Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


[Interview with Fidel Castro by Marta Solis; Mexico City, Siempre,
Spanish, 18 October 1972, pp 28, 70]

A 1-1/2 hour travel in a popular Japanese Hino "guagua" (truck)
took us deep into Havana Province. Reaching Flor de Itabo (closer to
Matanzas than to Havana), we saw in the middle of a huge cultivated field a
beautiful modern structure, a school consisting of two buildings, four
stories high each, standing out in the agricultural landscape. This was a
school in the field which Fidel was to inaugurate that evening. The new
plan of the Ministry of Education of building secondary schools in the
fields, to combine education with labor, is an interesting attempt in
accustoming people, from a very early age, to work which, in this case, is
both a target and an educational element. This marked the first year of
construction of this type of school, of which there are 44 throughout the
country, with a capacity for 500 students each.

Our dozen foreign journalists accredited to Cuba were given
elegant red seats whose legs had sunk into the moist earth. We were seated
facing a platform with a rostrum from which Fidel Castro was to speak after
a while.

Suddenly, the shouts of the young, "Fidel..., Fidel," "tuned us
up." The commander of Cuba had arrived in his usual olive green uniform.
Fidel looked at the horizon. All that stood between us and him was a small
staircase. The rain was upon us. The Prime Minister nodded greetings. There
was lightning and thunder, followed by abundant rain. Fidel Castro came to
be soaked with us. In two quick steps he was with us. Cuban greetings were
exchanged: "How are things? How are you?" To one of my questions he
commented on our interview published in Siempre 2 months ago. Publishing it
surprised me, he told me. I thought that this was a private conversation...
Yet, I answered quietly, I begged to be forgiven in that same interview.

"The point is that you journalists are so indiscreet. You publish
everything." This is our job... someone in the group said. Then Fidel
laughed and exchanged friendly greetings with other correspondents.

"Imagine what the journalists are doing. In recent years I have
become involved in a mass of misrepresentations and news. Only two days ago
a France Presse cable from Santiago de Chile ascribed to me a statement to
the effect that in Chile Allende would have to violate "bourgeois legality"
(referring to the statements attributed to Alain Peyrefitte, secretary
general of the Gaullist party, who had visited Cuba in an official mission
heading a delegation of French parliamentarians and who had later visited

"Yet, I did not use the words bourgeois legality. Furthermore, I
should not be nor am I making statements on the Chilean problem, since this
would be incorrect. I spoke with the Frenchmen on the efforts, on the
struggle waged by the Chileans to progress and on the difficulties they
have... Yet, a cable is filed saying that I said that bourgeois legality
had to be broken..."

Fidel scrutinized all of us. Despite the topic of the
conversation, he was in good mood. This was clear. On my side was the AFP
correspondent in Cuba Michael Turguy who was trying to convince him that
Peyrefitte had not given this information out of ill will. Lalic, the
Tanjug press agency correspondent, was trying to take a picture. The EFE
correspondent was informing Fidel of a report on the statements made by
Anderson concerning Cuba. Meanwhile, the rain was continuing to fall

"Look," Fidel said, "the other day a news item showed up... These
days there have been a number of news reports tending to provoke friction.
Anderson published an information from the CIA claiming that at a meeting
with communist leaders in Chile I had criticized Allende's government. This
was a total fabrication, from top to bottom. Another day a `gusano'
("worm") was published in the United States saying that I had indeed voiced
a criticism. And now they are ascribing to me a declaration of a rather
delicate nature..."

Anyway, I asked him whether he did not believe that there are
efforts to promote a real friction between the Cuban government and the
Chilean Popular Unity?

"That is the problem," Fidel answered. "Look, a press conspiracy,
an orchestrated campaign, is taking place against Chile. Why? What is the
purpose of Anderson's declaration and of the CIA things? The ITT case was
true. Anderson, a sensationalist journalist, published the ITT documents.
Naturally, we know how the CIA operates. Shortly after the publication of
the ITT materials he published CIA information according to which we were
engaged in subversive activities from the Cuban Embassy in Chile. One good
and one bad. That is how the CIA operates: a sensationalist journalist
would do something. Then, suddenly, the CIA tells him: All right, now
publish this for me, and that is how they publicize him.... Now, at the
present time, in the midst of escalating against the Popular Unity
government, how is it that presumed CIA information falls into Anderson's
hands, describing a meeting we have held with the communist leaders of
Chile, speaking ill of the government? This is being orchestrated with a
major offensive on the part of international reaction, the CIA, and
imperialism, against Chile. Chile has been in the direct line of fire of
international reaction."

Referring again to the statements attributed to him, he clarified
that he had discussed with the French parliamentarians the difficulties
which the Chilean parliamentary majority is creating for Chilean government
by opposing changes and social measures. In reality, however, Fidel said,
"I am very cautions when it comes to such statements. I do not make them
with anyone, least of all with parliamentarians who come to visit us from
France with the best intentions in the world. This was a friendly visit and
that is why I was concerned. Furthermore, I believe that the Chileans must
resolve their own problems. This is unquestionable. We can discuss with
them any kind of a problem or view..."

