Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


FL161528 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0130 GMT 16 Feb 85 -- FOR

[Interview with President Fidel Castro by U.S. correspondent Robert MacNeil
of the Public Broadcast Service's [PBS] "MacNeil, Lehrer Newshour," in
Havana; date not given; questions in English with simultaneous translation
into Spanish -- recorded]

[Text] [MacNeil] Mr President, every time that you begin to talk of
improving relations with the United States, Washington says show us deeds
not words.  What actions or deeds are you prepared to show to improve
relations with the United States?

[Castro] You are saying every time I speak of improving
relations...actually, there have not been many times.  But, I have read a
few statements where they say they want deeds and not words.  I think that
is a style of speaking, I would say a style of a great power.  I understand
it is not easy for the United States to change its style.  We are a small
country, we cannot speak in those terms, but we are also a country with a
great deal of dignity and no one can assume we are going to beg the United
States for better relations.  We have never done so and never will.

We have put forth our positions.  Our political positions are based on
in-depth convictions and objective analyses, whether we speak of the
international situation, or the situation of Central America, southern
Africa, or of the very serious economic problems that currently exist and
greatly affect the Third World; the dangers that affect peace are real, the
risks are huge, there is an increasing number of persons aware of those
risks and there is increasing concern about then.  We are not trying to be
believed or not, the essential thing is to see that what is said is based
on convictions and analysis.  When I speak with the Americans, I try to use
reason and to get them to reason and use arguments; not simply to say we
think this way but rather why we think this way.

As I recently told some Americans, in the United States, there are many
people with convictions, but not with ideas.  There are obvious truths.  I
understand that in the United States there are a few obvious truths in the
U.S. Constitution, it states obvious truths.  However, in the United
States many people really believe everything that is stated is an obvious
truth.  That is why I have said on many occasions that I have noticed
convictions and not ideas.  I do not intend for them to believe us but
simply that they study our ideas and that they be analysed, an objective
analysis of events.  It is not a matter of faith or confidence, it is a
matter of objectivity.

[MacNeil] Let's go through an objective analysis.  The State Department and
the White House always say that there are three obstacles to improving the
relations between Cuba and the United States: They are your allegiance to
the Soviet Union, what they call subversions in this hemisphere, and a
large number of your troops in Africa.  Sometimes, they also mention human
rights in Cuba.  The White House mentioned human rights in Cuba this week
again.  Can we discuss each of these in detail?

[Castro] Everything you want.

[MacNeil] Starting with relations with the Soviet Union.  Is there a
formula through which you could keep your ties with the Soviet Union and
improve relations with the United States?

[Castro] Well, this is not a lot, if the United States believes there are
three obstacles.

I thought there were more.  Now then, if we study these three types of
obstacles, the first one, the relations we have with the Soviet Union, with
the socialist countries, and with any other country are matters of our
sovereignty, it can not be questioned, at least we are not willing to
discuss it.  This is something I have said frankly, if in order to improve
our relations with the United States we have to give up our convictions and
our principles, then the relations will not improve on those terms.  If we
are going to question our sovereignty, then they will not improve either.
Relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union are based on the strictest
respect for the independence and sovereignty of our country.

We have friendly and close relations and those relations cannot be affected
in order to improve relations with the United States.  I believe the United
States would not respect a country that would do such a thing.  Countries
that do those things are not respected.  We are going to change either our
flag or our ideas.  Our relations with the Soviet Union and our friendship
will continue unchanged.  I say this with sincerity and it is important
that it be understood.

[MacNeil] On that very same topic.

[Castro] Yes, correct.

[MacNeil] I believe that Kenneth Skoug, the State Department's director of
the Office of Cuban Affairs, has been here in Havana.

[Castro] Yes.

[MacNeil] Perhaps we can come back to that in a moment.  In December, Skoug
said in a speech what Cuba could not do and still retain Moscow's favor is
to alter its fundamental commitment to unswervingly support Soviet policy.
Is that right?

[Castro] Would you repeat that?

[MacNeil] Yes indeed, what Cuba could not do and still retain Moscow's
favor is to alter its fundamental commitment to unswervingly support the
Soviet policy.  And my question is, isn't that unswerving support for
Soviet policy the price of the Soviet aid that keeps the Cuban economy

[Castro] We [words indistinct] the Soviet Union.  We share political
principles.  The Soviet Union is a socialist country, we are a socialist
country.  They have a political doctrine which is also our political
doctrine.  It is not only the political doctrine of the Soviets.  Marx was
not a Soviet, Engels was not a Soviet, Lenin was a Soviet.  So the doctrine
is common to Cuba, the USSR, and other revolutionary countries.  It is
based on principles and on the philosophical and political works of many
thinkers and many people have participated in them.  There are even people
in the United States who are Marxists and Leninists.  They were persecuted
for that earlier but I do not think they are persecuted now.  But because
they are Marxists-Leninists, they might not have many possibilities to be
promoted or access to public office or to private positions.

[Words indistinct] common processes with the Soviet Union and in many
international problems, we have a common position.  That is, it is based on
political ideas and principles.  It is a friendly country, whose friendship
we are not going to deny.  We do not apologize for our friendship with
them, because actually, we are not going to fight with our friends in order
to make friends with our adversaries.  That we will never do.

The cooperation we receive from the Soviet Union is to a large extent based
on principle.  That is, the principles of socialism, and on the very
principles of internationalism.  These are the reasons we cooperate with
dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, and even in Latin America.  We
cooperate with Nicaragua, for example, Guyana, we cooperated with Jamaica
when Manley was in power.  We cooperated with Grenada until the U.S.
invasion.  And we have cooperated with many countries with thousands of
doctors, teachers, technicians and at times [words indistinct] military
cooperation.  Why?  Because of a principle.  And on no occasion did we
impose conditions.

The Soviets have never imposed conditions on us for their aid.  They have
never attempted to tell us what we should do, what we must do, with what
countries we are to trade, with what countries we are to have relations.
And we have neither asked them nor have we tried to indicate to them what
they should do.  We have trade and diplomatic relations with almost all the
industrialized Western countries, with the exception of the United States.
And we have not had to ask permission from anyone to do this.  I do not
know the origin of the idea that our relations with the Soviets are an
obstacle and if someone thinks we are going to sell out or give up our flag
or that we are going to change our minds, he is mistaken.  Cuba is a
country that cannot be bought.  Countries that can be bought are simply not

[MacNeil] You say you don't know where that idea comes from.  I think that
the United States Government (?thinks) that economic dependence on Moscow
makes you automatically part of the Soviet camp in having to agree to
policies like the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.  Would you, Fidel
Castro, who values the independence and integrity of this country, would
you alone have approved the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan if you had
been free to make your own choice?

[Castro] I will say something regarding the problems of relations of the
Soviets and the Afghans.  This is something it would be better to discuss
with the Soviets and the Afghans.  Regarding any international problem, we
might be in agreement or disagreement with the Soviets.  But we...
[rephrases] The problems, the differences we might have on any issue, we
discuss them with them.  They also discussed them with us.  We do not
discuss them publicly.  This is not the way we do things in our relations
with them and with the other socialist countries.  We do not make public
points on which there might be disagreement.  That is the line we follow.

But we have our standards on many issues.  Many times, we agree with the
other socialist countries.  And other times, we do not agree with them.
But we do not discuss these matters in public.  Those are not the standards
of our relations.  Not with the USSR or with other countries because we
have relations with many countries, with Ethiopia, Angola, the Congo,
Mozambique, Guinea, Nicaragua, Guyana, Panama.  We might have disagreements
with many of the countries with whom we have relations, but we do not
discuss them publicly.  That is not the standard we use in our relations
with our friends, whether it be the Soviets, or any other socialist
countries or any nonsocialist country or Third World country.  That is the
standard we follow.

[MacNeil] Did you privately and personally approve of the Soviet
intervention in Afghanistan?

[Castro] No.  When it was brought up at the United Nations, we clearly said
that in that conflict, in that tremendous attack against the Soviet Union
directed by the United States, we were not going to place ourselves on the
side of the United States and so we were on the side of the Soviet Union.
They are studying...[rephrases] We took that position because of this.

[MacNeil] Is that not the point, that your friendship and dependence on the
Soviet Union makes you part of their camp and therefore makes you take
positions that Washington considers to be anti-American?

[Castro] I tell you there was a moment much more crucial and difficult and
much more important than anything that might have happened in many years.
It was the crisis of October 1962.  And we were not in agreement.

We did not agree with the Soviet decision: and made it known publicly.  It
was not kept secret.  We categorically and publicly told them that we were
not in agreement with the final solution given to that crisis.  We made
this known publicly.

We proposed five-point [solution].  This was the reason that our relations
with the Soviets became sour (?over a period of time).  At the time we
believed we were in disagreement.  Mainly, the reason was there were
certain things related to Cuba such as the Guantnnamo Base, the economic
blockade, the pirate attacks which, in my judgment, could have been
discussed as part of the overall solution.

In the end, after years had passed, we reached the conclusion that, even
though that solution was not wholly satisfactory for us, however, in the
end, it had avoided a war and, above all, it was a correct action.  At the
time, this action was much more important.  We have declared this as part
of history.  We have always had the courage...  As years have passed, we
have reached the conclusion that our position was not the correct one at
that time, and that the events have shown that the action taken was the
best thing that could have occurred under those circumstances.

The moment was so dangerous and intense that a solution could not be
delayed because of minor details which could affect us but which were not
as fundamental as what was being decided at the time, war or peace.

You have determined this thing of dependence as (?pivotal).  In today's
world, in the economic field, no one is absolutely independent, not even
the United States, Japan, or Western Europe.  They depend on oil, raw
materials.  Many other countries need markets, trade.  So no country is
totally independent economically.  The Soviets, our best market is the
Soviet Union, buy the largest part of our products at highly stable and
highly profitable prices for us.  That trade is extremely useful as is the
trade with other European socialist countries; GDR, Bulgaria,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania.  We have stable and profitable
prices.  There is where we place the largest part of our goods.

We trade with China based on world market prices.  From those countries we
receive essential raw materials such as fuel, lumber, steel, chemical
products, foodstuffs, equipment.  So for us, it is very important.  We are
not going to give that up.  Moreover, no country would give up the economic
relations we maintain with the socialist countries.  We do not maintain
that type of relations with any capitalist country.  For example, we
maintain relations with Western Europe and Japan.  How much does a
bulldozer cost today?  It costs four tines what it cost 20 years ago.  How
much are our export products worth today?  The same or less than 20 years

Of course, that is the tragedy being experienced with coffee, cacao,
minerals, all products being exported by the Third World.  That is the
problem of unequal trade, which constitutes a growing exploitation of Third
World countries and one of the causes for underdevelopment and backwardness
existing in the Third World.  At least we have established a fair trade
with socialist countries, and that is what we wish everyone in the Third
World would have when a new international economic order comes into

[MacNeil] I would like to go back to the economy and the relations with the
Soviet Union and how the United States sees them.  Is it not true that your
role in return for all the aid you get from the Soviet Union is a thorn in
the side of the United States?

[Castro] If that were true, we would not talk about improving relations
with the United States.  The role of a thorn would not be advantageous for
us.  In reality, this does not bring great benefits to us.  We are based on
a conviction.  It is the need to struggle in our area, in Central America,
and in the rest of the world.  It is our duty to try to relax tensions and
achieve peaceful relations in the world.  I am saying this very sincerely,
even though I am a revolutionary.  I was, I am, and will always be.  I will
not change a single principle in exchange for 1,000 relations with 1,000
countries such as the United States.  As a revolutionary, I have
convictions and I analyze them.  I think a lot about today's world
problems.  I believe the most important duty of any leader, of any
politician, of any government which is responsible is to work for peace.

This does not mean that changes will not continue to occur.  They will
continue to occur.  According to that theory, what is convenient for us is
not to have normal relations with the United States because it would be an
extraordinary business and no one would be willing to give up such a
business. [sentence as received]

In reality, by proposing this, we demonstrate the weakness of that theory.

[MacNeil] So you believe that you could have something approaching normal
relations with the United States and the Soviet Union would still consider
it in the Soviet Union's interest, to continue to subsidize you with $4
billion annually and forget the production problems in the sugar and nickel
industries as well as other products you export to the Soviet Union, and
allow you to have 200,000 barrels of oil daily?  Will they continue to do
all that if you have good relations with the United States?  Do you believe
that would be the case?

[Castro] First of all, I have to express my disagreement with the subsidy
theory.  We do not see this as a subsidy.  We export nickel, sugar, and
citrus fruits as well as other products to the Soviet Union and many other
countries.  Our trade is maintained based on prices, not subsidies.  That
is a U.S theory.  Well, that is good.

[MacNeil] But the Soviet Union pays 30 cents for your sugar when the
highest world market price would be 3 cents.  Is that true?

[Castro] Right.  I will ask you a question.  Twenty years ago, we bought
oil at almost $2 per barrel, right?  Now we pay, I cannot tell you the
exact price per barrel, but it is around $25 or $26, approximately the
world market price.  Does that mean we are subsidizing the Soviet Union?
And why?  Because the Soviet Union instead of giving us that amount for
each barrel pays us 30 cents per pound for sugar instead of 5 cents.  Is
that necessarily a subsidy?  If we pay much more for other products and
equipment than we did 20 years ago, why has it been said that we are
subsidizing the Soviet Union? [as heard]

[MacNeil] I don't know.  I'm not in a position to argue that.  Let me ask
my question again in another way.  Do you believe that the Soviet Union
will continue to provide you with the aid and support that it does if you
have good relations with the United States?

[Castro] Look, our relations with the Soviet Union and the socialist
countries are solid and based on principles and they have absolutely
nothing to do with our economic and political relations with the United
States.  That is clear.

Just as they have nothing to do with our relations with Japan, with Spain,
with the FRG, with Italy, or with the United Kingdom.  The United States
considers itself to be the center of the world and in order to have
relations with the United States it becomes necessary to fight with the
rest of the world.  In this sense, the United States is an exception; that
is not exactly a rule. [as heard]

Now then, our relations with the socialist nations are under discussion,
even the relations we are going to have between 1986 and 1990 and between
1990 and 2000. The development plans, what we are going to export to them,
what they are going to export to us, credits, and all the rest are being
discussed and planned. These are firm plans. Everything else is a
simplistic analysis.

I will say one thing.  The Soviet Union and the Soviet people have a great
deal of affection and respect for Cuba.  They have respect for Cuba because
they admire us, as do other peoples, for Cuba's courage, Cuba's firmness,
and its ability to resist for over 26 years the aggression, the economic
blockade, and the hostility of the United States.  They respect us for
that.  They admire us for that.  Specifically, they admire us for our
revolutionary positions and our positions of principle.  That is the reason
they respect us.  And we are not going to change.

[MacNeil] Would the Soviet Union like it if you had better relations with
the United States, if the blockade perhaps were lifted, and the economic
burden on the Soviet Union were shared or lessened?

[Castro] In any case the United States is not going to pay us the same
price for sugar as the Soviet Union does.  It is not going to buy nickel
and it is not going to have the kind of interchange and relations with us
that we have with the socialist countries.  We have not even thought about
that and neither has the United States nor anyone else.  No one is capable
of thinking about it.

