Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

-DATE-
19830803
-YEAR-
1983
-DOCUMENT_TYPE-
INTERVIEW
-AUTHOR-
F. CASTRO
-HEADLINE-
28 JULY NEWS CONFERENCE WITH U.S. NEWSMEN
-PLACE-
CUBA
-SOURCE-
HAVANA DOMESTIC TV
-REPORT_NBR-
FBIS
-REPORT_DATE-
19830804
-TEXT-
CASTRO 28 JULY NEWS CONFERENCE WITH U.S. NEWSMEN

F1031157 Havana Domestic Television Service in Spanish 034 GMT 3 Aug 83

[Press conference granted by President Fidel Castro to a group of U.S.
journalists during a reception hosted by the Cuban Government on 28 July
for visiting foreign delegations -- recorded -- Castro speaking in Spanish
with consecutive English translation; translator occasionally blocks out
Castro's words]

[Text] [Castro] Where are the North Americans? [sentence indistinct] There
were several [words indistinct], not an interview.

[Unidentified Spanish-speaking journalist] A talk?

[Castro] I did not promise an interview, (?but a) talk.

[Unidentified Spanish-speaking journalist] You speak to the North American
people and tell them what you think are the most important things. (?We
won't) say anything. A message for [words indistinct].

[Castro] If I have to say something to the American people -- I imagine
that they have received diverse reports, (?including) unfavorable ones,
about our country -- I may say that our feelings toward the American
people, despite the problems that we have had with the U.S. Governments,
are those of respect and admiration. Actually, I make a distinction between
the American people and their governments. These are my feelings about the
American people. I wish that I could express myself in English so that I
could say it in English. [words indistinct] the American people have a
great independent spirit, they are a people who have made a great
contribution to [words indistinct], and I sincerely wish that someday
[words indistinct] to expand the contacts with the American people. We are
neighbors and we are forced to be friends. Whatever the system, there is a
socialist system on one side and a capitalist system on the other. But I
think that the Latin American peoples and the American people all have to
live on the same continent under conditions of equality, respect, and
friendship.

[Unidentified Spanish-speaking journalist] Can you tell us anything about
the mistakes of the Reagan administration to the extent that it is trying
to change the image of Cuba? Can you tell the American people the true
moderate message, which I believe was in the speech which you gave....
[sentence unfinished]

[Castro] I spoke to you a little while ago when the cameras were not here.
And I was saying that Reagan's press conference had been more cautious and
more moderate. In that sense, I consider it to be positive, although in
substance he has not changed. There are all the measures taken in regard to
the military exercises in Latin America. I was saying that if we were
enemies of the United States, we would wish for a conflict to come about
between Latin Americans and the Americans. But we do not want that to
happen because it would be costly for the Latin American peoples and costly
for the American people and would create great resentment between the Latin
American and American people. I believe that we should struggle to prevent
such a conflict from taking place. And in a certain way because of our
position, as I was joking with the journalists earlier, saying that as we
try to prevent U.S. intervention in Central America from taking place, we
are helping Reagan. Because I really believe that it would be a very
serious mistake which would definitely divide the United States from the
Latin American peoples for a very long time. I understand that there is a
Latin American consciousness which did not exist 30 years ago. The Malvinas
war demonstrated that.

I was telling the journalists earlier that the Americans generally tended
to side with Great Britain. And Latin Americans, despite their political
differences with the Argentine Government, tended to side with the Latin
American cause, the cause of the Falkland Islands. And that shows that
there is a Latin American feeling which must be taken into account.

You were asking whether I held any hope for the settlement of the problems.
And I said that I was convinced, but could not talk about hopes because I
do not have the assurance that the same attitude exists on the part of the
U.S. Administration or that the U.S. Administration would want to find a
negotiated political settlement to the Central American problems.

[Unidentified Spanish-speaking journalist] Would you be willing to hold
direct talks with Ronald Reagan in some sort of conference?

[Castro] I was asked that question once and I responded then that I had no
objections to meeting with the U.S. President. Then later I read reports
claiming that I had proposed a meeting with the American President. I am
not proposing it. But if some day such a prospect should be raised, we
would not be opposed to it.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] Mr President, what are the first
steps which Cuba and the United States could take to bring about a peaceful
solution to the problems of Latin America?

