Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Paris L'HUMANITE in French 24 Oct 74 p 2

[Andre Carrel 15-16 October Exclusive Interview with Fidel Castro: "Eight
Hours with Fidel"]

[Text] Oil: The Underdeveloped Countries Should Not Let Themselves Be

Andre Carrel: It is generally known that Venezuela is one of the biggest
oil producers in the world. Therefore, Comrade Fidel Castro, what is the
meaning of the slogan "Venezula Will Not Be Alone in this Hemisphere as
Cuba Used to Be" and what are your views on this problem which is now
absorbing everybody's attention?

Fidel Castro: The, oil problem is very complicated. In fact, there are two
problems: that confronting the capitalist industrialized world and that
confronting countries which have no industry, but have oil.

We believe that the attitude adopted by the countries producing raw
materials is fully justified. It is natural that they now benefit from the
highest possible prices because they were very much exploited in the past.

Raw materials always were purchased at a low price, whereas industrial
products were sold at a very high price.

This double phenomenon has contributed to the development of the capitalist
industrialized world but has been responsible for the poverty of
underdeveloped countries.

Oil has now become a product of great importance and it is needed by all:
both industrialized and underdeveloped countries.

However, a third aspect of the problem should not be overlooked: that of
poor countries who possess no oil.

The oil-producing countries will now possess a proportion of the world's
financial wealth.

I believe that the oil-producing countries' surplus financial resources
should be channeled toward all underdeveloped countries.

If this is not done these countries may easily become even poorer.

There is yet another aspect of the problem: there is a risk that the under
developed countries may have a falling out if the imperialist countries'
demand that oil prices be reduced finds a response in many poor countries.

I believe that this is a very serious problem. In my view, the
oil-producing countries have so far failed to formulate any policy with
regard to the so-called "third world" countries which are their real allies
in this struggle. Furthermore, many oil-producing countries have been
investing their money in the developed capitalist world, especially
financial organizations under imperialist control. This situation is

Therefore, as we have already explained, the underdeveloped countries as a
whole must not let themselves be divided by imperialism. They should
support any struggle for raw materials, while oil-producing countries
should formulate a policy with respect to the "third world."

Cuba: By 1980 Production Will Double

Andre Carrel: I have read your recent speeches, and as a result I have
become convinced that a great turning point will mark Cuban life in 1980.
Is this merely an impression or reality?

Fidel Castro: The year 1980 will be generally marked by great quantitative
and qualitative changes. In fact, however, these changes will mark the
decade 1970-1980, that is, the second decade of the revolution--because
during the first decade Cuba's main problem was to survive. How could the
first socialist revolution in Latin America be consolidated? How could a
country situated 90 miles from the United States, subjected to an economic
blockade and continually threatened with military action, survive?

During these first 10 years the problem was to consolidate the revolution
and create political and revolutionary awareness among the people. We had
to make very great efforts, but we have survived. And not only have we
survived, but we have progressed. Now in the second decade of the
revolution, the country can concentrate its resources on economic
development. In fact, since 1970 the economy has developed at a good rate.
We are able to tell you that in 1970-80 the country's production will

This year, despite the international situation and difficulties connected
with the purchase of certain raw materials, the economic growth rate
amounted to more than 6 percent.

Andre Carrel: Even in the agricultural sphere and despite drought?

Fidel Castro: It is true that we have suffered from drought in the past 2
years. It did not reach the catastrophic level of certain African regions,
but it was serious. However, our agricultural production has not been
reduced as a result. In some spheres production has even increased. For
instance, milk production has increased and sugar production increased in
1974 compared with the 1973 crops. The year 1974 has even been drier than
1973 and, logically, sugar production should be affected, but not

In 1975 we will see what the consequences of this drought are. Had it not
been for this drought, we could have expected a considerable increase in
1975 sugar production. Nonetheless our production will be satisfactory.

Andre Carrel: How far has the mechanization of sugarcane harvesting

Fidel Castro: We are mechanizing cutting operations next year. Almost 30
percent of harvesting operations will be mechanized. The other operations
have been partly mechanized. By 1980 we will have largely mechanized
sugarcane-harvesting operations. Why is this problem so complicated? Only
because we had no appropriate machinery, paying attention to what has been
done in Australia and with the Soviet Union's help we have constructed
machines of which we now possess a relatively large number. In addition we
are now constructing a plant capable of producing 600 machines annually.
This is why we hope that by 1980 some 80 percent of our harvesting
operations will be mechanized. This will probably be one of the most
spectacular developments in the country. We now employ 350,000 sugarcane
cutters. By 1980 we will need only 50,000 workers.

