Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA161855 Bogota Emisoras CARACOL Network in Spanish 1609 GMT 16 Jan 83

["Personality of the Week" program, with report on interview with Cuban
President Fidel Castro Ruz by reporters from the CARACOL Network during a
visit to Havana made by former Colombian President Alfanso Lopez Michelsen
on the weekend of 8 and 9 January]

[Text] Cuban President Fidel Castro has warned that a third world war is a
more imminent threat than people believe and called for all men to work to
avoid it and ensure the survival of mankind, because in the Cuban leader's
opinion, a third world war would be the last.

President Castro spoke with CARACOL in Havana for the second time in a
month. On this occasion, there were two kinds of dialogue with journalists
Margarita Vidal, Amparo Perez, Javier Ayala and Yamid Amat. The first
portion, with television cameras and CARACOL recorders in use, dealt mainly
with the Central American crisis and the relations that have existed
between Colombia and Cuba and those that could exist in the future. The
second portion was an informal dialogue between the journalists and the
Cuban leader that lasted 3 hours. We will now present to you the recorded
portion, and later we will tell you about the later comments made by the
Cuban president.

[Begin recording] [Question and answer indistinct]

[Question] About the messages which the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize
sent to several Latin American presidents to seek mediation to achieve
peace in Central America.

[Answer] You told me about this today, because Gabo [Gabriel Garcia
Marquez] had not told me anything. You told me that messages were sent to
the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia. [words indistinct] very general, in Latin America [words indistinct] a negotiated
political solution. The United States has been systematically opposed.
[words indistinct]

[Question] About the achievement of peace, Mr President.

[Answer] I hope it will be soon, but (?it depends on) whether the United
States will have enough capacity for reflection to place itself on the side
of a political solution and not on the side of a military solution. It
depends on that. One would have to ask Reagan.

[Question] Men like you, like Gabriel Garcia, like Alfonso Lopez [words
indistinct] situation of Latin American unity. Can one expect a solution to
the general crisis on the Latin American Continent?

[Answer] [Words indistinct] to resolve what so many illustrious men have
been unable to resolve for such a long time. We are men of good will.
[words indistinct] we are many and at the same time, we are few. [Words
indistinct] [laughter] system of unequal trade, for example, [words
indistinct] to the very high interest that we have to pay on our foreign
debt. [Words indistinct]

[Indistinct question about the Canal Zone]

[Answer] [Words indistinct] there are areas even more difficult than the
recognition of sovereignty over the Panama Canal.

[Question] You were saying that the status of peace [words indistinct]. Do
you not believe that it is also partly Russia's and that the two
superpowers (?share) responsibility?

[Answer] I want to ask a question. What does the USSR have to do with
Central America? Where did that theory come from? Is it a Yankee theory?

I recently spoke here, on 11 September, with the Territorial Militia and I
said that the Soviets do not even know the Sandinist leaders. They did not
then and do not now know the Guatemalan leaders. They do not know the
Salvadoran leaders, with the exception of the communist party secretary.
Why then should we accept the theory that what is happening in Central
America is a conflict between the Eastern and Western blocs? It is an
invented tale and (?no one) knows it better than we do, because we know the
revolutionaries, we know the Soviets and we know everyone.

[Question] Well, but the USSR has connections with Cuba and Cuba has links
with Central America.

[Answer] The USSR has connections with Cuba and we are very happy about
that. We have very good economic, commercial and political relations. But
the Soviets are in no way responsible for what we do. Why blame them? When
we staged our revolution, what did the Soviets have to do with it? When we
attacked the Moncada Garrison, when we launched the Granma, what did they
have to do with it? The Soviets did not know me nor did I know them.

[Question] But you do know each other now?

[Answer] Well, that is the same case in Central America. Exactly the same
thing is happening in Central America. Just as the Cuban revolution
occurred, so did the Central American revolution.

[Question] Are the revolutions being exported?