Actually, the United States maintains its protectionist policy toward many
Third World countries and in many cases, buys cacao, coffee, minerals and
all its purchases at prices that are ruinous for the countries, let's say,
with the sole exception of a certain amount of sugar that it buys at a
price higher than the world market price to protect its own sugar industry.
No capitalist country will ever be able to have the kind of economic
relations with Third World countries that we have with the socialist

Of course, it would be an illusion for us to think economic relations with
the United States would make up a decisive or important volume for our
economy.  That is, for us it is not even essential.  We are presently one
of the few countries in the world, if not the only one, that can think in
10-year terms, 15-year terms, 20-year terms about our economic development
and the rate of that development, the direction that our considerable
social development will take.  We do not worry about the United States.  We
do not have to count on selling it even 1 ton of our products.  We do not
need it.

Actually, if we say we are willing to work for peace and to diminish
tension in the area, in other areas, and in the entire world, that would
not be a problem of economic interest.  They must get that idea out of
their heads.  It is a political problem or question and a matter of
principle because of a conviction, which we understand to be our duty.
Peace interests us, as it interests all nations.  It also interests the
United States.  We are defending a common interest.

But I believe we need to get rid of the idea that we have a need to trade
with the United States.  Everything we accomplished in the past 26 years we
did without trading with the United States.  And our future has been
planned without considering trade with the United States.

Now, I am going to give you another example.  The Soviet Union has very
good relations with the GDR, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and other
countries.  It has also given those countries a great deal of aid.  Also,
most of those countries' trade has been with the Soviet Union, and those
countries have diplomatic and trade relations with the United States.  All
those countries have relations.

Now, as for whether or not the Soviet Union likes it actually, we have not
asked the Soviet Union.  We usually do not ask the Soviet Union's opinion
of our international political and economic relations.  But I know the
Soviet Union well.  And the policy followed by the Soviet Union would never
be opposed to our developing these economic relations with the other
capitalist countries, including the United States, because the United
States has many allies: the United Kingdom, the FRG, Belgium, Holland,
Italy.  Why should Cuba be the exception?

[MacNeil] In fact, is your relationship with the Soviet Union undergoing a
subtle change?

[Castro] Absolutely not.  In reality, I believe they are at the best level,
better than ever before.  For example, the speech I made on energy, the
speech I made before the students on international affairs and on the talks
we were holding with the United States on immigration matters, the speech I
made at year's end at the National Assembly, that is, the most recent
speech I have made in which I have discussed all of these problems,
economic, political, foreign policy, and economic problems, the daily
PRAVDA devoted seven pages to each of those speeches, and two of them, the
first two, were published in the NEW TIMES magazine, which has a
circulation of millions in the Soviet Union and, in addition...

[MacNeil, interrupting] They do not do that if they are cool, if they are
feeling cool.

[Castro] (Well, they did to it with two speeches in 1 week.  It is
important that speeches on economic and international affairs have been
published in the most important magazine that they have.  Millions of
issues are published.  It is published in 22 languages.  I believe it is an
unequivocal proof of the respect the Soviet Union feels for Cuba's
positions and declarations.  Let me repeat, four speeches in a period of 1
month, actually seven pages of the daily PRAVDA.  Let me say something
else, this is unusual, uncommon.  I am responding to you very candidly.
Our relations with them at this time are better than ever before.

[MacNeil] Let met ask a question.  Your foreign minister, Isidoro
Malmierca, was just in Moscow talking with Foreign Minister Gromyko.  He
ended his talks and no communique was issued.  He said there was nothing
new to say.  In the normal course of these relations, the normal practice,
many more extraordinary things are said.  Doesn't this indicate that there
is strain between you two with respect to problems of the economy or
something else?

[Castro] What is that?  The fact that there was no communique?  I can
explain that perfectly well.  I have a responsibility in that because I
have been struggling over a long period of time to suspend the practice of
the communique.  We fill our newspapers with long communiques every time a
delegation visits our country, and many come here, such as ministerial
delegations and high-level delegations.  Actually, that is an opportunity
for long communiques on all types of topics in the world. [Words
indistinct] from friendly countries which have concrete problems in complex
situations.  If the communique includes all topics, then this could harm

If it only covers just a few topics, it would also harm them because it
could appear as if there was a cold attitude on a certain topic.

I proposed that the system of communiques should be overcome.  We have been
doing precisely that with all countries, with all delegations.  The last
one was a visit by Malmierca to Guyana.  A communique was issued there and
was used by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister to protest that Malmierca had
stated in the communique that Cuba supported Guyana's territorial integrity
and independence.  We have said that 20 times.

But in recent times we have decided not to issue any more communiques.  In
the case you are referring to, the Soviets wanted to issue a communique and
Malmierca told them we had decided not to issue any more communiques.  Then
Malmierca held a press conference.  I believe the Soviets also spoke.  It
is very simple.  There is no mystery in that.  We have adopted the decision
of not issuing communiques.

[MacNeil] Is it not true that this year or last year, you approached the
Soviet Union with the hope of receiving an increase in economic aid from
them and you were told no, and that it would continue at the same level for
the next 5 years?  That is 20 billion rubles over 5 years, more or less the
equivalent of $4 billion over 4 years? [as heard] But you had expected and
sought more and were refused?

[Castro] I do not know where that comes from.  We cannot build any more
factories than the ones we are building.  We are building a nuclear power
plant where 7,000 workers are employed, a new oil refinery where thousands
work, the development of the nickel industry north of the island's eastern
end employs nearly 15,000 workers in construction.  We have more than
200,000 workers in construction projects and, practically, the manpower we
have cannot handle any more construction projects.  We do not need that
aid.  We cannot build any more than we are doing now.  Why should we ask
the Soviets for more?  I do not know where that comes from.

[MacNeil] I read it in the Western press.

[Castro] So much is written in the West that I would recommend that you
don't trust what you see in writing.  We do not want any more, that is the
truth.  In the next 5 years, the goods we will receive from the Soviet
Union, including fuel, equipment, and so on, will amount to about 20
billion rubles from 1986 to 1990.  We will receive thousands of millions
more from other socialist countries.  And from the West we will also
receive between $5 and $7 billion more.  That is the value of our sugar,
that is the price of Cuba's exports.

Naturally, we also have some credits.  In socialist countries and the
Soviet Union, industrial investments, the large industrial investments are
acquired through credits with a very low interest and a very long period of
time to pay them back.  We will receive around 20 billion in goods and
equipment in general, including fuel, in the next 20 years. [as received]
We can make our development plans...

[MacNeil interrupting] Sir, to move on to the second point that Washington
says is an obstacle to better relations, what the White House spokesman
Larry Speakes called your subversion in this hemisphere.  Let me quote you
again Mr Skoug of the State Department: It is Cuba's striving with Soviet
support to introduce Marxist-Leninist regimes in all the hemisphere that
still lies at the heart of our differences.  Would you comment on that?

[Castro] Well, he could also accuse the pope of practicing subversion in
Latin America and preaching Christianity and Catholicism.  He has visited
numerous countries, in fact recently he met with natives and said the land
and the property titles had to be given to the natives and said schools for
children were needed, jobs for workers and for the families, medicines and
doctors for the sick, as well as food and housing.  He said such things in
an indigent neighborhood in Peru.  He said it in peasant communities,
everywhere.  They can say the pope is trying to spread Catholicism, the
gospel, and the Christian doctrine.

Actually, it could be said that to ask for land for peasants and schools
for children, and doctors, and food, something that has never happened in
reality in centuries in this hemisphere, is subversive.  We preach more or
less the same thing and besides, it is what we have done in our country.
So, we will continue being Marxists and socialists and we will always say
our social system is more just.  But we have said, because it is our
conviction, the following and it is my answer to that: Cuba cannot export a
revolution because revolutions cannot be exported and the economic, social,
cultural, and historical factors which determine the outbreak of a
revolution cannot be exported.  The enormous Latin America foreign debt
cannot be exported, the formulas applied by the IMF cannot be exported by
Cuba, the unequal trade cannot be exported by Cuba.  Underdevelopment and
poverty cannot be exported by Cuba.  That is why Cuba cannot export

The ideas, of course, spread.  They have always spread.  Christianity was
born in the Middle East.  The Muslim religion was also born there.  The
ideas the United States practices today, its constitutional principles had
emerged earlier in Europe prior to the French Revolution, from the
philosophers, the encyclopedists.  They were not even ideas which arose in
the United States.  Not even our languages, not English, or Spanish, or
Portuguese is native, they came from Europe.  Our culture came from Europe.
Ideas spread.  In fact, the European ideas came from Egypt, from other
civilizations, from India, Greece, Rome.  The present civil law is almost
the same as Roman law.  Ideas spread.  So then, can we export a revolution?
It is absurd, ridiculous, to say that revolutions can be exported.  The
United States cannot avoid them either.  The United States accuses us of
wanting to promote change.  We would like to see changes.  But changes will
come whether the United States likes it or not, whether Cuba likes it or
not.  I could respond by saying that the United States wants to maintain an
unjust social order which has brought the peoples of this hemisphere
poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, illness, and the United States wants to
maintain that.  We could say the United States wants to stop changes.

If we are accused of wanting to promote changes we can accuse the United
States of wanting to stop them and of wanting to maintain an unjust social
regime.  But in reality, we can neither export a revolution nor can the
United States avoid it.  That is our point of view and my response to that
type of simplistic argument which has no scientific or any other kind of
support.  It cannot be supported.

[MacNeil] In supporting the Sandinist regime in Nicaragua militarily, is
Cuba not helping to sustain and introduce a Marxist-Leninist regime?

[Castro] In helping Nicaragua by giving them military support?  Well, we
are helping an independent country, a just revolution simply to defend
itself.  The United States has also sent its weapons to this hemisphere to
other people.  It sent weapons to Somoza, to Trujillo when Trujillo was in
power, to Pinochet, to all the repressive countries of Latin America.

Governments that murdered and tortured tens of thousands of people,
governments that eliminated tens of thousands of people, they had no
scruples in giving economic, financial, and military aid.  Then with what
moral arguments can our right to help Nicaragua be questioned and
Nicaragua's right to receive that aid?  I ask: Can the United States help
the counterrevolutionary bands, provide weapons, explosives, to fight in
Nicaragua, something that has cost the lives of thousands of people?  And
on the other hand, they can question Cuba's right to give and Nicaragua's
right to receive economic and technical aid, and certain aid in military

[MacNeil] So you would not stop giving such aid as a condition of improving
relations with the United States?

[Castro] We will not make any unilateral decision on our relations and
cooperation with Nicaragua.  What we have said is that a negotiated
political solution is possible in Central America.  What we say is that we
support the efforts of Contadora to find peaceful solutions for Central
America.  We support Contadora firmly and sincerely and believe there are
peaceful, political solutions that are in the best interests of Nicaragua,
Central America, and the United States.  We are willing to struggle for
this.  Furthermore, we will fully respect the agreements reached.  We will
carry out to the letter agreements reached by Nicaragua within the
Contadora framework.

[MacNeil] How hopeful are you now that some political settlement can be
reached in Central America?

[Castro] I am absolutely convinced.  I am quite well informed on all the
work of Contadora, all the discussions, all the points [word indistinct]
there, the U.S. and Nicaraguan positions; and I am absolutely convinced
that it is possible to find formulas acceptable to all parties.  I have
that conviction.  To achieve this, the United States must be willing to
cooperate in finding a political solution.  I believe that as long as the
United States is convinced that it can destroy the Sandinist revolution
from within, by combining the effect of the economic measures against
Nicaragua with Nicaraguan economic difficulties and the actions of the
counterrevolutionary bands; it will not be really willing to seek a
political solution to the problems of Central America.  If it believes it
is going to destroy the revolution, why negotiate?  Why reach agreements?
Now then, when the United States becomes convinced that it is not going to
achieve its goal and that the Nicaraguan revolution cannot be destroyed
[words indistinct] because of the problems I mentioned.  I believe they can
face their economic problems with what they produce and with the economic
aid they receive.  If they manage it wisely, efficiently, they can face
their economic problems.  I am convinced of this.  I am convinced they can
defeat the bands and that the bands will never he able to defeat the
people's Government of Nicaragua.

[MacNeil] Excuse me.  By "bands," do you mean what is called [words

[Castro] Yes, the counterrevolutionary bands.  I am convinced they will he
defeated.  They will be defeated and a situation will come about in which
the United States will have no choice but to negotiate seriously to find a
solution or invade Nicaragua.  Since in my opinion a U.S. invasion of
Nicaragua is inconceivable because it would be a grave mistake, terrible
mistake, I do not believe the United States will ever make that mistake.  I
cannot affirm that they will not do so, but I do say, and I have explained
this to the visiting legislators, that an invasion of a Latin American
country is inconceivable given the present conditions in Latin America, the
present crisis conditions, the sentiments of the Latin American peoples,
and the era in which we are living.

It would be catastrophic in political terms, in its political costs, but
also in its cost of U.S. lives.

[MacNeil] Would Cuba go to the aid of Nicaragua if the United States
invaded Nicaragua?

[Castro] What foolishness!  You are talking with a small Caribbean nation,
not a great power.  The question that could be asked is: Can Cuba, faced
with the military power of the United States, aid a small nation?  And
since our military forces are structured to defend the nation...
[rephrases] I can tell you what will happen, what we will do if Cuba is
attacked.  But there is no real possibility that we can help a country
attacked by the United States.  This is reality, and they know it.  The
question is almost lacking in meaning.

[MacNeil] How many troops does Cuba have in Nicaragua?

[Castro] You said troops.

[MacNeil] Military advisers.

[Castro] We have no troops.  We have military advisers, and I do not
consider that I have the right to say there is this number or that.  There
is a number of advisers, instructors, and professors; many are instructors
in schools, and professors too.  There is a certain number, but do not
consider that I have the right to say how many.  You can ask the
Nicaraguans that question, and if they want to answer they can.  But I
should not.

[MacNeil] Excuse me.  Under what circumstances would you bring them home?

[Castro] If there is an agreement accepted by the Nicaraguans and that
agreement says half of the advisers must be removed, we will remove
one-half immediately.  If it says two-thirds, we will remove two-thirds.
If it says all, we will remove all.  In fact, we need no verification.  By
virtue of our international norms when we commit ourselves to do something,
we do it.  Under no circumstances will we unilaterally make the decision to
remove even one.  Not one, two, or all of them.  That must be decided by
the Nicaraguans.  It would not be honorable or honest for us to promise to
carry out any withdrawal unilaterally.  I think it would show a lack of
friendship of respect, and of loyalty towards the Nicaraguans.  If they
reach an agreement... [rephrases] If you ask my opinion, I would favor an
agreement for all foreign military advisers to leave Central America, and a
formula to suspend all arms supplies to Central America.  That is what I
think.  I thank this would even be the most proper agreement.  Let the
Central American nations solve their problems themselves, with the help of
other Latin American nations.

