Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana PRELA in Spanish to PRELA Panama 0157 GMT 14 Jan 75

[Fidel Castro interview by special correspondent Wilmer Murillo for
exclusive use by the daily LA HORA of Costa Rica]

[Text] "I would like to return to Costa Rica to learn about its
agricultural system. I was there in 1957. I had the opportunity to meet
with Carlos Andres Perez, now the president of Venezuela. On several
occasions I went to the Soda Palace to drink coffee...I even think that I
visited the home of Evelio Bermudez in Puntarenas and met Daniel Oduber
while he was recovering from an illness."

The person speaking was Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro. He paid a
surprise visit to a small 18th floor salon in the Habana Libre Hotel
overlooking the sea to talk with the [Costa Rican] parliamentary delegation
visiting the island.

Speaking softly and smoothly, the prime minister greeted the visitors. The
spontaneity of the Cuban leader was a shock to the legislators who
scrambled to get close to him and get his autograph.

Dr Castro began the conference by greeting the deputies and asking
questions. How is Costa Rica? Where is the capital? How is its agriculture?
Its industry, its education, and a thousand and one other questions. He
seemed interested in knowing everything, especially about the parliamentary
representation system.

Castro noted that during his visit to Costa Rica he had also been to the
Lindora farm. Someone said that this is a latifundium belonging to former
deputy Marcial Aguiluz, to which he answered: "What is a latifundium in
Costa Rica?" There was laughing, and the prime minister stated: "Well, I
understand that it is a very small country."

It was a contradiction to hear him ask questions about a country he once
visited but, after all, that was many years ago and he could have

After endless questions about Costa Rica, Dr Castro spoke about Cuba. He
mentioned programs that are being carried out in housing, education,
health, and others. "Everything is completely planned," he noted.

The Cuban Sierra Maestra hero is extremely interested in agricultural
subjects and he discussed them. Agriculture must be diversified; we must
curb the habit of consuming expensive grains. For instance, "rice is three
times as expensive as wheat, and there is no comparison between them."

Another subject he brought up was mechanization of agriculture. "The land
is tremendously productive in Matanzas."

Which reminded him that Matanzas is the province where an interesting pilot
plan is underway to install People's Government. "The plan will undoubtedly
be put into effect," he said.

The state should issue only the major political directives to be followed
and these must be obligatory. However, there are many functions that the
people must handle themselves. The project to create People's Government
will be decided by a plebiscite on 24 February, Castro said.

The problems of scarcity, world inflation and recession, and Latin American
unity could not be left out of the conference. In answer to a question
about his opinion of the United States' coercive measures against the Arab
countries to guarantee oil supplies, he said, "If they achieve this they
will become kings of the world."

"We condemn the U.S. decision because it is a threat to world peace, and we
support the Arab countries," he said. "I believe, however, that it is vital
that the Arab nations change their policy toward other third world nations.
They sell their oil at a high price and that would not matter if they sold
it exclusively to the developed countries. But they also sell it to the
poor nations. Thus, the Arab countries cannot hope that the developing
countries will support them under the present circumstances. The unity of
the poor countries is fundamental if they want to play any kind of a role
in today's world, but that goal will be reached only if they use their
surplus to benefit one another.

Prime Minister Fidel Castro emphasized the importance of attaining Latin
American unity over the short term and on the basis of fairer commercial
exchanges. "To reach unity and be something in the world," he said, "the
solidarity of peoples is fundamental."

He remarked that the present world is one of communities. The United
States, the PRC, and the USSR, are large communities, and for that reason
play a decisive role in world politics. Latin America must form another
community if it wants its weight to be felt, Castro pointed out.

He also said that Cuba has no interest in being part of the OAS. That
organization has been a failure, and consequently it has no reason for
existing. However, I am in favor of the political unity of Latin America,
and Cuba has supported that idea for a long time. We would be in agreement
with creating a political organization that would group all the nations of
the hemisphere and serve as a basis for converting Latin America into a
single bloc in the future.

"As you can see, there are no differences between us. Here we are talking,
and no difference would be evident were it not for the hair styles and
clothing. If you dress as Cubans there are no differences.

"At present, Latin American countries are suffering U.S. aggression
internally because of the foreign trade law. I feel that it hurts them and
makes them more conscious of the Cuban situation. We have suffered a
15-year blockade, which is worse than being discriminated against by
amendments. Nevertheless, this has all been useful.

"Countries in this part of the world are now more conscious of the problem,
and many are not so afraid of what Washington might say. You are patent
proof of this because I do not think that your visit to Cuba is well
thought of by North Americans."

The Cuban Government chief stressed that the fuel problem has seriously
affected the economy of Latin American countries, but that Cuba has
contracts with the USSR to obtain fuel... "and for many years has been
delivering it to us regularly."

"But now capitalism is facing its greatest crisis. For many years it has
dedicated itself to making money and financing a war like the one in
Vietnam. They created grave economic and social problems, and exported them
to the whole world. Inflation and recession are the consequences," Castro

"I personally believe that recession has caused panic in the United States.
The problem is really frightening them, but these are matters that cannot
be solved easily."

He said that traditionally inflation was the arm used to combat recession.
But now, if they use one or another arm to lessen their problems what they
do is increase them.

The fear of these problems has even led the United States to place the
world at the brink of war by threatening the Arab nations. "Fortunately,"
he said, "socialism exists as a counterbalance, and it is no longer easy to
unleash a war in those circumstances. I do not think the two previous warn
were a game but, in comparison with the one that could come, they were; it
would be complete annihilation.

"The world," Castro said, "will come to be socialist. It is the only way
out in the face of the very acute problems that exist today. I do not know
under what form or when, but that way out is imminent."

One-and-a-half hours with the Cuban prime minister and the conference was
almost over. He asked the journalists why they use electronic machines so
much. "Look how many recorders, microphones, and cameras there are.
Remember, electronics brought about the Watergate scandal."

He continued: "The Cuban revolution is consolidated. We have had 15 years
of blockade. We have recovered, and now we are in clear development with an
economy even more vigorous than that of many Latin American capitalist
countries. Cuba will now begin to receive the fruit of its sacrifice and

Dr Castro Ruz must go to Matanzas Province for a meeting with PZPR First
Secretary Edward Gierek, and he bids farewell to the deputies and newsmen.
Assembly President Alfonso Carro gave him a typical Costa Rican cart and
Castro accepted the gift with pleasure. Miss Maria Amalia of the Costa
Rican delegation asked for his cap and he gave it to her. After signing
autographs, he left. He went down in the hotel elevator to the basement
where a car was waiting to drive him to the airport for his trip to

Dr Castro left a good impression among the delegation and before leaving
the hotel he received stormy applause.