Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Article; Lima Expreso, Spanish, 5 December 1971, pp 2,3]

In the most spectacular, tumultuous press conference ever held in
Lima, Major Fidel Castro demonstrated his amazing keenness of intellect and
extraordinary oratorical skill in the presence of a vast audience made up
of journalists, police and the public at large, who applauded his direct,
incisive replies.

Discussing politics, general topics, plans and other matters,
Castro gave answers and provided a complete picture of what the legendary
leader of the Cuban revolution is like, and what he thinks.

Since we regard the comments made at the press conference of great
interest to our readers, we are publishing the text of the questions and
answers that were exchanged yesterday in the Chavin Room of the Jorge
Chavez International Airport.

Castro began by saying: "I am going to make one request of your,
for you seem to be friendly newsmen: do not ask me questions that are too
difficult. You see, I am a student who has just enrolled in school."

One journalist asked him his opinion of Peru, and Fidel replied:
"What impression can I have of Peru, when I have just arrived here?"
Revising the question, Fidel approaching it by observing: "I can answer by
commenting on the people in the Peruvian government. My reply may be
summarized briefly: Never before there has so much communication, and so
much confidence, as has existed during this interval of our talks with the
Government of the Armed Forces."

He was then asked how much the military earn. An uproar prevented
us from hearing his reply.

The next question concerned the existence, in Peru, of between 35
and 40 prisoners of the former, not the present regime, who have not yet
received amnesty. Fidel replied: "You are asking me a question on which I
have no basis for making a judgement. From the news we have received, we
know that many individuals have been released in Peru."

"If you want my impression, I can tell you that this is a
government with a sense of impartiality. And, if there are still some
problems remaining to be solved, I am quite certain that they will find a
way of solving them, by themselves."

Question: Is Cuba no longer alone?

Answer: Listen, Juan: Cuba was never alone!

Question: What about governmental level?

Answer: Many governments helped us. We have a broad concept of
humanity, of our relations with mankind. Cuba was never alone. If it had
been alone, it could not have managed to confront the problems of the
struggle, the hostility with such a powerful country as the United States.

Now, if you want to ask me about the Latin American environment, I
can tell you that, in spite of the campaigns, in spite of the distortion of
events in Cuba, the nations always expressed their solidarity. Now, we are
in the following position: We were received with great affection in Chile,
which is governed by President Allende, elected by the people with support
from the Popular Unity parties.

But, there is still more: Today, we are here in Lima, precisely
because of the fact and the contingency that there is a government with
enough courage to receive, a government with enough integrity to utilize
its prerogatives and receive us. This another proof of the fact that we are
not alone. And it is possible that, if certain technical problems can be
solved, we might visit some other countries this afternoon, before
returning to Cuba.

That is why we do not feel so isolated. Besides, the isolation of
revolutionaries is temporary. In the long run, revolutionaries will feel
that they have company. In the long run, as in all eras and in all
processes, we shall have the company of mankind.

Question: Does Cuba have a kindred relationship with Peru?

Answer: It does. While we were in Santiago, yesterday, we received
a wire reporting some very sad news: the fact that the chief of a Cuban
brigade had died in an accident. The driver, a Peruvian, died with him.
Both had been working on a very humane project, the building of hospitals.

We regretted this, because he was a competent, able man. He worked
with great devotion, and inspired the workers to make an effort for as long
as 12, 13, 14 or even 15 hours a day. After all, death is the destiny of
all. And, when someone dies while performing his duty, we cannot lament
such a death, even though it may grieve us. After all, it was not just a
Cuban who died; a Peruvian died, too. In other words, two brothers died
while performing the same task.

Question: Do you believe that Che Guevara died in Cuba (then he
corrected himself and said: in Bolivia)?

Answer: Who invented another fantasy? Do you question the most
fundamental incidents? What are you talking about? About where he died?
Tell me, answer me: Are you perchance saying that we killed him? Don't tell
me that you could imply such a thing. That sort of thing could only be
implied by a person who is either very ignorant or very despicable; or, by
an honest person wishing to establish a true fact. (Applause).