[Answer] I wish we could export revolution, because it would solve our
foreign exchange problems. [laughter] The thing is that revolution is not
an exportable commodity. It is crazy to talk about such things. It is
crazy. That depends upon both objective and subjective factors. One would
be crazy to believe that a revolution could be exported.

[Question] How important or decisive for a peaceful solution in Central
America could the participation of a man like the president of Cuba be?

[Answer] You ask these questions with foreknowledge of the answers. I am
going to tell you something so as not to commit an error. It does not
depend on either him or on me. It depends on the Salvadoran blocs. It
depends on the Salvadoran revolutionary blocs. I think they (?make their
own) decisions. You can think that we direct, govern, guide the Salvadoran
revolutionaries. That is another error. We know them, we respect them. We
are friends with them. We know how they think and I know that they are
well-disposed toward a political formula. But what happens in this case?
Some interpret this as weakness, and this can be a big mistake. Let me tell
you that if they were weak, they would have been crushed. If they were
weak, the United States would never agree to negotiate. It would prefer to
exteminate them. (?Perhaps) the United States will negotiate, for one
reason, because they are strong.

Now, it is not up to us. We can contribute with ideas, opinions. We can
exert influence in a [word indistinct] sense. We agree with them about a
political solution, to avoid greater conflict.

Of course, this does not depend on us, but it is very important, of course,
to realize [words indistinct] their guidelines, their policy, and in the
long run, what can one do? I can guarantee to you, if you wish, that they
are honestly willing to seek a political solution.

[Question] What should the United States do to demonstrate that it also
wants peace? The first thing that it should do.

[Answer] They have had a great experience in Vietnam on how to retreat.
[laughter] I think they must first persuade themselves that they are losing
the war; that they are losing their hand. Their interventionist policy is
being defeated. I think this is the first thing about which they should
persuade themselves. I think that a political solution would benefit them;
I think it would benefit everyone, but it would also benefit them. I think
that Central America, the Caribbean, all of us, the entire world, would
win. I think that anywhere in the world where there is an area of conflict,
any solution to a regional conflict benefits the entire world, as for
example, if a solution could be found in South Africa or the Middle East.
All this would gradually reduce the conflict areas in the world. So,
although regional, this conflict has global influence.

Now, I think that it is not only the U.S. administration, as there are many
thinking people in the United States. In the United States, it is not only
the president who governs; Congress does, too. And it is a known fact that
Reagan has met much opposition in Congress in connection with Central

It has been learned that there is an full-blown CIA plot to destabilize and
overthrow the Nicaraguan Government. The U.S. press has denounced this; the
press denounced this in (Los Angeles) and THE NEW YORK TIMES has also
denounced it. The situation has been different than that with the Bay of
Pigs invasion. When THE NEW YORK TIMES and the rest of the U.S. papers
learned that an invasion was going to be launched, the authorities talked
to their representatives and told them that in the name of national
security they should not report this, and the papers didn't. For a long
time after this, THE NEW YORK TIMES regretted it, because it felt that it
could have served its country better if it had disclosed this information.
This time, however, they have not allowed themselves to be pressured. This
time they denounced the plot against Nicaragua from Honduras and I think
this carried some weight.

The U.S. Congress does not favor these covert actions and plans against
Nicaragua. The U.S. Congress is even demanding evidence of an improved
human rights situation in El Salvador in order to continue providing
military aid to this country. These are congressional demands. What happens
is that even though absolutely nothing has improved -- unless one regards
the fact that instead of 100 people, 99 or 98 are now getting killed every
day -- the administration (?may feel) this justifies the continuation of
aid. However, there is some resistance to this policy of the
administration. This resistance comes from the U.S. press, from the U.S.
Congress. I think all this contributes to the search for peace. Neither
individual figures nor individual governments can solve this. This calls
for an effort by many people, by many governments, by many personalities
and even by the U.S. Congress. In addition to this, the U.S. Administration
must persuade itself that the only correct path is the search for a
political solution, rather than the imposition of a military victory.

[Question] Mr President, how could the good will of men like President
Betancur, President de la Madrid, former President Lopez, Gabriel Garcia
Marquez, and you yourself become concrete?

