Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA052340 Managua BARRICADA in Spanish 29 Jul 80 p 3

[Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro on the return flight to Cuba
from Nicaragua on 25 July]

[Text] BARRICADA: Commander Castro, we were deeply moved by the way in
which you referred to our country. On several occasions you said that the
Nicaraguan people were what most impressed you about the revolution and
about Nicaragua and you even compared us with the heroic Cuban people.
Commander, how are our people and the heroic Cuban people alike? What
traits impressed you the most?

Fidel Castro: Look, I will tell you this. First of all, I saw a very
affectionate people. That means a lot; it means that 20 years of campaigns
and slanders against Cuba on the part of imperialism have in m way helped
separate our two peoples. They have not deceived the Nicaraguan people.
They have not deceived them. They have not managed to separate our peoples.

In my opinion, the Nicaraguan people expressed profound sympathy for the
Cuban people and the Cuban revolution. I cannot reach any other conclusion.

The Nicaraguan people's affection impressed us greatly. But it was not only
that. I was able to appreciate this, as I have had some experience in this
because I have traveled to many places. I have some experience in
evaluating a people.

The Nicaraguan people are very intelligent. They impress one with their
intelligence; they impress one with their sensitivity; they impress one
with their education. I am talking about their capacity to be courteous. Of
course, they impress one with their bravery. It is enough to see the traces
of combat in every city to know that the people were practically unarmed,
to have an idea of this people's spirit and bravery. They are a very brave

In addition, the Nicaraguan people are very enthusiastic, very
conscientious, very political and very revolutionary. To this we might add
that they are a disciplined people, that they have an impressive
discipline. They showed this ever7where, at all the events. They are also a
very revolutionary people.

The same thing happens with us. We have forged a courageous nation, very
conscientious, with much revolutionary spirit. That is perhaps why I found
so much similarity between Nicaraguans and Cubans.

We have different features. You have more of the Indian than we do and we
have more of the African than you do. There are differences in our
features, but there is a tremendous similarity in the political and
revolutionary areas.

I would say they are two equally revolutionary peoples. It would be
difficult, I cannot say which is more revolutionary than the other, but I
will say that the Nicaraguan people are very revolutionary.

They are a very valuable people and people are the most important thing in
a revolution. This was shown during the war, when the people became the
decisive factor in the victory. That is my impression.

BARRICADA: Commander Castro, one of the most impressive things about your
19 July speech was your statement that the leader of the Cuban revolution
and his delegation had not arrived in Nicaragua to teach but to learn, to
be influenced by a revolution that will influence all of Latin America.
Could you expand on this? What are the teachings of revolutionary Nicaragua
and how is its influence over the Cuban revolution and the world manifested
Fidel Castro: I think the revolution has done an extraordinary job in its
first year, more than we did in our first year.

At the end of the war, Nicaragua was more destroyed than Cuba. In a way it
was more plundered than Cuba. We conducted our literacy campaign in the 3d
year of our revolution while Nicaragua has done this in the 1st year.

The Sandinist National Liberation Front [FSLN] and the mass organizations
have advanced more than we did in Cuba during the first year.

The army's organization has advanced a lot. i do not want to draw
comparisons with Cuba because we organized the army during the war. But
advance in the country's defense has been very great; very great in this
first year, notable.

Agriculture has advanced a lot in this first year and i think you will have
a good agricultural year, with very good harvests. I think you have also
achieved a collective leadership quicker than we did. It is a collective
leadership composed of very young companeros with great historical merits
within the revolution. They are very valuable companeros at the personal
level. They are very mature companeros.

I think it is a privilege for a revolutionary process to have a leading
team such as the Sandinist Front.

You also have a good government team, a magnificent government team,
comprising experienced and mature men. There is great unity within the
front and among the people and the relationship between the front and the
reconstruction government is magnificent. I think those are extraordinary
achievements. There is no selfishness; there are no divisions; there are no
personal ambitions and the cadres are entirely devoted to their work, which
they carry out efficiently. They are good political strategists and
tacticians. From the standpoint of the experience I said I had come to
learn, I have indeed learned a lot. First of all, because of my interest in
revolutionary political processes, my interest in history, my interest in
the future of the Latin American peoples. Therefore I greatly appreciate
the Nicaraguan revolution's contribution, which is a combination of popular
insurrection and armed guerrilla struggle. That is a contribution of the
Sandinist revolution.

I am interested in the wisdom of the Sandinist political project.

It is a very intelligent project. It is also a new project, Seeing it
implemented is a matter of great interest to me.

It is a new experience that will undoubtedly involve obstacles and
difficulties and will test your leadership's ability. Undoubtedly there
will be detractors, but I think that if everything takes place normally, it
will be successful. I am also very pleased to see these qualities in a
Latin people and it fills me with hope about the future of the peoples of
our America, of what Marti used to call our America, where we could include
the Caribbean.

But perhaps I have gone on to discuss other topics.

BARRICADA: The new society is being constructed in Cuba. In your opinion,
what are the main characteristics of the new Cuban man and which are the
old values that are being fought today?