Andre Carrel note: The jeep proceeded toward a livestock-raising center. We
had a long discussion on the milk-production problem and genetics.
Questions concerning the construction industry, education and people's
power were also answered dispassionately. We then left for a technical

The Blockade: Its Breaching Has Been Mentioned; Let Us Rather Speak of Its

Andre Carrel: Can the blockade of Cuba now be seen as more or less

Fidel Castro: The blockade has not achieved its objectives, for it has not
destroyed the Cuban Revolution but it has, in fact, caused us great harm. A
breaching of the blockade has been mentioned. We should rather, however,
speak of the failure of the blockade, whose aim, I repeat, was to destroy
the revolution and prevent normal trade activities, which we have
nonetheless successfully pursued with certain Western capitalist countries.
Obviously, the United States has mainly been responsible for it. It has
both stopped all its trade with Cuba and tried to prevent any transaction
with the rest of the world, taking advantage of its economic and political

The blockade has deprived Cuba of access to international credit. It has
denied us the North American market. It has made it difficult for us to
sell our nickel. The United States has successfully exerted pressure on
France with a view to preventing it from purchasing Cuban nickel.
Furthermore, it has banned imports of products containing a proportion of
Cuban nickel. It has in the same way prevented exports of Cuban-produced
rum, Cuban cigars and so forth.

Every time our country has tried to buy an industrial product based on
North American technology in the West this purchase has been refused. The
blockade has really been a criminal policy which has done considerable
harm. However, they have not succeeded in liquidating the revolution. They
have not attained this objective. On the other hand, they have succeeded in
curbing Cuba's development to the greatest possible extent. And that is
why, when we speak of breaching the blockade, we want to stress that
despite all the inconvenience which it has caused us the country is
advancing, the country is developing at a good rate. The country has
insured its future, finally, despite the blockade.

Fidel Castro then spoke of the exalted figure of President Allende, symbol
of the liberation of the continent and the struggle against American
imperialism, and of the necessary international solidarity with the
martyred Chilean people. Chile was the subject of our conversation for a
long time as darkness fell on the suburbs of Havana.

Latin America:  A Future Community of 600 Million Inhabitants

Andre Carrel: In your recent speech I was struck by this passage: "The
United States on one side and the Latin American and Caribbean peoples on
the other form two such different worlds that, like Europe and Africa,
there is not room for them both in the same community. There, it is the
narrow strait of Gibraltar which separates them; here it is the Rio Bravo
and the Florida Strait which separate us; and in both cases a technological
gulf and totally different cultures."

Fidel Castro: In the world of tomorrow no small isolated country will have
a future. One can say that the union of the peoples of Latin America is a
precondition for their survival and independence. Latin America must unite,
will have to unite, or else it will be brought to subjection. The goal to
aim for is proper regional organization with the basic objective of
fighting for the union and economic and political integration of these

Naturally, this is not an easy path.  The Latin American political system
is very heterogeneous.  Oligarchy in general has governed Latin America
by serving its own selfish interests.  Nowadays integrationist ideas in
Latin America have considerable support among public opinion and in the
minds of Latin American politicians.  The bourgeoisie of Latin America has
been very badly affected by imperialism.  It has tried to integrate its
economies with, for example, the Andin Pact (linking the Andean Cordillera
countries--L'HUMANITE) and the Latin American Free Trade Association (ALALC).

In these countries there is a growing awareness of the exploitation of
which they have been the victims. Awareness is also growing in favor of the
defense of natural resources, and I would even say that anti-imperialist
awareness is making progress.

The efforts of all the progressive forces, all the nationalist forces, all
the partisans of national independence emerging in Latin America must be
coordinated. One phenomenon which, in my view, is very important is the
role which certain military men can play in the present situation. In Peru,
for example, the armed forces were the motive force, the fundamental factor
in the changes which took place. In Panama, too, the armed forces were a
fundamental factor in bringing about changes. Previously the armed forces
hid been organized and trained by the United States in order to maintain
the existing social regime and insure the domination of imperialism.

