Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

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Jackson, Castro Press Conference

FL271856 Havana Television Service in Spanish 1735 GMT 27 Jun 84

[Press conference by U.S. presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and
President Fidel Castro at Havana's Palace of the Revolution on 27 June;
Jackson speaks in English, Castro in Spanish with consecutive translations,
Jackson remarks transcribed in English; questioners not identified --

[Text] [Castro] Ladies and gentlemen: We imagine that you must -have been
-- quite rightly -- very impatient because of our delay. We apologize
because this was not intended. Our conversations were extended beyond 9:30
and then we had the reception. Then after the reception and despite our
many efforts, it took us some time to define certain ideas and some matters
of importance. We apologize once again and I immediately give the floor to
Rev. Jackson.

[Jackson] Let me express my thanks to Fidel Castro for his kind and
gracious welcome to the beautiful nation of Cuba. I, together with my
family, staff, and invited guests, have been overwhelmed by the warmth and
friendliness, all of us without exceptions

I sincerely wish that all Americans could experience the vibrance of Cubans
and their culture. Moreover, I am hopeful that our visit to the island will
help break the cycle of misunderstanding and bring our peoples and our
governments closer together so that we can begin to relate to each other as
the neighbors that we are.

The afternoon and tonight President Castro and I had a long, detailed,
frank, and open discussion. With a moral appeal, we have urged a moral
offensive on 10 major areas to move our countries from a cold war rhethoric
battleground to a moral higher ground. We must now seize this moment to
make peace possible. Peace and security are indivisible.

Point i. Normalization of relations. It is clear that the policy of
nonrecognition has caused us 25 years of pain and needless misunderstanding
but, beyond the psychological scars, this policy has swallowed precious
resources into the production of arms of destruction. Education, health,
jobs, and development, have all been impeded by such a policy. Our
countries can no longer afford the mistakes of the past. We must normalize
relations between our countries immediately.

Point 2. Exchange of ambassadors. With the full realization that all that
what we have appealed for today normally would be resolved through
government to government dialogue, we seize the moral initiative to propose
that our nations exchange ambassadors immediately and that no preconditions
exist. President Castro has agreed, pending acceptance by the United

Point 3. Family reunification and immigration. I conveyed to President
Castro the concern of Cuban-American families who have been unable to
reunite with their relatives in Cuba and who lack visas to enter the United
States. We were also cognizant of the U.S. Government's desire to resolve
the problem of the so called "excludables," who have been indetention
centers in the United States since the Mariel boat lift.

President Castro expressed the dispostion of Cuba, of the Cuban Government,
to immediately enter into a process of negotiation to reach an agreement
that would regulate immigration between our two countries and thus
facilitate this reunification of family process and the return to Cuba of
those "excludables." President Castro stated his position that to enter
this process it would be needed that the Democratic as well as the
Republican Party agree that this matter should not become an electoral
issue, being as it is in the best interest of the United States.

Point 4. Visit to Cuban prisons. As Americans began to hear of my visit to
Cuba, we received many inquires from families who had a loved one in a
Cuban prison. We have requested, and President Castro has agreed, that we
visit these American prisoners. Tomorrow we will go.

Point 5. Release of American prisoners. After extensive discussions,
President Castro agreed to the proposal to release 22 native-born citizens
of the United States. Said persons represent substantially all the
Americans now in prison in Cuba. Subject to certain immigration matters,
these persons will accompany our delegation to Washington on Thursday.

Point 6. Previously released Cubans. Regarding the matter of Cuban
prisoners, we studied the cases of the counterrevolutionary prisoners who
reportedly had worked for the United States and who have been freed by the
Cuban Government but have not been granted visas by the Government of the
United States. We will set in motion immediately a process to make possible
their immigration to the United States. In like fashion, President Castro
agreed to permit Andres Vargas Comez to leave the country. [applause] I
also raised the issue of some Cubans who are now in prison for crimes
against the state.

