. Stevenson had to travel secretly through Latin America. Imagine a visitor who could not say what day he would arrive, where he would arrive, who sometimes said "I am traveling to this airport,ä but had to land at another, and to hold meetings in the outskirts of the cities! There were protests demonstrations and there were deaths resulting from this. The students, the workers and the democratic and progressive groups in Latin America demonstrated their rejection and the truth is that Stevenson was hidden and smuggled through Latin America, talking with all the governments.
They themselves have revealed that Steven's dealings failed utterly.
Journalist: Only Stroessner welcomed him.
Castro: Stroessner met with him, welcomed him and told him that everything was fine in Paraguay.
The situation then, is that Stevenson's trip has so far proved a failure, too. He did not succeed in rallying support, and they are continuing to harp on this point, but the results to date have been that the United States has also been defeated in the democratic sector. Is it because we are such great diplomats? No, it is not because we are such great diplomats but simply because the proposals of these gentlemen and the policy they pursue is so unworthy and so hateful and so repugnant to the peoples. They have not realized that they are living in a different historic era and that Latin Americans are not going to endorse their plans for aggression just because they appear with their offers of money and demand opposition to Cuba as a condition.
First of all, they talked of 500 million dollars, but when Stevenson returned, what the Latin American governments had made clear is that they would need something like 3 billion dollars to begin with. This was serious problem for the government of the United States, at a time when they were even suspending pensions, when they were effecting savings, because there has been a very heavy flow of gold out of the United States and so they had to take steps, and when they came to Latin America ... First of all, they had never recognized Latin America, they realized for the first time that Latin American existed after the Cuban revolution occurred. Then they came forth to make offers and they spoke of an "alliance for progressä -- an alliance for progress between the shark and the sardines.
Then, the governments told them that they need three billion dollars at least for ten countries to begin with. Ten countries, and some 7 or 8 of those with rather difficult situations are still lacking. Moreover, Mr. Stevenson found that the economic situation is worse than it had been a year ago, because it seems that a year ago he had made a trip through Latin America, and he finds that things have changed greatly. What he found after all of the policy of aggression against our country, and after all the vile deeds they have committed, there is a greater feeling of revulsion throughout Latin America than he saw the preceding year. He returned to the United States with this impression, and there things remained.
Naturally, all of these things and the situation have still further aroused the feeling of hatred and the spirit of aggression against Cuba. Cuba has inflicted many defeats upon the imperialists. The people of Cuba have stood firm and have been winning battle after battle against the imperialists, and naturally this has rendered them furious.
Then, after this failure on the part of Stevenson, another series of events ensued. First of all, they broke off negotiations for indemnification, trying to push the blame on Cuba, but we were able to show that it was not Cuba which changed the conditions, but they, and that they were miserably deceiving even those serving them. First they sent the expedition here, and they were mistaken in all their calculations. Indeed, they were mistaken! But the fact is that those who made the mistakes, the Pentagon, Kennedy, Allen Dulles and those people, did not suffer. On the other hand, those who found out what these mistakes could mean were those who landed here.
Then the government asked the imperialists, put the imperialists to the test, to see if they value their servants, if they value their mercenaries, the people who failed in this adventure. So Cuba raised the question of indemnification.
They, eternal hypocrites, came back and said that yes, the are humane, that they would "exchange tractors for lives.ä The lives of the invaders were safe, because the revolutionary government itself had placed the question before the people and had said that it did not want to take harsh steps. It raised this question, although the crimes committed were crimes worthy of the harshest penalty, the most extreme penalty, and the people, moreover, were very agreeable to any harsh measures which might be taken against them. But the lives of these gentlemen, except for the war criminals, were in fact, pledged in a statement by the government in this connection.
Then they, so "noble, humanitarian, generous, good, respectful of human life,ä they with their "charitable and generous soulsä agreed to negotiated with us, "the cruel and evil ones,ä and to "raise the standard of living of the Cuban peopleä and to undertake a humane task. The revolutionary government agreed and said why not, that this humane gesture of theirs was very nice, but that it would be much more humane, instead of offering material indemnity, if the imperialists were, for example, to talk with their associates and their accomplices in this Bay of Pigs adventure, such as the governments of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and indirectly, Spain -- Spain is farther away but indeed there were some Falangist priests who were Spanish -- in a word, all those governments which were more or less involved in this problem for various reasons -- we suggested that they release an equal number of Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, US, Puerto Rican and Spanish prisoners, because they were talking of what a humane gesture it would be to free these prisoners. These prisoners had been held for some weeks only, but in Spain, for example, there are men who have spent 16 or 17 years in prison or are still in prison after 20 years. Albizu Campos had spent the last few years, the last decade, in fact, in prison. In the United States such men as Henry Winston were imprisoned, and naturally, now, it seems that Kennedy has become aware of Henry Winston and has decided to free him. But this had not been done up to the day and the moment when the revolutionary government raised this humanitarian question and proposed an exchange. Because Henry Winston, an outstanding leader of the workers in the United States, was imprisoned as a young man fighting against fascism. He was imprisoned by the reactionaries in the United States, and while in prison he suffered from illness, and because he was not properly cared for, he went blind and his health deteriorated gravely during the years he spent in prison. He was about to be released, because in fact he had almost served his sentence. Then Cuba made this suggestion to the government, to the committee which the government had appointed, because the revolutionary government was willing to accept this fiction of a committee of private citizens, because we were sincere when we made our offer and we were prepared to carry it out.
This committee did not say a single word on the problem of a real exchange of prisoners. It continued to pursue this tractor joke, and finally abandoned even that, they did not want to send the tractors.
The imperialists, after all the attacks that they had committed against us, after the embargoes, after blocking the export of replacement parts for agricultural machines in order to paralyze our agrarian reform, found it very painful to send us equipment, and as a result, they turned their backs on those who served them, breaking off negotiations and talking of honor. But this was a strange concept of honor, because they had offered 500 small tractors, worth 4 or 5 million dollars. This they were prepared to do. Then, later, they said no, that since it was tractors Cuba had asked for... that their "honorä would not permit...
That is to say, their honor would allow them to pay indemnity of 5 million dollars, but it would not allow them to pay indemnity of 28 million, plus transport, because we must remember that transport must be included in any negotiations. I say we should not forget, because these people do forget.
So they broke off negotiations with regard to the tractors, that it to say, there were a whole series of symptoms reflecting their aggressive attitude.
A commission of technicians came, because they had already tried to break off negotiations several times, but the government had made suggestions which prevented this. The commission of technicians came, and they sent journalists. Naturally, we talked extensively with this group of newspaper men who came here, we explained everything to them, and we took them to visit various places. They did so and many of them reported their impressions rather objectively in the United States. And then naturally, we received a report accusing some of these journalists who came to Cuba, UPI and AP representatives, and correspondents of the major newspapers in the United States, of being communist. Thus, these people are afraid, they seen phantoms everywhere. Now they have been saying that these journalists were communists or were becoming communists, and that some in the delegation of prisoners were agents of the Cuban government.
Here we see such mistrust... We have acted in completely different way. We produced the very prisoners they were discussing, there. But they, for their part, reacted with mistrust of their own people. In other words, they do not believe in anybody. The imperialists do not trust even their own shadow.
Thus they broke off the tractor negotiations and blocked the purchase of molasses being made by a US company. Then in the press and in the Congress a whole series of aggressive statements against Cuba began to appear, and in addition to this, there was another series of actions. For example, yesterday a group of mercenaries attacked those in charge of a plane, a group of counter-revolutionaries, and took it to Miami. Immediately, a sheriff appeared there, who must be like one of those in the western bandit films. I imagine this sheriff with a star here and a wide-brimmed hat -- this sheriff appeared there and seized the plane.
Mr. Valdes Vivo: This sheriff was conveniently handy.
Castro: Yes, the sheriff was there. And then we remembered that on 1 May exactly, a Puerto Rican commandeered a US plane, a plane belonging to an American company, and landed at the San Antonio Airport.Then that gentleman was the subject of an investigation here, and then, immediately, the plane with its passengers was returned.
Thus, the Cuban government, on 1 May -- well, the plane was returned, but on the other hand, now a counter-revolutionary group has taken a plane and gone there. There is a sense of balance and a sense of reciprocity on the part of these gentlemen which is very peculiar to imperialism.
Possibly they believed that we would not dare to keep one of their planes if it should be brought here. Well, I want to tell them one thing: any plane brought by anyone from the United States and landed here will remain in Cuba for good. (applause).
It is simply that if they do not return this plane to us, well, then, the government will adopt a new policy in this regard, and we must always expect that what has already happened once may happen again at any time, and that it will occur to someone else to seize the plane and take it there.
Certainly all of these things show that we have always acted in a decent manner and they have always acted in an indecent manner.
