Achievements of the Cuban Revolution are well known. What is striking
about Raúl Castro Ruz's address on 26 July 2007 (an excerpt from which
is reproduced below), on the occasion of Cuba's National Day of
Rebellion, is not his tribute to them but his candid assessment of the
"errors which aggravate objective difficulties derived from external
causes." What "structural and conceptual changes" will be introduced
to overcome them in "a very trying international economic situation"?
And where will the changes take the revolution? Read it with "Cuba's
Self Criticism" by Fidel (also reproduced below). -- Yoshie
The Revolution's Most Important Weapon: the People
by Raúl Castro Ruz
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Efficiency largely depends on perseverance and good organization,
especially of systematic controls and discipline, and in particular on
where we have succeeded in incorporating the masses to the struggle
We need to bring everyone to the daily battle against the very errors
which aggravate objective difficulties derived from external causes,
especially those induced by the United States' economic blockade which
really constitutes a relentless war against our people, as the current
administration of that country is especially bent on finding even the
slightest of ways to harm us.
One could point to a myriad of examples. I shall limit myself to
mentioning the obstacles to the country's commercial and financial
transactions abroad, often directed at the purchase of food, medicines
and other basic products for the people, and the denial of access to
banking services through coercion and the extra-territorial imposition
of its laws.
There are also the almost insurmountable obstacles imposed by that
government that goes to ridiculous lengths to prevent its people from
traveling to Cuba and also on the Cuban residents there coming to
visit their relatives; the denial of visas not just to our officials,
but to artists, athletes, scientists and, in general, to anyone who is
not willing to slander the Revolution.
As our Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently denounced, we can add to
all of this the obstacles to the fulfillment of what is established in
the migratory agreements with regards to the minimum number of visas
to be granted annually.
This policy encourages those who turn to illegal emigration and are
received there as heroes, often times after endangering the lives of
children, and in spite of the fact that such an irresponsible behavior
puts at risk not only the safety of Cubans, but also of Americans, the
ones who the government constantly claims to be protecting, since
whoever risks trafficking with human lives for money, would probably
not hesitate in doing so with drugs, arms or other such things.
Cuba, for her part, will continue to honor her commitments to the
migratory accords, as she has done until today.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
By that time the elections will also have taken place in the United
States and the mandate of the current president of that country will
have concluded along with his erratic and dangerous administration,
characterized by such a reactionary and fundamentalist philosophy that
it leaves no room for a rational analysis of any matter.
The new administration will have to decide whether it will maintain
the absurd, illegal and failed policy against Cuba or if it will
accept the olive branch that we offered on the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of the landing of the Granma. That is, when we reasserted
our willingness to discuss on equal footing the prolonged dispute with
the government of the United States, convinced that this is the only
way to solve the problems of this world, ever more complex and
If the new United States authorities were to finally desist from their
arrogance and decide to talk in a civilized manner, it would be a
welcome change. Otherwise, we are ready to continue confronting their
policy of hostility, even for another 50 years, if need be.
Fifty years seem like a long time, but soon we will be celebrating the
50th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution and the 55th
anniversary of Moncada, and among so many tasks and challenges those
years have gone by and we have hardly noticed. Furthermore,
practically 70% of our population was born after the blockade was
imposed, and so we are well trained to continue resisting it and
finally defeating it.
Some who have been influenced by enemy propaganda or are simply
confused, do not perceive the real danger or the undeniable fact that
the blockade has a direct influence both on the major economic
decisions as well as on each Cuban's most basic needs.
Directly and on a daily basis, it weighs heavily on our food supply,
transportation, housing and even on the fact that we cannot rely on
the necessary raw materials and equipment to work with.
The enemy established it half a century ago for this reason, as we
were saying, and today it still dreams of forcing us to submit to its
will. President Bush himself insists on repeating that he will not
allow the Cuban Revolution to continue. It would be interesting to
ask him just how he intends to do that.
How little they have learned from history!
In his Manifesto published on June 18, Fidel said to them once again
what every revolutionary on this island is convinced of: "They shall
never have Cuba!"
Our people will never give an inch of ground under the attempt of any
country or group of countries to pressure us, nor will it make the
slightest unilateral concession to send any kind of signal to anybody.