Question: In your talks with Peruvian rules, have you attempted to
resume diplomatic relations with Peru?

Answer: We did not exactly make such an attempt; I mean, as a
fundamental issue. Peru is aware that we have disinterested attitude, and
that merely formal matters are not too important. We esteem our relations
with Peru, because we realize that it has a truly sovereign, independent
government. But we did not turn that into a fundamental issue. Every nation
has its own situation, and its own commitments. And we respect those
situations and commitments. And we are not worried. We trust in the good
faith and good intentions of the Peruvian government. Hence, formal matters
do not concern us. We shall await the time when Peruvian government deems
it feasible and useful to the interests of the nation to establish
relations with Cuba. Meanwhile, there are human relations, which are far
more significant than what we might term official or protocolar relations.

Question: What other organization could replace the OAS?

Answer: Well, we have our own opinion, because we are familiar
with the OAS. We have said that we would not return to it, because that
would be like rejoining an institution which had treated an individual very
badly, had expelled him and, in a certain sense, had acted as an instrument
for aggression against my country.

Now we have been liberated from that institution. We have no
reason to return to it. However, we respect the governments which, for
particular reasons, see fit to continue their membership therein. It is a
matter of history. I think that, in the more or less distant future, there
will be no OAS; there will be unity, there will be a community of nations
in Latin America, and at that time there will be no need whatsoever for the

We shall wait for all the time it may take until the conditions
for such a unity exist. And, some day, we shall merge with the community of
Latin American nations. Meanwhile, to put it briefly, our country can do
with the OAS.

Question: (in the words of the journalist) First question: may I
embrace you on behalf of the workers on Expreso and Extra?

Answer: (embracing him) You've done it! (Applause)

Question: Could you give us a definition of the proper attitude
for Peruvian revolutionaries to have?

Answer: I have followed Peruvian process for 2 years. On 26 July
1969, we expressed our views. From the very first proclamation, we realized
that was occurring in Peru was different from the classic events that have
been occurring in other Latin American nations. Now I have had an
opportunity to meet the individuals, and it is my assessment that they are
people who desire to do much for the future of Peru. If I were a Peruvian,
I would, indeed, regard myself as a Peruvian revolutionary; I would not
hesitate. Because this regime has done some important patriotic things. One
has to observe under what circumstances they have done them. It may be far
less than what is necessary, but perhaps that is all they could have done.
And, under such circumstances, if I were a Peruvian and a revolutionary, I
would not be a by-stander. I would try to encourage this process, and I
would never oppose it. Because I think that to oppose it would mean aiding
the interests of imperialism. (Applause).

Question: What can you tell us about the participation of the
Cuban Church in your country's revolutionary process?

Answer: We discussed this in Chile. When the revolution began in
July 1960, Christians had not yet acquired a conscience because, the Church
in our country was, on the whole, a Church of classes. It was the Church of
the wealthy, which is not the case in other parts of Latin America. During
those 2 years, there has been an acquisition of conscience among Catholics,
among patriotic, progressive, revolutionary Christians. We discussed this
at great length in Chile. We met with the Cardinal, and with 120
progressive members of the clergy who constitute a basic portion of a very
advanced movement. And we spoke in detail of the need to ally Marxists with
progressive, revolutionary Christians. We believe that we are an element in
the future of our continent: to unite, under one principle, with the
aspiration of liberating our continent; to struggle to achieve a great
fatherland, wherein our banners, our anthems and our people will join in a
brotherly relationship, so as to take their place in the world of the

In this revolutionary struggle, we must seek unity among Marxists,
Christians and the military: among all. That is our strategic concept. It
is not a new idea; it is the same one we suggested many years ago. We have
pursued a consistent line. We have even explained the great similarities
that exist between Christians and Marxists.

