In October 1963 Cuba's revolutionary government enacted and began to implement its second agrarian reform, which ended capitalist property relations on the land.
The First Agrarian Reform, signed into law in May 1959, had expropriated the large plantations, eliminated the system of rents and mortgages that was crushing the peasantry, and guaranteed use of the land to those who worked it. It granted each peasant family 67 acres. Every tenant, sharecropper, or squatter cultivating up to 165 acres was given clear title to the land. Some 200,000 peasant families were granted deeds.
Land could be mortgaged only to the state, not to banks or private individuals. The peasants were freed from the threat of foreclosures; no matter what their debt, they could not lose the land as long as they worked it. The government made credit available at favorable rates. The law limited the amount of land an individual family could own to 1,000 acres in most cases, and prohibited foreign ownership. The May installment of this series (see Militant no. 21, May 31, 1999 ) featured a 1959 speech by Castro explaining this law and its significance.
The 1959 Agrarian Reform Law "was a step from which there was no retreat," Castro said in a speech on the law's 40th anniversary. It was an agrarian revolution that consolidated the worker-peasant alliance on which the revolution was based, and brought the workers and farmers into head-on confrontation with U.S. imperialism and its allies among the exploiting classes in Cuba, for whom the law was a mortal challenge. By the end of 1960, in order to defend the revolution against increasingly hostile acts by Washington, Cuba's workers and farmers government, with the support and mobilization of millions of toilers, had nationalized U.S.- and Cuban-owned companies.
The second agrarian reform brought property relations in the countryside into harmony with the social ownership of other industry. The 10,000 or so capitalist farmers holding between 165 and 1,000 acres (some 20 percent of Cuba's agricultural land) had become the base for forces that wanted to roll back the revolution and they were bitter class enemies of small- and medium-size farmers. For this reason, they were barred from membership in National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), which had been formed in 1961.
As Castro explains in the speech printed here, the continued existence of this layer threatened the worker-farmer alliance. Many rich farmers had either refused to cultivate their land, or turned to speculation with badly needed products such as milk. It was difficult for the revolutionary government to provide incentives for small farmers without favoring the capitalist farmers, thus increasing the inequality in the countryside. And the hostility of the capitalist farmers, along with the uncertainty about future expropriations, affected the outlook of many small farmers.
The 1963 agrarian reform expropriated land in excess of 165 acres owned by these large farmers. By nationalizing these sizable holdings, which could be cultivated only by hiring wage labor, the second agrarian reform eliminated the capitalist sector of Cuban agriculture. Most of the large holdings confiscated were turned into state farms.
The second agrarian reform law was accompanied by a commitment by the revolutionary government that there would be no further expropriations. Every individual farm family was guaranteed the right to remain on their land and produce as long as they wished. They would receive as much aid as the resources of the revolution permitted. The decision to join a cooperative or turn over land to a state farm (referred to in Castro's speech as a People's Farm) would be strictly voluntary, as it had been from the first days of the revolution. This pledge has been adhered to ever since.
Fidel Castro gave the speech excerpted here Oct. 2, 1963, to a meeting of some 2,500 students from the Martínez Villena school and the schools in Santa María del Rosario and Rancho Boyeros in Havana. The schools had been set up to train young people from the countryside to take on the responsibilities of administering state farms and cooperatives. "Let the children of agricultural workers . . . children of peasants go to the [schools] . . . so that it may be people from the countryside who are guiding and leading the work in the countryside. That is what we want," Castro told the students in a part of the speech not included here. The students, many before even completing their studies, were to be on the front lines of carrying out the new step in the revolution in the countryside. Most left that night, headed for various landholdings where they arrived within hours or days of their occupation.
These remarks by Fidel Castro will appear in the second volume of a collection of his speeches from the early years of the revolution to be published by Pathfinder. The translation is copyright © Pathfinder Press and reprinted by permission. Subheadings are by the Militant.