With respect to the economic and social tasks ahead of us, we know the
tensions that Party cadres are subjected to, especially at the base,
where there's hardly ever a balance between accumulated needs and
We are also aware that, because of the extreme objective difficulties
that we face, wages today are clearly insufficient to satisfy all
needs and have thus ceased to play a role in ensuring the socialist
principle that each should contribute according to their capacity and
receive according to their work. This has bred forms of social
indiscipline and tolerance which, having taken root, prove difficult
to eradicate, even after the objective causes behind them are
I can responsibly assure you that the Party and government have been
studying these and other complex and difficult problems in depth,
problems which must be addressed comprehensibly and through a
differentiated approach in each concrete case.
All of us, from the leaders to the rank-and-file workers, are
duty-bound to accurately identify and analyze every problem in depth,
within our working areas, in order to combat the problem with the most
This differs greatly from the attitude of those who use existing
difficulties to shield themselves from criticisms, leveled against
them for not acting with the necessary swiftness and efficiency, or
for lacking the political sensitivity and courage needed to explain
why a problem cannot be solved immediately.
I will limit myself to drawing your attention to these crucial issues.
A simple criticism or appeal will not solve these problems, even when
they are made at a ceremony like this. They demand, above all else,
organized work, control and dedication, day after day; systematic
rigor, order and discipline, from the national level down to the
thousands of places where something is produced or a service is
This is where the country's efforts are headed, as they are in other
areas of similar importance and strategic significance. We are
working hastily but not desperately, avoiding unnecessary public
statements so as not to raise false hopes. And, again, speaking with
the sincerity which has always characterized the Revolution, I remind
you that all problems cannot be solved overnight.
I am not exaggerating when I say that we face a very trying
international economic situation, where, in addition to wars, lack of
political stability, the deterioration of the environment and the rise
in oil prices -- apparently an irreversible trend -- we now face,
like comrade Fidel has recently denounced, the decision made primarily
by the United States, to transform corn, soy and other food products
into fuel. This move is bound to make the price of these products,
and those directly dependent upon these such as meats and milk prices,
climb dramatically as it has been the case in recent months.
I will just mention some figures. Today, the price of an oil barrel
is around 80 dollars, nearly three times what it was only 4 years ago,
when it was priced at 28 dollars. This has an impact on practically
everything, for, to produce anything or to offer any kind of service,
one requires a given quantity of fuel, directly or indirectly.
Another case in point is the price of powdered milk, which was 2,100
dollars the ton in 2004. This already placed great strains on our
ability to make this product available, as its import meant an
investment of 105 million dollars. A total of 160 million dollars
were spent to purchase the needed quantities in 2007, as prices shot
up to 2,450 dollars the ton. In these four years, nearly 500 million
dollars have been spent in these purchases.
Currently, the price of powdered milk is over 5,200 dollars the ton.
Therefore, should domestic production not continue to increase, to
meet consumption needs in the next 2008, we would have to spend 340
million dollars in milk alone, more than three times what was spent in
2004. That is, if prices do not continue to rise.
In the case of milled rice, it was priced at 390 dollars a ton in 2006
and is sold today at 435 a ton. Some years ago, we were buying frozen
chicken at 500 dollars a ton. We made plans on the assumption its
price would go up to 800; in fact, it went up to its current price of
This is the case with practically all products the country imports to
meet, essentially, the needs of the population, products which, as it
is known, the people purchase at prices which have practically
remained unchanged in spite of the circumstances.
And I am talking of products that I think can be grown here -- it
seems to me that there is plenty of land -- and we have had good rains
last year and this. As I drove in here I could see that everything
around is green and pretty, but what drew my attention the most, what
I found prettier was the marabú (a thorny bush) growing along the
Therefore, any increase in wages or decrease in prices, to be real,
can only stem from a greater and more efficient production and
services offer, which will increase the country's incomes.
No one, no individual or country, can afford to spend more than what
they have. It seems elementary, but we do not always think and act in
accordance with this inescapable reality.
