Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro Statement

FL181913 Havana Television Service in Spanish 1202 GMT 18 Sep 85

[Response by President Fidel Castro to questions posed by Venezuelan
journalist Lucila de Logras during 17 September session of the Latin
American Press Forum on the Regional Financial Crisis, held at Havana's
Palace of Conventions -- recorded]

[Text] [Lucila de Logras] The refinancing of 15 percent of Cuba's foreign
debt has been achieved under better conditions than other Latin American

If Cuba does not have overwhelming economic problems, and the debt is not
strangling Cuba like it is other countries, what is your purpose, Mr
President, for having these forums?  If the idea is not to create a block
of debtor countries but to create awareness to the problem, it can be
considered that what motivates you is the altruism of an out of the
ordinary statesman assuming the initiative by honoring these congresses
that seem to be monumental and very costly but, doubtless, should be held
by someone.  You said not long ago -- and this is the third question --
that the problem of the foreign debt will have to be resolved or the
democratic process will die.  What measures would Cuba adopt if the
democratic systems collapse?  Do you consider yourself the savior of Latin
American democracy, or of the established capitalist financial system?
And the final question is: Because Cuba has established a new economic
order with socialist countries, including long-term, no-interest loans,
could you become the mediator between Latin America and the USSR as a
pressure mechanism so that international banks and the IMF would have to
improve the treatment of Latin America and the Third World? that's all

[Castro] Dos Santos, if I leave this for tomorrow, I will not sleep
tonight! [laughter] Well, I would have to ask for details to see what the
terms were for our last refinancing agreements.  There are four questions;
this will take more than 5 minutes. [laughter]

I know that I participated in the first refinancing procedure.  I met with
the individuals, the Paris Club.  This has been more than 2 years.
Refinancing was a new phenomenon.  I remember a few years ago, refinancing
was synonymous to total bankruptcy.  The governments did not want to
refinance because it seemed scandalous until the governments were made to

We have also had our credit needs for several reasons.  It was mentioned
here, for example, in the case of unequal trade.  It is not that way
always.  It is not that way always [repeats himself].  Many times unequal
trade creates a trade deficit.  The deficit creates credit necessities, or
else one has to impose a great sacrifice on the population.  We inherited
an underdeveloped, dependent, one-product economy that still carries a lot
of weight in the [words indistinct] world.  This great weight no longer has
the same connotation.

We sell a great portion of that sugar in the socialist market, not to all
the socialist countries, depending on the socialist country's development.
The result is that sugar is one of the most profitable products for our
country, much more so than any other product.  It can easily bring in
$5,000 per hectare.  That is not bad. Corn and other products do not
produce as much, but we have guaranteed prices with our sugar.  In trading
with the Western world, we have to use sugar to obtain currency that we use
for a series of products that we cannot purchase in the socialist areas,
such as raw materials, medications, and some foods.  There are some
products which we do not have sufficient natural resources to develop,
sufficient land, in two words.

We have developed agricultural products such as citrus, for example.  Where
have we planted them?  If you look at our large citrus plantations, they
are almost on top of bare rocks, rocky land.  With a large bulldozer, we
level the land.  We use dynamite to plant citrus.  Nothing else can be
planted there and, nevertheless, excellent citrus is raised.  They have
subsoil with water, sufficient land, despite difficulties.  The land cannot
be used for sugarcane or anything else except for citrus.  The best
grapefruit in the world is raised in the Isle of Youth, in sandy land of
very low quality that cannot even be used for grazing.  Nevertheless, it is
impermeable land, and with adequate fertilizers it can produce a grapefruit
of an extraordinary quality. I warn you that I am not making propaganda
because we were thinking of exporting grapefruit to our Latin American

Finally, I am explaining the origin of our need for credit when sugar
prices in the world market collapsed.  We saw our sugar at 3, 3 and 1/2,
and 4 cents while the needs of the country were maintained and increasing.
If we did not receive credit, it was for two reasons.

Because of these problems, the deficit, [words indistinct], a fall in
prices, or because we wanted to make some investments for which we did not
have fresh currency.  We could not pay [words indistinct] in some types of
factory, industrial equipment that we could not acquire through socialist
countries.  There is where our debt originated and accumulated through the
years, not very big.  That debt was not very big but it caused a certain
burden.  In the last few years sugar prices have been [words indistinct]

We not only suffered the consequences of sugar prices but also of being a
blockaded country.  To sell our nickel, we had to go through tremendous
work.  I do not know, for example, if you know that the United States had
dictated procedures prohibiting imports of equipment or steel produced with
Cuban nickel.  We opened a small nickel market in Japan, France, FRG,
England, and Italy.  Then the United States with its gigantic [words
indistinct] economic, important market [words indistinct] Italian, German,
Japanese were told: If it has Cuban nickel, you cannot export it to the
United States.  You can imagine what happened.

