Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Buenos Aires TELAM in Spanish 1553 GMT 14 Jul 74 C

[Text] Havana, 14 Jul--Prime Minister Fidel Castro announced last night
that Cuba is willing to attend the American foreign ministers conference
which is to be held next March in Buenos Aires. At the end of a 4-hour
visit to the President Peron industrial exhibition, which closes today,
Castro revealed his government's willingness to participate in the proposed
meeting of the continent's foreign ministers. In an interview granted to
Argentine correspondents at the fair, he said that if the Argentine
Government, which is to be the host, extends an invitation, we will
undoubtedly attend.

The last foreign ministers' conference, attended by U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger, was held this April in Washington. On that occasion all
the participating nations asked Argentina to invite the Fidel Castro
government to the next meeting in Buenos Aires. These ministerial-level
meetings have been held periodically since the middle of last year outside
the framework of the OAS--from which Cuba was expelled in 1964 at the
urging of the United States.

Castro, commander in chief of his country's armed forces, and dressed in
his traditional battle fatigues, characterized the industrial fair
inaugurated here on 4 July as a success. Some 240 exporters participated in
the fair, and it was supported by the General Economic Federation (CGE) and
AIERA [Association of Argentine Exporters and Importers].

At the press conference held at the fair offices and attended by President
Osvaldo Dorticos and Argentine Under Secretary of International Economic
Relations Fernando Lerena, Castro said that Cuba is trying to acquire in
our country what it had previously obtained in Western markets. After
expressing his satisfaction at the prospect of economic cooperation with
Argentina, he asserted that his government was fully confident of the
normal development of relations between both nations in the near future.

Referring to the recent death of Lt Gen Juan Domingo Peron, he emphasized
that his people will always be grateful to Peron for promoting an opening
with Cuba. With regard to relations with the United Stats, he held that
breaching the blockade has helped make the U.S. stand on Cuba more
indefensible, illogical and immoral. In this connection, he pointed out
that there seem to be new signs that Washington wants to open the Cuban

Answering questions by Argentine correspondents, Castro stated that the
development of the revolutionary process is irreversible and that in 1974
his country's growth rate will reach 8 percent.

Touching on his experiences as a government leader, he said: It has been 15
years of strategic victory with some tactical reverses....

A summary of the press conference given last night by the Cuban prime
minister follows:

Reporter: We would like to have your opinion of the exhibition and also
your criticisms.

Fidel Castro: I am not going to make any criticism because I have none to
make. The fair is quite impressive. I am impressed by the variety of
products and their quality--all of which demonstrates how far Argentine
industry has progressed--and particularly the effort being made by

We want to buy all the products we can from Argentina, products which we
are presently acquiring in another part of the world, which we want to buy
from Argentina. That is our idea...we trade with the Western world. We
acquire some products in the socialist camp and others in Western markets.
Of all the products we are acquiring in the West, those which we can get in
Argentina we will try to obtain there. That is why we are not simply making
credit purchases from Argentina, but are seeking trade as well, which we
are developing.

I think the Argentines have made a great effort to organize the fair, that
it has turned out very well. There have been many visitors, and it has
awakened considerable interest in the people and elicited much admiration.
We can say that the exhibition has been a success. That is our point of

Reporter: Could the time be near for industrial complementation between
Argentina and Cuba, with Argentina supplying parts?

Fidel Castro: Some industrialists have spoken along those lines. We agree
in working together toward that end. We consider it possible. All
possibilities must be examined.

Reporter: With regard to the positions of Cuba and the United States, is
there any possibility that the United States has given up its previous

Fidel Castro: There are some signs, due to new circumstances such as the
opening of some Latin American countries toward Cuba. I think Argentina's
actions have also been influential in this regard, since it contributed a
strong blow against the economic blockade and helped to make the U.S.
position more indefensible, more illogical and immoral.

As you can see, some of the equipment and even some products that are being
bought here have their trademark--U.S. registered trademarks--and this
truly undermines the stand favoring the blockade.

But we cannot say that we really have any basis for a change of policy by
the United States toward (?us). Lately we have observed two developments
which are new and indicative: the purchases [words indistinct] equipment in
Argentina which have a U.S. trademark, and the purchase in Canada of other
products which also carry U.S. trademarks. In both cases the U.S.
Government has had to accede to the stand adopted by the governments of
those countries. We have bought some locomotives [words indistinct] in
Canada, whose central offices are in the United States. The Canadian
Government took a just stand, a dignified stand, in a situation similar to
the Argentine one. So they are both new developments.

Reporter: What about Senator Holt's visit?