To have more, we have to begin by producing more, with a sense of
rationality and efficiency, so that we may reduce imports, especially
of food products -- that may be grown here -- whose domestic
production is still a long way away from meeting the needs of the
We face the imperative of making our land produce more; and the land
is there to be tilted either with tractors or with oxen, as it was
done before the tractor existed. We need to expeditiously apply the
experiences of producers whose work is outstanding, be they in the
state or farm sector, on a mass scale, but without improvising, and to
offer these producers adequate incentives for the work they carry out
in Cuba's suffocating heat.
To reach these goals, the needed structural and conceptual changes
will have to be introduced.
We are already working in this direction and a number of modest
results can already be appreciated. As demanded by the National
Assembly of the People's Power, all debts to farmers were settled; in
addition to this, there has been a discrete improvement in the
delivery of inputs to some productive sectors and a notable increase
in the prices of various products, that is to say, the price the state
pays to the producer, not the price the population pays, which remains
unchanged. This measure had an impact on important production items,
such as meat and milk.
With respect to milk production and distribution, we are aware that
the material resources we have managed to secure for the livestock
industry are still very limited. However, in the last two years
nature has been on our side and everything indicates that we will
reach the planned figure of 384 million liters of milk, which is still
far lower than the 900 million we were producing when we had all the
fodder and other required inputs.
In addition to this, since March, an experiment has been underway in
six municipalities -- Mantua and San Cristóbal in Pinar del Rio,
Melena del Sur in La Habana, Calimete in Matanzas, Aguada de Pasajeros
in Cienfuegos and Yaguajay in Sancti Spiritus -- where 20 thousand
liters of milk have been directly and consistently delivered by the
producer to 230 rationed stores and for social consumption in these
localities every day.
In this fashion, we have eliminated absurd procedures through which
this valuable food product traveled hundreds of miles before reaching
a consumer who, quite often, lived a few hundred meters away from the
livestock farm, and, with this, the product losses and fuel expenses
I will give you one example or maybe two in order to mention one from
Camaguey. Currently, in Mantua, one of the western most
municipalities in Pinar del Rio, 2,492 liters of milk, which meet
established consumption needs, are being distributed directly to the
municipality's 40 rationed stores and 2,000 liters of fuel are being
saved every month.
What was the situation until four months ago?
The closest pasteurizer is located in the Sandino municipality, 40
kilometers away from Mantua, the most important town in the area.
Thus, in order to deliver the milk to that plant, a truck had to
travel a minimum of 80 kilometers -- because distances are different
-- each day to make the round journey. I say "a minimum" because
other areas of the municipality are even farther away.
The milk that children and other consumers in Mantua receive on a
regulated basis, once pasteurized at the Sandino plant, returned,
shortly afterwards, on a vehicle which, as it is logical to assume,
had to return to its base of operations after delivering the product.
In total, it traveled 160 kilometers, a journey which, as I explained,
was in fact longer.
I don't know if at the moment this is still the case but some time
ago, as I was touring the southeast of Camaguey and in a place known
as Los Raules -- my namesake -- I asked a few questions. It happened
that all the milk produced at Los Raules was brought to Camaguey for
pasteurizing, and the milk assigned to the children at Los Raules had
to be taken back there after that. Is that still the case?
On one occasion, not long ago, less than a year, I asked if that
insane and absurd crisscrossing had been eliminated. I assure you
that I was told it had, and now we are finding out this.
Try thinking about things like these and you'll see the spending they mean.
The commendable aim of all of this crisscrossing was, as we can see,
to pasteurize all milk. This measure makes sense and it is necessary
in the case of large urban centers -- even though it is customary in
Cuba to boil all milk at home, whether the milk is pasteurized or not
-- and all milk needed to supply cities will thus continue to be
stocked and pasteurized, but it does not prove viable for a truck --
or hundreds of trucks -- to travel these long distances every day to
deliver a few liters of milk, to places which produce enough of it to
As from the victory of the Revolution, the Cubans have learned to
travel from west to east, mostly from east to west really, but our
wishes to travel have led us to make the milk travel as well.
In addition to the municipalities participating in this experiment,
which I mentioned already, another 3,500 rationed stores in other
municipalities and provinces are also directly distributing milk, and
over 7 million liters of milk have already been distributed.
