Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Article; Guyaquil, El Universo, Spanish, 5 December 1971, pp 1, J10]

Castro asserts his Ecuador visit dictated by desire
to meet Dr Velasco Ibarra and exchange views. Supports
policy of 200-mile limit on territorial waters upheld
by Ecuador, Peru, Chile. Does not adhere to parliamentary
democracy. Attacks the OAS [Organizacion de
Estados Americanos; Organization of American States].

Cuban Premier Fidel Castro affirmed last night that he did not
discuss the resumption of diplomatic and trade relations with Dr Jose Maria
Velasco Ibarra, President of the Republic of Ecuador. Prime Minister Castro
said his stop at Guayaquil was dictated solely by his desire to meet the
Ecuadorean chief of state. He said the latter had made some practical

Subsequently, Castro stressed that he upheld the policy of a 200-
mile limit on territorial waters invoked by Ecuador, Peru, and Chile,
despite the fact that Cuba itself is separated only by 60 miles of water
from the United States, a country with which it is embroiled in

He spoke of the eventual end of the OAS and the need for Latin
American nations to unite, although this is not a short-term goal. He
described Dr Velasco Ibarra as a likeable man, still vigorous despite the
age gap between the two leaders (Dr Velasco Ibarra is 79, Castro is 45).
Castro referred to the Ecuadorean chief of state as a venerable person and
refrained from alluding to his political programs.

A portion of the interview follows:

Question: Why are there no elections in Cuba?

Answer: Because Cuba does not practice representative democracy.

Question: But elections occur in Socialist countries such as

Answer: Cuba is differently activated from a traditional
standpoint. We are developing a type of democracy which is more direct. Its
implementation is under way, involving the debate of fundamental laws by
all the people and all labor sectors.

Question: How many persons were executed in Cuba?

Answer: I believe we executed several hundred, not thousands.
Actually, we were quite generous. But I recall that when we were invaded at
Giron it was a matter of 1,500 paid CIA mercenaries who had been trained in
Guatemala. They arrived in bombers pained with Cuban banners -- an act of
international piracy. Nevertheless, we kept a generous attitude and later
-- (at this point there was an interruption with several people
simultaneously asking questions and interrupting Castro as he spoke). A
reporter kept talking and Castro aid: "But I can continue talking with that
patriot over there." He was referring to the reporter who had insisted on
talking about executions.

He indicated other reporters who were pressing him to express his
opinions without digression, and said: "I believe I know their sort."
Pointing to one reporter, he added: "But I don't know what is in the head
of that little gent."

He went on: "I like to continue discussing matters." Then he
started to laugh. He got up but the reporters asked to sit down. But this
was impossible because he was practically surrounded and could hardly

Question: Did you say in some part of the world that the OAS is
like a worn-out shoe?

Answer: I don't know where you gleaned that. Raul Roa said that. I
said that it is a shoe without a sole. Neither sole nor pivoting heel. How
can a country like Cuba adhere to such a vice-ridden organization?

Question: Why doesn't Cuba join the United Nations? It seem
incredible you don't know that Cuba has been a member of the United Nations
for a considerable length of time.

Reporter: Excuse me. I meant to say the OAS.

Answer: But I just said we would never adhere to such a sewer. It
is a veritable sewer; we will never join it. But I maintain respect for
those who have joined it.

Reporter: According to the French ambassador in La Paz, you
abandoned the guerrillas in Bolivia.

Castro: Who told you that? Where did you learn it?

Castro: What periodical?

Reporter: Vistazo

Castro: Who wrote it?

Reporter: I did. (The reporter was Alberto Borges.)

Castro: And who knows if you told the truth or not?

Reporter: You're very dialectical.

Castro: Not at all. You say an ambassador told you that and you
want me to believe you and take issue with this ambassador when I don't
even know you, what you were doing or for whom you were writing, or even
the agency which employs you or the periodical for which you write. What
kind of agency, capitalist or imperialist? I don't know what you adhere to.

Reporter: I am neither an imperialist nor a capitalist.

The reporters and photographers started jostling and things became

Fidel explained: "How disorganized you Ecuadorean reporters are!"

Question: Do you consider Spanish American countries components of
this sewer you just described?

Answer: No, no. Don't confuse the sewer with those compelled to
live in it for historic reasons. No. At one time we belonged to it until we
were expelled; but we never considered ourselves part of the sewer.

