An effort of a subjective character—we were saying—has to be made by all the people.
These days it has been satisfying to see the people enjoying themselves. They certainly have earned it. We wouldn’t want any worker’s vacation to be spoiled by this analysis we are making here. We wouldn’t want that at all. At the same time, we are very aware of the fact that there can be no rest for us. Those of us who have major responsibilities cannot take a rest.
To tell the truth, we have wished for the eighth or the tenth [of August]—when all activities will be resumed—to arrive. Deep down in our innermost feelings we have wished for the day when we’ll begin tackling those problems. This is not the first time we have had to face our realities.
The comrades here have given me a certificate for something that I don’t think is important at all. We actually cut the amount of cane the certificate says we have cut. But there are other comrades who went to the cane fields at the cost of much greater sacrifice than we did. Our Comrade President also worked in the cane fields many times [applause], often despite health problems. This is not to say that our Comrade President’s health is not good, but many times he went to the cane fields while suffering from backache. [Applause] Of course, we know of a great many other comrades who went to cut cane even being ill. Having cut the amount of cane we cut carries no special merit—it rather served as a diversion. Perhaps the hardest thing for us about cane cutting is not the physical work but having to do it while thinking about so many problems. During the first few days the hardest thing was to keep from thinking about the problems until we began to more or less control our thoughts.
The fact is that we would have liked to cut a little more cane than we did. We had had the illusion—as it were—that we would work four hours daily in the cane fields all through the harvest, that we could live the utopia of dividing our time between mental and physical work, which is a most healthful thing. As you can see, our pace was good, but as of January 9 the thing came to a stop. As a matter of fact, we hadn’t given any thought to the idea of winning a certificate. We rather thought of the scores of thousands of men who were making the effort and we had wished to share somehow the effort they were making. That’s why we had wished—had had the illusion, if you wish—to cut cane all harvest long. But then the problems began to appear: the problems of low sugar yield, transportation, and those connected with the mills. Then began a truly anguishing battle that went on day after day without letup: the battle of the sugar harvest in the face of a reality that was becoming increasingly evident.
In reality we have some debts pending with irony, with the illusion we have indulged in at times. We have some debts pending with our needs. We have debts pending with poverty. We have debts pending with underdevelopment. And we have debts unpaid with the suffering of the people: every time we hear a mother say that she has twelve children sleeping in one room, that the children suffer from asthma, that they suffer from this and that. Every time we see people suffering and asking for help, when we face the realities of life, we wish we were a magician and could pull the solutions out of a hat. But this country faces the reality that we need a million new homes before all families can live in a decent house, one million!
And how much is needed to build a million dwellings! How much sand, cement, and other building materials!
We have been enlarging our plant capacities to that end. We mentioned the Titán cement plant, but we must also mention the one in Mariel; we have to finish building the Siguaney plant and the one in Nuevitas. We must finish those plants any way we can and begin to produce cement at the earliest possible time, supplying them with everything they need, including an adequate work force. And if we don’t have enough workers to build houses, if we have the necessary building materials we can work with the people’s participation in many places and in others with the brigades that put up prefabricated dwellings…. The problem of productivity in home building has to be solved through those brigades.
For some months now we have been working on the organization of the construction sector and we have seen all the problems having to do with equipment, industrial plants, and everything else, including the kind of technology needed. This holds the only solution to the problem of building productivity, because if we were to employ scores of thousands of masons to lay bricks we still couldn’t solve the problem. The people who are to live in those new homes could in many instances and with the necessary technical supervision take part in the work of building and thus help solve the problem.
But, as we have said, we feel these realities and the need to overcome them very deeply, and we have a debt to these realities. This is the reason behind our impatience to renew work on a normal basis.
It will be necessary to take a series of measures in the leadership of our Party in order to, starting from above, solve some structural problems.
And it is no longer possible to direct social production with just a Council of Ministers. There are many agencies. Why? Because social production today depends on society’s administration of its resources.
In the past, industries, schools, and hospitals were often run by private owners. Today this is not the case. In the past, all a citizen expected from the state was that it build post offices or telegraph stations. He didn’t dream of the state’s solving his housing problem or any of his other problems. Today the citizen feels that the state should solve the problems. And he is right. This is a really collective mentality, a socialist mentality. Today everything is expected from the administrative apparatus, and especially from the political apparatus that represents it. Today it is not possible to depend on individual effort and means, as was the case in the past.
The fact that today the people expect everything is in keeping with the socialist awareness the Revolution has created in the people. Any inefficiency in a service—I am not referring to those problems which cannot be solved by man but those which are within his power to solve and are delayed and left unsolved—can affect thousands of people.
Today it is impossible to direct and coordinate this entire apparatus. We must create a political structure to coordinate the different sectors of social production. For example, some comrades are already at work coordinating the activities of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, the National Institute of the Tourist Industry, the Food Industry and Light Industry—those sectors most related to consumption and to the people directly. Other comrades are at work coordinating different sectors of the construction industry. Groups of not more than seven or nine comrades—the number needed, but not too many—are coordinating the different sectors.
