Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
The News - Wash. D. C.  Oct. 26, 1959

"Castro Eases General Tone but Blasts Critics in U.S. in Exclusive

HAVANA, Oct. 26 (UPI)--Peasants and workers by the tens of thousands
streamed into Havana today for an anti-United States rally called by
Premier Fidel Castro.

The revolutionary leader called for one million Cubans to mass before
the presidential palace at 4 p. m. today to protest what he said were the
"economic and military threats" of the U. S. against his regime.

Dr. Castro, his leftist brother Raul, now Defense Minister, and
President Osvaldo Dorticos are expected to address the crowd massed in the
plaza below from the balcony of the palace in the heart of Havana.


Dr. Castro's supporters went all out to ensure a massive turnout in
Havana and at similar rallies in provincial capitals thruout Cuba.  The
Cuban Confederation of Labor decreed a nationwide work stoppage, the
Ministry of Education ordered all schools closed at noon; and [Unreadable
text] government - controlled railroad ran special trains into Havana with
peasants and workers from the nearby provinces.

A day-long work stoppage was ordered in the nearby provinces of Pinar
Del Rio, Matanzas and Las Villas to give workers and peasants time to
travel to Havana for the main rally.

In Havana, all but essential services were ordered to suspend at noon
to allow workers to participate in the demonstration of loyalty to Castro.
The Havana rally will be relayed thruout the nation by television and


Dr. Castro, in a five-hour television appearance which lasted into the
early hours of Friday, charged that a plane from the U. S. "bombed" Havana
last Wednesday night.  Newspapers said U. S.-based planes also
"machinegunned" Cuba.

Planes dropped anti-Castro leaflets on Havana later Wednesday.  Cuban
warplanes were sent up to intercept the raiders and anti-aircraft guns
also opened up.  Two persons were killed and about 5 wounded with most
evidence pointing to stray machinegun bullets and fragments of
anti-aircraft shells as the cause.

Dr. Castro charged that the raids was masterminded and carried out by
former chief of the Cuban air force Maj. Pedro Diaz Lanz.  Maj. Diaz Lanz
broke with Dr. Castro and took refuge in the U. S. over alleged communist
influence in the Cuban government.

(In Miami, Fla., Atty. J. Edward Worton, representing the Castro
regime, said he would begin extradition proceedings against Maj. Diaz Lanz
today in an effort to have the former air chief sent back to Cuba to face

(See editorial on page 22.)

By HENRY N. TAYLOR Scripps-Howard Staff Writer
(Copyright, 1959, by Scripps-Howard Newspaper)

HAVANA, Oct. 26--Cuba's fiery Prime Minister Fidel Castro today blasted
American critics who call him communist and said he hopes President
Eisenhower will act personally to stop anti-Castro Cubans from using
Florida as a "base for war flights" against this troubled island.

In a four-hour exclusive interview, which took place in the home of
Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticos, Dr. Castro spoke in halting but blunt and
animated English about his grievances and his hopes.

"Either certain American authorities are conspiring with my enemies in
Florida or your country is totally defense[Unreadable text]] against our
attack," Dr. Castro charged.  "I don't like to think your coast lines are
so undefended you never spot planes coming or going.  Therefore, someone in
authority must not be watching on purpose."


Dr. Castro spoke as an estimated million Cubans were massing at his
call in Havana for a giant protest rally against the "bombing" of the city
last week, allegedly by Maj. Pedro Diaz Lanz, former Castro officer who now
lives in Miami and accuses Dr. Castro of being influenced by communists.

It was the controversial Cuban leader's first private interview since
the dramatic deterioration of his relations with the United States began
several weeks ago.

"I am no community," said Dr. Castro.  "Just because Karl Marx had a
beard and Castro also has a beard Americans shouldn't jump to conclusions.
Remember, the great Abraham Lincoln had a beard, too.

"I am not anti-American, either.  I am just pro-Cuban.  I want no
foreign power dominating my country, neither Russia nor the United States.
I think President Eisenhower understands this and sympathizes with Cuba's
worries.  He is a man who has read history and who knows your country also
was born out of a revolution which many foreigners misunderstood."


Dr. Castro said he plans no formal call on President Eisenhower to
control activities in Florida which threaten Cuba's infant revolutionary

"But I hope the President will act quietly of his own accord," the
33-year old leader said.

