Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Answer to First Question

Santiago CLARIN in Spanish 6 Aug 71 p 3 X

[Interview of Fidel Castro in Havana by CLARIN special correspondent Roman
Alegria, date not specified]

[Text] Havana--Prime Minister Fidel Castro, told CLARIN that "real life is
much more complex and difficult than revolutionary "theory" and he warned
processes such as that of Chile not to fall into easy temptations of

The 11 Chilean newsmen who visited Cuba held two long successive meetings
with Fidel, with whom they talked 35 minutes the first time, five hours and
10 minutes the second time, and then three hours during a private dinner to
which they were invited.

The writer of this article asked Fidel two definite questions which also
summarize the thoughts of newsmen Enrique Gutierrez and Ibar Aybar of

The following is the text of the first question and his reply:

[Question] Revolutionary processes are plagued by dangers. Aside from those
dangers of ideological nature, which, in your opinion, and particularly on
the economic order, are the most serious? I ask you this question because I
believe that the Chilean revolutionary process will be successful to the
degree that it does not fail in its economic endeavors and your experience
in this sense may be extremely useful. The second question will be in our
edition of tomorrow, Saturday.

[Answer] The countries have accumulated needs. Aside from that you also
have many accumulated material needs among the people. For example you have
needs for infrastructures, highways, roads, and dams. You also have
accumulated power needs. Naturally some of the Chileans, I do not know how
many, have electric lights. It may be 50 or 60 percent. The rest, 40 or 35
percent want and hope for electric light also. Those needs have to be
satisfied, those needs which suddenly present themselves. clash with a
reality: the resources available for all that. Can the hope, the desire to
fill those needs be avoided in a revolutionary process? We do not refer to
luxuries. Those who are without houses have one desire and it is very
difficult to convince them that they must wait 10 or 12 years.

Then the country has to invest resources in search of a solution for those
who ask for housing, those who want their children to go to school, those
who require doctors, those who need transportation, the peasants who demand
communications, and the towns which demand aqueducts and sewers, and really
these needs make their appearance all at once and they grow. While all
those people were resigned to not having these things before the
revolutionary process itself raises their hopes. We have lived through that
experience of people who ask us for a house. However, the house does not
exist. They explain that they have five children and that one suffers from
asthma, that the doctor recommended they get another house and that they
are living in a place that is falling down around them. Then you have to
tell them that you cannot resolve the problem of that house and you would
have to send the ministry to build for one person.

That is not a good method. You would have to tell them that it is not a
proper method, that that was not a formula for resolving the housing
problem. You cannot do it. But how can you give explanations to a person
who is suffering with one of his children sick in bed? I mean to say that
there is no theoretical reason which will resolve the problem of that
person. And he does not understand anything else because he is pressured by
a tremendous need.

And some needs, it is understandable, are pressing, such as the one of a
man who has no work. How can you explain a plan of economic development
according to which in 1977 he will find a job; which by statistics shows
that by then there will be work for 400,000 or 500,000 more people? Then
the most pressing and accumulated problems of the people clash with the
realities and all that is going to exert influence. When you, for example,
want to give work to those who are dismissed, you increase the amount of
money in circulation, wages, and incomes. When you want to resolve the
problems of the retired, the workers of 65 who have a very low pension and
who spent all their life struggling for the country in a mine, a transport,
or in a factory, can you explain tot them that in 1982 because of the
income per capita and the gross product you can pay him a pension twice as
large than the one he has now? What is happening is that he cannot live on
it now. And you will find that all those problems and all those concerns
cannot be rebutted with theoretical arguments. Social problems are very
strong, very powerful, and demand attention. And one begins to worry
because it is not possible that a popular and revolutionary government does
not pay attention to them. Then the resources available for that purpose
are limited and scant. And I believe that as of now you are going to have
to face all those problems. The freezing of prices, increases in employment
and wages will inevitably lead to the depletion of reserves, stockpiles,
and merchandise inventories.

Your agrarian reform is taking place at a much more accelerated pace. And
it is imperative that it be done because otherwise what are you going to
tell the peasant who has no land and is suffering poverty? Moreover the
same owners of the great estates who are part of the food production
system, from the moment when the agrarian reform is begun, begin to feel
fears and cease making investments. Part of them, or perhaps many of them,
have a tendency: sabotage production and try to obtain maximum benefits,
squeeze out all the investments they made. That, naturally, affects the
availability of the food you have.