There is more to that.  We will struggle for a political solution.  We will
not do it so that the United States will take it into consideration, or so
that the United States will resume relations with us.  We will struggle
because we consider it to be our duty and in the interest of Nicaragua and
the Central American peoples, that is to struggle in that direction.  We
will support the agreement reached and strictly fulfill the commitments
derived therefrom.

[MacNeil] Are you more hopeful as a result of the talks in Havana with
Kenneth Skoug of the State Department, whom you just mentioned, with
respect to a political agreement?  Could these talks be continued?

[Castro] No.  Mr Skoug made a routine trip.  He had no mandate and was not
supposed to hold talks with me.  What happened was that I had to talk with
the chief of our Interest Section, who was in Cuba.  I had to travel to the
eastern end and asked him to accompany me to talk with him, because he had
to return to the United States very soon.  When I arrived in Santiago, I
learned that Mr Skoug was there.  Our comrade visited him and conducted a
tour for him, and asked me if I would like to meet him.  He asked him and
me if there was any reason not to meet.  After agreeing, I met him late at
night, but for strictly courtesy reasons.

He deals with our Interest Section.  I have talked with many U.S. citizens,
many visitors from all countries.  I have no protocol prejudices or need
for solemn circumstances.  I have no qualms about talking with a senator,
legislator journalist, U.S. worker, diplomat, scientist, or physician.  I
have no problems on that score.  I chatted with him; different topics were
discussed, topics dealing with the immigration agreement and other matters.
He asked me if I had anything to say.  What I have to say I have told the
legislators, I have said publicly, and I have told newsman.  I told him I
had nothing to say.  So, Mr Skoug's trip is not related to these problems.
From what I can see you are no fortune-teller, so someone must have told
you I talked with Skoug.  It was no secret, but it was not published in the

[MacNeil] Turning to El Salvador, what specific aid is Cuba giving to the
guerrilla groups in El Salvador?

[Castro] These are such typical questions.  They could be newsworthy and I
understand journalists' curiosity.  This is a very sensitive area.  A
journalist asked me about that and I told him I was not going to answer.  I
asked jokingly if the journalists asked more at the State Department,
Pentagon, CIA, and all the intelligence organizations in the United States.
I asked if they, were asking from a moral point of view.  I do not want to
make any statements.  I do not want to make commitments on that.  I will
not say yes or no.  What I said to him [Skoug] is that we would support a
solution in Central America which would include Nicaragua and El Salvador;
that I felt that if solutions were being sought (?without considering) the
problems of El Salvador there will be no real solution to Central American
problems.  I said we support that solution.  We support a dialogue, and we
understand it is not easy, that it is complex, and that as long as the
United States hopes to destroy the Salvadoran revolutionaries, it will not
support serious negotiation.

I told him that the Salvadoran revolutionaries could resist indefinitely,
even though they might not receive military supplies, even though they
might not receive a single rifle or shell, because they are prepared to
resist indefinitely.  They can resupply themselves.  They can do as we did
in our struggle.  They can use the weapons of the Salvadoran Army.  I also
added that in reality it is almost impossible to supply military equipment
to the Salvadoran revolutionaries.  That is what I said.  It is almost
impossible to supply military equipment.

I did not want to state our position on this issue, much less at a time
when others are being accused and we could appear as adopting a cowardly
and opportunistic attitude by saying yes or no.  If we say yes, we could be
lying.  If we say no, we could be adopting an opportunistic and cowardly
attitude.  So I said that I was not going to affirm or deny anything on
this issue.

I feel that at the present time the arms and ammunitions supplier of the
Salvadoran revolutionaries is the United States, because they give the arms
to the Army and part of those weapons and ammunitions are seized by the
revolutionaries.  We enjoyed that experience.  We had no foreign logistics.
Batista had a 70,000-man army of soldiers, policemen, and sailors, and in
25 months we fought against that army and defeated it.  More than 90
percent of the arms with which we fought were taken from the Batista army.
That is a fact, and I am absolutely sure that the Salvadoran
revolutionaries can resist indefinitely without receiving arms from abroad.
This is not the central issue.

[MacNeil] Back to Nicaragua.  Many, or some people read into your speech at
the Ortega inauguration advice to the Sandinists to be moderate, not to
provoke the United States, not to get too close to the Soviet Union.  Is
that what you intended?

[Castro] From where can that be inferred, from my speech?

[MacNeil] That is the interpretation.

[Castro] I have the fortune of being interpreted in the most varied ways.
In that speech, what I said publicly is what I believe and I said the same
thing I told the Contadora Group, the same I have said here, old
everywhere.  It was not an attempt to give advice to the Sandinists because
I usually do not give advice to Sandinists, Salvadorans, to any country, or
any party.  This is a rule I have followed invariably, I give my opinion
when I am asked and I express my views when I am asked.  You cannot think I
am doing to give the Nicaraguans advice publicly, my relations with them
are so good and close that I am able to talk and give them my opinion when
I am asked privately and not in public.

I talked a little about Central American history how interventions in
Central America began long before the Soviet Union exited even before the
Cuban revolution began.  The history of U.S. interventions in Central
America and the Caribbean goes back to the early part of the century.

The Mexican Revolution was the first great social revolution of Latin
America.  It took place between 1911 and 1915 before the Soviet Union
existed.  The struggle of Sandino in Nicaragua against the U.S. troops when
I was only 9-months old in 1927.  The struggles in El Salvador in the
1930's, with the great peasant riots that claimed the lives of tens of
thousands of people, took place when the Cuban revolution was still almost
30 years away.

I have explained all this, Latin America's economic problems and our
position which does not contradict that of the Sandinists.  What I say in
private is the same thing I say in public, whether I tell a journalist or a
legislator.  I go into details.  I not only say something but I explain why
we do something.  I explained our position in my speech in Nicaragua on the
inauguration of a sugar mill built with our cooperation.  I have had many
conversations with the Sandinists.  Ours are not paternalistic relations.
I give my opinions when I am asked and I do not believe they especially
need my advice because they are not against seeking political solutions to
the situation.  None of the things I have said are in contradiction with
what they believe.

[MacNeil] Looking back, some people for instance, Wayne Smit the former
Interest Section officer here, recently, said that looking back at the
Havana Declaration of 1962, when you spoke for revolution for our
hemisphere that it seems that you have very moderate in your position about
the revolution in the hemisphere.  Which countries do you consider suitable
for revolution right now?

[Castro] Suitable?  What do you mean by suitable?

[MacNeil] Ripe for...

[Castro, interrupting] I would say that from the point of view of social
conditions and objective conditions, it is not only Central America but
more importantly South America.  From an objective point of view, in that
area, a prerevolutionary situation has been created.  I am absolutely
convinced of that.  Maybe the subjective conditions are not present.  But I
see in Latin America, in general, in some more serious than others, such an
economic and social crisis that I actually consider it explosive.  A
situation which can explode any time, I tell you sincerely.

[MacNeil] In which countries is it most urgent?

[Castro] I believe there are very few exceptions.  Venezuela is a country
which has a lot of income from oil although it has economic difficulties,
high unemployment, different problems; but I do not consider Venezuela's
situation as a critical situation.  Colombia's situation is not critical
either.  It is not one of those countries with a great debt, although they
do have serious social problems, I do not see it as being so critical.

It is very difficult in the other countries.  I look at Peru's situation
objectively.  I see a country which had a military government and later a
civilian government with the majority of the votes and a majority of
parliament.  Only 4 years have elapsed and support for the government has
decreased extraordinarily.  As a result the government's candidate has only
3.8 percent of the people' s support.  This is a result of the economic
crisis.  There is an unstable situation of social upheaval in the country
and one asks, what are the solutions?  One does not find the solution.

Look at the situation of Bolivia with its constitutional government,
supported by the Communist Party.  The Communist Party there is not
necessarily promoting subversion.  It is supporting the government.  There
is a [words indistinct] strike situation, a terrible social situation,
despite the efforts of Siles Zuazo, a man I know to be a man of goodwill.
He is decent and is doing everything he can.  Look at the problems he has.

I look at the problems of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.  Political
changes have taken place.  Civilian governments have been elected.  Now
they face very serious, terrible problems.  Uruguay, for instance has a
$5.5-billion foreign debt, exports of around $l billion, the textile
markets have been injured by U.S. protectionist measures, the meat market
has been hit by meat exports subsidized by the EC, and the cost of living
has been reduced by half. [as heard] How can they solve those problems?

Argentina has a $45-billion foreign debt, the cost of living has been
reduced [as heard] by 35 or 40 percent.  How are they going to overcome
these problems?  They have a constitutional government.  President Alfonsin
is a man who wants to solve these problems.  I also believe Brazil's new
government wants to solve its problems.  They say they want to pay the
foreign debt but do not want to place the burden of the debt on the people,
that they are not going to apply recessive measures, that they have to
create jobs, have to develop the country.  But, how can they do it with the
international economic debt, with such an enormous debt, and with the
interest on that debt?  I do not see a solution to the problem.  I am not
saying that this hemisphere is inevitably going to explode.  But I am
absolutely convinced that the problems are very serious.  That the social
problems have tripled, that population has doubled and the people are
facing problems that have no foreseeable solutions.

For example I have said, when Kennedy began the Alliance for Progress, he
was already concerned with avoiding revolutionary situations.  He thought
that by investing $20 billion over a certain number of years and with
certain social reforms, Latin America's problems could be solved.

Twenty-four years have passed since then.  The population has doubled, I
repeat.  The social problems have tripled.  The debt is $350 billion and in
interest alone, they must pay $40 billion per year.  That is twice the
amount Kennedy believed was needed to solve the problem over a period of
years.  To this must be added capital flight, repatriation of earnings, and
other problems.

Prices are depressed and, in my opinion, the situation is more critical,
more serious than anything in the history of this hemisphere.  I firmly
believe this.  And if a solution to the debt problem is not found, I am
convinced that if the same IMF measures are applied that are being applied
in Santo Domingo and in South America, Latin American societies are going
to explode because this is a desperate situation among the workers, the
middle levels, even among the oligarchs.  The oligarchs, let us say the
Uruguayan landowners...

[MacNeil, interrupting] Explode in a Marxist-Leninist direction?

[Castro] Look, they could explode in any direction.  They could explode as
did French society in 1789.  They could explode like the Mexican Revolution
in 1911 or 1912.  They could explode as a revolution exploded in Bolivia in
1952.  But in this case the problem is general and it could explode in one
country or it could explode in many countries.

I believe they cannot pay the debt.  It is not that they do not want to pay
it.  They cannot pay it.  But I am not just talking about the debt, the
interest, the $40 billion in interest that cannot be paid although they
might want to.  The attempt to force them to pay it could really produce a
social upheaval and a revolutionary explosion.

I believe it would be necessary to grant at least 10 to 20 years grace,
which would include interest so they could have a breathing period.

[MacNeil] Let me see if I understand you.  You say that to prevent an
explosion in Latin America, the international banking community needs to
give them 20 years of grace on (?the debt) Is that (?what you are saying)?

[Castro] Correct.  I am absolutely convinced that under such conditions
they are forced to pay not the debt -- the debt can be postponed for 10
years 15 years, it could be staggered over 25 years -- but they cannot pay
the interest on the debt.  And if the banks demand payment on their
interest, an explosion will occur.  Any in my opinion, at least 10 to 20
years of grace is required to begin to pay this debt, including interest.
That is my opinion.  And I believe that will have to happen in the end.

And now, on the other hand, I believe there has been some discussion among
several countries that there is a certain optimism in the United States,
believing that the worst time has passed.  The worst has not passed, in my
opinion.  I dare to assure you categorically that the worst is yet to come.

What did I say in Nicaragua?  I said what I believe.  I believe the only
alternative will be for the industrialized nations to assume the Third
World's debts.  That debt in many cases is private, owed to the banks.

I am not saying the banks should forgive the debts but rather that the
industrialized countries should assume responsibility for this debt to the
banks, not only the debts of Latin America, but also of the Third World.
It amounts to about $800 billion, because although the situation is bad in
Latin America, it is worse in Africa and other countries.

An explosion is not going to take place in Africa because the social forces
are absent, the social structure of tens of millions of workers, peasants,
intellectuals, intermediate sectors, that exists in Latin America is not
there.  The problem in Africa is different.  Drought, poverty, many people
still live in villages as they lived 500 years ago, 1,000 years ago.  They
are dying, but they do not explode.

[MacNeil] Let me turn to Africa and the third obstacle that Washington
perceives to the possible improvement of relations with you.  You recently
spoke of certain circumstances that would cause you to bring troops home.
What would have to occur to convince you to bring those troops back to

[Castro] What is needed?  Well, discussions have taken place with the
partic pation of the United States and there have been dialogues with the
Angolan leadership.  We were informed by the Angolans about these
negotiations and talks that took place with our support and with our full

The Angolans have carried out these negotiations while maintaining close
contact with Cuba.  Therefore, we have a lot of information and the
Angolans [words indistinct] a formula.  I think they have reached the
maximum.  That formula consists of the application of Resolution 435, the
withdrawal of South African troops from Namibia, the independence of
Namibia, the cessation of aid to the counterrevolutionary National Union
for the total independence of Angola organization because it is doing the
same thing in Angola as the counterrevolutionary bands are in Nicaragua,
and finally, an agreement in the UN Security Council signed by Cuba,
Angola, and the South-West African People's Organization.  These are the
points made by Angola.

[MacNeil] Could you withdraw any of your troops before?

[Castro] The Angolans would not agree to that.  From our viewpoint, it
would be a mistake.  The points I mentioned are included in the Angolan
proposal.  If they are accepted, Angola commits itself and Cuba, of course,
would fully support it by withdrawing over a period of 3 years the
contingent consisting of 20,000 men.  Even the figure was announced.  This
is not a whim of the Angolans.  They are not assuming an arbitrary
position.  They maintain, and have reason to believe, that for them to take
over the positions being occupied by our troops, they need a period of time
to organize units, acquire arms, train those troops and cadres, and then
take the positions.

One cannot forget that they have been the victim of South Africa's actions
and of a civil war imposed on them.  They have been struggling for a period
of 9 years.  They cannot assign their units to those positions and need
time.  To ask the Angolans to accept the rapid withdrawal, the immediate
withdrawal, of those troops is not honest.  The Angolans know this very
well and would not accept it.  That represents a huge concession.  With
those troops' withdrawal to Cuba, the South Africans would withdraw to
their border, and in 24 hours could return to the Angolan border and we
would be 10,000 km away from Angola.  Who is going to help them?  Who could
help them?  They have the experience of the South African aggression.

This is not an arbitrary, capricious position.  Angola's position is a real
necessity.  That is the bulk of our troops.  There are still troops in the
center and northern part of Angola, including Cabinda.

The Angolans have not included those troops in the ongoing negotiations,
and their position is that these troops' withdrawal would be a matter to be
discussed between Angola and Cuba when it has been determined they are no
longer needed.

