Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL010155 Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 0100 GMT 1 Oct 79 FL

[Dan Rather interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro "for the North
American public" on 30 September in Havana. Questions in English with
consecutive Spanish translation and answers in Spanish with consecutive
English translation--recorded]

[Text] [Question] Mr President, last Tuesday President Carter called you
and Cuba puppets of the Soviet Union, and last Friday you said that
President Carter was dishonest. Less than 2 years ago you said that
President Carter was an ethical man. Now what has happened in these recent
weeks to make your change your mind?

[Answer] I did give my impression that Carter had religious ethics,
christian ethics. I believe that, on this specific issue that we are
discussing, Carter has not been hones, Carter has been immoral, Carter has
not been sincere. That is what I am saying. I am not going to pass final
judgment on his person. I am referring to this specific issue. It is true
that Carter made some recent statements in which he called us puppets and
things of that nature. It is somewhat strange because he had not used that
language before concerning Cuba. Because of a basic sense of dignity, I am
not going to respond to that ridiculous charge. But I will ask a question:
If we are a satellite country, why is there so much attention being paid to
Cuba? It is obvious that, in the political field, the U.S. Government is
paying practically more attention to Cuba than to the Soviet Union. So
then, we are facing an unquestionably strange case of a satellite.

[Question] Mr. President, regardless of who is right and who is wrong, when
you describe a President of the United States as dishonest and the headline
reads: "Castro Says Carter Is a Liar...."

[Answer--interrupting] I did not want to use the word liar. I said

[Question] You said dishonest but the headline reads, "Castro Says Carter
Is a Liar."

[Answer] I did not want to use that word.

[Question] Dishonest? [no reply heard]

[Question] But regardless of who is right or wrong, when you describe a
President of the United States as dishonest, are you not contributing to
world tension by taunting Mr Carter in that way?

[Answer] I really do not have that intention nor do I wish to do it. But
how am I going to define the policy he has followed with regard to Cuba on
this issue? I have a concept of things and I at least follow a line of
political principles. We are facing a case in which a crisis has been
artificially created and dishonest procedures have been used. That is what
I say.

[Question] You say it has been artificially created?

[Answer] Yes.

[Question] President Carter's official spokesman said again, within the
past 24 hours, that this is not an artificial crisis. They say it is a real
problem, that there is something new in Cuba, a Soviet combat brigade.

[Answer] Precisely on that lies the falsehood. I am not going to argue and
I already said on Friday that I am not going to lower myself to give
explanations to the United States regarding the nature of our military
installations. Therefore, I will not even explain whether it is simply a
case of advisers or if these advisers can fight or not. That is not the
question because that is not the essential problem. We are a sovereign
country. The United States has no right over Cuba, no privilege, nor
jurisdiction over Cuba. Cuba is not the property of the United States.
Latin America is not the property of the United States. And we consider
ourselves to be a free country and we have the right to think as a free
country. If I were to lower myself to give an explanation as to the nature
of these military installations, I would be questioning the right of Cuba
to adopt the defensive measures it deems necessary.

Moreover, we are not less than Japan, we are not less than England, we are
no less than the Federal Republic of Germany, we are no less than Spain, we
are no less than any country that has considered itself to have the right
to have troops from another country for their defense. And, therefore, I do
not accept that this right of Cuba be questioned. And, therefore, I am not
willing to give explanations. The problem is a different one. It is really
a different one: Why has this crisis been created? What I say then is the
following: that Soviet military personnel which the U.S. Government calls a
brigade, and which we call Training Center No 12, is a military
installation that has been in Cuba for the past 17 years, 17 years, with a
similar number of personnel and with a similar nature. That installation
was established after the October crisis in accordance with the spirit [as
heard] of the October crisis and in accordance with the status quo created
at the October crisis. It is nothing new.

[Question] October, 1962?

[Answer] October, 1962. 17 years ago.

[Question] Has there been any change in the nature of the Soviet troops in
this country since that time?

[Answer] There has been no change either in the nature or function of
Soviet personnel in Cuba over the past 17 years. That is the key to the
issue. The existence of this installation was perfectly well known by
Kennedy. It was known by Johnson. It was known by Nixon. It was known by
Ford. And now Carter had to know about it. It is impossible that they were
not aware of this, an installation that has been in existence for 17 years
in a country where they have had hundreds of flights, where they have used
hundreds of espionage agents; in a country where the United States has used
all its electronic means to know what is happening. Whom are they going to
make believe after 17 years that they did not know the existence of this
installation? Whom are they going to make believe that? And that is why I
challenge Carter to explain to the U.S. people and the world public opinion
the truth and to say since when this alleged brigade has been in Cuba,
since when--whether it was established during Carter's administration,
whether it was established during Ford's administration in 1976, whether it
was established during Nixon's administration in 1970, whether it was
established during Johnson's administration in 1965, or whether or not it
has been here since October 1962. I believe that this is the key and on
this rests the deception of trying to make world and U.S. public opinion
believe that the Soviet Union and Cuba have taken new steps of a military
nature to create a problem and to create a crisis. That is the key.

