Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana BOHEMIA in Spanish No 6, 10 Feb 84 pp 46-57

[BOHEMIA version of 9 Jan 84 NEWSWEEK interview with Fidel Castro: "Fidel
Answers Patricia Sethi"; date and place not given]

[Text] Question: On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Cuban
Revolution, what are the greatest achievements of the revolution? If you,
as leader of that revolution, had the opportunity to do things over, would
you change anything?

Answer: The Cuban people--and you can verify this if you talk to any of our
citizens--have acquired a sense of national independence that they never
had before. They enjoy a personal dignity that was always denied to them
before. r the first time, the Cubans are the masters of their own country.
Nothing or no one threatens them within their country. No one can belittle
them for being black or discriminate against them for being women. Their
social status is not determined by their economic income. In order to
obtain a bed in the hospital when they are sick or obtain a job, the men no
longer have to humble themselves or the women prostitute themselves as
happened in the past. Starting with that level of dignity that makes us all
equal, the rest follows--that is, the socioeconomic transformations that
characterize the revolution.

Our economy has grown at an average annual rate of approximately 4.7
percent over 25 years, one of the highest on the continent in spite of the
U.S. blockade. We are the second highest country in per-capita food
consumption in Latin America, only ours is better distributed than in any
other country in this hemisphere.

We rank first among the Third World countries and over many industrialized
countries in health, education, culture and sports. You would be surprised
if I told you that there are more illiterates and semiliterates in the
United States in relation to total population than in Cuba. You would not
be as surprised, perhaps, if I told you that there are drugs, gambling,
prostitution, unemployment, extreme poverty, racial discrimination and
sexual exploitation of children in the United States. They form a
consubstantial part of U.S. capitalist society. Those problems do not exist
in Cuba. Acts of blood and violence occur at a rate at least 10 times
higher in the United States than in Cuba. I believe we have advanced in
comparison to North America since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

If we had the opportunity to do thin over, there are things we would do
differently. For example, we would not begin our revolutionary struggle
with the attack on Moncada but start directly with the guerrilla war in the
mountains. However, the strategic line we have followed in the
revolutionary process and the principles that support it would not change.

Question: One often reads reports that your revolution is on the verge of
collapse and that it is only a matter of time before your leadership ends.
However, you and your revolution continue to be a vital force. What is the
secret of this success?

Answer: The defeat and collapse of the Cuban Revolution have been predicted
continually throughout these 25 years. I don't think we will be rid of that
prediction in the coming years since it is part of the policy of aggression
and isolation against Cuba.

Those predictions continue to be spread artificially, thanks to the
influence Washington holds not only over the U.S. mass media but over
entire networks of international propaganda. Nevertheless, the Cuban
Revolution continues to demonstrate its vitality even though besieged
militarily, economically and politically and by propaganda. This is due to
its authenticity and the fact that, like any real revolution, its roots are
deep within the people. If the Cuban people were not deeply identified with
their revolution, we could have been crushed since the powerful United
States has used every possible form of aggression against the Cuban
Revolution. It is our people who support it and shape it. It is not a
matter of blind, uncritical adherence. On the contrary, if you go out in
the street and listen to the Cubans without their knowing that you are not
Cuban, you will find that they are very explicit about everything that
seems bad to them. We know this not only because of our responsibility as
leaders but because the citizens make their complaints reach us through
many means of democratic communication and frequently by direct contact
between the leaders and the people. We are aware of how much we still have
to do. However, we advance and we improve year after year in every sector.
At the beginning, we had nothing but ideas; now we also have experience.

Question: Would relations between Cuba and the United States ever move
toward a more normal plane? What must happen first for that to become
possible? Some observers insist that as long as Fidel is there, no change
will be possible. You are too antiestablishment, too revolutionary to be
acceptable. What do you think about that?

Answer: Current relations between Cuba and the United States are so
irrational, so absurd, that I am forced to have a certain "historical"
confidence that they must eventually move toward a more normal plane. For
this to be possible, the first thing that must happen is for a U.S.
administration to realize that the premises that led the U.S. Government to
try to stop the Cuban people in 1960 from taking the sociopolitical road
that seemed most suitable to them are not justified in political terms,
much less in terms of international law.