[Castro] That is a very difficult question. I would not be able to answer
that question with a couple of words. [Castro to translator:] Is he
referring to relations between Latin America and the United States?

[Translator] Do you mean relations between Latin America and the United
States?

[Journalist] No; what are the first steps Cuba and the United States could
take to bring about a peaceful solution to the problems of Latin America?

[Castro] Is it clear that he asking about Latin America?

[Journalist] And Central America.

[Translator to Castro] And Central America, specifically Central America.
What steps could Cuba and the United States take to try to bring about a
peaceful settlement to the problems in Central America?

[Castro] I believe that first there must be a willingness to reach such a
settlement. For our part, that willingness exists. I believe that a
solution to the problems in Central America cannot be achieved by one party
imposing conditions on the other. I think it would have to be a solution
based on the principles of equality and honor. I believe that, for
instance, a negotiated political settlement could not be achieved if a
negotiated political settlement cannot be achieved in El Salvador. That is
a key point. I believe that a solution cannot be achieved by sacrificing
someone. Everyone's interests must be considered. The interests of the
Salvadorans and of the Salvadoran revolutionary movement cannot be ignored
or neglected.

No one can expect to reach a solution based on ignoring the revolutionary
movement in El Salvador. Nicaraguan interests cannot be ignored and, in
general, the interests of the countries in the region cannot be ignored.

I believe it is possible to reach a political solution. This has been
expressed by the Nicaraguans seriously and sincerely. The Salvadorans have
also expressed this. It would be necessary to discuss it with them. No one
can impose a solution on them. No one can impose elections on them in which
they do not believe. They cannot believe in elections in a country where
elections have been rigged for 50 years. How can anyone ask the Salvadoran
revolutionaries to believe in elections where the guarantees for such
elections are an Army and a government that have murdered over 40,000
Salvadorans?

I believe it would be essential for them to sit down, have discussions,
come to agreements, and set up guarantees for [word indistinct] in El
Salvador. I believe the United States can have an influence in this. If the
United States opposes negotiations, there will be no negotiations. If the
United States supports the idea of negotiations, I am certain that the
Salvadoran Government and the Salvadoran Army would talk with the
Salvadoran revolutionaries. And that is essential if solutions are to be
found for the Central American problem.

I agree with the statement of the Contadora Group in the sense that a
political solution ought to be found based on respect for the sovereignty
of countries and nonintervention in the internal affairs of other
countries. This requires that each country be able to install the political
system it prefers. If it wants to be capitalist, it can be capitalist. If
it wants to be socialist, it can be socialist. If it wants to have a mixed
system, then it should have a mixed system if that is possible. I believe
that the principle of self-determination is essential. And the principle of
nonintervention is essential. I believe that we can all abide by that
principle. I mean that the United States and all the countries of the
region would be able to abide by that principle. In my opinion, there are
possibilities for finding solutions. But it is essential that a settlement
be reached in El Salvador. If this can be achieved, I believe that the path
would be open to a negotiated political settlement requiring concessions
from all parties involved. And it would prevent serious complications and
above all it would prevent the intervention of the United States, an
intervention which would not be beneficial to Latin America or the United
States.

[Unidentified journalist] What type of concessions would Cuba be willing to
make?

[Castro] Well, in the first place, we must not make unilateral decisions on
that. There has been talk about the advisers. We cannot unilaterally say
that we have advisers. It would not be honorable for us to make unilateral
concessions, to give you an example. However, if any solution implies the
withdrawal of all the advisers, we would support (?such a solution).
However, we should not be the ones to decide this. This should not be
decided by the country that makes a contribution or engages in cooperation.
It must be decided by the country that receives it. It must receive this as
a basis, on principle, on equal conditions. If the demand is made that the
advisers be withdrawn and the United States maintains its advisers, then it
would not be on an equal basis. Therefore, we cannot make the concession.
The ones who can discuss this are the Nicaraguans. That is, if they reach
an agreement with the United States on the basis of the withdrawal of all
advisers from Central America, we would support that, to give you an
example. However, we cannot make a decision (?and we should not make a
decision). We are not directly involved. I believe that the decisions and
concessions would have to be made by those directly involved. I give you
this example. If they make a decision on this issue or any other issue, we
will support it. If the principle is accepted that no one will interfere in
the internal affairs and the United States accepts the principle, we will
accept it and apply it faithfully and firmly.