These are historic problems. Our view of this organization is that
it is an imperialist instrument of penetration and domination of Latin
America. Some day it must come to an end. We advocate the unity of Latin
American people in order to build a community worthy of universal respect,
the unification of our forces so that we will no longer be in the position
we are in today -- victims of aggression. You realize that Cuba is saddled
with a United States naval base. Why? Because Cuba is a little country and
is subjected. The same occurs in Panama with the case of the canal. Panama
is cut in two because the bigger country prevails. Disregarding the OAS,
40,000 United States soldiers invaded Santo Domingo. And then what
happened? What was done? Did the OAS condemn the United States? The United
States summoned an OAS meeting following the invasion and obtained the
approval of the OAS. Isn't this an example of vicious procedure? of dirth
maneuvering? Is the OAS a flunky for Yankee colonies or not? Historically,
this institution symbolizes imperialist operations directed against our
peoples. But when they are free this institution will perish and not be
missed because a Latin American community will function. It doesn't matter
whether it takes 10, 20, 30, or 100 years. It doesn't matter because we are
preparing for the future.

Reporter: It would be an important step if groups representing
sectors or revolutionary parties made the Russian-Chinese political quarrel
into something of greater significance for Latin Americans.

Castro: I agree with that suggestion ... But there are issues
which take priority in our countries regardless of what we lament or what
incidents occur in other countries of the Socialist camp.

Question: What is your opinion concerning the Tupamaros?

Answer: I sympathize greatly with the Tupamaros.

Question: Would you help them?

Castro reflected before answering.

Answer: That is a private matter for Cubans to consider.

Question: What is your opinion about the 200-mile limit for
territorial waters in the interests of the defense of Ecuador, Peru, and

Castro: We support that policy even though it has no practical
value for us. We are less than 200 miles away from the United States. But
our position is geared to Latin American interests and resultedly we
support the 200-mile policy upheld by Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.

Question: How do you view relations between Washington and Peking?

Answer: I believe imperialism has been crushed in Viet Nam. So it
is maneuvering around, weakened, whipped in Viet Nam, fending around trying
to see what it can salvage. It is a matter o revision of forces, a sign of
increased debilitation. Imperialism can no longer assume the role of
policing the world. So it is a case of diplomatic maneuvering, that is my

Question: Do you attribute a certain span of time to this

Answer: I don't know, I have no news. Kissinger is the one who
should know as he is going to Peking with Nixon.

Question: Do you believe in parliamentary democracy?

Answer: No, I do not because it is basically an historic
institution which serves a class-dominated system.

Question: What are your views on religion?

Answer: As a child I was introduced to the teaching of the Church
but I never received profound religious instruction. When I talked with
priests I questioned them about the reasons behind a religious crisis. Due
to instruction I received they made me aware of religious faith. But I
cannot say that I ever had that faith. I do not have it now.

Question: Can religion and Marxism coexist in Cuba?

Answer: Yes, not only in Cuba.

Question: Can political ideas also coexist?

Answer: That depends. Imperialist ideas cannot coexist with
revolutionary ideas. The ideas of millionaires and those of beggars cannot
coexist. I have my concept of different ideas responding to historically
different factual conditions of social classes. The ideas we champion are
Socialist ideas. In future they will be Communist serving the egalitarian
society, the classless society, the true society comprising fraternity and
equality -- that is the true human equality and the goal we seek.

Question: Do you think you will manage to establish Communism

Answer: We cannot do so in 50 years as the Russians did. But
Russia was invaded by a foreign power and 17 intervening capitalist
countries. That is, it was destroyed to the extent of three quarters of its
resources, and attacked by Fascist hordes.

Question: What was the outcome of your talk with Dr Velasco

Answer: President Velasco made some thought-provoking statements
in regard to Cuba. President Velasco and the government of Ecuador which is
represented in the United Nations voted for the entry of Peoples China into
the U.N. and the expulsion of Taiwan. We appreciate these gestures.

Question: What was the purpose of your talk with President

Answer: There was no specific purpose. Merely to greet him, make
his acquaintance, and exchange views. He is a likeable person, still
vigorous, despite the fact that he is much older than myself. Since I am a
visitor I cannot be a judge of the President.

Question: Can Latin America achieve transformation with violence?

Answer: That is being demonstrated.

Question: What was the happiest day you ever experienced?

Answer: I have had many happy days.

Question: And the saddest?

Answer: The day Che Guevara died. And when Camilo Cienfuegos died.

Question: Do you know if Che Guevara's body is in the United

Answer: No, I do not. We have his death mask and his hands which
were severed and sent to us.

Question: What about the sports sector?

Answer: We have done a lot in that sector.

Question: Would you accept a ping-pong game with Nixon?

Answer: I have better competitors with whom I play ping-pong. I
desire the greatest well-being in matters concerning the progress of this
country. Are you satisfied now? I cannot say anymore about the President.

Question: Explain the plane-hi jacking to us.

Answer: The United States invented hijacking, the hijacking of
planes and pilots who lost their lives. Now, you have asked many questions,
and all of us must leave. The visit to Ecuador is a short one. I can't say
anything more.

Commotion Mars Press Conference

Fidel Castro's press conference was tumultuous and many
individuals of the political sector who were not attached to the press made
statements and were televised. The entire atmosphere was cramped and hot
since the conference was held in an unsuitable room.