Fidel?s 26 July speech in full

Campaign News | Tuesday, 1 August 2006

This is the last public speech by Fidel Castro before being taken ill


(Stenography Department - Council of State)

Dear fellow Cubans from Granma and across Cuba:

Between 28 and 30 March 2002, 4 important programs of the Revolution were undertaken in this heroic province, whose successes command admiration and even astonishment (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE).

There’s no need for me to overdo it, because the things I’m referring to here are difficult to believe.

First offered to a mere 18 pupils in a primary school in Pilón -better to say, a little school in Pilón--, equipped with a single computer powered by solar energy, the Introductory Computer Sciences Course, four years after its inception, benefits 74 374 primary school students who now have access to 2 021 computers.

The province's primary and secondary education audiovisual programs already have 7 460 television sets, 3 581 VCRs and 5 054 computers at their disposal. Four hundred and eighty five schools that had no electricity are now powered by photovoltaic cells --the so-called solar panels. Those schools do not need to invest a single cent in fuel in order to have the electricity they require to operate these equipment or even to have light; 167 of these schools have an enrollment of less than 5 pupils, and 24 have only one pupil and a teacher. These schools embody the principle that no child ought to be deprived of schooling, no matter how remote their place of residence.

The Comprehensive Upgrading Course for Young People (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE) was inaugurated --that was four years ago here, in Granma, in the city of Manzanillo, on that evening-- with an enrollment of 12 124 students. Today, some 17 930 students are enrolled. A total of 17 950 young people who have completed these courses have begun university studies. Including these, Granma can report the figure of 47 409 students enrolled in higher education, three times the number for the entire country at the time the Revolution triumphed. Enrollment in the 39 university degree programs offered has increased considerably thanks to a program aimed at making higher education accessible to everyone, which has opened 54 new chapters across all of the province's municipalities (APPLAUSE).

At the time, Granma’s unemployment rate was 10.7 %; today, it has dropped to 1.6 % (APLAUSE). I remember that sometime before that date, we spoke about a 17 % unemployment rate in Granma, or at least in Manzanillo. That figure was really dramatic. Many factories were shut down during the special period.

During those days, a Video Viewing Rooms Program was also set in motion to take television programs to rural populations living in isolated regions. Back then, the province had 171 such rooms. There were many, and we felt proud about them. Today, there are 454 rooms, the country's highest number. If we add up all visits paid to these rooms so far, figures will show that they have been visited by the rural population more than 4 million times (APPLAUSE).

These facilities, in addition to offering entertainment, have become centers where people learn and play chess -which is good to develop the brain muscles-(LAUGHTER), take courses on sanitary issues and participate in other important social activities. Three hundred and sixty four of these rooms have been especially equipped and staffed to offer rehabilitation services to the community (APPLAUSE). I remember the day when we first came across that idea. If they were already in place, if their construction was solid, if they had electricity, all we needed to do was to find a place to install there the equipment that was needed by so many people who were unable to come down from the mountains, or move from a far-off place to Media Luna or Niquero or Pilón to go to a polyclinic where they could receive the adequate treatment for any kind of injury or find a solution to any of their needs, which are many more that anyone can imagine. Ten new Video Viewing Rooms are currently being set up.

The Visual Arts Teaching Program was opened at the “Carlos Enríquez” Academy, in a refurbished and expanded building in Manzanillo. Bayamo's “Oswaldo Guayasamín” Academy, a newly inaugurated institution, has joined the program. Both institutions have graduated 83 students, and their current combined enrollment amounts to 171 students (APPLAUSE).

At the time, the refurbishing of the Manzanillo Theatre, which had been shut down for thirty years, was still underway. The repair process has been completed and over 120 000 theatre-goers have enjoyed 580 shows which have been staged there.

Programs for the creation of concert bands gained momentum and a school for training in the specialty, one of a kind in Cuba, was created. This made it possible for all of the province's municipalities to have their own band (APPLAUSE). Ten bands were assembled in the 13 territories which did not have any; 2 children's bands were created, and another 2 were created in prisons.