But there is also another hateful and repugnant thing. These fellows used firearms against those in charge of the planes, knocked them down and hit them with the gun butts, and these gentlemen are welcomed there as heroes. They already did this once with a certain Mr. King, who seized a vessel, murdered the rebel in front of his wife and daughter, kidnapped the wife and daughter, and then King was one of the heroes who came here in the invasion. Now this King is here in the hands of the Cuban authorities. It would not be strange if at any time we should seek out one of these gentlemen here, in one way or another, and then the time would come to settle accounts. Always, criminals will have to face justice sooner or later.
But they, with characteristic insensitivity, welcomed the criminal, and do not blame him at all -- they believe that anyone has the right to take a life, to commit a treasonable murder -- and they welcome him there. This is the imperialist morality, this is the morality of the monopolies and the exploiters.
Thus, they have the plane, and now they are beginning to talk again of training mercenaries, of publishing photographs, with an impudence -- because also they have a very narrow view of the rights of others. While they are constantly saying that Cuba represents a subversive danger to Latin America, and that it is necessary to take steps to isolate Cuba, that it is a danger to the continent, they are daily publishing in their newspapers reports of the acts of subversion and sabotage they are organizing. They calmly publish in their newspapers the fact that mercenary troops are being organized to carry out commando attacks, with photographs, pictures. Another periodical reports that they have given a hundred thousand dollars to the miserable Manolo Ray to carry out sabotage and acts of terrorism. Another states that there is a colonel there who is giving instruction in 32 ways of killing. This is like the little books teaching one "how to win friends,ä "how to stop worrying,ä because it seems that the imperialists have also put out a little book called "32 Methods of Murder.ä And also, they are organizing groups of these saboteurs and criminals in Latin America, quite calmly, for they are not concealing it, while every day they attempt to represent Cuba as a subversive danger, yet they in bold and open fashion, with a very narrow view of law and morality, are not worried about putting these things in print. They must think it is their right as a shark to do what the royal appetite dictates. Thus they have not the slightest shame in publishing this type of thing.
Thus, finally, the last step they have taken is that of blocking shipments of lard to Cuba. Once again they have acted hypocritically. They did not adopt a direct measure, but have acted through third persons.
With regard to the lard, we have been exposing ourselves to this for some time. The first thing the lard exporting companies did was to ask the Cuban government to pay in irrevocable credit notes, payable at the time the lard leaves the factory. This is in violation of all international practices in accordance with which letters of credit are payable when the goods are shipped. The US companies demanded that we pay for the lard there at the factory. In other words, the notes would be cashed there at the plant.
This represented a risk for Cuba, that is to say, the risk that they would pull a fast one in the process, and we would get the lard for lose the money.
Mr. Valdes Vivo: But a sheriff could...
Castro: We would have had to pay 700,000 dollars approximately for all the purchases. To maintain a normal supply, it is necessary to purchase certain quantities valued at a total of about 700,000 dollars.
Thus, this was the first step. Although it was a risk, Cuba agreed, because this is the traditional market from which we have obtained lard. And we had to purchase there, because of our high lard consumption. There was no other market on which we could purchase in similar quantities.
We had either to go without lard or run the risk. So we took the risk, making these purchases effective at the plants -- 700,000 dollars for each order.
Then other difficulties developed. First, there was the ferry problem. The transporter said that if they were to send the lard from there we would have to send them the tanks from here, and they also began to create a whole series of problems, such that the normal supply of lard dropped off as a result of the problems the transporters were creating. Well, we sent them the tanks, too, and agreed with what they said.
Then, as they could not stop or sit sidle, they thought of another idea. There was a US claimant, a certain company which, of course, succeeded, and this could not have happened if it were not simply on the instructions of the State Department, if there had not been a court embargo placed on the lard in transit toward Cuba, such that in fact, we lost some 600,000 dollars, because a part had already been shipped but the other part was there. And then they established a precedent. The export company demanded that we pay in cash there, while on the other hand, any claimant can present himself with a demand for an embargo, and they keep the lard which is en route.
And this was simply what they did, placing us in an impossible situation. We have already lost 600,000 dollars, and with this precedent, we are exposed to the danger that whenever we buy lard, this will happen and they will keep that which has not been shipped. And this is even illegal, because the lard was not being shipped to the Cuban state, but to an enterprise which has nothing to do with the state. Legally, they had no right to seize the lard sold to an enterprise because of any kind of debt claim against the Cuban state, and therefore, they did an absolutely illegal thing, violating international law and practice, and they established a precedent with the sole purpose of depriving us of butter, and this is simply yet another attack. This is the history of a series of aggressions, which culminated recently in depriving us of lard.
Moreover, they have a problem with lard. In the United States they do not consume animal fat. They eat ham, pork derivatives, other pork products, but they do not consume lard. You know how these people are, there is much advertising and many other things -- the fashion, and all of that there, well, the fact is, that they consume a type of vegetable fat, and lard is thrown out. Lard there is a byproduct, as is cane molasses. This byproduct, a byproduct like cane molasses, is sold at a lower price than elsewhere. Thus, they sought, for this byproduct of theirs, a market, and we were that market. They had someone to buy this surplus item, and if they had not, they would have had to throw it out. So they sold it to us, and they sold it to us cheap, but they sold it.
Meanwhile, we Cubans, since we always bought lard there, never concerned ourselves with the problem of resolving the fat problem here. And in the rest of the world, it is very hard to buy this volume of fat. For example, the socialist countries have planned economies organized in such a way that production is adapted to consumption, with their needs. They have some surpluses and they have made certain efforts, but in no way would they have a surplus such as this.
Other countries, such as Argentina and Holland have a certain surplus of lard, but nothing like the quantity Cuba needs to meet consumer demand. Thus, the problem created by the lard embargo is that if our imports are suddenly cut off, before we have worked out a solution, we are out of luck.
Journalist: What does Cuban consumption total?
Castro: Cuba is a very high consumer if compared with other countries. Nineteen kilograms per capita per year are consumed in Canada, 4 in Ceylon, 4 in China, 3 in Japan, 3 in Pakistan, 18 in Austria, 17 in France, 16 in Greece, 16 in Italy. There are some Nordic countries which consume even more than we do. We consume 20.58 kilograms per capita. We have a monthly lard consumption of 8,000 metric tons.
Edible fats, 6.65 tons; vegetable oils, 1,600 tons; olive oil, 600 tons; and butter, 285 tons, making a total, calculated for a population of 6-1/2 million, of 133,800 metric tons of fats.
Thus, there are not enough fats on the market to meet this need. Therefore, their measure directly limits our available fat. This means that this is a problem which is not the problem of oil, or the problem of sugar or other products, but a problem of nothing available on the market. There is some in Holland and other countries, limited amounts, which is moreover likely to rise in price as a result of this situation.
Obviously, they will have to eat the lard. The imperialists will have to eat the lard or fry with it, because they do not eat it. The lard producers there must be disgusted. Cuba purchased more than 20 millions of dollars worth of lard from the United States. Indeed, we were the consumers of the lard which they had as a surplus.
But there is a program which has been carried out with a view to domestic production of fats. The consumption of fats derived from pork and oil totals some 50 million dollars in our country. How is the revolutionary government planning to resolve the problem, then, and when?
It rapidly initiated a program for developing hog breeding, while at the same time it planned the installation of a series of oil extraction plants. All of this has already been planned, therefore, and now, between this year and next year, oil extraction plants with the capacity to produce 40% of the total consumed will be built.
These plants will already be operating by the end of the months of June, July or August 1962, and when they have been built, all of this will be coordinated with the plan for sowing soya beans, peanuts, cottonseed and other oleaginous crops which are being tested, and they will produce 40% of the fat Cuba needs (applause). The rest will be animal fat.
This means that unlike what they are doing, prohibiting visitors from the United States to come to Cuba, we neither prohibit nor do we make it impossible to visit and remain in the United States, nor are we thinking of doing so. It is good to clarify these viewpoints of the revolution at this time, prior to this 26 July, about which the imperialists new agencies and the imperialist and reactionary press are circulating the most terrible lies, urging the people to prepare for 26 July, to buy tickets before 26 July, because something will happen on 26 July.
What is going to happen on 26 July? What are they going to prove on 26 July? Who is concerned about these rumors? Have the people of Cuba ever lost anything on a 26 July? Has any worker, peasant or humble family of the people, any exploited Cuban or one who is discriminated against ever lost anything on 26 July, on 1 May or on 1 January? But the people have always gained something with each revolutionary law.
The people cannot be deceived by tales of any kind. The people cannot be deceived by rumors of any kind, because the people know that their revolutionary government will never do anything against them, will never go against their interests, and it is for this reason that the people are here commemorating the 26 July anniversary joyfully. They are here and they have always been whenever they have been summoned to the revolution plaza, because the people do not fail, and it suffices to look around to the place where we are now from this vantage point where we have viewed the other gatherings in order to be able to say that this 26 July there are more people than on the two earlier 26 July celebrations, even though the mobilization has not been of a national nature, as it was on 26 July 1959, when all the peasants were mobilized. And also, today two great gatherings have been held in Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey.
The people have come to provide the reactionaries with an answer. They have come to give the imperialists an answer. They have come to tell them we are present here, do not forget that we are here.