Fidel Castro: Look, we are proud of our people, I can talk to you about the
Cuban people with the same affection I have talked about Nicaraguans. I
think Cubans are an extraordinary people.

I can give you an example:

When we asked for teachers to teach in Nicaragua, in the most distant
corners of Nicaragua, under very harsh conditions, experienced teachers
with several years of experience, 29,500 of them offered to come...That is
the new man.

At the time of the internationalist missions to Angola and Ethiopia,
hundreds of thousands of combatants offered to go...That is the new man.

Tens of thousands of Cubans are participating in internationalist missions
abroad and are working under harsh conditions, far from their families. And
yet they strive hard to give their all...That is the new man.

Our entire people have fought for 20 years against imperialism, Actually 21
years. They have withstood a fierce blockade with great discipline, with
great unselfishness, with a great spirit of work and sacrifice...That is
the new man.

Our people are willing to die--men, women, old people and children--to
defend the revolution conscientiously...That is the new man: A man who can
feel internationalism, that is, solidarity toward other peoples. A man who
can feel solidarity toward his own brothers.

A generous man, capable of sacrificing for others...That is the new man.

That is the fruit of the revolution among our people.

BARRICADA: Commander Castro, how did you feel this 26 July after spending
19 July in Nicaragua?

Fidel Castro: It makes me feel that we are brothers in history.

BARRICADA: Another question on Nicaragua: What is the view of the commander
of the Cuban revolution on the Nicaraguan people's vanguard and leaders?
You have always said that you are an old friend of the Sandinists. What
does it mean to you that the FSLN has now overthrown the dictatorship and
seized power for the Nicaraguan people?

Fidel Castro: The revolution was conceived, organized and directed by the
Sandinist Front over a period of 20 years.

We have been close to the Sandinists for 20 years, just as Somoza was a
sworn enemy of our revolution for 20 years.

The Sandinists were brothers, friends and companeros for 20 years. Nobody
appointed the Sandinists as leaders, nobody can declare himself a leader.
The vanguard is forged in the struggle itself. I do not believe anybody can
argue the Sandinists role as leaders.

But in addition, they are leaders in ideology and revolutionary thought.

BARRICADA: Could you elaborate on this? Could it be said that the
Sandinists are a vanguard at the Latin American level?

Fidel Castro: No, I could not say it like that. I believe that the vanguard
is made up of all revolutionaries at the Latin American level: the
Sandinists and the Cuban revolutionaries.

And there are other Latin American leaders. I believe each nation has its
own vanguard, and if one refers to Nicaragua and Cuba we could say that
they are Latin American examples but not exactly Latin American vanguards.

Even though we are on the frontline in the struggle against imperialism.
However, there are other peoples in Latin America, many parties and
organizations which have a leadership position.

BARRICADA: Commander Castro, the unleashing of several revolutionary
victories throughout the world in the 1970's, the world s economic crisis
as well as the development of the movement of the nonaligned countries and
the strengthening of the socialist sphere seem to indicate that imperialism
is losing its hegemony at the international level. How do you view this
situation? What would be the specific signs of this loss in the hegemony of
imperialism in the present world and especially its effect in the case of
the Nicaraguan revolution?

Fidel Castro: Imperialism has lost hegemony but it is still dangerous; we
cannot underestimate it.

However, it is precisely this group of factors, economic crisis, the
activity of the revolutionary movement and the awakening of the Third
World, which irritates them, drives them to despair and may lead them to
probable military adventures and arms races that are serious war dangers to
the world.

BARRICADA: In view of the latter, how do you see the situation in El
Salvador and Bolivia within the Latin American context, and what should be
the role of the democratic peoples and governments in the world in regard
to solidarity with those nations?

Fidel Castro: These are two cases which reflect what we were mentioning
before: the activity of the democratic, progressive and revolutionary
movement in our he hemisphere. It is becoming increasingly evident that the
people are determined to struggle and the example of Nicaragua and Cuba is
an incentive in this regard.

The Salvadoran people are one of the most heroic in the hemisphere. They
are one of the most courageous and militant people. Their fighting ability
is impressive. There is no doubt that the Sandinist victory has played an
important role, with its experience and victory, in the revolutionary
struggle in El Salvador.

However, the Salvadorans have struggled like the Sandinists for many years.
They have put up with cruel tyrannies for a long time and have confronted

Countless lives have been sacrificed. The Salvadoran revolutionary movement
has acquired great strength fighting against the genocidal government which
we could describe as fascist and Christian Democratic.

A fascist and Christian Democratic junta is how the regime can be

True genocide is being committed in El Salvador. There are 50 killed every
day, That government is worse than the Somozist tyranny and it is a true
shame that certain Latin American governments and the United States support
this junta--this fascist and Christian Democratic junta which is how it
should be called. I am fully convinced that nothing can stop the
revolutionary struggle of the Salvadoran people, not even Yankee
intervention. Yankee intervention could delay the hour of victory, but it
could not prevent the final victory of the Salvadoran people.

