Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Interview in Iquique

Havana PRENSA LATIN in Spanish 1450 GMT 16 Nov 71 C--FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

[Text] Iquique, Chile, 16 Nov--by Jorge Timossi and Pedro Lobaina--Maj
Fidel Castro last night described as very revolutionary the nationalization
of Chilean copper, formerly owned by the United States. Fidel Castro made
the statement in a press conference granted to about 100 Chilean and
foreign journalists and a huge crowd attending a reception given in his
honor last night.

Minister Secretary General of Government Jaime Suarez; Minister of Lands,
Colonization, and Maritime Affairs Huberto Martones Morales; Chilean
Socialist Party Secretary General Carlos Altamirano; Secretary General of
the Chilean Communist Party Luis Corvalan, and other civilian and military
authorities were also present.

During the 2 and one-half-hour press conference, the Cuban Prime Minister
said that the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and
Chile was one of the measures defined by the (?great) Chilean people as a
part of the revolutionary process. He made this statement when asked if
there is a revolution in Chile, and he emphasized: We have never doubted
that a revolutionary process is taking place in Chile.

Fidel Castro arrived in Iquique, capital of Taraiaca Province, after a
4-day visit to Antofagasta Province. He gave the press conference in this
beach resort after an evening cocktail party given by local authorities.

Sectarianism, the importance of his visit to Chile, and the rate of
development of the first revolutionary measures in Cuba were among the
topics discussed by Fidel Castro, topics which he had promised for several
days to talk about with Chilean journalists.

A second press conference was promised before he leaves Chile, for which
reason the Prime Minister asked that some topics not be discussed now,
since some of them would be much more interesting if discussed at the
conclusion of his trip. He was also feeling a bit ill with a cold and the
long 4-day trip through the salt mines in the Atacama Desert and the
Chuquicamata copper mine.

Fidel Castro said that the relations between Cuba and Chile are good before
his visit and added that his visit will greatly improve these relations,
because it will establish the basis for development and exchange between
the two countries. "The same thing will happen when Allende visits Cuba,
although it must be made clear that the Chilean president has already
visited our country and is familiar with it. This is not my case." He added
that he has had contacts with Chileans visiting Cuba, but that he had never
been in Chile before.

Asked how he felt after not visiting a Latin American country since the
United States blockaded Cuba, Fidel Castro said that he experienced several

He then spoke about the farewells in Cuba, the flight over the Caribbean,
and how he saw from the air the lands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru as he
approached Chile, where he was later to meet with President Allende. He
added; I would have had a different impression, however, had I traveled 12
years before. Now I view the scenery from a plane through the eyes of a
farmer. He said that he noticed the different planted things, valleys, land
erosion, water, land conservation, watersheds, and other such things.

He as also asked about how he had become the principal symbol of the
revolution. He answered that he was part of world vents but that there was
no planning in this because, in the first place, since the triumph of the
Cuban revolution, the symbols arise by themselves and are not planned. He
also said: The pace of revolutionary measures is determined by the reality
of the United States and its aggressions. He told how one of the measures
adopted was the expulsion of the inter-American military mission which had
advised the traditional Cuban Army for 25 years; the very same army which
under Batista, was defeated by the Sierra Maestra guerrillas.

He said that then came the Agrarian reform, which, although it left each
landowner a maximum of 408 hectares of land--and for this he terms it
lax--was important, because it nationalized land that was in the hands of
large U.S. companies, each of which possessed as much as 208,000 hectares
of land.

Another important aspect of that measure is that, at the time it was taken.
(?almost) no one spoke of agrarian reform in Latin America, and those who
did were accused of being communists. Just this measure along--the agrarian
reform--made the U.S. Government decide to overthrow the Cuban Government
and to begin to prepare the Playa Giron invasion. "We are today certain of
that," he said. He added: "Later, we would answer each aggression with a
nationalization. They cut off our petroleum and we nationalized the U.S.
refineries. They took away our sugar quota and we nationalized the sugar
mills--until we realized that there were no U.S. interests left to
nationalize in Cuba."