I do not think that time will permit me to go into great detail on
this topic. But do not forget what primitive Christianity was alike. The
persecution of men who had a faith, who knew how to die; the fact that it
was a religion of slaves and downtrodden people. We have a great deal in
common. And we think that we must seek this unity in order to achieve

Question: What do you think bout the Latin American nations that
are fighting for their liberation?

Answer: The people are brothers; and some rulers are fighting for
national liberation. Unfortunately, not all are. For the people...infinite
solidarity; for the governments that are fighting for national
liberation... our respect, our support and our solidarity.

Question: What judgement do you think the elections held in
Uruguay deserve?

Answer: They have just concluded. I do not have much information;
but I think that imperialism has done all in its power to crush the popular
movement. Mobilizing funds, making certain troop movements in certain
countries, on certain borders, to make the Uruguayan people think that a
popular victory would mean invasion. All these factors had an effect, and
we think that they will have an effect upon future events in that country.

There is no peace in that country; struggles have been underway in
that country for some time. And so, we think that, under such
circumstances, these struggles will become intensified. This is simply an
assessment, a very personal analysis of the situation in that country.

Question: What is your opinion of the notorious Tupamaros group
that is operating in Uruguay?

Answer: I have great respect for the Broad Front, and great
respect for the Tupamaros fighters. They were joined together in this
struggle to seek a peaceful means, through the use of elections, to solve
the problem. I believe that they will also be joined in this crisis, to try
to liberate their country by whatever course they deem necessary.

Question: Do you still regard violence as the only means of
liberation in Latin America?

Answer: Sir, we revolutionaries are not the ones who invented
violence! It was the reactionaries. We revolutionaries had to resort to
violence in order to free ourselves from violent repression, to fight the
exploitation that is carried out through violence. On the basis of history,
the inventors of violence have been the exploiters, and not the

In every instance, revolutionaries have been forced to resort to
violence as a way of life, and as a contingency upon their freedom. For
Bolivar, San Martin, Sucre, O'Higgins, Morelos and all the other patriots
had to resort to violence, too, as an indispensable prerequisite for the
independence of our nations which, unfortunately, has not yet been totally
achieved. But our people who fought with them are approaching the time, and
the necessity for uniting, for reaching the point of establishing their
independence for once and for all.

Some of us have progressed farther than others. But, some day, we
shall all be in the front ranks of liberation, dignity and independence.

Question: What is the most important activity that has been
accomplished in Chile?

Answer: Work! (Laughter).

Question: Could you expand upon your views regarding the scope of
the various processes of change that have taken place in America?

Answer: They are changes with various features. But there is a
proverb that says one can reach Rome by many roads. We are happy that there
are many roads.

Now, there is no doubt that the reactionaries are resisting the
changes with violence. And, under those circumstances, a response must be
given the reactionaries, and to the oligarchs and pro-imperialists as well.
I believe that all the roads, in one way or another, will necessarily
settle them.

Question: What do you consider Cuba's greatest contribution to the
struggle for liberation?

Answer: When you ask me a question about Cuba, we are Cubans, and
any statement we make might seem like a matter of national pride, a sort of
chauvinism. If you will permit me to say so, we have contributed the
conviction that nations can progress if they want to; that when nations are
strong, they can defend their causes; that when nations achieve a
conscience, and wake up to the realities of this world, they are capable of
protecting their interests, their lives and their justice, without regard
for what happens to those who might oppose such action.

In any event, we could say that our people have contributed a
slight moral lesson.

If anyone thinks that we have done more, we Cubans are not the
ones who should make a big issue of it.

Question: Do revolutionaries still believe it possible to attain
power by peaceful means?

Answer: (Laughing). In Chile, they attained the government through
elections. There, the paths were open. If violence should arise, the
revolutionaries will not be to blame, but the reactionaries and
imperialists. In other places, there is no path, and the revolutionaries
must resort to using force to attain the government; they must use force to
win their rights. In other countries, such as Peru, who controls the
government? The revolutionary Armed Forces! And what are the revolutionary
Armed Forces? By definition, they are a force. It is not a constitutional
government. It is a government wherein the men with the weapons acquired an
awareness of the problems and raised aloft the banner of the fatherland. I
do not know how you would describe it, whether you would call it peaceful
or violent. But I think that some tanks might have to be mobilized in order
to solve the problem.

