Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Chilean Journalists Impromptu Meeting

Havana PRENSA LATINA in Spanish 1418 GMT 1 Aug 71 C--FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

[Text] Havana, 1 Aug--by PRENSA LATINA special correspondent in Chile Jorge
Timossi--Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro's visit to Chile is a
"certainty" but "no date has been set." Maj Fidel Castro himself talked
about this trip and many other topics at the University of Havana during a
humor filled, impromptu talk with 11 Chilean journalists here for the
anniversary of the attack on the Moncada barracks.

With one arm around August Carmona from television channel 9, another arm
around Enrique Gutierrez from radio corporation, and surrounded by others
such as Lucia Sepulveda, Jose Miguel Varas, Humberto Zumaban, and Francisco
Galdames from ULTIMA HORA, the prime minister said that Cuban Foreign
Minister Raul Roa Garcia's trip to Chile probably will be in August,
although he made it clear that Chilean officials will set the date.

Concerning his visit to Chile as guest of President Salvador Allende
announced so many times before, Maj Fidel Castro said: "You read the
announcements in the papers every day. But the date was never announced.
This trip is a certainty, but there is no date yet. And when the date is
set, I will not tell you. We are blockaded. It is not an easy trip. The
circumstances of a trip such as this must be considered." He added: "When
we travel, we still have to use a certain amount of discretion. Do not
forget that we are surrounded--that we have the Yankees nearby, capable of
everything. The trip will be made by atomic or nuclear submarine from one
of the bases we have around here."

The first questions put by reporters at this impromptu press conference in
one of the halls of Havana university centered on the nationalization of
copper in Chile and the masses' capacity for mobilization.

"You have already obtained some results", Castro said, "you are in the
government, you already have a copper law. I think these results are

Concerning the nationalization law he said that "it was well drafted"
despite the attempts to weaken the law, and the most important thing about
the law is that it is fully supported by the people.

He stressed: "The most important thing is not the law itself but what do
you do with the law. In keeping with today's thought the law was
unanimously supported by even the Costa Rican congress which undoubtedly is
reactionary; Figueres' people supported the law unanimously. I am amazed."

This topic was linked with the political changes being felt in the
continent since the Cuban revolution, and with the peoples' capacity for

Fidel Castro asked whether anybody had ever heard the North Americans
talking about agrarian reform before the Cuban revolution. "Never" he
answered. "It was only after the revolution that they started talking about
agrarian reform. Historical circumstances made them start talking about

"I think that the masses become revolutionary," he added, "when
revolutionary laws are applied." The whole spirit of McCarthyism, of
anticommunism, finally ended in Cuba when the people's awareness changed."

"Regarding the dramatic struggle of the people against Batista, which was,
and currently represents in many countries, a struggle against repression,
tortures, murders, I would say that the people had a feeling of class, not
class consciousness, but an instinct. They did not understand where the
roots of the problems were, what caused unemployment, poverty, inequality.
Many times they blamed these things on poor administrations, on

The prime minister then said that later on came the triumph of the
revolution in Cuba. Revolutionary laws began emerging and the people's
awareness began changing.

"Still there was not the awareness of today", he added. Such a deep
qualitative change could not occur immediately. This came about shortly
afterward, through the years. The revolutionary laws, the struggles against
imperialism have been creating this awareness, this sense of a national
union of the people, this force, this ideology, this socialist sense,
almost communist in many people, this sense of equality, of justice."

Fidel continued: "You can have all this too. At first we had much popular
support, but the people's political education was very superficial. Now we
have the fruit of these 12 years: The people's political education. You
have seen how they understand international problems, even the most subtle
things. You have seen how they listen to even a long list of data, figures,
that are totally boring."

"This is an achievement," said Fidel. "It is a source of great strength
that has helped us greatly in this difficult struggle. One must keep in
mind that we are neighbors of the United States and that the United States
had a great political and economic influence on us, and that the United
States is also a great military threat which has forced us to make great

One of the Chilean reporters asked the Cuban prime minister for his opinion
about the difficulties Chile might face.

Major Castro replied: It is so hard to talk about Chile. Whenever I say
something, immediately the right and the reactionaries get hold of it. You
saw this happen on 26 July: At the 26 July ceremony I gave my opinion about
the situation in Uruguay; I simply gave an opinion about the situation in
that country, the same as anybody else can give an opinion; Violent
struggle is growing, armed struggle is growing, the mass movement is
growing. You should see the statement issued today by the foreign minister
"protesting" and "repudiating" Mr Fidel Castro's coarse intervention in the
internal affairs of Uruguay."

Castro added, "This is a cheap type of chauvinism, fruitless and no longer
used. This government has no ideology, it has nothing to do, and thus the
only thing left for it to do is to resort to chauvinism, ridiculous
chauvinism. There are two kinds of states. A state in crisis and an
emerging state. There are two kinds of jails. The jail of repression and
the jail of the people. And those that really interfere here are the North
Americans, the Yankees, the CIA."