The men and the women of the people have not come here today because they were told to. They have not come here today for exercise, no. The people have come here today, as always, to manifest their feeling, to show that their revolutionary spirit has increased, to show that their revolutionary conviction is more adamant. They have come here today to say that they want the revolution and they want to continue implementing the revolution.
Obviously, the reactionaries, incapable of rallying even a fifth of the people who are here today, obviously, because the exploiters can never rally the exploited, those against whom they discriminate, and those who are here are the people, they are not the speculators, not the thieves, not the estate owners. Here are the people and only a just revolution can rally the people.
Only when a people counts, when the people are with something, when the people decide, is it possible to rally the people. Obviously, the reactionaries, the imperialists say that they are the great democrates, but we who can count the extraordinary support of the people here, one by one, we who can count one by one the hearts and the souls supporting and defending the revolution, it is we who know what this represents.
For the exploiters, this is not democracy. Democracy for them is petit politics, this mask they want to use to conceal the most evil exploitation of man by man. For them, democracy is the system in which only the privileged minorities,the parties which monopolize the resources and the wealth of the nation, count. For them, this is not democracy.
Obviously, this is not democracy for them, because they do not know what democracy is. For them, what we had before was democracy. And who has forgotten what we had before? No government could rally one-tenth of the people who had gathered here. And to rally the people they had to force government employees to come, they had to bribe hungry people by distributing money, And even with all this, they could not rally the people.
Corrupt politicians, misappropriators of funds decided about the problems of the country. The people counted for nothing. That which we had in the past is what the imperialists call democracy. This petit politicking which serves to conceal exploitation is what they call democracy. Obviously, it is the democracy of the monopolies, of the great estate owners, of the US companies.
What we have, naturally, is not the democracy of the exploiters. Do the exploiters, the foreign monopolies, the large estate owners in Cuba have the right to govern the country? The exploiters do not have that right because the right to exploit is not the right, but simply an intolerable privilege, one which mankind has had to tolerate because the people accept privileges while they cannot rid themselves of the burden of them, but when they can, privileges cease.
Nowadays the exploiters do not govern in our country. Those with the great privileges, as the people say, have been called to account. The supposed rights of the exploiters have disappeared in our country. Democracy as the imperialists see it is democracy in which the people have no rights and in which the exploiters decide everything. This democracy of the exploiters is the democracy of which the imperialists speak. We speak of the democracy of the workers, the peasants, of free men and women, the democracy of the majority of the nation, of those who were exploited in the past, of those who had no rights, of the humble, by the humble and for the humble.
For this reason, the people are not concerned about rumors. Who is it who is concerned with rumors? We imagine that the first to be concerned about the 26 July holiday is Mr. Fulgencio Batista, who is in Lisbon, I believe, or some place like that.
The first to be concerned about this date are the great ruffians and murderers. Those who have reason for concern about the 26 July holiday are the great exploiters and those who enjoy the great privileges. Certainly, these people will always be concerned about 26 July.
That date is a sad one for the imperialists, the foreign monopolies, the great gamblers, the great smugglers, the generals who lorded it over our country. It is a sad and painful date for the great criminals, for all the enemies of the people.
And obviously, the revolution is painful and sad for all those who have seen their privileges disappear with the revolutionary laws. The people are not concerned about these rumors, however much the counter-revolutionaries may sometimes invent the most absurd things, like the rumor that we were going to deprive families of their authority. Experience has shown that the people are not concerned about these rumors. It is those who are displeased by the revolution who are concerned and who start rumors. Obviously, the owner of a large estate, of an apartment house or a bank is inspired by fear of everything which reminds him of the revolution or of the date 26 July. That date is as painful to them as the date 10 March is gratifying.
But nothing was going to happen on 26 July. What was it that was to happen here but which did not? Are there so many privileges remaining to the reactionaries in our country? Are there so many interests left to them here that they are concerned about the new laws of the revolution? The basic laws of the revolution have already been issued. For some time now they have been approved, the laws which radically changed the social and economic system in our country has been in effect in our country for some time. The date 26 July is simply a joyful holiday for all of the people.
In connection with this holiday there was no special law, no extraordinary law. The great revolutionary laws, including agrarian reform, urban reform, the nationalization of the foreign monopolies, etc. -- these basic laws which changed the course of the history of our country were approved some time ago.
If considerable privileges had been left to the exploiter classes, certainly these privileges would have disappeared some time ago, because the revolution would not have waited for this fate, almost three years, to do away with these privileges.
The revolution would have done much damage, whatever it was necessary to do against these great privileges. For this reason, there is no reason either on this date or on any other for rumors about revolutionary government measures, because all of the major measures of the revolutionary government have already been approved.
On 26 July nothing ended. On 26 July, everything began. The revolution began on 26 July. Were the counter-revolutionaries perhaps afraid that they would not be allowed to leave Cuba? Well, let them have no fear, because here no one is prohibited from going away to live, to enjoy the marvels of the Yankee imperialism.
We know that there are individuals who cannot adapt to a revolution, that the parasites cannot adapt to a revolution. It is very difficult for the exploiters to adapt themselves...to sacrifice them. The females should not be sacrificed, because we must use them for reproduction. And this, meanwhile, until full production is achieved, will help in resolving the fat problem.
Let them not seek to create public health problems!
Journalist: Commander, the productive garden being created in Havana, and the duck hatchery...
Castro: But they should not raise pigs there, they should not create problems!
Journalist: Also, there will be no shortage of swine.
Castro: We can talk of this later. Obviously, then, it should not be done in the courtyard of the home, because then it is true that there may be public health problems. An effort must be made to do this in the outskirts.
And then, there is speculation with pork now. We are going to try to avoid this. Among other things, we are going to distribute pork from the people's farms through the supermarkets, so that at least those who want it will have competition, apart from the fact that it will be regulated. There are always some families which buy fat pork and fry it at home, then drain the lard, and also using the cracklings with vegetables or rice or other things like that.
No, it will not be so difficult for the Cubans, not by a long short. We know where we can produce and we have all the conditions necessary for resolving the problem.
Well, then, what will happen in the next 18 months? Naturally, it will be necessary to take an effort in the rural section to provide our own supply. But apart from this, we have a certain volume, that is to say, not all the fat we need, but what we can purchase on the market, a limited quantity, and what we can purchase from the socialist countries, although this will not meet the total demand.
However, just today, as a contribution to the alleviation of the situation, the Soviet government has informed us through the Ambassador that they have decided to sell us 10,000 more tons of fat during the balance of the year (applause).
The Soviet government has always been concerned about all of these evil deeds of the imperialists, this is a fact. Always, before we have made any effort, they have spontaneously done something each time we have been attacked by the imperialists. This happened with the oil, and with the sugar. You will remember when they cut our quota by the first million, then they offered to buy this million from us. When the quota was cut to nothing, they then decided to buy 4 million. With regard to the polio vaccine -- you will remember that the base there sent some old vaccine, and then tried to make propaganda capital of it, but they had sent us old vaccine. Well, now I have read that in the United States they have finally decided to use the Soviet vaccine (applause).
This shows that the policy of peace will be a much more sensible and useful policy for mankind than all of this policy of war, and thanks to this vaccine it will be possible to increase the number of lives saved from the scourge polio has been. Well, then, they went us the vaccine, and now as soon as they understood the problem which had arisen with the embargo on lard, making an effort for us, because they have planned production of this, they have offered these 10,000 tons. This will give us a stock which will not meet the need, but it is something, and it will in part alleviate this situation. Now what we must do is to take steps to do away with this problem of waiting lines in the stores with regard to lard (applause). I passed a waiting line this morning and I greeted the people in the line there, and everyone was very enthusiastic.
Now the people understand these situations perfectly.
What is it that we must do to avoid speculation? Lard is one of the very few articles which have given rise to this problem, for the reasons we have explained. What must we do? In order that no one need wait in line, nor suffer inconvenience in the stores, we have already made an overall study of the fat available. And now we must rapidly organize the distribution of this fat in all the shops and distribution centers. How? Well, each one, each family, will purchase in his own sector, where he lives.
This problem must be resolved with discipline. The people must play their part in it. There are two or three little things which show that it is not possible to expect everything from the government.
With the problem of houses this occurred. There were people who wanted to resolve the housing problem on their own, violating the rights of the rest of the citizens. They did not pay much attention, and they occupied the houses, and they wanted to continue occupying the houses. Well, in any case, we repeat here that all those who have occupied houses illegally, without authorization, will find themselves in the position of having to surrender these houses. Once again we repeat it, because the government will implement this principle, since it is a matter of the right of the people, and individuals cannot redistribute things. This is an evidence of egotism, of individualism, of "my-own-housismä (applause).
We know that there are families which have tremendous needs, certainly, there are many, and some, pressed by this necessity, are resolving the problem by breaking down the doors. Houses were turned over to the CTC [Central de Trabajadores de Cuba -- Cuban Workers' Organization] with the instructions that they were to be given to the largest and most needy families, those who have always lived there in those tenements and other such places. However, many of the houses were distributed as certain ones wished.
