SPEECH BY COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF FIDEL CASTRO IN THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE FIRST NATIONAL MEETING OF CHAIRPERSONS OF THE CREDIT AND SERVICE COOPERATIVES. International Conference Center, Havana. 3 June 1998
We almost thought that the meeting was already over, when they reminded us that we had to close it. But that shouldn't be so difficult, should it?if it wasn't for the fact that, in addition to those who took part here, around 500 directors of credit and service cooperatives and of agricultural production cooperatives were invited to the ceremony, as well as a select group of foreign guests. What a problem!
We've been a good number of hours conversing here in the greatest intimacy, we could say, with the greatest familiarity about a series of important topics of great interest for everyone, and I'd just been telling you that I was going to be brief, after so many hours exchanging opinions and tackling topics of lesser or greater complexity, in certain cases of quite a lot of complexity.
It wasn't one more meeting, any old meeting. Nor are the farmer leaders of today the peasant leaders of that year whose 40th anniversary it will be within 11 months.
Then, it was all happiness, enthusiasm, the pleasure of feeling ourselves to be masters of the country for the first time, because it's not that we Cubans had one masterwe had many masters. We went through almost centuries trying to be free one day, after being the object of exploitation as slaves from Africa or half-exterminated Indians. We struggled for more than 100 years when we were already a nation in order to achieve that freedom, to free ourselves from the different masters, and a lot in this century in order to free ourselves from those who have been masters not only of Cuba but of the hemisphere and who are now practically masters of the world. I refer to the oft-mentioned neighbors from the north.
The peasants had other masters, too. The country was an imperialist propertythe banks, the main industries, vast expanses of land.
Many people in Latin America didn't know that United States firms were the owners of more than 200,000 hectares of land in our country. Nowhere in this hemisphere did United States companies have so much land as in Cuba. But our country wasn't only the property of the United States. You, the farmers, in particular, were also the property of the landowners. The families who worked the land were the property of the owners; the property of corrupt institutionsof parties, politicos who gathered and trafficked with their voting slips; the property of so-called legislative powers that never legislated anything nor could they legislate, of courts, of the army, of repressive forces.
What soldier from among those in the Rural Guard didn't feel like the master of the countryside, master of the people, master of the peasants, with the right to do what they wanted, really?to obey any order from the United States companies or from the big national landowners, to burn homes, to evict families, to hit with the flat of their machetes, to beat up, to murder, to break strikes, to repress everything?
What was a peasant in those times that preceded the triumph of the Revolution? How many abuses! It wasn't at all hard for us revolutionaries to win the support of the peasants, even if they didn't know how to read or writeand the vast majority didn't know how to read or write. They had awareness and daily proof of the injustices that were being committed against them every day, even if, in some supposedly democratic elections, manufactured in the United States, they went to vote with the ballot marked, with the voting slip handed over to the political sergeant in order to electwhom? The landowners.
In the Congress were the richest people in the country, the most corrupt people, with natural exceptions, as was the case with the Popular Socialist Party, the case of some popular parties, like the Orthodox Party and some political movements of that character that arose throughout the time of the republicwhich, of course, if we exclude the Marxist-Leninist party, which, at that time of the cold war was so persecuted, harassed and repressed, the very popular parties were quickly penetrated by the national oligarchy.
I remember the Orthodox Party, very popular, with great sympathies, where, however, there were already big landowners in command of the political apparatus, like Fico Fernández Casas, in Oriente, which covered what is now made up of five provinces; in Camagüey, in Las Villas and almost with the exception of the City of Havana, I'm not saying Havana province, already the leadership of that partywhich was very popular, really, because its leader and founder denounced political corruption, embezzlement, theft and other vicesthe leadership was already controlled in almost all the provinces by those traditional political machines.
A popular party arose and, in a short time, our long-suffering people saw it fall into the hands of landowners and millionaires. They made up our Parliament. What could we hope for from those institutions? What could our peasants hope for?
The Constitution talked about land reform. It was in one of the chapters of the Constitution adopted in 1940, under the influence of the left-wing forces who managed to include that chapter, but nobody ever mentioned it again.
I remember a very popular representative. He'd become popular through the radio, on a daily program, at noon and in the afternoon. Very demagogicif there was a transport strike, he used to support the workers. He had a certain skill for defending some popular causes. In one of those elections, they elected him for the city of Havana, with I don't know how many votes, a record almost, and that deputy proposed a "very revolutionary" bill, one of the "most revolutionary" that had been proposed before the Revolution. Do you know what it consisted of? In the nationalization of the names of United States firms.
Take note, not the nationalization of the firms, no, no, no. It wasn't about nationalizing the properties, the electrical firmlook at how Pepe's laughing (in reference to Pepe Ramírez, an old peasant revolutionary who was a founder of the National Association of Small Farmers); he remembers all thator the telephone firm or the railroads or the mines. No, no. It was a bill obliging all foreign firms to adopt a name in Spanish, a Cuban name. What an "extreme of radicalism" they reached, proposing to nationalize the names of firms, but they didn't even achieve that. Demagoguery at that time was really terrible.
Many of you, who I see are young, didn't live through those experiences, although Pepe, who's young, of course, he does remember some of those things. (José Ramírez tells him something.) What did I say? I didn't say that I'm youngI know that; I don't have to say it. I said that you're young. Did you understand it otherwise, Pepe? I didn't say that you looked young but that, despite the fact that you're young, you know some of those things that happened many, many years ago. (Laughter.)
In a word, there wasn't just one master. Rather, the citizens of this country had many masters. And the peasants had more masters than anybody. In those lands where we disembarked, which were the state's land, and where the peasantstaking refuge from hunger and unemploymenthad gone to cut down trees, burning the wood because there wasn't a single path where they could take it out, in order to sow a little coffee and a few vegetables to be able to live with great difficulty, because they went, they worked for a time, they returned, they brought together a little money to buy sugar, salt, they went back to the mountains and that's how they did it and then came the supposed owners, who had arranged the papers in the notary's offices, claiming the land to snatch it away from them. The peasants were the object not only of exploitation, of abuse, of outrages; they were the object of humiliation, of contempt.
There are some people who, when they want to simplify things, say that the peasant was exploited and didn't have land and the Revolution gave him land.
The peasant, who was the soul of the Revolution, and the people, who shaped the Revolution, gave themselves a freedom that was really total freedomthey stopped having masters. But did many speeches have to be made to convince the peasants? No, none. It wasn't land that we gave to the peasants. The least that we gave to the peasants was land. We gave them something that's worth much more than land or, rather, we gave ourselves something that's worth much more than landsomething called a homeland, something called dignity, something called honor, something called the human condition, because we were never treated like human beings.
If some people still don't understand why we've resisted what we've resisted, then let them understand! A single word or phrase would be enough to say it: This people that resists is a people that was treated, for the first time in their known history, as human beings.
