Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Speaks at Dinner

Bombay PTI in English 0130 GMT 12 Sep 73 D--FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

[Text] New Delhi Sep 12 (PTI)--The Cuban premier, Dr Fidel Castro,
yesterday reaffirmed his country's solidarity with forces of peace and
progress in the world and said he was optimistic of their ultimate victory
in the fight against imperialism and reaction.

In a last-minute speech at a dinner hosted in his honour by Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi, Dr Castro, who arrived here yesterday evening for an
overnight stopover on the way to Hanoi, took credit for the changes in
Latin America politics in the last decade leading to active participation
by some of these countries in the nonalined movement.

The advent of the Cuban revolution at the very doorstep of the United
States had encouraged a large number of Latin American countries to now
openly talk of socialism and against imperialism, which they dreaded only a
decade ago, he said.

Scheduled speeches for the occasion were dropped after Dr Castro landed,
and newsmen who were disappointed by the absence of airport speeches werein
for a second surprise.

Apparently inspired by Mrs Gandhi's observation while proposing the toast
that many of her colleagues were angry and deeply disappointed when told
that there would be no speeches, Dr Castro spoke for over 30 minutes.

Mrs Gandhi in a brief introduction spoke of the heroic leadership of the
Cuban revolution by Dr Castro and said his interest in the cause of
coloured people all over the world had made the Cuban premier a legend and
captured the imagination of idealistic people both young and old all over
the world.

She then proposed a toast for further successes and prosperity of the Cuban
people and for Indo-Cuban friendship.

Too soft-spoken for his tall burly stature, the 46-year-old bearded Cuban
revolutionary dressed in the jungle green uniform of an insurgent said
modestly Cuba could do little in cooperation with India, which was big
though not rich, and far more advanced industrially.

"But we offer our sincere friendship and deep sympathy and strongest
solidarity in your struggle, in your efforts to overcome underdevelopment
in meeting the great problems you are facing and in implementing the policy
of independence and peace," he said.