It is the same problem.  They have an internal war.  If they had no
internal war, there would be no problem.  The South Africans could withdraw
to the south, and we would take a period of time to withdraw.  They have an
internal war.  The Cuban troops are deployed in the center and northern
part.  They are occupying strategic positions, communications centers,
bridges, airports, very important economic objectives.  For example, our
forces help Angola protect itself in Cabinda.  That is the most important
resource they have.  Indirectly, our interests coincide their with those of
the Gulf Oil Corporation.  We are defending Angola's interests.

[MacNeil] Do you find it ironic that your troops are protecting the Gulf
Oil Corporation's installations while the United States rejects the Cuban
presence there?

[Castro] I believe the paradox is obvious.  The United States has a
contradiction in its hands, we do not.  We are not defending Gulf's
interests.  We are defending Angola's interests.  In this case Angola's and
Gulf's interests coincide.  I will say something else.  I believe Angola's
policy is correct with respect to Gulf, because it has the technology and
the means to exploit those oil fields and Angola does not have them.  We
have always believed that policy toward Gulf is correct.  Angola has even
made concessions to other international firms to explore the seas and the
land.  So, in our cooperation with Angola, not only does Gulf benefit, but
so do firms from France and other countries.  Those are Angola's interests,
which are the ones we support.

[MacNeil] Can I ask, do you think that this projected settlement with
respect to the situation in Angola, could erase the Cuban troops in Angola
as an issue between the United States and you?

[Castro] Before, when there were no troops in Angola, relations with the
United States were bad.  Whether there are troops in Angola does not make
any difference.  Are there not [military] advisers in Central America?  The
United States could invent something else.  Besides, they are always
talking about our troops and there are U.S. troops on Cuban territory in
the Guantanamo base.  Nevertheless, we never mention that.  We cannot adopt
a position such as we withdraw the troops from Angola, if you withdraw your
troops from Guantanamo.  We cannot make that proposal because it would not
be moral.  We cannot negotiate Angola's interests with Cuba's interests.
That would not by loyal.  I cannot understand why the United States talks
so much about the Cuban troops in Angola and Ethiopia and never talks about
the U.S. troops which, against our will and illegally, are deployed on our
territory.  That topic is never mentioned.

What can be done about this?  We would derive the most benefit when those
troops return home, when we are able to withdraw our troops from Angola.
It is a large number of men.  In addition, it is a big human effort.
Between the military and civilian cooperation effort, more than 200,000 men
have been in Angola during the past 9 years.  We do not benefit from this,
because we have no economic interests or other type of interests.  The cost
of our troops, the salaries of our troops' is paid here in Cuba.  That
includes the salaries of the officers and cadres we have there.  The
Angolans do not pay one cent for our troops.  It has never been the case in
Angola or any other country.  I say that the life of a Cuban, the blood
shed by a Cuban cannot be paid with $100 billion.  That is the truth.

Among other lies, it is claimed in the United States that the Angolans pay
for our troops I want you to know that they have never paid, and even now,
when we have thousands of civilians there they do not pay for them.  When
the economic difficulties began in Angola, we told them we were going to
donate our civilian cooperation.  The civilian cooperation rendered to
Angola is gratis.  Angola simply provides housing and food for the
personnel there.

[MacNeil] How much does it cost Cuba to keep its troops in Angola for a

[Castro] Well, we would have to... [rephrases] The financial problem is not
great.  It is a few tens of million pesos for salaries and expenses.  For
the United States to have a force like ours in Angola would cost it $2 or
$3 billion.  Our soldier is more frugal in his needs.  He does not require
cold water to drink, Coca Cola, warm meals, certain shelter; but one would
have to figure it out.  What it costs us in our national currency could be
around 100 million.  We would have to do a financial assessment because
those people receive salaries.  They are not participating in productive
activities, but direct cost would not be over 100 million.

[MacNeil] I have seen it reported that the presence of Cuban troops in
Angola has become increasingly unpopular with the Cuban population.

[Castro] I will answer.  But to continue estimating our costs in national
currency including the total military and civilian staff, I should rectify
that the cost could be around 150 million pesos.  But it does not cost us
foreign currency.  In our economic system we have full employment, we
enroll, distribute, pay salaries, and have a financial balance.  We are not
operating with a budget deficit.  We are not like the United States in the
Vietnam War, financing it with a budget deficit.  In our economy we do not
have that imbalance.  Of course, those soldiers would be here working in
industry, agriculture, services and in that sense, we deprive ourselves of
those people's services.  This is why I am speaking of direct costs.  To
figure out indirect costs we would have to assess how much these would
produce in industry and agriculture.  The officers would be in the Armed
Forces, but you need to consider how much the rest would produce in
services.  If there are hundreds of doctors there or 1,500 teachers or
professors, how much is their work worth here?  Indirect costs could be
higher but we call afford it.

The United States and other countries do not understand how we can do it.
They say: [Cuba] is a Third World country.  It is quite simple: We have the
men so we are able to do it.  The important thing is not to have money, but
to be able to have, for instance, teachers in Nicaragua, and doctors in
many countries.  What is needed is to have people with the awareness, the
will, and the ability to do it.  That is what we have and it cannot be
bought with any kind of money.

I believe, another good question that could be asked, if the Latin American
countries have that type of men...

[MacNeil] Let me ask you this about will.  I have seen it reported that
increasingly, Cubans troops are refusing to go to service in Angola.
Families of troops who are there are being [words indistinct] that you are
feeling public pressure to end this.

[Castro] I am going to say the following: All of the staff of
internationalist missions are doing it on a completely voluntary basis.
For example, the teachers that were in Nicaragua, about 2,000 teachers in
very remote and difficult places, in the most harsh conditions.

At times they lived in very poor peasant homes sharing a single room with
other peasant families and animals.  The teachers, almost half of whom are
women, live in very harsh circumstances.  We asked for volunteer teachers
to go to Nicaragua and 3,000 volunteered.  When the counterrevolutionary
bands killed two or three of our teachers, 100,000 volunteered.  The
question I was going to ask is the following, because this shows the values
created by the revolution: If all Latin American governments asked 2,000
teachers to go to work there under the conditions that the Cuban teachers
worked, I am sure they would not find them.  If they do not have enough
teachers to go to their own countryside, I doubt they could find teachers
to send to Nicaragua.  We have 100,000 willing to go.  There are hundreds
of thousands willing to go there.  For a revolutionary, it is a great honor
to fulfilI all internationalist mission.

This should not surprise anyone.  This happens when people are motivated
and have ideals.  Of course, it entails sacrifices for the man and his
family to be separated during this time.  In some cases it means risks,
undoubtedly it means sacrifices.  But our people can carry out those
missions because they are ready to fulfill them because of their political
consciousness level, their convictions that they are...

[MacNeil, interrupting] Are the soldiers in Angola volunteers too?

[Castro] All of them, all of the soldiers are volunteers.

[MacNeil] How many have been killed in Angola?

[Castro] I was asked this before and said I was not going to answer the
question.  We have followed the rule of not making public the number.  The
enemy should not know that information.  Someday it will be made public.
Each family knows immediately about its loss.  As I have told journalists,
we know how to properly honor all Cubans who have given their lives in and
out of Cuba for a just cause.

[MacNeil] Isn't it a matter of public interest and concern to the Cuban
people as a whole to know the cost in lives of your Angolan activity?

[Castro] No, they understand this is the policy and the right one.  Here we
are strengthened by the trust and the support the revolutionary policy has
from the people.  Our people are a militant one.  Now, we also receive a
benefit, the revolution receives a moral benefit.

Because all our people, both military and civilian, have carried out
internationalist missions.  They return with even greater enthusiasm,
greater maturity, increased awareness [words indistinct] idea of the drama
and tragedy in these places.  They return even more patriotic and
revolutionary.  There is a moral benefit in all this.

Furthermore, our people have become used to danger because we have lived
more than 25 years under the threat and hostility of the United States.
Our people have become used to this; they have never felt intimidated, and
they have always been ready to fight for the revolution and their country.
If there is ever an aggression against our country, the sacrifices will be
much greater, impossible to calculate, because our people are going to
fight.  No one should have the slightest doubt that they are not only going
to fight...I will not say we are going to destroy the United States in one
day, but everybody here including men, women, children, and elderly people,
is convinced that this nation is invincible, cannot be occupied, and cannot
be conquered.

This country is ready for all blockades, bombings, invasions, and
occupations.  Our country is ready to fight the U.S. forces under the
conditions of occupation: in the cities, in the mountains, on the
flatlands, everywhere.  The country is ready.  No one should find this
strange.  The United States forced us to prepare, (?to give) military
training to the entire people, to train hundreds of thousands of military
personnel.  Our people even understand that our internationalist missions
have helped to prepare the people and to train personnel and strengthen
them, not only technically but morally.  We must begin with the principle
that a people capable of fighting for another people is capable of fighting
for its own homeland, its own territory.

To understand this fact, one must understand that spirit, that conscience.
There is no greater honor for the record of a citizen of this country than
to have completed an internationalist mission, either civilian or military.
Some have completed two and even three.  Hundreds of thousands of Cubans
have completed internationalist missions under difficult conditions.  We
have also helped other countries: Mozambique, Ethiopia, and we have been in
Southeast Asia.  We have physicians in Cambodia, Vietnam, South Yemen,
Tanzania, Mozambique, in about 30 nations!

We have scholarship students from 84 countries, 24,000 foreign scholarship
students.  Our country has the greatest number of scholarship students per
capita.  To understand how we are able to do this, one must understand the
revolution, the mystic quality of the revolution, and the motivation of a
revolutionary people.  Do you think we could have withstood the pressures
of the United States for such a long time if we were not a people of iron
of steel, as we are?

[MacNeil] How do you measure that?  As the leader of this country, how do
you know for sure when you don't have the vehicles for public expression
and open discussion (?that a democracy has)?  How do you know that the
people feel that way?

[Castro] We have a party with almost half a million members.  They are
everywhere, in every factory.  We know more than the United States knows
about what happens there.  The U.S. Government may know what is going on
in Harlem, or what is happening in parts of the United States where
Mexicans live.  The United States has millions of immigrants, some of whom
are not even registered.  We know [words indistinct] members of youth
organizations, almost a million between the two.  The Committees for the
Defense of the Revolution, to which all the citizens of the country are
organized, have 3 million members.  In addition, the women of the country
are organized, and there are 2,800,000.  The workers of the country,
organized by unions, amount to about 3 million.  More than 1 million
intermediate-level students are organized.  Even the [words indistinct] are
organized.  All the farmers are organized.  There are persons who belong to
several organizations.  A woman [words indistinct] who works belongs to a
union, and as an inhabitant of a neighborhood she belongs to a Committee
for the Defense of the Revolution.  These organizations...

[MacNeil, interrupting] I understand that structure.  But suppose at one
lower level in a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution there are
groups of people who don't agree with you, who say: I don't think Cuba
should be sending troops.  What mechanism exists for them to express that

[Castro] We have mechanisms to explain policy, obviously: study
circles...[interrupted due to an apparent mistranslation]

[MacNeil] Apply your policy?

[Castro] Yes, and to explain it.  We not only have a public explanation of
policy, but the entire party, youth, and mass organizations discuss and
study all these problems.  They have study circles; they express their
doubts.  When we know there is a problem that is not well understood, we
make a study (?that we make) public.  We do it through the party, youth,
and mass organizations; so we have reached a level of unity that the United
States does not have.  We are much more united than the people of the
United States, without a doubt.  I believe we have a people with a level of
political culture very superior to that of the people of the United States.
Don't take this as an offense.  I don't want to hurt your feelings But
sometimes some people [words indistinct].

[MacNeil] Then don't take as an offense the question I am going to ask you.
The United States has protested, the White House did so just this week,
through its spokesmen, that one of the obstacles to improving relations is
what they call violations of human rights in Cuba.

[Castro] What are the violations of human rights in Cuba?  Tell me what
they are.  Invent one for me.  They have disappeared here.  Tell me one of
those that have disappeared.  If the United States really had scruples...

[MacNeil, interrupting] I am going to give you an example.  Human rights
organizations such as Amnesty International estimate that you have up to
1,000 political prisoners in your jails.  Do you still have political
prisoners in the jails?

[Castro] Yes, we have them.  We have a few hundred.  Is that a fault, is it
a violation of human rights?  You have done worse.  For example, we have a
few prisoners.

[MacNeil] In democracies it is a violation of human rights to imprison
someone for his political beliefs.

[Castro] I can give you an example.  In Spain there are many Basque
nationalists in prison.  If they are not political prisoners, what are
they?  We have to determine who is a political prisoner and who is not.  In
Nuremberg you tried as war criminals many Germans; what were they?  Were
they political prisoners, or what?  You are still trying them now.  The
French have a German on trial in France.  Those who perpetrated crimes here
during the Batista dictatorship, do we have the right to try them?  Those
who invaded Cuba at Giron beach, do we have the right to try them?  Those
who became agents of the CIA, those who set off bombs, those who killed
peasants, workers, and teachers, do we have the right to try them?  What
are those people who in complicity with a foreign power such as the United
States, and supported and encouraged by the United States, conspire against
our country and struggle against our people and their revolution because
this revolution does not belong to a minority, but is one of an immense
majority of our people?  Are they political prisoners?  Those who have
infiltrated through our coastline, who have been trained by the CIA to
kill, to set off explosive devices, are criminals.  We have the right to
try them.  Are they political prisoners?  They are more than political
prisoners; they are traitors to the fatherland.

I would like to see what the United States would do if a group of U.S.
citizens came to Cuba and we trained them to set off explosive devices in
the United States, to perpetrate sabotage in the United States, to land on
the beaches of the United States, I ask: What would you do with them?
Would you have the right to try them?  Why is Cuba's right to try and
sanction those people who are worse than political prisoners being
questioned?  They are traitors to the country.  What can you say about

[MacNeil] Is there anybody in jail simply because his political beliefs are
different from yours?

[Castro] There is no one in jail for political or religious beliefs.  All
that is a legend.  It reminds me of the famous case of Valladares, the
poet.  He says he is a poet.  He is not a poet and he was not paralyzed.
When we demonstrated to him that he was not paralyzed, he stood up.  He was
simply an individual sanctioned for terrorist plans and a former member of
Batista's police force.  All that you are saying is a legend.

Many people in the United States believe in something because they were
told to believe.  They cannot sustain their belief.  They have beliefs but
no ideas.  That is the way many things are analyzed in the world.  That is
the way Cuba and Latin America are analyzed.

[MacNeil] When Jesse Jackson came here last summer, you set free political
prisoners.  Are you planning to set free more political prisoners of the
type you have described?

[Castro] Jesse Jackson spoke about this.  The bishops spoke about this.

[MacNeil] Are you talking about the American bishops who were here?

[Castro] Yes.  Everybody that comes here.  The State Department supplied a
list of counterrevolutionary prisoners who were very well liked by the U.S.
Government.  These are the one who have a hostile attitude, a recalcitrant
position.  Definitely, I can say that at the beginning of the revolution
there were many counterrevolutionary prisoners, many of them.  Well, we had
some 300 organizations during the period of time when the CIA and the
United States were most active.  They used to get six individuals together
and formed an organization.  Then we had many prisoners more than 100,000
counterrevolutionary prisoners.