BY FIDEL CASTRO
Compañero students from the Schools for Administrative Assistants: You were chosen for certain tasks, to fulfill certain missions. That is why these schools were organized a little over a year ago, which at first we were going to call Schools for Agricultural Administrators, but then we thought they should rather be called Schools for Administrative Assistants. Why? Because we thought that would be healthier and better suited for the education of your minds, so that you wouldn't get the idea that you would become administrators just for having passed your classes at the school. So that your minds wouldn't get used to that, and so you wouldn't think that you would be given such a responsibility so easily.
The example I'm about to give you occurred recently, but it confirms this very perspective — that we should instill in your minds the idea that responsibilities must be earned through work.
One young man studied aviary science in a school where a group of young people just like yourselves — good young people, too — were chosen, and when they finished the course, in about ten months, they went off to work. Recently I was told by a compañero who heads up that plan that this young man asked him, "Well, aren't you going to make me an administrator?" Look, that school isn't even a school for administrators; it's for aviary specialists. And he said, "Oh! I thought that when I finished school they were going to make me an administrator."
Of course the compañero answered him nicely. I told him, "No. You go tell that compañero that he can forget about it, that he might be the last one to be made an administrator, or to be given any responsibility."
I think it's very important that every young person being educated in the revolution know and understand that under the revolution, and in the world that we want to build, every responsibility, every honor, every bit of trust must be earned through work, through effort, by fulfilling one's duty.…
You are going out to the countryside, and you're not going there to cut sugarcane. You are going out to fulfill a mission that the revolution is assigning you, and that task is nothing less than the Second Agrarian Reform. In other words, we are going to carry out the Second Agrarian Reform. The second and final Agrarian Reform, since, as we see it, and as we've explained it, there will be two types of production: production by state enterprises and production by small farmers.
We have given definitive guarantees to small farmers, and they trust the revolution. The revolution can go forward with its state farms and with the efforts of small farmers, and then there will be an evolutionary process. Some small farmers will want to organize themselves into agricultural associations. Others will want to continue as small farmers. For how many years? That doesn't matter.
Small farmers are able to march with the revolution because the revolution freed them from exploitation. They used to pay rent, they used to pay dearly for supplies, they used to pay sky-high interest rates on loans, and they used to have to sell their products cheap to middlemen. They didn't used to have teachers, schools, hospitals, and roads. Small farmers represent a sizable layer of the population who were aided and freed by the revolution. They march with the revolution, and always will.
There are small farmers whose children are all in school or in the army, and then they themselves say, "I want to retire." There will be a long process, in which new small farmers won't be emerging. New small farmers won't be emerging from the nation's lands, but those farmers who are already there will stay as long as they wish. That does not affect production. What we have to accomplish is for small- and medium-size farmers to organize themselves well, apply sound production techniques, and produce as much as possible with their land. Through their efforts and those of the workers on the People's Farms, you will see how we can develop our agriculture. Because from now on there will only be small- and medium-sized farmers and People's Farms. [Applause]
The rural bourgeoisie will disappear, because the rural bourgeoisie will never march with the revolution. It will always be, as a class, an irreconcilable enemy of the revolution. There may be — and in fact there are — a few rural bourgeois who, as individuals, have a good attitude, but the class as a whole is the irreconcilable enemy of the revolution and will always be the enemy of the revolution. It will always be allied with imperialism against the proletariat and against the farmers. It will always be the enemy of socialism, because it held a privileged social position and had even greater aspirations of enriching itself by exploiting human labor. That is why, as a class, they will never be with the revolution.
They have lasted more than four-and-a-half years and have done as much damage as they could. Their economic position is strong. They control a lot of money. They often sell their products to their friends from the urban bourgeoisie, they sabotage production, they don't breed their cattle, they don't clear the cane-fields, and they try to pirate workers away from the state farms. Now they've become better bosses than ever, whereas before they wouldn't even give you the time of day. But now that they think they will lose their land someday, some of them even treat their workers to a night out. So they've become their best friends, and have even given them small plots of land.
