Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA042133 Havana International Service in Spanish 1534 GMT 4 Aug 85

[press conference by president Fidel Castro with reporters attending the
Continental Dialogue on the Latin America-Caribbean Debt at Havana's palace
of Conventions--live]

[Text] [Castro] You must understand that I would have to answer 300
questions.  I might be able to answer 15, 20 or perhaps a few more.  It is
not that I am trying to save time.  Everyone has been working hard these
days.  Today is Sunday, and according to the commandments of the law of
God, one must rest on Sundays.  There have been several Sundays that nobody
has rested around here.  Therefore, today, I am personally doing this with
pleasure, but it is important that you understand, and I know this will be
difficult for reporters, because Gustavo (Lebon) did not write the
psychology of the reporters masses, he wrote the psychology of the other
masses, but not those of reporters. [laughter] Therefore, it is difficult,
because everyone wants to ask a question, but you must bear in mind the
fact that it is impossible for all of you to ask a question.  Let's see how
you distribute your questions, or how we distribute the chairmanship, but
it is important that we explain this. [laughter]

[Moderator] We request that the reporters give their names, and the media
they represent.

[Pastora] Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz: My
name is Joaquin Absalon Pastora, director of EL MOMENTO and VEINTIUNA HORAS
of Managua, Nicaragua.  Although no resolution has been issued at the end
of the meeting on the Latin American and Caribbean foreign debt, an
extraordinary and feasible possibility has resulted inasmuch as it has been
suggested that the Latin American presidents hold a summit meeting to
discuss the problem.  This would entail, of course, exchanging points of
view with presidents such as Pinochet, Stroessner, and so forth.  Would you
attend this summit, and even exchange points of view with statesmen of that
nature in an effort to seek a solution to the Latin American and Caribbean
foreign debt?

[Castro] Well, I am not afraid of that. I am not afraid of Pinochet, or
Stroessner, or any of those people. I have said before that one must
discuss things with the enemies. I have the same poor opinion of the U.S.
President as I do of Pinochet or Stroessner, because the U.S. President,
the U.S. Government, and imperialism are the creators of all those regimes.
I am willing to talk with the father and the children. This does not mean
that I am willing to establish any friendship with Pinochet or with
Stroessner or any other person similar to those individuals. However, I
think, and I have said this before, that the representatives of all
countries must meet at the international organizations. At the United
Nations, one listens to the speeches of all the representatives, whether
they represent the Mexican Government, Pinochet, or fascists such as the
apartheid, who are also very good friends with the United States. Debates
are held in these meetings. I am not afraid of debating, of participating
in a debate with all these people.

If there is a meeting at the United Nations, one cannot exclude anyone.
It's like when there is a summit meeting, no one can be excluded. That is
the law, a principle, a norm. For example, when Cuba was hosting the
Nonaligned Meeting it had to invite all governments, regardless of their
ideologies and their personal likings. In that manner, all ideologies and
types of government are presented in the Nonaligned Movement.

Some of these governments are even bloodletting, but they belong to this
movement and C no one who accepts participation in either politics or
sports can exclude others. So this is a tradition and an international
practice. I would not be at all worried to attend a meeting of heads of
state. They will speak, will say some things, we will say some things, but
I don't see any problem of any sort. [Words indistinct] it would first be
necessary to convoke a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean heads of
state and that all of them or most of them accepted. Then, the meeting
would be held and the circumstances that you have mentioned would occur. As
I see it, our attending such a meeting would not constitute any problem at

[Reporter from Panama's LA PRENSA] [Words indistinct] of LA PRENSA in
Panama: There is a practice in Central America involving joint civic
actions carried out by the Panamanian, Honduran, and Salvadoran Armed
Forces with the U.S. Army. These are military exercises through which these
countries have benefitted with schools, roads, and hospitals. What is your
opinion of this type of joint military operation?

[Castro] A marvel. They have solved the health and illiteracy problems.
This is why there is no illiteracy, lack of health, or malnutrition in
Latin America. This is due to these actions that are so worth praising in
which the United States carries out military exercises. It would be much
better for the United States to cooperate in construction of schools,
hospitals, and houses -- and whatever they wanted -- with the builders. The
military profession does not build schools or hospitals.

My opinion of these maneuvers is based on the fact that this is a practice
imposed by the United States in Latin America. To disguise the
interventionist, aggressive, and warmongering nature of these maneuvers,
they try to cover it up with a small fig leaf. So they build some little
school, some health center, some highway that, like those in Honduras, are
for military purposes only. This is the first time I have ever heard that
they have built a single school in Honduras. Perhaps the press would be to
blame for this because they did not report on this.

However, I have heard about their building three or four new landing
strips. They have expanded 14 or 15 landing strips. They have built a bunch
of military camps, as well as trenches and fortifications. More than this,
however, they have built strategic roads, thus preparing for an invasion
against Nicaragua, creating all technical conditions and all
(?circumstances). I will not pass judgement equally on all the armies that
participate in these exercises. I know that Panama participates in these
types of exercises. Panama has no other choice because there is the canal
and the Yankee troops are in the canal area. There is a signed treaty
whereby the canal has to revert to Panama.

I think the Honduran Armed Forces presently play one of the most important
roles in Latin America. These forces play a patriotic role. They must
guarantee the security of the canal according to the treaties of Panama. I
am speaking about Panama. Excuse me. The Panamanian military forces must
guarantee the security of the canal according to the treaties. They have to
develop, organize, and train their men.

If the Panamanian armed forces were not well trained, the Yankees -- with
the pretext that the canal is not safe -- would most likely refuse to hand
over the canal. Fourteen years still have to pass. This is why I think
Panama needs stability, domestic unity, and a close relationship between
its Armed Forces and the Panamanian people. Panama has a very important,
patriotic mission: to attain an objective for which they have struggled for
nearly a century. Therefore, I can see very clearly that the function of
the Panamanian armed forces is different from that of Honduras. I cannot
mix them up.

Of course, I don't even hold an absolutely negative view of the Honduran
Armed Forces. I know that there are patriots in the Honduran Armed Forces.
I know that there is unrest and a growing opposition in the officialdom of
Panamanian armed forces against this subtle kind of permanent military
occupation. [someone interrupts] Did I make a mistake again? Oh, it must be
that I do not function well in the morning. [laughter]

In the Honduran Army, some officers are growingly restless. Of course, the
exercises in Honduras are different in nature than those in Panama. The
exercises in Honduras are clearly aggressive in nature against Nicaragua,
while the Panamanian National Guard's participation in exercises with U.S.
troops in Panama has a political and security objective, far different from
the exercises in Honduras. I have heard much about the civic works carried
out by the National Guard under Torrijos' direction and inspiration. I know
that they did build schools, houses, and community services. This is almost
a tradition. So the circumstances are different.

Generally speaking, I have a very poor opinion of these exercises aimed at
interfering with our peoples and influencing the armies. You remember that
when Salvador Allende was deprived of all resources and support,
cooperation with the Chilean Army, Navy, and Air Force continued,
apparently in preparation for the coup that ousted him. The U.S. exercises
in Latin America are not for these noble and unselfish purposes, but they
are for interventionist purposes. This is my opinion. I will now take a
little tea.

[Moderator] I wish to remind everyone, please to state his name and the
media he represents.

[(Ferrera) -- in Portuguese with simultaneous Spanish translation] (Argimir
Ferrera), Radio Educativa and LA TRIBUNA newspaper, Rio de Janeiro.

[Castro] I would also like the speaker to stand up so I can see him.

[(Ferrera)] Mr President, the Brazilian Government headed by Jose Sarney
took office 5 months ago. So far, no decision has been made regarding the
reestablishment of relations with Cuba. First of all, I would like to know
if the Cuban Government has any views regarding this delay and if the
establishment of relations will benefit us and Cuba?

[Castro] There is no disappointment. On the contrary, we are happy to see
how the process of democratic opening is being consolidated in Brazil. I
have always felt that the issue of formal relations is not that important.
Prom my viewpoint, the most important thing is that the democratic process
in Brazil be consolidated. We do not have a chauvinistic soul. We cannot,
under any circumstances, subject the national interests to the interests of
such an important country in our hemisphere such as Brazil. We do not
pressure for relations. We feel that at this moment the government is
facing many and very complicated problems and these must have priority over
such things as relations with Cuba.

I do believe that the idea of reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba
is advancing. You must give it time. Be understanding. Do not exert any
type of pressure in this sense. What we are interested in is Brazil's
success, its advance toward the consolidation of democracy. This is what is
truly important as far as I am concerned. There are no formal relations but
there is communication. We send them documents; we have sent them these
documents we have published. We have also expressed our opinions to
President Sarney. There has been an exchange of letters, a very respectful
and cordial exchange of letters. The two countries are aware of their
common interests.

There is trade. There is no blockade, nor is trade between Brazil and Cuba
forbidden. Trade is being developed between the two countries. We are
buying Brazilian products, some equipment. We will continue to develop
trade and then, as something natural, the relations will be established.
For many reasons, I feel that the relations will be highly beneficial for
Cuba as well as for Brazil.

