Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA231818 Havana PRELA in Spanish 0144 GMT 22 Feb 85 -- FOR OFFICIAL USE

[Text] Havana, 21 Feb (PL) -- In view of the interest shown by press media
in the statements made by Cuban President Fidel Castro to EFE President
Ricardo Utrilla and EFE's Havana correspondent Marisol Marin, we hereby
transcribe the full text of those parts of the interview that referred to
problems in Latin America, the foreign debt, and the unforeseeable
consequences of that debt if a reasonable solution is not found.

Marin: Speaking about Latin America: Do you believe that the
democratization processes, the reestablishment of democracies in Latin
America, will benefit Cuba in the sense that diplomatic relations with
countries with which Cuba has had no relations or which were broken off
will gradually be reestablished? I refer specifically to Brazil and

Castro: I believe that this -- relations with countries that have initiated
a new stage -- is of little importance to us. Cuba's prestige or the moral
issue of completely defeating isolation is not essential. We do not
subordinate Cuban interests to the matter of Cuban relations with other
countries. This depends on each individual country. I believe that each
country must do what it deems most suitable to its interests. We exert no
pressure and allow each country to decide what is best for itself, to
reestablish relations quickly or wait for the most propitious moment.
Actually we do not attach any fundamental importance to the fact of
reestablishing relations in itself. There are more important things than
that. As I see it, it is more important to strengthen democratic processes,
and I believe we should all help and cooperate in this, not create

I believe democratic processes are presently assuming strategic importance
and are very important developments.

The Reagan administration might be saying that democracy is advancing, but
what is advancing is the crisis in the U.S. system of domination over Latin
America. The democratic process means that military dictatorships are
retreating, that the methods of repression and force used to preserve the
system have failed, and that the murders, sophisticated torture
techniques, and disappearances that the United States taught repressive
forces' armies and police in Latin America, all those barbaric methods,
are doing nothing to preserve the system, and that the crisis is so
profound that military men understand that those countries have become

Utrilla: Is that the case in present day Guatemala?

Castro: We cannot say that. Guatemala has its own economic, political,
and social problems, but that is a different case.

Its situation is unlike those in South America. South American countries
are more developed industrially, socially, and intellectually. The masses
are more aware and more politically mature. Central America is poorer, more
accustomed to the system of family oligarchies, military caudillos, and
unending military dictatorships. Its political experience is different from
that of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay.

Military men in those countries understand that the situation there is
unmanageable. They are leaving the government, turning it over to civilians
after having completely failed as government leaders and after having
brought those countries to ruin to a lesser or greater degree. For
instance, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay were severely hurt; in Brazil the
military surrendered the country to transnationals that went there to
exploit cheap labor amid great poverty. However, I perceive some
differences between the policies followed by Brazilian military and those
of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, who opened their doors wide to
competition and caused the collapse of national industry. The Brazilian
military followed a different policy. However, they all know that their
countries have become unmanageable, and they are turning power over to
civilians. The crisis is so serious that they consider themselves unfit to

Marin: Won't they also be unmanageable by civilians?

Castro: The outlook is somber: In Argentina a foreign debt of $45 billion;
in Uruguay, $5.5 billion; in Brazil, $104 billion, this is what Tancredo
will inherit; in Chile, where changes will inevitably take place, the
debt amounts to $22 billion. During the days of Popular Unity the debt was
$4 billion and the price of copper was not so low, although the situation
was also difficult -- and in Allende's case one must recall that his
foreign credit was cut off. The United States adopted economic measures
against his government. However, now the civilians are inheriting a somber
situation. Inflation is enormous and out of control in Argentina, Uruguay,
and Brazil, and they have many long-standing social problems.

A few days ago a reporter gave me a 1-million Argentine peso bill and asked
me: "Do you know how much this bill was worth some years ago?" I said: "Not
exactly." He said: "$250,000. Do you know what it is worth today?
Seventy-nine cents."