In keeping with these ideas, prison inmates were also offered access to upgrading courses. Of these, 243 have reached 12th grade of education and 140 have completed courses offered by the Youth Computer Clubs (APPLAUSE), instead of resorting to violence and drugs, with which no one could be re-educated, or, better to say, educated, because, as a rule, those persons end up in prison because they never received proper education. Let us all educate, and we will see how the numbers of those who go to prison will be reduced (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE FIDEL!”).

There are already 43 Youth Computer Clubs in the province equipped with a total of 524 computers. To date, 59 473 students have completed courses in these (APPLAUSE). Seven new Clubs will be built as part of this program (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE!”).

Over this period of time, 614 works as part of the Battle of Ideas and four other major constructions of great social significance have been completed in Granma.

The latter are:

The Manzanillo Aqueduct: Three hundred and fifty kilometers of water mains and more than 500 kilometers of connecting pipes have been installed. This structure benefits more than 105 780 inhabitants, and the whole work is not finished yet. This should make us meditate about what water is, how much it costs, and how unjustified and irresponsible it is to waste water.

Bayamo's South Ring Road System: A system of 6.7 kilometers road that facilitates access to the city's downtown area and help better preserve the city’s historical and urban heritage. And you have seen nothing yet. How much is still to be done in Bayamo! But this does not mean that we will regret it. We would not think it is weird if one day the citizens of Bayamo would rather set the city on fire than to give it up to the enemy (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE FIDEL!”). We’d rather set it on fire and be left with nothing, because a whole world could be constructed on the basis of dignity.

We have been blockaded, threatened for more than fifty years, and we can say to our petty neighbors to the North: “Show me single photo, a single map of a country or of a province where there’s something comparable to this which you, citizens from Granma, have accomplished in four years” (SHOUTS OF “FIDEL! FIDEL!)

The city of Bayamo’s North Drainage facility: It is currently in its first stage of construction, and will provide 33 794 inhabitants with water and urban development services. It will also allow for the management of wastes that will benefit 80 000 people.

The 14.3-kilometer-long segment of the Veguitas - Yara - Manzanillo road, once in critical condition, was repaired and re-opened. The repair of the Dátil - Universidad segment is currently underway.

More than 14 229 students have benefited from the reconstruction of 27 schools.

Construction work in 8 polyclinics which offer services to 241 596 inhabitants has been completed and work in 21 others which offer top quality services to the rest of the province's population continues. Thirteen of these will be completed within the next 4 months; the 8 remaining polyclinics will be ready within 10 months, maximum (APPLAUSE).

The province has also received numerous pieces of high-tech medical equipment which have contributed to improve the quality of medical services.

Like the other 165 which have been completed elsewhere in the country, the 8 polyclinics built in Granma offer new ultrasound, thrombolysis, traumatology, endoscopy --without which it is impossible to identify many of the problems affecting the digestive tract, although this technique is used also for other purposes. It is a whole new field-- and allergy laboratory services. How many persons suffering from asthma, just to mention an example, live in any of our provinces? Our country is an island, characterized by high humidity levels and a heavy incidence of asthma; so it happens in Japan, in England, and elsewhere. Those services we are referring to were only offered at hospitals until 2002. Besides, services such as X-ray, menstrual regulation, minor surgery, ECG, optometry, ophthalmology and dentistry, which before were available in a limited number of polyclinics, are also offered. Like clinical laboratories, today these services use state-of-the-art technology. They offer 24 hour services. Why should they be closed, if pain, or infarction, or any other ailment could appear unexpectedly? Are going to establish the same kind of trade union standard that may be applicable to a car factory or a steel yard? We must not forget that hospital and polyclinics deal with human beings; they are visited by men and women, children, pregnant women, people from all ages, who are prone to suffer from any health condition or accident.

I can assure you that during the times of the Indian Hatuey, nobody died from a car accident (LAUGHTER). And there are still some people who die because they get killed, like that truck driver who not long ago, close to the town of Guamá, was driving a truck down the South Highway without a license, and who knows in what condition. The truck overturned and several men, women, and children got killed. We saw that, we received the news. It hurts to think that this man was one of those -and I say one of those, not to say one of so many-irresponsible persons!

