Cuba: Battle of the 10,000,000 (1971) - full transcript

The battle for the 10 million ton sugar crop and the already legendary autocritique of Fidel Castro.

Present in these studios

with president Dorticos

members of the politburo

of the party's central committee

of the revolutionary government

of mass organisations

press delegates

and other guests.

Before you

Commander Fidel Castro.

On previous occasions

we informed of...

When on the 9th February 1970

Fidel Castro speaks to the television

to inform Cubans of the
current state of the zafra

the sugar cane harvest

He is worried.

All is well in the western provinces

but problems have emerged in the east.

After all, they're aiming
for an extraordinary amount.

Ten million tons

not a pound less.

Fidel fixed this norm

much like an athlete fixes their aims
at the height of the world record.

No half successes.

It's either the record
or a failure.

Why sugar cane?

Because after unfortunate experiences

the Cuban leaders concluded the only
resource that is immediately exportable

and indefinitely renewable in Cuba

was sugar.

Why ten millions?

Because it's the figure that will
allow Cuba's economy to take off.

Its foreign debt to Socialist countries
and the technology it needs

can only be bought in strong currencies.

Why this year?

Because the World Sugar Treaty

And the bilateral deal with the USSR

demand planning

and that plan was
set at ten million tons

for 1970.

But Cuba expected
to achieve it gradually.

They did not reach their target.

The 1969 harvest was 4.5 million.

Less than half.

Therefore, where a
reasonable progression

and everyday efficiency have failed

voluntarism appears as a response.

All energies are mobilised

The entire population will participate.

And it is this, Fidel adds,

without hurting any other sectors.

He calls it 'the simultaneous battle.'

There's concern,
but not pessimism.

To start with,
it's not in his nature.

And also because he has
widespread popular backing

and this could help him
amend the situation.

His reply to the last question
of the journalist

we're lagging behind.

We have a tight deadline.

A million tons every 17 days
is serious.

But as far as reaching the tenth million

it's not a problem.

No problems.




This year Cuba is not
particularly fashionable.

Europeans like us
love to see communities rising up.

only as long as they're
full-blown martyrs

or absolute victors.

When they no longer wave
a passionate manifest

or perform a militant theatre

when the struggle plays out

on the drab decor of everyday life

of everyday hardships

with all their unpleasantness

we turn away from them.

Like aging actresses

who marry ever younger men

we marry ever younger causes.

We search for a younger face
for our dreams.

- Bye. - See you later.

There's another attitude
that appears just as frequently

well established through 50 years
of liberal-minded tourists

to refuse to see reality.

When a reality that becomes irksome
ceases to exist.

One variant is to confidentially admit

that yes of course it exists.

But to discuss it would
only benefit the enemy.

By showing everyday images of Cuba


endless lines,
supply shortages

its NO HAY, or 'we've run out'

a ubiquitous mantra

If we say that Cuba is going through
hardships and problems,

That there is discontent, annoyances.

are we putting weapons
in the hands of the enemy?

A first attempt to answer this question

These images come from a Cuban film.

Take-Off at 18:00hs
by Santiago Alvarez

And these words were spoken
as you will hear, by Fidel Castro.

If this poverty of everyday life

betrays certain miscalculations

insufficient attention paid
to people's real needs,

It also reveals a choice that
needs to be understood.

To prioritise infrastructural products

over commodities.

Rationing is also a choice
that machines have made.

along with technology, investment

which will in turn
transform everyday life.

In the end, Cuba remains
a country at war.

We can't forget that
when making a balance.

A besieged city is not
a lovers' court.

Under an embargo that has it
cut off from its own continent.

Threatened by an enemy whose shores
lie 144km away from its own.

Cuba is embroiled in a double combat.

To build, and defend
what is being built.

A modern army is an imposed need

An education and health policy

modern agriculture,
are its chosen needs.

And a new concept

the feeling of not being alone
in this combat.

Solidarity with other poor countries.

