Dear Comrades,                                                                                                                                                                                             

The process of buying a tractor for the International Camp Julio Antonio Mella (CIJAM) began some time ago. During the wet season during electrical storms the power lines or a transformer to the pump at the water bore were quite often damaged, as they cross the fields for some distance from the road to the head of the bore.

When power is lost, CIJAM runs out of water, having experienced this intolerable situation during my frequent visits several times, I spoke with Raul Abreu, CIJAM Director about a solution to this problem, and offered to buy a port-able generator to provide power to the pump.

A couple of weeks later he spoke to me and suggested that a tractor would provide a solution to this, and a number of other problems as the generator from the old emergency power plant at the camp was still serviceable, though the motor was worn out.  After locating an old Soviet built tractor that was for sale, and in excellent condition, permission was obtained and paperwork prepared for the purchase, quite a lengthy process.

A tractor needs implements and a farmer who had retired and sold his land was selling his implements, a large trailer, two different types of ploughs, a planter and a large rotary slasher were purchased from him.  Since then, in a good example of Cuban improvisation, a large water tank has been made using an old truck chassis and wheels for watering the plants that are to be planted.   

The tractor has opened up huge possibilities for CIJAM.  The fields that previously had orange trees, that had a disease and have now been cleared after a decision was made by the Provincial Communist Party organisation to better utilize the available land in the area.  In an agreement with a co-operative the agricultural land belonging to CIJAM is being ploughed and prepared for planting about 450 different types of fruit trees, mainly mango and avacado. In the interim until the trees are mature vegetables will be grown in be-tween the rows, including corn, cabbage, yuka (a root vegetable), sweet potato, pumpkin and beans.

Work is being carried out in the CIJAM workshop repairing and painting these implements, and making others.  All of this will make a huge difference to the experiences provided to the 16 or 17 brigades each year to CIJAM.


Keith Headland