Point 7. The 1 July March for peace. As part of the need to launch a moral
offensive that will serve as the basis for a new relationship between the
nations of this hemisphere, President Fidel Castro has expressed his
support for the initiative to hold a march to the border this July first in
San Diego and Trijuana for peace and the establishment of a warfree zone in
the hemisphere, from Canada to Cuba.

Point 8. Support for Contadora. In relation to the situation in Central
America, we agreed on the need to seek and support solutions based on the
respect for nonintervention and noninterference in the internal affairs of
nations and their sovereignty and independence. President Fidel Castro
reiterated Cuban support for the Contadora process for achieving a
negotiated solution or settlement to the conflict in Central America and to
the search for a negotiated solution to the war in El Salvador.

Point 9. The situation in southern Africa. In the same fashion, we have
discussed the situation of the countries in southern Africa. We agreed on
the need to implement United Nations Resolution 435 in order to achieve the
real and effective independence of Namibia, the end to aggression against
Angola by South Africa, and the termination of South African support of
counterrevolutionary groups acting against the Government of Angola. The
end of these threats and aggressions will create the basis for the
withdrawal of Cuban troops from, Angola, as was expressed in joint
communiques of both governments in February 1982 and March 1984. We held
discussion on the need to give the support of our moral offensive to other
peoples of the African Continent who continue to struggle for peace,
independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, in countries such as
Tanzania, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Congo.

Point 10. Invitation to Fidel Castro. In closing our discussions tonight,
in the name of a broad base of U.S. citizens, I have extended an invitation
to President Fidel Castro to visit the United States in order to continue
this process of rapprochement between our peoples and the moral offensive
we began today. Thank you very much. [appaluse]

[Castro] Who is going to preside over this?

[Question] President Castro, do you believe that there can ever be a
normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba while Mr
Ronald Reagan is President?

[Castro] I believe that these relations will have to be normalized some day
because this this situation cannot be eternal. This will happen with Reagan
or with another president. It will have to happen with some U.S. president.
We do not exclude any.

[Question] Who are the prisoners who might be released; Marco Gomez? Vargas

[Castro] Vargas Gomez? we don't...First of all, Rev Jackson referred to the
matter of Americans imprisoned in Cuba. Many families expressed to him
their interest in this regard. Also with regard to these American
prisoners, numerous U.S. senators and legislators have taken an interest.
Recently, we had adopted the policy of not agreeing to the release of any
of these prisoners as we had done in the past, precisely because of the
slander against Cuba in relation to drug trafficking, But Rev Jackson
insisted greatly on this matter and asked us to make an exception because
of humanitarian considerations, and release these prisoners. Then, we
decided to free all the U.S. prisoners in Cuba with the exception of those
who were arrested and imprisoned for the crime of hijacking aircraft. It
seems to us that because the hijacking of aircraft is a very delicate
matter, we should not include the Americans in this group. These are being
held for other types of crime. With the exception of those who are in
prison for hijacking aircraft, we are going to release all the prisoners. I
cannot give you their names. We have the list and there are 22 [on it].
Eighteen who have been sentenced and 4 who are awaiting trial.

To conclude the idea. He also expressed interest in a list of prisoners of
Cuban nationality for crimes against the state. Various lists with
different names. Among them, he expressed interesting the case of a Cuba
citizen who was a CIA agent. He has been in prison for many years. We have
released him because of his age. Rev Jackson asked that he be allowed to
travel to the United States and we have agreed as long as the matter of the
visa is solved.

He also expressed interest in other prisoners. But on this, we have not
made any commitments. We will examine the list and see what we can do. But
with respect to this, I reiterate we have made no commitment,

[Jackson] One of the reasons we focused on the area of prisoners so long is
because for our nation and Cuba to realize the fruits of our potential to
bring about peace in this hemisphere, we must normalize ties and focus on
development and not deployment of weapons of war and warfare. The
administration has stated that the Mariel prisoner situation was the basis
for starting talks. Mr Castro had said that he would deal with that matter
after November. We appealed to him to begin to deal with the matter
immediately. There is an urgency upon us as war drums beat throughout our
hemisphere. We must successfully launch a moral offensive in the summer and
avoid the temptation for any kind of military offensive from either
direction in the fall.