We were the ones who little by little set them free.  Cases similar to that
of the mercenaries who landed at Giron Beach, traitors to the country who
under the orders of the United States, invaded their homeland.  We were the
ones [who set them free] We made one demand.  We had to be paid an
indemnification in medicines and foodstuffs for children.  But that was not
essential.  Actually it was an excuse.  Their army of heroes was shipped
back to Miami.  We had attained victory and their imprisonment of from
15-20 years was not important.

We have released many of them.  Very few remain in prison and the United
States knows who its most appreciated prisoners are.  They have an attitude
of hatred toward the revolution.  Those lists are handed to everyone coming
here, to the bishops to everyone directly or indirectly.  Willy Brandt who
was here, was given the list in Venezuela.  It is strange that you have not
been handed a list.  We are not willing to release those people.  They are
fewer than 200.  They are potentially dangerous.  We cannot release them to
organize attacks against Cuba or go to Nicaragua, or Honduras, or Central
America as mercenaries, or Europe, or any country to plot attacks against
me in case I visit those countries as they have done before.

They would organize a real human hunt.  That is the training given to them
by the CIA and other U.S. authorities.

The bishops showed interest in certain health cases.  I promised to review
them.  If there are real cases of health problems, we would have no
objective to releasing these individuals and sending them to the United
States because we are not motivated by hatred, or vengeance.  Really, if
that possibility would not exist, if we did not have a United States which
hates us, that helps those people, we could release them.  However, in the
present situation we cannot do that.  We made that promise to the bishops.
I talked to them about more than 150 military prisoners of the Batista era
who did not perpetrate crimes as despicable as invading the homeland and
who have been in jail for more than 25 years I said: No one worries about
them.  We ourselves have been releasing them but we have difficulties,
because they return to live in the same towns where they killed and where
the children or brothers or parents or their victims live.  I told the
bishops: No one worries about them.

[Castro] We ourselves [words indistinct] but we had difficulties because
they are going to live in the same town where they killed or where the
children live or the brothers or parents of those who were victims [words

I told the bishops not to worry because actually there [words indistinct]
charity and human concern [words indistinct] We freed a third of them
before they finished their sentences.  Because some of them were sentenced
to 40 or 50 years, like you in the United States, where you have people
sentenced to 80, 90, or 100 years.  Here the sentences are not for so long.
Here we would not sentence anyone to 90 years or to the electric chair, be
that humane or not, all that could be discussed.

Finally, what I mean to say is that as I told the bishops we are going to
review the list looking also at the Batista partisans and if we can get
visas from the United States, we will free half of them.  I believe they
have served enough time, if they are accepted in the United States.

We are not going to force them to go to the United States.  However, we
would let them go.  This is what I was discussing with the bishops and what
I promised the U.S. bishops.

[MacNeil] The other human rights question brought up by the United States
is that you don't have a free press.  Your revolution is now 26 years old.
It is very stable.  In your recent speeches you spoke about how successful
it is.  Why wouldn't you feel comfortable about allowing a press to have
full expression of ideas [words indistinct]?

[Castro] Well you are right.  We do not have a press system like that of
the United States.  In the United States there is private ownership of the
means of communication and of the mass media.  It belongs to private
enterprises.  It is they who have the last word.  You have the
constitutional right of course but if the newspaper so desires it will not
publish you.  And we know of right-wing newspapers that always publish
barbarous statements and of some that are more leftist and have other
criteria.  In the editorials, they write what they want even when what they
write are lies.  Recently, I protested about a WASHINGTON POST article, an
editorial based on a falsehood.  It was after an interview I gave, they
repeated the same lie and wrote in an insulting way, despite the fact that
THE WASHINGTON POST and THE NEW YORK TIMES are part of a serious group,
they are the most serious newspapers in the United States.  To me there are
two groups who work for THE WASHINGTON POST: Those led by Bradley, people
who are serious and try to be objective; and those who prepare the
editorials.  The latter do not have the same quality as the former.

They are two distinct groups.  It is the owners of the newspaper who decide
who works and who writes.  Brilliant U.S. journalists [passage indistinct]
some for television others through radio.  They make public opinion.  They
discussed, they debate.  There is all of that.

Here that does not exist.  There is no private ownership of the news media.
It is social property.  It has been, is, and will be at the service of the

We do not have a multiparty system, either, and we do not need one.
Actually, we have united all the people, with political, cultural, social,
and economic objectives, and it is lucky we have a united people.  If we
were not a united people, if we had a conservative party here, directed by
the international conservative organization; a Christian democratic party,
directed by the international Christian democratic organization; or other
parties of that type, they would be used by the United States against us.
We do not have them and we do not need them.

But it would be a good idea for you to go into the factories, the streets,
and ask if they think there is a need for a party.  How many negative
answers would you receive from the citizens?  You would receive this
answer: We do not have a multiparty system.  We do not have private
ownership of the news media.  It is a social property.  We do not have any
commercial advertising, not in the press, television, or radio.  All space
is devoted to national and international information, domestic issues,
problems of our economy, education, public health, culture, sports,
historical, and scientific activities.  This is what television and radio
time are devoted to, with no type of commercial advertising.

We do not tell the people what soft drink to buy or what cigarettes to
smoke, in what bed they should sleep, or what shoes they should wear.  Such
things are told people in countries with a different system.

Well, for that reason also, if you will allow me, the political level of
our people and the degree to which they are informed is much better.  In a
study that was done in the United States an astonishing number of people
did not know the location of Nicaragua or other Latin American countries.
They did not even know what countries are in Africa, or Asia.  This is an
incredible degree of ignorance.

This does not happen here.  You could go to any corner of the country and
ask where is the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia and
who is the president of Bolivia, what system of government does Bolivia
have and where is Ethiopia, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Algeria, India.  I can
tell you, if you took 100 average citizens from the United States and
compared them with 100 average [Cuban] citizens and gave them a test, our
people, despite this much-criticized system, know more about politics,
social problems, historical problems, geographic problems, than the average
citizen of the United States.

Your system might be wonderful.  But we at least have our results, which
are better.  And when you want, we can prove it.  Then, what are we
missing?  The lack of education than the system of private ownership of the
mass media has brought to the United States.

[MacNeil] May I raise a point?  In your system, which you say works very
well, it does presuppose that you, the leadership of the country, are
always right, that you are infallible.

[Castro] It does not presuppose that because we are not as dogmatic as a
church, although we have been dogmatic.  We have never preached the
personality cult here.

You will not see my statue anywhere, nor my name on a school, a street, or
a little town.  Nor will you see any kind of idolization of the individual
because we have not taught our people to believe but to think, to reason.
We have a country that thinks.  It is not a country that believes but
reasons, thinks and that may agree or disagree with me.

In general, the large majority has agreed with me because we have always
talked to them sincerely.  They have always been told the truth.  The
people know that the government has never lied to them.  I ask you to go
around the world and to go to the United States and see if they can say
what I am able to say.  I have never lied to the people.  This is why there
is confidence, not because they have built statues or made an idol of me,
but simply because they trust me.  In this country I have very few
prerogatives.  I do not appoint ministers, vice ministers, directors of
ministries, or ambassadors.  I do not appoint anyone like that.  We have a
system for selecting cadres according to their abilities.  I have a hundred
times less power than the President of the United States who can even
declare nuclear war.  Are they going to ask the U.S. people the day they
start a nuclear war?

I do not have the power to decide any of those matters.  I have the right
to speak to the people, to cadres, to the party's committees, and to the
Politburo.  I want you to know that my powers are very limited in this
country.  I have the power to support positions and ideas, but I do not
need or want more power.  So it is impossible for me to be infallible since
the only thing I have the power to do is to speak.

[MacNeil] Perhaps I was wrong in saying that you [words indistinct] but
does it mean that the system, that the revolution is always right?

[Castro] We work within the premise that the revolution is fair, that it is
a fair and honorable cause.  It is based on deep-seated principles.  If we
believed fascism or colonialism or capitalism would be better, then we
would be fascists, or colonists, or capitalists.  We would defend it in the
same way you do, because U.S. leaders believe capitalism is unimprovable,
that it is the perfect system, and the best thing in the world.

In the Middle Ages the monarch's court believed that absolute monarchy and
feudalism were the best system.  In ancient Athens, they talked about a
democracy, but it was a democracy of a few in a society where there were
many slaves without rights.  Slavery lasted a long time; it lasted until
Lincoln's time.  That time was also called a democracy.  When you waged the
war of independence you did not give freedom to the slaves, yet you said
you were a democratic country.  In 150 years your country did not allow a
black man to be a member of a baseball team or a basketball team, to enter
a club or to go to a white school, yet you called it a democracy.

None of those things exist here.  There is no racial or sex discrimination.
It is the most fair and egalitarian society that ever existed in this
hemisphere.  We consider it to be superior to yours.  But you think that
yours is superior without question.  You have both multimillionaires and
barefoot homeless beggars [words indistinct] people.  You think your
society is perfect because you have that conviction.  I do not think that
type of society is perfect.  I think that ours is better.  We have
supported a better, more fair society, which we believe in.

Now, we do make mistakes.  But when we make mistakes we have the courage to
explain, admit, acknowledge, and criticize them.  I believe there are very
few people in the world who, like the leaders of our revolution, have the
courage to admit their mistakes.

I first admit them to myself because I criticize myself more than I do
others.  I am criticized by my people, the world, and the United States.  I
am not mistaken in acknowledging my critics.  If this reasoning was faulty,
the revolution would not be in power.

[MacNeil] Give me an example of a mistake you feel you have made and then

[Castro] In politics we have made few mistakes, fortunately.  We have been
fairly wise in our decisionmaking.  In the economic area, we have made
mistakes.  They have been a result of our ignorance because revolutionaries
tend to be moved by very noble ideas: that there be education, health
services, work, and development for everyone.

When you undertake the actual work of building an economy, when most of the
intellectuals have been removed, a large number of intellectuals,
engineers, economists, managers, professors, teachers...[sentence
incomplete] That's what the United States did, it left us without them.  We
accepted the challenge.  We let them take all they could.  Now we have new
intellectuals, many more than before.  We have graduated almost 200,000
university professionals, almost 300,000 teachers.  We have 20,500 doctors,
and they had left us 3,000.  In the next 15 years we will be graduating
50,000.  We have 600,000 workers in education and health.

But we know something.  I think the people do the right thing in keeping us
in power.  You can be assured that we would not need to be removed.  It
would be enough for us to know that we do not have the people's confidence,
and the support of the vast majority, not just of a majority, but of the
vast majority of the people.

[MacNeil, interrupting] How would you know if you didn't?

[Castro] How would I know what?

[MacNeil] That you did not have the confidence of the majority of the

[Castro] I am telling you that we know more than the President of tie
United States.  We know how the people think.  We also conduct surveys to
discover views.  We also meet with people of the grass roots.  We have
information about the country's views and problems.

[MacNeil] [Words indistinct] Isn't it part of the dynamics of a one-party
state that the instructions and information go downward and the people who
disagree with it do not dare say so?  So dissent which may exist does not
(?move upwards)?

[Castro] Do you think we have missing persons here?  Do we torture people?
[Words indistinct] By the way, you told me the United States is concerned
over human rights in Cuba; this is amazing.  When we see the excellent
relations they had with the military government of Argentina, where
(?thousands) of people disappeared; the excellent relations with Pinochet
who murdered and caused so many people to disappear; the excellent
relations with South Africa, which oppresses 20 million blacks, I am really
amazed.  Their qualms of conscience at maintaining relations with [words
indistinct] because of human rights.  Here no one is discriminated against,
there is no apartheid, no fascism, no torture, no people disappear.  That
is, we know the situation, and we know how our people think much better
than the U. S President knows what the American people think.  Do not doubt
that.  We have many means of knowing this.  The facts prove it!

Let us suppose that the people might not agree with the revolution.  Would
there be hundreds of thousands, millions of persons ready to carry out
whatever internationalist mission [words indistinct] however difficult it
might be, to go anywhere in the world?  Would there be 100,000 teachers
willing to go to Nicaragua?  No, no.  Facts (?are important), not words.
How could we have resisted, how could we have millions of persons organized
to defend our country, how could we have an armed people?  Tell the South
Africans, your South African friends, to give arms to the blacks in South
Africa.  Tell your friend Pinochet to give weapons to the people of Chile.
Tell your friends in Paraguay or in Haiti to give weapons to the masses, to
the people.  Tell many of your friends to do this, you who speak of
democracy.  The first and most important form of democracy is for the
citizen to feel he is part of the power and part of the state.  How can we
show this?  We have an armed people, men and women, millions of persons.
If they were not in agreement with the government, they could settle
matters quickly.  We would not last 24 minutes here in power.  Do you want
any more proof?

[MacNeil] You wanted to say something?

[Castro] I wanted to state a fact.  I want you to know that we have our
socialist Constitution.  When the socialist Constitution was submitted to a
plebiscite, 97 percent, if I am not mistaken, voted to approve the
socialist Constitution, 97 percent!  In our elections for delegates and the
National Assembly of the People's Government, more than 90 percent of the
population participates.  We have a much higher participation in elections
than the United States does.  Candidates are nominated at the grass-roots
level by the neighbors.  The party does not elect the candidates.  Each
district can elect as many as eight.  If no one receives more than 50
percent of the first vote, the vote is repeated.  If we did not have the
support of the overwhelming majority of the people, they would present
certain candidates and they would elect them.  If the revolution did not
have the majority of the population behind it, it would lose power.
Besides, a revolution cannot be defended with Pinochet's methods.  With
Pinochet's method, the oligarchy and capitalism can be defended, but not a

To defend a revolution by force, you need soldiers and police who are
repressive, capable of killing, of shooting the people, capable of torture.
In 26 years we have never used one soldier, one policeman against the
people.  In 26 years we have not had even a demonstration in opposition to
the revolutionary government.  If we had to defend ourselves with force, we
do not have a single soldier or policeman in this country capable of
shooting at the people.  You have to have an army specialized in repression
like the armies of the governments that are your friends in South America,
that have been trained by the United States.  You have a lot of experience
in that, in training Central American, South American armies [Castro
laughs]; you train them, arm them, give them security advisers.  You have a
lot of experience [words indistinct] the army first at [words indistinct].
But our Army has never fired a single bullet at our people, not even into
the air!

[MacNeil] Would you say your system is more participatory than the Soviet

[Castro] Well, one always thinks that one's own is the best.  But I think
the socialist systems are very participatory.  They have certain things
similar to ours.  They have great unity, at least the Soviets do.  I know
the Soviets well, the Soviet people.  It is a very united, very patriotic
people, with a great political culture.  Their system is not identical to
ours.  But I can state that the Soviet system has the support of the
overwhelming majority of the people.  They proved it in World War II.

Hitler believed the Soviet regime was toppling, that it was built on sand,
that his armored divisions could sweep through Moscow as they had swept
through all the European capitals, and that enslaved people would revolt
against the socialist system.  Nevertheless, in no other country did they
meet the resistance they met in the USSR.  Really, it was the only country
where they met such resistance.