[Answer] Among other things, by doing what we are doing right now, that is,
by expressing our opinions along with our willingness to support any course
leading to a peaceful political solution. That is one of the ways.

Many people are interested. For instance, the Brazilian leaders are
interested, as are the Venezuelan, Colombian, Mexican, Spanish, French,
Swedish and Greek leaders and those of many other countries. Many people
are interested.

Now, how can all this become concrete? I can say that there are many
initiatives. One of them was the letter that the Nobel Prize winners wrote
to the presidents of three very important and influential countries in the
area. The willingness to work in this direction helps a lot.

Then there are also the Panamanians. We must not forget them. The
Panamanians are very interested in a political solution to the conflict
since they are worried that due to this tense situation, the Americans
might not fulfill the canal agreements. [Words indistinct] concern. So they
are interested in a political solution for Central America, many of us are.

Well, it's not that this problem has a magical, marvelous solution by which
it can be solved overnight. I think that everyone's willingness to work in
this direction and to create a favorable opinion toward this, along with
having the participation of U.S. public opinion, and working with
perseverance, can all help achieve a solution. Now, a formula, well, I
can't give you a specific formula right now, because I don't have one.

[Question] How important is the fact that Colombia has joined Mexico and
Venezuela in connection with the peace initiative for Central America? In
the past, (?it was not taken into account).

[Answer] Well, its importance derives from the fact that in the past it was
(?not taken into account). [laughter] [Words indistinct]

[Question indistinct about the resumption of relations]

[Answer] We should not deal with this issue hastily. We must remain calm to
(?see) how everything evolves so that this development can take place
naturally. Relations were very honorably resumed during President Lopez
Michelsen's administration. I, who don't go around telling lies -- I never
tell lies, as a matter of principle -- will now say that we maintained a
faultless conduct for as long as Colombia behaved faultlessly toward us.
Different times followed, which I don't want to discuss here now -- we
should not discuss anything on this occasion -- but the faultless conduct
ceased to be, as did our obligations toward what we might describe as a
faultless conduct.

[Question] Which side ceased to behave faultlessly?

[Answer] Well, I don't want to discuss that now, on this occasion marked by
decorations and [word indistinct]. Why bring the seed of discord here, why
attack anyone, [words indistinct]? No, I don't want to do that. But I'll
tell you that our relations were very honorable for us. They were very good
in every sense. Colombia conducted herself faultlessly under President
Lopez Michelsen and Cuba did the same. That is the historical truth. Things
changed later, but we were not the ones who broke the rules of our
bilateral relations.

[Question] Once former President Lopez returns to Colombia, there will be
great expectation over what he may disclose regarding his talks with you.

Do you think that this expectation will really be based on the topics that
you may discuss or on the exchange of ideas that you may have? In other
words, will there be... [Someone interrupts] [words indistinct]

[Answer] Who creates these expectations? Among others, you journalists
create expectations. You don't realize that we are all modest human beings
with good intentions but with limited chances to solve problems.

[Question indistinct]

[Answer] I think that there is another type of expectation: the expectation
which characterizes the relations between two peoples, the relations
between two countries, but between two fraternal countries [words
indistinct]. Lopez Michelsen's visit is very symbolic for me. I ascribe
great importance to it, first because of our gratitude to him for his
policy toward our country, which was a friendly policy. I am not receiving
him warmly because of any vested interest, but because I think that he
deserves it, that he has won our respect and recognition. I don't usually
do things because of any vested interest. (?I am no) politician chasing
after certain interests. I think that good things derive from good deeds.
You cannot do a good deed because you are after a good goal. One should
always try to do good as a matter of principle. After you behave well
following principles, you become known for your conduct.