But the CTC has been doing a truly just thing. Now 150,000 persons have asked for houses. Everyone wants to have a house. Moreover, there are many more working people, many problems resolved, many weddings, and the people do not want to live with their mothers-in-law (laughter). No, they want their own homes at all costs.
We must take into account the number of workers and the materials needed to build a house. And the maximum number of houses which our capacity to produce cement dowels permits is being built.
The problem of housing has always been one of the most serious problems in all countries, and also, the greater the industrial development of a country, the easier it is to resolve it. On top of everything, we have to import cement and dowels to build houses, too. There are a limited number of plumbing and carpentry and foundry teams, and we cannot build more houses than these, although we are building many houses.
But we have had a problem with the many who have emigrated and returned, with the increase in families, the weddings and all these things, and also the idea, which has become general, that everyone should have his own house. Because obviously there are many needs, and some are very pressing, it is true, but those who are in pressing need will always, if they search, certainly find four or five or ten or a hundred whose needs are still more pressing. Because those who have four children in one room will find that there are those with eight children in one room. What has been done in these cases, in accordance with the instructions issued to the CTC, was to redistribute them, charging 10% of what they earned. Imagine a worker earning 90 pesos who has 8 children. Well, he will pay 9 pesos, probably, for a three-room apartment.
This is the most just thing. No one can say that this is not the most just thing. Thus it is that we have been distributing houses. But obviously, it is necessary to collaborate with the revolution. This is the duty of the citizens, and when they do not collaborate, well, then, the revolution simply has the obligation to make them respect the rights of all the people. And the revolution will safeguard these rights. Let no one deceive themselves that by tricks or lies or otherwise he can fraudulently remain in the place to which he has not been assigned, unauthorized.
There have also been problems to resolve, for many technicians and engineers have come in connection with the industrialization, the factory plans. There are not enough houses! Obviously, the houses in the outskirts, not those in the cities, have been allocated to the technicians, but many needs which have had to be met have developed, and this is a problem which much be resolved.
Therefore, a review of all this housing will be made. Workers who will devote themselves to this exclusively are being trained. No blows, no trickery -- because there are people who say, who want to fight when it comes to applying for a house (applause)! These days are now past.
One of the things which disgust the people most, in fact, is when they see someone pulling a fast one, because there are those who respect the law and have applied legally. Obviously, they could not all be satisfied -- there are 150,000 of them. There were something like 4,000 apartments, houses and apartments, and 150,000 applications. And it made the people truly angry, those who have observed the law, when others come and by means of an arbitrary, forceful action, take charge of things. It is the duty of the revolution to see that things are done in orderly and just fashion.
And the same thing happened with the lard business. The ambitious ones appeared and wanted to have all the lard in their houses at all costs. These were other individualists, other selfish persons who wanted to resolve the problems their own way, and force all the others to run from place to place and stand in line.
If we, as a result of the imperialist aggression, have less lard than we need, what must we do? Distribute it fairly -- this is the only thing which can be done patriotically and legally. We are no longer living in the era of privileges, and the majority of those with the privileges have left Cuba. Who are those who want to replace those who enjoy privileges? Who are those who want to live with the egotism of those millionaires, who do not care if the others have nothing but want to have everything, who want to have ten pounds in their houses while others have nothing, and because they have more money, because they have greater resources, want to buy up everything? This must not be. We must guarantee all that they will receive their fair portion in this 18 months of shortage ahead of us.
How? Well, we must distribute through the stores, in accordance with the number of persons residing in the district. This must be done in organized fashion by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and the Women's Federation (applause). And without fraud, without fraud! Legislative measures will be approved to sanction those who try to get around this right of the citizens, and those who try to speculate and to sell in the shops. Each shop, however, will certainly receive quantities consistent with the number of residents there who will buy their lard from it.
Then there will be distribution by families. Depending on what is available, we will distribute the equivalent of a pound of lard and a pound of oil monthly per person, that is to say, for each person over one year of age. This will be more or less a half of what is needed, meeting a half of the consumer demands, but everyone will have guaranteed his share of the supply there is, on the basis of this system, without having to wait in line.
Thus, it will be necessary to register in the proper trade department, store, shop or "minimax,ä whatever kind of store there is, in the rural sectors and in the cities. This will be done by the people who live in what we might call the jurisdiction of this shop. Then, we will distribute the total quota available in the country to each one of these establishments in accordance with the number of persons registered.
We must do this in orderly fashion, so that the system will function well. We must ensure that it functions well, in order to spare ourselves worry and headaches.
If we have as volume less than what we need, we cannot allow some to have more and others less. We must guarantee that each has his share.
This will be done as soon as possible. We will see if things have been organized now to function on the 20th of this month. And instructions will be given in the newspapers, via radio and television. All the norms, the way in which it will operate, will be explained.
This is one of the few articles, in fact, which has created this problem for us, for which there is no solution. There has been no solution since the time it developed, but in any case we must deal with its limitations until we have resolved the problem with our own production. This is the way in which we are going to resolve the fat problem. There is no doubt that with this and the plans of the INDER [Instituto Nacional de Deportes, Educacion Fisica, y Recreacion -- National Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation], and all of these sports matters, many people will be "put on the lineä (laughter).
This is a warm country, and it is our custom to consume considerable fats. Without a doubt, we consume as much or more as a cold northern country. Here in a semi-tropical country we consume an extraordinary volume of fats. But, well, this is part of our customs, and we can produce all the fat we need.
And meanwhile, we must overcome this new obstacle and inflict a further defeat upon the imperialists with these measures resolving the problem, showing them that they cannot sing a song of triumph in this matter of aggression. And now, there are very few things, because they can no longer -- the imperialists have practically nothing left to try against us (laughter). They have racked their brains, and all they have tried has failed. In fact, they are imposing a sacrifice upon us, but it is not a great sacrifice. Fortunately, the revolution has advanced triumph without requiring that the people make great sacrifices.
There is one important thing which I am going to mention here so that the people will understand.
The production of almost all items has increased extraordinarily. Obviously, there are some items, such as cigars, which, however much we may consume, we will have in surplus, because we are a cigar and tobacco exporting country. The increased consumption of cigars and tobacco is not notable. The increase in coffee consumption is not notable. We are a country which has a surplus of coffee and we are an exporter of coffee. This year we have already produced ten thousand tons of cacao for export, but we have said "no, we will leave them here, because if chocolate consumption increases this year, the people will have chocolate without any problem.ä The increase in sugar consumption, which is enormous, has not been noticeable either, because of our fantastic production. We are a sugar exporting country.
Now there are other items which do not exist in such abundance as coffee, tobacco and sugar, and naturally the great consumption increase has sometimes created shortages.
There are some people who ask, therefore: "And why is there no cheese?ä Well, sir, because there are many people eating cheese (laughter)! The increases which have come about in the production of cheese are not sufficient. In milk, despite the extraordinary increase, you have seen that in this dry season there was no shortage of milk. Milk production was maintained at a hundred thousand liters more than last year, and now there are half a million liters. A new dairy basin in the Pinar del Rio zone has been established, and it is yielding about 30,000 liters. By the beginning of the year this basin will be providing 100,000 liters (applause).
In eggs, of which there was a certain shortage at the end of last year, the supply, which is increasing extraordinarily, is now normalizing the situation. What, then, is happening with some of these articles which were not previously produced in large quantities? Although the production of all of these articles has increased considerably, the consumption in some cases has exceeded the production increase.
Why? And in one case, that of most, it is truly incredible. Why? The people will understand perfectly well from the figures. In other words, the increases they have received in salaries, the increases in income from wags.
There was always talk of the large number of unemployed persons, and now the large unemployment figure has practically disappeared, particularly in the rural sector. Because, naturally, it is in the rural sector that there are more factors allowing a rapid increase in labor, lands which were uncultivated. And in this connection, we have the problems of the sugar harvest, making aid to the rural sector in cutting the cane necessary.
Also, the number of construction workers has increased from 30 to 90,000.
But let us compare the salary figures with those for the year 1958 -- non-agricultural wage income, not including construction workers. The figure for 1958 was 723 million, and that for 1960 is 1,106,700,000 pesos is wages (applause).
This means that between 1958 and 1960 there was an increase in non-agricultural wages, that is to say, in industrial wages, an increase of 380,700,000 pesos in two years in non-agricultural wages. Including agriculture with the agrarian reform, including construction workers, we have salary increases from the triumph of the revolution to the present time of no less than 500 million pesos.
Now let us make a comparison with 1961, because there has been an increase. In January of 56, [sic], the non-agricultural wages -- for 1959 the figure was 56 million and for 1961, 89,220,981 pesos and 23 centavos, according to the data received here. February 1959 -- no, comparing 58 with 61, the figure was 58 million for 58 and 89 for 61. February 1958: 67 million; 1961, 124 million. March 1958, 69 million; March 1961, 102 million; April 1958, 64 million; April 1961, 112 million.
This means that between the figure for the first four months of 1958, 259 million, and that for the first four months of 1961, 428 million, there is a difference for four months nonagricultural wages of 169 million. This is the difference.