I ask myself; how can a revolution which is carried out with the masses,
with the people, which has to take care of the most pressing needs of the
people, avoid that contradiction between available resources and the
economic development which has been achieved, and the means required to
cover the most pressing economic resources? You cannot avoid that
situation. Well, these are the aspects, let us say, which are negative. To
the degree that you can compensate for them with increases in production,
you will satisfy demands. The problem is very complex and it is therefore
almost inevitable that in a radical change, a revolutionary process, for
all those reasons, in the first phase it will not resolve very difficult
situations. I believe that it would be better that the masses have an
awareness of this problem.

You say that "to the degree that they have economic success," well, that is
true, but to the degree that the masses are aware of the inevitable
difficulties which are the price of liberation, of the independence of the
country, the masses will assume a position more of support, of
understanding, make efforts, sacrifice themselves, and work. Moreover,
sacrifice is relative. The masses improve as soon as a change takes place.
What happens is that the masses will show more cooperation as they acquire
a complete understanding of the problem. Another paradox also appears. It
shows up in certain tendencies of this political change and that is the
belief that problems are going to be resolved immediately.

You may even distribute what you have a little better but you cannot
increase the quantity of available goods. You cannot distribute what you do
not have, what has not been produced. Material needs and social needs can
only be resolved by an increase in goods, products, and services because it
is not possible to distribute what you do not have. Nevertheless an
illusion is created that there are unlimited reserves, that behind those
full store showcases is an infinity of goods close at hand. It is a
problem. It is a problem of production. What exists within the economy of
capitalism? There is the rationing of money. A very strict rationing. The
amount of money available to the people is always less than the amount of
available goods because when there is more money than goods than prices
increase. Now, when it is just not any political situation, when there is a
government policy to protect the people from speculation, there is a
general freeze of many prices. The immediate result is a depletion of
stocks, merchandise in warehouses, and stores. I believe that it is very
important to prepare the masses and to make a maximum effort at the same

I would say that you have some advantages over what we had in facing these
difficulties. One of them we have already mentioned on other occasions, and
that is that in order for us to produce an amount of foreign credits
similar to that which you produce or even smaller, we need a half million
men and you only need a little over 22,000. Now we use a half million men
to produce those credits. If we, with 22,000 or 50,000 men, could produce
the same amount of foreign credits, we would put the other 450,000 to
building houses, schools, hospitals, or producing in the textile industry,
working in agriculture producing more food, creating and developing other
sources of wealth. For us the problem is very serious. Moreover we have had
a very strong blockade at a time when the United States was very powerful.

Moreover, it forced us to defend ourselves from military threats and
aggressions. and to employ a enormous amounts of material and human
resources in the defense of the country. You are not going to have that
situation and you will be able to use all those resources which we had to
invest in defense for the development of the economy and in the solution of
material problems. You have another thing in your favor: they did not take
away great numbers of your technicians. They took technicians and
specialized personnel away from us. I do not believe that they are in a
position to do the same thing in Chile. This does not mean that you are not
going to have dangers and difficulties. Theoretically every revolutionary
movement has them.

These are part of the dangers, the many dangers to which you referred. You
have a better industrial development than we have. You have natural
resources. For example, lumber in unlimited quantities, while we have to
import 40 million pesos in lumber every year. You have some oil; we have no
oil and you have water power and we have no water power.

You have some agriculture, food production, and fiber development and,
well, we had some agricultural development but you probably produced more
food than we who produced some and imported the rest.

I would say that you have a more diversified agricultural economy than we
have. You have great natural resources in the Chilean seas, production of
food rich in protein, a variety of fish and sources of raw material for the
production of feeds. You have greater development. You produce some steel,
we do not produce any steel. You have coal mines which produce more than a
million tons. We have no coal production. You have a developing industry of
materials, an industry of domestic appliances with some development, a
textile industry with greater development than ours. All in all, you have
all these factors which I have enumerated. They are advantages you have to
use against the difficulties which may present themselves. We depended
about 80 percent on the U.S. market and that market was suddenly shut off
to us. I do not believe that your dependence on the U.S. market exceeds 25
percent. If it reaches 30 percent it is too much. That dependence of ours
was 80 percent, that means that you do not have a single buyer such as we
had. You have a diversity of markets on which to sell your Chilean copper
products, the minerals which we did not have.

We were much more vulnerable to a blockade than you are. All these
circumstances give you advantages over our own situation. In addition, I
repeat, aside from the United States, another world, other capitalist
countries, have developed a solid economy and the socialist camp has also
had a considerable development in those 13 years of our revolution. That is
why, although we are sure that you will inevitably have difficulties, you
will undoubtedly have many advantages that we did not have in facing those
difficulties. That is the most I can do; make a comparison of the factors
which we had to face under the worst of circumstances. Making a comparative
analysis, it is encouraging to know that you will be in much better
conditions than we were.