[Question] I agree that is the key. And I can assure you I believe that
President Carter tomorrow night is going to say to the American people that
the nature of Soviet presence in Cuba has changed, that for the first time
to his knowledge there is a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba, not a training
unit but a combat brigade.

[Answer] Well, if President Carter says tomorrow that there has been a
change in the number or in the nature or in the function of Soviet military
personnel in Cuba since 1962, he will be telling a big lie to U.S. and
world public opinion, because I maintain that there has been no change in
the number, nature or function over the past 17 years.

[Question] Mr. President, we have only a limited amount of time and I want
to quickly move on. There are reports circulating in Washington tonight
about possible American military moves to strengthen U.S. forces in Key
West and Puerto Rico and even to send a contingent of U.S. Marines to the
Guantanamo Naval Base, as well as the possibility of sending a U.S.
aircraft carrier to the Caribbean which may be what President Carter will
announce tomorrow night. Now, do you have any intelligence information
indicating that this is true?

[Answer] I have the news that has appeared in the newspapers and cables. We
have not detected military moves with our means recently.

[Question] What is your reaction to that kind of attitude?

[Answer] I believe, first of all, that what the United States should do and
what Carter should do is not to create a crisis without any legal basis,
without any moral basis. I believe that what the U.S. Government should do
is not that, because it would mean moving toward conflict and moving toward
a crisis. I believe it would be much more constructive for Carter to
announce the opposite--the willingness of the U.S. Government to respect
Cuba's sovereign rights, to stop the economic blockade which includes
medicines and has been maintained for 10 years, and its willingness to
dismantle the Guantanamo base and withdraw it ships and troops from our
waters and from our national territory. Now then, we are not frightened by
any kind of reaction. We are not intimidated. We have been suffering from
this U.S. hostility for 20 years. And if soldiers are sent to Puerto Rico,
I do not think the Puerto Ricans would like that. If soldiers are going to
be sent to Key West, the tourists would not like it. Regarding sending
soldiers to Guantanamo, it is going to cost more money to U.S. taxpayers
and it will not affect us in the least since we will not let ourselves be
intimidated and we are not going to get nervous about it.

[Question] Mr. President, if President Carter should suggest a meeting with
you, are you willing to accept it?

[Answer] I will not propose it, but if he were to propose it I would have
no objection to having a contact with President Carter or whomever he names
if he deems appropriate. We would not reject it.

[Question] And the same thing would apply if Secretary of State Vance were
willing to meet with your foreign minister?

[Answer] We have no objection to that either. They have already met at
other times with Vance and with representatives.... [Rather interrupts]

[Question--interrupting] But not on this subject?

[Answer] No, not on this subject.

[Question] Mr. President, do you plan to go to the United Nations before
the end of this year?

[Answer] It is a possibility but no final decision has been made in this

[Question] Mr President, I want to make this very clear: Are you flatly
denying that there is not a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba?

[Answer] I do not deny that there are Soviet military personnel in our
country. I say that they are exactly the same military personnel and
organized in the same way as 17 years ago. That is what I am saying flatly
and categorically, and that you call these Soviet personnel or part of
these Soviet personnel a brigade and we call them a training center.

[Question] Mr President, how is the situation right now different from the
October crisis in 1962, if it is different?

[Answer] It is different in all ways. Firstly, in the crisis of 1962 there
was a real objective danger of nuclear conflict. And today there is nothing
like this. The October crisis was a real crisis. This is an invented
crisis. The October crisis could have been a tragedy; this is a comedy. Now
then, during the October crisis there were dozens of nuclear missiles in
Cuba, there more than 40,000 Soviet soldiers in Cuba, there were IL-28
bomber squadrons. At present, none of this exists. Therefore, when the
October crisis ended with an agreement between the USSR and the United
States, an agreement in which we did not participate and therefore with
which we do not feel committed, when that agreement was reached, when the
Soviets decided to withdraw all of those weapons in exchange of a guarantee
of a non-invasion of Cuba there was a different situation then than now.
Now these problems exist. When Kennedy arrived at those agreements with
Khrushchev he felt satisfied with the withdrawal of those weapons. Not that
he was right, not that he had the right. These are two different things. We
did not agree, but they were different problems. It was a real danger to
peace at that time. And Kennedy was satisfied. Kennedy was not concerned if
2-3,000 Soviet militarymen remained here. Do you see that they did not give
that any importance? So now I ask why does Carter revive this whole
problem, creating a crisis? Why has Carter set up this comedy over the fact
that there are 2-3,000 Soviet militarymen in Cuba? That is what I want him
to explain. Why? And if Kennedy did not do so, why has Carter done this?
How can he explain it, what are the reasons, what are the justifications?
He will not be able to convince the U.S. people that no U.S. President knew
about this. That is like admitting that the CIA does not exist there, that
is like admitting that the U.S. Government is absolutely uninformed on all
matters. So therefore there are two reasons for this problem. Firstly, the
attempt to sabotage the [nonalined] sixth summit. Secondly, the attempt to
improve Carter's image--the attempt to overcome the difficulties Carter has
for reelection. This is, in my judgement, the only explanation for why
Carter has created this artificial problem.