Land is something, a material good. For revolutionaries, revolution means much, much, much more than that. I'd say that land for the peasants is a byproduct of the revolution. It's a byproduct of the justice that the revolution brought. It's a byproduct of freedom. But the peasant, along with the rest of the people, wasn't just master of the landa very good thingbut master of power, of the state. He went from being exploited, persecuted, humiliated, even scorned, to exercising state powerthat power that he has exercised during these years, of this state that U.S. imperialism has wanted to but been unable to destroy, not even when an empire exists next to us that brought together more forces than an empire has ever brought together on Earth. In a unipolar and globalized world, as they call it, they haven't been able to destroy this state of workers and peasants, which is now our state, as it is tooand as it was since the beginningof students and of intellectual workers; in other words, the working people's state, because that is what our state is and will continue to be. (Applause.)
They won't have any possibility to dream of anything else, those who claim that this state and this country can again become the empire's property or can again become the property of a handful of selfish and privileged people or that this power can go into the loathsome hands that the Revolution did away with almost 40 years ago now. And they can't confuse or cheat us or trick us with any story or with any kind of theory because, even where experience didn't have the possibility of discovering these phenomena, reason is capable of discovering them and capturing them in all their tragic dimension.
Just as we also inherited the ideas of those who struggled for our country's independence and of those who struggled for social justice, the peasant became the owner of the mines; he became the owner of the country's main firms; he became the owner of the electricity industryand the best proof of that is that electricity reached more than 92 per cent, which Antonio mentioned here. I understand that electricity reached approximately 95 per cent of our country's population. Of course, now we have it and when you have it, you can't give it up. What we have to look for now is a lot of oil to keep the light bulbs lit.
He became master of the schools or, rather, he created the schools that he didn't have, because he didn't have either schools or teachers and, unfortunately, there were very few teachers willing to go to the countryside or the mountains. The peasant became master of the noblest educational force that any country on Earth now hasteachers who replace others so that they can study, and no school closed due to a lack of teachers; cases of teachers who received the state salary to give classes to their children in the mountains. Not a single peasant remained without a teacher in any corner of those mountains. I'm not even talking about the cities because it was easier to find teachers to go to the cities, really, as well as doctors.
The peasant became master of the hospitals, which he didn't have; a creator of hospitals, because the Revolution is what has created this network of hospitals that he now has, and of specializations, of the most numerous group of doctors that any country possesses in relation to its population.
Abroad, they already recognize that the Revolution did some things. Well, almost nobody disputes that. Even the President of the United States has spokensuch a strange thingwith praise. Recently, not long ago, he said three things: that he understood that it was fair or he understood that it was natural that the Revolution wanted to hold on to those gains that it made for the poor. Ah! And the successes in health and education.
No, nobody said that this country filled itself with damswhere 30 million cubic meters were dammed up, it went on to have reservoirs with capacities 300 times greater, of 10,000 million cubic meters. Nobody says that the Revolution made between 30,000 and 40,000 kilometers of roads. Nobody talked about great values, that the Revolution brought justice to our society; that the Revolution wiped out the hateful practices of discrimination that was carried out in this country; that the Revolution freed man from the humiliations that he received every day, from the abuse that he received every day; that the Revolution brought the people into power; that the Revolution made the people the army; that the Revolution made the people the guardians of order; that it wiped out all those instruments with which the people were oppressed and exploited.
Ah! They're finally admitting that the Revolution has had successes in sport and a madwoman over there said yesterday or the day before yesterday that it was only in sport that the Revolution had had successes, justifying the politics of buying and bribing athletes and encouraging the defections of athletes. Ah! But they don't deny it. They say that Cuba is the seventh or the eighth power. And no, we're the first, because we're the ones who obtain the most gold medals per capita in the Olympics. In other words, we're in first place; we're the first power. Others might win more medals because they have a lot more resources and a much bigger population, but they don't win more medals per capita than us.
They don't talk about how there are no exclusive beaches for the rich, social clubs for the rich, nor abandoned citizensnot a single onewithout the support, without the protection of the state. They don't talk about how, in this country, social security covers all citizens. They don't mention what I was reminding you of a few moments ago, about how Cuba is the country with the highest percentage of citizens who own their house. In many countries in Europedeveloped, rich countries60 per cent, 70 per cent pay rent and, in Cuba, 85 per cent own their home and the rest are, mainly, homes owned by work centers for their workers.
Counting just some things from among those that can be counted, this country humanized work. The shoulder loads of those massive bags of sugar have practically come to an end, millions of tons carried by hand by the workers. All that was transformed into exports through terminal plants where man doesn't touch the sugar. The preparation of the land was completely mechanized; the cutting of sugar-cane was mechanized. Construction was mechanizedthe construction that was done at the time of the Central Highway was often done by hand; the stone was chipped with hammers.
The extent to which the Revolution humanized work is already, in itself, greater than any of the other merits that they want to attribute to it.
It created capacities for producing cement, steel for construction, materials, new industries, in the middle of the blockade and of sabotagebecause we managed to buy factories in the West that arrived here sabotaged. When we had some resources to buy a factory, they sabotaged it.
The industrial effort that the Revolution made, the exploration of land, of the country's subsoils in the search for resources, for fuel, for minerals and other resources!
The planting of thousands and thousands of millions of trees, too. Arriving in time to save all Cuba's mountains from total deforestation, when their forests had been reduced almost to zero. Saving Old Havana, which they were already completely destroying, but which the world now admires as the Heritage of Humanity, all that architecture that has incalculable value, protected, where they were already starting to make heliports and tall buildings. If the Revolution had been delayed a few more years, nothing would remain of Old Havana, which is now not only a cultural center admired by the world but even a center of wealth and income for the country. There isn't a citizen who comes to the capital who doesn't want to go to visit Old Havana, which has been preserved by the Revolution.
There weren't even trees in the streets, nothing that looked like a botanical garden like the one that we have on the outskirts of the capital, with more than 400 hectares, a collective farm for the two million citizens of Havana; or Lenin Park; or the new zoo, which is still to be repaired and finished, but it's one of the biggest works of recreation and culturefor whom? For the people.
All the beaches freed and all the places for recreation, without any exception, were for all citizens.
The artistic assets saved by the Revolution are calculated at no less than 600 million dollarsthe paintings and works of art saved or recovered that now belong to our museums, which are being repaired, renovated, modernized and expanded. Part of these assets were stolen from the country and taken out in diplomatic pouches and other forms of looting.
But how the Revolution has preserved all those assets! Even without talking about the homeland, even without talking about history, even without talking about the great historic vindication that the Revolution meant, with the Revolution coming to be the vindication of all those who fought, died and sacrificed themselves for this country over so much time, in order to end up being today what I told you this afternoonand I dare to repeat it here without fear of anybody being offended, because there would be no reasonin order to end up being what we are today: the freest country in the world. And whoever wants to contradict us, let them make a small criticism of the master of the world. In that way, we remain without a master; we're the country that's most free from masters in the world. (Applause.) And that's demonstrated in all the international organizations where the world's representatives are present, not in those exclusive clubs where they don't want Cuba to be.