[Question indistinct]

[Answer] I am looking forward to meeting him. I will gain experience from
him. He has more experience than I have. He has been in politics longer. He
is a bit older than I but he is in better health. Now, when you get the
opportunity, talk to a president of Colombia, and he was president. He has
vast experience, and one has to learn. Who could say that he is better
informed about Central and Latin American economics? I am informed about
these matters, but he has been in closer contact with those realities than
I. I know a lot about Cuba, but I believe he is very well informed about
Latin America's economic problems. This exchange of opinions and
information will be very englightening for me. I am very interested in
expanding my knowledge. When I talk with Gabo [writer Gabriel Garcia
Marquez] he knows a lot about literature but he does not know much about
economics. [laughter]

[Question] And how about politics?

[Answer] Gabo knows about politics.

[Question] Has Gabo every given you political advice?

[Answer] Yes, but he tries not to give advice so as not to be in the
embarrassing position of seeming to be an adviser. However, if he gives me
political advice, I listen to him and pay strict attention to him, because
be really has great political talent, though not economic talent.
[laughter] If you ask him what Colombia's economic budget is he would not
know. If you ask him: Gabo, what is Columbia's budget deficit, he would not
know. What is the foreign currency situation in Colombia, he would not

[Question indistinct]

[Answer] I cannot advise anyone to get involved in politics.

[Question] Why wouldn't you advise anyone to get involved in politics?

[Answer] I would not advise anyone not to get involved in politics, but why
should I advise someone to do so when politics is one of the most bitter
experiences; it is one of the most difficult and complex experiences. I
believe that it is worthwhile to sacrifice everything for politics if a
problem could be solved by doing it. Often problems are beyond [words

[Question indistinct]

[Answer] I believe that you must have a propensity for politics in order to
get involved [words indistinct] propensity, conviction and determination,
and I have none of the three. [end recording]

After we recorded this interview, President Castro spoke to the CARACOL
reporters without any radio or television recording equipment. We spoke for
more than four hours and he referred to many of the most pressing problems
regarding past relations between Colombia and Cuba as well as the Cuban
Government's opinion on the many Latin American conflicts.

When CARACOL asked Castro about his attitude toward the guerrilla movements
in Latin America, he said, and everyone heard him, that he has previously
said that he has helped, is helping and will continue to help the
revolutionary movements of America from the ideological standpoint. Later,
being more specific, we asked President Castro if there is any type of
Cuban participation in the (Rio Nira) landing made by the April 19
Movement, M-19. He said that he can state that the guerrillas who landed
had received some training in Cuba, but that they were absolutely not
provided with weapons and it is also untrue as was stated at the time, that
the expedition had departed from Cuba. He said he did not know their point
of departure. He said: I do not know where they got their weapons, but it
was not in Cuba. The expedition did not leave from Cuba nor did it get any
weapons from Cuba. It is true that they got some training in Cuba. The
president gave no further details in this respect.

He was asked about political prisoners, about what happened to Huber Matos
and Balladares. He said that for a long time Balladares pretended to be
paralytic and that Cuban authorities confirmed that he suffers
hallucinations. President Castro said that a few days before he started
what was to be the final campaign before the Cuban revolution's definitive
victory, he began to have doubts about Matos. He even recounted anecdotes
like the loss of a machinegun which was later found in Matos' possession.

He did not give a very specific answer about the political prisoners,
although in reference to persons under arrest, he said that people have
been jailed for their participation in drug trafficking. He said there are
Colombian and U.S. prisoners as well as Cuban sailors. There are some
prisoners from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and the United States in jail.
President Castro said that despite the campaign to the contrary, Cuba is
the great gendarme against the drug traffic in the Caribbean.

He also spoke of his relations with the church in Cuba. He criticized some
communities but greatly praised what the nuns are doing to help some of the
Cuban people.

After statements by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Gabriel Garcia
Marquez; Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, president of the Colombian Liberal Party;
and President Fidel Castro there was a dinner in honor of the Colombian
delegation visiting the island accompanying the Colombian writer.

During the dinner, President Castro agreed to talk with CARACOL reporters.
Margarita Vidal, Amparo Perez, Javier Ayala and Yamid Amat were present.