Many of these rural bourgeois have been distributing small plots of land and allowing sharecropping. Of course, they've done this to create difficulties for the revolution because they know this isn't the policy of the revolution. Why? Because that's dividing land up into tiny plots. That will never provide for anybody. The revolution is fully responsible for providing for the entire country. And that can only be accomplished through mechanization and technology.
They have done things to create obstacles for the revolution in nationalizing their land. They have been doing that.
One of the reasons why we need to move quickly with this measure is to deny them the time to continue causing damage. They know what the revolution's policy was; it was explained to them in the meeting held with the small farmers, so that the small farmers could rest assured once and for all. They were told that the same assurance could not be given to the others, to the rural bourgeoisie.1
And what has happened? Well, many of them have even been distributing land and sabotaging things in order to do as much damage as possible when the new revolutionary measures are implemented. That's why it is necessary to move quickly — to deny them the time to do further damage.
The revolution will make some exceptions for those who have truly assumed an attitude of cooperation with national production and have kept their farms in optimum production. The revolution will make exceptions because the revolution won't lose anything by making exceptions. The revolution won't lose anything by showing special consideration toward those who have been loyal to the revolution and have worked and produced.
Those exceptional cases will receive special consideration. That does not affect the policy of the revolution.
But the vast majority of the rural bourgeoisie's land will be taken over by the revolution. And if I'm not mistaken, this comes to more than 150,000 caballerías of land.2 [Applause] And it's good land, too!
Exceptions will also be made in those cases where, for example, several brothers are working on the same farm at the time the limit on land size is set. You will all receive information on this when the text of the law is published. Exceptions will also be made for those cases. All other land — that is, all other land belonging to the rural bourgeoisie — will become national lands.
Now comes the most important task, the most difficult task, because this brings up two issues. First, a sharp class struggle. That is, this Agrarian Reform Law, this new Agrarian Reform Law will give rise to a sharper class battle than did the first Agrarian Reform Law, which went after the vast plantations. This one will affect a greater number of owners of landholdings than did the first law — people who have some education, a certain cultural level, and are well connected — and they have had time in these years to do some favors and even to do some politicking. So they will be a more sizable class enemy than those who were affected by the first Agrarian Reform Law.
Clearly, from this moment on they will lose their social influence and the source of economic resources with which many of them have been funding and supporting the counterrevolution.
It's clear that U.S. imperialism and the Central Intelligence Agency will lose a lot of collaborators, because they'll no longer have use of farms belonging to this or that landowner for infiltrators to hide in or to establish contact. No. Imperialism, the counterrevolution, and the Central Intelligence Agency will suffer a harsh blow, because we are not going to tolerate or stand idly by in face of acts by the enemies of the revolution. It's the very attitude of those class enemies that has forced us to move quickly with these measures, in face of this class's sabotage of production and in face of U.S. imperialism and its subversive plans — for which it counts on these gentlemen.
But they'll no longer have their farms or their resources to count on.
Therefore, the enemies of the working class will suffer a strong blow. But that will involve a harsh struggle, and at the same time it will involve another very important task, which is the need to put those lands to maximum production. It involves replacing all those gentlemen in their positions as organizers and managers of production on those lands. In other words, our task consists of putting those lands into production and learning how to use them. This is the task we must figure out how to accomplish; this is the task that all of you must help to accomplish.
Clearly it's nothing like the first time. The first time, we didn't have a contingent of disciplined compañeros to send out to accomplish that task. That's why so many mistakes were made in so many places. On some farms, the revolution's administrator did a worse job than the bourgeoisie had done. And that is a real shame for the revolution. It's a blow to the revolution's reputation when one of those enterprises — a farm owned by a bourgeois — is taken, and regardless of how poorly administered and poorly used it had been in the past, the revolutionary administration does a worse job. That is unacceptable
There are many places where implements were taken away and other implements were left abandoned. Tons of crazy things committed by people with no experience or sense of responsibility. These were committed in the first period of the revolution, when there were so many people with simplistic ideas in their heads, who thought everything was easy. They thought it was easy to get rid of somebody, start managing it, and put it into production. How much did it cost? Who cared! How much did they spend? Who cared! What did they produce? Who cared! There were people out there who didn't care about costs and never kept any books.
