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The Speech

There is something I should point out: when the cane cutters from Havana were there in Oriente, the first thing they said was that they didn’t want to leave while there was any cane left; and the second thing was, with respect to the earthquake in Peru, that they were ready to go to Peru if necessary. [Applause] That is the spirit, the conscientiousness of our workers! Our workers have become much more conscientious.

Often men with no authority to make decisions are the ones who have to confront the problems.

On the other hand, some people believe that problems can be solved miraculously, that it is just a matter of replacing certain individuals.

I was saying that it has been necessary to remove some ministers and that it will be necessary to make some other changes. But sometimes it occurs to me with a certain sadness that there might be some confusion when the masses think that the problem can be solved simply by replacing individuals. And sometimes people say, “If they take this one out and put that one in….” And there are a tremendous number of government organizers and disorganizers and soothsayers.

But, of course, politics is not a game.

We must make changes, because, logically, there are comrades who have worn themselves out; they have run out of energy and are no longer able to handle the responsibilities they have on their shoulders. And we must make changes. But what I want to say is that it would be a fraud and we would be guilty of demagoguery, of unforgivable deception of the people, if we tried to make them believe that our problems are problems of individuals, if we tried to conceal the root of the matter, if we didn’t come right out and say that it isn’t a problem of an individual, group of individuals, or even teams. We believe this is a problem of the whole people! And we sincerely believe that the only way we can solve the problems we have today is by all working together—all of us—from the men in the highest positions of responsibility in the Party and state right on down to those in the most humble industrial plant and not just those in leadership positions there.

On this trip we discussed a series of ideas with the Minister of Labor. We said that we were still somewhat underdeveloped in the field of industrial administration. We explained why a factory of the people, which belongs to all the people, doesn’t even belong to its workers. A worker wouldn’t gain anything by being the owner of a cement factory together with his group, absolutely nothing at all. We have never shared that opinion.

We have seen the love the workers have for their factory—this is something else again—and believe it would be a good idea to link the workers’ everyday life—even their family problems, vacations and birthdays, lots of things—to the job. The workers’ affection for the factory would be strengthened if it were extended to tie in their families with their work. Some vacation plans have already been organized along these lines.

Some of the factories quite a way out from Santiago were assigned some of the buses that are being put together here in a shop which has greatly increased its productivity. The shop is assembling about four medium-sized buses a day. We gave some of these buses to the factories so the workers would use them at certain hours of the day. If a shift at a power plant or oil refinery winds up late at night and the workers have to try to catch a bus at a time when there are fewer buses on the streets, logically, the factory’s buses could be used to take the workers to their destination. These same buses can be used when the vacation period comes around, to take the workers and their families to the beach or other recreation areas.

The problem of housing distribution can be handled through the factories, as well. And the workers should be the ones to make the decisions. They, better than anyone else, know which worker needs a home most, or if he has a home…. He should speak about it. This problem should never be solved through administrative channels.

In the same vein, we told the comrades in Santiago de Cuba whom we have assigned the cement, trucks, and electric concrete mixers that we couldn’t solve that problem by looking for a labor force we don’t have. Urgent problems such as that of housing can only be solved with the aid of the masses!

Why? We have already explained the manpower problems we have and our problems with important industrial installations, schools, hospitals, and new factories.

Among other things, over one hundred jobs involving the installation of the equipment that is already here must be done. We could add that the installation of plants that are already here must be completed before we bring in new ones. Before we bring in new plants, we must first have all the already established ones operating at full capacity. Before we purchase new plants, we must purchase lathes for maintenance shops, tools, gauging equipment, and, occasionally, even a motor—these are what we call microinvestments—in order to get all those plants operating at 100 percent capacity, first of all—and, if possible, at 110 percent—and raise the workers’ productivity. We must also install all the equipment whose installation is still pending.