The time has come for the U.S. rulers to understand that the Latin America
they considered for many decades their "natural backyard" where they
deposed and imposed governments and gave orders and where U.S. ambassadors
made decisions that should have been made by the president of the republic
no longer exists. It is also time for it to be understood in the United
States that socialism is a solid reality in a considerable portion of the
world. It cannot be eliminated by war or by economic or military pressure.
In the years to come, very possibly before the year 2000, Cuba will not be
the only Latin American country to adopt socialism as a system of
government. We are not talking about the misnamed "Cuban model" which we do
not plan to universalize in any way. There will also be nonsocialist
governments determined to prevent economic control by the multinationals.
The United States will have to adapt to all this, like it or not. It is a
fact of history. This has nothing to do with my presence at the head of the
Cuban Government since it would have happened, sooner or later, even if I
had never existed. I don't deny that I am, as you say, very
"antiestablishment" and perhaps "too revolutionary" to some. However, all
my rejection of the U.S. imperialist structure--a rejection that tens of
millions of people in Latin America share today--poses very little threat
to the stability of the U.S. capitalist system. I would like that
capitalist system to disappear and be replaced by a more rational and
humane system with which Latin America could get along better but I can
assure the people of the United States that I do not have any intention of
inciting a socialist revolution in the United States. I still see that as
remote and, when it comes, it must be led by men from the U.S. working
class and people.

Question: Are there any areas in which you and the United States can work
together constructively even though an ideological or philosophical
reconciliation might be impossible? Would all forms of dialogue with the
Reagan administration be totally out of the question?

Answer: You are right when you assume that ideological or philosophical
reconciliation between the current U.S. administration and us--and even
between possible alternatives to that administration in the coming years
and us--is out of the question. However, the-fact that we in Cuba continue
to be socialist and the United States continues to be the most important
center of world capitalism does not mean that there are not major areas in
which both countries and governments could work together constructively. If
the Reagan administration gave up its ideological obsession, heeded the
appeal of the Contadora Group and decided to seriously support a negotiated
solution to the problems that affect Central America today, Cuba and the
United States could possibly contribute with other countries in the region
to lay the bases for the peace and democratic structural change that
"Central America needs.

We have never refused dialogue with the Reagan administration. As you know,
there were talks between Secretary of State Haig and Vice President Carlos
Rafael Rodriguez and later General Walters came to Havana and I myself
talked at length with him. But we cannot say that a dialogue was
established; it was rather a confrontation of viewpoints. As long as Mr
Reagan continues to think that what is happening in Central America is the
result of a malevolent arrangement between the USSR and Cuba and does not
recognize that these social upheavals started in Central America 50 years
ago--when the Russian Revolution was fighting to survive and the Cuban
Revolution did not exist--we do not have any hope for dialogue. Question:
President Reagan constantly argues that your intention is to export
revolution and communism throughout the hemisphere.

Answer: I don't think revolution is an exportable product. I must confess
that I agree that the example of the Cuban Revolution has had a major
influence on the revolutionary movements in Latin America during the past
20 years. It demonstrated that there could be an in-depth and genuine
revolution even on a small island subjugated and neocolonized by the United
States. I do not hide the fact that revolutionary Cuba has offered its
active solidarity to other Latin American revolutionaries in countries like
Somoza's Nicaragua where every democratic action and every type of protest
other than armed struggle was ruled out by brutal terror. It is well known
that Cuba was not alone in aiding the struggle against Somoza; other
governments which are not mentioned also helped. Neither do I hide the fact
that when a large group of Latin American countries, acting with the
inspiration and guidance of Washington, not only tried to isolate Cuba
politically but economically blockaded it and aided counterrevolutionary
actions (sabotage, armed infiltrations, assassination attempts, etc.) to
try to overthrow the revolution, we responded in legitimate self-defense by
helping all those who, at that time, wanted to fight against those
governments. We were not the ones who began the subversion; they were. In
the same way, I can categorically state--and I defy any attempt to
demonstrate otherwise--that every Latin American government that has
maintained proper and respectful relations with Cuba has received, in turn,
Cuba's respect. That was true for Mexico, the only Latin American country
that refused to apply Washington's diktat in 1964, and has been true since
then for those other governments in Latin America and the Caribbean that
reestablished normal, respectful relations with us.

The reality is that we cannot export revolution nor can the United States
prevent it.

