Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
Views of Fidel CASTRO on Relations with the United States, and on the
Organization of American States; Prospects for Future Relations

On February 19, 1959, Fidel CASTRO made a four hour appearance, from
10:30 in the evening until 2:30 the following morning, on a local
television program called "Ante la Prensa" (freely translated as "Meet the
Press").  Moderator of the Program was Nicolas BRAVO, and other members of
the panel were Luis GOMEZ WANGUEMERT, Juan GONZALEZ Martinez, and Jose Luis
MASO.  Bravo is considered friendly toward the United States.  Wanguemert
is a Communist or fellow-traveller, and anti-American.  The attitudes of
Gonzalez and Maso are know know well enough for classification, but during
the program Gonzalez appeared to be anti-American.  In this, he was perhaps
reflecting the tone set by Castro.  Both Wanguemert and Gonzalez were
exceptionally sycophantic during the program.

Television in Cuba has very heavy coverage.  There are some 330,000
sets, in a total population of around 6,300,000.  Programs can be viewed
throughout the country, which is linked by a complete net of relay
stations.  The program in question is one of the more popular ones,
especially so since the beginning of the year when censorship ended and
people in whom the public has great interest have appeared on it.  It seems
safe to assume that at least one million people, and probably more, saw all
or most of the program.

The program normally runs for a half hour or one hour, depending on the
interest in the guest and the subject.  In this case, Castro had agreed to
appear only if he could have unlimited time, and he carried on for four
hours.  He was completely outspoken on any subject that came up.  A variety
of subjects was discussed, most of which he himself brought up.  Several
officers of the Embassy, including the writer, watched the program.

For the use of interested offices of the Department, there is enclosed
a transcript of the program supplied by a local radio-TV service.  It
appears to be an accurate version, taken from tape.  Unfortunately, it is
unable to capture the atmosphere of the program:  Castro in his standard
uniform of rumpled fatigues, radiating health and boundless energy, hunched
over the table as he talks, waving arms and hands, with the eternal cigar
always at hand.  Words pour from him in a ceaseless torrent.  He appears
literally capable of talking forever, on any subject under the sun.  He is
a dynamic, forceful speaker, with that rare quality of fixing and swaying
his audience regardless of the contents of his words.  His language was
careless and informal.  He spoke with tremendous vitality and rapidity.