All of you are listening -when you can-to what is going on in Cartagenas, and more than once you must have heard the news about Eddy Martin, who suffered a serious accident cause by a bus which ignored the STOP signal. Was there any need for that to happen? And, why? Maybe, as long as our country improves its education, acquires more knowledge and becomes more aware of this problem, we will be able to apply more rigorous rules. Maybe a more educated people will manage to minimize those cases.

I am just telling you about some of these things. Even if the day remains as cloudy as it’s been, the whole time of this ceremony would not be enough for me to explain all that can be done to combat crime, and more than that, to prevent the proliferation of delinquents in our country, and what are the cultural, educational, and even genetic phenomena associated with crime, despite the need for discipline by every people, every nation, and the society as a whole.

The day when there are truly just societies in the world -and that day is getting closer, because there is no other choice--, that day, we could make a very rational use of all the strength derived from education to create values and, specially, to convey values. That is the task of teachers, educators, professors, from primary education until they are one hundred and odds years-old. Because I believe that there are, who knows how many, thousands of citizens in this country, and that is understandable, and there will be more and more who could even go beyond the age of one hundred years. But our petty neighbor to the North should not be afraid; I was not thinking about being performing my duties at that age (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE). Because, after all, I do not perform such duties right now because of my own will; I never struggled for that. Yes, I will struggle my whole life, until the very last second of my existence, as long as I am in full control of my own senses, to do something good, something useful, because we, revolutionaries, have all learned to be better every new year of our lives (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE FIDEL!”), and human beings are ennobled when they do something for others (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE JULY 26!”)

Today, the polyclinics offer services and make use of technologies which four years ago only hospitals had.

That is why several intensive care units were put up in those municipalities where there were no hospitals. At this moment there are 118 municipalities which have them, and we will continue to study the whole situation because wherever there is a polyclinic, even when there is also a hospital, it could be convenient to expand those services. We might be speaking about a bigger municipality.

In Havana, one municipality may have 100 000, 150 000 inhabitants. Having a single polyclinic in every municipality, which was the original idea, may not be enough; there could be three or even five.

How many are there in the municipality of “Diez de Octubre”? That municipality has more than 200 000 inhabitants. So is the case for other cities. The city of Camagüey has around 400 000 inhabitants. This means that all of these ideas will be further perfected, and all of these services will also become more rational. Because I believe that we must do things even better, and when we think we have reached perfection in any given area, we must go to another, where there are many imperfections. There are still many and there will always be, because there will always be new needs.

In the past, no one needed a telephone, no one needed electricity. When the citizens of Bayamo set the city on fire, the only thing they had was the telegraph, and I believe it was through the telegraph that Carlos Manuel de Céspedes knew that an arrest warrant had been issued against himself. Electricity did not exist, there were only candle lights. I think even carbide was used as a source of light. Well, back then everybody went to bed earlier, there were no world championships, no Olympics or any of the like which could keep the people awake up until midnight. Well then, how happy would I be if I could go to bed at that time (LAUGHTER AND SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION! LONG LIVE FIDEL!”).

Ten surgery wards, 7 clinical laboratories, 5 intensive care units and sterilization equipment for general, pediatric and maternal hospitals have been reopened previous to this date. Sixteen opticians’, which cover all of the province's municipalities, have been fitted with new equipment.

Of the 28 600 Cuban health professionals working in 71 different countries as part of internationalist missions, 2 232 are from Granma (APPLAUSE). Because our country today has, by far, the highest number of doctors per every inhabitant in the whole world. Unfortunately, it is so sad to know that Sub-Saharan Africa, with almost 700 million inhabitants, has only 50 000 doctors, while Cuba, with 11.2 million inhabitants has more than 70 000, and in our universities there are more than 20 000 students of medicine, not to speak about the tens of thousands of students from the Third World, most of them from Latin America, who are studying in Cuba. The doctors of the Third World, a significant number of the doctors of the Third World, are being trained in Cuba!

The province’s art school, which increases considerably the number of students enrolled in art education, was concluded: in 2000, there were only two art schools in the province, with a total of 202 students enrolled in the elementary level; today, there are 501 students from several eastern and central provinces enrolled in the elementary and middle levels of art education as well as in 16 music courses. In the next academic year, middle level dance courses will begin to be offered.