Answering the original question, Maj Fidel Castro said: "You say that you
have difficulties. Take the agrarian reform example. Every agrarian reform
creates problems for agricultural production--there is no doubt about this.
Right now the latifundists who know that they are going to be expropriated
because of the agrarian law will try to sabotage production."

He added: "From here we can see that there is a struggle going on, that
there is a strong awareness of class among the Chilean peasants, and that
there is a desire to solve the problems. You can see there is something
strong, even stronger than what we had. It is possible that you will find
that they are trying to sabotage your production. But there is still
another situation: You have a high unemployment rate, you also have
inflation. Inflation stops, is reduced, and at the same time come certain
wage increases. An increase in better paying jobs naturally is controlled
by the supply of material goods on hand."

Continuing with his reply, Fidel Castro also said: "All this can lead to
difficulties in supply. Of course, this can be met by an increase in
production. But it is not so easy. It takes more than reaching power to
reach the skies."

Regarding the difficulties faced by a revolution, Fidel Castro said: "What
they left us was a hell, and we must be realistic and work to build a
future. The masses must be made aware that well being is not found around
the corner. We must begin under very difficult conditions, for we have
neither industrial development nor technology nor the personnel that might
be present in an industrialized society, personnel used in administrative
routines. In the books, in theory, things appear very schematic, very
generic, but in societies revolutions are very difficult. Generally
speaking, the people tend to reduce the magnitude of the difficulties
encountered by a revolution. The people have a tendency to idealize

On the same subject, he added: "Even a change in structures does not solve
every problem. Right now you will have your problems with copper. From some
mines the best grade copper was taken out. According to what we have read
in the press, in some reports which have been released, in some of the
mines exploitation was not too well planned, in other residues were thrown
in the top, and others suffered poor maintenance."

In a portion of the conversation, which was of great interest to the
Chilean journalists, the Cuban prime minister said: "Some of the mines
which you now have will not be able to increase their production easily.
And now many of the technicians, the specialists, have been taken away.
Just imagine how things will be. When we said 150 sugarmills there was no
one in Cuba that knew how to draw plans for a sugarmill. Everytime that a
sugarmill had to be built, as they were built 30 years ago, U.S. planners
came here and built them. If you tell me: Look for a Cuban who knows how to
plan a sugarmill, you will not find one. And I imagine you are in the same
shape despite the training Chilean engineers might have. There is no doubt
that the people with the most experience in the planning of mine
exploitation were probably the Yankees."

He said: "You will have to face all these problems. I do not want to
discourage you, on the contrary, I want to encourage you. I believe that
the more conscious you are of the realities the more possibilities you have
to overcome the difficulties."

Asked by a reporter how the movement and participation of the masses in the
process was achieved in Cuba, Fidel Castro answered: "I would say that this
is a dialectical phenomena. One of the factors that move the people is
suffering, scarcity, deprivations, their material living conditions.

Naturally for a long time the entire struggle was oriented toward the
search for improvement of the material living conditions. And this is the
basis for the growth of the class struggle. The people feel exploited,
oppressed. Their material living conditions wield influence, even though
the introduction of subjective ideological factors was noted.

"There are countries where the economic conditions are better than in other
countries and the struggle is stronger. In other countries, the economic
conditions are inferior and there is less struggle. In the latter case this
is due to the fact that objective conditions are present, but not
subjective conditions. Well, in the entire process of the struggle for the
seizing of power, for the elimination of exploitation, the desire for well
being is very evident in the masses, and yet there are always the questions
of why poverty exists, why unemployment exists. Perhaps during this period
not enough explanation is given; the problem is idealized somewhat and the
appearance, the illusion, is created that the answer rests on a simple
change of structure."

On this subject Fidel Castro continued: "One cannot enjoy wealth which
still does not have a material base, which in fact has not been created. If
you have 1 million people, families, without homes, you hare not going to
find a house the day after the victory. If you find that the entire
industry is capable of making one pair of shoes you cannot distribute three
pairs of shoes, because you do not have them, you do not have the material
base. If you need medical assistance for 8 million people, and the
medicines and services can only provide for 2 million, you must create the
necessary base. Furthermore, to provide education, medical services, and
housing to all citizens, industrial development is needed and so is work
productivity and the material base that must be created by the revolution
itself. In capitalism the warehouses are full. The capitalist society has
some stocks in the warehouses. Beautiful things are always exhibited in the
stores. However, everything that is exhibited in these stores is not even 5
percent of what you need to distribute for 1 year. Yes, the revolution is
going to distribute, but you cannot distribute what you do not have."

A reporter asked about the method used by the Cuban revolution to increase
the masses' political awareness, and Fidel Castro answered: "We have done
two things: We have explained and we have struggled to solve the problems,
at least most of them. Generally speaking we have found great
understanding. We explain everything that we can. We struggle to the
maximum to solve the problems. I do not mean to say that struggling to the
maximum brings about the solution to the problems. However, the people see
that an effort is being made, that everyone is struggling.