Question: What is your opinion of the reestablishment of
diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and the increased
economic reapprochement between the U.S.S.R. and the United States?

Answer: But, sir, you are asking me questions about countries with
which we are on friendly terms, but we have no responsibility for the
governments of those countries.

Wouldn't it be better for you to await until the leaders of those
countries pay a visit here, to ask that question? Would it be proper for
us, a small island in the Caribbean, a small island, to pass judgement on
such a thing. They asked me that question in Chile, too. I can only say one
thing: Nixon will not visit Havana! (Applause). Do not force me to express
too many opinions, because too much opinion on any one occasion can prove
to be simply too much.

Question: Don't you think that a rapprochement among the big
powers could be detrimental to the underdeveloped countries?

Answer: No, gentlemen. Look at what is happening. In my opinion,
this is not the case. In my opinion, what has happened is that imperialism
is weaker, and it has been defeated in Vietnam, and the correlation of
forces has changed. And it is seeking some type of rapprochement through
diplomatic means. Now them, from our point of view, with respect to Cuba,
we shall wait until there emerges in that country (the U.S.) a realistic
government, a government that realizes that the United States cannot really
keep playing the role of inspector and policeman. And with that kind of
realistic government which understands the determination and the reality,
not as a result of idealizing, rationalizing or some concept of justice
impossible under imperialism, but as the recognition of a reality, of the
fact that is might is no longer unlimited. And, when such a government
appears, then we shall be able to converse with that government.

But, as we see it, such a government has not emerged. We are a
small nation. You must realize that the size of a country affects its
policies, too. There are large countries; they have more issues to discuss.
We pursue our own policy. We shall wait patiently and peacefully until a
government appears in the United States which reflects present-day reality,
one that is truly a government of peace.

It is not that we have anything against conversing with the United
States; but, from Cuba's standpoint, now is not the time, nor this the
government with which we shall converse.

Question: How long will the so-called "freedom flights" (referring
to the "worms" who choose to fly to Miami) going to continue in Cuba?

Answer: What freedom flights do you mean, when we gave said that
anyone who wants to say there may do so?

Those who are willing to accept a job, remain. Those whose minds
were not attuned to a patriotic sentiment, and who wanted to go off to that
consumer society, left. They went off to that consumer society, that insane
society, with a great deal of material abundance, but very few moral
resources. We told those people to go ahead and leave. In our country,
however, we have created a new generation that is proud of its fatherland
and has a great sense of its moral obligations. And we have confidence in
that new generation. The lists of those who signed up to leave for the
United States are already growing shorter. There are only a few thousand
remaining, who chose that path.

And those who chose the path of the fatherland, of sacrifice and
labor, will remain in our country. And they will make the worthy fatherland
which we are building.

Question: It was said that you criticized "hot pants" in Chile.

Answer: In jest. Someone told me that they were going to ask that
question. Where was such a thing invented?

We went to the Technical University, one of the most revolutionary
in Chile. There, they paid their respects to us. Some pretty young girls
showed up wearing the pants... but why are they "hot"? (Laughter). Well,
they came to pay their respects to me; but, the next day, a reactionary
newspaper printed a photograph bearing the caption: "Here are the girls,
here are the tights, here is this and that." Well, they attached their own
meaning to it. We actually laughed about that, because we are a tropical
country. No-one is opposed to short skirts. In any case, we could be
opposed to long skirts for many reasons. Including the fact that a large
amount of material is used to make them. We are not a wealthy country, and
we do not have cloth to spare; so why should be be opposed to short skirts?

Of course, this is a matter of women's styles. But, if you really
took a vote, you would find that "hot pants" would obtain a vast majority.

