Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Guayaquil, EL UNIVERSO in Spanish, 5 Dec 1971, pp 1, 10 X

[Report on 4 December Fidel Castro Quayaquil Press Conference]

[Text] 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 dedicated solely by his desire to meet the
Ecuadorean chief of state. He said the latter had made some practicable

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 controversy.

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 Russia.

[Answer] Cuba is differently activated from a traditional standpoint. We
are developing a type of democracy which is much 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 painted 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 said: "But I can continue talking with that patriot over there." He
was referred 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 him to sit down. But this was
impossible because he was practically surrounded and could hardly budge.

[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? (The reporter means to
say the OAS)

[Answer] Why doesn't Cuba join the United Nations? It seems incredible you
don't know that Cuba has been a member of the United Nations for a
considerable length of time.

[Question] 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.

[Question] According to the French ambassador in La Paz, you abandoned the
guerrillas in Bolivia.

[Answer] Who told you that? Where did you learn it?

[Question] It's in an article published in a periodical.

[Answer] What periodical?

[Question] VISTAZO

[Answer] Who wrote it?

[Question] I did. (The reporter was Alberto Borges.)

[Answer] And who knows if you told the truth or not?

[Question] You're very dialectical.

[Answer] 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 know 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 startling jostling and things become

[Castro comments] "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
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 U.S. 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 dirty 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

[Question] It would be an important step if groups representing sectors or
revolutionary parties consider the Russian-Chinese political conflict as
something of greater significance than their interests in Latin America.

[Answer] 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 you 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 you opinion about the 200-mile limit for territorial
waters in the interests of the defense of Ecuador, Peru and Chile?

[Answer] 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 consequently 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 Vietnam. So it is
maneuvering around, weakened, whipped in Vietnam, fending around trying to
see what it can salvage. It is a matter of 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 maneuvering?

[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 historical institution
which serves as 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. Owing 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 the 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 shortly?

[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, three-quarters of its resources were destroyed, and it attacked by
fascist hordes.

[Question] What was the outcome of your talk with Dr Velasco Ibarra?

[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 People's China
into the United Nations and the expulsion of Taiwan. We appreciate those

[Question] What was the purpose of your talk with President Velasco?

[Answer] There was no specific purpose. Merely to greet him, make his
acquaintenance 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 without violence?

[Answer] That is being demonstrated.

[Question] What is 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 Camili Cienfuegos died.

[Question] Do you know if Che Guevara's body is in the United States?

[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 to 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 hijacking to us.

[Answer] The United States invited 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

Commotion Marks Press Conference

Fidel Castro's press conference was tumultuously 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.

[Quito EL COMERCIO in Spanish on 5 December 1971 adds the following:
Question--Would Cuba support methods to achieve changes in other countries
of Latin America? Answer--I am a revolutionary, and, of course, I have a
sense of solidarity with the revolutionaries." "All I can say here is to
send them a message of affection, of solidarity, and our wishes for their
greatest well-being, for their greatest progress."]