Cuba is now midway through its fourteenth year under the rule of Fidel Castro. Like?
Cuba is now midway through its fourteenth year under the rule of Fidel Castro. Like every other 12 months since the Communists came to power, the year has been given a name - designed to encourage Cubana to increase production and productivity. This is "The Year of Socialist Emulation"; it follows the "Year of Productivity" - and "The Year of the Ten Million" (tons of sugar) in 1970.
The passing years have seen many new ideas emerge in the Cuban economy - one of the most bizarre of which is crocodile farming (an idea of Fidel Castro himself). the crocodiles are reared at a centre on the south coast of Cuba - and when their numbers reach 80-thousand they are killed and turned into handbags, shoe leather, wallets and belts.
But despite these new ides, tobacco and sugar remain the key industries in Cuba - and both have in recent years suffered at the hands of nature. A seven drought and a bad harvest last year has meant that tobacco factories are hard-pressed to fill their export orders.
The some natural circumstances have contributed to what will probably be one of the worst sugar harvests of recent years.
This rare film from Cuba has natural sound throughout.
SYNOPSIS: The hatching of crocodiles is part of one of the more unusual projects being undertaken in Cuba to boost an economy which has suffered badly in recent years at the hands of nature. While traditional tobacco and sugar products decline, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro has launched new projects aimed at earning valuable overseas exchange. The crocodiles are being reared for their skins - which will eventually cover handbags, shoes, wallets and belts. But the Cubans have found other profitable outlets for crocodile flesh as well. The musk glands are used in the manufacture of perfume - and lard processed from crocodile flesh is said to have medicinal properties. But it takes twelve years to grow an adult crocodile - so it's a longtime project.
Meantime, Cuba still depends on aid from the Soviet Union. Every day, tons of farm machinery is among the Soviet products unloaded at Cuban wharves. One estimate says Soviet aid to Cuba totals two million dollars (U.S.) a day.
Tobacco - and particularly the manufacture of high-quality cigars -remains cornerstone of Cuba's economy.....despite recent setbacks. A drought last year meant a sharp decline in tobacco leaf production and there are reports that Cuba's four biggest cigar factories are hard-pressed to meet export demand. There's a huge home demand as well. Cubans are among the world's heaviest smokers - on average each uses about 11 pounds (kgs) of tobacco every 12 months.
Inspiration for workers ink tobacco factories comes from a reader - who recites articles from the government newspaper every morning. He than goes on to essays on Communism, or to light novels as the day progresses.
a visit to a night club is a reward offered to conscientious workers in Cuba. The club puts on a show three times a week and on each occasion the various factories get tables for their most deserving and efficient workers.
Sugar is vital to the Cuban economy. It's another crop to suffer in the drought - and there are predictions that the 1972 harvest will be among the worst on record. The Cuban sugar industry is still a long way behind some of its international competitors in terms of efficiency. But the Cuban government is working hard to spur on workers to new achievements. In this effort it has named 1972 "The Year of Socialist Emulation". However, the setback to the sugar and tobacco crops, combined with a difficulty in finding markets for new products, indicates that Cuba will continue to rely heavily on Soviet assistance for some years to come.