Question: You claim that Cuba respects the sovereignty of our
countries. How do you account for the subsidizing of guerrillas?

Answer: Yes. I tell you that we have the utmost respect for the
self-determination of all countries, but not for imperialist determination.
Not for all who made the decision to murder the people of Cuba, to crush
the people of Cuba, the inventors of subversion here. Cuba! Have you
forgotten Giron; have you forgotten the sabotage? Have you forgotten the
hundreds of launchings of weapons in parachutes? Have you forgotten the
hundreds of infiltrations into our country? Was it not the imperialists who
invented what is called subversion, and drove the other governments to
assault Cuba? Have you forgotten the planes departing from Nicaragua with
Cuban flags, to attack our nation and to kill hundreds of people? Have you
forgotten Retalido, in Guatemala, where the expedition against Cuba was
organized? Have you forgotten that our country has been attacked from all
points and in all directions? Have you forgotten that many regimes were a
party to the blockade?

So, how can such a falsehood, such a lie, be brandished? Why not
condemn the Yankee government, and the United States? Why not expel it from
the OAS for all those crimes? Why expel our country, when all it did was
defend itself from aggression and crime? Did we, perchance, interfere with
an issue involving any country which was abiding by international law? Did
we, perchance, engage in some kind of activity against countries which were
complying with international regulations, but which declared war on you?
You have no obligation, whatsoever, to give them consideration. You cannot
take those who attack you into consideration. Our country has merely
defended itself. And there is a great deal of hypocrisy in this kind of
philosophy. We believe that the one which should be expelled from the OAS
for its aggression against Cuba is Santo Domingo. You may recall from whom
it was that the United States sought permission to land 40,000 troops in
Santo Domingo.

Did they expel it from the OAS? No. On the contrary, it gained
support against Cuba. What ethics, what principles, what truth, what basis
can there be in such policy? And why accuse the injured nation, the nation
which had the great credit of having fought alone, of having defended
itself from the most powerful of empires, of having resisted, of having
maintained that entrenchment, which cannot be used in the future to attack
other Latin American nations? Do people, perchance, fail to realize that
all this is a lie, hypocrisy, a falsehood, totally lacking in moral

But, of course, we do not print the truth! It is printed by the
monopolies, the United States information agencies and their wire services.
That is why there is so much untruth, so much deceit and so much coercion
in the world. But, if you ask me, I can now reply truthfully and with
arguments, in 10 minutes, an hour, or any amount of time it may take. We
feel that we have the authority and the morality to reply to any such lies.
And we do not deny that we have taken action. We have fought as
revolutionaries against those who wanted to destroy us. That is simply
all... (Applause).

Question: Is there a chance that elections might ever e held in

Answer: There are frequent elections in Cuba. The laws are
discussed in every union, and in many assemblies; but if you are asking why
we do not elect representatives, I tell you that we do not need anyone to
represent the people in Cuba. The people represent themselves.

Question: Why did you make such a lengthy visit to Chile?

Fidel replied that it was because he had received thousands of
invitations from unions and communities; and that there were still many who
were disappointed, because he could not visit them in person.

To another question regarding Peru, Fidel answered that Cuba is in
agreement with the Peruvian revolutionary process. He said: "We do not set
any conditions."

Fidel also stated that President Juan Velasco "has a permanent
invitation to visit Cuba, at whatever time and under whatever circumstances
he may deem it feasible and necessary."

With respect to the problems of imperialism is causing the Allende
government in Chile, Fidel said that the Chilean people are extremely
patriotic, and revolutionary. They are a people fighting for their
liberation. He observed: "And the imperialists will be to blame if they
should have to resort to violence."

A woman in the audience asked whether he intended to remarry, and
Fidel promptly replied, with a smile: "That is a personal matter. A kind of
intervention which, as a revolutionary, I hasten to reject."

Concluding 45 minutes of extremely interesting conversation, Fidel
asked that his appreciation be expressed to the Peruvian government, and to
the people who welcomes him at the airport.