That is what I mean when I speak about mutual concessions. The United
States cannot interfere in the internal affairs of Central America. We
recognize that we cannot interfere either. However, our situation is
different because we are not directly involved. We cooperate with [words
indistinct] Nicaraguans and are in solidarity with the Salvadoran
revolutionaries. It is not up to us to make this decision with respect to
Nicaragua. We would sincerely support solutions and would be prepared to
assume our commitments.

[Unidentified journalist] The U.S. Government has said that, in the last
several weeks, the Cuban military presence in Nicaragua has increased and
that this is part of the reason for the maneuvers in the Caribbean. What do
you think about this?

[Castro] That is absolutely false. This is a typical example of how false
information is handled. We have cooperation, we have advisers in Nicaragua,
but it has been said that we have 3,000 or 4,000. Someone said recently
that we had 7,000. We do not have thousands of advisers in Nicaragua. We
have approximately 200 advisers in Nicaragua, if you want to know the
figure: 200. But they are not really advisers. They are academy and
military school professors. They are not advisers. The group of advisers is
minimal, a few dozen. However, a professor of a military academy is
considered an adviser.

The number of advisers that we have in Nicaragua is one tenth of what has
constantly been claimed. They number approximately 200. It has been said
that they number 2,000 or 3,000. We do have a few more than 2,000 teachers,
of whom 50 percent are women, and we have 500 doctors in Nicaragua. We also
have construction workers who are helping with the construction of a sugar
mill and various other projects -- highways, hospitals -- in Nicaragua.
That is, we do have several thousand, approximately 4,000 Cubans, including
the 500 doctors and several hundred additional health technicians, but the
total number of military personnel is approximately 200.

[Unidentified journalist] Commander, a question: Concessions, commitments.
What is it that Cuba can now say to the U.S. Government and the world that
it can give in the form of commitments or concessions to the Reagan
administration in the search for peace.

[Castro] Well, I ... it is not a matter of concessions. It is a question of
finding an agreement that entails commitments for all parties. In this
sense, we are sincerely prepared to assume these commitments. We cannot
dictate a formula for these commitments. I believe that those who can or
must define the ways to find an agreement are those who are directly
involved in the conflicts. We would support this formula. If the principle
calls for no one to interfere in the internal affairs, if a policy is
accepted in which everyone agrees in one way or another to support the
revolutionaries as well as those who are oppressing the country -- are
oppressing -- we would be prepared to accept this formula. If the
withdrawal of advisers is agreed to, we will accept this. We must not
decide. It is not up to us to decide. This must be decided by the countries
involved. If it is agreed that no one will send arms, we would be prepared
not to send arms to Central America. Simply stated, we would be willing to
accept a commitment of this kind. In this sense, this is what I call mutual
concessions, if we could change the terms, that is, and make an honorable
agreement in which both parties assume similar commitments.

[Unidentified journalist] Could Cuba act as intermediary in negotiations
with the Salvadoran guerrillas?

[Castro] We are not the leaders of the Salvadoran guerrillas. We have
friendships. We have relations with them. We have a very high regard for
them. But they are absolutely independent and autonomous in their
decisions.

[Unidentified journalist] Cuba's influence is truly great. If Cuba decided
to moderate, could this be a channel for peace?

[Castro] Cuba cannot restrain anyone. It does have friendship. It can have
influence. However, it must not exercise it to exert pressure. What we can
do is to support any decision that is taken in the search for a solution,
but we cannot exert pressure.

Well, this has turned into a news conference. However, basically, if you
want to know our serious position, we are willing to assume commitments
similar to those assumed by all the other countries -- including the United
States -- to find a solution, and we are seriously willing to support a
solution, because the alternative to a solution is the worsening of the
conflicts and the intervention of the United States. This is not in the
interest of the Central American peoples. It is not in the interest of the
Latin American people, it is not in the interest of Cuba, and it is not in
the interest of the United States.

If you ask me whether there is any possibility [for a solution], I do
believe there is a possibility. But we must find an honorable formula that
does not entail unilateral commitments, but one that implies multilateral
commitments. We would be willing to support an agreement of this kind.

[Unidentified journalist] Do you believe that the Contadora solution is the
best solution?

[Castro] I believe that is one form and that it is very important. I
believe that the Contadora group is playing an active and constructive
role.