For example, from the data we mentioned, the need to coordinate the activities of the Armed Forces Ministry, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of the Interior can be easily understood, because these sectors draw their manpower from the same source. We must carefully coordinate and conciliate all the interests of the country through the activities of each one of them and the way in which they draw their manpower. We believe this is a fundamental and immediate task in our country. And this front will have to support and coordinate all these activities.
We must also add that nobody here is going to solve a problem if he doesn’t obtain the cooperation of others. Seeing only one’s own sector is inadmissible and absurd! More than a crime it is a stupidity! In a society where the means of production are collective, lack of coordination is stupid. Thus the need for coordinating different sectors and linking them to a coordinating team at the highest level.
In our opinion, our Central Committee should not only have a Political Bureau but also a Bureau of Social Production, a political instrument of the Party to coordinate the activities of the different administrative branches. We must obtain the highest possible efficiency in that coordination and in planning.
How can we solve this contradiction between our overwhelming needs and the situation reflected by the data I read at the outset on our population growth, on the growth of our labor force and the demand for manpower? How are we going to manage from now until 1975 and then from 1975 to 1980? We just don’t have any other alternative but to solve the problem and we must solve it! There is no other way out. Will we solve it? Yes. I am absolutely convinced that when a people wants to solve a problem it will solve it! I am absolutely convinced! [Applause]
It is not a case of coming here to promise that we will solve the problem tomorrow. It is a matter of conscience in every worker in the country, in everyone with the slightest responsibility. A universal and profound matter of conscience to rationalize our effort and optimize our effort. We must beat our brains out with the difficulties as a whole and with the concrete problems as well; we must beat our brains out to obtain maximum and optimal utilization of every machine, every gram of raw material, and every minute of man’s work.
It isn’t a case of working more and more extra hours in a mechanical way. No! [Applause] This has already been talked about; optimum utilization of working hours, the exception being when circumstances of a very urgent nature justify it, but only as an exception and when it is clear and evident that there is something to be gained, not just to pile up hours or to meet a goal. Things done mechanically are useless, absolutely worthless. We must realize once and for all that doing things mechanically doesn’t solve anything. Very often we fall into doing meaningless things.
Our problem requires the general awareness of all the people of how to optimize the very last machine, the last gram of raw material, and the last atom of energy correctly and to the highest possible degree. We must use our heads to solve the problems. If the ten-million-ton sugar harvest was a problem of brawn, what we now have before us is a problem of brains.
And if the general level of our men still isn’t very high and if the people of today are different from the people of twenty or thirty years hence as far as knowledge goes, this people of today must make the use of intelligence, a sense of responsibility, and concern for problems a vital affair. It is a matter of exhaustive utilization of the intelligence and sense of responsibility of each and every one of the workers of this country.
The road is hard. Yes. More difficult than it had seemed. Yes, imperialist gentlemen: building socialism is hard. But Karl Marx himself believed socialism would be a natural result of a technologically highly advanced society. But in today’s world, given the presence of industrialized imperialist powers, countries such as ours have no other alternative—to overcome their cultural and technical backwardness—than socialism. But what is socialism? Socialism is the possibility of utilizing natural and human resources in an optimum way for the benefit of the people. What is socialism? It is the elimination of the contradiction between the development of productive forces and the relations of production.
Today industry, raw materials, natural resources, factories, machines, and all kinds of equipment belong to the whole nation. These resources can and should be at the service of the people. If we don’t make the best use of those machines and equipment, of those resources, it isn’t because the capitalists and imperialists prevent us from doing so; it isn’t because we are prevented by the proprietors who own factories—and would just as soon have produced milk products as poison, cheese, or marijuana to make money. The owners of factories couldn’t have cared less about the use to which their products would be put. Here, each product and each service is produced with the needs of man, of the people, in mind.
If we don’t make the best use of our resources it isn’t because anyone keeps us from doing so—it is because we don’t know how to, don’t wish to, or cannot. That is why we must know how to use our resources optimally, we must wish to use our resources optimally, and we must be able to use them optimally by simply drawing on the reserves of will power, morale, intelligence, and determination of the people, who have demonstrated that they possess those virtues; they have demonstrated it!
If there is something here that is not open to question, it is the people’s spirit. This has been proved in their massive participation in the work of the sugar harvest, in the battle they waged in front of the Yankee lair for the release of our fishermen, in the brave reaction of all the people in the face of the setback, and in their internationalist spirit, demonstrated by the 104,000 blood donations made in only ten days to help a sister nation. [Applause]
This is a people with a revolutionary spirit; this is a people with an internationalist spirit!
We are not offering magic solutions here. We have stated the problems facing us and we have said that only the people, only with the people—and the people’s awareness of our problem, the people’s information, the determination and will of the people—can those problems be overcome.
