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Speech by Commander-In-Chief Fidel Castro on his arrival in Havana on 8 January 1959

Fidel carta




We have wanted to commemorate this XXX anniversary of the physical death of Camilo Cienfuegos in a simple way, I would say in a way worthy of him. I know that if he were alive today, he, whose image of destroying the walls of a fortress to turn it into a school has been so rooted in all of us, would feel happy with his Revolution and with his people, and would do what we are all doing; what he would have wanted to do over those 30 years and build during those 30 years, together with his people, the work of the Revolution.

I am sure he would feel happy, I am sure he would feel enthusiastic, because I think that at this very moment our people are writing one of the most beautiful and glorious pages of their history, and Camilo was a man who loved difficult tasks; we could say that he was a man who loved difficulties, who knew how to face them and was capable of accomplishing feats under the most incredible circumstances.

This event possesses great symbolism, with which, in his memory, we inaugurate a school of this type. What does a school of this type mean? I think it means one of the most humane endeavors of the Revolution. Our ancestors dreamed that one day our homeland would have teachers for all the children, schools for all the children, books for all the children, shoes for all the children, food for all the children; but when you say schools for all the children, you think of the alphabet, you think of teachers teaching how to read and write, you think of a child as if all children were in exactly the same conditions, as if all children were exactly the same. From a juridical point of view, from a legal point of view, they were exactly the same; but, unfortunately, many children came into the world with difficulties or suffered problems after they were born and for those children there were no schools. It was no longer just a matter of having a teacher, a book, or a school, but of having a specialized teacher for their schooling, a school specially designed for that schooling.

There are important goals that were lagging behind: the goal of literacy, the goal of a teacher for every child, of a school for every child, of books for every child, of clothes and shoes for every child, of food, of possibilities, of parents with jobs; the goal of a society without beggars, the goal of a society without children having to do what we see them doing in the world every day, children doing anything just to make a couple of cents.

That society was left behind by the work of these 30 years of Revolution and it was left behind very early on. Those days when there were no teachers in the countryside or in the mountains, those days when we did not have enough teachers graduating, that was all left behind. Perhaps nobody talked about special schools in those days; who could think about special schools when so many children had no teachers or schools of any kind, when they had no food or shoes.

I cannot remember when we started the revolutionary struggle that we talked about special schools; however, as our country advanced, as it attained important goals, it discovered others, and it cannot be otherwise; as our education advanced, the need for special schools was discovered.

It would not be necessary to go on about this subject, since in recent days we have seen that our press has written about what these special schools mean for children born, for example, with mental retardation. And how these children can be left to their own devices, how they can be educated in traditional schools, whether they need special attention, special education, special training; otherwise they reject schools, they drop out, they receive no benefits. Or there are children who are born with or who have delayed psychological development, which is not the same; or children who are born blind or deaf; or children who are born with hearing impairments, even if they are not completely deaf; or with visual impairments, even if they are not blind. They need special attention to deal with this problem; even to solve many of these problems, because it must be said that these schools are partly schools and partly health centers since they help physical recovery, even for different types of diseases; or children with physical limitations, who were born with them or who acquired them; or children with behavioral disorders; all of these exist, and what would become of them in the future without these schools? There are not three, not four, not one thousand, but tens of thousands of children, tens of thousands!

I must point out on a day like today that when the Revolution triumphed in 1959 these institutions did not exist. There is information from that year that speaks of 14 special schools and 134 students enrolled; I estimate that there would have between 15 and 20 teachers; the specialty for that type of education did not exist. 30 years later, the country has 466 special schools. When Camilo died there were 14; today there are 466. When Camilo died there were 134 children enrolled in this education; today there are 52,900. When Camilo died there would have been around 20 teachers; today there are 14,900 teachers and professors, just in this schooling alone. But to give you an idea about its content, about the 52,900, approximately 30,000 are students with mental retardation are enrolled.

Look at what society needed. Try to imagine what the fate of those children and adolescents would have been in the past, and consider what it means that our society today has 30,000 mentally retarded children enrolled in these special schools. And as behooves a society as supportive, as humane, and as just as ours, no such child is left to their fate, and what experience teaches is that most of those who have left these schools are now incorporated into work or are going on with their schooling and only in exceptional cases, for those few cases where they cannot even do any particular job, it is because they have not been incorporated into production or services.

Children with delayed mental development, of those 52,000, there are around 10,000 who must study in schools like these; the others are really different types of problems ranging from behavioral disorders to vision problems, hearing problems or physical impairments.

This does not mean that the Revolution forgot some of these children when the schools were not around. Priority was of course given to the most numerous cases, such as mental retardation; but in our country, we should say this, and I do not know whether it is the same in any other country, physically handicapped children are now being taught at home. And another thing that I do not know if it exists in any another country: children who have been hospitalized for a long time get their schooling in hospitals. I know that just in Havana, hundreds of them are taught in hospitals whenever they are hospitalized for a long time. They have not been abandoned and teachers will continue going to the hospitals in those cases, but we are now building facilities for the physically handicapped.

If we compare the situation now with the one we had on the day Camilo died, we have made significant progress because, as I said, from the 134 children enrolled then, today we have 52,900. But we need many more spots. We have sufficient spots for over 50% of the children who need these institutions; we still need around 30,000 or 35,000 and in spite of problems, in spite of difficulties, in spite of the generalized crisis in Third World countries, in spite of the problems that the world is experiencing, at this moment, among many other programs our country is involved in building 204 new special schools, the ones considered to be necessary to meet all the country’s needs.