[Unidentified journalist] If there were something that the United States
could do to improve the situation over the short term, what would that be?

[Castro] It should define itself. The United States has opposed a
negotiated solution; it has systematically opposed a negotiated solution.
[Passage indistinct] If the United States were willing to find a negotiated
political solution, then I am sure that a negotiated political solution
could be achieved. For the time being, I would say that the United States
should support a negotiated solution. I am sure that it could be achieved.

[Unidentified journalist] Commander, can Contadora have any influence in
the case of El Salvador?

[Castro] I said there cannot be a negotiated political settlement in El
Salvador if there is no negotiated political solution for El Salvador. It
is to ask us to forget our Salvadoran friends, to betray them, and at those
prices, nobody can make a compromise.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] If the United States continues
its military tack in Central America, what can the Cuban response be?

[Castro] Cuba is not a power. Cuba cannot commit itself in response to the
United States. Cuba cannot anticipate itself and say what it would do. I
think that the response would not be a Cuban response, but a Latin American
response; it would be a world response actually, if there were an
intervention by U.S. forces. Cuba is not in a position to speak as if it
were a power. It is not going to try to be on an equal footing with the
U.S. forces. But we would try to express our solidarity in all possible
ways and means, although we would not be able to think in military terms
because we are not a military power.

[Unidentified journalist] Can there be solutions in Central America without
there being solutions between the United States and Cuba?

[Castro] These conditions are not being established by Cuba. We have had
bad relations for the past 25 years, even before the problems in Central
America existed. We cannot come forward now either, as things stand,
because we would be immoral and lose our authority within this panorama if
we did so. We will not pursue national interests. We would rejoice were a
grave conflict to be avoided in Central America and were relations between
the United States and Cuba to be improved. To tell the truth, we have lived
this way for 25 years. We have lived under U.S. hostility for 25 years. But
we can continue to live like this for many more years. This is not an
essential matter nor a prerequisite. I believe that if things improve and
if a solution is found in Central America, then, indirectly, there would be
a reduction of tensions between the United States and Cuba.

[Unidentified journalist] [Question indistinct]

[Castro] I believe that the Sandinists are strong. If Honduras has been
harassing Nicaragua, Somozist groups have been training them, supplying
them. It has been the tool for supplying the Somozists. The Sandinists have
made a very wise decision and a very discreet decision. They have conducted
no action against Honduras, and I am absolutely sure that the Nicaraguans
will not fall into the trap of making a military response to Honduras. I do
not think they will do that. I am fully convinced of that. They have shown
serenity despite the attacks. Even though more than 400 Sandinists have
died, they have never organized a reprisal. They understand that to respond
militarily would mean falling into a trap, a provocation. Their attitude
has been defensive. Now then, if Honduras attacked Nicaragua, they would
have to face an enthusiastic people defending its own territory and
Honduras would be defeated. Nicargua does not need foreign assistance to
resist aggression from Honduras. There is no need for Cuba to be involved.
If Honduras invades Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan people will swallow the
Honduran Army. If the United States invades Nicaragua, that would be
different. We could not say that the Nicaraguans would be able to swallow
the American Army in a short period of time, but if the United States
invades Nicaragua, the Americans will find themselves involved in a
people's war, it will find itself fighting against a people -- the
Nicaraguan people -- and, in the long run, the United States would lose
that struggle.

[Unidentified journalist] Would Cuba intervene directly or would it remain
out of the struggle?

[Castro] Well, it has not been decided yet what Cuba would do in such a
situation. We would have to wait for the events to come about to make a
decision.

[Unidentified journalist] Do you think that a peaceful solution for Central
America could be better achieved through direct talks between you and Mr
Reagan?

[Castro] I do not believe so. They are not necessary. They are not
essential. Cuba is not a fundamental factor. Cuba is not a party to the
conflict. On the other hand, the United States is directly involved. I
think talks between Reagan and the Nicaraguan leaders would be more
important because they can speak on their own behalf. I think a meeting
between Reagan and the Salvadoran revolutionaries would be more important
because they can speak directly on their own behalf. We cannot speak on
behalf of Nicaragua. We cannot speak on behalf of the Salvadorans. So, what
are we going to discuss? We can discuss our readiness to cooperate in
achieving a solution. And there is no need to meet with Reagan to state it
or to work in that direction. If some day the U.S. Administration should
consider it useful to help create a climate of detente, we would not oppose
that.