Especially those in Latin America.

The last Sunday in May

an earthquake devastates
a region in Peru.

50,000 dead.

They call for blood donors.

Over 100,000 Cubans
come to give theirs

along with Fidel Castro.

Peru is a 'pueblo hermano'

a community in fraternity with them

American fraternity

But also a fraternity
of underdevelopment.

# Oh, Alert

# Alert, peoples of the world

# see the pain sowed

# the hardships of war

# in a corner of the world

# let's forget for one second

# the claws of Uncle Sam

# reach all the way to Vietnam

# with homicidal tendencies

# who don't care about human life

# or about those who fall

# stop that knife-wielding hand

# kills the dreams of children

# and the ideals of this land

# than to bear the horrid stain

# of rifles, of heroism

# let's make of Socialism

# a strong and triumphant treaty

# the universal flag of Marxism-Leninism

The aid to Peru has a political meaning

Its new government

it has taken up
the fight against US imperialism

Revolutionary analysis is shared
by many South Americans

The USA is enemy nr 1

Their foreign aid is a form of pillage

It's they who block any possibility
of actual progress in Latin America.

Cubans have quite a
bit to say about this.

About the Bay of Pigs' mercenaries

and the young diplomat
who visited in 1955

to congratulate Batista for
keeping a stable government

and a flourishing economy.

His name was Richard Nixon.

It's this solidarity in the face of
a two-headed enemy:

and American imperialism,

which explains the constant
flights between Cuba and Peru

The choice is simple.

Choosing one's enemies
is always simple.

Unlike choosing one's friends.

Obviously if there's no menace greater
to the Cuban revolution than the USA.

There is no greater help
than that of the USSR.

Is this the end of Cuban originality...,
or Cuban heresy,

Is it the alignment
of the most gifted country

never to become a satellite

On the 22nd of April,
for Lenin's centenary,

Fidel Castro responds to say, that the existence
of the Soviet state

is objectively

one of the most
extraordinary privileges

of the revolutionary movement.

What do I mean by this?

I mean...

that we can disagree
on different issues

that certain revolutionary movements

can see and respond to things
in a certain way

while others will proceed differently.

What I don't mean is...

that all parties need to think alike.

Let's not get thing mixed up.

The issues are so wide-ranging

and complex

that there will always be infinitely
different points of view.

To say anything else

would be an idealism.

What we are referring to

is of the plague
of pseudo-revolutionaries

writers pay rolled by Imperialism

who criticize the Soviet Union

and can't seem to forgive them

their existence.

Question posed to Cubans
on the eve of Lenin's centenary.

If Lenin was alive today
here, among you,

what would you say to him?

- Who?
- Lenin?

The founder of Socialism in Russia?

To Lenin?

That would be something else,
wouldn't it?

I'd greet him first of all.

Then I'd invite him to the ballet.

Then I'd listen to him.

I'd ask about his life

I'd be happy to chat with him.

Me? I don't know about such things.

I'd be moved.

I don't know.

What I'd be interested in,
is to hear him talk with Fidel.

I'd ask him about Vietnam.

I would help him with
anything he didn't know how to do.

To tie a hook for instance.

to fix a line.

Tell him where you can catch good fish.

It's among these people that the Battle
of the Ten Million is being fought.

On the eve of its starting day

No one will really know whether
Fidel considered they could lose it.

Or if whether they win or lose,
in the face of underdevelopment...

any battle is already a victory.

The Year of Ten Million
Not a Pound Less

14 July 1969

Central Gutierrez in Oriente

There are 30,000 macheteros
largest agronomer fair of the world.

Working Comrades of Oriente
and of the country

Comrades, macheteros,

Today begins the
harvest of the Ten Million

Fidel announces the
kick off of this zafra

and will not end until the last
of ten million sacks has been filled.'s important to highlight...

that this zafra starts today

and won't stop

until we've loaded the last sack

of the ten million

This zafra will last a whole year.