That program is moving forward. The first schools have already been inaugurated; in the capital we still needed 24, 9 have already been inaugurated, and the workers of the capital are making a great effort so that on the 31st of December we will have finished the 24 special schools.

Throughout the country, the plan this year is to finish around 40 schools of this type. We are moving forward and we already have a specific program; we know where in the country schools of this type, special school, must be built; but we still need to create room for 30 000 or 35 000 children. When we started the program, we needed around 40 000 more. We have already been moving forward and it depends on the pace with which we work; but for now, the capital where this program was first started and where the accumulated needs were not so great will have the 24 special schools we still needed on 31 December. (APPLAUSE)

I could ask myself if there is any capital in the world that can say that it now possesses all the special schools it needs. In Third World countries this is not even a pipe dream; in these countries where illiteracy ranges from 30% to 70%, it is not even a pipe dream! Those countries have not even attained the goals that we achieved a long time ago. But in the developed capitalist countries, it is not even a pipe dream either. We know how things are in the capitalist world, that such services are provided exclusively to very small sectors of the population, and that nobody is thinking about that.

There are quite a few things not to be found in capitalist countries that our people already have. Our country’s medical programs are an example of this. Our child mortality levels have already fallen below those in many developed capitalist countries. Some of Cuba’s health programs cannot be found in any other country: prenatal genetic programs for all pregnant women, allergy research programs for every child that is born; a number of vaccination programs that have been generalized for all children, some of them as a result of our own scientific research, these are in part programs that do not exist in any developed country where, as a rule, they apply only to some children.

This has its logic: capitalist society is exploitative by nature, selfish by nature, exploiting man by its very nature and it is not concerned about programs like this.

The capital of the republic is setting guidelines in public health, but it is not the city with the lowest child mortality rate. At the moment, Cienfuegos’ child mortality rate is at around six per thousand live births. Cienfuegos is a province which is located in what is called the hinterland. That rate is among the lowest in the world. The rate in our capital is at around 10 and in Washington D.C. it is at around 33 according to recent news; we could say that the capital of the rich and powerful empire that blocks us, that harasses us, that does everything possible for us to not move forward, so that we do not make any progress, the capital of that rich country, the exploiter of the world, today has three times more children dying for every 1,000 born alive than those dying in the capital of the Socialist Republic of Cuba. (APPLAUSE)

This program of special schools has advanced faster in the capital. It must advance as quickly as possible in the rest of the country. They are building everywhere, in every province. In Santiago de Cuba, of course, as well; the people of Santiago are showing an ever more formidable capacity for construction; they are involved in a series of economic development projects at this time, and social works, and works associated with the IV Congress: airport, hotel, theater, and central square.

But don’t think that they devote all their efforts to that, only partially. They are also building special schools. It is one of the provinces that still needs many. We hope that the people of Santiago can find additional energy to give this program all the attention it deserves.

If we build 40 every year, in five years we could have completed the full program. At the end of the year we will see how many we have and what the plan will be for the next year.

But I am wondering: is there any Third World country with such a program? Is there any? Is there any capitalist country with a program like this? None, nowhere. I am also wondering: is there anything in the world more humane than this, than this and what we are doing for all the children in the country, and what we are doing for all the citizens in the country? Is there anything more humane than reducing child mortality to 11 or less than 11 percent from the 60, 70, 80 or over percent that is the situation in many countries? The rates so far are around 11, almost one point below last year when it was at 11.9 per 1,000 live births. In Latin America, it is said that every year between 700,000 and 800,000 children that could be saved but do not survive, die from curable or preventable diseases. Nothing like that happens in Cuba.

Can the empire and the system responsible for all this really talk to the world about human rights? Human rights within a system where a large part of the population is unemployed, where women are prostituted, where children are abandoned? The numbers of abandoned children in Latin America are impressive, they number millions, many millions. How can this system offer hope to mankind? How can this system speak of consideration for mankind?

That’s why we have so much faith in socialism, and we have so much confidence in socialism and such deep socialist convictions. (APPLAUSE)

Back then when Camilo died, anti-communist campaigns were in full force, as a weapon, as the main instrument of imperialism against the Revolution to sow distrust, to sow division and doubt. And those problems in Camagüey were occurred due to those anti-communist and anti-socialist sentiments of bourgeois, or petty-bourgeois, groups that signed up for that campaign because that was their dominant way of thinking and they tried to produce a crack in the Revolution, a division in the Revolution. These events in Camagüey are bring remembered these days, when a gentleman – whose name is not worth mentioning next to the names that we have to mention on a day like today, since it is not worth mentioning such characters next to the name of Camilo, because Camilo is worth a million times more than that gentleman was worth (APPLAUSE) -, a gentleman whose flag was simply anti-communism, and in the name of anti-communism he tried to promote sedition.

There was no hope of success, because the people cannot be so easily deceived. Even if someone could have created confusion in those times, the few who were not yet mature enough and who didn’t have sufficient political culture and education; they would have been crushed, but perhaps blood would have been shed in the bosom of the Revolution.

These days we have been remembering the march, together with the people of Camagüey on that 21st of October. Because our intention was not to crush by force; we were prepared to destroy those barracks, but we were going to dominate with the masses, with the people. It would have been easy to have a few units with the mortars, bazookas and tanks necessary to crush those barracks, but our idea was to dominate the seditious with the strength of the masses.