And let us examine the other figure, the difference between the early months of 1958 and 1959. Let us see. The figure for January 1958 was 58 million, January 1959, 56 million. This was the paralysis of the first months of the revolution. For February of 1958, the figure was still higher than for February 1959, in other words, 67 million in February 1958 and 66 million in February 1959. Still, in February of 1959, in the early days of the revolution, the figure was no higher than that for the preceding year.
But let us see. For March 1958, 69 million, and for March 1959, 72 million. Already we note the increase in the wages. April 1958, 64 million; April 1959, 68 million. Already 14 million more, in only 4 months of revolution, in the matter of wages. And thus it has developed gradually. The revolution has meant and extraordinary increase.
Let us remember, first of all, that there were many workers who were dismissed from their jobs or persecuted. They presented themselves at the sugar mils and plants to demand their jobs. A series of increases in wages came about, but the most important thing is that the number of persons employed increased. If, for example, there are 12,000 more teachers, these are 12,000 persons who were not receiving an income before but are now. Also, there are 70,000 more construction workers. Not to mention the very large number of agricultural workers who were employed only three months a year.
If you go to the people's farms and cooperatives you will find cases, for example, which we have studied by asking direct questions. How many children do you have? Ten, I think, something like that. How many of you were working before? Just me. How much time? No more than two or three days a week. This was a worker earning two pesos, or a little more, working two or three days a week and with 8 or 10 children.
And now you ask how many in the household are working. Six of us. How much do you earn a day? Nineteen pesos a day. Because one is a tractor driver, and has a higher income, and another is an agricultural worker. Thus, a family which had an income of two pesos and something, for three days work a week, now has an income of 19 pesos a day. This is found in many cases, this is the common thing in the rural sector.
It was natural that we had to give work to the people. And in doing this, what would happen? Would we pay them lower wages? Would wages drop? No, wages would not drop, and we would not pay less to a man who was beginning to work. It was necessary to ensure a more equitable distribution. And the natural thing was that family income increased substantially.
This explains why there are some 500 million pesos more paid in pages. And naturally, when wages increased by 500 million pesos, the purchasing power of the people increased. There are some items with regard to which there is no problem, for example, sugar. You can buy all the sugar you want. We are not going to run out of sugar. You can buy all the coffee you want, there will be no shortage. One can buy chocolate, tobacco and cigars as much as he wishes. There will be no shortage of tobacco and cigars. But there are other items which we do not produce, which we are not producing on a large scale as we do coffee, tobacco and cigars, for example, cheese, meat and dairy products. Although there has been a tremendous increase, no matter how much you milk a cow, she will not give more milk very morning. There are more people who want to drink milk, and it is possible to undertake great programs. They have been undertaken. There are plans for the training of insemination technicians and the development of special breeding establishments. Because also, no one was concerned with the development of such breeding, nor the development of livestock breeding to obtain more meat with less fodder, and to obtain more milk in less time. So now the revolution has to resolve the problem, but it cannot do so overnight.
With some articles there are problems -- shoes, among other things, because there are vast numbers of militiamen and brigade members. The production of boots has been multiplied by 8, and still there are people seeking boots. The production of shoes has been increased substantially, and shortly the shoe supply problem will be definitively resolved. In textiles too,there will be no shortage. Now all of the plants are producing the maximum, and as this is not enough, we have also imported substantial quantities of cloth to resolve the problem. There are items the production of which we cannot increase at this speed, although we must make an extraordinary effort.
The demand for everything has increased. Books? Yes, the demand for books has increased, and with books there is no problem, because the National Publishing House is producing fabulous quantities of books, and now will still more dynamic organization, there will be greater book production.
Imagine that there are 500 million pesos more, because in reality, gentlemen, the revolution has been giving, the revolution has not been taking away. We have undertaken a profitable revolution. We are now prepared to understand these things. Add to this the drop in rents, add to this the many things which are cheaper, for example, the movies, amusements, the beaches. Well, services to the people in education, in medicine and recreation have increased extraordinarily, and the prices have remained the same for many things. We have kept the same prices. In some things, such as textiles, the price went up in the early days of the revolution. There was a price rise with regard to shoes too. In other things, the same prices prevail. The price of meat has remained the same, along with the prices of eggs, milk, the whole series of things, root vegetables, potatoes, malanga. I know that there has been a certain shortage of malanga recently. Naturally, the counter-revolutionaries began to circulate lies, some of these very rare stories like that about sending the children to the Soviet Union. Now they say that we are sending malanga to the Soviet Union. The problem of malanga is a rather simple one. The fact is that there is one period during the year when there is less malanga, because there are various seasons in the year. Well, in this period, the malanga comes from the hills of Rancho Mundito. Well, what has the situation in Rancho Mundito been? There has been no one to pick malanga. Everyone was cutting cane. Everyone there was working at the people's farm, because if you go to the Pinar del Rio 2 zone, you will find that there are some 8,000 workers there. All the people from all the villages everywhere, everyone -- even the people from the hills have gone there to work at the people's farm.
Thus, there was much malanga planted, but no one to harvest it. Then, some workers were asked to go there from the zone of Guira... Guines? No, it was Guira. Isn't that where Severo is? Well, a group of men was sent from there to harvest malanga in the hills, but these people were not used to the hills and they missed the plains, and returned. Then there is a forest militia which has been planting eucalyptus and doing forestry work. These are some new boys who have been organized in the militia and have been stationed there near the Guanahacabibes zone. And they have to bring reinforcements from there to harvest the malanga in Rancho Mundito.
This is the problem. There was malanga, but there was no one to harvest it. Now the problem is being resolved. Obviously, this was a period of the year when we depended on the mountain zone. The usual growers did not have any then. Now there is a great abundance of it. It will be necessary to regularize the harvest, such that there will be a supply all year.
Where potatoes are concerned, you know that they cannot be kept throughout the year, and there was a period when we had to import potatoes. We even had to go to look for land in the mountains, and already this year 50 caballerias have been cultivated, and there are 200,000 quintals of potatoes for this shortage period, for regulating the potato supply up to the end of the year.
The prices on all of these articles have remained the same. Now steps have been taken at the Havana market to lower the prices, and they are being lowered. You know that if one goes to buy a pineapple at a stall there, it costs 30 centavos.
Every time I go there and ask for a pineapple, it costs 30 centavos.
Well, what is a mango worth? 20 centavos. But how can a mango be worth 20 centavos? It is simply that there has been a tremendous rise in the price of these articles. And the peasants are paid 35 or 36 for pineapples, less than 40 centavos a dozen, that is to say,they are paid 3 and some centavos for a pineapple, and then it is sold to the public at 20, 25 or 30 centavos.
Thus there has been absurd speculation and rising prices here. It was necessary to cost them lives of workers or humble men of the people. This was not important to them. They were carrying forward their systematic and crimi... [section missing] ...too, would create an insoluble problem for the country.
Naturally, the revolution had been taking certain steps, had purchased some millions of dollars worth of replacement parts for agricultural machinery and transport vehicles before the embargo was imposed, with a view to being able to maintain our agricultural production.
But they took a further step, that is, they placed this embargo on all replacement parts. What were they thinking of? They though they would be able to leave our country -- to paralyze our factories, our agrarian revolution, our transport. This was their third step.
In other words, all these steps were designed to liquidate the revolution. They were taking measures in order to kill the revolution. First, they wanted to deprive us of oil, second, they suspended the sugar quota, that is, they took away our market, anelop poultry production, hog production, and fishing. Raul has quite rightly said that we must eat more fish and more chicken. The problem is that Raul did not know that there was no more fish or chicken, that we are now in the midst of production plans. Well, this is precisely what we must do, but we cannot do it overnight. That is the problem, because all of this is in the process of development. Yes, it is necessary to eat more fish and more chicken, but we are precisely in the midst of this -- of producing more fish and more chicken and more pork.
Meat production in Cuba was based on large landholdings. How did this work? It is good that we should understand all this. Well, the large estates were worked by farm peons, and one alone cared for 800 animals there in natural pasturage, one man for each 1000 caballerias. In the past, a bull was 36 months old before being sold on the market. This is a very primitive production method.
To produce more meat on less land and in less time, it is necessary to engage in intensive production, that is, to fatten in the barns. Now, the raising of meat in the barns, by the intensive method, cannot be done at the same cost, naturally. Intensive methods of fattening with fodder in the barn produce better meat, more meat on less land and in less time, but at a higher cost.
The price of meat is frozen here at 43 centavos. We have what is called prime quality meat, which is that produced in the barns with fodder, but this means feeding corn, and corn must be raised. This is not the same as having one man on natural pasture land, where there is no need to make investments of any kind.
Obviously, this method was cheaper, but it took 350,000 caballeries of Cuban land. Almost all of the land in Cuba was devoted to the raising of livestock which barely met our needs. And this is now agriculture was.