Fidel Castro: He is not a senator. Pat Holt is a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. He has an administrative post under the
president of that committee. The president of the Foreign Relations
Committee asked Cuba to allow one of the committee members to visit Cuba,
and made it very clear that this had nothing to do with the policy of the
U.S. chief executive, that no change of government policy could be
inferred, and that it was simply in the interest of the Foreign Relations
Committee to have an objective and impartial viewpoint. We authorized the
visit. He was here 10 days. I believe, making a wide tour of the country.
We have a very high regard for the attitude of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. In general, it has expressed itself against the policy of
harassment of Cuba.

Reporter: Would this visit have any connection with a possible talk with
Nixon's personal envoy, Henry Kissinger.

Fidel Castro: In fact, nothing like that has been discussed at all. This
visitor represented the Foreign Relations Committee. He has no connection
with the State Department. That department, however, also authorized the
visit. But he has no connection with the State Department. No meeting of
that kind was brought up. As you know, we have stated that for talks to be
held between Cuba and the United States, the blockade must first be lifted.
That is our official stand: for relations between Cuba and the United
States to be undertaken, the blockade must first end. We are not going to
negotiate with them in a [word indistinct] condition. That is Cuba's stand
and there has been no change in it.

Reporter: If invited, would Cuba attend the foreign ministers conference
next March?

Fidel Castro: That is in the hands of the Argentine Government. If the
Argentine Government, which is to be the host, invites us, we will
undoubtedly attend. That we can assert categorically.

Reporter: Can Peron's death affect the close relationship between the
governments of Argentina and Cuba?

Fidel Castro: One must keep in mind that Peron promoted the opening toward
our country, so that these gains which we have attained are related to his

I mean that we will always be grateful for this action by Peron with
regard to Cuba. We have no reason to be pessimistic. We see no obstacle to
the continuation of the political polices which he drew up for Argentina.

Under Secretary Fernando Lerena, [taking part in the news conference]: I am
here representing the Argentine Government. Consequently, I can assure you
that the policy you are speaking of is the one that the Argentine
Government will maintain. It is [word indistinct] to do it. It is an
absolutely [word indistinct] policy.

Fidel Castro: Thank you very much. We trust that policy completely. It was
very sad that it should have come from Peron's death. Moreover, it was very
sad for the Argentines who were here. But the fair has been held and we are
all working optimistically, confident [words indistinct].

Reporter: Are you thinking of sending a delegation to the Latin American
youth congress? A delegation of Peronist youths was here recently.

Fidel Castro: They spoke of holding a congress of Latin American youths
under the slogan: "Defend national interests, defend independence and
struggle against imperialism." They proposed that the youth of Panama, Peru
and Mexico participate. We agreed in principle: that is, we agreed to
cooperate in the holding of that meeting. I understand that work is still
being done in that regard, but that [words indistinct] still nothing
definite regarding the date. In other words, it is an idea that is

Reporter: What are Cuba's prospects for the future:

Fidel Castro: Let us talk of a growth rate of 7 [as received] percent by
next year. We do not propose excessive growth for ourselves. This is not a
country of great natural resources. If this was a petroleum producing
country, we could be drawing up a very ambitious development plan. But we
depend to a great degree on agricultural production, on sugarcane--the
production of which is not yet completely mechanized, with only a small
percentage mechanized. We are completely mechanizing sugarcane production
and we have to make realistic plans, not too ambitious, but serious plans.
We do not permit ourselves to be led on by figures.

There are countries that grew tremendously in the past decade and now
cannot find anything to do with their growth. They grew on a false
foundation, with a tremendous [word indistinct] dependence and now find
themselves in a difficult position. Argentina is not faced with this
situation. Argentina is in a good position. It is favored by the fact that
it is self-sufficient in energy and also has a great hydroelectric
potential to develop, and it is now beginning to develop nuclear energy. It
has radioactive minerals and a fabulous agriculture. This is very important
for any country. Its geographic conditions and climate are very good and
contribute to a well-developed agriculture. So Argentina has a very good
agricultural base and also a very favorable energy base now opening up
tremendous prospects, particularly for industrial development.

Argentina can compete with the Europeans for the Japanese because while
they have to import petroleum at a very high cost, Argentina has to import
very little and in a short time may not have to import at all and will be
self-sufficient in petroleum. At the same time, it has very cheap
hydroelectric energy sources to develop, a it is beginning to do now.

Argentina has magnificent prospects for petrochemical, steel and iron, and
mechanical [word indistinct] development and so forth. In fact, its
situation is very promising.

This is the time when Argentina can make its industrial takeoff and the
policy it is following--opening of markets--a very intelligent one and one
which can be carried out at this time. It can compete with Europe, because
Argentina can produce at very low cost. Possibly [word indistinct]
technology a little behind them, they may have a little more industrial
productivity, but they have to supply themselves with raw material [words
indistinct] which is expensive and this gives Argentina a great advantage
for industrial development.