When we tried to take the Moncada Garrison by storm seventeen years ago it wasn’t to win a war with a thousand men but rather to begin a war and wage it with the people and win it with the support of the people. When, years later, we came back with a group of expeditionists, it wasn’t with the idea of winning a war with a handful of men. We hadn’t yet received the marvelous experiences and lessons we have received from the people during all these years, but we knew that the war could only be won with the people. And it was waged and won with the people!
When this Revolution, only ninety miles distant from the ferocious and powerful empire, decided to be free and sovereign and challenged the imperialists, got ready to face all difficulties and started on a truly revolutionary road—not the path of the capitalists and imperialist monopolies, but rather a people’s path, a path of workers, of peasants, a path of justice—many said that that was entirely impossible because of such factors as cultural, political, and ideological influence and the like. But we believed that the battle could be won with the people—and it was waged with the people and won with the people!
And the Revolution has survived through this day. But today we have to wage a more difficult battle. It is perhaps easier, a thousand times easier, to crush the Playa Girón mercenaries in a few hours than to really solve the problems of one of our industrial plants. It is easier to win a score of wars than to win the battle of underdevelopment.
It was relatively easy. We didn’t know anything about conducting a war, but that was learned rapidly, and soon there were men who could lead a platoon or a company.
Ah! This isn’t the first time we have said this. We said it when we arrived here on January 6 or 7; we said that we realized the task was great and we had to learn a lot. We said it in all sincerity, just as we say that the learning process of revolutionaries in the field of economic construction is much more difficult than we had imagined; the problems are more complex than we had imagined; and the learning process much longer and harder than we had imagined.
This is the battle we face, though it is not the only one. We must stay alert, continue training, continue facing the danger posed by the enemy that threatens us and will continue to do so. No? This is clear. We aren’t waging an ideological battle as was the case in the first period of the Revolution. It is a battle in the economic field which we must wage together with the people, and only together with them will we be able to win it.
We really believe the Revolution is faced by a challenge greater than any it has ever faced before, one of its most difficult tasks. This is the reason for our impatience.
What can all of us contribute to this cause? Our energy. The attack on the Moncada occurred seventeen years ago. But an arduous task of organizational and preparatory work had preceded it, so that we really started this struggle eighteen years ago. Eighteen years of our lives…a part of our youth, a part of ourselves has been invested in this.
And what can we do today? What can we desire today more than ever? To be able to devote our remaining energies, to the last atom of energy, to the cause, to that task. To settle accounts with so many objective and subjective enemies, with the imperialist enemies who desire the failure of the Revolution; with the general ignorance and accumulated poverty; and with our own ignorance.
After the setback on that July 26, we immediately began thinking only of starting the struggle again, only of returning to the struggle. When we received the grim news of the murders which had been committed, we believed that a day would have to come when we would settle accounts for them.
Today we aren’t fighting against men—if anything against ourselves. We are fighting against objective factors; we are fighting against the past; we are fighting against the presence of that past which remains with us today; we are fighting against all kinds of limitations. It is the greatest challenge we have ever faced and the greatest the Revolution has ever faced.
Our enemies are jubilant and base their hopes on our problems. We said they were right in this, that, and the other. They are only wrong on one point: in thinking that the people have alternatives other than the Revolution; in thinking that the people, seeing the difficulties of the Revolution, whatever they might be, would choose the road of counterrevolution. [Shouts of “No!”] That is where they go wrong! That is where nobody will concede them even the slightest grain of truth! That is their mistake.
They cannot judge the people, they are unable to gauge the depth of their moral spirit, the courage of the people. A cowardly people would be one that would be scared by the difficulties! A cowardly people would be one unable to hear and speak the truth openly.
A cowardly people would be one that kept the truth from the world. And we aren’t afraid of revealing it as we have done here today, pointing out our individual responsibility above all else, as has been done here today [applause] and going to the people with the problems, confidently, as we have done here today!
This is why they go wrong so many times, because they think we are of their moral fiber, that we are the same as they, that we are even remotely like them.
The people will never be lied to! We will never lose confidence in the people! [Applause] Faith in the people will never slacken! That is where they go wrong.
We aren’t looking for glory or honor! We serve a cause that is worth more than all the glory in the world, that—as Marti said—can fit into a kernel of corn! [Applause]
We aren’t after power or honor! What is power good for if we are unable to win the battle against poverty, ignorance, and all those things? And power. What is power? Or any power? It is the people’s will aimed at a given goal, marching down a single road, united in a single spirit! It is the simple and indestructible power of the people. That is really power! And that is the power we are interested in!
None of us as individual men, nor our glories or honors, is of any interest or value. If we have an atom of value, that atom of value will be through our service to an idea, a cause, linked to the people.
Men are of flesh and blood, incredibly fragile. It is true that we are as nothing. We are only something in relation to this or that task.
And we will always be ever more conscientiously at the service of this cause.
All that remains to be said in the name of our Party, our leadership, and in the name of my own sentiments, in view of the attitude, confidence, and reaction of the people, is thank you very much.
Patria o Muerte!
(Translation by the Department of Stenographic Transcripts of the revolutionary government, as published in the weekly edition of Granma.)