Fidel was holding Anderson's latest dispatch, claiming that Nixon
would be disposed to have a reapproachment with Cuba after the elections.

In this article, Major Anderson claims that Nixon's belief is that
there could be an improvement... I told Fidel. He cut me short: "Look, I do
not believe any of Nixon's thoughts. Nixon is a scroundrel. This is my
opinion and I have always believed it. He is a demagogue and a hypocrite.
His aggression and his actions are sufficient in my judgment of him. Above
all, the aggression against Vietnam. Here every day we receive and publish
news. Photographs of destroyed hospitals, of destroyed schools, of bombed
cities, of millions of tons of bombs dropped every day, as though it were a
game: hundreds of airplanes bombing... One of the most incredible crimes in
the history of mankind is being committed by Nixon and all for purposes of
demagogy, even though knowing that he has not alternative other than to
withdraw. All this out of annoyance, out of stubbornness, knowing that he
is defeated...." Do you believe that he will withdraw soon? I asked.

"He has nothing else left," Fidel answered. "This can no longer go
on. They are economically ruined, they have lost prestige internationally,
and they are facing a people who are not yielding, however much it is
bombed. Therefore, whether he wins or loses the elections, he must resolve
the problem of Vietnam. The Vietnamese have proved that no military
technology would make them yield."

The AFP correspondent then spoke of the trade which the United
States would like to develop with China and the USSR...

"Trade questions are something else," specified Fidel. "Look, I
believe that they are beginning to correct some of their major stupidities.
The policy of commercial blockade of the USSR and China is a singular
nonsense. Why are they beginning to correct it? Because they have lost
major trade areas in the world. The result was that other industrialized
countries occupied those markets for the blockade was developing into a
self-blockade. The policy of blockades must disappear for it stops being
blockade and turns into a self-blockade. It began with the USSR, then
China, then Korea, then Cuba. Today, they are beginning to correct their
self-blockading policy..."

Is this not a boomerang policy? I asked him....

Fidel went on: "Take the problem of airplane hijacking. Who
invented airplane hijacking? The United States. Where did it launch its
use? In Cuba. You spoke of `boomerang,' and that is what reminded me of it.
Then all kinds of phenomena began to take place which now give them
insomnia... Who invented the violations of international law? Who invented
illegality, this type of climate in the world? The United States. It was
not England, it was not France, or even less, the socialist countries. Who
invented the cold war and the string of military bases around the USSR and
the socialist countries? The United States. How many millions did they
spend for this? The problem of war waged by the United States has already
become an economic impossibility. Anyway, it can no longer go on spending
as it has been so far. Furthermore, the United States has ruined itself
morally even further. It has precipitated its moral ruin with the war in

The United States is suffering from a terrible crisis of values...
Don't you think so? I asked.

"They have it," the Prime Minister answered. "What about
delinquency, vice, and robbery? Talk to people returning from New York.
They will tell you that in New York one can no longer go out on the streets
after 8 p.m. because he will be assaulted, even in the main streets. Just
imagine that in this country of living `standards,' the country of the
consumer society, the people cannot walk safely... Why? Because in the
final account they are suffering from the crisis of values of the
capitalist world..."

Major, I asked, what do you think will happen in Latin America
after the withdrawal of the North Americans from Vietnam?

"Well... here is what I think. Our position on this matter is
quite clear. We are not interested in debates of our problems. The
relations between the United States and Cuba should be considered in the
margin of its policies in Latin America. I believe that this is a rather
clear and specific position. Well, we are not going to forget the role the
United States plays of a policeman in Latin America for the sake of our
particular interests. I believe that the day that the United States becomes
a realist and stops being the policeman of Latin America relations between
us could improve. These are the conditions and I believe that this is quite
a clear position which I have presented and repeated.... I spoke of this
with the French. This is something clear....

"Our policy in terms of the United States is very clear, I repeat.
Public or private, it is the same. We have stated that first of all it must
unconditionally stop its economic blockade; it must leave the Guantanamo
Base and cease all subversive activities. This is unconditional. This is
not to say that we do not engage ourselves to doing nothing in return or
that we will not discus Cuba alone when we undertake discussions. This, I
believe, is quite clear. They have the opportunity, if they want it.
Well... let them stop the blockade. Furthermore, it is useless to them....
Look what a beautiful little school we have been able to build despite
them. What about those which we intend to build... Even despite our own
errors we are progressing...."

Is this a self criticism?... I dared to ask.

"Well," said Fidel, smiling broadly, "it is better that we be
criticized for self criticism and not for being demagogues or liars...."

He withdrew as rapidly as he had arrived. He was drenched and he
criticized the fact that I had not become wet for all the tall gentlemen
around us had protected me from the water.

Several minutes later he spoke on education in Cuba, inaugurated
the school, and, in the company of Volodia Teitelboin, member of the
Political Bureau, and of Samuel Riquelme, both members of the Communist
Party of Chile, attended a performance given by secondary school children.

Perhaps the presence of these two communist leaders of Chile and
their comradely attitude toward Fidel could be used by Anderson for another
of his articles.... Could they?