I believe the British are a brave people.  I believe that if the Nazis had
Great Britain, the British would undoubtedly have fought with great
bravery, but I believe that despite their system which is so highly
praised, so democratic, so parliamentary, they would not have fought as the
Soviets did.

If we go to Vietnam, I believe we will also find a revolutionary party, a
socialist regime, a very socialist regime, that may have all the defects
that the Cuban and Soviet regimes have.  They fought against elite U.S.
troops and U.S. military technology and they defeated them.  What systems
are these, in which the people are so discontent and have so little
participation and nevertheless fight for the system, defending it to the
last drop of blood.  Is this not sufficient proof to (?show) that the
systems exist with the support of the people?  We hope we never have to
prove to what degree our people are capable of defending a socialist
system, so poorly understood, really, by Western mentality.

[MacNeil] I'd like to ask you about the people who are going to be returned
to Cuba as a result of the immigration agreement you made with the United
States.  Some of the lawyers who have been taking their cases want them to
stay in the United States because they say they will be persecuted if they
return here.  These are the former criminals, prisoners, and mental
patients who went with the Mariel boatlift.  What is going to happen to
them when they return?

[Castro] I will tell you.  The story that mentally ill people were taken
from hospitals is an absurd and ridiculous legend.  But if they believe it
in the United States, okay.  The idea that we took murderers, freed them,
and sent them to the United States is also absurd and ridiculous.  No one
in this country would have dared do that because a mentally ill person is
someone who is too sacred in this country to be sent to the United States.
A person responsible for a violent crime, someone who had raped a woman or
girl or committed a murder, no one would have dared to have sent people
like that and no one would accept that.  But still that legend exists.

[MacNeil] How did they get there?

[Castro] How did they get there?  That type of people did not arrive there.
That type of people never got there.  Some family members complained to
someone that they had some mental problem.  That is possible.  But he was
not taken out of hospital and he was not a criminal.

I do not deny that other types of people went there, antisocial people as
we call them here, people responsible for other things, but not sick people
or those responsible for violent crimes.  If we had been so incredible as
to take a patent from a hospital and sent him to the United States, you
would still not have the moral justification to send him back here, if we
had been capable of doing that.  There are so many resources for human
rights in the United States that for you to receive a mental patient like a
ball and send him right back, no, that is not the agreement we have made,
because that type of people did not leave here.

We told them to send those they considered excludable for whatever reasons,
all we need to know is that they are Cuban citizens.  We ask: How many
mental patients are there who were taken from hospitals?  No one could
answer that.

How many murderers were sent from the jails?  Now, there are people who did
commit crimes there.  There are many people who never before committed a
crime and then committed one.  There are people who are ill there, there
may have been complaints from family members about someone who might have
had problems.  But we did not deliberately take individuals who were
mentally ill.  That is absolutely false.  And that is my argument with THE
WASHINGTON POST -- not with THE WASHINGTON POST, with the group of
editorialists at THE WASHINGTON POST because they have insisted on this.

Now then, what will we do about this?  If an individual is ill or he became
ill while there, or was among those who had some mental problem, we will
simply send them to the hospitals, certain that they will be better cared
for here than in the United States because our psychiatric hospitals are
better than the hospitals in the United States and they have better medical
results than the hospitals in the United States.

If the individual has not committed crimes in the United States, he will
come, he will go through a medical quarantine to find out if he has any
symptoms of AIDS, which you have there and we do not have here.  When he
completes the quarantine period, we will find him a place to live, if he
has no family.  If he has family, he can live with them, and we will find a
job for him.

If he has committed a crime in the United States, some serious crime
against a family, against a person, a crime of that sort, although it is
not specified under our agreement, our intention is that he finish the
sentence that is set for these crimes.  If he has stood trial, he will
serve the sentence he has been given.  If he has not been tried, we will
request that all the information be sent to us so we can take legal
measures.  If someone has committed serious crimes in the United States, he
will have to serve his sentence here for two reasons, for our own security
and in consideration of the U.S. family that has been victimized by these
types of crimes.  These are our proposals.

[MacNeil] Turning to the economy, you said in your speech to the National
Assembly: We are not becoming capitalists.  Are you beginning to lean
toward a little capitalism?

[Castro] On the contrary, I am becoming more and more distant from
capitalism, mentally, spiritually, philosophically.  Each day I am more
convinced about the advantages of the socialist system over the capitalist
system, more convinced that capitalism has no future, no long-term future.
I am not saying that capitalism is going to disappear in 10 years.  But
will the current system of capitalism last?  It is already different from
the capitalist system of the last century.

[MacNeil] Aren't you allowing creeping private enterprise?

[Castro] Absolutely not.

[MacNeil] For example, permitting the Cuban people to buy their own houses.

[Castro] But a house is not an enterprise, it is not a means of production,
it is for the use of families.

[MacNeil] By permitting free markets where vegetables and food can be sold
by people who produce it, by opening up supermarkets where goods, consumer
goods have price scales higher than subsidized prices, are these not
examples of creeping private enterprise?

[Castro] When you asked me about [words indistinct] I said policy but you
did not allow me to continue and asked me other things and that question
remained unanswered.

At first we did not have experience in economic development, we had an
attitude of a certain disregard for the experience of other socialist
countries.  Actually we were somewhat self-sufficient.  I believe this has
happened to many revolutionaries.  That is, they believe they know more
than the others.  Moreover in the field of economics, we made mistakes,
which we call errors of idealism.

In essence, it consisted of trying to leap over historical stages to try to
get to a more egalitarian society with a communist type of distribution,
almost skipping over the socialist stage in which there is no communist
distribution.  We had almost arrived to the point of being able to
distribute according to the people's need and not according to work, the
quantity and quality of work, when we reached the point of understanding
that that practice had negative effects.  Our society had not yet attained
the necessary communist culture and consciousness.

We corrected that type of mistake and we started applying socialist
principles, which were established by Marx, Engels, and Lenin.  And we
started socialist distribution despite the fact that many things were being
distributed in a communist way, such as education at all levels up to
university, medical services, many recreational activities, sports, and
stadiums, which are free because professional sports do not exist here.
But in the field of economy and service, we pay currently in accordance
with quality and quantity [words indistinct].

During this period we committed other mistakes, I would say it was nothing
more than suppressing money.  Then we corrected it.  We took a series of
measures and adopted a system to better utilize the experiences of the
socialist countries, we added some of our ideas to them and we began to
achieve much better efficiency in the economy.  But we have not taken a
single step back and we are not going to do so.

You have referred some things.  We had about 150,000 peasants, we still
have them, individual peasants.  We never have exerted pressure on them; in
recent years the cooperative movement developed and is progressing.  It is
totally voluntary.  About 50 percent of the individual farmers are in
cooperatives but we still have individual peasants, who own trucks, some
14,000 of them.

Well then, at a certain time we tested the free peasant market.  It was
discussed at great length.  I will tell you the truth, I was not very much
in favor of it but I agreed to try the experiment and they developed the
free peasant market to sell what the individual peasants had produced.
They sold things at very high prices.  Some middlemen went into operation.
And the people were not happy with that.  They protested a lot because they
thought they were being robbed.

The people pay a very high price at a state store for products and they
know that money is reinvested in education, health, investment in the
country's development.  But when someone charges a very high price they do
not accept that.  So what did we do?  We set up a chain of state shops with
free market prices.  That is we sell the products that are controlled at a
subsidized price, the essential products.  These prices are much higher.
We created an enterprise that bought the goods from the peasants at higher
prices, at preferential prices to gather these products.

We discussed this with the peasants, with the peasant association.  We did
not prohibit the free market.  We left it.  But the amount it sells is

To finish on this point, I wanted to say something else.  There are many
people with capitalist experience in the field of management, organization,
they have companies with 500 restaurants, they have dozens of factories.

They have the same problems we have.  We have dozens of sugar factories,
dozens of restaurants, and in structure there is no difference.  Your
enterprises are the same as ours only in your case, it belongs to
transnational corporations and in ours it belongs to the state.  But we
have to learn to administer it well and that requires capitalistic
experience, which is useful.

And this is what we are saying.  We could also accept private enterprise in
association with Cuba, and even, although it is further in the future and
it has not been legislated yet, we could do it.  Because if we had a
resource that we cannot exploit because of lack of technology or capital,
we could also accept that this is not in contradiction with our system.

It is not that we are leaning toward capitalism.  The more I analyze
today's world, the Third World, the problems of the industrialized world,
unemployment has not been solved, unemployment is growing in Europe yearly,
and they can plan how many unemployed there will be in the year 1990, 1995,
or 2000.  The deeper I think and meditate, the less capitalistic I feel.

[MacNeil] What do you say to this statement by the Communist Party of
China: Only when some individuals are allowed and encouraged to become
better off first through diligent work will more and more people be
promoted to take the road to prosperity?

[Castro] That is a very vague statement.

[MacNeil] Doesn't it sound like an elementary definition of capitalism to

[Castro] Within socialism we have incentives.  And actually our mistake
earlier was to ignore that and to want to use only moral incentives or
consciousness.  In this sense we were mistaken.  We have been putting a lot
of emphasis on moral factors because that teacher who goes to Nicaragua, or
the one who goes to Africa, any place in Africa, he does not do it for
money and they would not do it for any amount of money.  We have many more
people in this country who do difficult things for reasons of consciousness
than any capitalist country has.  There are many things that the masses of
our people will do that cannot be done for money.  But we do take monetary
incentives into consideration.  He who works more gets paid more.  He who
gets the best results, who makes a higher quality product will get more, we
call them prizes, we call them material incentives.  But that is a very
vague statement.  I do not know when that statement was made.  Is it recent
or is it from the time of Mao?  Is it a statement by Deng Xiaoping or by

[MacNeil] Last October.

[Castro] It is a way of putting things that is so generic that I cannot say
what it resembles.  Capitalism could also make a similar statement.  But I
may refer to moral incentives and if so it fits within socialism.  Anyway,
I would not subscribe to it to the letter I would be more careful.

[MacNeil] It has been frequently remarked that socialist countries like
Hungary provide more and more material incentives, called goulash
communism, pardon the expression, that increasingly the socialist world
will have to give more and more material incentives to overcome the
contradictions and the problems of central planning.

[Castro] As a rule, I respect what each country does.  If it is China, let
the Chinese do as they please, if it is Hungary, or the GDR, or Poland.  I
like to respect what others do, as a rule.  I understand that it is
necessary to improve the socialist distribution method and that it is
necessary to seek more efficiency, perhaps by using increasingly more
certain material incentives, establishing greater relation between the
worker's income and the results of his work.  I believe it is correct
within the socialist concept.  Each country has its own style, its

We are satisfied with what we have done.  We are satisfied with the way our
teachers work, our workers, our technicians, intellectual workers, manual
workers.  I will tell you the truth, I have great confidence in education,
in moral factors, and I think that will be the essential thing.  It is not
necessary to move toward capitalism to overcome problems or to learn from
capitalism.  It is not necessary to develop selfishness and people's
individualism.  I believe we have to develop solidarity and the people's
awareness in a realistic way without ignoring individual factors.

But this in my opinion, is not the future.  We are not going to move toward
capitalism.  I believe that what we have achieved with the socialist system
will never be achieved in the capitalist system.  If you believe in mankind
and mankind's solidarity, then you can be socialist.  If you believe
mankind is selfish, if you stress mankind's selfishness and ambition, which
is what capitalism does, then you do not achieve a better man but a selfish
man, excessively individualistic.

[MacNeil] Isn't it in human nature to be acquisitive?

[Castro] Well, society has always struggled against instincts.  For
example, when it is said "do not steal," I imagine the primitive man
oppressed the weaker one.  In nature, the stronger one even tries to
deprive the female.  I imagine man has done this at one time or another.  I
believe that every civilization has had a constant struggle against nature,
against instincts many times.

We have become more civilized, we have made great conquests precisely
because of man's consciousness, man's spirit.  He who sacrifices for an
idea becomes a saint, a hero.  Historically, we are not the only ones.  We
have struggled to achieve a better man.

Christianity struggled for a better man.  They had men who went to the
Roman lion circuses.  They were devoured by the lions because they refused
to renounce their faith.  They instilled moral principles.  What do the
Catholic, Protestant, and the Muslim churches do?  They say do not drink,
man wants to drink; do not eat this thing, do this, do that.  We are not
the first ones to invest a set of moral values, or who have placed faith
in mankind.  Now, we have done so to a greater degree than any church has.
We have considered as a real possibility combining the development of
material things and man's morality.

I believe socialism could not have been conceived in the times of ancient
Rome nor in the Middle Ages.  It is well known that socialist scientists
worked under the premise that this system was possible because of the great
development that the productive forces in fact reached under capitalism.
So we place our faith in that and keep placing faith in it.  When things do
not turn out right, we should not blame the system.  We have to blame
ourselves.  Experience has taught us we cannot achieve what we are not able
to organize properly, or to conceptualize well.  We do not obtain from the
people what we are not able to ask for.

[MacNeil] Let me turn to your present economic situation.  You have have just made some adjustments in your plans for 1985.  Part of
it puts emphasis on expanding exports to Western countries.  You want to
build your exports to the West up from 13 percent [words indistinct] to 20
percent.  If you were in trouble fulfilling your quotas in things like
sugar, nickel, and citrus to the Soviet Union, how are you going to find
products with which to increase your exports?  Where are the products
coming from?

[Castro] Yes, I believe we can.  What we have suggested is not all-out
exports to the western market.  We have indicated the need to guarantee
exports to that area, first because of the growing needs of a developing
economy which needs over 13, 15 maybe between 15 to 20. [no further
explanation of figures] This is our estimate for a growing economy.  It
needs more socialist imports and also more imports from western areas.  So,
we must develop production to guarantee both, the increase of exports to
the West and exports to the socialist countries.  This includes honoring
our obligations.  That is the correct thing to do.  Because at times we
have not fulfilled our sugar commitment to the USSR, we have diverted
products to the capitalist world.  This is not a good practice.  We have to
eradicate this type of practice.  That is not the way of obtaining foreign
currency.  We have chosen to honor our obligations as a fundamental
principle especially, with countries with which we have better trade
advantages.  It is a fundamental duty to honor our obligations by
increasing our production.  You were speaking of nickel...

[MacNeil, interrupting] Excuse me for interrupting you.  You spoke in your
speech to the National Assembly of a worker in Siberia working in weather
20 degrees below zero to provide oil or something of benefit to you and you
felt a great moral duty in providing oranges to him.

[Castro] That is basic.  I have put forward different problems.  There is a
mentality which has to be overcome.  We must look at exports to see if they
have increased before looking at more expenses for the development of
different things.  Sometimes, they ask for greater expenditures than the
economy's growth.  Secondly, we have had a satisfactory social development
in different areas, social, education, health, sports, culture, well above
any Third World country and even several developed or industrialized

Now we are going to stress economic development.  We must have priority
over social development with a long-range plan of 15 or 20 years.  We have
now said that an investment which generates exports should have priority
over a recreational center, over an investment of a social type.  That
would also be proposed by the IMF, it is not only us.  The United States
has asked this from Latin American countries.  But those countries have
very little social development.  It is disastrous.