Reagan cunningly uses this argument to terrify the U.S. people, fanning a
primitive anticommunism from the McCarthy era. This is beginning to prevail
again now in a considerable sector of the U.S. people. These arguments
permit Reagan to carry out a policy of open intervention like the brutal
intervention in Grenada, a small island of 100,000 inhabitants.

Question: Mr President, what exactly was happening in Grenada? The Reagan
administration recently divulged what it calls a "warm bag of evidence" to
suggest that: a) Cuba was training and organizing armed forces and security
forces in Grenada; b) constructing a communications base linked to the
Soviet Sputnik satellite system; c) constructing a large airport capable of
receiving Soviet transport planes provided to the Cuban armed forces; d)
storing large quantities of Soviet arms and equipment for Cuban use; and e)
preparing an air defense system designed to protect Grenada precisely
against the operation the United states carried out there last October. Let
us take these charges one by one.

Answer: All this is, of course, ludicrous. For example, "the armed forces"
of Grenada that Bishop tried to organize are mentioned. This gives the
impression that it would be a huge army capable of invading all the western
Caribbean. However, the facts are self-evident.

The events in Grenada demonstrated that the forces being organized fully
corresponded to the dimensions of a small island which
counterrevolutionaries--sympathizers of the eccentric and reactionary Gairy
and others--protected by the CIA constantly threatened to invade from
Miami. The United States had also threatened and insinuated that it could
use other Caribbean countries for an invasion.

Washington had to hastily withdraw the "exhibit" it prepared of the
"armaments" that had been seized in Grenada which it had said at the
beginning demonstrated Bishop's intention to take over the Caribbean. What
visitors saw was a small number of modern weapons which Grenada had full
right to as a sovereign country and many useless ancient weapons.

As to the airport, it was proven after the invasion that the people of
Grenada wanted to build it long before the Bishop government. It was also
proven that the technical projects were under the direction of a well-known
British company whose representatives clearly confirmed that the airport
had no element that made it a military installation. It was a civilian
installation intended for the modern airplanes that fly to the Caribbean
countries today. Several of the Caribbean countries have larger airports
than the one that was being built in Grenada.

As to what was said about Bishop storing "Soviet arms for Cuban use," we
have our weapons here to defend our country against a possible invasion. It
would be absurd to deposit 3,000 or 4,000 automatic weapons in Grenada for

Last, it is true that we planned to help the people of Grenada establish a
communications base but everyone knows that there are many similar
communications bases in the Caribbean and Latin America. This is a
requirement of contemporary communications and we all aspire to have them.
The historic and undeniable truth is that Reagan and his collaborators made
19 false statements about events in Grenada. These have been denounced by
Cuba and the U.S. Government has been unable to prove them. On the other
hand, none of Cuba's statements have been disproven.

The press was completely manipulated. A select group of journalists was
sent there 72 hours after the invasion. The press was furious at first, but
later changed its attitude and was carried away by the wave of chauvinism.
The politicians also changed their attitude. In that way, a major crime
could be committed with the naive complicity of the U.S. people. Reagan
could present a victory to his people. It is disgraceful; it is offensive.
The magnitude of the crime committed in Grenada is inversely proportional
to the size of the island. Bishop was our friend; we respected him. He was
a real revolutionary; he was a man of his people. Our position toward the
new government was well known. Relations between us and Coard's group were
very bad. It was very likely that we would have withdrawn from the country
once construction of the airport was finished. We could not cooperate with
that group. We might have left the medical personnel in the country for
humanitarian reasons but we would have reduced our cooperation. Our
assessment of the situation was that Coard's group would not be able to
hold its ground after assassinating Bishop. The revolution had committed
suicide. However, this did not justify the intervention. The U.S. citizens
were not in any danger. The extremist group visited them and gave them
guarantees. We knew they were not in danger; we even reported this to the
U.S. Government 72 hours before the invasion. The entire theory Reagan used
to try to justify the invasion is false; it is a big lie from beginning to
end. It was a demonstration of strength. It was a cheap and opportunistic
political operation to exploit the tragedy that occurred in that country.
There were also other factors. Reagan recalled the fate of the hostages in
Iran and how the U.S. people were humiliated by that experience. He
recalled that a week before 230 U.S. Marines had died in Lebanon. He also
recalled the defeat suffered in Vietnam. Reagan exploited all this in order
to present the invasion of Grenada to the U.S. people as a great victory.
That is dangerous. That is an irresponsible policy that can lead to war and
to new ventures in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Question: Given the close ties between you and Bishop, how is it possible
that you did not have any idea of the turmoil in his party?