What a brave empire that fears the presence of Cuba at a meeting! It's just that it realizes that, morally, they can't be where Cuba is or, at least, they can't feel comfortablebecause there would be somebody, there would be a country that would tell them what they deserve to be told, a country that would denounce what needs to be denounced.
In fact, today, who does that? What country has ended up becoming a kind of spokesman for the oppressed and exploited of the world, a kind of conscience of the world, a spokesman for truth in the world, of a world where so, so, so many injustices are committed? This countryand that was made possible by the Revolution. That must be remembered; that must be taught; that must be instilled in the new generations, the children, everybody.
Them trying to sow every kind of lie, slander, poison in the world and us trying to sow the best values of that world, in the souls, in the minds and in the hearts of our compatriots. Them fighting to corrupt our people, not just deceive them; us fighting so that our people resist, us fighting so that our people are more and more virtuous, more and more revolutionary, more and more pure.
As I was telling you, that's one of the battles being waged today, not just in the economic domain. They use the economy as instrument to lead the people to pessimism, to discouragement, in order to try to break down their heroic capacity for resistance, to break down their spirit, their conscience, their patriotism, their morale, encouraged by some people who don't have sufficient strength of soul to preserve those values. They believe that all the others can be like that weak small minority, incapable of assimilating the principles and values that we're defending now and that we're defending not only for ourselveswe're defending them for the world and with the hope that those values and principles will, one day, be those of not just one country but of the world.
Those now make up the aspirations of thousands of millions of people in the world. The fact that they can't say so is one thing or they don't have the means to say it and publicize it. But there are so, so, so many people who think like us, who admire and respect our country and there are so many messages that arrive from whatever place and, when we travel, they pass them on to us for our people, exhorting them to struggle and reminding them that they are the hope of the world. And these messages are, for us, not just encouragement but a source of pride, because nobody could imagine that a country as small as Cubaa country that was beginning to develop economically and advancing along that road, not to mention culturally and in many other fields, including that of science, where we'd taken giant stepswould become a symbol for thousands of millions.
All those of us who, at a given moment, found ourselves with an arithmetic book in those years in which we were studying in secondary school, we know that they talked about an instrument of measurement, which was the meter, and from there came the metric decimal system. And, if I remember rightly, they defined it as the distance between two marks on a platinum bar, at a certain temperature of I don't know how many degrees, in I don't know what museum in Paris. That was, for me, my first notion of the meter. Something was needed to serve as a measurement, wasn't it? To know what is a kilometer in distance or to know what is a hectare or to know what is, for example, a liter or a ton, you need a measurement. But, also, to measure the courage of a people, to measure the merits of a people, to measure the heroism, the intelligence, the skill and the capacity of a people, a measurement was needed. And, some day, those four letters that say Cuba will be like that meter that served to measure the volume of the world, the circumference of the Earth, the distance between the planets and the stars. That unit of measurement will be called Cuba. (Applause.)
They've already started discovering it and that's how many inhabitants of the planet look upon us, despite all the campaigns, because they learn through suffering and injustice. What happens to them is what happened with the peasants that we knew in the Sierra: They didn't need speeches. They needed no more than to remember the Rural Guard hitting, insulting, offending, humiliating them, sometimes even offending their families, with no respect for the peasants' daughters or family members. They needed only to remember the overseers, the big landowners who took their coffee plot from them when they'd been building it with so much work, and those who burned their houses, merely remembering those people and comparing them with that small contingent of men who had beards by pure chance, due to the simple absence of razors and scissors. That's how the beard arose and how the long hair arose and they later became a symbol of the Revolution. But, in that handful of men, which was very small at times, with some knapsacks made of sugar sacks, in the worst conditions, some very modest weapons, who didn't burn houses, who respected the peasant as something sacredthem, their family, their property, their goodswho paid down to the last cent, who gave what they had, whether it was medicine or whatever, who treated them like human beingsthey foresaw that the future was there, they foresaw that freedom was there and they foresaw that something more than the possession of land was there. They foresaw that vast world of dignity that I was talking to you about before and they all immediately sympathized with the guerrillas and started losing their fear of the planes and the abuse.
They knew that talking with the guerrilla meant their house being burned down and they sometimes burned down the houses with the victims inside. And they murdered the children, the young people; and they murdered the husbandthey knew that. They didn't know how to read and write and, yet, look how those peasants found their bearings and discovered the truth!
I once saw a film from the first days of the Revolution, which tried to explain how the Revolution had won over the peasants and it showed a dialogue in which the bearded revolutionary was talking with the peasant and was talking to him about the land and offering to give him the land. All that was very schematic. A man's life isn't bought with a dozen hectares of land. A man's blood isn't bought with a dozen hectares of land. The safety of his loved ones and of his home isn't bought with a dozen, two dozen, not even with a thousand hectares of land.
I mean, of course they needed the land and they wanted it, because they had the right to it, because it was only fair that they have it, because they cultivated it, they worked it. But, in the scheme whereby the land had made the peasants revolutionaries, there was a mistake. I have a much higher opinion of the peasant. I don't think that the peasant is won over because they promise him that they're going to give him the land. No, what the peasants discovered was that the land was theirs, from the moment in which they began seeing the small group of guerrillas there, fighting against those soldiers with their machete blades and their big horses, their rifles, the abuse and all those things.
Nobody offered the peasants the land. Rather, they discovered that it was theirs. They discovered it with the presence of those combatants fighting for them. They guessed who they were and what they signified.
Did those peasants, by any chance, not feel dreadfully humiliated at being illiterate, at having to use their fingerprints to sign a document? And didn't they feel terribly distressed when they knew that their son was going to die there, at the seashore, long before a schooner would arrive to collect him? And without a road, without a doctor, without a teacher, without anythingjust the long-suffering life that they were leading, of hard, rough work, in the mountains and without hope.
Help from whom? Credit from whom? What bank was going to give credit to a peasant in those mountains?
When I think of the land reform and I think of the peasant, I'm thinking of everything that the Revolution was as a whole; I'm thinking of the essence of the Revolution and the role that that peasant played in the independence wars and in our liberation war.
Don't our enemies understand that? Don't they understand the reasons? Well, let them understand or they'll go on making mistakes for 500 years or perhaps even 500,000 years. They simply don't understand the miracle of what our country has been capable of doing. Without planning to, it has acquired that prestige in the world. Without planning to, because that would be something absurd, it has become a hope, that symbol of struggle or of resistance, of peoples' capacity to struggle. Without planning to, it has become an instrument for measuring what man is capable of, for measuring patriotism, for measuring human dignity, for measuring heroismheroism that has been expended not only in our land with our blood but, in an example of generosity that is without precedent in history, it has been expended in many other lands in the world.