The school for art instructors, with a capacity for 651 students, has been refurbished. So far, 385 art instructors have graduated, and today they teach in 210 schools and offer artistic appreciation workshops to more than 52 000 children. Four years ago none of that existed here. But then the Battle of Ideas began, and the first art instructors graduated on that day when I elegantly fell down in Villa Clara (LAUGHTER). It will be two years since I fell. Tell me about it; I’ve had to go through a lot of rehabilitation. I wonder what would have happened to me without a rehabilitator who could make me walk and use my arm, which doesn’t punch as hard as it used to. But I still have my left arm, which is a very symbolic arm (LAUGHTER AND SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE FIDEL!”).

The “Camilo Cienfuegos” Military Schools of Bayamo and Manzanillo were built. Each of them has an enrollment of 300 students.

In the last four years, 3 151 young people have graduated as social workers in the province (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE). They have actively participated in important revolutionary projects in Granma and across the country.

Granma has no need of any Yankee transition plan to teach people how to read and write, vaccinate or care for the health of its population. (PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE SHOUT: “NO!”), because today we have what the US people do not have, what tens of millions of Americans, more than 40 million, do not have. Let’s see what they will do with all of these spectacular advances. And I have not referred to any data as yet. Bear with me and you will see (SHOUTS OF “LONG LIVE!”).

We will have to ask Mr. Bush and others who are speaking about a transition plan, to come to Granma so that they could understand what and education program, a health program, an art and culture development program is all about (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE). They could go elsewhere in the country. We invite them to visit us (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE).

Three years following the date when those indicators were reported, in July 2005, a devastating category 4 hurricane lashed the province of Granma. Measurement equipment collapsed when the winds reached the speed of 238 kilometers per hour. It was estimated that winds could have reached the speed of 300 kilometers per hour. Like razors, the winds sheared entire forest areas in the Sierra Maestra's southern range. Just tell me about it; I saw the pictures of the Command Headquarters of La Plata. Nothing remained standing there. I saw the forests razed; those were pristine forests. I do not know what kind of phenomenon was that. Perhaps the winds concentrated through the canyons of the rivers that came down the mountains, surrounded by mountains. Something weird must have happened there. I could not imagine that nature could be so terribly harmed by a hurricane. I think that area over there is being rebuilt now, and that is why I speak about a sheared area, because it looked like razed, like a sugar cane field that had recently been cut. And all of that was going on while you were involved in this program more than one year ago. That hurricane ferociously lashed the province of Granma, and that obliged us to turn our attention away from the main construction projects then underway and to concentrate on the repair or re-construction of 46 300 homes which had been affected, 14 196 of which had been completely destroyed, according to estimates. More than 90 % of residences in the municipalities of Pilón and Niquero and 75.5 % of homes in Media Luna were affected and immeasurable damage was caused to health, educational and commercial facilities; 389 educational centers, 119 family doctor’s offices, 17 pharmacies, 250 grocery stores, 630 kilometers of road, 5 bridges, 101 television viewing rooms, 3 tourist facilities, hundreds of crop plantations and several industrial facilities. All of that happened while this program was being implemented, the success of which made this province to earn recognition from the whole nation.

No sooner had the hurricane passed over the province that the first aid materials arrived. That same day, 12 power generators, dispatched to the province by Cuba’s government to address the severe power failures there, began to arrive.

In the course of these months, the province has received 215 331 zinc tiles,

102 175 cement boards, 1 461 tons of steel and 14 661 tons of cement. It has also received 25 233 mattresses and 3 800 television sets to be delivered to the victims of the hurricane.

These materials have made it possible to repair 18 225 roofs which had been totally or partially destroyed, as well as 1 307 houses that had been completely destroyed. I can assure you that this has been one of the greatest efforts ever been made by the country; maybe we could have had more polyclinics refurbished by now. Several thousands homes still need to be re-constructed or repaired.

The province is also involved in a number of strategic programs traced by the Revolution.