These two examples, Peru and Panama, are very important. Their armed forces
realized that they could not play the role of a policeman of imperialism
against their people, and they integrated themselves with the people in the
general political movement. I consider this very important. It is possible
that this phenomenon could occur in other countries also. It is also
interesting to observe the role of the church. Not the high-up
ecclesiastical hierarchy, but the role of many priests who are in contact
with the people and are aware of their poverty and their needs. During the
last few years they have participated increasingly in political life and
have shown themselves to be partisans of social change. This is important
because the church was for a long time one of the forces used for support
by reaction and imperialism to maintain their domination in Latin America.

Finally, to all these phenomena must of course be added the action of the
revolutionary political forces, the action of the left movements, the
action of the communist parties.

All these facts must contribute to bringing about important political
changes in the near future. Naturally, for any real integration of the
peoples of this hemisphere to occur, great social and structural changes
are necessary, accompanied by access to power for popular governments
really concerned with their country's interests. Governments of the
Pinochet or Stroessner (fascist dictator of Paraguay--L'HUMANITE) type will
never take an interest in any integrationist movement in Latin America. But
I would say that I am something of a long-term optimist. I am sure that one
day the Latin American peoples will unite and Latin America will form a
great community, a community already possessing more than 300 million
inhabitants and which in the year 2000, in 25 years' time, will possess
between 600 and 700 million inhabitants. This community has great natural
resources, great energy resources. It has long-standing common traditions,
much more so than the west European countries, where wars have lasted for
entire centuries.

Soviet Union:  Decisive Aid

Andre Carrel: But do your relations within CEMA, in which Cuba is now a
full partner, represent for you a decisive element in your evolution and,
even more so, for the future which you have just outlined?

Fidel Castro: I consider that it is indeed a decisive element. Under the
conditions of isolation and embargo which we have experienced we have
managed to survive, not only through our people's efforts, which have been
highly meritorious and cannot be underestimated, but also through the large
amount of aid which we have received essentially from the Soviet Union; I
can assure you that the Soviet Union's aid to the Cuban Revolution in every
field has been a decisive factor in the revolution's survival and decisive
over the last 15 years. There is no doubt about that. We will pursue
integration as far as possible with all the CEMA member countries, but it
is beyond doubt that the Soviet Union remains the fundamental support for
our economy. The fact that we are very distant from it geographically must
be taken into account. Our economies have different levels of development.
In any case, we think that economic integration with CEMA will present no
obstacle to future integration with the other peoples of Latin America.

United States:  Before Any Negotiations, the Lifting of the Embargo

Andre Carrel: Row do you see the evolution of your relations with the
United States?

Fidel Castro: Relations with the United States are not easy. In reality,
the United States are suffering a defeat in their policy of isolating
Cuban. They are finding a growing resistance to this policy in the Latin
American countries. In general these countries consider it humiliating that
the United States should impose isolation on Cuba at a time of
international detente when the Cold War is disappearing. These countries
cannot understand how it is possible that the United States can improve its
relations with the Soviet Union, improve its relations with China,
relations which it had intentionally maintained in a strained state for
decades in the name of anticommunism and the spirit of ideological crusade,
and at the same time prevent the Latin American countries from developing
their relations with Cuba. For the reasons which I have just explained, the
Latin American peoples' sense of independence means that they can no longer
tolerate this absurd, ridiculous fact: the isolation of Cuba. From the
moral viewpoint the United States has committed all kinds of crimes against
Latin America. It has seized territories, intervened in Guatemala,
massacred the people of Panama. It has occupied Santo Domingo with its
troops. The CIA operates in all the countries of Latin America, pursuing a
policy of subversion. This has been formally demonstrated in the case of
Chile. While the United States intervenes shamelessly and openly in the
affairs of the Latin American peoples, is Cuba supposed to remain isolated
because it represents a danger of "subversion for America?" All such
arguments are ridiculous and indefensible. In this situation the United
States is faced with a serious defeat, given the fact that the Latin
American countries are going to end Cuba's isolation within the OAS itself.
They are going to enforce this. The United States is running the risk of
remaining isolated itself.