We're just as much internationalists today as before. It would be more accurate to say that we're more so because, today, defending our land, we're defending thousands of millions of people in the world. Let's say, we're defending values that belong to humanity, even to many of those living in the powerful empireyes, to many, to millionsand who don't agree with the blockade or the aggression against Cuba, far from it.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting a group of religious representatives from the United States, who represent 33 institutions from the most important Protestant churches in the United States, which have 53 million members. And, clearly, frankly, openly, resolutely and firmly, those worthy sons of the United States people who visited us oppose the blockade and support the bill that would get rid of the blockade on the sale of food and medicine. But it's not that they think that that's the solution. They're against the whole blockade and they don't accept the least right whereby the U.S. government seeks to impose conditions on our country. Truly honorable, admirable people. And they don't live in Africa or even in South America. They're there, in the heart of the United States. And it's not only religious leaders. There are also entrepreneurs, business-men, outstanding personalities, scientists, intellectuals, newspaper editorsa growing number of people who reason, who are capable of seeing the realities of the world and who are against such crimes, against such injustice. They feel respect for Cuba, admiration for Cuba, even, in many cases, sympathy for Cuba, although they might differ in certain aspects, ideas and ideological mattersyou can't expect everybody to think exactly the same way. But they really feel admiration for the integrity, the steadfastness of this people, unshakeable steadfastness.
Our most bitter enemies, consoling themselves with the hope that this can't last, that it's not possible, after all they've done to liquidate the leaders of the Revolution, now, with tremendous cynicismand they say it; they must be cynical, mustn't they?they say: "Well, the biological solution", as if to say: When those who are now leading there die, the Revolution's going to come to an end. They say: The blockade has failed in these 40 years, but then there will comethis is what a top official from that country says, such grossnessthe so-called biological solution.
You tell me the truth, peasants, sensible people: Do you believe in biological solutions when we're talking about ideas, when we're talking about justice, when we're talking about the most noble cause that can be defended in the world today? Do you think that it's a biological problem and that ideas die with men or can die with men? (Exclamations of "No!") How can they have such contempt for a people, for millions and millions of people, believing that one individual or two or three or a handful are the ones who decide or settle matters? That amounts to a gross insult and an offense against the people.
We do believe in ideas with unshakeable steadfastness and we defend them and will defend them. And we believe in socialism; we believe in communism. Today, when many are shocked at having once talked about communismand they're out therewith what pleasure we tell journalists and statesmen: We're socialists, we're communists and we continue to aspire to socialism and communism. (Applause.)
However, that country that expresses itself like that is the one that they support. And you've seen it in the graphic imagessimply, it's almost unanimous, in international conferences. And they're not communists. It doesn't mean that they share our revolutionary ideology like we do, no. But they know that there's a world that a strong power has taken by the neck and that it wants everything for its privileged interest groups; that it's constantly insulting, offending, adversely affecting the economic interests of the rest of the world; that it wants to take power over everything and give orders to the whole world and disregard the sovereignty and independence of other countries.
They're tired of seeing that they don't respect anybody. It's the same with a small country as with a big country when they want to give lessons in what they have to do.
With China, which is thousands of years old, which has an ancient civilization, deep wisdomthey're trying to tell it how the Chinese state must be organized, how China must be.
When Marco Polo discovered China, the Europeans still hadn't arrived in this hemisphere. China already had a millennial civilization and these gentlemen are trying to tell the Chinese how the town council, the government, the parliament should be organized, what theories should preside over the state. But if they don't run up against China, they run up against a very small country, with 10,000 inhabitants, and they say the same. It's mythomania, a mad thing that offends a lot of people, whom they outrage, really.
Every country has its pride; every country has its honor, regardless of its ideas, its culture, its beliefs of different kinds. They ignore all that. They talk about respect for families or for human beings and, at any hour of the day or night, where there are little boys, where there are little girls, where there are adolescents, they show every kind of pornographic film or a film with violence or crime or things of that nature.
In the United States itself, they're in despair because youngsters have taken it into their heads to start killing children in the schools. Hardly a week goes by without an incident of that kind taking place or somebody turning up with a loaded shotgun, ready to fire. A society that does nothing but receive poison and more poison of every kindthe children finish up using violence. It's a scandal what happens there through the use of the mass mediaviolence in the schools, among young people, among adolescents. Incredible! Nobody knows where it will all stop.
That's the culture. That's also the globalization of culture, of monoculture or, perhaps more accurately, the globalization of non-culture, the globalization of savagery, the globalization of violence, of vice, corruption, of the habit of thinking and seeing things in a selfish, arrogant and imperial way. What home do they respect? What family? What human rights?
How many pornographic films are shown on our television? I understand all the weaknesses that it has and might have and the lack of resources and how difficult it sometimes is to find a film that entertains and isn't poison. But our television isn't characterized by that, by making violence into a life philosophy, selfishness, the deformation of the human being.
They don't respect anybodyno home, no country, no citizen in the world. They deceive them miserably; they lie to them every hour of every day. They divide countries into a thousand pieces. They alienate them; they make them powerless. That's what they want and what they'd like to do with us.
Of course, with the other peasants, whoas I told you at the beginningdidn't take part in our conver-sations, I can't repeat to them everything that we talked about on agriculture and other topics. It would be too long and not like I said when I promised to be brief. To them, to our peasants, in the whole country, I want to tell them that we've discussed, that we've had an excellent meetingexcellent!profitable, useful, which has taught all of us a lot. It has given us a start. It has opened up perspectives, paths for us.
This meeting is the fruit of two years' work in a process of strengthening the credit and service coopera-tives, one of the most difficult, most complicated institutions, because they're spread out in many different places. It always makes the work much more difficult, including the use of resources. Furthermore, they have relatively few resources, as we've seen, but they've spent two years in a movement, which I'd say is a very wise one, with the whole peasant wisdom. They've done things little by little. Now they can go a bit more quickly, because they've started gathering experiences in this process of strengthening the credit and service cooperatives, which were the first that were created.
The agricultural production cooperatives were then created and, as was mentioned here, many of the large estates were also converted into state enterprises. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of peasants got employment in those enterprises and they improved their living conditions remarkably. They had schools, medical care. Many of them had housing; many houses were built. Guaranteed work for the whole year. Much more humane living conditions in every sense.
The current circumstances made new things, new ideas, new formulas essential. Also, the current circumstances helped us to discover that we were coming out of an era of fat years, very fat, of abund-ance, of a great abundance of resources, and into an era of very great scarcity, a lean period, very lean, and this helped us to discover the form in which the resources were being used or in which many resources were even being wasted.
It's true that important things were donebig, big irrigation systems, for example, canals, dams. In this single province of Havana, production was achieved of up to one million liters of milk a day. A thousand dairy farms were built in Havana province and thousands in other provinces! When the special period came, we were developing new plans for dairies in Pinar del Río, in Matanzas, in Ciego de Avila, in Camagüey, in the eastern provinces. I remember now something like seven or eight new and ambitious plans for new dairy farms that we were carrying out. They were being built to give us considerable amounts of milk in addition to the amounts achieved.