It will mobilise Cubans
in their hundred thousands.

Labourers, employees, civil servants

across all ranks of this cycle
from the blow of a machete

to the trip to the centrals

The first dilemma

concerns automation

in Khrushchev times they'd considered
Russian machinery to cut the cane

Cuban technicians
came up with two models.

In fact these machines do exist.

but they've been absent
on the cane front.

Manufacturing and maintenance problems

problems establishing what kind
of terrain they are appropriate for


Fidel said in 1968

The day that this country
has no men still using a machete

the revolution will have realised
its most humane task

transform a task
worthy of beasts into a human one.

On the 23 of Dec
the first million is achieved,

though with some delay.

Alarming news is reaching Oriente.

The mobilisation had centred
around manual cane-cutting,

yet problems arose
where they were least expected:

on the industrial front.

The old factories had no problems.

Their throughput had always
exceeded the speed of regular zafras.

These ten million,
require more shredding.

A shortage of specialised workers

leads to the growth of old centrals

instead of constructing new ones.

It's in these transformed factories
that problems pile up.

delays in upscaling...

Difficulties in delivery,
inadequate transport,

poor loading practices,
machine defects that paralyse

each step after cane-cutting.

And finally, these disquieting news

that the enlarged centrals

besides having poor shredding rates

also extract less sugar from the cane.

Yields are becoming a problem

Seasonal rains on Havana and Camaguey,

are not making things easier.

Fidel Castro airs a speech for Feb 9th.

At length, with maps and graphics
he explains the situation

and insists on improving yields.

Because cut cane and shredded cane

aren't exactly the same cane.

The sugar content varies
from the time the cane is cut

to the time it is shredded.

Besides this delay, shredding quality
also makes a difference.

Many factors add up to the final figure.

They can turn a ton of cane
as calculated on paper

into quite a bit less
on the ground.

This phenomenon is not known
or understood well enough

puts the entire battle at risk.

If we neglect the importance
of all this, says Fidel,

we risk wasting all our cane

hoping to make ten million
but obtaining 30 or 40 tons less.

But we said here
we'd make ten million tons

not a pound less.

So that is the question.
As a reminder.

It would be an awful embarrassment
not to hit the ten million mark.

And yet the yields keep dropping.

The only way to know what is going on

how much is coming out of the fields
and of the factories

is obviously to compare figures.

But to compare means transporting
tons of sugar cane between factories

in a country where
transport is always a problem

in the midst of a battle
where every minute counts.

What's important is what will be done.

From February on this sugarcane route
from factory to factory

with all the coordination required.

And the first outcomes seem encouraging.

In just days, Camaguey's output

increases by 1%.

While waiting for the 5th million
the halfway mark,

we can still expect the second half
is still doable.

But throughout the month of March

the yields seem to drop steadily.

They consider resorting
to their cane reserves

to compensate for the lower yields
by increasing the shredding speed.

And there's a new blow.

Sugar cane seems to be depleted.

The planning had been too optimistic.

The slogans haven't changes.

We're going ahead.
In Cuba, like in Vietnam,

we'll get the ten million.

But it's mathematically certain
that the battle is lost.



And now another enemy
will rear its ugly head.

Who are these horrid people?
what are they doing here?

I'll talk to one of those mercenaries.

Believe me, gentlemen, I felt revolted.

An ideological vacuum.

These captured mercenaries

The anti-Castro organisation Alpha 66
decides to avenge them.

And near the Bahamas, they take the crew
of two fishing ships hostage

who belonged to the coop in Caibarien.

This act of piracy is taken
seriously by the Cubans

especially as their fishing fleet
was created by the revolution.

Cuba had never had one before.

Fishing is the lifeline
for 20 million people.

That's why the fate of these fishermen
had to be protected by all means.

To neglect this is to admit
that this country

hasn't the right to defend itself.

and that is intolerable.

Anyone can understand this.

Anyone. Even a bourgeois diplomat
should be able to understand.