That was one of Camilo’s glorious days, demonstrating once more what kind of man Camilo was. Over there history was made – I have read some reflections and some facts, and I remember it very well.

The revolutionary counteroffensive was started on the phone with comrade Jorge Enrique Mendoza who was in Camagüey; he was instructed to capture one of the radio stations and begin the denunciation with the support of a rebel battalion on the outskirts of the city. That’s what they did. We wanted to see the reactions of the conspirators, to see if they would take back the station or not. They really began to become demoralized.

In the morning we arrived, I don’t know if it was one plane or two – we will have to see some of the people who witnessed that episode to accurately reconstruct it. I don’t remember if Camilo arrived before me, or if I arrived a few minutes before Camilo, I don’t remember if we went in two or three planes; but immediately upon receiving the news of the sedition the night before, the radio station informed the people of Camagüey, informing about that gentleman’s betrayal, and the people were prepared and united to deal with it.

As soon as we arrived in the city, a huge crowd gathered, and we marched with the crowd toward the barracks, we went with the people. That demonstration would have made no sense if the conspirators had already been overcome, or if the conspirators had already been crushed. The people of Camagüey were advancing unarmed towards the barracks.

What was Camilo’s bold stroke? He went to the barracks, entered the barracks and disarmed the conspirators, subdued them; he entered with a handful of men and with his authority, with his morale, with his presence, with his bravery, he crushed them. It was not necessary for the people to reach the barracks. (APPLAUSE)

But where is his sense of responsibility, where is proof of his feelings, where is the value of that? He thought, as we might have thought, that there could be many dead, that there could be bloody gunfire. Who could guarantee one hundred percent that they would surrender? And our idea was to take the barracks with the masses, to teach the traitors once and for all what it is like to defend the interests of the people, no matter what it takes. (APPLAUSE)

Nothing might have happened; maybe the conspirators wouldn’t dare to shoot at the people, but maybe Camilo’s action saved many lives; because anything could also have happened, and he went ahead to avoid a situation and to avoid that kind of danger. It is a sign of how sure he was of himself, of his heroism, of his arrest and of his ability to act in an exceptional manner under determinate circumstances.

But what that group and its ringleaders used, what they raised was the flag of anti-communism. That’s why those words spoken by Camillo which we are listening to today have profound meaning, when Bonifacio Byrne’s verses are recited and when it is stated that this Revolution must reach its logical conclusion.

What does Camillo mean when an anti-communist seditious outbreak has just been crushed, that this Revolution must reach its final destination? The end was socialism and communism, that end we intend to reach! (PROLONGED APPLAUSE)

Camilo was very clear about what revolution meant: not for nothing did he have a revolutionary family background, not for nothing was he a humble worker, not for nothing did he imbibe revolutionary ideas from an early age, not for nothing did he have a tremendous revolutionary spirit, not for nothing did he have a great revolutionary soul.

It’s easy to say this now but you have to gauge what it meant in those days when there was still so much prejudice in our country about making revolutionary laws and more revolutionary laws, and the people applauded these but you couldn’t even mention the word socialism.

So you see that Camilo died in 1959, and it was on the 16th of April of 1961 that the socialist character of the Revolution was declared before the people in arms. And it was the people in arms who raised their guns and supported the idea of the Socialist Revolution with all their might, when we had overcome so many obstacles already and we had formed a more mature revolutionary awareness, when it was not just enthusiasm and rebellion, when it was not just the hatred of tyranny, but something more: it was a great historical goal. And at Girón our men and women fought for socialism; at Girón they shed their blood for socialism. Camilo had died about a year and a half earlier and we could no longer count on his physical presence. It is good to remember all this.

In those bitter days the enemy raged with all kinds of defamation, making it seem that Camilo had been murdered, that Camilo had been disappeared because of problems and rivalries; they even said once that it had been because Camilo opposed the line of the Revolution, all that sort of slanderous lies. Those days were very bitter, the enemy did not lose any opportunity, as it has never done, to sow poison and all kinds of discord.

They did the same thing with Che. When Che was absent for a long time and for reasons of his own security in order to protect his secret, his plans and his intentions, the letter he wrote before leaving could not be divulged, and we also had to endure a deluge of slander of all kinds.

They also did it in those bitter days when Camilo disappeared, when the plane did not reach its destination, causing terrible consternation and an insurmountable pain in the chests of all his companions who feverishly searched for him for almost an entire week in the hopes that he might be somewhere on a small island, some solitary place, somewhere.

It is good to remember these issues since the direct cause of that accident were the problems that had been created in Camagüey by the anti-communist groups. Under those circumstances, because of his responsibilities, Camilo had to travel several times to that province; bold as he was, he disregarded day or night or the time and he left for the capital in a small plane. Because at that time we lacked experience; we didn’t even have safe planes, we had nothing, and so a few comrades lost their lives because more than one plane crash happened; miraculously, no more comrades died that way in the early years of the Revolution!

Camilo’s story takes on all its meaning, not only because of what he did, not only because of his heroic actions in combat, but also because of his ideas, his concepts, his profoundly revolutionary purposes. That is also why I was saying that on a day like today Camilo would be happy, and if there is a fight ahead, he would have been still happier; if there are difficulties, even happier; if there is a challenge, happier; if injustice remains to be rectified, happier; and if the heroic and historic struggle of our people against the empire is maintained in all its vigor, Camilo would be happier!

