Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Excerpts of interview with Prime Minister Fidel Castro of Cuba in
Lima; Lima, Gente, Spanish, December 1971, No. 157-158, pp 12, 14, 15]

Premier Fidel Castro of Cuba visited Lima for a period of five
hours and forty-five minutes, triggering an amazing upset of Latin American
policy according to some observers.

Mainly because in former times the Peruvian government would have
waved the bearded leader on his way, arrested him, or simply refused to
receive him.

Having visited Chile (23 days), Castro landed at International
Airport, met briefly with major leaders of the Peruvian Revolution, lunched
with them, joshed and cracked jokes, and then faced reporters at a press
conference distinguished by a greater number of security and intelligence
agents in attendance than newspapermen.

In fact the security forces equalled those attached to the late
French President Charles de Gaulle. However, leftist organizations such as
the General Confederation of Workers spearheaded a warm reception for the
Cuban head of state.

Eventually, Castro used the familiar personal pronoun "tu" with
Peruvian leaders and was embraced by Prime Minister Ernesto Montagne
Sanchez when he departed for Buayaquil for his visit with Velasco Ibarra.

At 0230 hours, on his return from Guayaquil, the Cuban leader
granted an exclusive interview to Gente. One of Gente's editors mingled
with the agents, police, and shock forces and conversed with Castro for 37

The text of the interview is as follows:

Question: Commandant Castro, a certain sector of international
public opinion believes that the Cuban Revolution was betrayed by its
leaders. The argument runs that initially the Revolution was not moved by
the Marxist spirit it shows today. What do you think of this assertion?

Answer: To begin with it is perfectly understandable. Imperialists
habitually stipulate and declare that the Cuban Revolution was betrayed. Of
course, it seems from their idea of the forces which, in their minds,
embodied the Revolution -- to wit, the revolution of the middle class,
exploiters, and the backers of imperialists interests, a revolution which
summarily amounts to a mockery.

The Cuban Revolution began to incubate more than one hundred years
ago with Carlos Manuel de Cespedes. With succeeding periods and at all
times in the course of earlier phases there was one line, one goal, one
objective: independence. Thus, even then the revolution was against
imperialist. Furthermore, our revolution acquired an increasingly radical
character with the lapse of time. From the initial ideas of the Cuban 1868
insurrectionists to Marti's ideas there is a long stretch of time. And
during the initial phases of that struggle the revolutionaries conceded
that the United States had mirrored an ideal for a long period of universal
history, thus had attracted pilgrims, and engendered one of the first
contemporary liberal revolutions tantamount to a model for other nations.

In 1868 some of the insurrectionists even talked to annexation to
the Yankee empire. But the revolution acquired a radical character with the
endorsement of the masses and the freed slaves, and with the leadership
which singularly sprang from the most humble segments of society. Marti
himself said that he would entrust his welfare to these impoverished
segments and that he admired Karl Marx because the latter championed the
poor. So there was the example of increasingly evocative revolutionary

In the beginning Cubans were not disposed to unequivocally endorse
the goals of complete independence. However, the savage saga of
humiliations, deceit, and interference practiced by the Yankees in Cuba was
so extensively experienced that today we were implementing a Socialist
revolution, a true revolution under their very noses. And it is something
for which they will never forgive us.

Question: When was Socialism proclaimed in Cuba? How and why?

Fidel Castro's manner of speaking was contemplative. He thought
out everything he said. He spoke slowly, allowing himself time to frame his
ideas and start his sentences. Outside there was the hum of voices as the
Cuban revolutionary replied.

Answer: The Socialist policy of our Revolution was announced on 16
April 1961. Naturally, this decision was not framed by a proclamation.
Corresponding revolutionary measures were enacted in every sector, starting
with Agrarian Reform, plus the measures taken to stimulate the radical
revision of our country's economic, social structures. The declared
Socialist trend of our revolution caused some surprise. But not in Cuba. It
was very simple: we were engulfed in struggle, had been aerially attacked
with simultaneous bombardments of our airfields to destroy our small number
of planes. In short, aggression and combat had virtually broken out. And at
such a time the symbolic pennants must be unmistakably brandished. In the
face of imperialist forces preparing to invade us, the revolutionary flag
had to be raised with unmistakable clarity vis-a-vis the cowardly,
treacherous aggressor.