This procedure will gradually begin to be applied in more and more
places, as expediently as possible but without any rash attempts at
making it a general formula. In all cases, its application will be
preceded by a comprehensive study that demonstrates its viability in a
specific place and reveals the existence of the needed organizational
and material conditions.
We will continue to work in this direction until all of the country's
municipalities that produce the needed quantities of milk become
self-sufficient and can complete, within their jurisdiction, the cycle
which begins when a cow is milked and ends when a child or any other
person drinks the milk, to the extent that present conditions allow.
That is to say, the chief aim of these efforts is to produce as much
milk as possible, and I say this is possible in the overwhelming
majority of municipalities, except for those in the capital of the
country, that is, those which are not in the outskirts of the city,
because there they can produce milk too. There are already some
capital cities in various provinces that can produce enough in their
main municipalities; such is the case of Sancti Spiritus. And, we
must definitely produce more milk!
I mean, the main purpose is to produce more milk to first ensure what
we need for our children. We are talking about a basic food for
children, and for the ill people; we cannot fool around with that
either. But we should neither renounce the possibility that others
may also receive it in the future.
Additionally, this program intends to continue increasing fuel
savings; something very important, too.
This program responds to today's existing situation, where dreams of
the vast imports of fodder and other inputs of decades past, when the
world was very different from what it is today, are just that: dreams.
This is but one example of the abundant resources that become
available when we organize ourselves better and analyze an issue as
deeply as required, mindful of all the involved factors.
I reiterate that our problems will not be solved spectacularly. We
need time and, most importantly, we need to work systematically and
with devotion to consolidate every achievement, no matter how small.
Another nearly endless source of resources -- if we consider how much
we squander -- is to be found in saving, particularly, as we said, the
saving of fuel, whose price is increasingly prohibitive, and very
unlikely to decrease.
This is a task of strategic importance which is not always undertaken
with the necessary care, and wasteful practices have not yet been
halted. The example with the milk is enough.
Wherever it is rational to do so, we must also recover domestic
industrial production and begin producing new products that eliminate
the need for imports or create new possibilities for export.
In this connection, we are currently studying the possibility of
securing more foreign investment, of the kind that can provide us with
capital, technology or markets, to avail ourselves of its contribution
to the country's development, careful not to repeat the mistakes of
the past, owed to naivety or our ignorance about these partnerships,
of using the positive experiences we've had to work with serious
entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases which preserve the role
of the State and the predominance of socialist property.
We shall step up our cooperative efforts with other nations more and
more, aware that only united, and on the basis of utter respect for
the path chosen by every country, will we prevail. Proof of this are
the steps we are taking forward next to our brothers in Venezuela,
Bolivia and Nicaragua, and our solid ties to China and Vietnam, to
mention but a few noteworthy examples of the growing number of
countries in all continents with which relations of all kinds are
being re-established and extended.
We will continue to make a priority of the Movement of Non-Aligned
Countries and the growing international movement of solidarity towards
the Revolution. We will also continue to work with the United Nations
Organization and other multilateral organizations of which Cuba is a
member, which respect the norms of international law and contribute to
the development of nations and to peace.
Many are the battles we face simultaneously and which require us to
bring together our forces to maintain the unity of the people, the
Revolution's greatest weapon, and to take advantage of the potential
of a socialist society like ours. The coming People's Power elections
will be a new opportunity to demonstrate how extraordinarily strong
our democracy -- a true democracy -- is.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We must always remember -- and not to repeat it from memory like a
dogma, but rather to apply it creatively in our work every day -- what
comrade Fidel affirmed on May 1st, 2000, with a definition which
embodies the quintessence of political and ideological work:
"Revolution means a sense of our moment in history, it means
changing all that ought to be changed; it is full equality and
freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it
is emancipating ourselves by ourselves, and through our own efforts;
it is defying powerful and ruling forces inside and outside of the
social and national spheres; it is defending values that are believed
in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness,
altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity,
intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical
principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force in
the world capable of crushing the strength of truth and ideas.
Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams
for justice for Cuba and for the world, it is the foundation of our
patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism." . . .
by Fidel Castro Ruz
The National Directorate of the UJC (Communist Youth League) agreed to
communicate the following measure as it was concluding its strategy:
"Last Saturday, July 7, the National Bureau of the Communist Youth
decided to tighten up the plan for the mobilization of forces of the
Student Work Brigades (BET), guided by the principle of using students
for tasks of a social and recreational nature, in numbers adjusted to
a necessary minimum and within municipalities where they reside, in
order to avoid relying on transportation.
"That decision was discussed on the same day with the National
General Staff of the BET, made up of student organizations and bodies
belonging to the Central State Administration, and also with the
directorates of the Communist Youth in all the provinces.
"The idea of making a more rational use of the mobilized forces
was emphasized; also, saving material resources, especially fuel, and
the fact that the students should be using their time consolidating
their knowledge, incorporating reading habits and discussing subjects
of great importance.
"As a result of the decisions adopted, only 200,000 of the
originally planned 600,000 students will be mobilized in July and
August. Mobilizations to the agricultural fields or schools in the
countryside will not take place, since their locations imply the use
of transportation and other logistical services.
"This year the call will be made for only 7 days of work related
to the tasks included in the Energy Revolution, together with the
social workers, such as training the community to improve their energy
saving habits, delivering the domestic appliances that have not been
distributed, and visiting a number of families who, having received
and taken on the pertinent obligations, have yet to complete their
"They will also be participating in the Anti-Mosquito Campaign in
order to prevent a return of dengue fever, and in primary and
secondary health care, supporting polyclinics and hospitals.
"Promoting cultural, recreational and sports activities in the
communities will be another of the tasks occupying the members of the
Student Work Brigades.
"The UJC will promote study and discussion among the mobilized
young people and among the rest of the youth."
I can certainly congratulate the National Directorate of the Communist
Youth League, and also the people in charge of the Organization and
Ideology Departments of the Party who were consulted about this and
who wholeheartedly supported this measure.
Physical labor on its own does not generate conscience. Every worker
is different. Their temperament, their physique, their spirit, the
kind of work they do, the toughness of their work, the conditions
under which they labor -- under a scorching sun or in an
air-conditioned room -- whether it is piecework or is salaried,
whether the worker is disciplined or not, whether they have command of
all their mental capacities or suffer from some disability, the
schools they attended, teachers they had, whether the activity is a
professional one or not, whether the worker is from the country or
from the city. Something else very important: whether the worker
handles or distributes goods or services of some kind, who the bosses
are, what image they project, how they speak, the way they look at
things. I could fill pages talking about the individual differences
of every worker. Therefore, what the people in our country need most
is knowledge, if what we want to do is create conscience.
Martí's precept about the importance of linking education and work in
the formation of man led us in the past to promote the participation
of university students and even students from the middle-level
education in physical labor. At first, this was an inescapable
necessity. We had to fill the vacuum left by those who abandoned the
sugar cane fields en masse as soon as other work opportunities
appeared. The average level of knowledge was very low, even after the
literacy campaign, the massive surge in primary education, and later
at the junior high school level. Our youth understood this and
contributed their efforts with discipline and enthusiasm.
Nowadays we have taken higher education to the masses, beginning with
the physicians and educators and continuing with the social workers,
those in the field of computer science, the art instructors, in the
universalization of university courses for a wide variety of degree
courses. We have to make the brain cells work if we want to build
consciences, so necessary in today's complex world.
The purpose of studying for one or two weeks, and this year it will
only be for 7 days, with proper materials that will be supplied, will
generate a feeling of satisfaction in time well spent and the
conscience that our society urgently needs.
Throughout the entire year we must keep ourselves informed about
essential matters and about the details of what is happening in Cuba
and in the rest of the world.
On specific economic matters, I think that in every country, most
people are unaware of everything. It is inescapable to know why the
cost of oil is climbing; last Monday the price reached 77 dollars a
barrel. Why the prices of foods are increasing, such as wheat and
others which must be imported because of climate-related problems; if
the cause of their increase is permanent or short-lived.
Not all workers receive the incentive of convertible pesos, a practice
that became generalized in a large number of companies during the
Special Period, without always fulfilling the minimum committed
requirements. Not everybody receives convertible currency from
abroad, something which is not illegal but which at times creates
irritating inequalities and privileges in a country that does its
utmost to supply vital services free of charge to the entire
population. I do not mention the juicy profits being made by those
who transport people clandestinely, nor the way they would fool us by
changing the US bills into other currencies in order to avoid our
response measures against the dollar.