Perhaps the great success of these military governments is that they turned
all their citizens into millionaires. Inflation makes the economy
unmanageable. The standard of living has decreased considerably in all of
those countries. In Argentina, I calculate that the standard of living has
decreased by 35 percent since the military's ascent to power; in Uruguay by
50 percent; in Brazil, I do not know exactly, but it could be between 30
and 35 percent, at least 30 percent, though I do not know exactly.

Utrilla: More than in Argentina?

Castro: No, probably not 30 or 35 percent in Argentina. In Brazil -- a
conservative estimate could be lower -- probably by 30 percent, though I do
not know exactly.

These civilian governments inherit an administration and find themselves
forced to adopt strict restrictive measures when the standard of living of
the people is not of 100 percent but of 65, 50, 70 percent.

Now this huge debt will have to be paid back under conditions set by the
IMF. In Mexico the restrictions began at 100 percent. The peoples of South
America cannot handle more restrictions; you cannot take a single extra
penny from them.

We have very illustrative examples: Take the Dominican Republic, they
applied the IMF formula, and they had to send policemen into the streets
to kill dozens of persons and injure hundreds more because of the first
measures adopted. They changed the parity of the peso; it had been 1 peso
to 1 dollar, and it was changed to 3 pesos to 1 dollar for the purchase of
certain import products -- medicine and some others -- but they did not
apply this measure to fuel and certain foods. Now comes part two: the
dollar is now 3 pesos per dollar for all merchandise.

The Dominican people were a people under a constitutional regime and an
elected government, a situation of relative tranquillity, and a virtual
people's uprising occurred. Then part two of the measure was to be
implemented, the Army and the police bad to take to the streets to prevent
protests. There is enormous unrest.

In Panama the new government, despite the fact that the standard of living
in Panama is not low, attempted to apply new tax measures and to postpone a
pay raise for some professionals, doctors and teachers. This also brought
about a social upheaval. Certainly this situation was used by the
rightist parties, which mobilized hundreds of thousands of persons. The
government even had to withdraw the measures. Well, because Panama has a
National Guard with a patriotic nature, it is not about to take the streets
and shoot the people. I am giving you examples of two countries that are
geographically close. Now, the debts that the countries I have mentioned
have, and the ones that all the other Latin American countries have, are
unpayable. This is what we believe; it is unpayable. I say this with strong

This is very important. It is not a matter of renegotiating the debt,
readjusting the debt, and offering 10, 12, and 14 year periods and giving
3, 4, and 5 years grace to pay the interest. The debt can be renegotiated
and absolutely nothing will be solved. The interest cannot be paid. This is
the key point: The interest on the debt cannot be paid.

At present, the Latin American countries have to pay $40 billion in
interest annually, to which is added the flight of capital and the
repatriation of foreign firms' profits.

In the past few years alone, the flight. of capital from Latin America
increased, according to calculations, to $55 billion. Very well, the debt
has now reached the frightful figure of $360 billion and the interest on
this debt will be $400 billion in 10 years.

Twenty-four years ago Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress as an
antidote to social upheaval, and it was a creative measure, undoubtedly.
Kennedy created reforms and economic aid in the amount of $20 billion over
several years to solve social and development problems. Today our
population is twice what it was 24 years ago, social problems have
multiplied, the foreign debt is 18 times what Kennedy gave as aid, and the
interest is presently $40 billion annually -- $400 billion in 10 years. It
is not a matter, then, of the countries not wanting to pay the debt or the
interest. The fact is they have no alternative, they cannot pay it.

If these democratic processes attempted to pay this debt, or not even the
debt, just the interest, they would ruin themselves politically. The
danger is not in the return of the military; the military do not want to
take over these governments. The problems would be total political
destabilization and social upheaval. This is what I say will happen if IMF
solutions and payment of these interest are imposed on these peoples.

Therefore, I state the following: Latin America needs a minimum grace
period of approximately 10 to 20 years to pay its foreign debt, including
the interest.

Utrilla: A total freeze of the debt?

Castro: For the capital and the interest, a grace period of approximately
10 to 20 years, no less, according to each country and its circumstances.
This is what I say, and I am absolutely convinced of it. This would not
solve the problems, it would only , be a beginning, a relief, a little
breathing room, because, of course, the problems would still not be solved.