Among other things, Castro gave his opinion regarding a third world war. He
said that this threat is much more real than most people believe. He called
on all world leaders to contribute their efforts to guaranteeing peace. He
said in a premonitory tone that a new war would be the last, because he was
sure that any nuclear confrontation between the superpowers would be the
end of the world.

President Castro also gave his opinion on the new Soviet leader Yuriy
Andropov. He said that Andropov is a level-headed, conciliatory man; that
he is a man who is fully aware of the need for peace in the world, who
adopts rigid positions and harsh behavior when that is the only alternative
left to the Soviets, but that he takes a conciliatory and negotiating
position when world peace is at stake. Castro gave a flattering opinion of
the man who is ruling the destiny of the USSR following the death of Leonid

President Castro spoke about drugs. Cuba has been accused of being a
channel for the exporting of drugs from the American Continent to the
United States. Referring to the subject, President Fidel Castro said that
Cuba has served as a kind of gendarme regarding the drug traffic in the
Caribbean. He explained that, among other things, Cuba has the boring job
of somethings being a watchman over some ships that pass carrying marihuana
or sometimes cocaine to the U.S. market. He said clearly that the main
culprit in the drug traffic is the United States, because that is where the
consumer market is and consumption is not being combatted there in an
adequate manner. Therefore, it is not the growers on Colombia's Atlantic
coast who are fully responsible for the marihuana traffic. The U.S.
Government is not making an effort to control the arrival of the marihuana
and the distribution of the drugs on the U.S. market.

On that subject, President Castro remarked that, given the circumstances
that are known regarding U.S.-Cuban relations, the attitude that the island
would be expected to take would be to fold its arms regarding the export of
drugs from the continent to the United States and to do nothing to prevent
ships from passing through Cuban territorial waters. However, Castro said,
not only have we not done this; on the contrary, we have become a kind of
gendarme in the Caribbean. He spoke of a number of persons who are still in
jail in Cuba: Colombians, Bolivians, Peruvians and U.S. citizens, who were
arrested for engaging in drug trafficking.

On the subject of the penalties for such activity, President Castro said
that in the case of U.S. citizens, they are released after the intervention
of some U.S. senators. He explained that senators make requests for the
release of these people who have been arrested, and Cuba accedes to the
requests and release them. Regarding Colombians, he recalled that Gabriel
Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has repeatedly
interceded with the Cuban Government to obtain the release of sailors or
other Colombian citizens who have been arrested and taken to Cuban jails
for drug trafficking. In such cases, according to the Cuban president, the
Colombians were crew members of a ship that was transporting marihuana and
were not the real traffickers, but rather were humble and modest seamen who
were hired for such activity; aside from their participation in the trip
itself, they are not linked to the drug trafficking itself.

President Castro also spoke with CARACOL reporters about one of his
favorite hobbies: underwater fishing. He answered some of the journalist's
questions on this subject, especially questions about what a shark attack
is like, for example. Most of us believe that a shark attacks when it is
hungry or when it smells or sees blood, but this is completely wrong in
President Castro's opinion. He says that a shark attacks a man or a fish
when they flee. However, in the case of a confrontation between a shark and
a man, if the man stands his ground, the shark will flee. It is a different
matter when the shark is part of a group; then an attack is inevitable.
Nevertheless, President Castro was very specific, because he had
experienced this, in saying that when a man stands his ground before a
shark, the shark is sure to flee.

In his remarks on the behavior of sharks, President Castro was clearly
alluding, although he did not say so, to Cuba's role in relations to the
United States. Referring exclusively to sharks, Castro said that his policy
is one of peaceful coexistence.

In his talk with the CARACOL journalists, President Castro emphasized the
case of the Malvinas. After referring to the so-called war of the South
Atlantic he said that the episode caused Latin America to realize where its
true links lie in the present world situation. He said that the Malvinas
crisis demonstrated what side the United States was on and brought about
the unity of the Latin American countries with regard to a case in which
there was a veritable confrontation between Latin America and an
extra-continental power. President Castro considers the Malvinas something
of a new point of reference for Latin American unity.