Regarding 17 jet fighters which Cuba wants to buy from Great Britain,
Dr. Castro said:

"We'll know in a week or so whether England will sell them.  The U.S.
opposes us, but England is an independent country and should not be
intimidated.  If there is no sale, we will buy them elsewhere."

Does this include the Soviet Union?

"Yes," Dr. Castro shot back, "or even from the moon.  Any nation has a
right to defend itself."

But Dr. Castro said he would really prefer to buy tractors for Cuba's
land reform rather than warplanes.  He also said Cuba's best defense would
be action by the United States to crack down on flights by Diaz Lanz and
others.  He conceded his own long revolutionary fight got supplies from the
same Florida bases but said U. S. agents stopped a "majority" of the Castro
flights as against no anti-Castro flights so far.

"I realize that when I speak about our suffering a Pearl Harbor in
Havana and blame the United States for flights, I am painting a violent
picture perhaps too harsh in language.  Pardon me.  I am human and I get
angry.  But I speak the truth.  I realize it was a small Pearl Harbor but
it happened."


Castro revealed that his government does not have definite proof that
unidentified planes actually dropped explosives in last Wednesday's
"bombing" here.  He conceded that some of the casualties (two civilians
dead and 50 wounded) probably were caused by falling anti-aircraft
fragments or grenades tossed from cars.

"But we have the precedent of two other bombings and we presume that
grenades or some other explosives were dropped on Havana too.  In any case
the plane was responsible for casualties because the pilot flew illegally
over us dropping pamphlets."

Thruout the interview Dr. Castro notably softened the harsh
anti-American accusations which have bristled thru his public speeches in
the past tempestuous week and which are expected again when the crowd
gather before the Presidential Palace at 4 p. m. today.

Chain smoking cigars and quaffing beer, Dr. Castro was in a relaxed
mood as we talked.  The only others present were Cuban President Dorticos
and his family.  President Dorticos--a pleasant, beardless, bespectacled
country lawyer who is nominally Dr. Castro's superior in government--said
little but occasionally helped Dr. Castro over rough stops in his

Asked whether he favors a neutralist foreign policy for Cuban, Dr.
Castro said:

"Neutralism is a loaded word, like communism.  You can say I want good
relations with all countries and that I oppose the idea of blocs.  Cuba
remains a member of the Rio Pact, but this may have to depend on how our
relations with the United States develop."

What about the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba?

"We have said nothing about expelling it," Dr.Castro answered.  "But
that also depends on developments."

What does Dr. Castro think of the Monroe Doctrine?

"If it means the American hemisphere should be for all Americans, I am
for it.  If it means the American hemisphere is for the profit of North
Americans only, I am against it."

Is there any communist threat in Cuba?

"I see none yet.  People in the United States always seem to be making
lists of men around me who are supposedly communists.  Who has the right to
label anybody anything?  Jefferson said men and institutions must change
with time.  Was Jefferson a communist?  But he'd be called one today.

"And how about Lincoln?  He freed the slaves.  Big Southern landowners
called that confiscation of private property, just as big monopolies in the
U. S. claim that I am confiscating property here now.  But was Lincoln a


Again and again--using words like spy, treason and aggression--Dr.
Castro spoke bitterly about the "conspiracy" against him.

He charged this alleged conspiracy linked "directly or indirectly"
Dominican Dictator Raphael Trujillo Molina, the U. S. Senate Internal
Security sub-committee headed by Sen. James O. Eastland (D., Miss., the
sugar, power and public service monopolies and ousted Cuban dictator
Fulgencio Batista's "gangsters."

When will Cuba have elections?

"When the revolution is completed and people want elections.  Right now
they don't want elections.  They feel liberated from the old politicians."

Then, with no elections, couldn't Dr. Castro himself be called a

"Perhaps in the ancient Roman sense of a dictator called to rule
temporarily in an emergency with the will of the people behind him," he
answered.  "But dictator is a bad word in the modern sense and let's not
use it."

Why does Dr. Castro crack down so harshly on Cuban editors and
officials who criticize him?

"I defend myself only with words, not bloodshed.  Therefore my only
weapon is public opinion.  I believe very deeply in our cause.  To attack
it--and my own prestige--now can do critical harm. Therefore I answer

Does Dr. Castro believe relations with the U. S. are deteriorating?

"Not necessarily.  We love Americans as people.  They are as good
people as Cubans, which is the best compliment I know. Americans are safe
and [Unreadable text] in Cuban sunshine.  We hope more of them will come.