The problem of unequal exchange, which I explained at the beginning, would
have to be solved, as well as protectionist measures for trade development.
That would be a respite for a new international economic order, a simple

This is not easy, because the governments of industrialized capitalist
countries have their difficulties, each of them reacting to their own
internal problems. I have so many unemployed. I am making an industrial
reconversion, the French say, the Spanish say. The Germans say their
unemployment has risen to 2.6 million, a record postwar figure. The British
have 3 million unemployed. In many countries unemployment is increasing,
including in the industrialized countries. The United States adopted the
most selfish of all the policies: It imposed a financial system, supported
of course by its great economic strength, based on high interest rates that
drew hundreds of billions from the world economy, including the Third World

Everyone was going to deposit their money in the United States, because if
they kept it in their country's currency it would be devalued. For the
wealthy, if there was a devaluation and they had say, 1 million pesos to
cite a currency of x value, a devaluation like that in Mexico would reduce
it within weeks to 25 percent. The same would happen in Argentina, Brazil,

With free exchange and inflation, no one felt encouraged to deposit money
that was not safe anywhere, so they took it abroad, attracted by the high
interest rates in the United States. The United States has resolved its
economic problems with this policy of high interest rates and the removal
of money from other countries. But the United States cannot maintain this
situation much longer either.

The U.S. $200-billion budget deficit is another problem which has affected
the world economy. The story of Vietnam -- a war waged without levying
taxes -- is being repeated. Now we have an arms race that is being
developed without levying taxes and a $123-billion trade deficit which is
untenable for the U.S. economy. These, then, are objective realities which
must be taken into consideration. I also think that one of the bases for
the hope that common sense will prevail is the fact that if this situation
is viewed clearly, the United States will understand that it is also to
its advantage to check the arms race and seek international detente. The U.
S. economy cannot withstand this policy much longer either. If it does, it
will last at the most for no longer than 6 months, 1 year or, as the most
optimistic estimate, 1- and 1/2 or 2 years.

In 1984, 24 percent of the net savings deposited in the United States came
from abroad. The international economic crisis has not been resolved; it is
all limited to optimistic words. The U.S. Government said that the United
States was the engine that would pull the other countries toward economic
recovery. Indeed, it has pulled them, but not toward recovery. Instead it
pulled them toward a worsening of their difficulties.

Regarding the Third World debt, we propose the following: Since the
creditors are basically private banks, the solution would be for the
industrialized countries to assume those debts by their private banks if
there is any desire to prevent the bankruptcy of the financial system.
The United States has a public debt totaling $1.65 trillion. This solution
would increase it only slightly. The combined Third World debt is less than
that spent in military expenses every year, and in the end the debt will
have to be canceled. If the world can afford now to devote $1 trillion for
military expenses, I wonder why the Third World countries' debt cannot be
canceled this once.

There is no alternative. To try to collect that debt, at least in Latin
America, would cause a social explosion. Although very grave, the situation
in Africa is different: A large part of the people there live in villages,
as they lived many centuries ago. People there suffer from hunger and
drought. They die, but the continent does not inevitably explode. In Latin
America there is a different social composition workers, peasants, middle
classes, intellectuals, large urban masses. The social conditions needed
for an explosion exist in Latin America. That are the recently elected
civilian governments proposing? The Argentine Government has clearly
announced that it is not willing to either accept recessive measures or
make the people bear the consequences of that debt, that it cannot curb
development. The same has been said by the Brazilian president-elect and
other political leaders. But how is development possible if these countries
have to send off $40 billion each year? Terrible measures would have to be
adopted, beginning with living standards that have already been
considerably lowered. It has been said that the debt problem is political,
not merely financial. True, it is political, but it is already becoming a
revolutionary problem.