Answer: Yes, it is hard to understand how, with all the personnel we had
there at the embassy, we did not know the division was occurring. That is
the biggest criticism we have of our political personnel, our diplomatic
personnel and our military cooperation personnel.

They did not have any idea what was happening. Even though Bishop visited
Cuba while this turmoil was going on, he did not say a word to me about it.
In a certain way, this makes me happy because it demonstrated the respect
he felt for his country and his people. The only thing he did at that time
was criticize himself, stating that he felt he had not given full attention
to working with the masses.

Now, of course, we know what happened. There was a deep ideological
conflict between Bishop and Coard. Coard presented himself as the
theoretician, the intellectual intoxicated by political theory. However, I
am convinced deep down that there was great personal ambition. There was a
majority decision that Bishop and Coard would share leadership. Bishop
would continue being prime minister and Coard would assume party
leadership. Bishop did not attend any party meetings after that but, even
then, he never insinuated that there was a division. I explain this in two
ways. At that time, he had an absolute minority in the party and had a
defeatist attitude. Therefore, he did not want to talk about it because of
this deep pessimism. Or he underestimated the seriousness of the situation
and thought he could solve the problem. It was only the day before his
arrest that he visited our embassy and finally explained that there was
serious division. He said he was afraid they might assassinate him. It was
a short conversation; he said that he was only informing us.

Question: Wasn't there anything you could have done to save Bishop's life?

Answer: When they arrested Bishop, I sent a message that the situation
could create a serious problem in international public opinion and would
weaken the revolution in Grenada. I asked those people to be understanding
and generous. I was afraid that one of the radical elements would try to
solve the problem with violence. I made a plea but only when the real U.S.
danger became obvious did they contact us. We explained our position that
we would only defend our work areas if we were attacked. There was
absolutely no coordination with them in our defense plans.

We could only appeal for Bishop's life and the revolution. We received
reports that Bishop's friends were leading and organizing a popular
response. However, this was called off when they thought it was possible to
achieve a solution.

We could not intervene in a situation where Bishop was in the minority in
his own party. If the conspirators are in the minority, there is a chance
for more action. What happened in Grenada, though, was that Coard's group
was in the majority against Bishop. This was apparently clear and even
legal, according to democratic norms. It is necessary to accept such a
situation even if one realizes it is a mistake or a serious thing. We
couldn't do more than we did. We show great respect for the international
[as published] affairs of other parties. We only give them our opinion when
they ask us for it. That is the secret of our relations with all
revolutionary organizations, with El Salvador and Nicaragua. We know that
the people are sensitive about their independence, their autonomy and their
sovereignty. We cannot tell revolutionary governments what is good and what
is bad; that is impossible. These relationships are delicate.

We greatly respect the internal affairs of parties and organizations.

Question: One of the criticisms that Third World leaders make of the United
States is that it tends to see things in black and white: if you are not
with us, then you are against us. That does not leave room for nationalism,
an inherent native nationalism of one country in particular.

Answer: The Reagan administration's attitude stems from its concept of the
world: its hegemonist ideas, its self-concept as policeman of the world,
its inability to understand changes that must take place. It not only does
not understand nationalism and the people's feelings about independence,
but it does not understand the economic problems of the world, the economic
catastrophe faced by the Third World or the problems of the Third World. It
dreams of a world that adapts to its mandate and its orders. That is why
Reagan considers anyone who is independent a puppet of the USSR. We have a
concept in Cuba of internationalism and cooperation among the peoples. That
is why we have so many of our doctors, teachers and workers helping other
developing nations. At the same time, we understand independence. An
imperialist government, though, cannot conceive of what independence and
nationalism mean. The United States believes it owns Latin America. It does
not understand what nationalism is nor is it sensitive to the problems of
Latin America, the need for social changes, the Latin American debt of $300
billion, the fact that military dictatorships have failed, the fact that
bourgeois democracy has failed and that people die of starvation in Latin
America and in the Third World. The situation will eventually have to
change. U.S. policy will have to understand the Latin American and world
situation. It will have to draw up a policy of respect and cooperation
among all countries, among all social systems, and accept a system of
peaceful coexistence. This administration does not understand anything. It
cannot understand the economic, social or political problems; it cannot
understand nationalism or internationalism. It is not capable of
understanding anything. It has a hegemonist and imperialist--openly and
fully imperialist--mentality. The way it treats its allies, the way it
treats the United Kingdom or the FRG, demonstrates this. It treats them as
subjects because it is used to treating others as subjects. They are
millionaires, they have the money, they can impose themselves on the
masses. They simply cannot conceive of any other type of system, a system
of independence and mutual respect which exists between us and the
socialist countries and other Third World nations.