The path taken by our people, the firm march of our people, with no surrender or hesitation, their achievements in the midst of aggressions and blockade, their future prospects, I am sure they would have extraordinarily encouraged Camilo.

It is necessary that today as we remember him so fondly, we keep all that in mind: he disappeared too soon; how much he could have done in these years! But the important thing is that those things for which he fought with passion and for which he gave his life are being done, and have been done, and that this people are the same people he spoke to there, in the old Palace, when he said that heads would only bow before the dead, to tell them one day that the Revolution has been fulfilled.

Today we can say that we bow before the dead to say that the Revolution has been fulfilled, but at the same time we should continue to appeal to the dead! (APPLAUSE)

We could kneel before the 20,000 dead Camilo spoke of, who gave their lives for the Revolution; to these we must add the thousands of dead who gave their lives to consolidate the Revolution, fighting against bandits, fighting against terrorists, fighting against mercenaries and those who have died fulfilling glorious internationalist missions! (EXTENDED APPLAUSE)

How proud Camilo would have been to participate in or lead any of these missions! He said that all revolutionaries, anywhere in the world, were his brothers.

But he told them that not only could we kneel before our dead to say that the Revolution has been fulfilled, we should also continue to appeal to our dead so that they may accompany us in this struggle that has not ended, to defend what has been done so that the new objectives of the Revolution are fulfilled in the battles that still await the Revolution (APPLAUSE); because the dead, and Camilo saw this and said it with those beautiful words, would accompany us.

That’s why I spoke today of physical death which is one thing, and another thing is the presence of examples, of inspiration, of moral values bequeathed to us by men like Camilo and Che! (APPLAUSE)

That’s why he said and repeated Byrne’s idea: That our dead, raising their arms, will still be able to defend the homeland! And in the era in which we are living, in the consolidation of what has been done and in the task of doing what needs to be done, our dead, raising their arms, will continue to fight and defend the homeland! (APPLAUSE)

Not only are we paying tribute to Camilo here today in this proletarian neighborhood where he was born, inaugurating this school; today we are paying tribute to Camilo throughout the country; today a beautiful monument to his memory was unveiled over there in Yaguajay. Yesterday more than 10 institutions were inaugurated: daycare centers, schools and polyclinics in the province of Santiago de Cuba. They have paid tribute to him everywhere; flowers have been laid in his memory everywhere.

in our capital city not only was this school inaugurated here today, a beautiful medical school (APPLAUSE) was inaugurated. We can see here some of the young people, those who could come, who are enrolled in that faculty, the Julio Trigo Medical School. An entire hospital complex has been built there: the Aballí Pediatric Hospital, the JuIio Trigo Clinical-Surgical Hospital, and the Lebredo Maternity Hospital which is part of the hospital complex, and the Julio Trigo Hospital. There are tens and tens of family doctors’ offices and numerous polyclinics in a municipality that used to be one of the poorest in the capital: Arroyo Naranjo.

What was Arroyo Naranjo before? What was it? A peripheral area where the poorest people of the capital lived. It is said that Arroyo Naranjo supplied construction workers to the city. Everyone had houses except them. There were mansions, houses for the rich and for the bourgeoisie, but the construction workers lived in unhealthy neighborhoods.

Arroyo Naranjo has a population of almost 200,000. In a short time we have built the clinical-surgical center, the maternity hospital, and a large number of house-clinics. The Julio Trigo Medical School that was inaugurated today is an excellent facility in that municipality. Today we could call that municipality a Cinderella-like municipality. Not only has Arroyo Naranjo provided support for these building projects it has also provided a large number of construction workers for the mini-brigades. The municipality leads in the fight against substandard neighborhoods, and there were several of them there.

In these last few days I have seen some things in that municipality that would have made Camilo happy. For example that’s where we have the first town created by the social mini-brigades. The people of Arroyo Naranjo were the first to organize the social construction mini-brigades to eradicate the substandard neighborhoods. They built hundreds of homes. There were several of these substandard neighborhoods in that peripheral zone.

Town leaders have risen up there, men and women who lead their community in this revolutionary task. Recently, I toured the areas where they were working. I will give you an example. The social mini-brigades of Las Guásimas is made up of people from these substandard neighborhoods. Some of the workers are people who have been allowed to leave their regular jobs so that they can work on eradicating these substandard neighborhoods. But many of the workers are housewives; many are unemployed youth. The Las Guásimas Mini-brigade is made up of approximately 700 people. There is nothing “mini” about this brigade, but that is what it is called to distinguish it from other kinds of construction organizations.

Now, let’s look at how amazing this is. They get paid like mini-brigade workers in their regular jobs, or they get paid salaries equivalent to 10-hour days. Those people who are building their own homes, schools, daycare centers, materials industry companies, house-clinics, and commercial units, etc. work 14 hours each day. Don’t you think that Camilo have liked to see his people capable of carrying out such a feat? Don’t you think that he have liked to see his compatriots organized and building those very modern housing units? Don’t you think that he have liked to see them working 14 hours every day? Don’t you think that he have liked to see how absenteeism is at 0.2 %? I am referring to unjustified absenteeism, not referring to illness. What 0.2 % means is that out of every 500 people, 1 person misses work. It is something of a miracle. It is something that may seem impossible, unattainable.

A couple of days later I was able to attend an event along with the people of another well-known neighborhood being transformed, La Guinera. I attended a top-quality cultural event. The mini-brigade construction workers performed as true artists side by side a group of our best artists and the audience watched in silence much as you are doing here today; the attention they paid was comparable to yours. The event was held in a square surrounded by buildings that the residents had built. That humble town is undertaking veritable feats in the transformation of the capital at the same time as it is transforming itself. The town has a cafeteria where there is a table for teaching good table manners to the mini-brigade workers.