Thousands of poultry production plants, of pork production plants were being built when we were taken by surprise and the collapse of the socialist bloc came about and we lost the markets, we lost everythingfuel, raw materials, foodstuffs, creditand this so tremen-dously hard period began.
But plans had been made, like that for the Jagüey citrus on stony ground. I want you to know that the Jagüey citrus, which now have a high and growing production, were done with dynamite, drilling and breaking the rock intermixed with the earth, and that was how a plan was made that is now one of the best in the country. They've improved the other plans, the Ceiba one and those in other places. They are making an effort in the Isle of Youth. The markets had been lost. All that citrus went to the USSR and the socialist bloc. The markets were lost and the fertilizer and fuel were lost. Everything was lost. However, important citrus plans have gradually been saved and recovered. Stockbreeding suffered terribly.
The plans for thousands of sheds to increase the production of eggs, poultry meat and pork, along with fish-farming in order to use the leftovers from those in feeding the fishthose plans were running at a great pace, with all the brigades organized and working. A canal that was going to take water from the Zaza dam to Camagüey, almost to the south of Camagüey, in construction, and the Agabama dam was being made to connect it with the Zazaall the water that we wanted. And the engineering systems in rice for 200,000 hectares, well-leveled lands, in order to save water and raise productivity considerably; the engineering systems for sugar cane; and a factory for Fregat machines that could produce 1,000 to 1,500 machines, in Bayamo. In other words, great and promising things had started being done with our socialist agriculture and, despite the shortcomings, the programs were going along speedily.
At this time, we could well do with the milk that we were producing in Havana. Havana alone produced almost as much as the country produces today. We have to see what we still have to spend and will have to spend in order to guarantee milk for all children up to a certain age.
In other words, agriculture had a lot of faults but it had resources and it was advancing. The disappearance practically overnight of all those resources was what forced us to become fully aware of how resources had to be used in an optimum way and negative tendencies overcome, how we had to adapt all our work in agriculture to the conditions that we have now and to look for new formulas that are lasting, not transitional or just for the present.
We've had to learn to work in very difficult condi-tions, with other methods and with very few resources. That's how new forms of production arose.
In those conditions, it was impossible to maintain those oversized sugar-cane enterprises and a revolutionary step was taken, which was to convert the workers into the owners of the most important state agricultural production. In a basic unit of agricultural production, the workers are the owners of the equipment, free usufructuaries of the land and masters of production.
The state administration had shortcomings, quite a lot of shortcomings, despite which it was achieving success through the momentum of that constructive dynamic. If the factories were there, if the feed was there, if the people were there who could work there, the hens were laying eggs and they were laying up to almost 300 in some cases per hen, more than 250, and the feed was converted into poultry meat and pork, although with shortcomings that prevented the saving of resources and the obtainment of better results.
The new situation forced us to reanalyze, work out anew and speed up the development of new ideas. As I was telling you today, the solutions to the problems in the hard conditions in which our country is currently struggling, with the tightened blockade of the hegemonic power, aren't written in any book, because that hasn't happened anywhere. Our country has simply become, as I said, a creator of formulas to confront our current difficulties with resolve.
Work is being done with that spirit in everything. It's a difficult battlefield, very difficult, precisely because of all those lacks of resources, in part; because of the need to work with new formulas, adapted to those circumstances, with much more efficiency in agriculture.
We can't forget that, in our country, almost every-body became urban, came to live in the cities. I explained to you that that phenomenon is of a universal nature and it has happened to a greater degree, but to a considerably greater degree than in our country. But it also occurred despite the fact that all the provinces in the country developed.
Gentlemen, those who knew what Las Tunas was before, a village, when the Central Highway passed by there, and what Las Tunas is today, with the things that it has, the hospitals that it has, sports facilities, univer-sity faculties, and it was a village; how Holguín has been developed, Camagüey, Santa Clara, Pinar del Río, which they used to call Cinderella...
We worked, we really worked throughout the country and that's why the problem that we have today isn't more serious, but it is serious because the networks of services that we have for the population in the biggest cities aren't enough and we have the most serious problems in the capital. Not in Ciego de Avila, another village that's no longer a village; Sancti Spíritus, let's call it a historic little town, which continues to be historic, more and more historic and now with a dignified and respected provincial capital, with a lot of positive experiences.
We've made an effort in the whole country, but we have to supply the population, which has been the center of the effort that they've been making. I'd be really pleased if they could have heard some of the contributions spoken here by the delegates present and their concern at providing more products, but not providing just more farm products but also cheaper.
We need an abundance of all those products that you can take out of the fields and we need them to be within the people's reach, with better prices, and we also need to look for formulas that would prevent parasitic minorities acting as intermediaries from getting rich and becoming millionaires with your sweat and out of the pockets of our country's workers. Those topics have been discussed quite a bit.
We were impatient waiting for this meeting because we wanted to know in detail what they'd done, what work they'd done with this movement in order to strengthen the CCSs (credit and service cooperatives) and, really, from what I've seen, some documents, and from today's meeting, I've been given an excellent impression. I think that we've found a path through one of the most difficult areas. We're beginning to find solutions. We've taken measures in sugar cane. I think that these are going to really promote advances, in both the sugar-cane agricultural production cooperatives and the CCSs that grow cane.
Today, we were trying to pinpoint problems that we have to solve in this area. But, really, we have to congratulate the leadership of the ANAP (National Assocation of Small Farmers) for the work that it has done on the quiet, it could be said, without much publicity, in these two years, bringing to 664 cooperatives the movement to strengthen them and, above all, having gathered together a good deal of very valuable experiences and being right in the middle of the creation process at this moment.
They're working very reliably in sugar cane too, in the search for solutions to problems, and they're working in the UBPCs (basic units of agricultural production) with plenty of reliability in the search for solutions to problems, and in the integral farms, in the farms of the Youth Working Army and in other kinds and they've been accumulating valuable experiences, such that I think that we have the conditions, even with the great shortage of resources, to take important steps forward in matters relating to production and distribution. There are experiences that have been applied that are very necessary at this moment, not to immediately recover what we hadthat's not possible. It will take time, in the conditions in which we have to work, to have the abundant resources that, well administered, as they will be in the future, will give much more than they would have given without these experiences.
We have to put right all the UBPCs, cane and non-cane. I'm not talking about the CPAs (agricultural production cooperatives), one of the best institutions that have functioned in the agricultural sector and which have contributed experiences. I think that, with the measures that are being drawn up, they're all going to go on and end up reaching the state of being cost-effective. The greatest number of uneconomical institutions were precisely in cane. And, furthermore, we still have more than 2,000 credit and service cooperatives to strengthen, to apply to them the ideas that the comrades have expressed here and to achieve the benefits that the innovations, the creations that have been produced will mean for the peasants.
It's my conviction that we have the conditions to achieve those advances and we have to bear in mind that that will be what will most please the peoplethe boost to these activities, from the little urban vegetable garden that produces a few kilograms of vegetables per square meter, which is being promoted throughout the country. Everything, we mustn't reject a single possibility and we have to look for the most practical, the most intelligent formulas on how to market, how to distribute.