Question: Under what conditions would you be willing to withdraw your
advisers from Central America?

Answer: If there is an agreement or solution in Central America--whether
through the Contadora process or through discussions among the different
countries involved--and the Nicaraguans decide to find a solution on that
basis and that solution includes the complete withdrawal of advisers, we
will be in total agreement with this measure. We will fully support that
decision by Nicaragua. We would not be an obstacle. However, the
Nicaraguans must make that decision because we would not be faithful to our
association with Nicaragua if we made a unilateral decision. We cannot
unilaterally withdraw our advisers from Nicaragua. That is Nicaragua's
decision and we will respect and support any decision it makes. Reagan will
not accept it, however. The Nicaraguans have revealed their willingness to
freeze arms purchases and they are willing to withdraw all their advisers
if the United States withdraws its advisers from Central America and if the
arms supply to Central America ends. The U.S. administration does not
accept this because it is not interested in that policy. It is interested
in a policy of force and domination. The Reagan administration knows that,
without U.S. military support and presence, the Salvadoran people would no
longer accept their government. The U.S. administration is not interested
in finding a solution; it is interested in a policy of intervention and

Question: What exactly is your relationship with Nicaragua in quantitative

Answer: We give it moral support and we have never denied that we have
military advisers in Nicaragua but I don't want to help the U.S.
administration's aggressive plans by revealing figures. For that same
reason, I will not discuss arms supplies to Nicaragua. The only thing I
have to say is that Nicaragua is an independent country. It has the right
to ask for arms and any independent country has the right to supply them if
it considers this appropriate.

Question: If I gave you a crystal ball and asked you to look into it, what
would you predict for Grenada?

Answer: The people of Grenada know what independence and revolution mean.
Those feelings can never be uprooted. The people of Grenada have also been
deceived, mainly by the group that assassinated Bishop. This was the first
stage of confusion. However, the facts will be cleared up and Bishop's flag
will still wave. Sooner or later, the people of Grenada will hoist Bishop's
flag and will become independent. It is not an independent country now; it
is an occupied country. Some day it will again be independent and
revolutionary. This is an inexorable law of history that cannot be
prevented in Grenada or in Central America.

Question: U.S. television showed the people of Grenada expressing their
gratitude to the U.S. Marines for having liberated them.

Answer: It is possible that some citizens of Grenada did. When Hitler
invaded Poland, some fascist and reactionary Polish citizens welcomed him.
After the invasion of the USSR, some people collaborated with the invaders
and congratulated them and called them liberators. This was not the
sentiment of the majority of the people of Poland or the USSR, however. I
feel that the special circumstances in which the invasion of Grenada took
place, the trauma that Bishop's death caused, the rejection of Coard's
group and the confusion that followed could lead some confused people in
Grenada to welcome the Yankee soldiers and congratulate them. It is likely
that this has been televised and photographed. I can assure you, though,
that this will not last long. The last report I received stated that the
people are much angrier about the methods the occupying forces are using
and the measures being taken in Grenada. This is the news we receive. It is
only a matter of time. Apparently, Mr McIntyre refused to head the
government because the conditions were humiliating. He refused to be an
instrument of the occupying forces.

Question: Why do you feel your participation is necessary at the
international level?

Cuba is a small country with limited resources. Why do you feel it is
necessary to send teachers, doctors, technicians and advisers to other
developing countries when you can use them in this country?

Why do your people have to sacrifice that way? The day will come when your
people will say to Fidel: No more. Please let us stay here.