During these past couple of days I also saw other things. I was interested in the progress of the construction materials industry. I know what our limitations are in that area. I experienced special satisfaction in seeing the first industrial collective that has been turned into a contingent. They are the materials factory workers in a new plant. We have been building several plants, almost all of them are about to be inaugurated; and these are very serious and impressive matters. I am talking about four concrete block production lines. There is a floor beam factory; they aren’t very big beams, but they are very practical, and they are used widely in the construction of floors together with a type of concrete block named bovedilla. They have four concrete block factories there and one of them is producing bovedillas, the fifth line is for beams, there is a terrazzo line where they are producing material for stairs in lovely colors. Maybe this school could have had them if the factory had been built earlier. And the seventh line is the floor tile line. Seven production lines all said.

Using the example of the Blas Roca Calderio Contingent, they have turned out to be very good workers. Besides, the workers were not specially selected; they were people from the area and almost all of them residents of San Miguel del Padrón. As a matter of fact, many of them were originally from Oriente Province. I can tell where they are from by looking at their features and at how they look at you. I can also tell if they are descendants of people from Oriente Province who moved to the area of Arroyo Naranjo, San Miguel del Padron, etc. They have pledged to do similar great work.

To tell the truth, I didn’t have such a high opinion of the work capacity of people from Oriente Province because what with the sun and intense heat over there, one tends to think that people from Oriente Province like to stay in the shade of some tree. In fact most of them are young people, and they double 14-hour shifts. We saw them working there. We chatted with them. It was their initiative to work like that.

They still do not have contingent supplies: they are hoping to become a contingent. For example, they still do not have the proper clothing or shoes for that type of work. They do not have the care that contingents receive. They are very productive in their work. The factory chiefs explained to me that in a single work shift they produce more than some factories do in two shifts. Of course the factory is a modern one with lots of automatic equipment, that kind of work can be done. Nevertheless, their attitude, initiative, and productivity was very impressive.

I also decided to tour various new industries that have been finished or which are under construction for the production of materials. I will give you an idea of what is happening. When the mini-brigade movement was renewed, we had the capacity to produce 11 million cement blocks. This year’s production will be approximately 25 million. After 25 July 1990, when six more lines are operating, we will have the capacity, the actual not theoretical capacity, to produce 55 million blocks per year. (APPLAUSE) Fifty-five million blocks will be produced with very modern machines. In other words, since 1987, when the mini-brigade movement began, up to 1990, the production of blocks will have quintupled in 3 years. There will be blocks to build walls for tens of thousands of homes.

That’s not all. The glazed tile factory in San José that used to produce 50 million tiles will have the capacity to produce 150 million tiles next year. There are eight plants that produce blocks, filler blocks, rafters, terrazzo, tiles, or mosaics. I had not mentioned mosaics before. The mosaic factories are not that modern; we have built them and they are productive. Because the work is relatively hard, we must make them more humane and modernize them. Anyway, the plants are under construction. When they are at full capacity, both the glazed tile factory and the mosaic factory will produce floors for tens of thousands of homes per year.

We also worked on getting more stone and sand. We are also working on the production of iron bathroom pipes, plastic pipes, aluminum windows, and wood carpentry. We are working on the production of white cement. White cement may have been used in this project, although I cannot confirm it right now. However today when we inaugurated the medical school, I was informed that all of it, inside and out, was painted with white cement. Our tile factory is already beginning to use Cuban white cement from the new factory. The factory in Sancti Spiritus can produce 100,000 tons of white cement which will permit us to have the necessary amount to paint hundreds of thousands of homes at our disposal. All this is in addition to the effort being made by the basic industry sector in the production of oil-based paints using our own raw materials.

I was telling you that in those days I visited several of these plants; some of them are already operating, some are being built, and I found the workers to be in great spirits; but, above all, they want to become contingents. This industry lends itself to the contingent system; not all industries lend themselves to this in the same way. We have to think about the mosaic industry, because of the weight of the molds used in the production of the mosaic; we are thinking about how to make the molds lighter, from certain materials that are much lighter than steel. That is to say, it is not so easy to bring a system, a plan, a program, a spirit of contingency to all factories in the same way, because all of them are not the same, and it is much more difficult to do this in a continuous process factory; but in industries of this type, one does not know what it is worth, how much they will be saving in transportation, how much they will be saving in canteens, how much they will be saving in supplies: all these workers who decide to produce in two work shifts, decide to do it spontaneously, inspired by the example of the already established construction contingents.

I was saying how much Camilo would have liked to have seen these youths that came out of the Revolution, who were born and educated under the Revolution. Some people just pay attention to the problems of the youth who go astray. It is natural: how could we have a society without anyone going astray? It would be a fantasy. We must realize that we needed special schools for tens of thousands of children, and those schools did not exist.

What would happen to a young man who dropped out of school because of one problem or another and who took to the streets? What would he become? Where would he end up?

Today, we are building these schools. If they are not built, societies that do not build schools of this type will have to build prisons for those children who have no other alternative in life but to end up as anti-social individuals, delinquents, or end up looking for some desperate way to make a living.