Even the dumbest idiot.

This country is muscular and firm
in its refusal to be scared.

If we show any hesitation
or recoil in the face of imperialism

it would be the way it is
among voracious fish in the sea.

I was chatting with comrades
from the Ministry of Interior

Anyone who's done any fishing
knows how barracudas behave.

They appear, and if you start
swimming away from them

I'll tell you about one
of the first times I went diving.

I had just discovered the ocean bed

I was delighted, and I found myself
alone, quite far from the boat,

when a barracuda started
swimming around me in circles

showing me its teeth.

I immediately retreated
towards the boat.

It was a very cautious move.

But the barracuda got
more aggressive all the time.

So I felt embarrassed.

for being there
retreating from a barracuda.

I turned around and swam towards it.

It rushed out of there right away. ran away at once.
Since then...

we'd already... learned that lesson
from our struggle against Imperialism

It's only after the revolution

that a fisherman showed
me the sea.

Before that, like many of our comrades

I'd never done
any underwater fishing whatsoever.

Mind you, I'm not trying
to do advertising for that sport

much less about myself.

I'm just recounting my experience.

And many animals are like that.

They only now they're predators
when their prey runs off.

...they get all puffed up for the chase.

Imperialism is to us like a shark

a sawfish, a vulture...

It's all those beasts

...put together.

If our little country,
facing up to Imperialism

had displayed signs of fear or doubt

they would have swallowed us up.

So what happened to these fishermen?

What theories did they dream up?

Naturally, it came from the US.

From Washington.

The Washington theory

is that the demonstrations which are
being held before the American embassy

are a logical outcome
of the zafra affair.

This is a 'reuter' from Washington.

Here's a cable from Washington.

Now there's a reuter from Havana.

The Swiss ambassador,
representing US interests

Discusses what would happen
if Swiss boats confronted Cuban boats

When you represent the USA, says Fidel,

One shouldn't think of
living without worries.

The former embassy of the USA in Havana

looked like a besieged fortress today.

encircled by a true army
of 20,000 Cubans

trying to overcome the resistance
of its defenders.

This 'siege of Jerusalem'

or Jericho,
without the trumpets.

As for the resistance
they could meet down there

there were no real young trumpets.

The few early demonstrators
grew to 100,000

when it emerged that the fishermen had
been found on an islet of the Bahamas.

Seeing the turn of events
their aggressors had left.

We need to wait for a new check.

# in search of the fishermen

The 11 fishermen are about to return

to the kind of mass welcome party

that other people reserve
for their rockstars

or their victorious football players.

Poet Pablo Milanes himself declares

that the people
have won the match 11 - nil.

A formidable popular demonstration...

They say they freed the fishermen

They lie.
It's not the mercenaries who freed them.

They freed themselves.

They just abandoned
them where they were.

And they hurried back
to their spot in Miami.

It's one of the many low blows.

They've lied and slandered in the past

We were going to end the demo
by invading their embassy...

We were about to do this, or that...

and the last thing they dreamed up...

that we'd organised
all these mobilisations

to trigger an incident

because of the
difficulties with the zafra.

And it's true that we have troubles.

But are we going to blame it
on someone else?

On the imperialists? No.

Not even on the mercenaries
who moored here to disturb the zafra.

Not even on those wretched CIA agents
who kidnapped the fishermen.

No. If someone has
to take on the blame, it's us.

And if you want me to describe
the situation clearly

we simply won't make the ten million.

Quite simply.

I won't beat about the bush.

The ten-million slogan

has been replaced by Fidel
with a new one.

To transform misfortunes
into a victory

For this last phase of the battle

we were in Oriente,
an island inside the island.

Out on the horizon,
the central pours out its fumes.

The macheteros in Colorado
leave for work at 5 a.m.

on a bowl of coffee
and a piece of dry bread.

They hold out until noon

under the tropical sun.

They eat rice and vegetables

drink tepid water that tastes of fuel,

and then in the afternoon
they sleep.

