Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Comments on French Influence

FL101400 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1045 GMT 10 Aug 83

[Text] Because of public interest, the newspaper GRANMA is today publishing
the informal conversation held on 6 August between Commander in Chief Fidel
Castro and a group of French journalists on the occasion of the visit of
French Minister of External Affairs Claude Cheysson. We are going to read
excerpts from the interview.

Fidel, at the request of one of the journalists, began talking about the
French people in the following manner: We have affection for France. We
have affection for the French people. We also have a fondness for the
history of France because its history has instructed us. Before I read
Marxism, I had read the history of the French Revolution -- this was taught
when I was in the earliest grades -- but I was not really aware of what
happened there, of what the French Revolution was. Later, I read and
studied about it and became very interested in it, and I believe that it
has had a great deal of influence on me. I am referring to the history of
the revolution of 1789. I read many different authors. Sometimes, I read
these books until dawn when I was a high school student, during vacations,
or when I did not have other assignments to work on.

I spoke about this with Cheysson. This was the influence, let us say, of
the first modern social revolution, the French Revolution, as
revolutionaries against feudalism and despotism. Later, we were influenced
by France toward socialism. Marx himself was greatly influenced by France
and transmitted that influence to us in two works which are classics for
us: "The History of the Civil Struggle in France" [La Historia de la Lucha
Civil in Francia] and "The Eighteenth Brumaire" [El Diez y Ocho Brumario].

Later, the Paris Commune greatly influenced the Cuban revolutionaries.
There was, without a doubt, French influence on our wars for independence.
The war of 1868 was characterized by a great romantic spirit, and I would
say that the influence of the Jacobins was present; but it also seems to me
that there was a certain degree of influence by the Girondins on some of
our first fighters for independence. In our own struggle, in the war for
liberation, there were three French influences the French Revolution of
1789; the civil struggles in France and the Paris Commune; and, finally,
the French Resistance against the Nazis.

When asked about relations between France and Cuba, Fidel Castro said that
there were difficulties in the early years of the revolution over the
independence struggle of the Algerian people. Although we have always been
interested in relations with France, both political and economic relations,
a situation existed that, out of solidarity, led us to take a firm position
of opposition to French policy and of support for the Algerian fighters.
Fidel added that after the Algerian problem had been solved, political and
economic relations with France improved and have prospered progressively
since then.

Of course, the triumph of the left in France raised hopes in our country.
We have had close relations with the left -- our relations with Mitterrand
and with the French Communists. We began to establish relations with this
government many years before the triumph of the left.

In another part of his conversation with the French journalists, dealing
with the good relations between the two countries and with world problems,
Fidel said: I do not believe that relations that are limited to the
bilateral level are sufficient. France has responsibilities in the world.
France is not a powerful country but it is a great power that has
technological development, scientific development, economic development,
and international prestige. In my judgment, France can and does play a very
important international role. I am very interested in France's concern for
Third World problems. In all the recent international conferences of the
so-called Western developed countries, France is the country that has shown
the greatest interest in the problems of the Third world. This is a point
where French Government policy and our concerns as a Third World country
coincide, because we are socialists but we also belong to the Third World.
In our international statements, we have always considered the interests of
the Third World countries because they reflect the historical reality of
underdevelopment and because we have common interests with them.

Fidel added that, for us, the contradiction of being both a socialist
country and a Third World country is insignificant. As I stated in New
Delhi, over and above political religious, and ideological differences, we
have many things in common with the Third World countries which we are
keeping in mind and which we will defend. Moreover, we do not defend
national interests. We are not very nationalistic -- we are patriots -- but
we are not very nationalistic, and we are strongly faithful to our
political principles. We have often sacrificed our national interests for
the sake of the principles of our revolution and our internationalist

The Americans do not understand that, and it is causing them much effort.
They are a bit used to thinking that nationalistic interests should come
before any other interest. We, however, have realized that our fatherland
is not only Cuba -- our fatherland is also mankind. We are learning to
think in terms of humanity. Man first thought in terms of a clan, then of a
tribe, then of a feudal group; then he thought in terms of a nation. When
man begins to think in a universal sense, when he begins to see all mankind
as his family, when he begins to see all mankind as his fatherland, then he
will have taken a big step forward in his political development and in his

To a question concerning what he and the French minister of external
relations dealt with the commander in chief replied: I would say we
analyzed international issues, especially those aspects of the
international situation on which our positions coincide. I shall give an
example of a position on which the interests of France and those of the
European Community in general coincide: The search for a negotiated
political settlement for Central America, the avoidance of the complication
and worsening of the problem, and the avoidance of U. S. intervention in
Central America, against which we are fighting as much in the interest of
the Latin American peoples as in the interest of the United States itself.
This is a point on which interests coincide.