Those topics were talked about and discussed here. I don't know where the invited peasants are. I imagine that they're on both sides of the hall, aren't they? This isn't going to be the last meetingon the contrary. Now, with the enthusiasm that it has left us, we have to start thinking. Here, there are 500 directors of credit and service cooperatives. It could be that, one day, more than 500 meet, to the extent that the movement advances.
I expressed to you my conviction that we would find solutions to the different problems raisedI'm absolutely sure of thatand that we're going to advance with full force, on all fronts, on each of the fronts of agriculture, which are so necessary, so important. And it won't be a case of waiting till Doomsday, although following the saying about more haste, less speed, because we're in a hurry in some things but we have to do it well, on a solid basis, and analyze all the experiences.
You don't know how pleased we are at these prospects, which can be seen clearly, which have been opened up with this movement, and the possibilities that can be appreciated when we were listening to one of the credit and service cooperative directors speak about what a truck means and what a truck can do.
I've talked to you about foodstuffs as something key, but you sustain the main weight of one of the branches of the country's economy that produces the most resources: tobacco production, which we want to continue expanding and, as you know, in the last two or three years, we've been doing tests in the whole island. And, in the whole island, tobacco grows well, and good tobaccoin all the provinces.
We saw the red soil of San Antonio de los Baños and we said: Doesn't Matanzas have soil like this, that can produce wrappers? And we began with the wrapper experiments and wrapper experiments have already been carried out in several provinces.
How much tobacco are we going to produce? We have to achieve production of 300, 400, 500 million cigars. The tobacco market is limitless. And Cuba's prestige with tobacco, in terms of the quality of its tobacco and the preferences shown by the world, is also enormous, really.
There you have a product that is a source of work for a lot of people, for a lot of womenin some places, we're short; in others, we have an excess workforce an important source of hard currency for the country. If we produce 300 or 400 million cigars, how much income would that produce for the country and how many things couldn't we do for the country, for agriculture and for the credit and service cooperatives?
Today, we were talking about an engine that was worth 5,000 or 6,000 dollars, or if it was a second-hand one or not, and about a truck in any of these cooperatives. But we can bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year with just tobacco production, in the export of finished products. We're not thinking of raw materialswe have to think of the finished product. How many thousands of jobs in all the provinces!in a well-paid job that, today, curiously, is done by women, for the most part. Unemployment and living conditions in the past were such that women were practically barred from going into tobacco production and, today, they make up the majority of cigar rollers, I understand. Many women also work in the grading.
Look what an idea arose in Consolación del Sur from the gradings and they're even already thinking about a cigar factory in a CPA. And how many ideas like those, as we delve deeper, can appear, and new possibilities, with an open, creative spirit, to start applying all those methods that might be suitable for applying to our economy.
Work is being done with that spirit in all the other sectors, in the central state administration, in all branches of the economy, in all enterprises, preparing cadres, doing lectures, giving courses, developing studies into administration, computing, management, because that's a technique; it's a science. It can't be underestimated, just like that of growing tobacco that reaches 60 per cent to 70 per cent of exportable wrappers.
A serious effort is being made in the state apparatus. A very serious effort is being made, I can assure you, in everything to do with the necessary controls and inspections on the part of the Party, on the part of the central state administration, on the part of the organizations. And we have to do it more and more because the openings that we've made bring risks. The presence of two currencies, the reality whereby thousands of different people administer important resources and administer hard currencyall that requires tremendous organization.
Don't forget what Lenin said about how capitalism began developing forms of organization and production of such a nature that they were getting to be almost the skeleton of what socialist production should be. There are chains that have thousands of shops. Well, here, there are firms that have hundreds of shops.
There's the science of controlling, of administering. There's the science and we're trying to grasp it, to learn it quickly, perfecting the knowledge of cadres, protecting them from all those risks that opening up brings, risks that the measures taken by the Revolution bring. Our country has opened itself up now. Tourism opens up the country and, from a lot of countries, they don't even need a visa to come, because it's not even used today in many cases.
Calculate the work of those who have to watch over the country's security, how they have to develop intelligence, ability. Here, we have to defend ourselves with intelligence, not just with trained dogswhich help, don't they?which can discover by the smell if some amount of drugs or explosives comes in. It's intelligent work, but it's a battle that we'll also win. Let nobody have any doubts about that. The enemy will try to go on hindering these tremendous efforts that we've started achieving with tourism. They won't rest, but we won't rest either. We're starting to counter that in every way.
Furthermore, it's a kind of problem that is universally disliked. Those actions against visitors, against tourists, are universally repudiated and it's my conviction that the United States isn't interested in those activities being carried out against Cuba in the current circumstances. In Puerto Rico, the very North Americans themselves captured the [Cuban-American National] Foundation's yacht, the weapons and the crew members who were preparing an attempt on my life in the Margarita Summit. But they underestimated what those despicable persons that they created were capable of doing and their lack of scruples in hiring mercenaries for terrorism abroad.
That's going to be repudiated by the world, and the country will have everyone's support in that struggle.
No country today, whichever it might beit doesn't matter what its ideology or its system arecan agree with such loathsome methods. Look, in cities that now have 20 million inhabitants, that have subways, underground trains, look at what terrorism means.
Crime is one of the phenomena that's becoming apparent with great force in all those big cities. But the very United States is in danger because some serious acts of terrorism have happened therein Oklahoma, for example: they blew up a big building. Madness! They destroyed it; they killed a hundred-odd people. A hideous thing! They've tried to sabotage the New York subway and the problem is that, in the United States, there are around 800 extremist, reactionary groups and at least 400 of those are armed.
According to news that we see in the cables, hardly a month goes by in which they don't discover some plot for serious things and they're now afraid that they're even going to use chemical and biological terrorism.
In other words, you can't call into question the fact that it's impossible for the United States to be indifferent to the activities of criminal groups that are trying to sabotage the Cuban economy through acts of terrorism, having to fight, discourage and protect their own population against hundreds of extremist organizations, armed fascists, that are proliferating in that country.
You can't forget what happened with the plane hijackings. Plane hijackings against Cuba were devised and it became a world epidemic. Who solved it? Cuba, on the day that, clearly and in advance, we said that we wouldn't tolerate a single more plane diversion, the perpetrators of which had heavy prison terms imposed on them. But that wasn't enough and we warned that the perpetrators, whatever their nationality might be, would be sent back to the United States. But another incident took place and we found ourselves with the bitter necessity of sending back two, who turned out to be of Cuban origin. And we did it on our own initiative. Nobody asked us to do that; nobody demanded that we do that, but it was a phenomenon that had to be eradicated. There were times when two or three planes were landing, always with the risk of a catastrophe.
One time, I remember, I went to the airport and one of those planes arrived. And the police over in the United States had shot holes in the plane's wheelsthey made a blunderand the plane landed without tires, with all the tires punctured, a big plane, one of those jumbos. The firefighters filled the runway with foam. I went and I remember that I wondered: What's going to happen here? Sparks were flying and all that, but it landed without tires, with all the tires punctured by the United States police.