Fresh water is a treat.

A bouquet of flowers, a party.

Some have lived like this for 11 months.

When Fidel speaks again
on the 26th of February

It's mainly to them.

This... thing I brought here.

is not a speech.

This is not a speech,
not by any stretch of the word.

It's a top secret report
about the economic situation.

It's not a speech, but economic secrets.

It's one of these
things that get written

...written and discussed in secret
so that the enemy doesn't find out.

And so, here we have them.

Not because we particularly
want the enemy to know.

But who cares about the enemy?

And if the enemy benefits
from anything we say here

and this turns out to be
an embarrassment for us

Blessed be this embarrassment.

Bless this pain...

if we can turn
this embarrassment into a strength.

If we can turn it into work.

Turn it into dignity...

If we can turn this shame
into a moral factor.

So in the end what we have here...

And now here are the secrets.

It's a painful result for the Cubans.

With 8.5 million tons

a record amount

the battle of the 10 million
has nonetheless been lost.

And so has the simultaneous battle.

The massive effort to produce sugar

has thrown the other
sectors out of balance

milk production has dropped by 25%

tyre production by 50%

soap by 32%

Fidel provides all the figures

But his speech
contains a dilemma

What you will hear
has probably never been said

by any head of state in history.

Certainly not in this tone.

It's plain to see...

The enemy has used and abused
the argument...

according to which
the zafra of the ten million

would lead to this kind of problems.

Our duty was...

to do the impossible to avoid it,

but in truth

...we were unable to do so.

Our enemies say...

...we have difficulties.

And on this point they're right.

They say we have problems.

And in truth...

...they are right, our enemies.

They say there is discontent.

And in truth, they are right.

...our enemies.

They say there is irritation

And in truth,
they are right, our enemies.

As you can see, we are not afraid
to admit it...

...when our enemies are right.

We'll start by pointing out... the first place,
among all these problems

the responsibility we all carry

and mine specifically.

I won't pretend, by any means... call anyone out
without assuming my own responsibility

and the same goes for...

...all the leaders of the revolution.

It is very unfortunate...

that this kind of self-criticism

can't easily go hand in hand

with adequate solutions.

It might be better to say...

to the people,
go find another one.

Or even...

go and find others.

It might be better

...but in fact, on our side
it would also be...

a hypocrisy

I believe that the learning process
we, the leaders, have experienced

was too high a price to pay.

And sadly...

...our problem

is not to replace the leaders...
...of the revolution

This is something the people can do

when they want,
at the time of their choosing...

and this very moment
if that's what they want.

What's the part...

...that impressed you most
in Fidel's speech?

What he said about workers'
role in management.

about giving workers

much more participation

in labour management issues.

So what is it... .. we found in
the spirit of the Santiago workers?

Being as we were, aware
of all their difficulties?

Firstly their preoccupation
with production issues.

With an incredible passion for their
factory and its production process.


In ragged clothes...

with holes in their shoes...

These workers in rags and torn shoes.

Demanded all sorts of things:
machinery, precision tools,

They were more worried about that...

...than the other problems.

With supplies in such a poor state...

...they worried more
about the factory's yields

than about their unmet individual needs.

And that is very moving.

This is for us...

a true lesson,

real living proof that...

the proletariat,

the industrial proletariat,

the truly revolutionary class.

The class that might...

...have the most
revolutionary potential of all.

What a practical lesson...

...lesson in Marxism-Leninism.

We who are taking our first steps
on the revolutionary road

not from a factory,
which would have benefitted us all most.

But through an intellectual itinerary
of a theory-fuelled spirit...

...based on thought.

And wouldn't it have been convenient...

for all of us
to know our factories better.

To make them our starting point.

...of the factories.

Because it is there...

...that one finds an authentically
revolutionary spirit

as described by...

...Marx and Lenin

And that is the spirit
of the immense majority.

Who cares about those few freeriders

who often have only just arrived
to the world of work.