The ideas are clear: I do not want to do this, I do not want to do that,
but no formula has been given. The United States has tried to divide the
Latin American countries during the renegotiation of the debt by
negotiating with each government separately. Every time the major debtor
countries meet they make a solemn promise not to organize a debtor' club,
when in fact they should start by saying the opposite and by joining forces
to organize a club, a front, a committee, or whatever is needed to
negotiate with the creditor countries, which are closely united within the
Paris Club and the IMF. What does it mean to say that the problem is
political? Simply that the gravity of the situation and all the foreseeable
consequences must be discussed at the political level.

If the Latin American countries were released from the obligation to pay
the debt, there could be a breather, but there would still be no solution
to the problems of underdevelopment, nor would a new international economic
order have been established. That would merely be the beginning.

Utrilla: It would seem that you view that explosion as something so
terrible that it would not follow a positive course vis-a-vis revolutionary
Cuba. In other words, in the event of an explosion, a revolutionary
explosion, would this not be following somewhat the course that Cuba wants
for Latin America?

Castro: Well, no one knows how it would go. If conditions continue to
develop in the present direction, no one can predict what it will be
like, what kind it will be, what nature it will have. I am merely saying
that at present the danger is not that the military men might return; the
danger is that the Latin American societies might explode.

I will cite another example: Bolivia, where we have a president I sincerely
appreciate, inspired by the best intentions to save the democratic process,
and even a Communist Party that is neither subverting nor disorganizing the
country, but is instead allied with the government.

It participated in the coalition that won the elections and has assumed its
responsibility regarding the government's policy. However, the real
situation at present is that no party in the government now controls the
labor sectors, which refuse to accept new sacrifices. Inflation grows, and
strikes are being staged in succession. The social situation is untenable,
and it is not the Communists who are promoting the protests but the
unions, the workers, the peasants, the people in general, who can no longer
bear any more sacrifices. Thus, one can see the presence of objective, not
subjective, factors. Whom will they accuse of subverting order? It is the
people, who are no longer resigned; they no longer accept restrictions on
their standards of living. It is too bad, because the debt and the interest
must be paid, and the IMF's demands must be met.

A civilian government emerged in Peru less than 4 years ago, duly elected,
with more than half the votes, with a parliamentary majority. At present
the party that won the election includes only 3.8 percent of the country's
voters. Well, the American Revolutionary Popular Alliance may win the
elections. According to certain predictions, it will obtain a majority. And
what will it do the next day about the debt and the social problems? There
is evident social agitation in Peru. From a distance no one understands it,
but it no doubt reflects the crisis and the instability. I am mentioning
two countries. I already mentioned the Dominican Republic and Panama, now I
have mentioned the situation in Bolivia and the situation in Peru. Regional
problems are very clear. Social revolutions will take place, in my opinion,
for good or bad, depending on each individual's expectations. Unless a
solution is found to this problem, social revolutions will take place. The
other alternative might provide a breather, it might provide a chance for a
less traumatic process.

Utrilla: Yes, but considering all we have heard of your opinion, perhaps
Cuba, the Cuban regime, you personally, would favor a democratic process
that would end in a traditional revolutionary process as opposed to an
explosion of almost cataclysmic intensity, whose results no one could

Castro: I am simple trying to present the situation as objectively as
possible as I see it.

This subject came into the spotlight recently when people began to ask me
about the famous matter of exporting revolutions, and I would say: It is
absolutely impossible to export the conditions that create a revolution,
because if we speak of subversive elements, I say that the IMF measures,
the foreign debt, the $40 billion in annual interest, the international
economic crisis, the lowering of the prices of Latin America's main
exports, protectionism, high interest rates, all of these are highly
subversive factors.

I would say that the pope's visit was subversive, because the pope visited
a few Indian communities, poor communities, laborers' communities, and he
spoke of the need to provide the peasants with land; schools for the
children; hospitals, doctors and medicine for the sick; jobs for heads of
families; and three meals a day. Well, all these statements are subversive
if we look at the conditions of the underdeveloped countries of this
hemisphere. If the pope had visited Cuba he would have had to speak of
other things. He would not have had to speak of the need for schools,
because 99 percent of our children attend schools; nor the need for
hospitals, doctors, and medicine for the sick; jobs for heads of families;
milk for children; nor three meals a day. " All in all, he has reflected a
situation that exists in Venezuela, despite that country's income from oil;
in Ecuador; in Peru; in the cities and countrysides of the countries I
visit; everywhere. But how is this to be solved? He presented these issues
as society's duty, one of society's needs. But how do we achieve this?