It is therefore finding it necessary, I believe, to change its policy
toward us. How and when will this be done? That is the question. Naturally,
it is not for us to take the initiative, because we did not impose an
embargo on the United States; we have passed no law preventing the sale of
sugar or nickel to it. We have no law preventing boats which come to Cuba
from going to the United States. After all, it was the United States that
organized the attacks and the embargo against us.

We have said that before any serious negotiations could be opened with the
United States the economic embargo would have to be lifted, first of all.
Why? Because it would be absurd for us to sit down at the same table while
this embargo continues to exist. We would not be in a position of equality
for negotiation. After that there will be many other problems. For example,
we have no military bases in the United States, and it has a military base
on Cuban territory. These talks really will not be easy.

Then we will have to see whether the United States claims the right, for
example, to impose anything that limits--however minimally--our country's
sovereignty; we will accept no conditions. For the negotiations to prosper
and for relations with the United States to improve it is essential that
the United States begin to understand that the Cuba of today is not the
Cuba of yesterday, that the Cuba of today is an absolutely free country--a
country which does not and will not accept any conditions in any way
harming its dignity or its political sovereignty. It is therefore necessary
that the United States realize all this. When it is prepared to accept
these facts there will be a possibility of relations between Cuba and the
United States. But that depends on it, not on us.

American Senators:  I Am Satisfied With This Meeting

Andre Carrel: Without being indiscreet, is this what you said to the
American senators?

Fidel Castro: Yes, in general terms. They talked with various comrades and
the various subjects were dealt with... In fact, I must say that I am
satisfied with this meeting; these senators were very respectful; for my
part, I was as friendly toward them as I could manage. We talked about
various subjects. But both parties were naturally aware of the difficulties
in the way of improving our relations I tried to make them understand our
point of view; that for our part we are prepared, in the future, to work
patiently for an improvement of relations; that we were riot against the
prospect of an improvement of those relations.

France: Our Relations Have Developed

Andre Carrel: How do you see the present state of relations between the
French and Cuban governments?

Fidel Castro: You ask me about the state of relations with France? These
relations have developed in recent years, particularly in the economic
field. I would say that France has an acceptable and positive policy for
the development of economic links between Cuba and France. I must say this,
to be fair. I think that these relations can develop even further in the
future. In the early days of the revolution serious difficulties arose in
official relations between Cuba and France, particularly because of the
Algerian War. We maintained, in fact, an active and militant position in
favor of the national liberation movement. This situation changed when
Algeria became independent, and from that time there was an improvement in
official relations between the two states. No conflict has arisen since

It must be added that for years France was characterized among the
countries of Europe by its greater independence of the United States. And
this, I think, also favored the links between our states, considering that
certain other European countries were much more amenable to U.S. pressures.
The French Government was less amenable to these pressures.

At present, I repeat, our relations have reached a satisfactory level.
Logically, our economic interests could allow the development of these
relations, and we are prepared to work toward this. But it should be
clearly understood that, for us, political principles naturally come before
any interest of an economic nature. Is that clear?

Confidence in French Communists

Andre Carrel: Comrade Fidel Castro: Before I leave you, have you any
special message to convey, through L'HUMANITE, to French communists?

Fidel Castro: I want to say first that we greatly admire the French
communists. The entire history of the workers movement since the Paris
Commune, the entire history of the PCF up to the present, is full of heroic
episodes. We cannot forget, for example, the international conduct of the
PCF and its remarkable historic role during the years of Hitler's
occupation. Moreover, we are aware that the PCF represents a very great
force in France. It is the party of the workers, the peasants, the
progressive intellectuals; and, I say frankly, it is the party of France's
future. In addition, we consider that it has had to struggle under very
difficult circumstances during the long years of cold war.

Lastly, we will never forget the sentiments of solidarity which the PCF has
always expressed toward Cuba. We therefore send our sentiments of sympathy,
admiration and confidence to the PCF, and our desire to improve still
further and make closer our relations with it. I consider it a duty for
both parties: the duty of the PCF, the duty of the Cuban Communist Party.

For our part, we are prepared to do all in our power to reinforce our close
ties of fraternity and confidence with the PCF. We highly appreciate what
the PCF is doing and we want the PCF to appreciate what the Cuban Communist
Party is doing.

Relations between our two communist parties are based on a community of
ideas and of identity, on the principles of Marxism-Leninism which unite us
above all, above any interest of state. That is clear.