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
“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
“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 payments.
“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.
recreational and sports activities in the communities will be
another of the tasks occupying the members of the Student Work
“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
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
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 sectors.
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 activities.
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 fallen behind.
In the world economy, metals,
just like oil, rise above their historical parameters, but they also
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 decreased.
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