Therefore, we appealed to him to deal with the matter immediately. And
therefore, he has changed his time schedule and has agreed to do so. In our
judgment, it's a step in the right direction. [applause]

[Castro] I would like to explain this matter. Between the U.S.
Administration and Cuba, there had been some exchange of notes with respect
to this problem, the question of regulating immigration between Cuba and
the United States and those that are considered unacceptable, who are
imprisoned I believe in Atlanta. We have told the U.S. Administration that
we would prefer to discuss this matter after the elections so that this
point would not become a political topic, which in our judgment would not
contribute to the solution of the problem. But Rev Jackson insisted on this
issue, which he considers important so we told him if this issue has the
support of both political parties and it would not become a political
matter in the election, considering that he is a member of the opposition
and interested in finding a solution, we expressed our agreement on these
grounds to begin an immediate discussion on -- if necessary -- an agreement
that would encompass the regulation of immigration because for years now,
very few visas have been granted by the United States to Cuban citizens who
wish to meet with their relatives in the United States.

So, within this framework of seeking a solution to the problem of
reunification of families that has been brought up by Rev Jackson, we have
agreed to also examine the cases of those who are considered excludable
from the United States which is something that in our view is (?pending)
and for which in our view a solution can be found. As part of this, we also
examined the situations of many prisoners who have been released for
counterrevolutionary crimes and who have wanted to travel to the United
States and meet their relatives. That problem has been pending for a long
time. We have examined these issues.

[Question in English] Rev Jackson, it has been 48 hours now since [name
indistinct] called Judiasm a gutter religion and offensive to God. Do you
finally have any reaction to that and do you repudiate those remarks?

[Jackson] I should not respond to that and I don't know enough about it. I
shouldn't respond to that now.

[Question in English] Rev Jackson, is there any way that those remarks can
possibly be misunderstood? Is there any way that the venom of those remarks
can be misunderstood by you and not get a reaction from you?

[Jackson] In this press conference, I'm going to focus on this agenda and
when I read that statement and understand its text and context, perhaps it
will be appropriate to respond to it at that time. I just don't have enough
information about it to respond to it and I intend to focus this press
conference on this most urgent matter that could save the lives of
thousands of people in this hemisphere. [applause]

[Question in Spanish] President Castro, how was the Central American
situation and the support of the Contadora Group examined?

[Castro] That has been well expressed in Jackson's statement. We reiterate
our support to the Contadora process because since the emergence of the
Contadora Group, we have supported it. We have confirmed that policy.

We have also expressed our knowledge about the fact that both Nicaraguans
as well as Salvadorans favored seeking a political negotiated solution for
the Central American problems. We, without any sort of hesitation, have
fully supported these aims, both on the part of the Nicaraguan Government
and the revolutionary movement of El Salvador -- that is to find a
negotiated political solution to the problems of Central America.

[Jackson] Just this past Sunday, we spent considerable time with the
FMLN-FDR leadership and appealed to that leadership, which had sought to
meet with us, to launch a moral offensive to break this cycle of pain. And,
essentially they sent a message to Mr Duarte indicating four things. One,
that they were willing to go to the table and talk of negotiating a
political solution rather than a military solution. Number two, that they
would go to San Salvador for such talks and perhaps meet in the Costa Rican
embassy. Three, that they endorse the Contadora process. And four, they
were willing to negotiate, or talk out, or agree to, a mutual cease-fire in
that context. Fortunately, Mr Duarte accepted these proposals graciously
and said publicly that he would convey them to the people of El Salvador.
He would also recommend general amnesty for political prisoners and he then
allowed us to visit prisoners in the jail in El Salvador. We would hope
that all forces involved use their collective strength and goodwill to urge
these parties to get to the table and stay there, and end the civil war,
and talk it out, not fight it out. And give peace a chance. Enough blood
has been shed, it is now time to go another way.

[Question] Mr Jackson: Just to be clear, where do you stand on the possible
release of Cuban political prisoners?

[Jackson] The question is about American prisoners in Cuba. President
Castro has made the judgment to release them with Congressman Dymally and
the American Interest Section leader. They will be processed tomorrow and
released on Thursday. We expect to take them back to Washington. As for
political prisoners and the Mariel prisoners, we expect that the
reunification of the families commitment will go a long way to heal divided
families, and that this process be respected by both nations and followed

[Question] Rev Jackson: Are any of the American prisoners fugitives or
wanted in the United States, and how will those cases be handled if there
are any?

[Jackson] I don't have that information. You'll have to check with the
Interest Section leader tomorrow. Congressman Dymally will meet with
American officials here and go through each of these cases. The only area
excluded was that of hijackers, some of whom have no desire to go back, but
those details will be worked out tomorrow. Our concern is that given the
cold war behaviour and the hot war rhetoric creating so much pain, loss of
trade, and loss of life, that the release of American citizens was a good
faith gesture and should be responded to in kind.

[Question] Rev Jackson: Do you think your constituents are going to feel
very good about your bringing drug dealers back in the country?

[Jackson] I would hope that since Mr Reagan has made the Mariel prisoners a
basis for conversation, we would then use the prisoner issue as the basis
for at least starting to talk. I wish that trade had been the basis for
exchange or a summit conference between Mr Castro and Mr Reagan had been
the basis for a summit meeting to end the conflict in Central America, but
none of these matters seem to be as important as the prisons. So we started
with what we had and now we are moving to a dialogue, and that's in the
right direction.

[Question] President Castro, sir: Rev Jackson has invited you to come to
the United States. Would you like to come to the United States with him?
And would it be on an ad hoc basis as his guest or would you want to meet
with President Reagan and congressional leaders?

[Castro] Well, as he explained, he extended the invitation on behalf of a
broad strata.

It is not an official invitation by the U.S. Government. Naturally, I
promised him that I would take this invitation into consideration. At times
I have gone to the United States, to the UN. At the beginning, I was
invited to the Press Club in Washington. Now, also through Rev Jackson an
invitation was extended to me by the Trans-African Group. But, naturally,
because of the present situation between the United States and Cuba this is
a matter that must be carefully examined and considered before making any

[Question] A follow-up, if I may. The United States is going to put Radio
Marti on the air. You reportedly have said that Cuba will jam radio signals
in North America if the administration does that. What, if anything, will
you do when Radio Marti goes on the air?

[Castro] That was never said. On the contrary, what was said was that we
were not going to interfere. But, if broadcasts were made directly from the
United States to Cuba, we reserve the right to broadcast directly to the
United States. We reserve that right. The purpose would not be to jam. It
might jam some stations, But what was said was that Cuba reserves the right
to address programs to the United States. At present, there are normal
interferences and that matter has been discussed. We have been willing to
discuss all these questions of interferences that take place. But what has
obstructed a solution to the problem of interferences is precisely the
decision to establish that radio station. Lately that radio station has
been announced many times, but as of yet it has not gone on the air. The
question we would ask is what is the rush; there is no need to cross a
bridge before you reach it.

[Question] President Castro: Under what terms are you willing to withdraw
troops from Central America and Angola?

[Castro] I believe it is an incorrect statement when troops are mentioned
in Central America, because Cuba does not have troops in Central America.
There are no military units in Central America. What we have there is a
group of military advisers, many doctors, teachers, and civilian workers.
Those are most of the Cubans cooperating with Nicaragua. They are not
military. The majority are teachers. They are health workers and civilian
workers. There are some military advisers, teachers; they are professors
rather than advisers. That is what we have there. On these matters we have
never lied. When the Grenada event took place, all those who heard the
Cuban statements were able to appreciate the absolute accuracy with which
we gave names, number of Cubans there, and what they were doing. And when
we say that the overwhelming majority are teachers, doctors, nurses, health
technicians, and civilian workers, we are simply telling the truth. We have
no troops to withdraw from Nicaragua, because we do not have troops in
Nicaragua. With respect to Angola, as Rev Jackson explained, we are willing
to cooperate to find a solution to the problems of southern Africa. The
basis for that cooperation would be the application of UN Resolution 435 on
Namibia's independence, an end to threats and aggressions against Angola,
and an end to the support of counterrevolutionary forces in Arigola. That
is something we have agreed upon, and publicly declared it in February 1982
and in March of this year in a joint declaration of the Governments of
Angola and Cuba, a copy of which I gave to Rev Jackson.

[Question] Rev Jackson: On the topic of Central America, we would like to
hear your views. You will be visiting Nicaragua very soon. We would like to
hear you talk about the political process developing there, U.S. policy
toward that Central American country, and the deployment of U.S. troops in
Honduras and advisers in El Salvador.

[Jackson] We think our nation should choose to support the Contadora
process in word and deed, that we should not continue to militarize this
region, that we should recognize the sovereignty of the people of
Nicaragua. We ought to respect their government and move to normalize ties.
We should not mine the harbors of Nicaragua, nor should we engage in
activities to overthrow their government. To turn Honduras into a U.S.
military base will further isolate our nation in world opinion. These
tremendous resources should be spent on exporting doctors and construction
engineers to rebuild the infra-structure of these nations to bring health
to their people, to wipe out malnutrition and infant mortality. We must
choose developed minds over guided missiles, and negotiations over
deployment. We are visiting these nations appealing to the leaders on the
left, the right, the center, and outside the governments to choose the
moral offensive and give people a chance. We must impress upon the American
people that these wars are taking place in the Western Hemisphere, a
driving distance from the United States down the Pan-American Highway. El
Salvador is 1,500 miles from the United States by highway or by foot. This
is not Vietnam, or Japan, or Europe, 10,000 miles away across oceans. The
war is literally taking place next door. We must move now from Canada to
Cuba to normalize relations and negotiate differences within the political
context, and make the Western Hemisphere a war-free zone. Thank you very

[Question] [Words indistinct] with Colombia?

[Castro] Well, we have contact with Colombia and exchange quite a few
visits but [diplomatic] relations have not been established because both
the Government of Colombia and the Government of Cuba consider that this is
a matter that must be carried out progressively and carefully when
conditions exist so that solid relations can be established between the two
countries. Is this over? [No response is heard] I wanted to say also, to
finish up, and this is important: In our meetings -- we have had various
meetings with the delegation, we have had many hours of careful
conversations with Rev Jackson, with great accuracy and detail -- we also
made a detailed study of the international situation and we expressed our
concern, our deep concern, for the tense international situation and the
danger of war that is being created. And we became convinced of the need to
work to reduce the focal points of tension and to overcome this situation
which could lead the world to catastrophic and exterminating war. I want to
say that, together with this, we discussed bilateral problems, the problem
of Central America, and of southern Africa. We took great interest in the
entire international situation because we believe that enormous resources
that the Third World needs for its development are being spent on arms.
There are great economic and social problems that must be solved. War is
bad for everyone. We explained that as a socialist and a Cuban we believe
that there is nothing further removed from our ideals and goals than the
arms industry and arms traffic. We spoke at length of this matter and I had
the opportunity to express to Rev Jackson and his delegation our ideas on
this subject.

To conclude, I would like to explain that we did not receive Rev Jackson as
a presidential candidate or precandidate. We did not receive him as a
member of a specific party. We received him and dealt with him as a
prominent person, a person who is concerned with the problems of peace,
concerned about civil rights, and concerned about social development. It is
within that framework that we received him as a person who represents the
sentiments of an important part of the American people. So we have not had
the slightest intention of interfering in the internal affairs of the
United States.

Furthermore, I wish to express my appreciation, after our long hours of
personal contact, for the great clarity, the rigorous honesty, and the deep
feelings of Rev Jackson. And, as I have told the delegation, I admire him
basically for his political courage because, in the present situation of
the relations between the United States and Cuba, and with so much
prejudice that exists and so many campaigns of every type, he has had the
admirable courage to take steps towards the improvement of relations
between our countries and to seek formulas for the resolution of problems
of tension and war in different parts of the world. We received him with
great warmth as a representative of the American people and as a man who
expresses noble ideas. We received him with all the hospitality, the
friendship, and the goodwill of which our people are capable. [applause].

[Jackson] Thank you. I should like to make a special request of you,
President Castro. In the meeting with the entire delegation this afternoon,
before we went into a much smaller session, one of the critical areas was a
series of reasons given by President Castro as to the advantages of
normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, instead of
continuing the conflict. And I wish that some of the reasons you gave as to
the advantages that normalizing relations would mean for the two peoples,
the mutual advantages for the two peoples... If you could briefly reiterate
some of those ideas.

[Castro] I did not want to expand on that point too much, because of the
hour, (?it's too long). I am going to repeat myself literally. I will try
very briefly to express the essence of the fact that we live in the same
hemisphere, the United States, the Latin American peoples, and the
Caribbean peoples. We have no choice but to seek peace. The United States
is interested in relations with the Latin American peoples and the peoples
of Latin America and the Caribbean are interested in relations with the
United States.

The United States has the scientific development and technical development
[words indistinct] important market for the peoples of Latin America. The
peoples of Latin America have human and natural resources. They have a
great need for social and economic development. They would constitute an
important market for the United States and logically, it cannot be a policy
of domination, force, or military imposition that solves the problems of
relations between the United States and the rest of the peoples. In the
United States it is said that revolutions are the cause for immigration to
the United States. We say that that is totally false -- that the cause of
immigration to the United States is poverty in Latin America and the

For example, in Haiti there were no socio-military-political conflicts and
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Haitians are exerting pressure
to immigrate to the United States as a result of the conditions of poverty
and lack of sanitation existing in that country, to such a degree that the
United States has had to dedicate a whole Coast Guard squadron to impede
the immigration of those people to the United States.

Millions of Mexicans every year try to travel to the United States to find
jobs despite the fact that in Mexico, there is no political conflict, no
war situation. There are many millions of other Latin Americans who have
traveled or who have tried to go to the United States.

They do not try to travel to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, or any other
country. They try to go to the country that has great economic development
and the highest standard of living in the world. So the actual cause for
immigration to the United States and migratory pressures on the United
States are the conditions of poverty, underdevelopment, and hunger in Latin

It is there that we must approach the problem and what in the long term
will overcome this problem is the economic and social development of Latin
America, which has a population of more than 300 million inhabitants and
which in the year 2000, will have about 600 million. But it is a continent
of great natural resources and great human resources.

One cannot continue to view U.S.-Latin American problems through military
intervention, pressures of intervention, or oppression. I explained that
these problems in Central America have existed since the last century and
intervention in Central America has existed since even before Cuba was
independent; that there were problems in Latin America and Central America
long before the Cuban revolution; that the Mexican Revolution occurred many
years before the Russian Revolution and that these problems have been in
existence since the last century. They have existed and they will continue
to exist and this situation has produced an unequal development between
Latin America and the United States.

I believe that when one thinks about the long term, revolutionaries as well
as Americans must understand that there must be other grounds for relations
between the United States and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean
and that those grounds must be mainly based on the principle of respect for
national sovereignty, non-intervention, and non-interference in the
internal affairs of other nations.

We also explained that in today's world, no one can attempt to impose
social changes by force from abroad. That is practically impossible. No one
can think about that. It would not be realistic and we revolutionaries
ourselves understand that under no circumstances can one think of carrying
our justice and carrying revolution from one country to another. The only
principle to be put into practice for peace in the world is respect for the
sovereignty of peoples and the right of every nation to establish whatever
political, economic, or social regime it considers convenient. There will
be places where injustice will be prolonged, but it will be necessary to
wait for the day when all people decide to make the necessary changes, but
this is something that cannot be imposed from abroad.

We explained to him our deep conviction about this, a conviction as a
socialist, as a revolutionary who thinks about today's realities and we
expect those in power in the United States, to understand and acknowledge
these realities. I believe that we discussed this topic at length. They
took note of this. Since Rev Jackson speaks English and my English is very
poor, I believe that maybe in the future sometime we could speak freely
about these topics. [applause]