The credits would arrive, the money would arrive. When they set out to produce a caballería of something, they wouldn't calculate how much it would cost, or how much it would yield, or what land they would plant on, or what crop they would destroy in order to plant another, or how much the crop they were destroying was worth, or how much the new crop was worth. They would grab a tractor and start racing up and down, and they wouldn't oil it or take care of it. They would grab some irrigation equipment, and they wouldn't take care of it. All kinds of things were going on. Errors made once must not be repeated by any means.
Wherever any of you are placed, the first thing you must do is take inventory of everything there. Right away, take inventory: one cart, two carts, three carts, one truck, one tire, this many cows, this many calves, this many steers, such and such facilities, such and such equipment, such and such number of plows, what condition everything is in. Secondly, don't move anything at all from there.
At first, of course, whoever was acting as administrator of a province or an area wanted to have some cattle there, so he would go buy them somewhere else. And maybe he would take all the cattle away from one area in order to bring them somewhere else.
This is how many dairy farms were messed up. Many things were messed up.
We have to start with whatever is at each place we take over. With whatever is there. We must take inventory of everything that's there — what's being produced, how many workers there are, and how much each of those workers earns. Those are some of the first things we have to look at. And what the owner had planned to produce there, and what credits and loans he received from the bank.
As I said, there are many of them who had started distributing their land in plots for sharecropping. The new law voids all land concessions or contracts, all land concessions made by the rural bourgeoisie after the Agrarian Reform Law. It voids them. That's why you all have to see if there's anyone living there, and how long he's been there. Whether he's been there for five years, or for four. Whether he was there before the revolution or got there after the revolution but before the Agrarian Reform Law. The Agrarian Reform Law declares null and void everything prior to January 1, 1959, and it's obvious that many bourgeois have taken some of these actions in order to cause problems, to compete with the People's Farms. They have been distributing plots of land, and they've done other things as well.
In other words, they have been taking advantage of the circumstances in order to create obstacles for the revolution. That's why you must all examine the concrete situation in each place, and be very cautious, very cautious. No one outside INRA [National Institute of Agrarian Reform]3 will make a single change or a single transfer, or move a piece of equipment anywhere. But it won't happen right away, because naturally the entire agricultural system is being organized and restructured. The landholdings will be part of People's Farms, and the People's Farms will be part of state farm associations. But a lot of those landholdings will be kept together as units, just as they are, while others will be grouped together. But that's the basic idea: we have to start with what is there, and improve what is there.
The only thing that cannot happen is for any of those farms to be producing less in six months or a year than they're producing now. Because anyone who has less production in a year than the bourgeoisie has now is unsuitable for work on the economic front of the revolution. First of all, we have to look at how well each of those farms has been administered or run. Does it yield more or less? And not just whether it yields more or less, but at what cost. Is it being produced at a lower cost or at a higher cost? What is its income? Because there should not be a single one of those farms that is not profitable. That's the purpose of keeping figures, and each of you must begin by finding out how much it costs to clear a caballería, how much the irrigation costs, how much the fertilizer costs, and where to get the fertilizer.
First of all, you have to find out what technique is being used for each of the crops being raised there. If it's rice, you have to find out how much rice has been planted, how much is scheduled to be planted, and the amount of credits obtained for it, how much fertilizer, what the specific conditions of each rice field and each facility are, and when the crop is harvested. If it's rice that has not yet been planted, [you have to find out] when it is to be planted, what day, with what seed, and what characteristics it has. If it's sugarcane, how many times it needs to be cleared, how many people are available to clear it, and what wages are being paid to clear the fields. You don't just get everyone together and start paying them ten pesos per cordel.4 No. Because you are going to be asked to account for the expenses. You are going to be asked to account for the costs of every agricultural operation.