[Question] Mr. President, if you ask the Soviet troops to leave Cuba, all
Soviet troops to leave Cuba, would they leave?

[Answer] You speak of troops, I speak of Soviet military personnel. You
speak of brigades, I speak of training centers and I speak of military
installations. Clear? Well, with this cleared up, what is it that your are

[Question] If you ask all the Russians on this island to leave, whatever
you want to call them, military trainers, if you ask them to leave, would
they leave?

[Answer] Well, of course, it is unquestionable.

[Question] But there are so many people in the United States who question

[Answer] Why? Why? But why?

[Question] Well, for one thing, President Carter says that you are a Soviet

[Answer] And to prove this we have to ask the Soviets to withdraw? This
seems absurd to me. This is a totally absurd statement. We have no
intention of asking the Soviets to withdraw from Cuba. But it would be
absurd to think that if we told the Soviets to withdraw, the Soviets would
want to stay here in Cuba. That is absurd. That is not even conceivable.

[Question] Let me ask you a question that I believe is perhaps the most....

[Answer--interrupting] What I am sure of is that we have told the North
Americans to withdraw from Guantanamo and they do not withdraw. The only
one capable of remaining in the territory of another country against the
will of the people is the United States.

[Question] Let me ask you a question I believe is possible the most asked
question about Cuba in the United States. What is Fidel Castro doing in
Africa if he isn't just being a mercenary army of the Soviets?

[Answer] Mercenary armies never defend a just cause. And the causes which
we have defended throughout the world have been just causes. You can ask
the Africans, the Angolans, the Ethiopians, the fighters of Namibia,
Zimbabwe, ask all truly progressive, truly honorable countries. You can ask
the most prestigious governments of Africa and they can answer this

[Question] Are you doing the Soviets' work in Africa or your own?

[Answer] Do I have to answer that question? Twenty years ago we had
relations with the MPLA, the revolutionary movements in Africa. In what
manner can we work for someone else? In addition it seems repugnant to me
to have to lower myself to answer this. In addition, you have to believe me
that although I say it is our policy, we [that of] the peoples who we have
aided and aid, understand this and know this: The sixth summit and the
tremendous support which our country received at this sixth summit is the
best proof that the peoples know that Cuba has its own policy.

[Question] Separate from the Soviet Union?

[Answer] Sometimes we coincide. We do not always coincide, is that not so?

[Question] Can you think of a time when you have not coincided with the
Soviet policy?

[Answer] Why do we have to....why do we now have to....[changes his
thought] I gave an example. In the 1962 October crisis.

[Question] Another question--this being a quote from a newspaper. Quote,
the Soviets have assumed that the presence of their troops in Cuba will
discourage the United States from stopping any of Fidel Castro's military
adventures in this hemisphere.

[Answer] And what are Fidel Castro's adventures in Latin America?

[Question] Ah, a good point, Nicaragua.

[Answer] Nicaragua, and why is what happened in Nicaragua a Fidel Castro
adventure? A people was a United States adventure. It was the
United States which intervened with Nicaragua, who created the National
Guard, who set up Somoza, who maintained him for 40 years. It was a great
adventure of the United States and not of Cuba. It was not Cuba nor Cuban
soldiers who defeated the Nicaraguan Government, that is the Somoza
tyranny. It was the Sandinistas. It was the people of Nicaragua. And this
was even acknowledged by the United States. President Carter has just
received the representatives of the Nicaraguan Government junta.

[Question] Were you the principal arms supplier for the Nicaraguan fight?

[Answer] I am not going to....there is no proof of that. But I am not....I
have no intention of answering that question.

[Question] But when you asked are Fidel Castro's military adventures in the
Western Hemisphere referred to here [sentence as heard] El Salvador.

[Answer] I ask myself to what does this refer? It concerns us a little, we
think. What is happening in El Salvador? A corrupt government, a tyrannical
government, a genocidal government, a people which refuses to support that
regime. And why do they have to blame us for this?

[Question] Because you are training the people. You are supplying the arms
and money.