Little by little, we must move toward production of the intensive type, that is to say, better quality meat but higher cost, while also increasing poultry and hog production, in order to alter the consumption ratio as well. And some day, when all of the meat is being produced intensively in the barns, the prices will be different, and the ratio between the consumption of beef and fish and poultry and pork will be different. We will have to work these things out in a rational and logical manner. Meanwhile, however, we must continue to struggle to supply the market. However, in Holguin they were slaughtering 200 cows a week. If we slaughter the cows, then we are lost. We will have no meat. We must not slaughter the cows.
Thus, we must continue to develop. Little by little, through the supermarkets, we will increase distribution of high quality meat, and continue breeding. We must always have cheap meat, or fish, or poultry, or pork. We must have some cheap meat. These are the plans, so that the people will have sufficient meat, and always some cheap meat. Nor is it possible to east beef always, because then livestock breeding would have no future.
And we must not only think of producing here, but of exporting meat one day, because Cuba has excellent conditions for producing and exporting. Thus, all of the meat production must be planned on the basis of the most scientific and rational norms. But this is another of the items the consumption of which has increased extraordinarily.
Now along with this we have the plan for poultry production. Currently there is a shortage of birds. Why? Because the two and a half million chickens consumed in the past were imported from the United States. We have now decided to establish the basis for poultry breeding and domestic production. Production currently is running about a million eight hundred thousand. We did not want to bring more chicks from there for incubation here, but to bring breeding stock for development. This is developing fully and proceeding rapidly. For example, this production which is about 1,800,000 a month now, as compared with the demand of 2-1/2 million -- what it has been in the past, will increase to 5 million birds by the month of December, 5 million (applause). By December there will be chicken without restrictions. But, by the month of March of next year, the total will be 7 million, which is the goal set for poultry production. And there will be chicken.
Thus the plan for the production of poultry and hogs is advancing rapidly, but the plan for poultry production, incubation, breeding stock, laying hens and fodder production , all of this which is necessary to achieve this production is the most advanced currently. Thus there is no problem with eggs. Havana consumption totals some 1600 cases, and production will reach some 2,500 or 3,000 cases by the end of the year. Eggs will also be unrestricted.
Milk production, too, will increase. The production of poultry will increase tremendously, that is, to say, we can already depend on a type of production other than that of beef alone, because there is no livestock industry which could meet the demands being made with regard to meat, because there are 500 million pesos more in the hands of the people.
These are the basic consumption problems. Shoes: resolved. Clothing: resolved. Medicines: resolved. Poultry, to be resolved in December, and also pork, poultry and fish. Fish production is increasing, too. We have established a goal of 100 million pounds this year, that is to say, an increase to some 8 million a month. Also, they are struggling to reach 100 million pounds, in order fully to satisfy the demand. I believe that all that is produced the people will eat, because they have money.
We must resolve the problems branch by branch, through an increase in production. And we now know one thing. The first thing a man does is to eat. Then he clothes himself, then buys a house, and then turns to amusement and all these things. But the first thing on which he will spend his wages is on food. And think of his family in which the father worked three days a week, and is now receiving 1900 pesos a day and working throughout the year. Because everyone, when he goes to the store, comes away loaded.
Let us examine rice production in 1958, for example. The total was 2 million when the revolution came to power. The current production is 5 million. this means that there has been an increase of 3 million in rice production. Now, then, the increase in consumption has been from 6 to 8 million. On the earlier date, two were produced and four imported. Now we are producing 5 and importing 3. The production increase per capita has been from 100 to 130 pounds of rice. And the fact is that everyone, all of us, are eating more rice. And the rice is improved in quality. Now our domestic rice is of a much better quality.
And this per capita figure is an average, because in the past, some ate 300 and others 30. We have divided the total of rice consumed among all inhabitants, but in reality things were not like this. In fact, some ate for 3, some ate for 1, and some had only a third of a portion. This means that the per capita figure now is more truly per capita, do you see? Because the per capita average for this family of 10 or 12 people with 3 days work a week was certainly not 130 pounds. The per capita average for people who had high incomes, the large estate owners, who ate chicken with rice every day, and paella on Sundays, and rice with shellfish on Mondays -- these people consumed 300 pounds of rice. Now there is a per capita average of 130, which in fact is more nearly the truth. Is this not the case? Ask the family there at the Camilo Cienfuegos People's Farm.
These are the things the people should know, so that no counter-revolutionary can come to confuse them, and so that they can say what a little old lady on a bus told a counter-revolutionary: "Look, I don't care if there isn't any lard, because before I had to eat the Malanga without lard, and now at least I have the malanga and lots of other things.ä And this is the truth (applause).
These figures speak for themselves. There are 500 million pesos more in the hands of the people, and the people must make an effort to increase production in all these branches, which account for the main expenditures. Because when the food problems are resolved, we can resolve the problem of shoes and of clothing, and the problems of education, which are very important. There is no doubt at all that in the educational sector the people are receiving 200% more than what they received before. That is, the revolution has managed to raise the level of educational services extraordinarily. And those in recreation too.
The revolution has succeeded in establishing a large number of recreation centers to which the people are going -- beaches and athletic fields. A fondness for the beaches is now developing, and sports are gaining unusual popularity. Also gatherings in the social circles are increasing. The people have a large number of social circles where they enjoy amusements on Saturdays and Sundays.
Thus the people are receiving a whole series of services which are within their reach today thanks precisely to the resources they have, because they have 500 million pesos more, let us not forget.
For this reason, beer consumption has increased greatly. All consumption has increased.
Thus, these branches remain in which we must make a great effort. All of the people must adopt these slogans, in all the agricultural production centers. The advancement of all these production goals must become the slogan of the peasants, of the workers on the farms, of the cooperative members, of the small farmers, of the associations, of all revolutionaries, because here the only thing to do is work. The problem is to work, to organize and to advance.
In the agricultural sector, in agricultural machinery, there will be 5,000 more tractors -- 5,000 -- this year, acquired from the countries with which we have agreements, that is to say, the socialist countries. This is without counting the tractors obtained by way of indemnification. If they come, fine, but if they do not, there will be 5,000 tractors.
Along with all this, there is a program for training technicians in agriculture, mechanics, inseminators, zoo technicians. Right now, 300 Soviet technicians, very young, are working with us, because we proposed an exchange of a thousand peasants. We will send a thousand peasants, and they will send us 300 technicians. Among the peasants we have sent there were 117 agronomical engineers (applause).
We are sending 1,000 peasants who have been welcomed with great honor in the Soviet Union. There were celebrations -- well, the arrival of the peasants in the Soviet Union was quite an event! And then, they went to the various machine and agricultural schools to study there. Al of this will be a great contribution. The time will come when they will return, they will go back to the cooperatives and the farms, and this will provide great impetus.
Parallel with this, there are the cutting and sewing and the art instructors' schools. In a word, there is not the slightest doubt that agriculture will develop in extraordinary fashion, and the time will come when in truth we will have unusual abundance, when supply will fully meet demand.
Currently, the revolution was undertaken, naturally, for the people, the revolution was not undertaken for the minorities. When the economy is organized in the service of the interests of the minority, that minority is the master of the land, of the factories, of the clubs, of the best schools, of the universities -- of everything, the beaches, in a word, of the funds in the banks, of the foreign exchange, of everything. Then, naturally, that economy wastes substantial resources on big cars, jewels, expensive clothes. Many articles are produced which are for this minority. A revolution cannot be thinking of goods for minorities, of producing very pretty things for 10,000 families to buy. A revolution has to resolve the problem of the rest of the population, not the 10,000. If the 10,000 adapt to the standard of living of the people, well, then, they do and fine. But the revolution must produce for the masses. It is absurd to produce luxury goods and to build fabulous homes. Because it makes no sense for the revolution to put 200 workers to building a palace of 20 rooms for one family. And this is what happened before: the work of 200 laborers, building materials, the wood and all that was used to make a little palace for a single family. What must the revolution do? Well, it must not build palaces. They build those in the past, and they were fine and very pretty, and they are useful, because now the rural people and the peasants are there, and it is wonderful, nothing has been lost (applause).
The owners of the palace have left. Some of them hid their treasures in the walls. Always a man of the people came later and told where they were. And so broken walls began to appear everywhere. They planned to return, this is the truth, because otherwise why would they have hidden the silver, the crystal and all these things? And they hid them, because at a short distance from here there is a hollow wall in which a whole series of treasurers was found. It is as if we were living in the days of pirates (laughter) because things were hidden and there are many people looking for treasure here, testing all the walls. There are homes in which people have been living for days, and then treasure appeared. It will drive us crazy, this mania for seeking treasure (laughter). So they went. The revolution was not going to give these houses to single families. It put 40 peasants there, and later there will be 40 scholarship students. This is the proper thing. The revolution is not going to invest the work of 200 workers, nor the material, in the building of a palace. The revolution will build 10 houses with the same material, with these same workers. Instead of building a palace for 200,000 pesos, it will build 200 houses. Anyone can understand that the purpose of the revolution is not to build palaces, and to invest materials and human energy in resolving the problems of a single family! It must resolve the problems of 20. National production, too. There are some people who go to the socialist countries and what they find there is not this handful of baubles produced in a bourgeois country, because obviously, in these bourgeois countries there are tens of thousands of workers laboring to produce pretty little things for a minority, while a large part of the people remains in misery.