Just like Yankee intervention could not stop the Somozist tyranny and the
final victory of the Nicaraguan people. In addition, the Salvadoran
organizations are united and this guarantees victory. The people are united
and it is the essential factor for victory.

I did not want to discuss this in Nicaragua because I believe it was my
duty not to introduce controversial topics there involving countries with
which Nicaragua maintains relations, but now that we are here on our way to
Cuba, on this plane, and talking with you, I can speak openly about this.

Reactionary and fascist militarism has again emerged in Bolivia to
frustrate the people's struggle. This is one of the greatest crimes that
can be committed against the democratic and progressive movement. This has
been a brutal action against the will of a people. The fascist coup in
Bolivia is the result of the desperation of the reactionaries.

I am absolutely sure this situation will not last very long. The Bolivian
people have a tradition of struggle. They are a fighting and brave people.
This fascist coup has no future.

It is most important to support El Salvador and Bolivia and also the
Chilean, Paraguayan, Uruguayan and Guatemalan people. We cannot forget the
great importance that international solidarity had in the victory of the
Nicaraguan people. It is our duty to raise this to the highest degree.

BARRICADA: Do you think revolutionary changes in Latin America and the
strengthening of anti-interventionist sectors in various governments of the
continent could somehow influence the nature of the CAS and its role in
Latin America?

Fidel Castro: You know I am not a friend of the OAS. You know that the OAS,
as an instrument of imperialism, adopted criminal and traitorous positions
against Cuba.

However, the OAS, like any other institution, can reflect, at a given
moment, changes in the correlation of forces in the hemisphere.

There is no doubt that when the case of Nicaragua was discussed at the OAS,
the OAS resolution was positive.

We are the first to admit that. At a critical moment when there were Yankee
plans for intervention, when there were plans to create a peace force to
intervene in Nicaragua to prevent the sandinist victory, the OAS played a
positive role.

We applaud that role because we have to be honest: Nothing would make us
happier than to see the OAS play a similar anti-interventionist role
regarding El Salvador and to see it support the Bolivian people. I think
the growing number of countries with democratic and progressive positions
in the OAS could exert an influence that would be very different from the
negative and gloomy influence of the OAS toward the Cuban revolution. The
OAS could play a very different role than it played with regard to the
Cuban revolution.

BARRICADA: We would like to hear the commander in chief of the Cuban
revolution give us his opinion and that of the Cuban people regarding the
events that took place at the Peruvian Embassy and the situation that
followed those events.

Fidel Castro: our country has struggled for 21 years against imperialist
maneuvers and aggressions, especially the blockade.

At the beginning of the revolution, the United States encouraged
immigration by all possible means. I will give you an example: It took
3,000 of the 6,000 doctors we had.

The United States waged a big campaign to leave us Without doctors,
professors, teachers, engineers, technicians, but it failed. Now we have
15,000 doctors. There is a doctor for every 750 citizens.

This is the highest level in Latin America. A great many of those who left
have relatives in Cuba. There are different kinds of people.

There are people who have relatives in the United States and want to
emigrate to that country. The United States would not give them visas.

As a result of this, some desperate people tried to break into embassies.
This is a mechanism that has developed with the cooperation of some
governments that do not issue visas but protect those who break into
embassies. This is the explanation.

These are not political dissidents. In some cases they are people who want
to join their relatives in the United States and in many other cases they
are simply lumpen. We do have lumpen. We inherited them from the capitalist
system. We also have lumpen created within the revolution, because we are
still an underdeveloped country and socioeconomic conditions in an
underdeveloped country tend to form lumpen. We have not been able to
overcome this situation completely.

We are the country with the fewest criminals in Latin America. But in spite
of this, we have criminals. Gambling is for our country. Prostitution is
forbidden. Drug use is forbidden. In our country we use a strong hand on
common criminals.

But since in the United States anyone who flees from the revolution is a
hero, and here we use a hard hand on the lumpen, U. S. policy has
encouraged the lumpen to immigrate. This is why we removed the guards from
the Peruvian Embassy when a guard was killed at the gate. We did not want
to guard an embassy whose representatives did nothing to prevent the entry
by force of these lumpen into the embassy. Many of these were common
criminals as well as a number of persons who have relatives in the United
States and could not leave legally because they could not get a visa. These
persons broke into the Peruvian Embassy.

These are the roots. Naturally it became a boomerang which turned against
those who promoted these actions.

The United States is the most to blame because no one wants to go to Peru,
Colombia, Haiti or Santo Domingo. They want to go to the United States--the
paradise of drug addiction, prostitution, gambling and crime. The United
States is also a consumer's paradise.

The United States is the most to blame because it encouraged illegal exits
from the country and this is why the whole situation turned against them.
Cuba benefited greatly from the departure of these persons. The boats came
from the United States. The Cuban community in the United States sent boats
to pick up their relatives and friends. We authorized all those who wanted
to leave to go. I think it was the greatest cleanup in history.