[Answer] I believe that those who have trained all these armies--the
Chilean Army which kills the people, the Uruguayan Army which has killed
thousands of Uruguayans, the Somoza army, the Salvadoran Army--the one who
has trained and supplied all of the genocidal governments of this
hemisphere is not Cuba, it is the United States. If we were to aid the
revolutionaries we would have the right to do so. But, nevertheless, I will
not state here that we are aiding the revolutionaries.

[Question] You won't declare....

[Answer]--interrupting] That is our affair. That is not a matter to be
discussed on television.

[Question] But you don't deny it?

[Answer] Neither affirm nor deny it. I proclaim it as a right.

[Question] As a right?

[Answer] As a right.

[Question] What about....

[Answer--interrupting] Something more, as a duty.

[Question] So many Americans, set aside the government, not President
Carter, not President Carter, nor Mr Brzezinski, but American people,
rank-and-file people, believe... many of them believe that Cuba is a
nuclear pistol pointed at their head.

[Answer] A nuclear pistol?

[Question] Pointed at their head.

[Answer] But I believe the North Americans are too intelligent to believe
such a thing. Who could make the United States believe such a thing? We do
not have nuclear weapons. This I stated on Friday. It is not because we do
not have the right. We do not renounce this right. We are willing to
renounce this right on the day that all countries of the world renounce
[the right] to have nuclear weapons. But the only country which could
supply us with nuclear weapons is the Soviet Union. And on this the Soviet
Union reached an agreement with the United States. Therefore, we do not
have any possibility whatsoever of having nuclear weapons.

[Question] But within the last week a United States senator, at least one,
and I think more than one, but at least one, Senator Helms of North
Carolina said that he had information that Soviet MIG-23's in Cuba have
been equipped with nuclear equipment. Are there any, any, any, are there
any Soviet nuclear weapons on this island?

[Answer] I will say the following--that I have already stated this. I said
that we do not have any. Of course, it is something which is known by
everyone. Regarding that senator, I believe that the best thing that his
voters can do is not to vote for him again because, simply stated, he is a
big liar.

[Question] Now you use the word liar.

[Answer] Yes.

[Question] In regard to him?

[Answer] Totally.

[Question] I will give you a chance to withdraw that.

[Answer] What?

[Question] Will you want to retract that?

[Answer] No, no, I am not thinking of retracting that.

[Question] Mr Brzezinski, as you know, is President Carter's National
Security Council adviser. Mr Brzezinski has said this weekend that the
problem of what he calls the Soviet combat brigade is a political problem
similar to that of the problem of the Berlin Wall. Now, is that true? For
the United States, he says it is the same kind of problem.

[Answer] I believe that Brzezinski says a lot of nonsense. I do not
understand what happens to U.S. Presidents. They always have a shady mind
behind them. Nixon had Kissinger, Ford has Kissinger. And when everybody
was expecting all these powers behind the throne to disappear--Kennedy, not
Kennedy--Carter selected Brzezinski. There is always a shady person behind
the U.S. throne, a person who is supposed to be very intelligent, very
wise. Now then, I actually believe that one of the most erratic and most
stupid people among the U.S. government advisors is Brzezinski. I believe
that he is precisely the person responsible for this situation. I say this
because in the United States, in the U.S. administration team, there are
realistic people. Now, Brzezinski is the one who has been setting the path
on this problem and other problems concerning Cuba and concerning world
peace. And I say that he is a dangerous man for peace.

[Question] Mr President, you have been very generous with your time. And
let me ask you one last question. Is there any question that I should have
asked that I did not ask you?

[Answer] There could have been many but I would not mention them now. I
want to ask a question. Would President Carter be willing to receive a
journalist from Cuban television for an interview so that there is an equal
situation and he could answer the questions of our journalist? In any case,
I thank you and U.S. television for this opportunity to address the people
of the United States. And, in the same way, if Carter so wishes we will
place all the television channels of our country at his disposal so that he
can say whatever he wants to the Cuban people.

[Question] First of all, I appreciate you kind of words to us. As you know,
I can't speak for President Carter. I can only say that I will assure you I
will inform him of your proposal. And thank you for your time, Mr.
President, thank you very much.


PA300050 Havana International Service in Spanish 0000 GMT 30 Sep 79 PA

[Text] The main U.S. television networks have broadcast the press
conference at which Fidel Castro, president of the Cuban Councils of
Ministers and of State, refused the U.S. charge that a Soviet combat
brigade is stationed in our country.

Fidel explained at the press conference that the alleged combat brigade is
really a training force, which has been stationed in Cuba for the past 17
years and which John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford
and James Carter himself all knew about.

Senator George McGovern also said on television, that, after examining the
pictures taken of that training center, he has determined that the troops
stationed there do not endanger U.S. security.

It has also been announced that U.S. President James Carter will speak
Monday on a national network. Among other things, he will discuss the issue
of the alleged presence of a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba.