Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PM290937 Barcelona LA VANGUARDIA in Spanish 17 Feb 84 p 3

[Unattributed report: "Castro's Unexpected Visit to Madrid Imparts New
Impetus to Spanish-Cuban Relations"]

[Text] Madrid -- The leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro,
yesterday achieved his often stated desire to set foot on Spanish soil,
where his father was born. The Cuban leader was accompanied by Daniel
Ortega, coordinator of the Nicaraguan Government junta and one of the
principal leaders of the Sandinist Front.

Castro and his party took advantage of a "technical stopover" by the
Aeroflot return flight from Moscow to Havana to meet with Prime Minister
Felipe Gonzalez and to hold a brief telephone conversation with King Juan
Carlos. The "technical stopover" at Barajas Airport lasted 5 hours, during
which, besides meeting with Spanish officials, the revolutionary leaders
held an impromptu press conference.

Following Fidel Castro's departure, there was talk of another, longer,
official visit to Spain, which has not yet been finalized, despite repeated
invitations that the Cuban leader has received from successive Spanish
Governments. Fidel Castro in turn extended an invitation, in his telephone
call to the Zarzuela Palace, to the king and queen of Spain to visit Cuba,
once described as "the ever loyal island, the last jewel in the crown," and
which to some extent it still remains.

Both Castro and Daniel Ortega paid warm tributes to King Juan Carlos. Fidel
Castro said that he did "not know how to address him, because I regard him
simply as a great friend."

The Cuban leader's 5 hours in Madrid were characterized by spontaneity and
much haste, since Felipe Gonzalez only learned of the aircraft's "technical
stopover" a few hours in advance, although the Spanish prime minister
immediately granted his approval for it.

An impressive display of security was organized at Barajas Airport, where
about 100 journalists awaited Fidel Castro -- which shows how much interest
the news generated.

Peace in Central America

The situation in Central America, prospects for peace in the area, and
world disarmanment were the main topics of conversation at the luncheon
Felipe Gonzalez organized for his guests at the Moncloa Palace, and which
was also attended by Carmen Romero [Mrs Gonzalez], Deputy Prime Minister
Alfonso Guerra, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto, Cuban Deputy
President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, and Spanish Government spokesman Eduardo
Sotillos. Spanish Foreign Minister Fernando Moran was unable to attend,
since he was in Austria.

Afterward, it was revealed that the tone of the conversation bad been
informal and very lively. There was also discussion of industrial and
technological changes. Alfonso Guerra said that Fidel Castro "was very
moved and voluble. He has a great capacity for dialogue." There was no
discussion at the luncheon of the possibility of transferring a number of
ETA deportees to Cuba, but the Cuban revolutionary was again asked to
release Spaniard Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, still in prison in the Caribbean
island on counterrevolutionary charges.

Later, at the press conference given before his departure for Havana, Fidel
Castro said that Gutierrez Menoyo "arrived in Cuba from the United States.
When he landed, fighting took place in which many of our comrades died. He
is the leader of a counterrevolutionary organization carrying out attacks
and sabotage against our country, an organization closely linked to the
CIA. Otherwise, he would have been released long ago."

Nevertheless, Castro added that "Spain and Prime Minister Gonzalez are more
important than anything else, and we do not rule out examination of a
solution to this problem." In connection with this matter, which is
upsetting relations between the two countries, the prisoner's sister and a
group of Cuban exiles including the poet Armando Valladares took up
position near the Moncloa Palace in an attempt to speak with Fidel Castro.
They were unsuccessful. The former nursemaid to Felipe Gonzalez' children,
who had met with Fidel Castro in Havana, was successful, however. With
regard to Gutierrez Menoyo, Alfonso Guerra said later that "all I know is
that he is a political prisoner and must be released."

At the press conference the three leaders -- Spanish, Cuban, and Nicaraguan
-- expressed support for the action for peace being carried out by the
Contadora Group countries. Felipe Gonzalez explained that, when he was
talking to Castro and Ortega, he received a call from President Belisario
Betancur of Colombia, which belongs to the Contadora Group. According to
the Spanish premier, this demonstrates "the fluidity of the dialogue on the
Central American situation."

Before leaving, Fidel Castro met with PCE Secretary General General Gerardo
Iglesias. Both the Popular Alliance and the Popular Democratic Party
expressed their opposition to the visit. At a luncheon with deputies,
Popular Alliance leader Fraga Iribarne quipped that he had invited Fidel
Castro to "have a cup of coffee."