There is the debt, underdevelopment, accumulated social problems, interest,
enormous inequalities in the distribution of wealth, many factors. He has
stated, perhaps unwittingly, the bases of a social revolution.

Utrilla: Well those, in Marxist terms, are the objective conditions for a

Castro: Yes, yes. The enormous economic and social problems accumulated and
the crisis that has emerged are the objective conditions for a revolution.

Utrilla: Speaking of the famous formula for exporting revolution, of which
Cuba has been accused so many times, it is a somewhat mistaken formula, but
could Cuba not be tempted, in response to these objective conditions, the
many accumulated passions, to provide the little flame that would ignite
the situation?

Castro: The flame would not be necessary, there could be spontaneous
combustion, and then there would not be enough water in the world to douse

Utrilla: Anything could happen.

Castro: I think these are the factors that determine social changes. I am
not interested in preserving the existing social order. I think this social
order should be changed. Nor am I interested in preserving the U.S. system
of dominating our peoples which has prevailed until now. In my opinion this
social order cannot be maintained, nor can this system of domination be
preserved. These things will change; I think they will begin to change with
this present situation.

I simply analyze the problem, and I predict what will happen if the
situation continues as it is, with absolute conviction. I believe that this
explosive situation can be eased if the debt is paid one way or another,
through an agreement among the parties involved or by a decision made
jointly by the debtors. At any rate, the system already is facing an
unsolvable crisis, unsolvable because I have seen when conversing with
people that few conservatives are left in this hemisphere. If you speak to
the conservatives you will see that they are not only conservative, they
are also desperate and frustrated. The workers are desperate, the middle
classes are desperate, and this is very important because the middle
classes have great influence in these crisis situations. Even certain
sectors of the upper classes are desperate.

I believe that this order or system can no longer be maintained. I believe
it is a matter of being realistic and waiting to see if these conditions
will persist until truly explosive social convulsions occur, because we
have these objective factors. You do not see too many subjective factors,
they are not clearly seen; that is the organization, the forces that will
promote a change. But the same thing happened with Latin America gained its
independence: The factors had been created, Spain was occupied by Napoleon,
and the patriotic juntas were born. These were created as an act of
loyalty to Spain and ended in the independence of this hemisphere. I am
analyzing; I am not advocating one formula or the other. I am analyzing,
meditating, as I see what is happening and what will happen. It would be
best if these changes could come about in the most orderly manner
possible, without trauma and without bloodshed. I would say this would be
the best.

I think -- I am no inciter of social explosions -- but I do think about
developments in other places at other times in history. The situation in
France in 1789 was not very different. French society exploded and the
ensuing upheaval was very widespread and bloody.

Utrilla: Instead of moving in a progressive direction, some social
explosions move in a reactionary direction.

Castro: I do not think so. The time for that has come and gone. It can only
occur in isolated situations.

Utrilla: That is no longer so in Latin America.

Castro: In many places the military men seized power, established fascism,
tortured people and made them disappear, and further ruined their
respective countries. What is the alternative now? In Brazil the opening
came about as a result of the people's struggle, the mobilization of
millions of people in pursuit of direct elections, and the intelligent
activities of the political parties, which united. Although they lost the
battle in parliament, they won it in the Electoral College, which had been
created solely and exclusively to elect official candidates. Well, you
have seen the political change wrought in Brazil. It was not violent, but
it was deep-seated. In other words, the opening there is serious, it is

Now the people have entered the fray. In my opinion, there is no risk that
a military coup might be staged at this time in Argentina, Uruguay, or
Brazil. There are always a few military men plotting, say 8-10 percent mad
people who talk about coups; but most people understand that it would be
foolish. If conflictive situations occur in an economy that can stand firm,
90 percent of the people might favor staging a coup immediately and taking
over the country. But this is not the case. Those societies are in crisis
and the military men can no longer run them. The moment for repression has
come and gone; they used it to the hilt but could resolve nothing. They
wore themselves out and the situation grew worse. Force is being employed
only in isolated countries like Santo Domingo. But in other countries of
decisive importance the military forces have already done all they could
do. Every person who could have been made to disappear, or could have been
tortured or killed, was disposed of in that way.