The upshot was that our defenders were at "Giron" to defend their
ideas and stances from the standpoint of manifest Socialist policy. They
were not there merely to safeguard Cuban sovereignty, the inviolable Cuban
territory, and the interests of Cuban workers and peasants. And who can
forget the words of Antonio Maceo who said: "Whoever plots to seize Cuba
will harvest the dust of its soil saturated with blood, that is, if he does
not die in battle."

Question: Recently you rejected the position of some intellectuals
of the Socialist camp who criticized the Cuban Revolution due to poorly
explained incidents connected with the self-criticism of poet Herberto
Padilla. Among them was the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa who had
always identified himself with the Cuban revolutionary process. Perhaps you
do not yield to the critics?

Fidel wears his classic olive-green uniform with a belt of the
same shade at his waist. Two white stars on red and black rhombuses are the
only emblems on his wide shoulders. They are the symbolic colors of the
"Movement of 26 July." He wears the high-heel rustic black boots used in
the country. His rough speech tempers, evens, becomes unruffled and serene
as he lifts his somewhat grating voice in response.

Answer: From Rome and Paris there are numerous individuals who
construct hypotheses, imaginary ones. Many of them are living high on the
hog -- not all -- because they are outward or secret CIA agents. And some
of them are infantile ...

We believe that in keeping with the boundless diversity and
complexity of problems there will always be many and varied points of view.
That will always be the case! It would be unrealistic to think anything
else. And we refer to the existence of a wide spectrum of
pseudo-revolutionaries, writers who are the flunkies of imperialism. Some
of them refuse to forgive us for our stance on Czechoslovakia. I refer to
left-wing writers whose efforts fall flat. In our minds consummate
middle-class philosophy and all middle-class liberal ideas equate with some
primeval superstition, one entombed by historic events for a considerable
period of time. With the exception of Cubans, many of those writers write
about the Cuban Revolution. No one can determine how many theorists and
interpreters exist. Nevertheless, concerning the situations you referred to
-- we will maintain our position!

Question: Some news agencies constantly report rather dramatic
incidents which -- according to their coverage -- are spawned by certain
Cuban citizens desiring to leave the island due to experiencing unbearable
situations. What can you tell us about this?

The smiling, jovial face of the leader who routed one of the most
savage dictators of America, Fulgencio Batista, tightens. He waves his
hands, reddens .. and expostulates defensively.

Answer: Unadulterated infamy, lies, hypocritical yarns invented by
imperialists and reactionaries, the aggressors of Cubans, the newspaper
monopolies of imperialism. We have sufficient moral authority to respond to
these slanders, these falsehoods!

Those individuals who remain unmoved by patriotic feeling and
anxious to leave can betake themselves to that consumers' society, that
unbalanced society rife with material goods but short on moral values. We
have informed those individuals that they can go. Meantime, in Cuba we are
bringing up a new generation. Proud of its country, conscious of its
freedom, and endowed with a worthy sense of moral obligation. And we have
confidence in that new generation. The lists of those who register to go to
the United States are exhausted. Few who remain in Cuba choose that
alternative. Those who endorse Cuban policy as well as the spirit of
sacrifice, labor, and genuine freedom are the ones who stay. And they will
add to the dignity of the country we are creating.

Question: Why does the Cuban government refuse to rejoin the
Organization of American States?

Nine hours previously Fidel Castro, grave and preoccupied, had
debarked from the aircraft which brought him from Chile. At no time did he
appear overwhelmed by the vast enthusiasm shown by the airport crowd. In
fact, diplomatic relations between Peru and Cuba were broken and remain
unresumed. Nevertheless, as he said at the press conference, human
relations remain which have greater significance than official relations.

Answer: The Organization of American States is historically slated
to disappear. Because it is the historic exemplification of the degree of
Balkanization and division that the imperialists have promoted in Latin
America. The fact is that an "Organization" of Latin American states should
not exist. Only a Union! A Union, not an organization! And this union
should germinate initially in each Latin American state. It will not emerge
on an agreed day at a determined hour. No. It will be an historic process
by means of which the nations will free themselves and come to understand
that there is only one truth for each of them, that there is only one
future: Union.

Some Latin American governments have expressed to the Organization
of American States their condemnation of the agressors of Cuba. Others have
asserted that penalizing measures should come to and end. What penalties,
aimed at whom? Who really should be the ones who endure penalties? The
imperialists! Plus the puppet governments who were the accomplices of
aggression against Cuba!