A revolution and a revolutionary government must produce for the masses. The days of the pretty little things will come -- we will produce them, too, and better than they did, but for everyone (applause).
If you go to the home of a wealthy bourgeois, and certainly the person who lives there was better off than anyone. This was the paradise of the monopolies and the upper bourgeoisie. Not even in the United States itself did they build such palaces as existed here. Then you find a pretty little parasol, with a handful of baubles and trinkets. You find glass tables, beautifully carved objects, innumerable things. But for a worker's house one must produce a set of rules for sleeping and eating, comfortable and functional. But this industry cannot produce itself. Well, this was all right with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was all right for our embassies. Well, now we have more serious ambassadors, and we are training them, because if we send them a service of gold or silver and one of these people encounters the enemy, the gold or silver service will be taken away from him! But now, there are in the foreign service better people, and we are training cadres of revolutionary people. Well, then, our embassies can have gold and silver services, all of the things which were here in these houses, these treasures, are going there. They are fine for visitors' accommodations, for receptions too, let the visitors come, fine. And those things which are of great value will go to a museum.
But we do not need to produce any of this here, because for the worker, for the peasant living in a hut, what we have to produce is an immediate house, first of all, and furniture, and sanitary facilities and all these things, because the revolutionary regime produces for the masses. An exploiters' regime leaves the masses in misery and produces for the minority, and has a large volume of industry devoted to producing things for minorities. A revolution cannot do this. Let them produce huge refrigerators and kitchens, with several separately controlled ovens! What a marvel, what progress in these bourgeois capitalist countries, because they have huge kitchens! But go a little further, and you will find a fellow cooking on a pile of stones (laughter)! A fellow suffered! So let them produce for the minorities.
Are we going to produce these large kitchens? No, we are going to produce much smaller little kitchens, but so that everyone will have one of these instead of nothing. And if one day we can produce large kitchens for everyone, we will. When labor productivity is extraordinary and industrialization tremendous and the people have nothing else to do, then they can work a little and produce whatever they want.
This day will come. It is incredible, but with automation, for example, they already have a seven-hour work day in the Soviet Union. I believe that in 1965 it will be six or four. Well, I didn't want to believe what they told me (applause).
The day may come when the people say: "Four hours is very little, we are too idle. We will work a half an hour more and produce large kitchens.ä And then they can produce large kitchens and all of that, but the revolution will not advance by producing these luxurious kitchens while the rest of the people lack everything. The economy of this country cannot be thus, and this is what the revolutionary people must understand, that the people and the revolution produce for the masses, for the great majority, and are not concerned with these luxuries, the luxuries of the minorities. All the rest, the building of a beautiful recreation center, the beautiful tourist center, some of these projects were undertaken at a time when it was necessary to provide jobs, but they also serve the interests of the people.
We must produce and we must work for the masses, and thus raise the standard of living of the masses, because this is a revolutionary regime. And we must dedicate all the human effort, the energy of the workers, their skill precisely to resolve the problem of the masses, mass producing houses. But obviously, before mass producing houses, it is necessary, for example, to establish another plant for sanitary facilities, another cement factory, because we are accomplishing nothing if we build houses without proper facilities there.
We must provide sanitary services, too, and we must develop the porcelain fixtures plant, and increase our production of construction materials. Until we increase it -- we are already operating at full capacity -- we cannot build more houses than we are building.
And obviously, we must also consider the investment in a house. It is necessary to make an investment of four, five or six thousand pesos, and to use a number of workers. We must increase our capacity to produce construction materials in order to increase housing construction. And we have some problems now, for example, the manpower problem in many places, it is true.
Certainly, this problem is preferable to the old one, that of 200 men in a little village there, brutalized, living in somnolence and boredom, as was the case in many towns which we now find empty. Where are these people? They are on the people's farms.
Naturally, the imperialists always painted the Cubans as idlers, as Indians with wide hats staring at the ground, and they had no work, no food, no nothing.
And the problem of labor, too, depends on diet. The human body needs a certain number of calories and it needs proteins, and if one cannot get them, there is only one way to protect one's self, and that simply by making less effort. This is the famous idler of which the imperialists talked, the man who was suffering from hunger. But they wanted him to make an effort as if he were receiving all the nutritional and energy elements he needed.
And now this is our problem, now we are beginning to have a manpower problem. Now we must concern ourselves about producing machines to cut the cane. What did this mean, the fact that we had to invent a machine for this? Anyone who talked of inventing a machine for cutting cane here would have been lynched by the trade unions (laughter)! And rightly, because they were working three months a year, and on top of that, a machine to cut the cane? But now, everyone is going crazy inventing machines to reap corn and maize and harvest beans and to cut cane. Incredible, but true!
And talking of these agricultural matters, I have forgotten something, and that is, that this coming year, in the cold season, 15,000 caballerias of beans will be planted. This is another item which we were importing in part and producing in part, and as of November of this year, we will also have beans without restriction, without problems (applause)!
In this matter of beans, too, there was such an increase in consumption that it was necessary to undertake an emergency planting, in the spring, when it is the most risky, and now, within 30 days, we will have 200,000 quintals. With this and with the imports the bank is making, well, we will have resolved the problem by the end of the year, and this will do away definitively with the problems in connection with the other products.
As to rice, consumption of which I told you has increased, and which was imported, it represents a sector in which we do not so urgently need to increase production because of our trade with the Chinese People's Republic and other countries, such as the United Arab Republic. We must see more urgently to other articles now. Obviously, we will continue to increase rice production, but not with the intensive effort we will devote to the production of oleaginous crops and grains, beans and other articles, because in this connection we do have sources of supply and good prices, and thus no great haste is necessary in the plans for developing rice, although we will continue gradually until we produce our own supply of this crop, too.
There are the basic problems.
I believe that what we have said more or less contains the arguments to explain to the people, so that the people will understand and so that everyone will know how things are going. We sincerely believe that things are going well for us. Let the imperialists, the counter-revolutionaries, those who may begin again to harass us, to raise their heads, beware! Let them watch out if they raise their heads again!
The revolution has behaved very generously, it has not been very harsh. But let those who want to attack again and under new forms of struggle against the revolution beware! It is simply that the revolution will defend itself.
And if we know that the counter-revolutionaries will make a new effort, that the imperialists will make a further effort, no one will rest on his laurels! We have forgotten to say that one of the great efforts the country has had to make is in defense, and that each time it has had to undertake these great mobilizations, tens of thousands of men have had to abandon their agricultural and industrial work, and this is another of the problems we have had, a cost we have had to pay for defense, for mobilization, a loss we have suffered in production, but no one will believe that the imperialists...
We have listed here a whole series of aggressions and steps taken, but let us realize that the imperialists will always take a further step. They will not resign themselves. The imperialists do not give up and they will take further steps, new steps, more steps of all kinds against the revolution, and thus we must not rest on our laurels.
A revolution is not a joke. A revolution is not such a simple or tolerable thing for the international reactionaries, and they will continue struggling against us. What we must do is to have confidence in triumph and to fight as we have fought thus far, in order to continue winning all the battles against the imperialists in every sector.
The imperialists are planning further aggression against Cuba. Without a doubt, the new attacks will be still more violent, because I do not believe that they will make the same mistakes again, although they may make others. They will make errors in any case, not the same ones, but other errors.
These are the things I wanted to say.
Moderator: Dr. Castro, wouldn't you like to say something about condensed milk?
Castro: Well, fine, I will explain this problem. The production of condensed milk has increased greatly too, but despite everything there is not enough. This is an example of how a revolutionary industry is concerning itself with increasing production and avoiding the waste of raw materials.
For example, you know that the bottling industry is well developed, too, within the dairy sector in capitalist countries. Because this is a type of production which is adapted... obviously, condensed milk is condensed milk, but there is a whole series of articles we had, which were used for trips, excursions - in a word, they were also, in the second sense, consumer products for a minority. There are some which all of the people consume, but it is costly, and involves production... The socialist countries dedicated themselves first to producing other items which were more important, in the short run, than the production of tin plate and all these things, were are costly.
But you have here an example (holding up two cans, one larger than the other, of condensed milk). In Cuba this type of condensed milk was produced, and then it came in a type of container of this size. The tin plates for making condensed milk cans were of this size, and so they made them thus, and all of this was thrown out, wasted. Well, now the dairy industry of the revolutionary government has produced this type of condensed, concentrated milk. In other words, this holds a liter of milk, and the other one a liter and three-quarters, using the same quantity of metal which was needed before to make one tin. Today we make a tin holding one and three-quarters cans of condensed milk. This is that type, and it will be put on the market too.