[Lopez] Juan Manuel Lopez, EXCELSIOR, Mexico City. Commander, following the
trade union meeting, you made a comment. This was out in the hallway. You
said that you were willing to hand over the banner of the foreign debt to
anyone willing to take it and go forth with it to the end. I then asked you
if Mexico could pick up the banner. You did not answer with a yes or a no;
you only told me that Mexico is traumatized because it has suffered many
aggressions. I would like you to expand on this. Also, the VOA, through its
special services -- they have a name I will not use because of my respect
for you -- is trying to use the outcome of the meeting against Alan Garcia
of Peru. It could also be the reason for Mexico's official absence at this

[Castro] What meeting did you say that they were trying to use?

[Lopez] The continental dialogue on the foreign debt.

[Castro] You have asked three questions. First of all you committed an
indiscretion because if it was a talk out in the hallway and you published

[Lopez] No, I have not published it.

[Castro] [chuckles] You have not published what we talked about. Well,
whatever I may say in private can be heard in public. I never say anything
that I would not to say in public. I have always been consistent. It could
be that under more intimate conditions you talk with more freedom.
However, the main ideas do not change.

I have said that we are not defending an exclusive Cuban interest when we
raise this banner of the struggle against the economic crisis, the foreign
debt, and for the new international economic order. I explained this at
length yesterday. I have been talking about this for the past (?15) years.
I do not think that any other Latin American politician has this
experience, nor has he followed such a consistent line in a single
direction. I brought the issue up when Latin America only owed $30 billion.
Back then I began to ask how this debt was going to be paid. Therefore,
this is a subject I have been talking about for a long time. I am not bent
on taking the position of a leader or champion. We picked up the banner
because no one else did. It just took its natural course. A problem, and
idea, we had been worrying about for a long time.

We said that we would give the banner to any country willing to raise it
and that we would support this country. We were talking about this.
However, you cannot forget that there is another idea, and as a result of
this other idea I said that there was no longer a need for anyone to raise
the banner. The banner had been taken by the workers, the laborers, the
peasants. The banner was being raised by the peoples. It is best that this
banner be in the hands of the people, in the hands of the masses. What we
have done is consistent with this idea.

In the past 8 weeks, five international meetings have been held here in
Havana. Women, journalists, communists, and trade union meetings and this
meeting, which has been the biggest and most important attended by all the
political forces, with a majority of the political forces -- I cannot say
that all of them were here, but I can say that all the social sectors were

There were more than 100 trade union leaders; more than 50 women delegates;
approximately 60 student leaders; approximately 90 religious leaders; tens
of journalists, intellectuals, columnists, and scientists; and most
important is the fact that 115 party and political organization leaders
were present. Hundreds of organizations and political parties were
represented at the meeting. I doubt if anyone can say that it is not one of
the biggest meetings held in any one place.

The real purpose of all this is to give the banner to the masses, and this
is what we have done. Therefore, I feel that there should be no candidate
to raise the banner because the people already have the banner. The banner
is resting in very sure hands, and best of all, in the hands of the people.
This is how I feel.

I said that Mexico is a very traumatized country because of the aggressions
it has suffered throughout its history. We cannot forget that in the past
century Mexico experienced an unjust and abusive war, a war of conquests
during which more than half of the Mexican territory was grabbed. They
grabbed the best land -- wealthy in minerals, oil, hydraulic resources, and
other natural resources. All you must do is remember how much was grabbed
away from Mexico during a war of unjust conquests. It has experienced a
historic trauma because it has powerful neighbors like we do. They have
more than 3,000 km of common border. There are constant acts of hostility
against Mexico. We cannot forget what they did during the Mexican
Revolution; we cannot forget the military interventions during this
century, the occupation of the port of Veracruz.

Mexico is a country that not only the United States has intervened in, but
also the European powers that came to Mexico and installed an (?idiot) king
-- Maximilian of Austria, I think that was the guy's name. Well, he was
finally shot, and I do not think he was worthy of this honor.

All those foreign aggressions have created a trauma in Mexico. It also has
created patriotism and nationalism in Mexico; a strong feeling of love for
the country. I do not think there is a Mexican who can conceal these
aggressions. The country that has been most attacked in this hemisphere has
been Mexico. Its border with the United States is 3,000 km long. As I say,
this is a country with a trauma from the aggressions it has undergone. It
is an extremely worried country, with good reason, because of potential
threats due to its geographic-position and its neighbor's aggressiveness.
This is what I meant about the Mexican trauma.

However, Mexico was always represented here because more than 100 Mexicans
came to the meeting. There was not an official representation from the
government nor from the official party, but we understand this perfectly
well. Mexico is going through a very delicate, very difficult economic
situation and it is acting very carefully and very prudently. I understand
perfectly that a meeting of this nature, so broad, in which the issue was
going to be discussed, a meeting that so much worried the neighbors of the
north, has caused some unrest among some governments and parties.

We know of many persons who wanted to come, but because of the fact that
they were congressmen, members of the executive committee, members of the
government [words indistinct] under the present tense and delicate
economic circumstance and the Yankee hyper-sensitiveness regarding the
meeting, they thought it was wise not to attend the meeting. However, the
Mexican Government absolutely did not place any obstacles in the way of
more than 100 distinguished and representative Mexicans to attend the

No matter what the Voice of America says, we know it is a newsmonger,
although it claims to be objective.

That is the image it tries to convey. However, we certainly know it is not
objective. It was a ridiculous contrivance. There was nothing against the
Peruvian Government. As I explained yesterday, we do not have anything
against any government and much less against the Peruvian Government.

Instead, what we saw yesterday was a spirit of solidarity with Peru. When
the news came of some measures taken by the Yankees, there was an immediate
feeling of support and solidarity with Peru among the participants in the
dialogue. This meeting can be interpreted not as a meeting based on
antagonism to the new Peruvian Government, but as inspired in the spirit
and for the purpose of solidarity with the new Peruvian Government in all
the measures implemented to free the country from its dependency and
overcome the burdening economic crisis. Besides, one thing cannot be linked
to the other.

As a matter of fact, at first we thought of holding the meeting on 28 July,
when we first decided on the meeting 2 months ago. Why did we want to hold
it on 28 July? So it would be closer to 26 July and so people who came to
the 26 July celebration, most of them invited by our country, could also
attend the meeting. We did not want to hold the two events too far apart,
so as not to force them to stay too long in the country. When we realized
that it coincided precisely with 28 July, and that many of the persons
invited to this meeting were also invited to the meeting in Lima, we
postponed our meeting 2 days. A plane waited there until the inauguration
acts ended on 30 July to bring the persons we had invited to this meeting.

Therefore, far from interfering or disturbing one meeting, what we did was
postpone our meeting so it did not interfere with the inauguration of the
new president of Peru. I really do not know the source of the outrageous
theory reported by the so-called Voice of America.

[Moderator] The companero in the back with the mustache.

[Castro] The one with the mustache? There are quite a few wearing
mustaches. [laughs]

[Moderator] No, I have already identified him.

[Mendez] My name is Manuel Mendez, I represent [name indistinct] a radio
station in Montevideo, Uruguay. Commander Fidel Castro: Have you thought of
attending the October meeting of the Latin American Parliament in
Montevideo as a member of the People's Government National Assembly, and
what is the importance you give to this meeting?

[Castro] I consider this meeting very important. I am very pleased with the
fact that Uruguay will be the site for this meeting of the Latin American
Parliament. As I said yesterday, this should be a very broad meeting, with
a large attendance. I think that the largest number possible of Latin
American parliamentarians should attend this meeting. As I said yesterday,
according to the political and constitutional principles, the parliaments
represent the sovereignty of the people; they are the ones who should
approve the laws. Regarding the foreign debt problem, they were not
consulted at all. In many cases even private debts of $100 million were
acquired, which the people are supposed to pay now. These debts were not
acquired by the executive branch or the parliament. Nevertheless, it
recently became a common practice for the states to assume the private
debt, which in many countries is paid with a devalued currency. So the best
business was to have requested a $100 million credit 5 years ago, deposit
the money abroad, as many did, and now pay back the $100 million with a
devalued currency, which is the same as receiving $100 million and paying
back $20 million. All these things have happened, without the parliament's
approval or participation.

Therefore, I think that the meeting in Montevideo will be of great
importance. In my opinion, the largest possible number of parliamentarians
should be present. I think that all parliamentarians have a right to
attend; however, we have not really considered, I have not thought about
the possibility, I have not had time yet to consider, if it would be
convenient or not to participate in that parliamentarian meeting. I do not
think that it would be essential, I do not consider myself such an
important or indispensable person. I am not offering or proposing my
presence at all international events. Even if I had the idea, I could not
even announce it publicly. Many times when I decide to travel somewhere, or
to go anywhere, be it at the United Nations, or any Latin American country,
I must be very careful, because the CIA is following me. They are tracking
me down. I know it, you know it, and you know and understand that I am not
inventing anything. They are aware of every single movement with the idea,
strategy, and tactic of physical elimination. This is nothing new, they
tried it many years ago and now, with much more reason, because they are
extremely worried about the activities Cuba is developing in regard to this
very serious economic crisis. This is my reply to your question.

[Cabrera] Commander Fidel Castro, my name is Luis Cabrera, from La Voz de
Nicaragua [Managua Domestic Service]. Nicaragua is a country that right now
has more than 7,000 dead, crippled, orphans, as a result of the U.S.
Government's civic actions. Will you please give us your opinion on the
factors that have made it possible for the Sandinist people's revolution to
reach its 6th anniversary despite the constant U.S. attacks? Also, what do
you think would happen in Nicaragua and on the continent if the United
States should decide to invade our country?

[Castro] I think there are more than 7,000 dead. I understand that more
than 10,000 Nicaraguans have died as a result of that war. I believe that
Ortega himself mentioned this recently. [2-second break in transmission] of
peasants defending their towns. Others who have been recruited by the
United States to join the counterrevolutionary groups have also died. If we
count those who have been wounded or crippled, the number is even higher.
If we consider the number of (?children) who have been displaced by this
dirty war; those who have had to leave their homes, their land, their [word
indistinct] there would be many more. I think it was Julio Lopez who
recently mentioned the number of dead and compared it with the U.S.
population. He said that it would be equivalent to the death of 600,000
U.S. citizens. When he mentioned the number of displaced people, he said
that it was equivalent to millions of U.S. citizens displaced from their
homes and towns. That powerful and rich country has caused a real tragedy
in a small, poor, underdeveloped country, whose only crime has been to
conduct liberating revolution, overthrowing the Somozist dictatorship.
There is no justification whatsoever for this. In my opinion, history
will be harsh in judging these actions.

In the same manner, history will judge as a transcendental factor the
heroic resistance of the Sandinist people during these 6 years. The
Sandinist people, faithful to Sandino's traditions have resisted in the
same way Sandino did. However, Sandino led a movement that was still
relatively isolated in remote places in the country, fighting against the
Yankee occupation. Today, it is the Nicaraguan people, millions of persons,
hundreds of thousands of armed men and women who are resisting the attempts
of Yankee occupation. The reason for their resistance is perfectly clear.
It is the same as the Cuban resistance, and the resistance of the French
people during their revolution, against foreign interventionists. It is the
same as the resistance of the Soviet people against foreign intervention
following the October Revolution. History has shown that an authentic,
real, legitimate revolution is invincible. When the people take the
revolution's flag, get together and fight with heroism, they cannot be
defeated. This resistance proves the authenticity and profound meaning of
the Sandinist revolution.

[Robles] My name is Manuela Robles, from Radio Corporativa of Santiago,
Chile. I would like to ask you, Commander, if you believe that it is
possible to achieve in a relatively short period of time a political
consensus and unity of the Latin American countries in view of the
magnitude of the crisis in order to adopt a joint action that will finally
solve the debt problem? So far, it has been difficult to solve, in view of
the terrible problems of our peoples. We have heard of declarations,
courses, a development of awareness, and I am not referring to this current
meeting, but nothing has happened in Latin America. The governments are
apparently very afraid of the IMP, the World Bank, the United States, and
so forth. I would like to hear your opinion.

[Castro] Actually, an objective dependency has been created. The
governments must hold meetings every month with the IMF, with the World
Bank. They are in a very delicate situation. The United States does not
lose a minute in adopting pressure measures, economic measures. The United
States practically has veto power, and the power of decision in the IMF,
the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, in all of these
international organizations. The governments are very limited in what they
can do. This dependency makes the U.S. policy of keeping these governments
divided easier. This makes it easier to keep the discussions isolated while
they form a powerful club, a complex of countries very closely united. We
have this problem.

They resist and reject the idea that the Latin American governments can
unite. They have prevented that Latin American unity, that indispensable
unity of action in this situation, which is very serious. Logic says that
it would be basic to unite and prepare joint action, because the problem
affects everyone, and has characteristics common to all. However,
imperialism tries to keep all of us separate and divided, by adopting
measures of pressure against one country, favoring another one, which is
the case of Chile, where the World Bank grants Pinochet some loan
practically every week or every 2 weeks.

The Yankee administration sometimes abstains, showing off its usual
hypocrisy, but everyone knows that without the U.S. support there are no
loans, much less for a country, with an unstable political situation,
which owes approximately $23 million. They do favor some governments who
are in desperate economic situations. For example, the U.S. government
supports the Duarte government in El Salvador and the Army there. It is
said that it delivers over 1 million [not further identified] daily, mostly
to finance the war expenses. With that dependency, the governments are not
very free to act.

Costa Rica has a desperate economic situation. It depends on what is sent
every month. Thus, many countries have a very weak economy. They have very
little, if any, freedom of action to form that unity. Then, the most
influential countries, the most important countries have to be meeting,
discussing every month. They find themselves forced to act in a very
prudent, cautious manner. I feel that they are excessively cautious at
times. However, their situation is such that it will force them more and
more to try to coordinate and unite their actions.

As I said yesterday, I am not sure if this problem will be solved through a
previous consensus of all the debtors or will it be that one, or two, or
three countries will became desperate and will adopt unilateral measures,
and it would turn out to be like at the Malvinas Islands, that there was
international solidarity in the midst of the crisis. [sentence as heard] I
think that the situation has worsened to such a point that it become more
logical every day that all Latin American governments hold a meeting.
Naturally, the United States will try to sabotage this meeting, following
the theory of the Romans, of dividing to conquer.

Will the Latin American summit meeting proposed by three Latin American
presidents be held? Three have already proposed it and a fourth or fifth
one will probably propose it. It is possible that this meeting might be
held some day. It would be important, because perhaps it would be a good
chance to seek coordination of action. The Cartagena Consensus was a sort
of coordination, but as I explained yesterday it (?lacked) logic, or rather
had only the logic of the United States' opposition to create Latin America
unity. Those who organized the Consensus restricted it to 11 countries,
rather than including all the countries, approximately 30 countries. These
countries have a right to vote in the United Nations, in the Group of 77,
and a]though they do not carry a lot of weight by population or economic
strength, they have a political importance which must be acknowledged. They
have strength in the international organizations. That is as far as it
went. Now. let us wait to see what happens in the coming months. If there
is unity and consensus, and by initiatives of the governments, unity is
produced when there is no other alternative.

[Moderator] The newsman in the background.

[Gutierrez] My name is Carlos Maria Cutierrez of the NUMERO magazine from
Venezuela. Commander, George Will and other ultraconservative U.S.
columnists have suggested to the Reagan administration the possibility that
peace negotiations in Central America be accompanied by concessions on
Cuba'a part, concerning its relations with other countries, particularly
Africa. In other words, there is the possibility that the U.S. Government
would not harass Nicaragua any more, providing Cuba makes concessions in
its relations with other countries, particularly African countries. Can you
comment on this?

[Castro] What the United States has to do, is to respect international law,
respect the sovereignty of an independent country such as Nicaragua,
abandon its ideas of dirty war. That country has no right to make any
demands on that country. On the other hand, we would have no right to
participate in any negotiation at the cost of third countries that are
friends of Cuba. That would be something morally impossible, some thing
politically impossible. We are not willing to grant imperialism the least
concession regarding our relations with other Latin American or Third World
countries which are based on principles.

[Moderator] The reporter [name indistinct]

[Reporter from Managua] [Words indistinct] of EL NUEVO DIARIO of Managua,
Nicaragua. [words indistinct]

[Castro] [Castro seems to be making a side comment to someone at the table]
It seems that they are moving more than the others, because I don't think
Mendoza actually knows them.

[Reporter from Managua] We have noticed that this meeting in Havana has
revived a Bolivarian feeling among the Latin American peoples. However, we
also notice that Mr Reagan has revived the Monroe Doctrine, particularly
against my country and in Central America. My question is: Isn't the
solution to the problem in Central America and peace in Central America
akin in substance to the problem of the foreign debt of all Latin American
countries? In other words, if the Monroe Doctrine is enforced in Central
America, how could the other Latin American countries face-up to
imperialism with regard to the foreign debt? That is my question,

[Castro] Well! I remember that, in response to a previous question, [word
indistinct] the match. I have been asked for an opinion as to what would
happen in Latin America if there is an intervention in Nicaragua.

I have been thinking it would be like playing with fire, with a great big
fire near a huge powderkeg because anyone who understands anything about
politics knows that this hemisphere, amid this crisis, is truly a
powderkeg. Nobody knows what may happen. I think the imperialists would be
really crazy if they commit the blunder of invading Nicaragua. Nobody can
affirm that they will not do so, because nobody can affirm that they are
not absolutely mad. This is not logical and, in my opinion, they will most
probably continue to step up their dirty war and exact a higher and higher
price from Nicaragua for its freedom.

As for the talk about the Monroe Doctrine at this late age, this belongs to
the era before the deluge. If we analyze how much Latin America's political
awareness, spirit of independence, and spirit of unity have grown, the
Yankees cannot fail to take into account what happened at the Malvinas.

This was an invasion, a war between a European power and a Latin American
people, or country, Argentina, and the people forgot all about the
government they had there. They disregarded it completely. They acted
correctly, because this was a matter of solidarity with the Argentine
people, regarding an old cause that everybody has been defending. I
remember that since my school years I have been defending Argentina's right
to the Malvinas because it is a colonial enclave.

Now, imagine an invasion of Nicaragua, a prolonged war, a heroic
resistance, because the patriotic spirit and bravery of Nicaraguans are
well-known. The Yankees cannot underestimate the Nicaraguan people like
they underestimated the Vietnamese people.

The Yankees had an opportunity to learn what the Vietnamese people were
like later. Apparently, they saw that the Vietnamese were short people who
ate only rice. However, they turned out to be the bravest soldiers in the
world. Nicaraguans are like them, and so are the Dominicans, who have
already fought with the Yankees. They are like the citizens of any country
on this hemisphere. Because, as I have explained, this is a blend, this
blend [words indistinct] a mixture of backward Negroes, uncivilized
Indians, and proud Spaniards.

There are already others besides the Spaniards, because I have heard a
union leader from Santarem speak with tremendous strength out there. I have
heard him speak twice and he is of German ancestry, yet he already is more
of an Indian than an Indian from the mountains, as far as his mentality,
thinking, and feelings are concerned. This mixture is dangerous and
produces tremendous soldiers, above all when it is combined with a just
cause, a patriotic feeling, and revolutionary inspiration.

Therefore, there is not the slightest possibility of imposing the Monroe
Doctrine here. We are witnessing this Latin American insurgency, this
spirit of rebelliousness. Who is he going to talk to about the Monroe
Doctrine at this time? However, it is possible. Reagan belongs to the
political prehistoric times. [Castro chuckles] However, it is not strange
for him to think so. However, wishes are one thing and reality is another.

How can this doctrine be imposed on 300 million people? How can it be
imposed on Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, or Central America? Thus far
they have been able to (?try) because the revolutions have taken place in
very small countries. They invaded Santo Domingo and they embargoed and did
all sorts of things to Cuba. However, here we are. What good was their
famous Monroe Doctrine? They tried to apply it here, and now it is even
more difficult for them to apply it. They came across 10 million
inhabitants who had a revolutionary and patriotic political conscience and
were organized, prepared, and armed.

No, this is a horse of a different color. They cannot even think of it. I
think that we are [word indistinct], and we must be given the modest credit
of having smashed the Monroe Doctrine to pieces. How can they try to apply
it now to the rest of the continent? They want to do so. Maybe if they
apply a doctrine that is not based on the Monroe Doctrine but based on the
ideas, mentality, and philosophy of imperialism; that would be modern. The
Monroe Doctrine harks too far back.

They claim the right to say what type of government or what type of social
system a Latin American country can have. This is even more grievous than
the Monroe Doctrine because the Monroe Doctrine did not arise as a result
of social struggles in Latin America, but as a result of rivalries between
the United States and European powers. They applied it when they saw fit
and did not apply it when it did not suit them.

They did not apply it at all to the Malvinas case. How can they raise the
dirty rag of the Monroe Doctrine now? They did not apply it when the
French, the Spaniards, and others invaded Mexico to establish an empire
there. They have applied it as they see fit. However, this doctrine did not
arise as a result of social struggles.

Instead, this aggressive and interventionist policy has emerged as a result
of the social struggles of peoples and imperialism's huge fear of social
change in Latin America. The doctrine they are applying now is worse than
the Monroe Doctrine. However, it will fail.

It is possible to invade a small country like Grenada, with 400 sq km, by
surprise and treachery, amid a terrible division created by the
revolutionaries themselves, and to reap the fruit of the blunders committed
by the revolutionaries in Grenada. However, if a revolution were to take
place in any big or medium-sized Latin American country, I would like to
see if they would be mad enough to try to put it down with a tiny battalion
of paratroopers, because some of these countries can wipe out not only 1
but 100 or 1,000 paratroop battalions. I am convinced that even Nicaragua
could wipe out dozens upon dozens of paratroop battalions. Therefore, this
interventionist policy will come to an end, as did the Monroe Doctrine.

[Moderator] [passage indistinct]

[(Tumayer); in English with simultaneous Spanish translation] Bearing in
mind what you have just said about Nicaragua and your description of the
situation, what do you think about....

[Castro, interrupting] (?Pardon), will you say who you are, please?

[(Tumayer)] (Johap Tumayer), FRG radio and television. Bearing in mind what
you have just said about Nicaragua and the description of the situation,
what do you think about a probably future solution to the conflict in
Nicaragua? How can this take place and when?

[Castro] A future solution. I think that Nicaragua is a victim of the
Reagan administration's obdurate desire to liquidate the Sandinist
revolution. He is bent on liquidating it. He is almost personally committed
to achieving this purpose. That is why the United States has sabotaged all
of Contadora's efforts and sabotaged every possibility of achieving a
political settlement of the Nicaraguan problem. Unfortunately, the
possibility of achieving a solution will arrive the day the United States
becomes convinced, as it is not convinced now, that it will not be able to
liquidate the Nicaraguan Government with its dirty war.

Then, it will find itself with the option of negotiating in earnest and
seeking a political solution or the mad, incredible option of plunging into
an interventionist adventure with its own forces.

The Nicaraguans are paying a high price for their struggle and heroic
resistance, but I think that they have the possibility of forging ahead.
They count on a people who are becoming more and more experienced and on
cadres who are becoming more and more experienced. By fighting they have
gained experience and skill. Their Army is becoming more and more efficient
in the struggle against the mercenary bands, which are constantly being
supplied with sophisticated equipment by the United States. Through this
heroic struggle they are bringing about the possibility that at a given
time good sense will prevail and imperialism will give up its hopeless
dream of liquidating the Sandinist revolution through armed action,
terrorism, the dirty war, and the economic embargo.

We also went through times involving subversive actions like these --
although they were not of the magnitude of the ones they are carrying out
in Nicaragua because our country has no borders. They had to come by sea.
Our people developed a great unity from the start. We had the experience of
the war in the mountains.

For that reason, they did not manage to organize here a strong
counterrevolution. They organized many groups, to which they gave resources
and supplies. They also supplied them with a leadership and created all
necessary psychological conditions. They managed to create some 300
counterrevolutionary organizations -- some directly and some through
instigation. Sometimes four or five people would get together and make up a
counterrevolutionary organization. What happened is that among those four
or five there was one that was a revolutionary and we knew more about what
they were doing than they themselves because our files were better

Of course, they did not succeed, despite the threats of aggression and the
invasion of Ciron. They have carried out many Giron-type actions in
Nicaragua, but in a more subtle way, little by little, through the north
and the south. They launched one Ciron invasion here. They sent in their
full force in one attack and thought that there would be an uprising.
However, they did not believe this. They said they believed it, but applied
a strategy with a different objective, which was to occupy a piece of
territory and establish a government that would ask the OAS for help in
order to justify the U.S. intervention.

That was really their idea. I do not think they believed, even if they said
so, that there would an uprising of the people. They even had a government
ready to send here on a plane. That is to say, they were creating an
interventionist mechanism. [Words indistinct] the experience of the October
crisis until they finally got involved in the Vietnam adventure and left us
alone. They no longer threaten us now but we are, let us say, 100 times, I
do not know many times stronger than we were during the years 1960, 1961,
or 1962 -- infinitely stronger, not only quantitatively but qualitatively.
With our struggle, boldness, and determination we won the right to relative
peace. I think that with their heroism, Nicaraguans will achieve a well
deserved although relative peace.

[Moderator] In order to make the best use of the time we have and also to
be as fair as possible in distributing the turns, we would like for the
Peruvian reporters who are going to ask questions to please raise their

[Oscar Eduardo Bravo] Oscar Eduardo Bravo of Radio Programs of Peru.
Commander Fidel Castro, I have two questions. First, what is the Cuban
Government's position regarding the terrorist group Shining path, which is
operating in Peru, and now according to reports is also in Bolivia, Chile,
and in Tucuman, Argentina?

Second, do you have doubts about President Alan Garcia's abilities? This I
ask based on your message in which you seem to question him, as if doubting
what he has promised. Do you have any fear of losing some of your
leadership in Latin America, especially among the group of debtors?

[Castro] You have asked at least three questions in one, which do not seem
to have any relation. You ask me about Shining Path. I absolutely have no
links with Shining Path. I do not know and have never known anyone linked
to Shining Path. I know as much about Shining Path as you do. It is a
mystery. I have said in some of my inter views that it seems to confirm the
country's state of social instability. It seems to confirm a very deep
economic crisis in the country. That is what Shining Path seems to mean --
more so, when you read the statistics on Cuzco, about the number of
illiterate and hungry peasants and undernourished children.

A Peruvian peasant leader who spoke here recently complained about very few
people having more than 200 calories daily and according to what the
charts recommended a person should consume 2,500 calories daily. There are
children who are only getting 10 to 15 calories [corrects himself] 15 to 20
grams of protein daily, who should be consuming an average of 60, 70 or 80
grams of protein. More than 100 children for every 1,000 die every year. I
call this terrorism of the worst kind. How many children are going to be
born in Peru? Peru has approximately 20 million inhabitants. Suppose we
place the birthrate at 3 percent. This means that at least half a million
will be borne and if 10 percent of these die in their first year of life,
this will mean that 50,000 children will die. However, with a health system
like the one we have in Cuba, more than 40,000 of those children could be
saved. This means that the existing social system is the cause of the death
of 40,000 children every year. To this we must add those children who die
between the age of 1 and 5 and those who grow up with physical and mental
problems. There is not a more heinous form of terrorism than the one
created by that exploitation system.

Yet, I only hear about the other type of terrorism, never about this
terrorism. I would like to hear more talk about this type of terrorism. The
other terrorism is a social outburst.

Anyone can understand that whenever there is a movement advocating a
program that has unknown objectives and intentions, but that remains active
after so many years, this means that the country is facing a terrible
social situation.

I realize that this problem cannot be solved with weapons. Peru's internal
peace problem can only be solved through political means. Among such
means, are the eradication of the social factors and causes that originated
the problem and when the people of the rural areas and cities and the
abandoned children stop dying of hunger and when there is no malnutrition,
poverty, and unemployment.

The problem must be faced by going to the roots of what is causing these
conditions and not by the use of force. The problem will never be solved by
weapons. The social cause of the problem is clear and deep. Any politician,
scientist, or sociologist can perfectly explain the situation.

I think that if a patriotic and nationalist effort is made; if an
anti-imperialist struggle for independence is carried out to solve these
problems, you could be on the path to solving the existing situation.

You mentioned to me that the Shining Fath is deployed all along the Andes
Cordillera. But how can I tell? You tell me that it is also in Bolivia. I
know that Bolivia has similar social conditions. It is in Paraguay, also. I
think that there has been some exaggeration and that such reports have a
purpose. It has been disseminated by someone interested in having the
people believe so.

I think that my message was clearly and frankly supportive. We published a
note wishing the government success. We said that if he [Peruvian President
Garcia] really carries out a serious, steady and upright struggle to free
the country from imperialism and to solve social calamities, he could count
on Cuba's support. I think the message was clear and categorical. He can
count on our firm support. I did not express any lack of confidence.
However, I have a responsibility to my people. I cannot a priori express
unconditional support. I expressed support as we usually do for everyone
within given circumstances. You must realize that there has been a great
deal of rhetoric in this hemisphere. We cannot be guided just on plain
words, we must wait for facts. If the deeds live up to the promises, then
we will not hesitate to give him all our support.

It is preposterous and ridiculous to think that there exist any leadership
rivalries in connection with the debt or to imagine that we pursue the
philosophy of the imperialists or the capitalists. We are revolutionaries
by principle and conviction. It is as if someone said: that revolution you
have carried out in Cuba has been personally motivated. I think that the
Bolivian priest (?there) said very eloquently that he had realized that
this revolution could move forward without Castro.

So, you think I could be concerned about the question of leadership? What
we have done is to contribute to the extent of our abilities to creating
the conditions... [changes thought] a revolution, to the development of a
revolution, to all the people, to a number of cadres in order to make it
possible for the country to move forward and perhaps even better without
Castro than with Castro. So do you think I could really be worried about
questions of leadership or protocol. This is [words indistinct]. This is
prehistoric. Do you think this is possible for someone who has a bit of

I have already explained this. I said on 26 July that one of Marti's
thoughts that I adopted as my own at first [words indistinct] thought was
the idea that all glory in the world fits into a grain of corn. Ambitions
of leadership and glory are for mad men. They will never inspire me, the
world has had a great many madmen. History is full of madmen and everybody
laughs at them now.

The least a revolutionary can aspire is to be respected when he ceases to
exist and not to have people say: Look at that madman who wanted to be the
leader of this and that. Cuba has prestige. Cuba is respected because of
its conduct and I think that, talking about glory, there cannot be a
greater glory for a Cuban, a revolutionary, or a people than what our
people have done during these past 25 years to resist the colossus of the
North, the one feared by all, the one before whom so many kneel. Cubans
have resisted, and resisted firmly during 25 years. We have defended this
trench, which is not the trench of a people, but the trench of all peoples
of Latin America and the Caribbean. This glory is greater than any other.

Our people have succeeded in stamping out illiteracy. On the whole, our
workers have reached a level of education close to the 9th grade, whereas
30 percent of them were previously illiterate. Our education, health,
culture, and employment indexes [have improved]. We have scored victories
against gambling, corruption, and prostitution - as well as with regard to
street begging and abandoned children. I am convinced that the social work
of our revolution will go into history, not because what we have done, but
because of what we are doing and the pace at which we are doing it. We had
6,000 doctors and they left us with 3,000. We now have 20,000 ready to go
anywhere in the world, whereas previously there was not a single doctor
ready to go to Cuba's country side. They go to Kampuchea, Vietnam, or

Our country had no teachers, but now it has 256,000 professors and

The total must now be [figure indistinct], counting the ones who have just
graduated. They can go to any place in the world. What spirit, what
conscience! I think that if anyone were concerned about just merit; just,
clean and undisputed glory then there cannot be a greater accomplishment
than that. I think that what our people have done in 35 [as heard] years
cannot be excelled by any other thing. Therefore, I think that the idea of
some rivalry with regard to leadership in any field is strange, ridiculous,
and fit for two-bit politicians.

[Moderator] (?Do) any U.S. reporters want to ask questions?

[Guillermo Arenas] Guillermo Arenas, AMERICAN PRESS NEWS, Central America
and Caribbean Division, headquartered in San Jose, Costa Rica. President
Castro, a few weeks ago, in one of the many border incidents between Costa
Rica and Nicaragua, two Costa Rican civil guardsmen died. The American
version is that this was one further aggression by Nicaragua against Costa

[Castro] One?

[Arenas] One more aggression by Nicaragua against Costa Rica and Costa
Rica'a neutrality. The Nicaraguan version was that it was a combined CIA
and counterrevolutionary action which had the blessing of the Costa Rican
Government. What is your position and that of your government on this
specific incident?

[Castro] I very much regret the deaths of two Costa Rican civil guardsmen.
They have unquestionably been the victims of a situation that has not been
created by the Nicaraguans. It has been created by the United States.
Really, the one violating Costa Rica's neutrality is not Nicaragua, but the
United States, which has organized all the mercenary bands there, that
belong to these organizations called Democratic Revolutionary Alliance
[ARDE] and Nicaraguan Democratic Force [FDN] with Somozists, turncoats, and
people of that type. As everybody knows, they have been acting freely and
openly in Costa Rica for years. The mercenary bands supported by the United
States are the ones which have violated Costa Rica's neutrality, and we
know of the huge efforts Nicaragua is making to prevent even the slightest
incident at the border.

However, there are hundreds, or thousands of mercenaries across the border
who cross it constantly, provoke fights, and attack. Military operations
are carried out near the border. I think that these are the circumstances
that imperialism may have used to carry out this provocation involving the
killing of the two Costa Rican civil guardsmen.

One must talk about the hundreds of Nicaraguans, of Nicaraguan fighters, of
men, women, and children who have died there in Nicaragua as a result of
the actions of the counter revolutionary bands who are acting barefacedly,
and with the obvious complicity of some authorities, out of Costa Rican

We [words indistinct] this once more, the malevolence of the Yankees, their
propaganda machinery. Nothing is said about the hundreds, and perhaps
thousands, of Nicaraguans who have died as a result of the forays of those
bands and [words indistinct] in the death, probably provoked and planned by
them. These were mercenary bands in cahoots with the CIA. I have no proof
of this, and I cannot say so for certain. However, it is quite probable.

But, even if an accident, an incident takes place there at the border, it
is logical that Nicaraguans have to defend themselves, and no matter how
careful they are, if one of their units is attacked they may get close to
the border in chase. Now then, are Nicaraguans to blame for the situation
that has been created there?

So, the campaign arranged by the United States in connection with this
incident is malevolent. As you say, quite probably it was provoked by them.

[Moderator] I repeat, U.S. newsmen wishing to ask questions may do so.

[Castro] Puerto Rico is a commonwealth,but is not part of the United

[Unidentified journalist] [Words indistinct] may I make a question now?

[Castro -- addressing moderator] Could you promise her a question later
[words indistinct]?

[Moderator] Immediately after the next question.

[(Joe Treste) -- in English with simultaneous Spanish translation] Hello,
(Joe Treste) of THE NEW YORK TIMES. The U.S. Department of Justice has
announced that Roberto Vesco is under house arrest in Havana. Would you
comment please?

[Castro] I have been aware of the fact that during these past few days for
some reason or another, you U.S. correspondents have been more interested
in this Robert Vesco matter than in the conference and dialogue being held
in Havana. I can see that you are very interested in diverting attention
from this problem to other things. Furthermore, this is related to an
intelligence action carried out 2 or 3 days ago with the participation of
U.S. journalists, who even violated this country's hospitality and its
laws. [applause]

Regarding this Robert Vesco problem, during my interview with THE
WASHINGTON POST I very clearly explained this matter. I was asked: Some
people who live in Cuba have said that they have seen a man who looks like
Roberto Vesco. Is Roberto Vesco in Cuba? I said: I do not know if he is in
Cuba. He could be. He could have been here once. The truth is that he once
needed medical assistance in this country; that man you mentioned needed
medical assistance and we gave this assistance just as we would give it to
anyone under similar circumstances. I do not know this man; I have no
relations with him; we have no business with him. He came here for the
first time and we gave him medical assistance for humanitarian reasons. I
have heard of people who have spoken with him; he has information and is
aware of many things going on around the world. It is said that he has
money. We are not interested in this at all, and we have no economic ties
or any type of business with him. Yes, he was given medical assistance and
anytime he or any other person under those circumstances should need this
kind of medical assistance, we shall give it. No business, economic ties of
any kind.

It is quite possible that his experiences and knowledge of industrial
technology could be of much use to us. It is said that he has much economic
and commercial information. But all he has here is the possibility of
receiving some services such as the one I mentioned. To put it in two
words, we do not forbid him from coming here; there is no reason why we
should. He is simply treated like a human being. That is the kind of
relations we have with him. And I say this frankly. I could have said that
I did not know who you were talking about and that I do not know him, but I
do not do things that way.