Suppose this crash program makes it impossible to organize the brigade needed to solve the problem of repairs…. What did we tell the people in a number of towns? In Caney, for instance, they said to us, “We don’t have a barbershop or a store.” And we said, “If we supply you with the materials, will you take care of the construction end?” The answer was, “We’ll do it.” The same thing happened in Mataguá, in Las Villas Province, and in Quiñones. We got the people together, and now they’re even going to build a polyclinic. Right away a bricklayer pops up from somewhere, and then another, and then still another.

They’re even going to build a thirty-bed polyclinic! They want a polyclinic? Then let them have the prefabricated sections and the equipment with which to do the job, and they’ll take care of the construction. Because the main problem is to find ten or twenty workers to build a house, anywhere. This problem of housing should be handled by the masses—repairs in some cases, construction in others.

And we used to say to our comrades, “Whenever there is repair work to be done, never decide what’s to be done by yourselves; let the neighbors decide, for only they have the right to decide, with their spirit of equity and justice, who needs the repairs the most.” Because, even though the decision may rest on the administration, it is subordinate to a series of contradictions and opinions and even subject to the danger of favoritism. [Applause]

Let us conserve our men, let us protect our cadres from this danger, and let’s make it a point that it will be the neighbors who will make the decisions. And if the neighbors make a mistake, they are allowed to make mistakes. It may be hard, but it’s their decision. If the workers in a factory err on deciding on a problem of that type, it is hard, but it’s the people’s decision.

Take the problem of plant management. Last time we spoke of the work of the Party, of how we had to revive the work of the mass organizations and give them a broader field. But that is not enough. New problems come up, and we must delve deeper into the matter. We don’t believe that the problems of managing a plant should fall exclusively to the manager. It would really be worthwhile to begin introducing a number of new ideas. There should be a manager, naturally—for there must always be someone accountable—but we must begin to establish a collective body in the management of each plant. A collective body! It should be headed by one man, but it should also be made up of representatives of the advance workers’ movement, the Young Communist League, the Party, and the women’s front—if such a front can be organized within the plant.

We must remember that, in a factory, we cannot appoint the Party Secretary to the post of manager—there are certain things on which we must have a clear understanding—nor can we appoint the manager as Party Secretary. This is because, if he devoted his time to the task of production, he wouldn’t have time for anything else. The plant works with machines that handle material, and the Party works with men, handles men. The Party’s raw material are the workers, and the management’s raw material is just that—material. It could be iron or any other material. Each shop has its own laws, and that shop must be attended to; somebody must always be concerned about it. These tasks must not be confused, and the Party should not be held responsible for the management of the plant.

The Party’s responsibility should be an indirect rather than a direct one. It is the Party that must immediately call the attention of the superior administrative body to any deficiency, any error of an administrative nature, but the Party should never tell the manager what to do. The functions of the head of the Party nucleus and those of the manager—or, rather, of administration—should be clearly defined.

Why should a manager have to be absolutely in charge? Why shouldn’t we begin to introduce representatives of the factory’s workers into its management? Why not have confidence? Why not put our trust in that tremendous proletarian spirit of men who, at times in torn shoes and clothes, nevertheless keep up production? [Applause]

And we’ll have to work seriously on the problem of industrial efficiency, based mainly on labor productivity.

There can be the case of two factories, in one of which the workers seem to have attained higher productivity, due to the fact that that plant is better equipped technologically and its work force is more highly trained; while another factory, working under different conditions and apparently with a lower productivity per man, may be putting forth a greater effort.

Why do we mention these problems to our workers? Because there is something that is real and crystal-clear: Arithmetically speaking, the account does not jibe nor can it jibe. Those figures we mentioned in connection with our population growth, the age structure, the basic services that cannot be curtailed except at the cost of paying a terrible price for it in the future. Nonetheless, with all our inefficiency, we must solve those problems that we mentioned…. We must win the battle against inefficiency! We must win the battle against those difficulties!

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