Who cares about absenteeism

sometimes the conditions are so bad
that those who surprise us

are not those who don't show up
but those who do

After an 8-day visit

we explained all this to the people
and said,

Do you know anyone...

who is dependable and
can take on responsibilities.

It's our question to the masses.

because what really is tragic

one of the tragedies of our country,

must not be cause to resign ourselves.

It's the problem of finding executives

who can provide oversight...

with an adequate
level of education and intelligence.

For complex production-related tasks.

Some elements had
been mentioned earlier.

Sure, but it went deeper and
it was expressed more clearly.

We do not believe

that the issue of managing a factory

should be left to a mere administrator.

It's high time

that we introduced

many more criteria

and ensure someone is in charge.

and is accountable to answer questions.

But the factory should be shaped into...

... a collective organism.

Why? Why should an executive be...

ultimately in charge of a factory?

Why not introduce to the governing board

representatives of
the workers' collective

Why not trust them?

Why not trust the formidable
proletarian spirit of these men?

These barefoot, ragged men...

...who keep production going.

What part of Fidel's speech
impressed you the most?

All of it, the whole speech.

Every sentence had a meaning.

It's not a matter of mechanically
accumulating overtime

No. The problem has been clearly stated.

The norm is the standard working day.

Used diligently

Overtime is the exception

and only when it's
justified by force majeure.

When a specific target must be reached.

Not to squeeze an extra hour
into an abstract norm.

Those mechanical methods
are nothing but dirty tricks.

We need to understand for once
and for all that a mechanical attitude

and that we've accumulated nonsense.

Our problem is creating awareness
among our entire people.

How can we optimise the
use of those machines?

For each gramme of prime matter

From every atom of energy

And use our heads to think.

If the big zafra had been a problem
to be solved with more arms

I'd say that what we are dealing now
is one to be solved with more brains.

A problem of intelligence.

The way ahead is hard, indeed.

Harder than it seemed.

Yes, my imperialist gentlemen

Socialism is hard to build.

But Karl Marx himself

conceived of it as the
natural consequence

of a society that was already
technologically developped.

However, today

in the face of industrialised
capitalist powers

countries like ours
have no other way out.

There's no other way
to catch up cultural and technologically

than Socialism.

But what is Socialism?

It's the chance to make optimal use

the human and natural resources
available to the people.

What is Socialism?

It's the disappearance
of the opposition

between the development
of productive forces

and production relations.

Today, the industry, prime matters

natural resources, factories

machines, and all sorts of equipment

belong to the collectivity.

They can and must be in service
of the collectivity.

If we don't make the
most of these machines

of those facilities and resources

it's not because a capitalist
is standing in our way.

It's not because an
imperialist is in the way.

It's not an owner who's in the way.

If we don't make the
most of our possibilities

it's not because
someone isn't letting us

it's because we don't know, don't want

or cannot.

Our enemies rejoice

They have their hopes
set on our difficulties.

And I said they were right.

About this, and that, and such.

About whatever they like.

Except on one point.

To think that the people

have an alternative to the Revolution.

It's to think that the people

when faced with the
difficulties of the revolution

whatever these may be

would be able to choose

the route of counterrevolution.

That's where you've got it all wrong,

my imperialist gentlemen.

That's where you're wrong.

We're not out for praise.

or power

What is power for anyway?

If one doesn't win the
battle against poverty.

against ignorance and all those things.

Power. What is power?

What is this or any other power?

It's the will of the people.

If we have an atom of self-worth in us

this atom will have the value of an idea

the value of a cause

in union with a people.

And we, men

we're made of flesh and blood

fragile beyond belief.

We are nothing, so to speak.

If we are something
it's only in relation to those things.

Once again...

all I have to say...

to our people...

on behalf of our party
and all the leaders

And also...

in accordance
with my own feelings

faced with the people's reaction

its attitude and trust

all I have to say is many thanks.

Fatherland or death.

We shall prevail.

subs by Adua