As part of the energy-saving revolution, efforts have been devoted to install 7.9 megawatt emergency power generators, 5.2 megawatt rural sub-station groups, and batteries made up by 8 groups each in Bayamo, which produce 30 megawatts of electricity. Granma's total capacity at the moment is 43.1 megawatts. Today, the province’s total energy demand oscillates between 86 and 89 megawatts of electricity. The civil works required by the electrical installation in Manzanillo, designed to house 16 power generators, has been completed. Once in operation, this installation shall increase the generation capacity by 30 megawatts.

Also as part of the energy-saving revolution, 262 435 multi-purpose electric pressure cookers and an equal number of hot plates, rice cookers and water heaters have been distributed to the same number of households. Ninety seven per cent of homes with electricity use this type of energy to cook, in a province where 93.5 % of households used to cook with kerosene.

The province has the equipment needed to supply the 100 per cent of the households scheduled to receive these appliances during the first stage of this process, that is to say, those homes that have the required electrical infrastructure.

A program aimed at replacing decade-old, inefficient refrigerators whose years of use had made them energy-guzzlers was recently undertaken in Granma. To date, nearly 14 000, a bit more than 10% of refrigerators, have been replaced with new units. The process of distribution of new fridges should be completed within the following eight months. Perhaps we will finish sooner, but it is better to have some time margin. However, you may rest assured that Granma will not be forgotten (APPALUSE). We started by Pinar del Río, which is the pilot province which has paid very good services to the country.

Hundreds of thousands of incandescent bulbs have been replaced with energy-saving ones -and this process has not concluded.

A total of 114 957 makeshift fans (which consumed high volumes of electricity) were replaced with efficient fans in the province.

A total of 3 800 television sets have also been distributed to the population. Priority was given to those families whose homes suffered damages as a result of hurricane Dennis.

Six food storage silos have been constructed and 18 others are currently being built, for a total capacity of nearly 50 000 tons. We had none of them before. Those are state-of-the-art refrigerated silos which are very economic and will be equipped with their respective hammer mills.

Manzanillo’s Municipal Television Station went on the air on September 8, 2004. Two years after those inauguration ceremonies took place, we sent one of them to Granma on an experimental program. It is now in Manzanillo. The results were really fabulous; it was proved that people wanted to listen to local news. There are poets, writers, farmers, producers, many people of merits. But usually the national news shows do not inform what is going on in any given municipality.

All municipalities in the country, or almost all of them, depending on their geographical position, will have their own municipal television station (APPLAUSE). Imagine how useful these could be for education, in addition to entertainment and information programs; and how much could this contribute to combat certain problems. Yes, we already have tens of those equipment. We are making an analysis of each and every municipality where these equipment will be installed. The one in Manzanillo started to operate on September 8, 2004.

Surveys have confirmed the impact it has had on the local population, 80 % of which prefers its shows, as they have community content. It broadcasts 6 daily hours of programming, Monday to Friday -and of course, it is logical that certain broadcasting times should be respected; so is the case for the national information programs and others for different purposes. A similar Television Station is being set up in Niquero: it should be operational by mid August.

The Provincial Television Station is under construction in the area surrounding the Plaza de la Patria, which will also house the municipal Television Station of Bayamo, currently under construction. ‘Televisión Serrana’, another television station in Granma, reaches the more than 90 300 inhabitants of the mountain regions.

To take television signals to the most out-of-the-way places in the province, 227 satellite television receivers have been installed in schools, television viewing rooms, social clubs and clinics, in areas where no signals can be received, and 137 have been installed in homes in Cabo Cruz, an area that was severely damaged by hurricane Dennis.

The “Rubén Bravo” Computer Sciences Polytechnic School has an enrollment of 1303 students. Seventy eight per cent of the construction work has been completed and the school is scheduled to be concluded by September this year.

Currently, 553 students from Granma are enrolled in the University of Information Sciences (UCI) (APPLAUSE). That is one of the best institutions that have ever existed; 553 students from this province attend that university and have everything they need there: the best teaching aids, the best professors. It already has 8 000 students, and the figure will increase to 10 000 by the next school year. Besides, mini-UCIs will be opened in every province, so in addition to this university, we will perhaps have some tens of chapters in other provinces of the country.

