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The Speech

Guests and comrade workers, today we are not going to make a commemoration speech. That is, we are not going to recall achievements and successes scored by the Revolution. Neither are we going to recall past heroic events. It is not with words but with actions and work that one pays tribute to those who have given their all.

Neither are we going to deal today with problems of an international nature—about which we could and would like to say a great deal.

Today we are going to talk about our problems and difficulties [applause]; our setbacks rather than our successes, and we would like to make a series of analyses, even though we realize that a forum of this type is hardly the ideal place for either cold analysis or figures.

I don’t usually come to events such as this loaded down with papers. However, this time I had no alternative but to bring some papers with me [applause], since there are a lot of data and figures.

Let’s express the essence of our difficulties in the simplest possible terms.

Above all, we want the people to be informed. We want the people to understand. We want the people to gird themselves for battle. [Applause] This is because our problems will not be solved by means of miracles performed by individuals or even by groups of individuals. Only the people can perform miracles. [Applause]

So that you will better understand what I am going to explain, I would like to give you some data:

In 1958, on the eve of the triumph of the Revolution, Cuba’s population was 6,547,000. In 1970 it is estimated that the population will reach a figure of approximately 8,256,000. Our population has increased. We will know the exact figure after the census that is going to be made within a few weeks has been finished. This will be made very carefully to include everybody—that is, everybody but those who want to stop being a part of this conglomerate. [Applause]

For them, it will be the dolce vita and the consumer society. We will stay with other things that are harder but more honorable and worthy. [Applause] Though in the social order the real harshness of life is the lot only of cowards.

As I said before, our population has registered an increase of 1,709,000, of whom 844,000 are minors under working age and 188,000 are men and women over working age. Out of that 1,709,000, there are 1,032,000—that is, 60 percent—who are either under seventeen or over working age—women over fifty-five and men over sixty. In other words, 60 percent who do not participate in production.

Not counting those who are studying or are physically or socially disabled, the net increase in labor resources in these last twelve years has been 580,000. On the other hand, the needs of the economy for its new economic and social activities and the replacement of those who have reached retirement age call for 1,200,000 people.

What with our new labor resources and the number of unemployed that existed before the Revolution, we have been partly—only partly—able to meet our growing manpower needs.

Of course, at the beginning, in 1958, there were 686,000 unemployed. A large number of them are working today; others have reached an age that makes them no longer fit for work; and there remain 75,000 who, neither housewives, students, nor disabled, simply do not work. There are 75,000 of them.

These are the figures showing our population growth along these years and the make-up of the population.

According to estimates, how will things stand between 1970 and 1975? The situation will be even more serious. It is estimated that between 1970 and 1975 there will be a population increase of 660,000. Of these 660,000, the increase in minors—that is, the increase in those under working age—will be 280,000, the increase in people over working age will be 108,000, and the increase in people of working age will be 275,000. Thus, not counting those who will have to study and others who, for various other reasons, will not work, there will be a net increase in our labor resources of 167,000 people in the next five years.

Therefore, our problem in connection with manpower and the make-up of the population will continue to worsen in the next five years and will only begin to improve toward the end of the decade, close to 1980. It is estimated that the population increase between 1975 and 1980 will be 828,000. The increase in those under working age will be 160,000, 0the increase in those over working age will be 121,000, the increase in those of working age will be 550,000, and the net increase in our labor resources between 1975 and 1980 will be 535,000.

Therefore, the population make-up—you understand perfectly well what this is: it’s the composition of the population according to age we have just been talking about. This is what the trend will be for the next five years, and—I repeat—it will begin to improve from 1975 to 1980.

Now, then, this population make-up—this happens not only in our country but also in other countries that have experienced a population explosion, which means almost all of the underdeveloped countries—means that only 32 percent of the population is engaged in activities related to our economy. That is, less than a third of the population is engaged in furnishing goods or services. And that third includes those who are furnishing services that constitute investments for the future, such as public health services and education, and those engaged in services that are absolutely necessary to the defense of the Revolution and the homeland.

We must know these figures, first of all, in order to be fully aware of the situation, so we will know some of the obstacles that must be overcome.