Answer: That day will not come because there is a feeling of solidarity
that grows in our country and an internationalist spirit that continues to
grow. It is a great honor for the Cuban people to carry out this
internationalism. Do you find this odd? I will explain this phenomenon. If
you observe capitalist societies, industrialized societies and even what
happens in the Third World, you will see that individualism and selfishness
prevail. That happened in Cuba before the revolution. We could never send
anyone abroad to help the needy of other developing countries. Now we have
thousands who want to go to Yemen, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Angola.

Question: Is the secret Fidel?

Answer: No, Fidel is not the secret nor are economic resources because our
economic resources are limited. The Secret of that feeling of dedication is
the revolution. Maybe our economic resources are limited but our human
resources are unlimited. The U.S. Peace Corps was created and mobilized on
a paid basis. Catholic missionaries have dedicated their lives to working
in Africa and Asia based on charity, self-denial and vocation. But I can
tell you one thing. When 2,000 teachers were needed in Nicaragua and we
asked for volunteers, 29,000 Cubans expressed their willingness to go. When
they murdered a Cuban teacher in Nicaragua a few months later, 100,000
Cuban teachers expressed their willingness to replace that teacher. That
shows we have enough people willing to go teach in Nicaragua. We have more
people in Cuba with a spirit of self-denial willing to go to the Third
World than all the missionaries from all the churches and the Peace Corps
put together. We have an unlimited number of youths willing to go fulfill
any task assigned to them because they understand the moral values of the
revolution. They will be willing to go anywhere--except perhaps to the
moon. This is the greatest resource our revolution can offer.

Question: Will the 4,000 teachers who came back from Nicaragua recently
return there?

Answer: They came back to spend the holidays with their families. As soon
as the holidays are over, we will send as many teachers as the Nicaraguans
need. Question: The Reagan administration insists that the invasion of
Grenada constituted a serious blow to Cuban prestige and its intentions in
the hemisphere. What is your answer to that?

Answer: Our theory is that the invasion of Grenada was a blow for the
United States. It was a cowardly and ridiculous act that did not represent
any glory for the United States but only increased the fighting spirit of
Nicaragua, Cuba and the revolutionaries in El Salvador. We now have a
firmer position to confront the U.S. aggressor. The spirit of our people
has grown. The revolution is stronger than ever. Cuba's prestige around the
world increased. This incident demonstrated that we do not interfere in the
internal affairs of a country and that Cuba refused to retreat in the face
of Yankee military power. It demonstrated our revolutionary spirit and our
determination to fight. Now our peoples are more convinced than ever that
the Reagan administration is a government that simply does not respect
international law.

Question: The U.S. invasion of Grenada helped you strengthen your relations
with Spanish-speaking Latin America. However, what effect did this have on
your relations with the English-speaking Caribbean?

Answer: Before the invasion of Grenada, we had lost a close and valuable
friend with Bishop's death. With it the revolutionary process was virtually
killed. The United States, by invading the island, killed a corpse and
perpetrated a heinous crime against the sovereignty and desire for freedom
and progress of the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America. Therefore,
I called President Reagan's victory a "Pyrrhic" victory. By invading
Grenada, he demonstrated to Latin America that he did not respect the
commitment to nonintervention that is in all the continental agreements and
that he was determined to continue using the "big stick" Of old times. This
helped divide Latin America and the United States more than before and
aggravated the situation created by the Falkland Islands incident. The
United States is not respected more now. On the contrary, the crime of
Grenada has increased the fighting spirit and will to resist of Cubans,
Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and all revolutionaries, progressives and
democrats on our continent.

As to the English-speaking Caribbean, it is,unfortunate that the last two
incidents that have helped strengthen Latin American unity have also served
to separate a group of English-speaking Caribbean countries from Latin
America. This occurred with the Falkland Islands and again now in the case
of Grenada. Cuba does not suffer much by that separation since the
governments that were accomplices in Reagan's invasion of Grenada,
especially the Jamaican Government and Mrs Charles in Dominica, have
promoted anti-Cuban campaigns for years.

We give special significance to the fact that two members of the
Commonwealth, Guyana and Trinidad-Tobago, which are obviously important and
could be considered the most important countries of that group took a firm
position condemning the U.S. invasion.

Question: Mr President, do you see Namibia ever obtaining independence?
Reagan has tied Namibian independence to the withdrawal of all Cuban troops
from Angola. Are we facing an indefinite deadlock?