Let’s not fool ourselves. If the Revolution begins in 1959, how many generations of citizens in this country needed these kinds of schools and didn’t have them? We have people who fall through the cracks, lumpen, we know that. There are some who went to school but got confused and got carried away by certain theories, or some street rumors, this is another way of falling through the cracks.

However, what we see in the great mass of our youth, everywhere, is encouraging. We are convinced that with leadership that must gradually be more efficient, the youth can go very far.

We were pleased to see the efforts of these workers. And, for example, I would like to know if in the second semester of 1989 the mini-brigades of work centers, social construction mini-brigades, maintenance social mini-brigades, industrial mini-brigades and construction workers are able to place all those blocks coming out of those plants, and all the bricks, because I did not mention the brick factories; among them is a modern one that will produce 30 million bricks per year; it is about to be finished any day.

I used to say: until now we have been suffering every day because there are not enough materials, and I wonder: will the construction workers, the mini-brigade workers, be able to manufacture and place all the material that can come out of those factories, and from our iron rod and cement factories, taking into account the reconstruction that is going to be done in Mariel? It is good to think that by that date next year Havana could have a myriad of construction projects underway; this is not to say that it does not already have them, but Havana will have many more because the aim of the construction workers is to finish many of these new plants by next July26th.

In that quarter, starting in September, I have calculated the materials we are going to have and I think we will have tremendous reinforcements for this great battle to transform the capital and to transform the country, because what is done in the capital is being done in exactly the same way throughout the rest of the country.

I believe that today there is a new generation honoring the memory of Camilo, as it should.

That’s what I was also thinking about when I inaugurated the medical school this afternoon. I was talking to the professors and students about the facilities they have there, the quality of those facilities. It has two small theaters and one large 400-seat exquisitely built theater, which will have an air conditioning system installed soon, and sports facilities, a modern gymnasium, state-of-the-art laboratories, and it will have experienced teachers.

Today I spoke with dozens of these students and I can assure you that this contact is really encouraging, to see what kind of youth we have today.

Where is this medical school? In Arroyo Naranjo. As I was saying, there used to be one famous medical school over there on the hill; today there are more than 20 faculties. The day Camilo died, I think there was only one medical school; today there are more than 20, no less than one per province and the capital has about 8, if I am not mistaken, including the new ones we have inaugurated.

Before, it was the University Hill for those who had the privilege of finishing high school, to get rooms somewhere, there were no residency scholarships if you were a student from the interior of the country; few doctors graduated. We now have more than 25,000 students in medical schools, including dentistry and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. (APPLAUSE)

How impressive this is! That symbolizes many things over there. I walked into a classroom; there was a professor there who was teaching what they now call imaging, the X-ray part is no longer used. All the students there had monitors as teaching aids. Talking to them, I noticed that there were some that seemed Latin American, because it is easier to spot a Peruvian or a Bolivian than someone from Oriente Province, and I asked them how many foreign students they had there. You can see our people’s spirit of solidarity. 80 young foreigners are studying in that faculty; that is almost 10% if I am not mistaken; I saw different nationalities there, Latin Americans, Syrians, Sudanese, students from Guinea Bissau. What a noble task! And I wonder: would Camilo have liked to see this symbol of internationalism and revolutionary spirit in our people, and find himself, alone in a faculty with 80 students from other countries? (APPLAUSE)

That outstanding but there’s something else that is outstanding. I ask how many medical students are there from Arroyo Naranjo? And they tell me, “Two out of three are from Arroyo Naranjo.” Two out of three are children of workers and residents of Arroyo Naranjo. Is this not a giant leap to see the children of neighbors, of residents of Arroyo Naranjo there? They go to their faculty in their municipality; they don’t have to go to Havana University. I asked them: How far away from the school do you live? “Nearby; one bus stop, two or three bus stops away.” I said: are the stops 500 meters or 1000 meters apart? “They are close, close by.” The university professors of Arroyo Naranjo also live nearby, and so do the workers and middle-level technicians of the center. This is really quite a symbol on a day like today.

How distant we were 30 years ago, dreaming of such things! Sure, we dreamed but from very far away.

The health of these young people is remarkable, something to admire; they have really grown up with great health. Freshness, talent, commitment to their schooling, all that is more and more commonplace.

I think this is going to be a great faculty, no doubt about it. I saw some notebooks and I saw that they were really studying, because of the notes they had been taking. They have all the means. It’s really satisfying to know that our youth has all these possibilities.

There is also another noteworthy fact: Most of those medical students are women. What do you think? A very high percentage of the students are women. This shows the tremendous change that has taken place in our country; from the past to the present; from capitalism to socialism.

There is also something there that is very interesting and very encouraging: The school is attended not only by students of medicine and dentistry, but also by students who are working on their bachelor’s degrees in pharmacy, a new degree course that was created by the Revolution. There were two groups there: the medical students with their white lab coats, and the nursing students, those seeking bachelor’s degrees in nursing wearing their blue lab coats, going to the same university side by side.

Just think of what this means. In the future our medical services will be provided by doctors specialized in the various areas or by general practitioners and our nurses will be graduates with university bachelor’s degrees. (APPLAUSE) This means that all our factories, schools, day care centers, and all our communities will, in the near future, have access to treatment by family doctors and nurses. These are without any doubt gigantic steps forward. I try to analyze these problems objectively.

Well, in which other country is this happening? Our people are united, completely devoted to the task of addressing problems, and they are fully devoted to the task of moving ahead, solidly united with the Party and with the Revolution.

