Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Ties With Spain

PA181725 Madrid EFE in Spanish 1609 GMT 18 Feb 85

[Text] Havana, 18 Feb (EFE) - Fidel Castro said that he regretted that
although relations between Cuba and Spain "are satisfactory," they have not
improved and blamed this fact an the United States.

In an exclusive interview with EFE, the Cuban president said that relations
between Madrid and Havana have prospered "as much as possible," but not "as
much as they should" because Cuba is a "tenacious objector" to U.S. policy
in Latin America and the world and "to a certain extent Spain is an ally of
the United States in political and even in military matters."

Along the same line he said that Spain's incorporation into NATO was a
"colossal historical blunder" and warmed that that move and Spain's
eventual membership in the EEC could spoil its "historical privilege" of
exerting political, cultural, and economic influence in Latin America and
serving as a link between industrialized Europe and the Third World.

However, he stated that he understands "clearly that because of Spain's
geographical position as part of the European continent and its economic
interests, it may indeed be convenient for it to join the European Common

He added: "In no way do we intend to question Spain's absolute right to
seek ways to accommodate its commercial needs and requirements of
development.  However, we must express our concern, which stems from the
bitter experience we have had and the truly abusive exploitation we have
suffered at the hands of industrialized capitalist nations."

During the 6-hour interview granted to Ricardo Utrilla, president and
general director of EFE, and the agency's Havana representative, Marisol
Marin, the Cuban bead of state also blamed the United States for the fact
that he has not yet been invited to visit Spain and other Western European
nations and for the fact that the leaders of those countries do not travel
to Cuba.

"The day that our relations with the United States improve, and no one
knows when that will happen, we will receive many more visitors and also
more invitations," Castro said.  "However, as long as so many people are
worried about the United States' reaction... for many states and political
leaders it is a veritable headache to extend an invitation even to visit
us," he added.

He added ironically, however, that he is "not eager" to travel to Western
Europe.  He added that some European countries, including Spain, had
thought of extending him a group invitation, and thus elude individual
responsibilities in the face of the United States, but he added that those
plans never crystallized.  (Havana political sources reported that those
countries were Spain, France, Greece, and Sweden.)

With regard to his unexpected and controversial stop over in Madrid last
year, lie stressed that it had not been planned.  His route from Moscow
was altered "for understandable security reasons," because when he travels,
actual "manhunts" are organized against him.

Concerning the six members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty
organization [ETA], that Cuba received on 1 May 1984 from Panama, Castro
said that although the 6-month stay the were initially granted has long
expired, "we are not going to deport them or deny them hospitality."
Whenever they are ready to leave they can leave," he said.

The Cuban leader admitted that such an attitude entails risks for Cuba.  We
do not want to go on the record either as accomplices or as jail keepers of
the ETA men," lie said.  He added that ETA has attempted to establish links
with the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) to explain "its problem," but said
that the PCC has always eluded this.  We will not get involved in Spanish
affairs such as this one; no one can accuse us of that," he said.  They
were only accepted in Cuba, he insisted, on account of political
considerations to Spain and Panama and humanitarian concerns regarding ETA
members themselves.

Asked about the situation of political prisoner Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, who
is of Spanish descent and has been in prison for the past 20 years serving
time on a 30 year sentence, Castro used strong language to rule out his
release.  He was charged with being chief of the Alfa-66
counterrevolutionary organization.  "He deserved to be executed," Castro

"As long as there is the danger of a U.S. attack on our country, and as
long as U.S. hostility continues, we cannot take the risk of freeing
Menoyo.  I think that the Spanish people can understand that perfectly,"
Castro said.

He said that he would like to give Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez
proof of the his personal regard and friendship by releasing Menoyo, but
that this is not possible because Cuba's national interests come first.

Castro asked emphatically: "What would the Spanish people say if I asked
the Spanish Government to release the ETA members currently in jail?...
From the moral point of view, an ETA militant is more respectable than
Menoyo, because ETA members are not mercenaries...Menoyo is more than a
political prisoner.  He is a traitor to his country because his actions
were carried out from the United States, in the service of U.S. interests
and against Cuba, and I understand that the ETA militants are not supported
by any foreign power, and they do not work for any foreign power."

After flatly ruling our any possibility of an interview with Menoyo, Castro
said that the poet Armando Valladares, "who has not told one single truth,"
has never been disabled, which was proven when he was secretly filmed in
his cell.  He criticized the privileged treatment Valladares has received
in Spain since his release.

To emphasize his point, he recalled the Spanish Civil War, and Cuba's
contribution to that republican cause in the form of some 1,000 fighters.

He said: "Many Cubans died in Spain, fighting for the Spanish Republic.  I
do not think they died so that Madrid would be overindulgent with men like
Valladares, or for men as Menoyo to be treated as great patriots.  I wonder
what they would say if they knew about this.  I think that they died for
higher ideals, and for much higher objectives...  I do not think that they
died for Spain's alliance with the United States, nor do I think that they
died for Spain's entrance in NATO."

Castro went further back in history to stress what he considered "a
historical contradiction" between the current situation and the 1898 war.

He said: "It is difficult for us to visualize Spain as a U.S. ally when
only eight decades have passed since the U.S.-Spanish war over Cuba.
Indeed, the United States fought its first imperialist war, also an
opportunistic war, here."

He added: "It seems like a historical paradox that, after eight decades,
Cuba should be the country that defends its nationality, which is Cuban,
but which also has a vast Spanish influence, in its culture and in blood
ties, while Spain today has become a U.S. ally, and a NATO member.  This is
certainly a historical contradiction.  I think we have advanced, while
Spain has moved backwards.  I must say so frankly, although I know that an
opinion such as this usually raises resentment and criticism.  I have even
been accused of trying to meddle in Spain's political affairs.  Although
this is not my intention, it is my right, as I am a Spanish citizen,
according to the theory of dual citizenship."