Answer: I always have faith in the peoples. The people of Namibia, under
the leadership of the respected SWAPO [South-West African People's
Organization], have fought for their independence for some time. Now some
significant things have occurred with respect to Namibia. The African
countries of the OAU have rejected the "linkage" Reagan tried to establish
between Namibian independence and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from
Angola. The United Nations has condemned that "linkage" which is virtually
dead, defeated as a political concept. France withdrew from the so-called
Contact Group and Canada and other countries seem determined to follow.
Therefore, the United States will lose maneuvering ability and the problem
will remain entirely under UN jurisdiction. Namibia will be free. The
colonialist era has ended even though colonial remnants persist like
Namibia and Puerto Rico.

We are not facing an indefinite deadlock. No one will be able to prevent
Namibian independence just as no one can prevent freedom, equality and
justice in the long run for the immense majority of the South African
people, brutally oppressed by a racist and fascist regime.

Question: Mr President, do you believe the Contadora process will produce
results before another serious escalation in the regional conflict? Has the
threat of a U.S. invasion of Nicaragua receded in the months after Grenada?

Answer: I have just glanced at President Reagan's interview in the 26
December issue of U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT. Mr Reagan said that he is
supporting the efforts of the Contadora Group. However, the Contadora Group
talks about "negotiations," "agreements" and "political solutions" while Mr
Reagan tries to dictate his own conditions to Nicaragua and impose a
decision to his liking on El Salvador. Reagan improved his electoral
"rating" at what is called "a low cost"--nothing more and nothing less than
20 Americans killed in Grenada. Some analysts predict that he will be
content with that electoral strengthening and will not try new ventures. It
would be naive, though, to confine oneself to a "rational" assessment of
the future in view of the irrationality that drives Reagan to fight a "holy
war" in Central America.

Reagan imposes conditions and does not give guarantees. He helps, prepares
and incites Honduras in its threatening attitude against Nicaragua and
continues supplying the Somozist counterrevolutionaries and the ARDE
[Democratic Revolutionary Alliance] groups in the south all the aid they
need for their actions on both borders. At the same time, he continues
preparing joint operations with Honduras and other Central American
countries around Nicaragua. All that implies a danger that it would be
naive to ignore.

Question: Do you foresee greater U.S. intervention in El Salvador as the
government of that country crumbles?

Answer: As to El Salvador, it is obvious that Reagan tries to support the
army and absolve it of the thousands of deaths it has caused among the
Salvadoran people. Reagan does not seem to relaize that he has very little
time left to facilitate negotiations with the guerrilla forces. The
inexorable victory of the revolutionary soldiers becomes more obvious each
day and the collapse of the military can occur in such a way to make any
negotiation unnecessary and unfeasible. It would be necessary, then, to see
if Reagan and his collaborators would be sensible enough to accept a defeat
that can have negative results in the U.S. electoral process or whether, on
the contrary, they would embark on a much more dangerous venture that would
lead them to assume responsibility for the deaths of thousands of U.S.
youths sent to prop up a corrupt and murderous regime without any hope of
long-term victory.

Question: How do you assess the danger for Cuba?

Answer: We cannot let up in our perpetual vigilance facing the dangers we
must confront since Reagan is used to threatening us with blockades and
military aggression. It would be irrational aggression against all law but
Reagan has demonstrated that right and law mean little to him. We cannot
forget his abominable statement that the vote by 122 countries in the UN
General Assembly condemning the United States for the invasion of Grenada
did not disturb his breakfast at all. Therefore, Latin American opinion or
the support that the Contadora negotiations receive in Western Europe, in
the Scandinavian countries and in Japan cannot suffice for us. We must
prepare ourselves and we are preparing ourselves. We prefer negotiation to
confrontation but we also repeat that no threat of confrontation will make
us retreat. Anyone who tries to humiliate us and subjugate us will have to
think twice before deciding to pay the high price it would entail. The U.S.
people must know this. We do not harbor any feeling of hostility toward the
U.S. people. We would like to have an understanding with the United States
and we think we could have an understanding based on equality and mutual
respect. However, anyone who tries to invade us will not only come up
against the modern, powerful and well organized Revolutionary Armed Forces
but will also meet the resistance of millions of organized, trained and
armed citizens who would fight even if the country were occupied. The
resistance would never end. The United States would need millions of
soldiers that it does not have merely to occupy Cuba and, in the end, the
invading troops would have to withdraw in defeat. Conventional war is one
thing and war against an entire people is another. No power, no matter how
strong, can ever conquer 10 million inhabitants with deep combat and
patriotic traditions ready to fight to the death for their way of life,
their fatherland, their independence and their social conquests. It would
also flagrantly violate the 1962 agreements. We basically have our own
defense forces and consider ourselves an absolutely independent country.
However, no one can predict the consequences that an invasion of Cuba would
have for world peace.