Comrades: you know that this cannot be found in many places in the world. You are perfectly aware that we are living in a world where many bizarre things are happening, many complex things, and many things that are incomprehensible.

This is why, today, on this the 28th of October, we remember the words of Camilo; we must entrench ourselves along revolutionary lines. We have to entrench ourselves behind our principles; we have to entrench ourselves behind our firm, solid convictions; we have to entrench ourselves behind our Marxist-Leninist ideas more than ever before; we have to entrench ourselves behind the ideas of socialism and communism more than ever before. (APPLAUSE)

No one can deceive our people; no one can confuse our people.

I can see some red flags over there. On this 30th anniversary of the death of Camilo who said that our people will never surrender, I want to state here that those red flags of our Revolution will never be lowered from their masts, that those red flags of our Revolution will never be replaced by the red and yellow flags of the counterrevolution. (PROLONGED APPLAUSE AND EXCLAMATIONS OF: ‘’Fidel, Fidel!’’)

We will never renege on our honorable title of socialists and communists. (APPLAUSE)

Our glorious Party, this Party of the 20,000 dead mentioned by Camilo and of those who died later while defending the principles, defending the homeland, defending internationalism, this glorious Party will never stop being called the Communist Party of Cuba. (APPLAUSE AND SHOUTING)

This Revolution will never renounce its glorious definition before the tombs of those who fell early fighting the mercenaries of Girón; it will never change its historic and glorious name of Socialist Revolution of Cuba. If some day we decide to change the name, it will have to be given the title of the Communist Revolution of Cuba. (APPLAUSE).\

It is obvious, gentlemen, that we are living in incredible times.

What would Camilo say if he could read a news dispatch from the United States telling us what measures we should take to be good revolutionaries, to be good socialists, and to be good communists, what bourgeois, capitalist reforms we should apply to be considered good revolutionaries, good socialists, good communists. Because there are now two types of revolutionaries, two types of socialists, two types of communists: good ones and bad ones in accordance with an imperialist definition. What an honor for us that we are among the bad ones (LAUGHTER); we are bad AND incorrigible because we do not do as we are told by imperialism, because we are not playing along or flirting with capitalism in this country because we have already seen and endured some of the consequences of these games. We are very much cured of the fear and we do not want any more. More than ever, we have firm, solid convictions about what socialism can achieve. We are more convinced than ever before that no society in history can compare to socialism. We are more convinced than ever before that we cannot retreat an inch; we are more convinced than ever before that what we should do under these circumstances is to move ahead. We have to do what Camilo did in the Camaguey barracks: move ahead. Perhaps we are moving ahead of our times, or perhaps there is a tendency to go back to old times, but we do not want to go back.

We are living in bizarre times. You should see the news dispatches and speeches in the bourgeois press, which euphorically states that socialism has ended, that it was all a dream, an illusion, that all men should turn back to shameful, repugnant capitalism.

It is even in the language they use. Today, the advocates of capitalist reform are considered to be progressive: this is the language used in international news dispatches. We will have to coin a new word like the one to describe x-rays. I am telling you that international news dispatches, which are largely monopolized by the imperialist and capitalist media, are subtly using the wrong language with the champions of Marxist-Leninism, the champions of socialism, the champions of communism, with those who do not surrender, with those who are steadfast, with those who do not waver in their ideas, with those who believe in their ideas, with those who are the most advanced and progressive people in the world and with those who have not yielded to imperialist blackmail, with those who have not yielded to imperialist ideology, with those who have not yielded to imperialist harassment; they are describing these people as inflexible. Long live inflexibility! (EXCLAMATIONS OF Viva!) Long live inflexibility when it comes to defending our revolutionary principles and not the flexibility that submits to the ideas and dictates of imperialism! (APPLAUSE)

These people are described as conservatives, orthodoxes. You can see the way the media is distorting and playing with words.

Since when has capitalism been progressive? Since when can the exploitation of man by man be regarded as progressive? Since when has that filth been progressive? As Marx said, when there is no more exploitation of man by man, when capitalism stops owning the means of production, mankind will have emerged from the pre-historical age, that is, it would have entered the historical age. And we have entered the historical age.

If others want to go back to the pre-historical age, that’s their own business. They could go and freshen up a little over there, and then they may even come back with renewed vigor, because they have no idea of what awaits them. This happens with some people who have no idea of what capitalism is all about. No idea! We have entered the historical age and we will never go back to the pre-historical age. No one is going to confuse us.

If they think that socialism is now a thing of the past, if they think that the future lies in capitalism, then there will still be communists defending their ideas, there will still be communists defending their noble, just, humane cause.

All the things I have mentioned here today would have been impossible to dream of, not even under capitalism. We have lived through these realities of socialism, whatever difficulties we may still have, whatever our problems may be. It was not socialism that created underdevelopment; socialism did not create colonialism; socialism did not create the neocolonialism that is still affecting a large portion of the world. Socialism did not cause famine for tens of millions of human beings on every continent Capitalism caused all this. All this was caused by capitalism. All of the problems affecting the world today: the arms race, the nuclear threat, environmental pollution; the poisoning of the air, of the rivers, of the seas, all stem from the chaos, anarchy, exploitation, and irresponsibility of capitalism.