You have to look at how much labor is available and what the costs are. You have to be there in the fields. You have to know how much one person can do in a day. You have to monitor the work on site, in the fields, everywhere. You can't just be riding your horse all over the place. No. You have to go there, but you have to do something else too: work with the people. Because if it's an enterprise that has 30 or 40 workers, then of course the job of the person heading it up might be more important — monitoring, managing, and organizing everything. But if it's a small enterprise, with few workers, then you have to set an example through your work. Because it's a luxury to have an administrator not working where there are only three workers. That's a luxury. And it's very costly!
No. We are not inventing a chemically pure type of administrator. We don't want an administrator who doesn't do anything — no! He must set an example through his work. If a tractor is broken, he must find out what it needs and how to fix it. He must find out what condition the engine is in. He can't wait for things to be brought to him. He must go out and look for them, and do the work himself; he has to take care of it all and monitor everything. And when there's a need for someone to do something, he is the first one to step forward — provided he's not busy with administrative tasks — to work alongside the workers [Applause] . . . .
Initially, when you go to all of these places, you're not going to have much outside contact for a while. Immediately thereafter you'll start making contact, mainly with the party and INRA. Because the occupation of all the remaining large farms will be carried out by the party soon, before long. [Applause] The compañeros from the party will get there, they'll use students from the Schools of Revolutionary Instruction, and then you'll go there.
I was telling you that this is going to be a harsh struggle. You will find many cases where the large landowners have homes in the city. That's no problem; they can go to the city. They're going to want to take a little furniture with them. Fine; they can take personal items like furniture. If you have furniture there, no. "I want to take this sofa; it belonged to a relative." Fine; he can take it. Let those things be mementos. Do you want to take the furniture from the house? Do you have furniture over there already? Then he can't take the furniture from that house.
You're going to find some who don't have a house in the city, and you'll have to coexist with them. You won't be living in the same house, and you won't be moving into the houses there. But you're going to have problems. You must be as courteous, polite, and friendly as you can be, but — at the same time — as firm as you have to be.
Don't forget some people will try to paint a picture of tremendous poverty and suffering. There will be no poverty and no suffering. They will be compensated. They will receive at least 100 pesos [a month] over five years.5 They will be paid. They will not go hungry, they will not be "left in the street with nowhere to go." They'll get a compensation that will be guaranteed to them for ten years.
Some of those people might want to join the revolution. In some of the towns where we've taken over the land, we've found that the bourgeoisie has adjusted better after being defeated than while still fighting. Do you get my point? It's very unusual for a member of the bourgeoisie engaged in battle to want to adjust. But what might happen afterwards is that he doesn't have anything, he likes agriculture, and he doesn't want to leave or has no way of leaving. So he adjusts. But there will be human problems: they have a wife, they have children. There will be some who burst into tears, crying tragedy — those human displays.
That's why you must be respectful, friendly, and at the same time firm — especially if you have to live near a former owner, because disputes might arise.
The Law is clear. It says what will be left to them and what won't be left to them. They're going to want the yard next to the house. You can leave them the yard about ten meters around. They'll say they want the horse. I don't remember what the rule is regarding horses. I think that if they have a horse and they live there — because they don't have a house in the city — then they can have two horses, and something around the house, not very big. Because it's not as if their lot will be reduced. They'll either have everything taken away, or nothing taken away. Otherwise, you take away a little bit and later on the guy is still there nagging about the equipment, the facilities, the dairy. No. When we take it over, we take it all over.
It's not like last time, when they were left with 30 caballerías. No. This time, whoever fits the law's description will have everything taken away. [Applause] Those who leave for the city, you won't see them and you won't have problems with them. The problem is those who don't have a house in the city and stay there until they find a new home, and they have to live there. Their right to the house will be respected. . . .
Student: What about those who have a small plot…
Fidel Castro: What? I was just about to talk about that. You are a psychic [laughter].
