Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Buenos Aires TELAM in Spanish 0200 GMT 9 July 74 P

[By TELAM special correspondent]

[Text] Havana, 9 Jul--Fidel Castro at first refused to believe the news of
the death of Gen Juan Domingo Peron on 1 July. A few hours after the news
about the death of the Argentine president had spread around the world,
Castro talked about the terrible feeling of disheartening sadness which the
loss of this friend of Cuba had caused him.

The leader of the Cuban Revolution spoke at the Argentine Embassy in
Havana--where he had gone last Tuesday night to sign the condolences
book--with a group or Argentine, still disheartened by the death of their
head of state and leader of the greatest national political force.

Castro talked at length about the future of the country and said that with
General Peron dead, the Argentine had to make a significant effort to
compensate for his absence.

"I think that you were leaning on his capacity as a leader. You will now
have to keep united and compensate for his absence with organization and
methodology." he added.

Castro said: "The news of his death hurt me a lot. I had a terrible feeling
of disheartening sadness. As it happens with friends and the people one
cares for. I refused at first to believe the veracity of the news. The
night before, during a working session at the Revolution Palace, we had
been talking about General Peron's health with Raul Castro, Carlos Rafael
Rodriguez and Roa. I then said that your president was going to recover and
that Argentina, Cuba and the countries which are fighting for their
liberation would by praying for his quick recovery. Unfortunately, that was
not the case. At about noon on Monday, after several sources reported about
the worsening of his health, the cable confirming his death arrived.

"With the cable in my hand, I stood there for a long time pondering what
had happened a few minutes before in Buenos Aires...The lifting of the
blockade against Cuba immediately came to my mind: something which the
popular government of Peron had carried out and which will never be
forgotten by the government and the people of my fatherland.

"I recalled, with grief for his death, the resumption of diplomatic
relations between Argentina and Cuba, Argentine foreign policy advocating
the disappearance of ideological frontiers and, fundamentally, the decision
to put an end to continental isolation in commercial matters. All of this,
which Cuba will always value for what it is worth, formed part of the
government headed by General Peron. For what Peron represented as leader of
the Argentine masses and for his friendship towards my fatherland shown
during his tenure as president, your president will always be remembers
here as a Latin American patriot and a friend of Cuba and its people."
emphasized Castro.

The Cuban prime minister later talked about the foreign policy of his
country. Answering a question which interrupted his statement, Castro said:
"The reestablishing of relations with the United States depends on a prior
decision by the American government: the lifting of the economic and
commercial blockade. If the United States officially puts an end to the
blockade, then Cuba is going to consider the possibility of beginning
conversations with Washington," he added.

Here Castro restated his thanks to the Soviet Government for the material
and political support received, which he called decisive for the
consolidation and development of the revolution in this Caribbean island.

Referring to the prospects of Latin America, Castro proposed, as a
short-range alternative, a productive specialization in various countries
of the area-in other words, a virtual international division of labor.

To give support to his these, Castro offered as an example Argentina, which
will its great technological development can supply manufactured products
to the rest of Latin America at international prices.

"Argentina has exceptional prospects. Its firm position adopted for the
hydroelectric development of the River Plata Basin, which I believe has a
potential on the order of 35 million kw, has greatly impressed me," added

Castro concluded that Argentina investments and programs in petrochemistry
and steel mill--on which be demonstrated great knowledge--constituted the
basic points for the consolidation of the industrial leadership of
Argentina in Latin America.