The tempo of revolutionary measures in Cuba, he continued, was determined
by the United States, and Fidel Castro warned that it was not the usual
tempo. That has been Cuba's experience. "But if I were in another position,
I would give some study to how to do it," he added.

In answer to a question on sectarianism in Cuba and the harm that
sectarianism had caused the Cuban revolution; Fidel Castro explained that
sectarianism has caused no harm and that, on the contrary, it was the unity
of the revolutionary forces which consolidated the revolutionary triumph in
January 1959.

The 26 July Movement and the Rebel Army, he said, were opposed to any unity
which excluded the Cuban Communist Party, and if there was sectarianism at
that time, it was rightist sectarianism--the sectarianism of certain groups
which wanted unity without the Communist Party. Sectarianism arose later,
when revolutionary unit was already established, said the Cuban Prime
Minister. He added that he is absolutely certain that there can be no
revolutionary triumph without the unity of all the revolutionary forces,
and that there had been such a triumph in Cuba.

Maj Fidel Castro said that he was impressed by the conscientiousness of the
Chilean workers. He gave as an example the fact that campaigns of voluntary
labor in which as many as 400 workers participate have already begun at

The Cuban Prime Minister answered a question on his concept of freedom. He
began his answer saying: "What do I consider freedom? There is freedom to
attack me," said Fidel Castro, referring to the attacks of ultrarightist
groups in the Chilean press. "I have practically no freedom to answer
anyone, because this could be taken as interference in internal Chilean

The Cuban Prime Minister gave several examples of different false concepts
of freedom in society, beginning with ancient Greece. The bourgeois
revolutions brought neither equality nor fraternity, nor freedom to
society, he said. He added that, indeed, the bourgeois freedoms do not
exist in Cuba. The freedom to exploit others does not exist in our
country," explained Fidel Castro.

He then added that the freedom to use the mass information media to benefit
a privileged class does not exist either.

A reported asked at what point he believed a revolutionary change within a
country to be irreversible. The Cuban Prime Minister stated that when the
basic property structures are changed it is very difficult to reverse the
process. It is very difficult, however, to apply general concepts to
specific cases, he pointed out. "I can tell you," he added, 'that our
process is irreversible, and when the country is united and the masses
possess awareness in supporting and struggling for the process, it makes it
very difficult to turn back.

Another Chilean reported asked the Cuban revolutionary leader's opinion
regarding the inclusion of Christians in a revolutionary process. The Cuban
leader said that profound changes have occurred within the Catholic Church
in recent years, and the relationship between religion and revolution is
highly influenced by the changes occurring within the Catholic Church
hierarchy. These are highly constructive factors, he added, and he then
referred to Catholicism within the Cuban revolution, stating that currently
there is an environment and respect and coexistence between the revolution
and the church and there are no longer problems of any kind.

Continuing on the same subject, Maj Fidel Castro said that a convergence
between the revolution and Christianity would have to emerge, which would
include the Catholic church and other religions. He stated that in his
opinion, new and constructive ideas are being formulated on this matter. He
repeated that he will hold a press conference before he leaves Chile, at
which time he will have more knowledge about the country and will be in
better physical condition.

A news reporter asked his specifically: Would he be a guerrilla again and
would he use the same revolutionary methods he used in Cuba. The Prime
Minister replied that if conditions were exactly the same as those in Cuba
at that time, he would be a guerrilla again. "If the question is personal,"
Fidel Castro replied, "I would definitely do it, but the conditions must be
considered. It is much easier," he said, "to be a guerrilla than to be a
ruler," adding that the obligations of a ruler are much more specific than
those of a guerrilla.

His audience applauded him when he said that when he was a guerrilla he did
not think about the obligations of being a ruler and that when he became a
ruler he had to give up the job of being a guerrilla to learn another job,
that of being a ruler.