[MacNeil] This means the Cuban people will have to wait a little longer for
consumer goods or perhaps more sports centers?

[Castro] Well, in the area of food consumption our country has an average
of 3,000 calories and 80 grains of proteins.  They are very well
distributed.  On the rest, education, health, clothing, shoes, their level
is satisfactory.  It does not mean it will not continue to grow.  We have
said we can do two things with new textile factories, we use all that
material or we export it.  If we have more steel for construction, we build
more or we export it.  We have said we have to mainly think of development
and not great increases of personal consumption.  In Haiti, this cannot be
mentioned, it cannot be mentioned in Latin America.

Here, fortunately, we can say it, we ask our youth, in what kind of world
are you going to live, what kind of economy are you going to have?  We
present this to the masses.  We say it is your flag you have to struggle
for.  There will be increases, maybe the black and white television sets
will be traded for color television sets, more refrigerators, more
articles, there will be increases.  Health will continue to improve.  I
told you we will have 50,000 more doctors in the next 15 years.  In health,
we do not compare ourselves with Jamaica or Haiti, we compare ourselves
with the United States.  In 10 or 15 more years, we will be ahead of the
United States in the field of health, in infant mortality, in life
expectancy, health indexes, far ahead, despite U.S. wealth.

Education will improve.  It is already improving, but we will not place the
main emphasis there, we will not emphasize social development, the emphasis
will be on economic development on a long-term basis.

[MacNeil] So you didn't tell what product you are going to find to export
[words indistinct] to build up your (?economy).

[Castro] I will give you a simple example: books.  We have printing
capabilities, increased production of paper, bagasse board.  There is a
demand for books, what do you think about that?  There is a demand for
books, for pulp, paper.  Marine products, the development and production
of, for example, seafood, shrimp.  We have great possibilities, it depends
on demand.  Tobacco has great demand.  Tourism has a growing demand in our
country, bigger than our lodging capabilities.  We have over 100 new export
areas; in sugar industry machinery, we have already manufactured over 60
percent of the equipment of a new sugar mill.

This was proven in Nicaragua.  Their new sugar mill is the best one in
Central America.  We built that project and over 60 percent of that sugar
mill's equipment.  We also manufacture machinery for the mechanical
industry, and agricultural machinery.  Construction materials, there are
great possibilities there.  We even have a construction enterprise with
demand abroad from different countries abroad.  Also the export of
technical services, export of projects.

I mentioned construction material industry, say, cement, bathroom fixtures,
they are in demand.  The textile industry, we just finished a 80-million
square meter factory, we finished one of 60-million square meters.  We are
expanding other textile factories.  The pharmaceutical industry and
biomedical products industry have great possibilities and perspectives.  We
have markets, there is demand.

There are certain products with more difficulties, such as nickel.  We have
had difficulties with nickel because of an old plant with some problems but
it is being repaired.  Maintenance work is being done.  But at the same
time, we are finishing a new plant of [figure indistinct] tons for nickel
and cobalt.  We are also going to extract cobalt, so we will be producing
nickel and cobalt.  We are building a new 30,000-ton plant.  We are
increasing oil production and we plan to triple production in the next 5
years.  We are considering the production of gas.  There are interesting
possibilities, although we are not counting on that.

But we must mention savings.  We are building a nuclear power plant with
four generating units.  It saves $500 million worth of oil.  It is not only
to export but to substitute for imports.  We are not going to have problems
in finding a market because the market is already there.  According to our
plans, we are not only developing production for the Western market but
also for the socialist market, which is undoubtedly our safest and most
profitable market.

We plan to export our increasing production of citrus to the socialist
market.  In reality, production has fallen behind because the irrigation
program has been delayed.  This is what we have said, you need to make
investments to guarantee the two exports, to Western and socialist markets.

We are also saving fuel and other materials.  In other words, on the export
issue it is clear that we had to expand in a period of 5 years to reach
$500 million worth of exports for trade purposes and to be able to pay the
foreign debt, to face the debt obligations in foreign currency.  It is the
smallest debt per capita in Latin America and we are one of the few
countries that can and that wants to pay the foreign debt in foreign

[MacNeil] But you have had to postpone again [words indistinct].

[Castro] We have renegotiated as all countries have done.  But our
relations with the creditors is different from those of the other countries
because we are a blockaded country.  Some banks had confidence in us so we
have special considerations with them, because of the special conditions.
Of course, we also got the same methods of payment others obtained.  But
what I am explaining about the foreign debt is that we are not expecting
the industrialized countries to be responsible for that debt because of our
problems.  For us this is not necessary.  Because of what we know of Latin
America's reality and that of the Third World the foreign debt is really

[MacNeil] Can we move to defense?  In the last year or so you have greatly
increased, as you stated, your military capacity.  You said on January 2d,
you increased your weapons, the number of weapons, by three times.  You
have roughly a quarter of a million men on active duty, 190,000 reserves, a
million people...[interrupted by the interpreter] my question is, my
question is, why does Cuba need this very large armed force?

[Castro] I am going to correct something: The Armed Forces and the reserves
total more than one-half million.  The Territorial Troops Militia has more
than 1 million...

[MacNeil, interrupting] I understood that.

[Castro] We have tripled the number of arms but we have multiplied by many
times our ability to resist by changing the entire concept. Formerly, the
concept was that the Army and the reserves defend the nation. Today, the
entire people defends the nation, everywhere, in every corner, in every
city, in the fields, in the mountains. They are effectively organized. We
have a greater capacity for mobilization than we have weapons. We have a
human potential that is much greater even than [word indistinct]. I'm
talking about weapons. But we have mines, hand grenades, which we produce.
The idea is that every citizen of this country be armed. You ask why so
many arms.

[MacNeil] Is this a lesson from Grenada?

[Castro] No.  After Grenada, we intensified this.  And we were not the only
ones to do so; the Nicaraguans did too.  What happened to Grenada did not
weaken us.  It inflamed us really, and increased our determination, our
will to strengthen ourselves and to fight.  You ask why so many weapons?
The United States, our adversary, is such a powerful country; it is the
country that harasses us, the country that blockades us, the country that
threatens us with invasion.  And you still do not understand why we build
up our forces.

[Words indistinct] We are not doing this for sport.  Is this being asked by
the United States, the country that is building, developing a 600-ship
fleet, including battleships, submarines, and aircraft carriers; the
country that is preparing space weapons; that builds B-1 bombers; the
country that builds Pershing and cruise missiles, MX strategic missiles;
the country that in peacetime is investing $313 billion, one-third of its
budget, taking it from the sick, the elderly?  At least we do not do that.
And you do not understand that, being neighbors of the United States and
feeling threatened by the actions and words of the United States, we are
making an effort to defend ourselves?  Do we really have to explain that?

[MacNeil] You had an invasion scare last fall, last autumn.  You had
exercises (?in which) you had children digging air raid trenches.  Have you
relaxed now or (?do you no longer fear invasion)?

[Castro] Look, we were relaxed, we are relaxed, and we will always be
relaxed.  We have been relaxed for 26 years.  That is one thing.  Now then,
the measures we take to defend ourselves...[rephases] We are not going to
wait until the Government of the United States decides to attack the
country to start to prepare.  We have prepared ourselves, we are preparing
ourselves, and we will continue to prepare ourselves.  But that has to do
with our sovereignty and with our independence.  Do you doubt that we are
an independent country?  The proof of independence, the (?supreme) proof is
that a country be able to defend itself and its independence in the face of
an adversary as powerful as the United States.  I have said the following
to a visitor: If one day the United States were a socialist country, we
would still be concerned about defense. [Words indistinct] our defenses.
Because after all, Vietnam is a socialist country.  And it is located next
to another socialist country, which is China.  And it has to take care with
its defenses.  Hypothetically, if the United States one day became not a
socialist country but Marxist-Leninist, and more communist than the USSR
and China, we, here next to the United States, would not neglect our
defenses.  This is a philosophical principle.  If one day all these...

[MacNeil, interrupting] Excuse me for a moment.  Is not one of your motives
for seeking or suggesting improved relations with the United States so you
can relax your military investment?

[Castro] Well, I think we would continue preparing to defend our country,
preparing our people, really.  I think the only advantage there would be
for us, as for any other country, is simply peace.  But we cannot aspire to
peace by virture of the goodwill, the goodness, and the generosity of the
United States.  There is talk now, in Switzerland, of struggling for the
elimination of nuclear weapons.  I agree.  And when nuclear weapons have
disappeared, if the dream of the elimination of conventional weapons is
ever achieved, then that very day -- and not we, who have no hope of seeing
that day -- the future generations will be able to say, "we renounce
weapons."  The day the nations show that the respect for the independence
of other nations exists and there is real peace, when the others renounce
weapons, when the United States renounces weapons, we will give up our
weapons.  We will spend our time boxing, we will play baseball, basketball,
practice field events, Greco-Roman wrestling [words indistinct].

[MacNeil] Let me ask you to turn your mind back.  You have said many times
and in some of your speeches recently that your revolution (?has achieved
many successes) in illiteracy, infant mortality, and so on.

[Castro] I have not said it.  It is said by statistics.  It is said by the

[MacNeil] All right.  By these definitions, your revolution is a success.
In what way does it disappoint you now that it is entering its second
quarter century?

[Castro] [Words indistinct] economic development.  In 26 years we have
grown at an average rate of 4.7 percent.  And during the first (?11) years
we could hardly grow [words indistinct].  This is the result of the past 15
years.  We have prepared our plans to grow at a good rate during the next
15 years.  The premises are assured.  They have been agreed on, especially
with the socialist countries, which is the best guarantee we have.  With
regard to the West, we will have problems.  Think of the price of sugar and
other products, the problems that other countries have.  The basic pillar
of our development is our relations with the socialist countries.  Our
economy has advanced, we have learned to be more efficient, and are
becoming increasingly efficient.  We have learned to practice conservation
and to be better administrators.  Experience is worth something.

That is why was saying it would not be very good business to change
ourselves now because we have finished our apprenticeship and acquired
experience.  But there are a lot more who are learning and who will be
better than we are.  This would really be a success for us: (?for there to
be) tens of thousands better and more capable than we are at present.  I
have no doubt about this either.  Do you ask if I feel any frustration?  I
do not, we have done more than we dreamed we were going to do.  We did not
have even a general idea of many of the things we are doing now.  I can say
that the reality has surpassed our dreams, which is saying something.  And
we are not speaking of the future.  It is different from the beginning,
when we spoke of our good intentions; we now speak 26 years after the
completed revolution.  There are certain advantages in not speaking of what
one proposes but rather of what has been done.

[MacNeil] You mentioned earlier the October crisis of 1962, which in the
United States is called the Cuban missile crisis.  (?Can you tell me) how
it came about that those missiles were stationed in Cuba?  Did you suggest
it?  Did Krushchev suggest it?  How did it happen?

[Castro] I spoke about that with Tad Szulc, who I believe wrote about it.
All this happened after the invasion at Playa Giron, when there was talk of
invading Cuba, after the Kennedy-Krushchev meeting in Vienna.  Bearing in
mind the things (?they talked about there) the Soviets had that concern and
we naturally did too.

[MacNeil] After the Bay of Pigs?

[Castro] Yes, after the Bay of Pigs.  They asked us what measures we
thought...[rephrases] They had given guarantees to Cuba.  Then we said that
the only guarantee, the greatest, and the safest [would be] the fact that
an invasion of Cuba would be aggression against the USSR.  This was the
position we put forward.  The concrete idea of the missiles came from them,
as I explained to [words indistinct] and we accepted it without any
hesitation because we were being harassed: an invasion had just occurred,
there were constant pirate attacks, and there was talk of an invasion of
Cuba.  The missiles had their drawbacks for us.  I confess that what I
liked least were the political drawbacks of having the missiles here.  But
from the viewpoint of the nation's security, they represented at least
(?what is called) a nuclear umbrella.  We were facing a dual danger: a
conventional war, a risk of an attack upon our country and a universal risk
of general nuclear war.  That was our point of view.  In our opinion after
26 years, [words indistinct] the decision we made was solidly based and
absolutely legitimate.

That is not debatable.  They are still installing missiles in Holland, and
Belgium, nations much smaller than Cuba, and in the FRG, and Italy.  During
that period, they even had missiles in Turkey.  Under international law,
the decision we and the USSR made was absolutely unobjectionable.  The
United States took a position of force [words indistinct] but that the
decision [was wrong] cannot be questioned from the moral or the legal
points of view.  I believe that perhaps the Soviets [words indistinct] a
lot the American adventure of installing medium-range missiles near the
borders of the Soviet Union.  Study this; ask them.  They are installing
them there.  They believe they have the right to install them on the border
of the USSR.  I still do not understand it [the American decision] because
it was a position of force.  Let us say that it was a position, but not
based on international law or on morality.  This point of view cannot be

[MacNeil] When the crisis was at its worst, did you believe that nuclear
war was a possibility?  Did you believe [words indistinct].

[Castro] Yes, I believed it was a possibility.

[MacNeil] What did you feel about your role in taking (?things to) that

[Castro] [To interpreter] Taking what?

[Interpreter] Your role in taking it to that point.

[Castro] It was not I, it was the United States that took us to that point.
It was the United States that initiated the blockade, and that directed the
invasion, the acts of sabotage, the pirate attacks, mercenaries invasion
and those that talked about invading Cuba.  It was the United States, not
us.  I believe we gave the correct response; I do not have the slightest
doubt about that.  What were we to do?  Surrender?  The United States can
be sure that we will never surrender.  Under conditions such as those, we
will fight.  From the moral, historical, patriotic and revolutionary points
of view, our decision was correct.  If we had the bad luck or the
misfortune to become involved and we were going to die and even disappear,
well then who could we blame for the fact that we were the neighbors of the
United States, that we were here, so near to the United States, [laughs]
and for the fact that we had as an adversary such a powerful country?  This
was not our fault either.  One would have to blame nature, the Spanish, the
English, someone would have to be to blamed.  But we were not to blame for
that.  That was not only my attitude but the attitude of the entire people.
It was not Castro's attitude.  It was the attitude of millions of citizens
of this country.

[MacNeil] After Krushchev decided to withdraw the missiles and you
protested, as you said earlier, what did Nikita Krushchev say to you?  Did
he say to you: 'We've made a big mistake, we shouldn't have done this'?

[Castro] Look, we would not have opposed finding a solution, we even would
have agreed to sitting down to discuss it.  We would not have preferred war
[words indistinct] at all.  We disagreed because the decision was made
without consulting us.  That is the crux of the problem.  I understood that
the matter was grave and getting worse.  We [words indistinct] against
ground-level attacks.  This was a decision of ours, completely ours.  We
saw they were flying low over our ground-to-air missiles, which had a range
of about 1,000 meters in those days, and over the medium-range missiles,
the missile bases, the missiles and our installations.

We noticed that we were risking a surprise attack.  We had placed hundreds
of antiaircraft batteries in strategic locations around the surface-to-air
missiles, and we reached the conclusion, our conclusion, that we could not
permit flights that exposed us to the risk of a surprise attack and which
destroy the installations.  We gave the order, the order to open fire on
the planes that were overflying.  We gave it ourselves.  And we opened fire
on the morning of that day.