We also talked about Africa's problems. There are points where our
interests coincide in the search for a solution to the problem of Namibia's
independence and the problem of southern Africa in general -- how to avoid
its becoming a zone of tension and conflict -- on which France and Cuba
have coinciding positions.

We talked about international economic problems, the international economic
crisis and the problems derived from it, the interests which are also
common to the underdeveloped world or the developing world, as it is known,
and the interests of the industrialized countries. The crisis terribly
affects the countries of the Third World, much more than it affects the
industrialized countries, but it also affects the industrialized countries
We agreed that a solution to these economic problems will help the
underdeveloped world and the industrialized world.

The economic crisis creates instability in the Third World. It creates
instability even in the countries that are already developed, the problems
of inflation, but especially -- more than inflation -- problems of
unemployment and economic stagnation. We are very concerned about high
interest rates for loans. We are concerned about the debts of the Third
World countries. We are concerned about finding ways to solve these
problems and analyze the interests that Third World countries and the
industrialized countries have in common as well as interests common to the
countries of the Third World and the countries of Europe -- industrialized

It is necessary to keep in mind that when you, the French, travel abroad,
you are representing France. But you are also representing to an important
degree the interests of industrialized Western Europe. In these contacts,
and I think the French delegation has made contacts with Brazil, Bolivia,
Colombia, and Latin America, it is trying to find out where there are
common points between the economic interests of the Third World and those
of the European Community.

Commander in Chief Fidel Castro dealt with these and other important
current international issues in his informal conversation on 6 August with
French journalists. The newspaper GRANMA, in today's edition, will publish
the entire text of that interview.

Considers C.A. Problem

FL101825 Havana Domestic Service in Spanish 1700 GMT 10 Aug 83

[Excerpt] Replying to a journalist's question on what had been the
principal subject of the Cuban-French talks, Fidel said that all aspects of
the international situation were analyzed on which we have coinciding
positions. He gave as examples the need to find a negotiated political
solution for the problem of Central America, Namibian independence, and the
situation of southern Africa in general.

Fidel pointed out another coincidence between France and Cuba: the world
economic crisis that affects industrialized and underdeveloped countries,
which must be solved. He said that the United States, with its economic and
financial policy and high interest rates, is forcing the rest of the world,
both developed and underdeveloped, to finance its arms buildup and its
budget deficits.

After discussing this problem extensively, the French journalists wanted to
know about Central America and our commander in chief's viewpoints. Just as
in the interview with the U.S. journalists, Fidel said that one cannot find
a negotiated political solution in this region unless a solution is found
first for the Salvadoran problem. He said that finding a solution by
ignoring El Salvador would practically be a betrayal of the Salvadoran
people and revolutionaries. On the question of whether there has been a
change in the U.S. Administration regarding the situation in this region,
the leader of the revolution said that its tone has been softened but that
in fact its policy remains intact.

At the request of the journalists, Fidel made an evaluation of the
Contadora Group's efforts, calling them an extraordinarily positive
contribution. Nevertheless, he expressed concern at the fact that the
Contadora Group has not clearly defined the need for a solution of the
Salvadoran problem. It has not considered a solution for El Salvador, which
is a key issue for a solution in Central America, he said.

Our commander in chief discussed human rights, pointing our that, in our
country, there are no missing, tortured, or murdered persons, and he
denounced Yankee imperilism's great slander campaign against Cuba. He
expressed assurance that U.S. domination will not prevail by any means, not
even by invading and occupying our countries. He said that there are
technical means to neutralize this or that weapon, but there is no
technical means to neutralize a struggling people. He gave Vietnam as an
example. He added: I do not expect others to have our convictions. We
believe in our convictions and we believe firmly, and therefore we defend
them vigorously. I believe that we are invulnerable. We are not frightened
and do not lose our composure or our levelheadedness

Fidel deplored the fact that the U.S. Government believes that our
statements are made in response to its power policies. On this path, the
U.S. Government could reach the point where it finds that it is completely
mistaken and that revolutionaries do not back down or capitulate to power

Views Human Rights Issue

PA102105 Havana International Service in Spanish 1800 GMT 10 Aug 83

[Text] During an informal talk with French journalists Fidel Castro said
that, after Spain, France is the country with which Cuba shares the most
historic roots, which is why Cubans feel both sympathy and admiration for

Castro stressed the development of bilateral relations, which should
improve and are improving thanks, he said, to President Francois
Mitterrand's administration. He added that France plays and can continue to
play a very important international role, and he added that at all recent
international conferences among the so-called developed Western nations,
France has expressed the most interest in Third World problems. This is a
point very much in common between the French Government's policy and our
own concerns as a Third World country, the Cuban president underscored.

