Cuba has demonstrated how much can be accomplished if a country’s human and material resources are placed at the service of the population, said President Fidel Castro.
Addressing the closing session of the 8th Congress of the Young Communist League (UJC), President Castro described Cuba’s effort over the last five years as perhaps the most useful contribution in the fight for a better world.
In reviewing all that has been achieved under the Battle of Ideas, the Cuban president said one couldn’t help but feel proud of the spirit and firmness of the Cuban youth, who have been the protagonists in the new programs that have radically changed life on the island.
The Battle of Ideas encompasses the many social programs implemented by the Cuban Revolution over the last five years—a series of innovative educational, health and cultural projects stressing comprehensive human development as a way to make Cuban society increasingly just, equal and humane. Young people are at the center of this effort, which involves a rich exchange of ideas in the quest for the perfection of the island’s socialist system.
President Castro said that, thanks to the Battle of Ideas, the life of Cubans is no longer the same. He illustrated this reality by citing 5,810 construction, remodeling or extension works, among them 1,732 schools, 107 policlinics, 217 physiotherapy centers, and 89 opticians.
He also mentioned that the unemployment rate in Cuba at the end of this year is less than two percent, something that would be incredible in any industrial nation, and that there is a massive use of the new technologies and audiovisuals to improve the quality of teaching.
The Cuban president said that their principles and concepts underlining the Battle of Ideas have strengthened and raised the prestige of the UJC, which had come to this congress with the highest membership of the last 10 years, and with new methods and work styles.
Fidel Castro said that what Cuba has accomplished over the last five years would astonish many and some might even not believe it. Others, like the Bush administration with its arrogant “transition toward a free Cuba,” would just ignore it.
But what Cuba has attained will speak for itself, said Fidel Castro, and stressed that the Cubans will defend it until the end. After the prolonged applause that followed his written speech, Fidel spoke informally to the delegates on a number of other important issues.
Regarding tourism, the motor of the Cuban economy, the President noted how more than 600,000 Canadians have traveled to the island in 2004, of the some two million tourists expected during the year.
Faced with US efforts to strangle the Cuban economy by freezing the island’s dollar accounts abroad, he went on to cite the decision to eliminate the US dollar from circulation and substitute it with the convertible Cuban peso for all domestic foreign exchange transactions, a measure that has proven successful.
However, President Fidel Castro noted that Washington is still inventing ways damage the Cuban economy. He denounced new actions taken by the White House to make it even more difficult to purchase foodstuffs from US suppliers.
He further noted that American farmers, like a growing number of US congress people, are against the new obstacles to the sale of US food products to Cuba and predicted that the Bush administration will fail in its devious objectives.