Utrilla: Yes, that is the case with Argentina.

Castro: All right then, there was social upheaval. For a time it was
checked through the use of plain force -- in Uruguay and in Chile, which
are the Switzerlands of America. They have already used the military men
as a recourse. Pinochet does not have much time left, either. The current
population opposes him; unafraid. As I have often said, even the United
States does not want Pinochet any longer because it fears the emergence of
another Nicaragua in the southern cone. Frankly, that is the country I
think is closest to a deep social revolution, should rebellion erupt. The
Americans know this and they are trying to change Pinochet, to persuade him
to leave or to somehow expel him. They have failed, however, because
Pinochet is stubborn, agrumentative, and combative, and he is clinging to
power. The situation there is a volcano.

Utrilla: If it is alright with you, Commander, we will now turn to Cuba.

Castro: Right. But Let me see if I have left out something about this, left
some idea unsaid. I have talked to you about Chile. It is not undergoing
any of the processes of democratic opening. One of those processes or a
people's revolution could come about if Pinochet's rule is extended. That
is what I see. The general situation is important from another angle
because the United States must take it into account. In the midst of this
scenario, will it commit genocide in Nicaragua, will it invade Nicaragua?

I am simply mentioning these facts. In today's world, it seems to me that
it is best for us to be objective and realistic and to foresee what might
happen. I think many people must be thinking about this [possible U.S.
invasion of Nicaragua]. Naturally, the industrialized countries and the
United States itself will try to avoid it. But how will they do this? It
would almost take a miracle. I call it a miracle of common sense. As a rule
those miracles never happen; the colonial and neocolonial powers in general
have never been capable of seeing and foreseeing events.

Kennedy began to worry after the Cuban revolution. Before the Cuban
revolution, one could not talk about agrarian reform, tax reform, fiscal
reform, or social programs in Latin America, because if you did, you were
accused of being a communist. When the Cuban revolution began, the United
States worried for the first time. The peoples of the hemisphere have much
for which to thank the Cuban revolution. The United States began to worry.
I even believe that after the revolution, the Latin American countries
became more independent and received more attention. The U.S. Government
said: Let us introduce reforms, let us do something before new revolutions
are waged in this hemisphere. And the Alliance for Progress was launched 24
years ago. How much time has elapsed? How many new problems do we have? And
what is the solution? Will they be wise enough to handle this, to say let
us be flexible? It is difficult, but possible. I wonder what the
industrialized countries can do? They can take over the debt owed to their
own banks, thus providing breathing room. I feel that this would make way
for a new phase. I think this is an irreversible process. Perhaps a
rational analysis and a realistic understanding of the situation might lead
to an orderly rather than a violent course.

But what I do is analyze the situation as we see it. I even told the
Americans, when they asked how a normalization of their relations with us
would benefit them: If you will gain political advantages, greater for you
than for Cuba. We can sit here quietly and watch all that happens from a
front row seat if you wish, watch the course of events." I said that
politically speaking, this implied an advantage for the United States. Yes,
that country would at least demonstrate its capacity to adapt to changes
and to existing realities, I think that the day the problems of Grenada are
found not on some small island or in Nicaragua or in the other small
countries in our area, the day there is a serious social crisis in Chile,
Brazil, Argentina, or Peru, they would be impotent because that kind of
situation cannot be resolved with a paratrooper battalion sent there under
some pretext or with some tall tale. Misunderstanding these problems could
be very costly, I am telling them: You could not intervene there; you could
not implement the remedy of intervention. You can discuss intervention and
send in troops and battleships in the case of Nicaragua or Grenada. But it
will be very different the day you have this same problem in South America.

So, why did Central America explode? Ah, because they failed to foresee the
situation. Why didn't they begin to talk about elections back then? They
didn't they begin worrying about the prevailing underdevelopment, poverty,
and oppression 10 or 15 years ago? Why didn't they become aware of this
before? Ah, well, they didn't, yet know they want to intervene. One might
also foresee what will happen in South America and say: Well, let us
prevent those developments. I am merely saying: This is the panorama we see
and certain conclusions must be drawn from this. Well, nothing would please
us more than to see the powers become sane, farsighted, judicious, wise. I
even think I am not harming anyone by discussing these problems.

Utrilla: I have been thinking that the way you present the situation, which
I think you are doing it in very precise and accurate terms, it would
almost go against Cuban interests if the United States were to admit that
your analysis is right and tried to check the revolutionary process in
Latin America. [sentence as received] I would say you are giving advice to
someone you know is deaf.

Castro: It seems to me this is related to the international situation,
because this is a world problem, not one that concerns only Latin America.
The problem of the economic crisis is real and it is affecting the
industrialized countries and the Third World countries even more. At the
Nonaligned Movement meetings, at the United Nations, everywhere, we have
been saying that the Third World's problems are in desperate need of
solution. Europeans know what is happening in Africa with the drought and
about the millions dying there. They were dying before and no one knew
about it.

Utrilla: But there are no revolutionary focuses there.

Castro: I told you that people starved to death in Africa before, but no
one knew about it. Now, however, everyone sees it on television. Naturally,
there have been revolutionary changes in several African countries. What
happened in Burkia Faso? What happened in Ethiopia? What happened in Ghana?
The economic and social situation determined revolutionary changes, but one
cannot talk about an overall explosive situation. Africa has a lower
level of economic, social, and cultural development than Latin America,
less developed labor and peasant sectors and cultural elites. It does not
have a large and widespread middle class. It does not have the relatively
large number of doctors, economists, professors, lawyers, engineers, and
architects, or the millions of university students that Latin America has.
Africa is at another stage of development. Its peoples are suffering from
the consequences of underdevelopment, the economic crisis, and the natural
disasters. Changes may take place, but these changes will not have either
the magnitude or the world repercussion of those in Latin America.

I think that as regards the international situation, we must also take into
account the danger of war, of the arms race. Some peculiar views or ideas
must be foresaken in order to solve these problems. I would say that the
idea of military superiority, "star wars," the huge military expenditures,
and the arms race are all incompatible with finding a solution to the
world's grave economic and social problems. I think that peace,
international detente, coexistence, and even cooperation among all
countries will have to be sought. In other words, preventing a war is as
necessary as social change.

I see a connection between all these things. I think the situation calls
for a change in the views held in many countries, in the industrialized,
capitalist countries. The United States, in particular, must adopt a
realistic position vis-a-vis these developments. It has done so in the
case of China. Twenty years ago, it talked about the yellow menace, the red
menace; all menaces of all colors came from that country. Now it is
investing there. It is trading with China and making all sorts of
investments in that country. It even prefers a more or less orderly China,
with social justice, to a feudal and hungry China. Just imagine if to the
African situation we were to add now that of the former China, with
hundreds of millions of starving people.

However, the Chinese revolution has created different conditions. Now they
are enchant e,d with their relations with China. They have learned a lesson
there. Why don't learn it here? I would say that what I have discussed
about Latin America falls within the framework of a more global analysis of
the world's problems, of peace and war, of the arms race, and of
development. I even think that the problems posed by development can be
confronted only with the cooperation of the entire international
community, socialist and capitalist countries alike. Underdevelopment is
not resolved simply by having peace. Its solution falls within the
framework of a peace perspective for the entire world, a peace which does
not consist only of discontinued manufacturing or reduction of nuclear
weapons, or abstaining from a space war program, but entails true
willingness to bring billions of human beings out of poverty by using the
resources which today are so absurdly dedicated to military expenses.