The real and visible lack of equality and the lack of pertinent
information gives way to critical opinions, especially in the neediest
In Cuba, without a doubt, those who some way or another receive
convertible pesos -- even though in these cases the sums are limited
-- or those receiving currency from abroad, also acquire free
essential social services, food, medicines, and other goods at
extremely low subsidized prices. However we are strictly fulfilling
our financial obligations precisely because we are not a consumer
society. We need serious, brave and conscientious managers.
Those using up gasoline all over the place with our current fleet of
vehicles of all kinds; those who forget that the prices of food
increase sharply and that raw materials for agriculture and industry,
many of whose products are distributed to all at subsidized prices,
must be acquired at market prices; those that forget that the country
has the sacred duty to struggle until our last drop of blood and must
spend money for raw materials and defensive measures faced with an
enemy who is permanently on guard, they can compromise the
independence and life of Cuba. We cannot fool around with that!
I was horrified when a few days ago I heard a distinguished bureaucrat
exclaim on TV that now that the Special Period was over, we would be
sending more and more delegations each year to such and such
Where did this genius come from? I wondered. Perhaps it is a
donation sent us by Sancho Panza from his Isle of Barataria.
In Cuba, the Special Period has abated; but the world has fallen prey
to a very special period, and we must wait to see how it will come out
in the end. Billions of dollars are wasted in fuel. Not just as
professional wastrels, that's a natural tendency, but also out of
necessity to exchange thousands of ancient Soviet motors, from a time
when there was gasoline aplenty, for Chinese motors that are very
thrifty and have reasonable credit facilities. This program has
In the world economy, metals, just like oil, rise above their
historical parameters, but they also plummet abruptly.
Of course, no one can remedy, in a short time, the need for oil in
personal and public transportation and for agricultural or
construction equipment. In developed countries everything is
mechanized. Travelers describe how they see building after building,
of all kinds, rising up, and that the pace does not stop, day or
night. Cities are becoming gigantic. There are constantly more
millions of people who need drinking water, vegetables, fruits, and
protein foods that have had to be produced and supplied by others
often after traversing great distances. Furthermore, they need
highways with three or four lanes in both directions, bridges,
expensive works of engineering. The least of accidents, a simple
sideways brush between two vehicles, will paralyze everything. Public
expenditures are greater every day and development assistance has
Worst of all, for every thousand people there are more than 500
private automobiles. In the United States that number reaches almost
a thousand. People live or work at great distances. Everybody has
their own garage. Every workplace has its own parking lot. There are
not enough oil refineries. Many of them need to be expanded and also
new plants must be constructed. The raw material for a refinery is
oil; the heavier it is the more we need and for a long time now there
have been no great oilfields of light oil coming to light. A strike
in Nigeria, the war in Iraq, the threats to Iran, the old political
conflicts in Europe, a tidal wave, a hurricane, all of these send
prices sky high. The old and the new big consumers are always
demanding more millions of barrels per day. Of course, new nuclear
plants are growing at the same time. I am not discussing now the
environmental or climate effects or dangers, but the uncertainties
that they unleash upon the real economy.
After spending a mountain of gold to destroy Vietnam, Nixon replaced
gold with paper bills, with hardly anyone noticing the consequences.
The United States' technological development was such, as was its
capacity to produce industrial and agricultural merchandise,
especially its enormous military powerhouse, that the replacement of
gold by paper did not constitute a tragedy. Inflation of more than 10
% was produced, and it was controlled. This was followed by the
United States military build-up voted in with papers, at the end of
the Cold War, and the victory of the consumer society which dazzles
nations with its orgy of apparent wellbeing. The empire acquired a
large part of the world's wealth with paper, imposing their United
States laws there, scorning the sovereignty of nations.
The dollar went along progressively losing its value until it reached
less than 6 percent of what its value had been in the 70's. Experts
are puzzled about the new phenomena. Nobody is sure about what is
going to happen.
Do we have reasons to delve more deeply into these subjects, or not?
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 10, 2007