Do you know what this means? It means a serving for the country of 1,050,000 dollars in tin plate, because first we save this part (pointing), and second, this is concentrated. This will be put on the market too -- this is a liter and three- quarters. This one sells for 20, and the other will sell for 35, that is, the equivalent in milk quantity the other contains. Another type, which means a saving, because often the militia, hospitals, many kinds of centers use condensed milk in large quantities -- this is a type which contains the same quantity of milk as one of these tins and three-quarters more, and it is a savings. I carry it, among other things, in order to do a little advertising for this condensed milk (laughter). For my money, this is better, because it is thick milk.
Moderator: Comrade Jimenez.
Journalist: Along with the mobilization initiated by the revolutionary sectors for the coming 26 July celebration, some small groups of counter-revolutionaries, although there are not many, have undertaken to propagate a series of "storiesä to the effect that the revolutionary government will take this occasion to issue some laws. Would you care to say something about the coming 26 July celebration?
Castro: What do they say we will decree?
Journalist: They say, for example, that the government will "pour it on,ä that the revolutionary government will confiscate the small businesses and industries which still remain, and even that it will also confiscate the personal property of some individuals, such as cars, kitchen appliances...
Castro: Kitchen appliances (laughter)?
Well, my boy, what are you going to do with counter-revolutionaries and their "storiesä? As long as there are counter-revolutionaries and as long there is a revolution, and there will have to be one for a long time... Obviously, there will be more revolution and fewer counter-revolutionaries as time goes on (applause).
The counter-revolutionaries regroup behind every stone they find in their path of retreat, and wherever something remains they can mobilize, stir up, agitate in order to resist, to create fear, to arouse mistrust, they do it. But what have they achieved in almost three years of revolution? Because as far as we can see, we have advanced greatly since the beginning, and the counter-revolutionaries have dropped further back (laughter). They do not want to see things properly, they do not see the extraordinary path of the revolution, and they do not see its strength, its popular support. They are not even capable of realizing that there are 100,000 teachers instructing the people in reading and writing. They are not capable of it.
Just compare: what do the counter-revolutionaries have in the first months of the revolution? Everything -- the economic resources of the press, the television, the radio -- everything, while the people had the revolutionary forces and awareness, not very well developed. The people were weaker, they did not have this unity, they did not have this strength they have now.
They had the entire city, all of the sectors of every area. There were no Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. There was no militia, no battalions. All of the things which exist today did not exist then. Now we have a whole army of teachers, an increasingly well defined revolutionary element, an ever better developed organization, increasing the profound political integration (applause).
Today there are thousands of men who have gone to school to take military training. There are many, many schools of all types -- literally all types, operating. No one realizes how many people there are in the schools now -- they can hardly be counted. I have already lost count (laughter). They are in civilian schools for military training of all kinds. We have better organized revolutionary institutions. All of the departments of the government are better organized and have greater experience on all levels. Then, there is the series of reforms which have been undertaken in all sectors, in the education sector, in the universities.
Now all of those bulwarks, the "white beltä which surrounded Havana is a belt of revolutionary students everywhere. All of those houses in Tarara, all those places where the people hid to engage in terrorism, bombing and plotting -- all of that -- you go there now and you find schools for revolutionary teachers, schools for peasants, schools everywhere. There are a thousand houses. Now what are they? Strategic positions. Revolutionary students, sons of the workers at the sugar mills, young people from the villages where there are no basic secondary schools are going to study there on scholarships, because we must work with these people, because they are the future engineers and technicians. They cannot produce now, and this is why we must produce more meat, more fish, more chicken, more beans, more rice, more everything.
Then we have the defense committees which are better trained and have greater discipline with every passing day. We have military strength, political strength, organizational strength, experience. The masses have been mobilized and organized. We have the workers, the workers' movement, the women's movement, the young people's movement -- everything, my boy. Listen, it is not that I am an optimist, but we have really left the counter-revolutionaries behind, and since the Bay of Pigs we have been gaining on them. They will raise their heads again in one month, or two or three or four or five or six, but they will have to do battle with a much stronger giant.
When the revolution began they had everything -- imperialism, the press. The revolution had no organization or resources. It had nothing. It was weak even in the very awareness of the people. But today the revolution is a giant and the counter-revolution is a miserable little worm which is retreating further every day, beaten, discredited, demoralized. Every day this is more obvious, for the allies of the counter-revolution, the imperialists, are also very stupid people, people who have published all these things, who have had no shame whatsoever. Just count up the money they have spent, look at who organized and commanded them and gave them orders. They have fallen into a situation so disgusting that every citizen rejects everything which represents the counter-revolution as distasteful and repugnant. The counter-revolution is a rotting worm (applause).
Mr. Valdes Vivo: In the last stages of disintegration.
Castro: A new generation is developing with a tremendous revolutionary spirit, and it will constitute a tremendous reserve for the revolution. When the people begin to tire, all of the new young people will be there. When we are already a little weary, a whole new trained revolutionary army will be ready. Who can withstand it? And also, none of us is tired yet, we might say by way of warning just in case (applause).
We are no longer fighting the first battle. In the early days, we all had to outdo ourselves, there were many problems. Today, many things have been organized, now there is a strong and organized whole which is methodically dealing with all the problems. The revolutionaries themselves now have tasks different from those of the early days of the revolution. It has become easier. I am not saying to you that we enjoy comfort. It is al the same, whatever comes. There are periods of calm, and periods of agitation, but then we are used to this.
Now everything is being planned. We proceed by planning, too, by organizing and allocating time. It must be thus, it must be. In the early days there was tremendous personal work. Now I appear less frequently on television than in those early days. I had to appear then, every three or four days. Then indeed there were "storiesä and they were always trying to confuse the people a little. Not any longer. There have been changes in all these things.
Moderator: Comrade Ithiel Leon.
Castro: Oh, yes, the 26th. What we plan is a large rally on the 26th (applause). On the 25th there will be a great sports parade with 70,000 athletes, although there will also be 100,000 teachers. What a sight it will be when all the teachers march!
On the 26th, there will be a great rally. It will not be like last year, when we had everything. There will be a great gathering, so that the people will not be... no parade, because with a parade and a rally it tires the people greatly. And thus we are planning one thing for the 26th, another for 1 May and another for 2 January. Possibly there will be a parade, a workers' parade, on 1 May, and a popular rally and military parade on 2 January. This, then, is what we will have.
Oh, and on the 27th, we will inaugurate a whole series of projects at the Bay of Pigs. Thus, we have plans for the 25th, 26th, and 27th, and the celebration will be brilliant. We will have Gagarin as a guest (applause), and this will be a great event. It is quite possible that General Lazaro Cardenas will be here, too (applause). Moreover, there is a commission, a high level delegation from the Korean People's Republic (applause). Thus, the celebration will be a splendid one.
And are we, the revolutionaries, concerned about the 26th? No. It is the counter-revolutionaries, those who are frightened. The revolutionaries are not worried about this date. The revolutionaries always welcome it happily, because it will be a day of revolutionary affirmation. How many 26 July holidays will we have to celebrate? What will they say in ten years? Will they be saying the same thing, will they be spreading the same stories? That will be when not a single stone remains behind which they can plot their intrigues.
Moderator: Comrade Ithiel Leon.
Mr. Ithiel Leon: Commander, Comrade Jimenez has spoken of the 26 July holiday, and I would like to mention another date, also a celebration in July, that on the 4th. Would you care to send a message to the people of the United States who have been betrayed by the monopolies and the professional warmongers?
Castro: Incidentally, we have today received some telegrams of support from young US citizens. In fact, I think that a reaction is occurring in the United States among the young people, among the workers, among the Negro people in the United States.
First of all, we would like to send a greeting to the Committee for Just Treatment of Cuba (applause), a very brilliant group of Americans. Courageous in the face of the hysteria and McCarthyism, they are defending the revolution and sympathizing with it and recruiting members for the Committees for Just Treatment for Cuba. We also want to send greetings to the Freedom Travellers (applause), who have also been courageous enough to face up to the racists and the fascists in the United States. We also greet the maritime workers and the crews of the vessels which have been waging the struggle there for equal treatment, for an end to the violation and the exploitation resulting from the operation of US vessels under the flags of other countries in order to cheat on wages, to pay miserable wages, those who have been waging the proud struggle there. Various movements which without a doubt represent the concerns of the laboring masses of the United States, and against which Mr. Kennedy has just applied the fascist Taft-Hartley Law, this law they put through there, this monstrous anti-workers' measure. And the curious thing is that Mr. Kennedy has boasted that he voted against this law, he opposed it, and now, at the first opportunity, he has applied it, used this law against the workers of the United States.
And we greet the working class in the United States, the intellectuals and the students. We know that there are moral forces, revolutionary forces, healthy and honest forces in the United States which have merit, because in the midst of that hysteria, deceit, and systematic lies, -- recently some periodicals in France and Canada have made studies of the lies perpetrated by the news agencies and the press in the United States, of how they have distorted everything. And, among other things, they say that what they have published has not been made known to the people of the United States. They are a much deceived people, a people who are the victims of a whole series of lies and falsehoods invented by the minority, this increasingly reactionary, fascist, warmongering, imperialist, desperate oligarchy.
Because all of the evidence shows that this exploiting oligarchy is desperate. This is why it is dangerous. It is dangerous.