I am going to read his complete biography, the biography of this man who is
being persecuted in the United States for tax evasion, crimes, I do not
know for what reasons. But the United States is full of criminals who left
Cuba; of mercenaries who invaded the country; of men who committed
thousands of crimes; of men who stole hundreds of millions [not further
specified]; and they are in the United States and they were greeted as
heroes. All I can tell you is that that man was not greeted in this country
like a hero.

What I have told you is true; it is history. The first time he came here he
had no other place to go; he was being persecuted like an animal. He came
to get medical assistance. He was then authorized to live here if he wanted
to live here; he could receive medical assistance if he needed medical
assistance; we do not care what the United States has to say. We do not
care how much money he had; it could be 100, 500 million or 1 billion; we
do not care. Now the United States wants to create a scandal in an insolent
manner because of this issue. And they have chosen this moment to create
the scandal. They did things that violate our laws.

They rented a car -- and this I know, I know every little detail. I know
who rented the car. I know the number of the license plate, who drove the
car. They were seen; they saw a car and hid behind a bush near the house
where this man is said to be living. I do not know if he lives there. I do
not know him and I do not know where he lives.

How did they know all this? Undoubtedly, through the intelligence reports
of the U.S. CIA agents who are part of the personnel of the U.S. Interests
Section here. We know more than four things, perhaps more than they know.
They sup plied the information, sent a plane, a female journalist rented a
car, the other four persons joined her in the car, they parked inside a
garage of an empty house, they got out of the car -- the cigarette butts
are still where they dropped them -- and all of this doing what?
Persecuting a man. The television report even said that he was with his
wife and daughter. They even told a lie in that televised report. They
quoted me as saying that this man was not here. The only time I have
mentioned this man was in March, I think, when I was interviewed by THE
WASHINGTON POST. In March or February.

Now they have come surreptitiously to conduct an intelligence operation in
collusion with the CIA, and they violated Cuban laws in order to obtain
some clues and photographs of this man. Is it right to persecute a human
being like that? They talk about human rights, but they persecute a man all
over the world as if he were a wild beast. He is being persecuted right
where he is with his wife and daughter. They have invented the theory that
he is under house arrest. Really, this is the first time I have heard such
a thing, nobody has ... [changes thought] I have no knowledge that he is
under those conditions. I suppose he is subject to the same restrictions as
any other foreigner, but he is not under house arrest; that's a different

A country that boasts about human rights is persecuting one of its
citizens. It's all in the family. [laughs] What do they want to do to him?
Full his eyes out, strangle him, tear him to pieces? The country that
harbors all the thieves in this world, all the drug traffickers and bandits
of this world? The motive behind this action is clear, it was not done
before. It was planned, and it could only be done with the CIA's
participation. For this reason, I am glad that you brought up the subject
on behalf of THE NEW YORK TIMES, an honorable newspaper that I really
respect. I would like you to report my words textually. It is the same
thing I told the journalist from THE WASHINGTON POST who inquired about the
same subject.

[Moderator] The journalist from Puerto Rico.

[Reporter] Thank you. I would like to refer to the U.S. territorial policy
toward Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's case will again be reviewed by the
Decolonization Committee next week. During the past few weeks,
liberationist and autonomist groups have been placing great hopes on a pact
that the United States is considering signing with the Federated States of
Micronesia granting more power and a certain scope of autonomy. However, I
believe that in the case of Puerto Rico, there is a fundamental difference
due to the enormous U.S. economic and financial investments.

How do you see this balance of forces? Are there real possibilities of
(?changes) in Puerto Rico, and is the U.S. territorial policy really
changing? How do you see Puerto Rico's situation at the Decolonization
Committee this year?

[Castro] You have asked some technical questions. I do not even know the
status of the Federated States of Micronesia. I do know that Puerto Rico is
a Yankee colony, which has been under U.S. occupation for almost 90 years.
However, I also believe that Puerto Rico has its own right to independence.
I also think that it has played a heroic role. Puerto Rico has maintained
its Latin personality, language, traditions, and culture, despite the most
brutal U.S. political, cultural, and economic penetration. I think that
Puerto Rico is really an example to the world for its authenticity. Of
course, the United States has made large investments there; I have heard
that they total approximately $20 billion or more. However, [words
indistinct]. It is the country with the highest unemployment rate, despite
the 1.5, 2, or 3 million Puerto Ricans - I am not sure how many -- who live
in the United States. It is the country with the world's highest number of
welfare recipients -- welfare, by the way, may soon be restricted. Puerto
Rico is a country that has been led to be totally dependent on the United
States and the multinational companies. However, this will not stop the
course of history. I think that as Latin America becomes more independent,
the possibilities for Puerto Rico's independence are greater. As Latin
America gains independence and achieves its integration, Puerto Rico will
have more possibilities for independence. Puerto Rico, like any other Latin
American country, needs to be part of its environment, culture, and world.
I do not ... [changes thought] What can I say about technical [words
indistinct] between one status or another? What I visualize and dream about
is a free, independent Puerto Rico, integrated with the community of Latin
American and Caribbean nations.

[Moderator] It is now the turn of the Soviet journalists.

[Unidentified Soviet journalist] I will ask a question on behalf of two
media representatives: the NOVOSTI PRESS AGENCY and Stanislav Kolchenko,
correspondent for the Soviet radio and television. More than once during
the meeting, it was pointed out that part of the funds now spent on the
arms race would be better used to help the developing countries. In this
regard, Comrade Fidel Castro, what is your opinion about the statement made
by Mikhail Gorbachev, who has proposed a moratorium on nuclear tests?

[Castro] Yes, but it has nothing to do with the ... [changes thought] What
you said is that associating this to ... [changes thought] you asked or
said that the subject of peace in relation to the economic crisis was

[Soviet journalist] This was mentioned the day the meeting was

[Castro] That is correct. As I said last night, this struggle, this battle
is and should be closely linked to the struggle for peace. As I mentioned
last night also, peace is the main concern in Europe and in the
industrialized countries and more so in the Third World countries, since as
I said, the Third World is facing war. More people die of hunger each year
in the Third World countries than died in 1 year of the world war. We also
consider it very important to link the interests of the Third World
countries -- which are also interested in peace, as well as in solving
their economic problems, the foreign debt and the establishment of a new
[economic] order - with the interest that the industrialized countries have
in peace. I also mentioned something that is not applicable to socialist
countries, which is the great concern that exists in the developed
capitalist countries over the unemployment problem.

I believe that the Soviet leaders have made more than one statement -- in
my opinion very important -- in this respect, including the public
statements expressing support for the struggle of the Third World to
overcome the crisis, to solve the problems stemming from the economic
crisis, and for a new international economic order. I also mentioned
yesterday as an example that the socialist countries supported the Third
World countries in their demands for new norms on the Law of the Sea and
the 200 miles, even though it was against their interests. I feel that any
measure that can contribute to detente and peace is positive.

However, l am not proposing unilateral disarmament by anyone. I understand,
and clearly see that if the United States follows an arms race policy, the
USSR and the socialist countries cannot disarm themselves unilaterally. We
see the issue of the reduction of military expenditures as a policy and a
principle applicable to capitalist and developed socialist countries, and
that a percentage of the resources that are spent today on weapons could be
used to deal with the problems and difficulties in the Third World. I
understand that whenever this has been proposed at the United Nations, the
USSR has supported the initiative, just like it supported the proposed new
international economic order which was approved 10 years ago. I see this
gesture of the USSR as a proof of goodwill, as one of the many gestures of
goodwill it has made lately, to which the United States has turned a deaf
ear. I see this is a good gesture, and I do not consider it a unilateral
disarmament by the USSR, which frankly I would disagree with. I do agree
with a halt to the arms race in all the countries in the world, which is
totally different.

[Moderator] We urge the journalists to get a little closer to the
microphone when asking their questions, in order to make the translation
easier. We will now give the opportunity to the journalists from Ecuador
who wish to ask a question. Companero journalists from Ecuador....

[Gonzalo Ortiz] Mr President, Ecuador was one of the few countries that
sent an official government representative to this meeting, and the
Ecuadoran delegation was one of those that more clearly spoke against the
economic policies of the current government, which wants a renegotiation
of the debt under the conditions of a neoliberal and rightist economy. How
can we understand the friendship that the current Ecuadoran Government and
Cuba are developing? And, secondly,what is the outlook for that friend
ship? Will it be maintained in the future in spite of the fact that the
opposition has stated -- and it has stated it here at this meeting -- that
there are growing arbitrariness and rightist leanings in the Ecuadoran

[Castro] Really....

[Ortiz] Forgive me, commander,. I did not identify myself. I am Gonzalo
Ortiz, deputy director of the daily HOY of Quito.

[Castro] One of the countries with the largest representation at this
meeting was Ecuador. This really pleased us very much. Practically all the
presidential candidates came and all the parties were represented. We were
really pleased with the fact that the government also sent an official
representation. I can interpret this no other way than as a positive and
independent gesture. This has been also, in some ways, a brave gesture.
Several countries sent official representatives, but not all, and we must
view positively those countries that made the decision to send an official

The relations that are being developed are going fine. We in Latin America
must apply the principle of peaceful coexistence, especially with regimes
that are constitutional. We are pleased with the development of relations
with the government, the people, and the political parties of Ecuador.