We gave the United States a real lesson in the solution to this serious problem. The measure taken that we've already mentioned implicated two citizens who had emigrated illegally and they simply wanted to return. But we had issued a warning and repeated it well enough beforehand: "Don't hijack any more planes."
I want you to know, so that you can see the mentality of the United States authorities, that they sentenced those people to years and years. However, with the United States, which is always asking that somebody be freed, any of those terrorists, the government of Cuba couldn't even get them to give permission, I remember, for the family to go to visit them. They condemned them to something like 40 years and they've never deigned to send news of those people who they sentenced severely by virtue of a decision by our country that put an end to the plane hijackings. From then on, there hasn't been a single plane hijacking from the United States. It was Cuba that solved that problem. But what neighbors we have, who don't even deign to give news, because I think that, faced with our gesture, they should have given facilities to the families so that they could visit them or they should have sent them here to carry out their punishment. They have a special mentality. You have to know them well.
Cuba finished the matter of the plane hijackings, but that was a bitter experience when it became a world epidemic.
This kind of terrorist actions, like those carried out by the Salvadoran mercenary, who, in a single day, wanted to install five bombs, using sophisticated but accessible mechanismsif they spread through the world, they'll become a tragedy.
In the United States, enough people are aware and the authorities of that country, for what we've read in certain public cables, are aware and are concerned because, if the mad extremists that abound in that country become familiar with such procedures, which are easier to use than hijackings, in order to demand money, to carry out sabotage, to sow terror, to perform acts of fanaticism and extremism, it would be a grave danger not only for the United States but also for the whole world.
There's something about which we harbor no doubts: they are partly to blame. First, they taught all those people. Second, for many years, they tolerated them committing every kind of misdeed against Cuba. Third, they sanctified them. And it was those from the famous Foundation who devised and organized the macabre plans of hiring foreign mercenaries to carry out those actions, taking advantage of the facility provided by the opening-up and the development of tourism in our country. Yes, that's how it is. They were warned by us and we pointed out to them the responsibility that those groups had. But those with great influence, big lobbying power, were proposing laws and more laws against Cuba and passing themselves off as people who were operating legally and peacefully. We already had all the elements to judge and we warned that country's authorities of this some time ago.
By the same token, I have to say that, currently, they're genuinely concerned at these problems. There are over there, I repeat, groups of extremists, fascists, racists, capable of doing anything. So, it's in the interests not just of Cuba; it's in the interests of other countries and it's in the interests of the United States itself that such practices don't proliferate in the world.
Those things were devised by their unscrupulous and irresponsible perpetrators in order to affect the efforts that the country is making. But opposite every effort of our homeland's enemies is our effortas I was telling youand all the aspects of the work to counteract them, to which is added our resolute will to cooperate with other countries in order to face up to these and other calamities of today's world.
I was saying that work is being done on all fronts to control things well, to be more efficient, to prevent deviations, to prevent theft, to prevent negative habits and the vices that are generated and spread throughout the world by the capitalist system.
The enemy preaches the habit of theft and, in their mass media, they try to stress, to insinuate, to inculcate the idea of theft, of breaking the law, in the middle of shortages and difficultieswhich is what forces us to strengthen all the measures against that and to strengthen all the measures against manifestations of prostitution and to punish very severely all corruption of minors, like in the last decree law that was issued. Those who would like to corrupt and demoralize our people should know that there was even quite a lot of discussion on whether or not to apply the capital punishment in the case of corruption of minors. So as not to go as far as measures that might appear extreme, it was decided to raise considerably the punishments of loss of liberty against every attempt at corruption of minors and similar activities. We hope that this will be enough.
The battle against some of these manifestations that might arise has to be with the masses, with the people. It has to be political. It has to be educational. It has to be waged everywhere, without dropping our guard at any time. We have the mass organizations; we have the Party; we have the state institutions and we have the institutions that take care of internal order, which have gained great experience in these years.
It's about new forms of battle. The enemy is using new forms of struggle to affect the economy. Striking at the economy is becoming the number-one priority task for them, accompanied by new and incessant ideological offensives against the country.
We'll do everything that depends on us and everything that depends on what the people do, on what the Party does, on what the state does, on what the mass organizations do in order to emerge victorious. There are many battles that we have to wage, inside and outside, because we're never going to stop fighting. We know the ideas, the plans of the hegemonic power, its theories, its philosophyand we won't stop denouncing whatever invention they come up with to subdue peoples, whatever maneuver they carry out to plunder the world. They'll have to contend with us in the international organizations, where we take part, which are the most important.
We don't care about their exclusive meetings. What for?
Now, there was a meeting in Geneva and strange things happened. Strange things were concocted. There was a scheduled meeting, a group of heads of state. However, they concocted special programs and things like that. It seems that they didn't much like the presence of Cuba there. That's the truth. But, well, that's all very well. We were present at all the meetings, at all the activities. We fulfilled the program meticulously.
Our adversary has to be given lessons in chivalry and courtesy, as well. It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't cost anything to behave like decent and civilized people when you're decent and civilized. It must be some job playing the role of a civilized person without being one. It's a problem that a lot of people in the world have.
You can all leave this meeting with the conviction that widespread work in all these areas is being done in the country, every day of the year and every hour of the day. Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are used to look for solutions. There are many and very varied topics, subjects that have to be discussed by the Party leadership and the state leadership. But work is being done in everything. That's to say that we're going to march in step and we want the agricultural front to stand out and to give all that it can give.
This battle isn't just for food. It's also a great political battle. It's an ideological battle. When the enemy wants to extol all the merits of the rotten and corrupt capitalist society, we have to exalt and cultivate all the virtues of socialism and of communism, which means fraternity, brotherhood, generosity. And this people, who were capable of giving their blood, how are they not going to be capable of giving their soul, all their spirit and their conscience to the cause of the Revolution?
That's the idea that we'll take from this very stimulating meeting, although I know that we could have been here for a week. We'll try to follow closely what you're all doing and what the ANAP is doing with this movement.
You don't know how pleased we are that formulas are starting to emerge. I could appreciate today some-thing that nobody said expressly. It wasn't declared with words, but I could perceive your annoyance, but not at problems of an economic or material nature. I haven't heard a single expression here among the hundreds of comrades who were here and who spoke that could reflect a primacy of economic interests over the interests of the homeland and of the Revolution, not a single wordand I listened to many contributions from those who bitterly raised the question of the need to lower prices, how to lower them for the population. Why did they do this? Out of a noble sense of honor. A peasant feels very annoyed and very indignant that they might go and confuse him with some of these swindlers who go around looking for a way to earn a lot of money without sweating their brow, at the cost of others. I noticed it clearly and all the comrades noticed it when you talked, that you were defending, above all, the peasants' honor.