Another topic which president Castro emphasized was the energy crisis that
in recent years has had a very special effect on countries like Cuba. He
reported that Cuba is currently importing 11 million U.S. tons of
hydrocarbons. This is a statistic that he often uses. He says that these
imports come primarily from the USSR and that they are necessary to
confront the problem of electrical energy. He said that modern solutions
are now being sought in Cuba. He told CARACOL's special correspondents that
a nuclear plant is already under construction in Cuba. This plant will make
it possible to supply enough electricity to all of Cuba.

In his regard, Castro said that Cuba has no large rivers or dams and has
therefore been unable to carry out large-scale hydroelectric projects as
other Latin American nations have done. Therefore, its only option at
present is a large nuclear plant that is already under construction and
will be in operation in late 1984.

The Cuban president was also asked about the Soviet subsidy to Cuban sugar.
He emphatically rejected the reporter's use of the word subsidy. He said:
What subsidy? What does one mean by saying subsidy? You all know what has
happened in trade with the poor nations, the developing countries.
Developing countries like Colombia have always asked for a fair price:
remunerative compensation for their basic exports. The struggle waged by
developing countries like Cuba, Colombia, and all Latin America, like
Africa, has been for the industrialized countries to give them a fair price
for their basic exports, which is what Cuba has obtained from the USSR.
Here he revealed that Moscow pays the USSR [as heard] four times the
present international price for its sugar. What has happened, President
Castro said, is that we have achieved a victory, a victory for the
developing countries. We have gotten the USSR to take an affirmative
position toward our struggle: recognition of the fair price of our exports.
That is an American victory: recognition of what the developing countries
feel should be paid for their basic products.

President Castro repeatedly rejected the use of the word subsidy and said,
it is as if it were said that Saudi Arabia receives a subsidy from the
United States because of its oil prices.

President Castro spoke with the CARACOL journalists about his opinion of
the church. He believes that Pope John Paul II is a reactionary man. His
opinion of the clergy is very negative. Yet, he had high praise for the
nuns of any community, so much so that he said things like the following:
What do the nuns who care for the sick do? What do those in a leprosarium
do as they attend to dying people? What about the ones who educate
children? What about the nuns of charity?

What about the nuns who help the poor? This, in President Castro's words,
is undoubtedly Marxism: to help the sick, to help the children, the poor;
to eliminate poverty and misery. That is why, President Castro said, I
believe that all the nuns are Marxists. Of course he was laughing as he
said this, but the CARACOL reporters noted his favorable opinion of the
nuns' function, not only in Cuba, where the orders are active and where
they also have the assistance of the state, but all over the world.

In reference to his neighbor, the United States, the president said that
the reelection of President Reagan will depend exclusively on the situation
of the U.S. economy. If the measures that Reagan has taken to halt
inflation, lower the cost of living as well as to lower the cost of money
and defend interest rates are successful, then President Castro feels that
the reelection of the current U.S. President may be expected. If, on the
other hand, the ongoing measures are not successful, it is President
Castro's opinion that the Democratic candidate will almost certainly win.
Castro particularly favors the candidacy of John Glenn, the first U.S.
astronaut to orbit the earth. President Castro said that if Edward Kennedy
had continued to be a candidate for the presidency or had at least sought
the Democratic Party's nomination, he would undoubtedly have been the next
president of the United States.

Speaking of the Kennedys, he referred favorably to John Kennedy, saying
things such as: President Kennedy ordered me killed, but I do not hesitate
to say that he was a brilliant man who, in order to confront the
consequences of the Cuban revolution, created the Alliance for Progress and
allocated $20 billion for it, which contrasts favorably to the $180 million
that the present administration has allocated to the Caribbean recovery
plan. Regarding the Caribbean plan, President Castro said repeatedly that
it is not an economic, but a political plan which is particularly directed
toward two or three Central American nations. He specifically cited El

Similarly, Castro referred to former U.S. President Carter, of whom he does
not have the especially favorable opinion that he has of the late President
John Kennedy. However, he said that ethically, Carter managed some U.S.
problems very well.