These relations are being developed in the fields of economy, trade, and in
the exchange of experiences in various fields. I think that this is the
policy we must follow, independently of the fact that in those countries
there is the government and the opposition. Everybody knows how we think
and everybody knows that the United States has done everything possible to
isolate and to blockade us.

There was a time when it was able to isolate us from all the Latin American
countries with the exception of Mexico, the only country with which
diplomatic relations were maintained. When a country decides to develop
diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba, and in addition there is an
elected constitutional government in that country, I think that it is fair
and proper to have relations. It is logical that at a broad meeting with
such diverse representation there will be many opinions considering,
especially, that all the opposition political parties were at the meeting.
But I do not think it is my role to pass judgment on the domestic policies
of countries, especially of those countries with which we have relations.

I can pass judgment on the situation in Chile, Paraguay, El Salvador,
Haiti, countries which are enduring ferocious dictatorships with which we
do not have any relations. Nevertheless we do not ever try to tell the
opposition in those countries what they must do. We not only respect what
the governments do but we also abstain from passing judgment on their
domestic policies; we also strictly abstain from passing judgment on the
policies, tactics, and strategies of the opposition parties. We maintain a
position of total respect for both the government and the opposition. I
believe this is the only way to maintain proper and respectful relations
among political organizations and among governments. As I have said to
some people, to some journalists, the secret of our excellent relations
with leftist and revolutionary organizations is that we have never adopted
arrogant positions, that we have never tried to give our opinion on what
they are doing or what they should do. We limit ourselves to stating our
opinion only when we are asked for our opinion on something.

This is why those organizations have a high opinion of Cuba, respect our
country, and develop friendly, trustworthy relations with us. For this
reason, I am sorry, but I don't think it would be proper for me to pass
judgment on the country's domestic policies.

[Moderator] The companeros from Colombia, if you have any questions...

[Nora Parras] I am Nora Parras, representing the weekly NEUVA FRONTERA, of
Bogota. Commander; first, the presidents of Colombia and Cuba have said in
their own countries that they maintain excellent relations. What was
President Betancur's excuse for not sending an official representative to
this meeting? And, second, what is [words indistinct] at this meeting, in
the framework of this meeting, the position, the decision, of the church,
or that of the people of the right?

[Castro] That is two questions. There are no formal relations with
Colombia, but there are relations of respect, friendly relations. There are
exchanges of opinions on various matters, especially as a result of
Colombia's role in Contadora. We have exchanged opinions on more than one
occasion on the Central American problems.

As I told many governments yesterday, I sent Colombia the documents that
have been published. I have told Colombia about my points of view on this
subject. We have exchanged correspondence on this subject. I can say that
at this level relations are good. The Columbian Government did not send an
official representative but it did not prohibit any of the important people
-- including government party people, conservatives, congressmen -- from
visiting and participating in this meeting.

We did not say: Send a delegation and we did not expect presidents to come.
We did not expect them to send official delegations either.

We did write to all those governments with which we have diplomatic or
friendly relations, even if there are no formal relations. We informed them
about the meeting. We told them we would like them to attend and also that
we would understand that this would be difficult. This is an elemental
courtesy. We also thought it respectful to inform them about the people we
were inviting. It was not as if we were submitting a list with the names of
the people we were inviting for approval. We informed them, as a matter of
basic courtesy, about all the important people we were inviting.

I did not expect official representatives, but several came from several
countries. There was an exchange of information. They thanked us for the
invitation. They were very kind. They acted, I think, according to their
appraisal of the situation at the moment.

You may have noticed, as I have said, what happened in the Mexican case. As
a result of the international situation, the tension of the economic
situation, the grave problems, the various efforts in progress, and the
campaign against the meeting to a certain extent some governments had their
doubts about sending a representative.

But all those who sent representatives are satisfied. The government
representatives are satisfied because the meeting took place in the
framework of much respect. As you have noticed, there was criticism of
certain policies by guests from some countries. But this criticism was made
with much politeness and on the basis of concepts and ideas. I did not hear
one single offensive word from the more than 100 speakers who participated.
I did not hear a single insult.

Very seldom have I participated in a meeting at this level of politeness,
respect, and tact. And no one was asked to speak this or that way, or to
respect and not attack his government, or not to use strong words or

The most interesting part of all this is that the conduct of all the
speakers was completely spontaneous. This gives you an idea of the standard
and quality of the persons who attended this meeting. Moreover, I heard
many representatives from the opposition, such as Uruguay, Peru, and other
countries actually express support for their governments along certain
lines and on certain policies. This was another demonstration of the great
maturity of the participants.

You asked me what impressed me most. I would say that I was very, very
impressed by that Latin American and Caribbean spirit that was reflected at
the meeting, that identity, that unity, those sentiments of community that
were evident at the meeting. I was very pleased with the fact that this was
the first meeting at this level held by all the Caribbean and South
American countries because, since some had been Portuguese colonies, others
Spanish, and others British, there was a great lack of communication among
the political forces of these countries and the rest of Latin America. And
Latin America is also strengthened from this communion, contact, bonds, and
this common struggle with English-, French-, and Dutch-speaking countries.
This really impressed me.

I already told you that I was impressed with the honesty. I was impressed
by the quality of the speeches, the lofty concepts, the original ideas
expressed with elegance, with beauty, with charm, the ideas and
communication skill of many speakers, the seriousness of their speeches.

Also, there was outstanding participation by the Christians because this
was a new thing, a new phenomenon. It was almost a revelation. There were
speeches not only by priests, not only representatives of Evangelical
churches, but many politicians also spoke like Christians and expressed
Christian sentiments.

This was truly noteworthy. I cannot say that some were better than others
but I can say that brilliant speeches were delivered by the civilian
politicians as well. Some even claimed that they were atheists. However,
they ended up with much respect for the church, with a communal spirit
toward the Christians. Unquestionably the speeches delivered by the
Christians were brilliant, several of the speeches. I consider the letter
from Cardenal [name indistinct] one of the most extraordinary of the
documents received at this meeting. [Words indistinct] Mendez Arceo, the
Puerto Rican girl who spoke the first day spoke brilliantly and above all,
they spoke with great conviction.

I was much impressed by the collective conscience that emerged from the
meeting, which was what mattered most. These were the things that really
impressed me most.

[Moderator] The comrades from Argentina who are present.

[Hector Ferrari] I am Hector Ferrari from television Channel 8 and the
newspaper CORDOBA from the city of Cordoba, Ernesto Guevara's city.
Commander, please make a comment or analysis of the Argentine position
concerning the payment or treatment of its foreign debt.

[Castro] An analysis would be very difficult. This is a thought. The
government of democratic opening received a country that was completely
mortgaged and in a very difficult position: A $48 billion debt, staggering
inflation, and recession. It is also a country affected by all these
protectionist measures. Argentina has to export wheat and corn and has to
compete with subsidized U.S. wheat and corn. It has to export beef, which
is subsidized in Europe. It has 600,000 tons of frozen beef that it is
selling for $800 [unit not specified] by depressing the price because it
pays the domestic producers $2,500. These are really difficult

I believe that if [words indistinct] compare to make a definite judgment of
the policy C that the Argentine Government is following, and the final
decision that it will adopt on the foreign debt. I believe that it adopted
a series of measures that were principally aimed at fighting the terrible
evil of inflation. It had to do something to stop inflation. However, the
struggle against inflation does not necessarily deter mine the attitude to
be taken on the foreign debt. Some of the measures adopted such as limiting
credit to 4 percent and freezing prices, are generally opposed by the IMP.
I believe that the speculative sectors were affected by these measures.
That is why I say that the combined measures adopted against inflation are
in my judgment independent of the policy that the Argentine Government will
eventually adopt on its foreign debt.

There is no question that it is negotiating with the Cartagena group and
with other countries, proposing the idea of holding a meeting of chiefs of
state, and I believe that in this whole process it is still too early or
premature to make a judgment on the definite attitude it will take on this
very serious problems of the foreign debt. I know that it is an enormous
burden for the country.

I spoke about this yesterday and I also spoke about how the three countries
were last year making an enormous effort for a greater commercial surplus,
a combined surplus among the three -- Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil --
which are the three with giant foreign debts and with the largest
industrial and economic development. They had achieved the miracle of a $30
billion surplus. However, as things are going already, this year the
surplus will be approximately $20 billion. That is, Argentina will have a
surplus that is lower by more than $1 billion, Brazil's will be $2 to $3
billion lower, and Mexico's will be between $5 and $6 billion lower.
Apparently the surplus will be that much lower from last year.

In 1984 they made an enormous effort and I imagine that they depleted much
of their raw material stocks and did not replace equipment or spare parts.
This can be done for 1 year, but it cannot be done for 2, 3, or 5 years.
This is impossible.