It started on the western side.  The first planes appeared in the morning.
We opened fire.  We were not very specialized.  They did not shoot down the
first plane.  But the planes withdrew and stopped flying in the other
areas.  We placed all the forces on alert.  But we did not have command
over the Soviet troops, that is operational command.  To tell you the
truth, the Soviet command met with us and reported to us on the state of
preparation of all the units and everything.  But we did not have command
over either the Soviet units or the Soviet missiles.  That was the reality.
Formally yes, we must say that, but operationally, we were not really
prepared to exercise that command.  We actually did not understand that
technology.  And we wanted the operational command of those units to be in
the hands of the Soviets.  But we had command of our troops.  They were
hundreds of thousands of men.

[MacNeil] Are you saying you regret now that you did not have operational
command of the Soviet units?

[Castro] No, I do not regret that.  It would have been a little unrealistic
and pretentious on our part to command such a unit of missiles.  I do not
believe they would have accepted it.  They would not have accepted a
formula such as the one the United States has with other countries.

However, we never discussed the control of our troops, hundreds of
thousands of men, our tanks, artillery, or antiaircraft installations.

Now, we had the right to make the decision that we made.  We informed the
Soviets.  We are not going to permit these low flights and we are going to
fire on them.  We informed them.  We gave the order throughout the country
to fire.  And in the morning of that day the firing began from the
antiaircraft battery.  The U-2 airplane was shot down in the afternoon.
And I believe it was an antiaircraft unit that I have in the eastern part
of the country.  It fired.

This indicates undoubtedly that it was a result of the situation created by
our decision to open fire on the flights.  That antiaircraft missile unit
was in the eastern part of the country, integrated with our antiaircraft
battery.  And that unit opened fire and shot down the U-2.  That is the
story of the U-2.

When you ask if Nikita... [rephrases] We naturally made this part of our
historical process, I am not revealing anything new.  It really aggravated
relations.  I tell you this frankly.  I also explained that afterwards, we
understand that we had no reason to have put up with that problem for such
a long time.

Nikita made these two points: He avoided war and Cuba was not invaded.
Those are the points he made.  The basic points.  At that time, time had
advanced, when 20 years, 15 years had passed, after international detente
had occurred, we performed a service.  When it seemed that we were
approaching war, the leaders of the two great powers were more aware of
that danger.  They worked and they were able to achieve detente.

 at that time we were not in agreement with the Soviets.
After 15 years, it was shown that they were right.  A nuclear war was
avoided and Cuba was not invaded.  Over the years, we had to give reasons,
not the way you did, hut truly objectively, fundamentally...

[MacNeil, interrupting] Can I ask one more question about that?  Throughout
the late summer and early fall of 1962, a Republican senator in the
congressional elections, Kenneth Keating, kept saying that the Soviets are
putting missiles in Cuba.  And the administration kept saying no, no they
are not.  Kennedy didn't declare a crisis until he saw U-2 pictures
confirming it.  Was Keating right about August and September 1962?  Was he
right then?  Were the missiles beginning to come in at that time?

[Castro] You are not going to leave anything to history.  Well, that took a
certain period of time, and a series of measures, about 2 months.  Now
then, the position we maintained throughout that period, and it was
absolutely correct, and we made this point at the UN and everywhere else,
was that we had the right to use the kind of weapons we considered adequate
for our defense, and that we did not have to give an account to the United
States about what type of weapons we were receiving from other countries.

There were two positions and I am not responsible for statements made by
Nikita.  I was responsible for what we did.  But the two positions: We
absolutely refused to give any explanation on the type of weapons because
if you have a right, you cannot allow that right to be questioned and you
cannot give explanations that begin to put that right into question.  Look
up our statements in the newspapers.  Nikita made other statements, with
other meanings.  He was trying to explain.  Look it up in the newspapers,
and you will see that there were two positions.  Two different positions.

On this, we were not giving any explanations.  And Nikita tried to give
some explanation about defensive weapons.  Well, actually, the weapons were
not here to attack the United States.  Their purpose was not offensive, or
to make war.  In that point of view they were defensive.

[Castro] But as it was understood internationally, there were no defensive
missiles.  We refused to give any explanation of any type during that
entire period.  Look (?it up in the) newspapers.

[MacNeil] They were here or planned [words indistinct].

[Castro] I would have to do some research to give you the exact day, to say
whether they arrived in August or September.  The work to make the areas
available, resettle peasant farmers, took some time, I cannot say now how
long.  They arrived before August, maybe in September or August.  I would
have to check out the facts.  The process took months, several months.

[MacNeil] Finally let me ask you a couple of personal questions, if I may.
Do you want to go on being the president of Cuba until you die?

[Castro] That depends on how long I live.  If I were told I can do it now,
I believe I can do it. [as heard] I believe I can do my job because of the
experience I have, I would say that too.  I think I am useful.  I do not
think I am irreplaceable, there is nothing more opposed to my philosophy.
I think we have built something that will last, that will live beyond us,
beyond all of us.  And if this should not be so, why have we worked so
hard?  If it were not so, we would have failed.  But our work is not built
of stone, it is not material.  It is of conscience, of moral values and
that is lasting, whether we are here or not.

I have the firmest hope that others will be better, and the sooner a new
generation comes that is better, more capable, that replaces us, the

If I live 3, 4 or 5 years, perhaps 10, I don't know, but the day that I do
not really feel that because of my physical and mental faculties I can do
my duty and my work, I will be the first to say so.  If I live for many
years, you can be sure that I will not die as president of this country.  I
am the first person who will not want this.  (?Do I want) my mind to
continue to be illuminated?  Of course!  I want to arrive at that very
minute at which I can realize that I have done my duty [words indistinct]
and that others can do it.  If I say now that I am going to resign, I am a
soldier of the revolution and believe that I can still fight.  But I have
no personal attachment for the honors that accompany power or (?for power
itself).  You have a president who is older.  Maybe at that age I will not
have the physical or mental faculties to exercise my functions.

[MacNeil] Just to sum up our conversation on improving relations with the
United States, why is this the right time to raise this and, realistically
speaking, how hopeful are you that it can happen?

[Castro] You ask if this is the best moment?  I believe that, if the United
States is objective, if it is realistic, I would say it is the best moment
for the United States.  Not for us.  Really, we can go on for 5, 10, 15, 20
more years.  Our only duty is toward peace.  Our only essential duty, based
on our awareness of a complicated (?and tense) international situation, a
great, real world economic crisis that has not been overcome...[sentence

The United States has not really come out of the economic crisis; the
United States has been able to expand its economy in 1985 at the cost of the
economy of the Third World and even at the cost of its European allies, its
Western allies, with its high interest rates that have overvalued the
dollar.  Hundreds of billions of dollars have been taken from nations of
the Third World and of Europe by the United States.  The world economy is
bearing the burden of the $200-billion budget deficit.  The world economy
is bearing the burden of high interest rates.  In 1985, the U.S. economy
grew, but the European economy grew between 1 and 2 percent, and the
average did not reach two percent.

The United States reduced unemployment, but it increased in England.
Unemployment grew in France, it grew in [words indistinct]; in the FRC
despite its industrial power it grew to 2. 6 million, the highest after the
postwar period.  It grew in Italy, it grew in Ireland, the land of your
ancestors, it grew in practically all the European countries except Sweden,
which has a low unemployment rate.  In the Third World [words indistinct],
even Venezuela, which receives $15 billion for its petroleum, has an
unemployment rate of over 20 percent.  That is, U.S. growth has been
largely at the cost of other economies, which have not grown, and [words
indistinct] unemployment.  Japan [words indistinct] an excellent, efficient
industry, efficient workers.  It has shown its capability.  It has problems
with the United States.  There is Japanese money that has gone to the
United States.  I read a report this morning about a meeting of bank
directors from Western countries, and the president of the FRG bank said
the greatest threat to the international financial system is the U.S.
budget deficit, and the deficit in the U.S. balance of trade, because the
budget deficit of $200 billion is added to the trade balance of $123

[MacNeil] How does that connect with relations with Cuba?

[Castro] I am going to explain how it is related, in a general sense.  It
is related to the international situation, to the need for peace.

The United States is becoming the greatest debtor nation in the world, as
THE WASHINGTON POST said, and I agree with the editorialist on this.  The
United States, as Latin America did 3 years ago, is living beyond its
production and it productivity.  This cannot be kept up.  The economy may
collapse.  Because I do not believe the United States is interested in a
war -- no one wants war -- I think that detente, avoiding an arms race, is
good for everyone.  It is good for the Third World, which without it would
not have any hope of solving its economic problems or developing.  It is
good for the socialist countries, which cannot be interested in war because
they are interested in their own development.  War does not interest
Europe, the industrialized countries of the West.  It does not interest the
United States.  I am convinced the fabulous cost of the arms race cannot be
sustained by the U.S. economy.  And I think the economy [words indistinct]
may collapse within 2 or 3 years.  It cannot last any longer.  I think
[words indistinct] resources, for medical assistance in the United States,
for social assistance, for education, for the elderly, the poor.  They have
already been affected.  I don't think that Congress itself can approve new
restrictions with much enthusiasm.

There are going to be elections in 1985, and then elections again in 1988,
and the political leaders have to think about that, too.  To stop the arms
race and seek a climate of detente would benefit everyone.  It would
benefit the United States.  This is what I see objectively.

In reference to Latin America, I say objectively that a political solution
is in the best interests of the United States because anything else is
absurd.  In that sense, the possibility of international detente is
objective, for the world and for the United States itself.  This is what
the allies of the United States want.  From that point of view, I think a
decrease in tension in any area helps the climate of detente.  If a
settlement in Central America could be reached, if a solution could be
found for southern Africa -- in those two points -- I am sure this would
stimulate solutions in other areas.  Perhaps a solution can be found for
the Middle East.  In that sense, we have a duty, and wherever we can do
anything -- we are a small country -- but if we can do anything to favor
detente we will do it.

We were among the first to come out in support of the Geneva meeting, in
the speeches I mentioned to you.  And as proof that the Soviets appreciated
those points of view, they published them widely, out of a sense of duty.

Let no one imagine that we need to trade with the United States.  This is
not true.  Let no one imagine we are anxious or impatient to negotiate.  We
have presented our position and will be consistent with that position.  The
United States should study [words indistinct].  Relations with Cuba would
benefit the United States.  Why?  Because, thanks to the United States, we
have acquired a certain prestige and even a certain degree of influence.
That is the truth.

Now, as I was saying, many people admire our struggle.  The opinion of our
adversaries does not greatly matter to me.  The future generations will
take this fact into account and study it.  We came out victorious in that
struggle.  We knew how to fight on any terrain and we knew how to win.
They will even be able to say they knew how to die."  So I think history
will be objective and impartial in its judgment of all this.

But now we are in a world economic crisis, the Third World is in an
economic crisis, the hemisphere is in an economic crisis.  I think that if
the United States is objective it can draw its own conclusions.

Let it study what can happen.  If the United States, in circumstances such
as these of the present, would show its capacity to be realistic, would
show its ability to understand that there are changes and that the social
changes occurring in Latin America do not have to come about [words
indistinct] as enemies of the United States.  If it looked at the long
range, it would try to erase the dishonorable page of its blockade and its
hostility toward Cuba.  I am convinced it would benefit, not economically,
because Cuba is a very small market, but politically.  And it would benefit
much more than we would.  At least if the United States makes its peace
with us it will take away a little of our prestige, our influence, and our
glory, even if we don't change.  We will continue to be as socialist or
more socialist than ever but let us maintain normal relations because one
day there may be changes in Latin America that will not be resolved with
the method used in Grenada.

As long as it is a question of social changes in small nations, as in
Grenada, Central America, it is possible to speak of the insanity of
resolving it with invasions.  If one day there is a change in South
America, in Brazil, in Peru, in Chile, and I forgot to mention a country in
the southern cone that is in a prerevolutionary situation, and the United
States understands it and is worried by this and would like Pinochet to
resign and pressures him to do so... [sentence incomplete] And the United
States will try to get him to leave because it knows that if the situation
continues in the face of the entire people, a terrible economic crisis, a
foreign debt of $22 billion, and 20 to 30 percent unemployment, it knows
Chile can end up like Nicaragua.  The United States now knows or at least
understands that if the situation in Chile continues it may have a
Nicaragua or worse on its hands in a very short time, in the southern cone.
This is the situation we see.

How will they resolve it?  Will they send a battalion with 82 divisions?
Will they parachute them in?  Anyone knows this is out of the question.
And if these risks exist, I believe it would be in the best interest of the
United States to change its concept of this hemisphere and stop being a
sworn enemy of social change, and learn to live with them.  This is my

[MacNeil] Does your political nose tell you -- tell me in a word -- that
some rapprochement between Cuba and the United States is soon likely?

[Castro] I cannot say that.  I am reasoning logically, trying to think
things out objectively.  I am not fatalistic.  (?I do not know whether)
this second term is going to be warmongering and aggressive.  I think this
administration has authority, that it has power.  No one can accuse it of
being weak, or soft with socialism and communism.  There is no danger it
will be accused of being communist or reformist.  It is known to be a
government with conservative ideas, a government that is not leftist and
not rightist.  It has authority.

My observations indicate that after the elections some positive things have
happened.  I do not pay much attention to the statements made prior to
elections, but Reagan stressed peace and avoiding war.  Mondale did not
stress this so much.  He took the position that he was going to be harsh.
But Reagan capitalized in a certain way on the pro-peace sentiments of the
U.S. people.  I think he is keeping the economic problem in minds.  He has
spoken in favor of traveling around the United States, and taking care of
its internal problems.  If there are international complications, he will
not he able to do much, right?  But the most important thing after the
elections is that he ratified his speech on peace.  He spoke of a meeting
and there was a meeting.  I think the meeting in Switzerland was a great

He did something more regarding [words indistinct].  They talked seriously,
flexibly regarding complex difficult problems.  They spoke and reached an
agreement.  I thought it was positive.  This agreement with us was action
after the elections.  This was proof that problems can be solved through
dialogue and not by war.  I really thought this was positive.

I have observed other positive indications but I cannot say the last word
because there is still a struggle concerning criteria.  It is still not
very clear whether the arms race will stop, whether the militarization of
space will stop.  At this moment I am not sure whether it is conviction, a
decided plan, or tactical positions with a view towards negotiations.

Many leaders say the budget has to be passed, with the MX, the bombers, and
the submarines or the negotiating position will be weakened.  Therefore, I
cannot determine whether there has been a firm decision to do this or
whether they are merely tactics spinning around a negotiating policy.  But
we have not lost hope.  If international detente is achieved, if the danger
of war is lessened, we will be satisfied even if bilateral relations with
the United States do not improve.

If there is peace here and in other areas, we will be more content.  If
relations are definitively normalized, we will be even more pleased because
it will be a progressive improvement.  Peace is good for us all.  From the
political point of view, I will state my conviction frankly: I think the
United States will benefit more than we will.  We can sit here and wait
quietly and see what happens in the coming years.

[MacNeil] Mr President, thank you.