Castro indicated that during his talks with Cheysson they reviewed
principally those aspects of the international situation in which France
and Cuba maintain similar positions, including the search for a negotiated
political solution in Central America. In this regard, the Cuban leader
said that one cannot even think of finding a negotiated political solution
for Central America if a negotiated political solution is not found first
for El Salvador, which, he said, is the central issue.

According to Castro, U.S. policy has shifted attention from El Salvador to
Nicaragua, but the situations in these countries are not comparable because
in El Salvador there is an internal civil struggle, while in Nicaragua
there are border conflicts organized and sponsored by the CIA.

Castro stressed that the Salvadoran revolutionaries have clearly expressed
their willingness to find a negotiated political solution, and he noted
that, despite the Contadora Group's declaration, the Sandinist Government's
six-point proposal, and the statement made by Cuba on 26 July, no change in
the U.S. position can be seen, as that country is maintaining a policy of
force and psychological warfare. Cuba will never give in to a policy of
force; the search for a solution can never imply unilateral concessions by
the Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, or Cuban revolutionaries, Castro added. He also
said that Cuba cannot negotiate for El Salvador or Nicaragua, but it does
endorse their efforts to achieve a peaceful solution. In reality, he
stressed, the Central American problem does not have to be resolved through
negotiations between Cuba and the United States but between the Salvadoran
revolutionaries and the United States, and between the Nicaraguans and the
United States. He then stressed: This is why we are pleased with the
contacts between Stone and the Salvadoran revolutionary movement, and the
contacts between Stone and Nicaragua.

The Cuban leader said that the Contadora Group is making an extraordinarily
positive contribution in the search for a political solution in Central
America. However, he said, I am concerned that it has not addressed the
Salvadoran problem, which is a key issue in achieving a solution.

In answer to a journalist's question about the dirty campaigns about human
rights in Cuba, especially in connection with the allegedly disabled poet
named Valladares, Castro said that it would be interesting to know who
finances those campaigns. He explained that Valladares was one of Batista's
policemen who was sanctioned for committing counterrevolutionary terrorist
activities. He explained that the entire international campaign about
Valladares revolves around an invalid who is not an invalid and a poet who
is not a poet. Comparing the Nazi Gestapo during the occupation of France
with the Batista tyranny's police, he stressed that if the French people
were to reflect a bit about their own experience, they would realize the
Cubans, too, are vulnerable to that type of people.

Castro stressed that although certain Cuban laws entail severe punishment,
there are no tortured, missing, or slain people, and that during these 25
years of revolution, and despite living under imperialism's death threats,
no action has ever been undertaken outside the law. He reasserted that all
those campaigns are financed and directed by the CIA.

Castro said finally: It is naturally regrettable that the U.S. Government
should think our statements are in response to its policy of force. Along
that path they may get to a point where they will see that they are
completely mistaken and that revolutionaries neither give in nor capitulate
when faced with policies of force.

Discusses World Economic Crisis

PA101833 Havana International Service in Spanish 1600 GMT 10 Aug 83

[Text] Fidel Castro, president of the Cuban Councils of State and
Ministers, has said that the world capitalist economy is a drifting ship
with only the United States serving as its helm while exclusively trying to
protect its own interests. Castro stressed that the current economic
recovery is transitory because the groundwork that would make it possible
to feel certain about a lasting recovery does not exist.

Informally addressing the French journalists who accompanied Foreign
Minister Claude Cheysson on his recent visit to Cuba, Castro stressed that,
with its economic and financial policy, the United States is forcing the
rest of the world -- both the industrialized and the underdeveloped nations
-- to finance its arms race and its budget deficit.

The Cuban leader reiterated his concern over the Third World countries'
debt, which totals nearly $700 billion and continues to grow, and stressed
that to resolve the international crisis it is necessary to find solutions
to both the industrialized nations' problems and those of the developing
countries. Unless the Third World's economic problems are solved, there
will be no solution to the industrialized world's economic problems,
because there will hot be enough markets nor will it be possible to fight
unemployment or fully use the developed countries' industrial facilities or
their skilled labor forces, Castro stressed.

He added that there is common ground between Cuba and France on this
problem, which is everyone's responsibility. He stressed: I believe that,
among the developed Western countries, France shows the most more
conscientious concern about this problem.