They restricted their imports. This can only be done for 1 year. It is
impossible to do that for 2, 3, 5 years. There is a tendency in all
countries to increase exports [corrects himself] imports that are
indispensable in order to maintain the level of exports. In addition, these
countries have had to face new protectionist measures, particularly from
the industrialized countries -- mainly the United States -- and this
situation has further aggravated the crisis. The foreign debt problem is
getting worse. The interest rates have been reduced a little, by
approximately 2 percent. However, this drop has far from compensated the
losses that Latin American countries are experiencing as a result of the
reduced prices, protectionist measures, limitations to exports, and
increase of imports. In other words, we are facing a problem which seems to
be worsening, and the Latin American countries have not really made a final
decision on it. I am absolutely convinced that the alternative of paying
the debt does not exist; it is impractical. Therefore, I believe that other
solutions should be sought in one way or another.

[Moderator] Journalists from West Europe, come this way.

[Bereta] My name is Jani Bereta, of the Italian MANIFESTO. Do you think
that the West European capitalist countries could play a different role
from that of the United States? I am specifically referring to the foreign
debt problem. Some Swiss-German banks and those of other countries have
adopted measures different from those of U.S. banks. For example, in the
Central American crisis, they have not joined the embargo declared by the
Reagan administration. The relations between the two areas have increased,
there is an initiative between the EEC and the Contadora Group and Central
American countries, which some observers have viewed as Europe's return to
Latin America. Would you say that these are significant signs of a
different role to be played by West European countries? Thank you.

[Castro] There are serious differences between the United States and the
EEC, even competition. The United States has adopted protectionist measures
against European products, which have forced the European countries to
respond with other measures. There are significant conflicts. Of course,
the policy of the West Europeans is not exactly the same as the U.S.
policy. I think they are more concerned and interested. I think that they
too have been affected by the U.S. monetary policy, by the overvaluation of
the dollar, by the high interest rates, which have encouraged the flight of
capital from West Europe to the United States.

The U.S. policy has deprived Europe of funds for development and has
contributed to worsening the economic problems in West European countries,
whose economies have grown very little during the past few years. The U.S.
economy experienced a growth of 7.4 percent last year, to a large extent at
the expense of the Third World, but also at the expense of Europe, which
was deprived of investment funds when U.S. money was extracted. We know
that the West European countries always have complaints at the summits;
they do not voice them openly, but there are complaints. Furthermore, the
West European countries do not all act in the same way. For example, I
recall that during the Malvinas crisis, Spain did not act in the same
manner as the rest of the West European countries. Other countries, such as
Italy assumed a more moderate position during the crisis. They also have
different economic policies. The UK is a unconditional U.S. ally, both
economically and politically. The FRG is also a unconditional U.S. ally in
the political and economic fields, but it is more concerned over this
crisis -- I know that -- than the United States. France has conflicts with
the U.S. policy. This was evident during the latest summit of the most
powerful, industrialized and rich capitalist countries.

France demanded a new international monetary system, and wanted to link
matters related to trade with the monetary issue. The United States opposed
this, on the grounds of a policy that supposedly favored free trade.

In reality, at that time there was a shower of proposals at the U.S.
Congress for protectionist measures, and today a wave of protectionism has
invaded the brains of U.S. businessmen. In this manner, previously leading
industries such as the chemical and electronic fields were already asking
for protectionist measures, because they did not consider themselves
capable of competing. This has its logic. Someone did the Japanese a great
favor by banning the use of funds in weapons. They simply used these funds
in investments. However, since no one has done that favor to the United
States, Mr Reagan will be spending $2 quintillion, $2 Yankee quintillions
[preceding figures as heard] in military expenses in 8 years. A fabulous
sum, and this is in addition to a budget deficit of $200 billion and a
trade deficit that will reach this year $150 billion. Yet the Japanese, who
have a favorable trade of balance, are buying parts from the United States
and are investing in the world.

Therefore, by the end of this year, the Japanese will become the greatest
investors abroad. They have invested $90 billion in the last 3 years. In
1984, they invested $50 billion, and already this year, they rank first in
the world. They own about $50 industries in the United States, they lend
money to the Yankees, they buy bonds and shares in the United States.

They are doing all this while the madness of "star wars" is going on, and
the arms race, which will lead to a very serious situation for the rest of
the world. In a selfish manner, the United States achieved an increase of
7.4 [not further specified] during 1 year. But how much has it achieved
this year? Only 1 percent in the first 6 months, and it is doubted that it
will increase by 3 percent during the second 6 months. This means it would
accumulate 2 percent [as heard], which means its engine is in reverse, as a
peasant would say. That engine is going to stop. All of this affects the
Third World countries in a harsh and difficult manner, and makes life more
difficult for the Third World countries, but it also makes life very
difficult for the European countries. The United States has very close
allies, but others are not so close to the United States, and they have
different policies. We hope that with regard to this very serious economic
crisis and the foreign debt, several European countries will take a stand
different from that of the United States.

[Castro, mumbling apparently to someone at the table] I think we have been
at this for 2 hours. (?Are we about to end?)

[Moderator] Companeros, we have been working for 2 hours. As Commander
Fidel explained at the beginning, there has been a great deal of work done
over the past few days. However, we will take one last question. We would
like to be as fair as possible. Since we cannot please everybody, we beg,
beforehand those who will not be able to take the floor not to feel

Where are the Venezuelan newsmen? There they are. Identify yourself,

[(Andres Balzan)] I am (Andres Balzan), director of the magazine SOBERANIA,
organ of the Anti-Imperialist Tribunal of Our America. First of all,
President Fidel Castro, I want to congratulate you for your brilliant
speech last night. Second, I want to recall that in the past few weeks
three very important events have taken place in Cuba: one involving
journalists, another labor union people, and this continental meeting on
the foreign debt. Commander Castro has repeatedly noted the importance of
the foreign debt issue reaching the Latin American and Caribbean popular
masses. We believe that the presence of newspapermen like Miguel Angel
Capriles at this event is very important.

We realize, as it has been made evident at this news conference, that the
propaganda war of imperialism and the CIA against this important and
crucial problem that affects all the people of Latin America and the
Caribbean has begun.

Knowing the links that the Inter-American Press Association [SIP] has with
the CIA, I would like for President Fidel Castro to evaluate the
responsibilities that the journalists have in the propaganda war. Thank

[Castro] In a commentary yesterday I sincerely expressed my opinion of Mr
Capriles, about his presence, and his contribution. I expressed my respect
for someone who in very proper terms, in my opinion, presented this problem
3 years ago. His presence was evidence of broadness. His points of view
show how much this struggle can unite everybody, how much concern there is
among men and women from all social sectors. I believe that the fact that
he was here and that he freely said what he said is very symbolic. I have
been recalling that Capriles is the person who called for unilateral
disarmament by the West, and I think that yesterday I attributed this to
Lopez Michelsen.

SIP is the association of media owners. The associations of journalists are
the associations, or organizations, of the media workers, of those who are
really journalists, of those who go after the news and edit it. So the two
cannot be the same at all. On the one hand we have the owners, those who
have the authority, the ones who in the end decide what gets published and
what does not.

The journalists and the printers, as well as the typesetters, are the ones
who make journalism. You can understand that it would be very difficult to
have a SIP meeting in Cuba. As you say, it is very much linked to the
United States. I would not say this about the journalists.

I do not have any proof but I know that there are many [owners] who are
closely linked, through economic ties, subsidies, and aid, to the U.S.
Government. There are others who are linked to the CIA. However, to honor
the truth we must also say that many news media owners are linked neither
to the U.S. Government, nor to the CIA. I also know many honorable media
owners, and some of them spoke here at the meeting. For this reason I
cannot generalize. We are speaking of two completely different
organizations. I have a high opinion of journalistic organizations, the
Federation of Latin American Journalists [FELAP], and the various
journalist unions. In fact, a Brazilian representative came to the
meeting of journalists. He was representing tens, perhaps hundreds, of
thousands of journalists. I think he, and the journalist who met here were
representing hundreds of thousands of workers.

SIP represents a few hundred, perhaps tens -- I don't know how many members
it has -- of owners. I don't know how many members it has because I don't
have any relationship with it. It has always been very hostile toward the
revolution. It has always followed U.S. policy.

They defend ideas that are totally opposed to the ideas of the Cuban
revolution. As I said yesterday, imperialism needs weapons, cannons, tanks,
planes, and bombs because they have no ideas. They cannot compete in the
field of ideas. They cannot even sustain their ideas as soon as there is a
deep analysis. For this reason it needs weapons. If the struggle were to be
waged in the field of ideas only, then imperialism is lost.

They have, of course, the news media, massive communication. This is what
they have. Lacking ideas, they require ownership of the media. And since
they lack ideas for their struggle against socialism, they need cannons,
tanks and planes. Lacking ideas in their struggle against the national
liberation movement -- not to mention the struggle against the movement for
socialism -- they need cannons, tanks, planes and bombs.

They lack ideas for their struggle against true democracy, or against
democratic processes -- since they are sworn enemies of all democracies
and unyielding allies of the worst regimes of the world, including
Pinochet, apartheid, South Korea, etc. Since they lack ideas for their
struggle against the progress of the people, they need cannons, tanks, and
planes, which is what they have. They have properties, millions,
multi-national banks, cannons, tanks, and planes, but they have no ideas.

Please close it.

[Moderator] Companeros...[applause] We understand how you feel. We thank
Commander in Chief Fidel Castro for his time and for granting us this news
conference. We warmly thank all the Latin American and Third World
journalists who have come to Havana to cover the foreign debt meeting.