We socialists are fighting against those problems, against neocolonialism, against underdevelopment, against poverty, against unfair trade terms, against the exploitation imposed on our countries by developed capitalist countries. We have not created poverty and we are waging a head-on battle against it. We are capable of working miracles such as the miracles our people are achieving right now with efforts using fewer resources than ever before, with less foreign currencies than ever before. Indeed, we are really learning to do things better; we are learning to save. In the past we needed 1 cubic meter of lumber to build a 20-cubic meter structure of concrete and today we are building 50 cubic meters with that same amount and we are trying hard to build 100 cubic meters. In the past we used more than 700 kg of cement for each cubic meter of concrete; today, we are using less than 450 kg of cement.

We are learning how to do things; it’s no longer just a matter of using a saw, taking off, throwing out or taking away; we are buildings molds, we are applying techniques and using the same resources, we are tripling our potential.

I wonder what other country is doing what we are doing here today: a program encompassing 204 special schools. This means having 100 percent of our children in special schools. Where else is this being done? What about the efforts we are making, not in this field, but in all other fields, especially in agriculture and in food production where we are working intensively; we are working on promoting industrial development that is within our reach, promoting scientific development.

Anyone who is aware of what is happening in the world knows that what our people are doing today is remarkable.. We owe this feat to socialism; we owe this feat to the unity of our people; we owe this feat to our people’s revolutionary spirit.

We may be heading toward major difficulties, yes; we may be heading toward very major difficulties. I already explained that on 26 July in Camagüey, I explained what kinds of things could happen, but this will not discourage us. We are working, and we are working resolutely to face all kinds of difficulties; we have the resolve to build all these schools, perhaps in 5 years for example, or in 6 years at the most; but if we cannot build them in 5 years, we will build them in 10 years; but we shall build them.

We have ambitious housing projects; we want to be able to build 100,000 houses annually as soon as possible. If our efforts are interrupted, if we face major problems and we cannot reach the 100,000 mark, then we will build 70,000 or 80,000 houses, whatever. We have to be determined to face any difficulty. We must be aware, well-informed, and very alert to everything that is going on in the world. Come what may, we will continue to move ahead; come what may, we will continue to struggle for socialism and communism, come what may in the world. I do not believe we will be left alone, and even if we should be left alone and if we should be the last ones to survive, we would not be discouraged for one single second or moment. This is not in keeping with our history; this is not in keeping with our philosophy; this is not in keeping with Camilo’s philosophy; this is not in keeping with Che’s philosphy; this was never in keeping with the philosophy of those of us who came on board the “Granma.” How many of us survived? Did we give up? Who can tell us that we are far from our goals? A few decades ago we were much farther away. When we were left alone in the sugarcane fields, when our forces were dispersed, when a handful of men regrouped again, was there anything that could discourage us? Nothing. If our struggle seemed absurd to some, it did not seem absurd to us. We had to move forward. We have done just that up until now. The people, especially those over 30 years of age, know what happened during the October crisis. They know that no one was scared then, not even when our country was the target of who knows how many nuclear weapons. No one was discouraged by that; no one here even blinked an eye in the face of that terrible danger.

How many problems did the Revolution face? The imperialist blockade 30 years ago, the daily threats and harassments, and here we are, without having retreated. Therefore, it is not our tradition, not our philosophy, to become discouraged by any difficulty. A complete blockade could take place, that’s one of the worst things that could happen, but we are mentally prepared for it. Besides, we are organized to resist that type of action. The worst thing would be a direct war, a direct war.

We have long been prepared to face it. We are no longer just a handful of men. There are now millions of men and women who are organized and prepared throughout our nation to defend themselves against any imperialist aggression.

We are not going to do things so that the imperialists may say that we are good communists, good socialists. We are not going to make concessions of any kind. Imperialism should not even dream of this. We are not going to make any kind of concessions. If they want to continue to consider us demons, then let them continue to consider us demons. We do not believe in wolves wearing granny’s clothing.

Our people should thoroughly reflect on these ideas, especially on what they read, on what is happening.

It is not easy to do an exhaustive analysis of all these problems, with every single detail in each case since relations between countries and states are always delicate; we have to be wise and patient. It should not be necessary to be provided with all the minutiae of all the ideas that can be induced from what is happening in the world so that one is able to make judgments on the facts. We must meditate; these are times of meditation; but I have confidence in the people, in their capacity, in their intuition, in their talents which have never failed them.

In those confusing days when attempts were made to instill fear in everyone by branding people as communists, or those campaigns depicting communism as something terrible, the people of Camagüey did not hesitate; and in spite of the fact that at that time the bourgeois press was encouraging that group, there was not one single Camagüey resident that hesitated when we arrived in Camagüey that morning with Camilo. As if they were one single body, the people of Camagüey marched towards the barracks. These are times when we need that vigorous and combative unity; these are times when we need that marvelous intuition of Camilo. These are times when we need that marvellous boldness of Camilo, that firm conviction of Camilo.

I remember when he died I put it into a phrase: “There are a lot of Camilos among our people.” Camilo emerged from the people. He was able to increase and develop his extraordinary abilities. When I see our youth in front of some lathe, in front of some furnace, when I see them in a laboratory, when I see them working 10, 12, 13, and 14 hours, I am more and more convinced of the deep conviction that there are many Camilos among our people.

When in these moments I think about how in our country people are working with enthusiasm, confidence, and security, without fearing anyone or anything, or without becoming discouraged because problems of any sort could arise, when I know how our people are ready to face anything, capable of attaining any goal and challenging any danger, and I know that our people are capable of defending socialism and communism, and Marxism-Leninism until the last drop of blood is shed, I can say with the same conviction of that year: Today the Cuban people are Camilo!

Homeland or death!

We shall overcome!