But regarding your question, I say it is not necessary. This does not mean
that we reject any contact with representatives of the U.S. Government or
direct contacts with the U.S. Government.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] What kind of signals are you, Mr
President, giving to the Nicaraguan leaders right now?

[Castro] I do not need to give them signals. We have many contacts, good
relations, considerable trust, and relations based on mutual respect. They
are aware that we support their policy of seeking a negotiated political
settlement. They know it. And I state it publicly. But signals, I have no
signals for them. I can't give them any signals because I am not the
manager of the team. I am only a friend, not the leader of the Nicaraguans.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] Are you increasing your aid to
Nicaragua these days?

[Castro] No. No, we are providing normal aid.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] There were reports in THE WALL
STREET JOURNAL that Cuban ships had arrived recently with armored personnel
carriers and that the top Cuban general who had commanded forces in Angola
had gone to Nicaragua.

[Castro] No, No, he was not in Angola. No. There is one of our officers
there. A very competent man who was in Ethiopia. We have many competent
officers and we want our cooperation to be of high quality. If we see that
they are being attacked heavily and continually and we see that they could
use some help in that field, we would try to send comrades who are capable.
We cannot send someone who lacks experience. We send someone who is
capable, but we have many men who are capable. It has also been said that
-- I believe it was Reagan who said it -- we had sent thousands of
soldiers. We have not sent one soldier to Nicaragua. There are no Cuban
troops in Nicaragua. Yes, there are Cuban military advisers. There are some
200 Cuban military advisers and collaborators. Moreover, in my opinion,
they are not essential. I believe the Sandinists also have experience in
this area. They have experience in people's warfare. They defeated the
Somoza government. They have fought for many years. They have been in power
for 3 years. They have trained cadres. I do not consider the Cuban advisers
to be essential. And if a settlement can be reached which would call for
the withdrawal of all advisers, and if the Nicaraguans agree, we would
support them 100 percent. In other words, since you asked, if an agreement
could be reached among all the sides involved which called for the
withdrawal of all advisers, we would be willing to support such a
settlement. If an agreement could be reached which would call for an end to
supplying all types of weaponry to any state in Central America, we would
be willing to agree.

Well then, these are the fundamental issues. The matter of nonintervention,
self-determination for each country, no foreign military advisers, no
weapons sent. I believe all these problems can be discussed. And we have
absolutely no objections to seeking a settlement on the basis of these
principles. The Nicaraguans have explained that they are ready to discuss a
settlement on El Salvador based on the premise that neither side would
supply armaments. And they said they were willing to discuss any other
issues which the Contadora Group raised. We have declared that we support
that position. The Nicaraguan declaration means that any subject can be
discussed -- whether that subject is arms, advisers, or anything else -- on
an equitable and honorable basis and not based on unilateral concessions,
if that is possible. And Reagan says that is what concerns him. He talks
about a Soviet-Cuban conspiracy in Central America. If those are really the
issues which worry the U.S. Administration, I believe that all the issues
can be discussed.

And if a settlement can be reached on those conditions, we would support
it. But I really do want to warn that, if they attempt to establish a
solution based on the betrayal of the Salvadoran revolutionaries, or
ignoring the Salvadoran revolutionaries, then there will be no solution. I
do want to make myself clear about the fact that a political solution, on
whatever basis, must include a negotiated political settlement in El
Salvador; otherwise there will be no solution because it would not be an
honorable solution for one side -- the friends of Nicaragua and El
Salvador. If we are told that we must reach a negotiated solution based on
sacrificing Nicaragua, there will be no solution. In short, I believe that
any issue can be discussed. But a solution cannot be attained on the basis
of sacrificing the Salvadoran revolutionary movement. A negotiated
political settlement must be achieved in El Salvador.

[Unidentified journalist] Commander, today what would be the way to move
toward a negotiated settlement in El Salvador?

[Castro] I believe that the key to this lies in the readiness of the United
States to support a negotiated settlement. If the United States would
sincerely support the idea of a negotiated political settlement, I am sure
that one would be reached. We are willing to achieve this. I am speaking on
my behalf. And according to Nicaraguan statements, they are also willing. I
believe that the Nicaraguans are sincere. The key issue is for the United
States to really and sincerely support a negotiated political settlement.
Later, how everything is to be carried out, all the details and all of that
is always very difficult to hammer out, but it can be done.