You are going to come across another problem, and it's just been well put. You first have to find out who owns the small plot, when he received it, and whether he's always had it or he got it after the Agrarian Reform Law was instituted. Above all, I think that we should mainly consider whether it was acquired after the Agrarian Reform, because the Agrarian Reform prohibited that, and it voided those done after January 1, because there were some people who started giving out land to their cousins or other people.
Therefore, any land transfer made after January 1, 1959, is invalid. That goes especially for those made after the Agrarian Reform, and even more so if they were made recently. Because some people realized what was going on and set up a food stand selling refrigerated goods. We can't accept tiny agricultural establishments, compañeros. Because that only provides for the people living right there: four banana trees, seven stalks of corn, yucca. That's barely enough for him and his family.
What are the railroad and transportation workers going to eat? What will hospital patients eat? What will industrial workers eat? The small agricultural establishment isn't productive.
Of course, in order for them to keep their workers from leaving for the People's Farms, where there's a house and better conditions, some of these people would give away a little piece of land in order to steal the worker away, to win him over even. We don't accept that on those lands, because it's a violation of the law.
That doesn't mean that we're going to get there and tell the worker, "You must leave." No. You must not mistreat those workers in any way, but you do have to tell him, "Look, this land does not belong to you, because that guy did it for such and such a reason. Don't think he did it out of kindness or anything like that. He did it to make a mockery of the laws of the revolution, he did it to create obstacles for the revolution, when these lands passed over to the nation, to cause problems for it because you are here." And tell him, "You have to give that land back." What if he doesn't want to? He won't be removed. He is to be told, "What are you going to farm it with? Credit? No. Go talk to ANAP." This person is not to receive a single penny of credit. No. Let him see if he can make it alone, selfishly and in defiance of the Law. Because some people have done that in order to corrupt people, win them over, and thus widen their base of support.
Because even though there are only a few thousand of these bourgeois, they influence tens of thousands of people. Those they did favors for, and those they gave things to. When the revolution came along they became nicer than ever. You understand? There might be seven or eight thousand of them, but they influence tens of thousands of people. They are really smooth talkers, well educated and refined. They can really be "super-solicitous." Really. After the revolution some of them would take their workers on a trip to Varadero6 and everything; they would even take them riding around in their cars. Do you see what I mean?
Some people have been confused by them. They have money, and they'll do a favor for anybody. Someone goes to him in a bind and he says, "Here you go." So people say, "Mr. Rich Man is so nice! Poor fellow, he's such a nice man." He might indeed by a kind person. That might be the case. Such people do exist. But their kindness has nothing to do with the social system they defend — a system that is not kind, but cruel. An individual might be kind, but the institution and the system they represent is criminal and inhuman.
Because, of course, the entire philosophy of that property system is based on one individual having forty working for him, so that he and his family can get rich, and that's that. But then he uses the wealth that he extracts from the sweat of the workers to do favors and cast himself as the good guy. All that is true. . . .
Our weakness lies mainly in our lack of experience and the lack of ability of the people working in many agricultural sites. This is not as common now. Many of them are getting better. Agriculture is a very beautiful thing. It truly is one of mankind's most exhilarating endeavors. It's one of the most enjoyable, the most pleasant, because people who work in agriculture are creating. They're seeing how crops are raised, how goods are produced, how food is produced. They develop an affection for every tree, every animal, every little thing one does, and everything one works with.
The work that you will be doing is truly enviable — for a young person to have the opportunity to go there, to struggle with nature, to produce, to improve oneself, to wage the battle of providing for the people, to organize the work so that the land, the work, and the machinery produce as much as possible, and to create abundance. The work that you are going to do, compañeros, is to be envied!