Those students worked for the Miracle Mission and have accomplished several other tasks; they are talents who have been displayed. No one can imagine how much this country will receive in return from those institutions, which also become a very important source of revenues for a country like Cuba. And most certainly it will be so in the future.

Next school year, a regional chapter of this university will be opened in this province on an experimental basis to welcome 300 students from Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Las Tunas and Granma. This school will be working temporarily in Manzanillo's Computer Sciences Polytechnic. In the 2007-2008 school year, the school will be relocated to the “Luis Milanés” general technical school in Bayamo.

The opening of this regional chapter of the University of Information Sciences and of two others in Ciego de Avila and Artemisa next academic year, will open the doors of higher education to 1 050 young people who will graduate from computer sciences polytechnic institutes from across the country.

But the Revolution's colossal social projects are not limited to the province of Granma, so dearly loved by all of us who landed and fought for nearly two years in the mountains of this province, the winner of this year's national emulation award, a real tribute to those who died on July 26, 1953 at the Moncada or in Bayamo, because Santiago and Bayamo were the two cities targeted to start that Revolution (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE).

The first victorious battle was fought in this province, the last offensive of the dictatorship was defeated here, its military apparatus nearly collapsed in the Santo Domingo-Las Mercedes-Arroyones triangle, alongside the course of the Yara river (APPLAUSE).

A few kilometers from the city of Bayamo, 180 men laid siege to the town of Guisa and fought for 10 days against the enemy's best operations troops, striking and crushing reinforcements, which were headed by middle-sized and heavy tanks that, backed by aviation, tried in vain to prevent us from taking Guisa (SHOUTS FROM THE AUDIENCE).

The entire country is responding with growing enthusiasm to these programs. Through their efforts for the 26th of July emulation competition -comparable to those to which the extraordinary success of Granma and its Party is owed-under the direction of their brilliant, outstanding and respected leader Lázaro Expósito (APPLAUSE AND SHOUTS OF "LONG LIVE!" AND "LONG LIVE THE PARTY" AND OTHER SLOGANS), the provinces of Camagüey, Villa Clara and Havana City (APPLAUSE) earned for themselves the mention of Outstanding Provinces. Pinar del Rio received an acknowledgement for its contribution to the energy-saving revolution and other merits (APPLAUSE).

The progress we’ve made in the whole country is attested to by unequivocal data:

In the first half of 2006, 51 633 children, 11 per every one thousand inhabitants, were born in Cuba; 99.9 % percent of these births took place in health institutions. In 1970, this percentage had not yet been reached, only 91.5 % of births occurred at medical facilities. In the last 20 years, between 1986 and 2006, 99.9 % of all births occurred in health institutions, where specialized services are guaranteed.

Until 23 July of this year, Cuba's infant mortality rate was of 5.56 per every one thousand live births (APPLAUSE). That same day last year, it was 6.4 per every one thousand live births. The 0.80 % difference means 86 more children who have been saved.

On April 27, 1952, the infant mortality rate published by Bohemia magazine was 118 per every one thousand live births.

Today’s infant mortality rate of 5.6 per every one thousand live births means that, for every one thousand children who are born alive, 994 reach the first year of life.

In 1970, of every one thousand children born alive, 956 reached the age of five. In the last five years, 992 per every one thousand children born alive reached the age of five.

To date, seven provinces -Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Havana City, Camagüey, Holguín and Granma -continue to report infant mortality rates of five or less per every one thousand live births. The lowest rates of 4.08 and 4.0 are reported by Holguín and Granma, respectively.

The infant mortality rate reported by Havana City is 4.5 per every one thousand live births.

We could ask Little Bush (LAUGHTER) what is the infant mortality rate in the capital of the United States. I don’t know but we could even ask him what is the infant mortality rate in New York, a very famous city.

That City of Havana which needs a transition period, and of course, a health program, has an infant mortality rate of 4.5 per one thousand live births.

It is convenient to remember that, because they tell lies and more lies, and each time we prove them wrong they shut up, but that really is not enough. We will hammer them with the truth.

It was with the truth that we made this Revolution; it was with the truth that

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