[Unidentified English-speaking journalist] Must the Salvadoran
revolutionaries participate as an equal partner?

[Castro] Well, I believe they are the ones who must respond to that. But I
believe that the Salvadoran revolutionaries have every right to doubt the
guarantees of a government and armed institutions which have murdered over
40,000 people. It would be absurd to say, "let's go to the polls". Whom are
they to trust? Are they to trust the armed institutions which have murdered
more than 40,000 people in El Salvador? Therefore, they have to discuss
what the real guarantees are going to be before taking part in the
electoral process.

[Unidentified journalist] Are you in agreement with holding elections, or
does the idea of elections appear absurd to you?

[Castro] It depends on what kind of elections. Because, when Batista was in
power and called for elections, saying he would give guarantees, we did not
agree and chose armed struggle. But we said that if guarantees were made
and if a government were formed that could really guarantee compliance with
the law in the election results, we would support elections. At the time of
Batista, that was our position. It would be good if there were a government
which would really guarantee the elections. But, under Batista, we were not
willing to participate in elections.

[Passage indistinct, two journalists speaking at the same time]

[Castro] Well, I don't want to talk about formulas because that is more
complicated. For the time being, what they have to do is sit down and talk.
I mean the Salvadoran revolutionaries and the Salvadoran Government and the
Salvadoran Army. I believe the Army should participate because the Army
runs the government in El Salvador. And the Army runs the government in
Honduras. If we are going to talk about the civilian government in
Honduras, let us be sincere. The civilian government in Honduras is only a
facade. The ruler in Honduras is General Alvarez. There is no democratic or
civilian government there. In Honduras there is a military government.

[Unidentified journalist] Commander, it seems that, according to you and to
the presidents of the Contadora Group, there is danger that the Central
American conflict or crisis could degenerate into a world conflict.
Specifically, why do you believe that?

[Castro] I would not dare go that far. I have not said that. What happens
is that people use certain terms. Well, world peace is being threatened. I
believe the peace of the world is being threatened more by the 572
medium-range ballistic missiles in Europe. I would not say that the Central
American conflict threatens world peace. I would say that it complicates
the world situation, the world climate. However, the Central American issue
does threaten to create a serious regional conflict, not due to the
intervention of large powers, but simply because, in my judgement, the
attempt to wipe out the Nicaraguan revolution and the Salvadoran
revolutionary movement by force would spread the conflict throughout
Central America. It would be like a cancer that is spread throughout the
area. I believe it would create a serious conflict among the peoples of
Latin America and the United States. I also believe that U.S. military
intervention would not be able to eliminate the resistance of Nicaragua and
El Salvador. I am absolutely convinced of this. In the long run, the United
States would have to withdraw. Even during the Sandino era it was obliged
to withdraw, and times have changed a lot since then.

[Unidentified journalist] In your 30th anniversary speech, you spoke about
an invasion and of what would happen in the event of an invasion of Cuba.
However, there are other things, bombings and such that
could...[interrupted by Castro]

[Castro] We would resist. No problem. We are prepared to resist military
blockades. We are prepared to resist attacks and a war of attrition and
bombings, and we are prepared for the worst, that is, to resist an invasion
of the country. We are even prepared to fight under an occupation of the
country. A revolution is one thing and a conventional army is quite
another. Traditionally, in Europe, when armies were defeated on the
traditional battlefield, all resistance stopped. In Cuba, the resistance
was possibly greatest after the conventional battles ended. History has
many examples. Napoleon had a powerful army: invincible. He invaded Spain
and took over the government, and the Spanish people began their war
against Napoleon. In the long run, they defeated Napoleon's army. This
means that Europe's most powerful and invincible army was defeated by the
Spanish people.

Now, Cuba is a revolutionary country, it has a revolutionary people. They
have a different mentality. We did not begin our struggle with an army, but
with a handful of men. When we began the struggle against Batista, we had 7
rifles and Batista had 80,000 men under arms. After 25 months we had
defeated Batista's army. The United States would have to confront not only
our armed forces, our conventional forces; it would have to confront the
most powerful thing we have; that is, the people, a popular war against
hundreds of thousands of armed men and women, against a whole people. If
that time comes, the battleships, the aircraft carriers, the nuclear
weapons, and the tanks would all be meaningless.