And you can feel truly satisfied and proud that the revolution has given you this opportunity. So you should keep in mind that you have an obligation to do right by the revolution, and you have an obligation to justify the trust that the revolution has placed in you.…
Do you believe that you'll be able to fulfill your missions, compañeros? [Shouts of "Yes!" and applause]. All right then, compañeros, it's good that you're leaving here full of confidence in yourselves. Go with humility as well, and get help from the compañeros with experience in farming, seek help from the party, follow the instructions they give you and the instructions that the INRA delegates give you. I'm sure that you will all do a good job of carrying out this task. It's difficult, but you can do it.
I remember that during the war, whenever new soldiers came out of the Schools for Recruits, they would win battles even though they were new, because they had been seized by faith and confidence in victory, by a sense of ability that overcame obstacles. And I remember that the older soldiers would be taken out of the different columns and the newer ones would start carrying out their first operations. I always ended up fighting with the new ones, because we would send the older ones out to the various fronts. I always went around with a troop of recruits, but that troop would win battles and overcome difficult obstacles. You are the new troop, trained in the revolution, that is going out to the economic front. [Applause]
This troop will win many battles, compañeros, and this will possibly mark a very important date in the development of the revolution, a real boost to agriculture, because we must take those 150,000 caballerías of land and, like a garden, get them producing as much as possible for the people. The crime of barren cows will be no more, the crime of wasted land will be no more, the crime of speculation will be no more. Speculation is what the bourgeoisie does when it sells to the bourgeoisie: the rural bourgeoisie to the urban, and the urban bourgeois to the rural. That's why no bourgeois home lacked anything, because the bourgeoisie in the city took care of that, and so he never lacked any industrial item. Nor did the urban bourgeoisie ever lack food, because they would have the milk delivered to their houses.
The child of a worker might go without milk every day, and in many rural towns you are aware that the milk was distributed by the same members of the bourgeoisie who produced it, and they delivered it to their customers, who were also members of the bourgeoisie.
Now there needs to be more milk, as well as a fair distribution system that treats everyone as equals. Let the children of the bourgeoisie drink milk, but let the children of the working people and the proletariat drink milk as well. [Applause].…
Be assured that this is a historic battle. This battle is a historic battle for the revolution, and it's a heavy blow to our enemies, to the economic resources of the class enemy of the proletariat — a heavy blow to imperialism. A double blow, because not only are we taking away their trenches, but we'll also be better able to resist their criminal blockade. You are the soldiers who will march off to carry out this task, to wage a historic battle, who will mark a time of boom for our country's agriculture and economy. And you will march soon, because you'll be going out this very day, compañeros. This very evening you'll start leaving. [Applause]
Now, be discreet so that the bourgeoisie doesn't find out, be discreet so that the members of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution7 get there before the bourgeoisie finds out that the revolution has ordered this measure, so that they won't have time to start distributing cattle or do other things. Do you understand? [Applause]
So this is virtually under way, and in a matter of hours all those farms will be taken over. [Applause] And you will be going in behind them, and right behind you will be the compañeros who are coming from the Soviet Union. So we will be getting reinforcements, and afterwards the compañeros who are going to graduate from the schools will get there. Because we're going to continue training cadres for agriculture. And then in the future, everyone who will be working in agriculture will be cadres from the rural working class, and they will be returning to the countryside.
In this way, any worker who stands out will have the opportunity to study. The cadres who are going to lead must come from there, from the countryside. They must come from among the people who know what work in the countryside is all about. That is the advantage of having chosen students from among the agricultural workers. And in the future it will be youth, children who are in elementary school or in secondary school. They will work, and when they stand out they'll have the opportunity to go to the schools. The best among the best workers, to return later.
If we continue on that path, one day we'll have many thousands. If right now we have a few thousand, one day we'll have many thousands of people who rise to the circumstance — people in whose responsibility, conscientiousness, and ability the country can have complete confidence [applause] in order to conquer scarcity. . . .