Question: The Reagan administration insists you are a Soviet puppet and
henchman. How do you answer that accusation? What exactly is your
relationship with the USSR?

Answer: Anyone who has observed the history of our revolution and
understands its origin will see that our revolution is a truly autonomous
revolution. We did it ourselves. We did not even have relations with the
USSR when our revolution triumphed. Therefore, the interpretation of our
revolution's doctrine was our own interpretation; the style and the road we
followed were truly ours. It was fortunate for us, though, that the USSR
existed. What would have happened if the USSR had not existed? What would
have happened to Cuba when the sugar quota was suspended? The country would
have died of starvation. What would have happened when the oil supply was
suspended, when the spare parts for all the U.S.-made equipment could not
be acquired, when the United States imposed the blockade? We would not have
been able to survive if we had not found a market for our sugar, if we had
not had access to fuel and oil for our country, if we had not had access to
the armaments we needed for defense against the threats of an
invasion--like Playa Giron--assassination attempts and acts of sabotage. It
was a privilege for us to find a friendly country to help us confront all
those difficulties. Never, in 25 years, have the Soviets tried to interfere
in our affairs, in our policy or in our conduct. They have been very
respectful. Not even when we were critical of some concepts were they
tempted to hurt us economically. They were always very respectful. They
never publicly criticized us. Relations between the USSR and Cuba have been
exemplary. They were based on a policy of independence and mutual respect.
Don't forget that while we were fighting against U.S. imperialism under
particularly difficult conditions, the USSR maintained relations with the
United States and traded with the United States.

Reagan's statements don't bother me since he is an absolute liar. It is a
traditional accusation against us. We are not willing to become enemies of
the USSR and sacrifice the excellent relations we have with them in order
to demonstrate that we are not Soviet puppets. We do not have any puppet
complex. We consider ourselves solidly independent, masters of our country,
our destiny and our policy. Our conscience and our morals are clear. The
Soviets do not own a single property in Cuba. There are mutual relations
and influences but they are as independent of us as we are of them. That is

Question: Do you have any reaction to preliminary statements that the
Kissinger Commission report will be very conservative? If you could pick up
the telephone and call Mr Kissinger before he makes his report, what would
you like to convey to him?

Answer: In the first place, even if I had the opportunity to call Mr
Kissinger, I would not pick up the telephone because I don't have anything
to say to him. I don't have any confidence in him because he demonstrated
his personality during the Vietnam War: he coldbloodedly planned the
bombing and murder of thousands of people. I am convinced he is playing
Reagan's game and, in the end, Kissinger's report will be an aggressive and
reactionary report. It will be a mirror reflection of Reagan's intentions.

Question: Suppose the U.S. administration said to you: "All right,
President Fidel, we are going to make a deal. We will lift the blockade, we
will establish diplomatic relations, we will renew technical and economic
ties with Cuba but, in return, you will have to stop supporting the
governments of Nicaragua and Angola and revolutionary movements like

Answer: They would be setting a very high price for our honor and our
principles in exchange for material benefits that we are not too interested
in. Even if we were interested in those benefits, we would not be willing.
We could never pay such a price.

Question: Everyone says this is Fidel's revolution, this is Fidel's Cuba,
the people of Cuba are Fidel's people. Mr President, we are all mortals; we
all have to go some day. What will happen to Fidel's revolution after Fidel

Answer: There is a strange opinion abroad that this is my revolution and
that once I go, it will go with me. Let me tell you that whether Fidel is
here or not, the revolution will continue, It is the revolution of the
people of Cuba. There is collective leadership here. We are a united people
here. We have thousands of cadres with a high level of knowledge and
experience working together in the same direction, toward the same
objective. This is not Fidel's revolution. It is the revolution of the
people. I am not worried about the future.