The United States would surely lose this war, that is, a war against the
people, a war against an armed, educated, patriotic people united under a
single flag. It would never be able to conquer the country. It could invade
it and occupy it at a very high cost, but it would have to face a people's
war. We are prepared. I do not believe that we are more courageous than
anyone else, but because we have been forced to do so by the very threats
of the United States, especially Reagan's threats, we are mentally,
organizationally, politically, and militarily prepared for an economic
blockade, for bombardments, attacks, wars of attrition, invasion,and
occupation of the country. We are prepared for every eventuality. We have
no alternative.

I am speaking seriously. I am saying what I believe. The Unites States is
unquestionably more powerful than we are. It has more planes, tanks, and
ships. However, 5 million U.S. soldiers in Cuba, and I would not like for
this ever to happen, would not be able to control the Cuban people. We have
confidence in ourselves. We are not thinking about others, but of defending
ourselves.

You imposed this press conference, which is somewhat disorganized, but I
want to say that I have a high appreciation of U.S. journalists. Every time
I read your articles, reports, and dispatches I find that they are sharp,
intelligent and brilliant. I can say this. I also believe that there are
some Biritsh journalists who are brilliant, some commentaries, there are
some. However, I also believe that an evolution has taken place in the U.S.
press in the last 25 years. I believe that you are more independent today,
that you are more objective now than then. Then you aligned yourselves more
behind a watchword when you spoke about the security of your country and
patriotic interests. With those arguments you were often deceived. Now I
appreciate that. With evolution, you have become more objective. I have
high regard for you. I watched Reagan's news conference on the 26th. I
noticed that the U.S. journalists were very sharp, independent, and
objective. I believe that you can contribute a lot and that the U.S. people
can also contribute if we understand that the idea that someone wants to
rule the world and to take over the world is an absurdity, a fantasy. The
world has so many problems that anyone who wants to take over the world has
to be absolutely mad.

If we could forget the myth that someone wants to attack the institutions
of the United States, we would reach the conclusion that there are real
dangers to peace. There are real dangers for world peace: there is the
danger of local conflict believe that the U.S. press and the U.S. people
can play a very important role in preventing a world conflict and in
avoiding local conflicts.

I am of the opinion that Reagan has little concern for international
opinion. He has shown no proof of being concerned about international
opinion. However, I believe that he is very concerned about U.S. public
opinion. He pays great attention to it. He tries to change opinion and its
direction, as in the case of Central America; he tries to get the people to
support him in his Central American policy. He has not achieved this.
However, I believe that the U.S. people and press can play a very important
role in the present international situation and in the present Central
American situation.

[Unidentified journalist] This is a subject that has not been discussed
since your speech on the first anniversary of the Sandinist revolution.
What is the influence of the Sandinist revolution on the Cuban revolution
after 4 years of Sandinist revolution?

[Castro] Well, I meant to say that each revolution makes its own
contributions, such as combat experience, for instance. Their type of
struggle was different from ours. We developed an army which eventually
prevailed over Batista's army. They developed a kind of popular uprising. I
believe that is another lesson, their contribution. Their conditions are
different. The statements they made on the idea of establishing a mixed
economic system appeared to me to be an interesting contribution. It just
appeared to me to be a viable idea. Then they are not copying, nor should
they copy, the experience of Cuba. They are conducting their own scheme,
their own formula. And I believe that enriches the political and
revolutionary movement. Then, in the sense of Nicaragua's new experience,
we are also learning. And I believe that our experience is also
(?enriched). We have very good experience. For instance, there is the
struggle against illiteracy. This is a very useful experience for the
Nicaraguans. We have experience in the field of public health, and I think
that it can be useful to them. I believe that everyone can make some
contribution which can benefit all of us.

The United States conducts technological research which may be useful to
everyone. There is experience in agriculture which can be useful, also in
the fields of health, science, and many fields which should be devoted to
the welfare of mankind and not to developing weapons that can destroy
mankind. Of course, this principle should apply to everyone, to all
countries, to all superpowers, regardless of their social and political
ideologies. Are you going to help me get free of you, colleague? [laughs]

[English-speaking journalist] Thank you very much.

[Castro] This has been a very disorganized interview.

[Journalist] A little chat.

[Castro] A little chat, but you are to be blamed for that.

[Laughter] Very well, my pleasure.
-END-


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