An objective analysis of the situation might perhaps help the industrial
powers, even the United States if it is capable of being realistic, to seek
new formulas and concepts which, in my view, are both possible and
applicable. As for our region, the principle of nonintervention in the
domestic affairs of other countries could be strictly enforced. We are
willing to comply with this 100 percent: No Cuban interference, even if we
sympathize with the revolutionary movements; neither Cuba nor the United
states would interfere. Let each country decide responsibly what political
and economic system it must follow. No one should try to promote a new
social system from abroad or to maintain an unjust social order.

Utrilla: Do you mean that one shouldn't oppose revolution because it is

Castro: In Chile, the United States, the CIA, spent millions, but people
out in the streets, conspired, put Pinochet in power, and there they have
him. Did they resolve anything with this? Was the United States perhaps
completely uninvolved in the coup staged in Brazil in 1964? Doesn't
everyone know that it encouraged the coup against [former Brazilian
President] Goulart? The United States was not unaware of these coups; it is
no stranger to these military formulas. Nor is it a stranger to the
pedagogy of torture and the repressive methods tried out in Vietnam. Its
advisers and training schools were the teachers and universities that
graduated Latin America's worst torturers and executioners.

Now the United States is trying out and perfecting two major forms of
interference in our countries: In El Salvador it is trying to develop a
technique to crush a revolutionary movement that implements the tactics of
unconventional warfare. In Nicaragua, it is trying to develop techniques to
defeat a revolution through conventional warfare. Thus, in El Salvador it
is trying to defeat the revolutionary guerrillas, while in Nicaragua it is
practicing another science: How to defeat a revolutionary government
through the action of mercenary guerrilla groups. It is trying out all the
techniques in either one direction or another. Well, it has sufficiently
practiced the science of direct and indirect intervention in Central
America, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, but has it resolved
anything? Why are the political and social processes of the Latin American
peoples not allowed to develop freely?

I am not giving advice, I am simply analyzing and reasoning. The United
States might demonstrate a certain capacity to foresee developments. If it
does not, I know what will happen. I do not harbor the slightest doubt. As
I was telling you, if you speak with the Latin Americans you will discover
that there are hardly any conservative people left. On occasions you
probably won't notice much difference between what I say and what a
conservative might say about a particular principle, free competition,
suspension of barriers, or this or that formula for having local industry
compete with foreign industry in the production of goods for domestic
consumption, things that have brought ruin to countries. They are
terrified. They don't even want to hear about such economic theories.

Free trade has also been very costly for the Latin American economies. I
know cases of people who have asked for loans in local currency, then they
changed this currency for dollars which they deposited in the United
States, thereby gaining interest and in a few months, with half the dollars
they had available, they paid their debt. Many people have lost their faith
in the classic and traditional mechanisms.

I have noticed that there is something new in the women, the doctors, the
intellectuals Latin America, who have recently been in Cuba in connection
with various events.

They now have a very strong feeling I had not noticed before. Last year I
met with hundreds of movie stars, producers, and artists from Latin
America. They have to compete with the U.S. movie industry. They make
excellent pictures but cannot even cover their expenses because the U.S.
transnationals control everything.

You cannot imagine how much irritation many people, from every single
sector and social level, are carrying inside of them. We are facing a
boiling continent. The future belongs to the people of this continent.
Europe is worn out. I am serious: Europe cannot give much more. Europe is
tired, both politically and intellectually. I see it as tired. A consumer
society takes its toll. This continent has a great variety of substance and
values and its people have many things in common, so much that there is a
strong movement of Latin American and Caribbean movie stars, writers, and
intellectuals in this continent, something that does not exist in Europe or
in any other part of the world.

Utrilla: This is cultural unity.

Castro: Yes. The future does not belong to Europe. It belongs to Latin
America. There is a great potential wealth to be developed. There is
infinite intellectual and human wealth and there is the challenge of a
future to be conquered. Europe does not have much to teach us anymore.
Europe has always presumed to be the spiritual, tutor of Latin America. All
the European countries, including Spain, make this presumption. They look
at us as former colonies that must still be taught a lot, but the truth is
that it is beginning to be the other way around.