"Many problems have to be solved in a revolution. There are problems that
cannot be solved in 2 minutes. During a certain stage of the revolution you
will find that all the means which exert pressure on man for production are
very strong coercive means--hunger, disease. When the social change takes
place you begin even to solve many problems with different methods:
Education and public health, because these problems cannot wait until great
development is attained. The factors which exert great and tremendous
coercion on man before a new awareness develops also disappear. The first
to disappear are all the pressure factors. There is also a tendency toward

"Furthermore, every revolution produces many changes, disorganizes
everything--beginning with the class which administers everything. Other
classes and other men who have no experience begin. And the worst happened
to us: They took away our technicians, our doctors, our administrators.
Then the people had to begin to perform these tasks. They had no knowledge.
Good will to administer something well is not sufficient. Good will to
administer a factory well is not sufficient. Quite frequently we might put
the best of the workers, the most dedicated and hard workers, in charge,
but he does not know how to manage a factor."

Other reporters again brought up the subject of the participation of the
masses in the Cuban process, and Fidel Castro stated that this
participation was developed gradually. He said: "At the outset we did not
know how to achieve this. At the outset we were also very theoretical. By
saying this, I do not men to say that you are very theoretical. As all
revolutionaries, we were very theoretical at the outset."

Asked if he was satisfied with the degree of development of mobilization
achieved by the masses, Fidel Castro answered: We can never be satisfied.
We do not feel encouraged to continue moving ahead. We have found some
solutions because of our special situation. No problem is solved unless it
is brought out. Perhaps if we had not had great needs we would not have
found some solutions to the problems of housing, the educational system,
the recruiting of youth for work, and our base of the revolutionary
path--the schools which we are building."

One of the lady journalists present asked how the revolution is fighting
"the problem of sectarianism and bureaucracy."

Fidel Castro said: "Not sectarianism, for we do not have sectarianism here.
Fortunately, we have left sectarianism way back. We are fighting
bureaucracy. At times we have fought erroneous tendencies," he added
jokingly: "On occasions we have thought of eliminating all office workers."

One of the last subjects discussed came up when the journalists asked how
many hours Fidel Castro works daily in comparison to long work schedule
followed by Chilean President Salvador Allende. One journalist said: "Let
us see who works the most." Fidel Castro answered quickly: :Allende. I
understand that Allende rises at 0600 and goes to bed at midnight. I say
that such a work schedule cannot be withstood."

Regarding his own work schedule Maj Fidel Castro said: "Remember also that
when the revolution achieved victory we were still very young biologically.
I was 32 years old. We have had to invest a part of our youth and energies
in this work. Of course, physical health is under no circumstances a
virtue, but rather a privilege, a matter of luck. I think that the work
that Allende does, the long hours he works, is noteworthy. He is not 25
years old. I am not saying he is old, because he looks very young and has
great vitality, but it must be taken into account that he is undoubtedly
making a great effort. In addition, circumstances are creating many
tensions for him.

"The following must be considered: We have diplomatic relations with very
few countries. They blockade us and they took much of that sort of
worker--and many other types--away from us. But Chile is different in this
respect. It has relations with at least 100 countries. He must have to
attend many ceremonies. Your institutions are very special. Your country
has a parliament, with all the activities involved, and the 'marvelous'
freedom of the press."

"You insult each other daily. The president is attacked every day. Some
time he gets up in the morning and opens a newspaper which has offended him
in one way or another. Fortunately, we do not have such a 'marvelous'
freedom of the press."

On the subject of freedom of the press, the Cuban prime minister added: "I
am telling you the truth. I am telling you journalists that here the
enemies of the revolution do not have newspapers, radio, or anything. In
any event, no one has convinced us that this is not something really
revolutionary, because otherwise it would be tantamount to placing a weapon
in the enemy's hands. If you are waging a war do you give rifles to the
enemy? Do you give him cannons? One disarms the enemy. I am not giving you
advise; I am, rather, comparing; we have a few advantages and many many

At this point Maj Fidel Castro returned to the subject of the complexity of
the Chilean process. He said: "the job that the leader of such a country as
Chile has at this stage is very great. You still do not have a union. We
have a very solid union. The very mechanism of politics is complicated.
Naturally, that is the tradition; it is logical, explainable, and
necessary. A multiparty system requires much work. It cannot be said that
politically in Chile there exists a single organization such as the one we
have. We already have a unified organization: The citizens, the Committees
for the Defense of the Revolution, the women, the students. You can see
that there is total and absolute unity among the people, a unity of the
masses, the revolutionary people. This makes work and the task easier."

The informal press conference in one of the large auditoriums of the
university closed on a happy note, with everyone around Maj Fidel Castro
smiling. The Cuban minister asked the journalists' permission to attend a
meeting with the Chilean delegation visiting Cuba.

Before leaving through one of the doors of the university, Maj Fidel Castro
promised to hold another more formal press conference with the Chilean
journalists. Both the journalists and the Cuban leader implied that this
would not be considered the official press conference.