And just think, compañeros, that one day the School City, with a capacity for 20,000 students once it's finished, will be a Basic Rural Secondary Institute, and one day it will be a Technological Institute. So one day we'll have 15,000 to 20,000 students in an Agricultural Technological Institute in the School City. [Applause] Just imagine how many technical cadres will be going into agriculture in the future, and how much knowledge and experience they'll go with. Thousands will also graduate from our Schools of Agricultural Engineering. Of course, we don't want to be training people from the city, but rather people from the countryside. Let the children of agricultural workers go to the Rural Institutes. People from the countryside, children of peasants going to the Secondary Institute, or to those Technological Institutes, and to the universities, so that it may be people from the countryside who are guiding and leading the work in the countryside, and so that they may study and return to the countryside. That is what we want.
Compañero, did you want to ask a question?
Student: I wanted to point out that when we went to Camagüey to cut sugarcane, after the job was done we were given passes to see our families.
I went to my family's home and there I met with some peasants who were waiting for the teacher to give them their scholastic achievement test. While waiting for the teacher we exchanged impressions with the people there, and they told me that they were making ten and twelve pesos for a half-day's work.
So I asked them what good it did them to be listening to Fidel Castro until one in the morning, if they don't understand what he says about how we're in the process of increasing both production and productivity at the same time.
They told me that they had no reason to work a full day, since in half a day they were making eight, ten, or twelve pesos, and they had nothing to spend it on. I told them that was precisely my point.
Fidel Castro: And with what they're getting, if they work half a day, it's enough for them to buy what can be sold to them in five or six days. It's almost as if they only need to work a half day per week.
Student: I was telling them that was precisely the reason why they should work more and make better use of the workday to increase production.
That is what I wanted to point out.
Fidel Castro: Very well, compañeros. I am very happy to see that you have brought these issues up. That gives us the sense that you have given these problems a lot of thought, and that you've had the chance to look at them and analyze them.
It is very important that you carry forth the banner of production and work, because you will always be able to have discussions on a solid basis with any peasant or worker and explain to them why that is deceitful, and why that only leads to economic paralysis and inflation. And therefore we must fight anyone who does that, anyone who practices those methods. And we must do so in every meeting, everywhere, because of the damage caused to the revolution by administrators who do those things, whether out of softness, weakness of character, because they're thieves, or because they're irresponsible. And these same things that you have seen and understand are wrong, you must never fall into, compañeros. I repeat that we are confident that you will be able to fulfill the mission that has been assigned to you.
That is all I had to say to you, compañeros.
Patria o Muerte! [Homeland or death]
Venceremos! [We will win] [Ovation]
1 At his closing speech to the Second National Congress of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in August 1963, Castro had explained, "Naturally, we give no guarantee to the rural bourgeoisie. The revolution offers them no guarantee. . . . To whom does the revolution give full guarantees and why? To the small farmers. Because they have a different attitude. It had to be different because of their social position, because of their qualitites as workers. They have truely cooperated with the revolution in the main. And it is logical that they should, because the revolution conceives the future development of agriculture on two bases: state production and the production of small farmers."
2 One caballería equals 33 acres, or 13.43 hectares.
3 The National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) was formed by the Agrarian Reform Law as the instrument for its implementation. Staffed by cadres of the Rebel Army and the July 26 Movement, INRA was granted sweeping powers over virtually every aspect of the economy.
4 One cordel equals 414 square meters, or about 500 square yards.
5 In 1963, one Cuban peso equaled US$1. The average monthly income in Cuba in 1962 was 105 pesos.
6 Varadero beach is located about 60 miles east of Havana. Before the revolution most beaches in Cuba were either private estates or open only to tourists and wealthy white Cubans. One of the early—and extremely popular—acts of the revolutionary government, in April 1959, was to desegregate the beaches and open every single one to the public.
7 In 1961 the July 26 Movement initiated a fusion with the Popular Socialist Party and the Revolutionary Directorate—all three of which had experienced substantial splits or regroupment of forces as the revolution deepened—to form the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI). In 1963 it took the name United Party of the Socialist Revolution. In October 1965, the Communist Party of Cuba was founded, with Fidel Castro as first secretary of its Central Committee.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home