We can do things that suit the peasants from the social point of view, from the economic point of view and from the point of view of honor. The peasant doesn't have anything to lose in everything that we're doing and he has a lot to gain in every sense, above all in the moral aspect, in his prestige, in his authority, in his Revolution, in his alliance with the workers, the students, the intellectuals, the scientists. That's why I see so much of a future in this effort. And believe us when we say that we're going to do everything possible to support the peasant. We're going to do everything possible to be informed about all the experiences. We're going to do what's possible to find out about all of the concerns that you might have brought today without having had the opportunity to raise them, because it was clear that some of you had one approach, others another approach, when you were talking about marketplaces, how to do it, and those who talked about how they didn't want to send anybody to the market because they preferred them to be there working in the countryside.
Of course, as I was telling you, a lot of things will have to be made to measure, according to the situations, even according to the provinces. The conditions aren't the same, as José Luis (in reference to José Luis Rodríguez, Minister of Economy and Planning) explained, in Havana and in the other provinces. It's very different in Ciego de Avila, but they've contributed many and very good lessons and I'm sure that, everywhere, in all the municipalities, there are many and very good lessons. They must be gathered together. They must be put to good use. They must be applied with flexibility, with common sense.
We're going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the land reform, I'd say in style, because it's like a rebirth of all those dreams, of all that happiness from that time, with a new character because, as I was telling you at the beginning, with an educated peasantry, with a peasantry that knows how to read and write more than any other peasant in Latin America, more than any other peasant in the world or, at least, let's say, in the Third World although, in the first world, I want you to know that there are a lot of people who are illiterate and that some who maybe know how to sign their names can't read a newspaper; they can't read a book.
So, Pepe, we're going to celebrate the 40th anniversary. We have to see how we'll do it, but it has to be with a big effort to make advances, to improve and promote everything to do with agriculture, and the whole people will commemorate with you and with us that 40th anniversary, that law, which was the one that settled the decision of the United States government to overthrow the revolutionary government. Because it was the land reform. Many other laws came after, but it was that law that led to the decision to destroy the Revolution. That's established historically. And celebrating that 40th anniversary with thousands of CPAs, with thousands of credit and service cooperatives, with thousands of UBPCs and enterprises of different kinds that have to do with agriculture, and with a land of our own, very much our own, because we see it as a treasure of the nation. We can do it with that land, because we're free to do it, to use it and to benefit from it in the way that we consider most suitable. And everything that we might do, as always, must be done like that, by consensus among ourselves, discussed among ourselves.
We congratulate you for that declaration, a magnifi- cent and very timely declaration, which you're going to discuss and present on the occasion of the anniversary of the Congress in Arms. But we have to start thinking now about the 40th anniversary of the Land Reform Law and it has to be in that spirit, with a strong, very strong boost, a decisive boost to all activities in the field of agriculture. And, as always, count on us, but count on us especially.
It's true that we all have many tasks but there's always a little space. [National Association of Small Farmers chairman Orlando] Lugo, I'm going to devote a little space to finding out everything that those people might have said here today, all their experiences and all the new experiences that they might acquire, and to thinking and thinking about how we can consolidate the movement, how we can boost this movement, for which I really see many economic and political prospects.
I gave you just one example of the economic: tobacco and nothing else. And when I gave you that example, I didn't mention to you that it's also the biggest source of internal income that the country has. We think of hard currency, but internal finance brings in a lot of money with that raw material that you produce and I've mentioned only one. Yes, if there can be more cocoa, excellent, fine. But let's not destroy nature. If there can be more coffee, we must do what's needed so that there's more coffee. But let's preserve nature. Let's never do it at the expense of nature. Let's rationalize the effort that we're making in the mountains.
In roots and vegetables, everything that you can produce on your land, in all those kitchen gardens, in the different kinds of vegetable gardens, is really important, applying technology, science. We have quite a lot of scientists; there's knowledge; the cultural levels are high, as I was telling you. Here, the quantity of middle-level technicians that you have could be seen, university professionals, loads. If you work out a statistic, from what I've heard here, there must be a few thousand, several thousand university professionals in the credit and service cooperatives.
It encourages us a lot knowing that those are today's delegatesthe heirs of those first ones, with whom the first plans emerged. There's now a tremendous amount of accumulated experience, not just national but also international. Unite all that and advance.
What a difference from that 2nd of December when we disembarked from the Granma! But why did we have such confidence in our peasants? Because we knew Cuba's history. We knew that it was necessary to fight against an army that was armed by the United States, trained by the United States and supplied by the United States, which taught it tactics, strategies, communi-cations systems, which had tanks, planes, every kind of weapon, every kind of means of combat. We asked ourselves "Where's the solution?", even at the time of the Moncada.
In the Moncada, we planned to capture the stronghold in order to seize the weapons and try to overthrow the government with the support of the masses. But the idea was clear that, if that wasn't achieved, then we would go with all the weapons to the Sierra Maestra. That was really clear.
After the Moncada, the whole later plan was worked out in the Isle of Pines prison. It was already going to be difficult, what with how well-known all of us were, to work here and we said: Now, we have no choice but to go away for a short time, to work, organize, train, acquire weapons and return. Where to? To the Sierra Maestra. And who was in the Sierra Maestra? The peasants. Who did we trust in? In the peasants.
It's not that we didn't trust the workers. We knew that that was the right arm for the time when it became necessary to give those blows that Stevenson used to give. Don't you know anything about boxing? This with the left is the jab. (He goes into position.) Isn't it? The working class was like the right fist waiting and, when they tried to give that blow at the last moment against the Revolution, how long did it last? We struck with the right arm, with all its forcethe working class waging the final battle alongside the Rebel Army. Scarcely a few months had passed since the April strike and there was no trade union movement. The Mujalists (Eusebio Mujal and other trade union leaders supported by the capitalist government and business) had the trade union movement totally controlled and it was the consciousness of the workers, that right arm, which acted. Above all, it acted on that 1st of January, and later in other decisive battles, because then came the clean-up of the Escambray mountains, then Girón and all the events in which the working class played such an important role.
We disembarked on that 2nd of December 1956, there, where the peasants where. It was in those peasants, who didn't know how to read or write and in those exploited peasants that we trusted. And we trusted in them not only when there were 82 of us. We trusted in them when we were left reduced to groups of two or three and we trusted in them when there were 10 or 12 of us and we continued trusting. That trust never left us. But we knew Cuba's history. We knew the peasant's role in Cuba's history. We knew the heart of our peasants, the soul of our peasants. With the peasants, it was possible to destroy that modern army, trained and armed by experts in that, and to disarm it completely, in such a way that not even a single machete remained from among those that they hit people with. It was infinite trust in those peasants.
A day like today, when I feel gratitude for what you're all doing, for your ideas, for the things that you've expressed today, I just want to tell you that I have the same trust in our peasants as I had that 2nd of December (Applause), the same confidence of that 17th of May when the Land Reform Law was signed. (Applause.) No, I've said that wrongafter almost 40 years of revolution, I have even more trust than I had then. (Applause.)
Socialism or death!
Homeland or death!
We will win!