I would like to point out that some of the services have increased, as a result of this population make-up and also as a result of elementary measures of justice that the Revolution had to adopt—measures which, in our opinion, could not be postponed. Social security, first of all.

A total of 379,842 retirement and survivors’ pensions have been granted since the triumph of the Revolution. That is, in the revolutionary process, a total of 379,842 people have had their right to these benefits recognized and these allotments have been paid to them.

In addition, a total of 193,260 survivors and retired people—most of whom had received pensions as low as under ten pesos a month—have had their allotment increased to a minimum of sixty pesos a month.

The outlay for social security services increased from 114.7 million pesos in 1958 to 320 million in 1970.

Public health services: In 1958 there were 8,209 workers in public health services. In 1969 the number increased to 87,646—87,646! Outlay for public health services, which in 1958 was 22.7 million pesos, increased to 236.1 million in 1969.

Outlay in education or in general services in education: In 1958 there were 936,723 people enrolled in schools throughout the country. A total of 2,289,464 enrolled in the 1969-70 school year—1,560,193 of them in primary education.

In 1958 there were 23,648 workers in public education. In 1969 the figure rose to 127,526.

The number of scholarships—15,698 in 1958—is now 277,505. This figure does not include the children in day-care centers and semiboarding schools.

In 1958 the outlay for public education was 77 million pesos. This figure rose to 290.6 million in 1969.

The number of beneficiaries of social security—that is, those who received new pensions and retirements—public health workers, workers in education, and scholarship students amounts to no fewer than 900,000 in 1970. And, if we add the men engaged in the defense of our country, the figure goes over 1,100,000.

Outlay for social security, public health, and education—three sectors—which was 213.8 million pesos in 1958, amounts to no less than 850 million for 1970. If we add the outlay for defense to these three sectors, the total comes close to 1.2 billion pesos a year.

I wanted to give comparative figures in pesos as well as comparative figures in people.

The average number of double rations distributed among industrial workers and workers in services, scholarship students, those in day-care centers and semiboarding schools, people mobilized for agricultural work and the sugar harvest, hospital patients, and combatants of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior amounted to approximately 2,250,000 per day.

Needless to say, such services must continue to increase. Suffice it to say that the number of working women increased from 194,000 in 1958 to close to 600,000 in 1970—which, naturally, creates new, extensive needs for not only children’s day-care centers but also semiboarding schools.

At the same time, notwithstanding the number of people working in education mentioned here and our expenditures for education, we must say that those needs are still far from being fully met—in both quantity and quality. There are still many cases of pupils who attend school only half a day, as a result of shortages of teachers and classrooms.

We will need 7,000 new primary school teachers a year from 1970 to 1975. Seven thousand new teachers must be graduated every year! Some of them will go to meet outstanding needs, another part will replace those who must retire because of old age, and the rest will constitute increases in both quantity and quality. Consequently, we need 35,000 new teachers in the next five years. For the same reasons, we will need 4,000 new junior high school teachers, 4,000 new junior high school teachers every year through 1975.

One thousand eight hundred new senior high school teachers will be needed every year. This means that we need to graduate—but this does not mean that we are going to graduate them, because, unfortunately, we can’t do this yet—12,800 new primary and junior and senior high school teachers every year—an aggregate of 64,000 in five years.

I believe that anyone can understand the significance that the solution or our failure to solve this problem has for this country. I believe that anyone can understand what a country will become or not become if it solves or fails to solve the problem of education. And the problem has to be solved in the conditions that I have explained to you, and all those resources have to be obtained from a population whose age make-up is worsening, with 32 percent—a percentage that will not grow in the near future—of the population producing all the resources.

By way of comparison, suffice it to say that the industrialized countries of Europe, including the socialist countries, with incomparably higher labor productivity, with much greater development of their productive forces, employ, or employed in the decade just past, approximately 45 percent of their total population. We are employing and will have to employ—not only for development, not only for providing for all of our unsatisfied needs, not only for our increasing needs—only 32 percent of the population. And, as we succeed in employing more women, more and more needs in the forms of schools, day-care centers, semiboarding schools, and the like will arise.

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