We took care of this ourselves.  Nickel, as you know, is a mineral composed
of molecular atoms.  I can't explain how you can place a sign on a molecule
of nickel.  It is a very difficult thing and I don't know how they arranged
this but all this complicated purchases.  Some purchased nickel and steel
for other things, for other markets.  The United States follows all our
commercial operations everywhere in the world, whether it is the shrimp or
lobster industry.  That is another issue for underdeveloped countries,
depriving itself of local consumption leaving it for protocol and the rest
for some restaurants, around $100 million dollars in shrimp, lobster, and
fish exports.

We developed other export items under difficult conditions because, as it
has been explained here, to find new markets is difficult, much more
difficult if you are blockaded by the United States.  We have had to
confront difficulties because the blockade is a reality that is manifested
everyday at all times.  It is an incessant persecution of all our trade

We should say that the banks which gave loans to us under those conditions
did not do so during the first 10 years of the revolution.  They began
doing it little by little.  We were receiving short-term loans, as a
general rule.  We always paid back which built up the country's credit.
But those banks -- I believe we are the creditors, excuse me, the debtors
to some 100 banks; they are many -- gave us the financing in defiance of
U.S. pressures.  They did it openly, under great pressure.  The United
States controls almost all banking institutions in the world, directly or

Like the others, we were forced to contract that debt in convertible
currency.  But this debt in convertible currency is not limited to banks.
We have acquired credits with Argentina, Brazil, [words indistinct] and
other countries in the Third World.  Our debt is made up of credits with
some banks and credits with countries in the Third World.  That is our debt
in convertible currency.

We have reduced our dependence on the so-called world market.  Our trade
with the Western market amounts to 15 percent of our trade.  The rest, 85
percent, of our imports and exports is conducted with countries of the
socialist camp; some developed socialist countries in Europe; some
underdeveloped countries, with which we trade in practically world market
prices, both what we buy and sell; and also China, with which we have
rather broad trade relations but based on world market prices.

Nevertheless, this is convenient for them because we supply to them large
quantities [Unreadable text] sugar, and convenient for us because we
receive some foodstuffs such as rice, soya, and a large number of goods
produced by the Chinese.  This is not the same type of trade we have with
other countries, but 85 percent of our trade is conducted with socialist

So, this entire catastrophe, all this crisis affects our trade by 15
percent.  It is true that our situation is not overwhelming because, as I
have explained before, we now have attained our new economic order with
socialist countries, above all with developed socialist countries.  As I
recently explained, this was not accomplished in 1 day, or on the 1st day.
In the beginning, our trade was based on world market prices.  It was a
great advantage because of the U.S. blockade. [words indistinct] sugar
market a quota of nearly 4 million tons of sugar, which was distributed
among Latin American countries as a prize for having cooperated in the
blockade and aggressions against Cuba, expulsion from the OAS, and so forth.

In reality, those days were very tough for us.  The countries took over our
sugar quota.  In addition to distributing the sugar quota among themselves,
the Alliance for Progress program was created as a result of the
revolution, and this program gave them some advantages, some worries for
imperialism...well, let imperialism worry about it.  They worry, what can
it do?  How can it stop the fire here or there?  The Alliance for Progress
program was the first attempt to isolate Cuba and, as they said, to try to
limit the objective factors which could provoke revolutions.  They were
very scared, that is the truth.

So, during this period of time...well, this in general is the idea which
explains our situation.  How, at a certain time, our situation was
difficult, but it is not so today.  The comrade is correct when she says
that our situation is not difficult because...[leaves thought unfinished] I
would like to say this.  In our debts -- I spoke about the new order with
socialist countries -- to socialist countries, we have achieved a new order
first in the price of products, but that did not start on the first day.
The idea I mentioned was that when the blockade was imposed on us, we were
greatly relieved when we found someone to buy our sugar.  When the oil
supplies were stopped, it was a great relief when someone sold us oil.  Who
would sell us raw materials?  Who would sell us foodstuffs?  All those
things that the United States stopped selling us.  All our problems were
not solved because all our machinery, equipment, transportation means,
factories, industries, more than 90 percent were manufactured in the United
States.  Exports of spare parts to Cuba were stopped.  Even the exports of
medicines and medical equipment were stopped, not even an aspirin.
Gentlemen, take note of the inhumanity of that policy.  Nothing could be
sold to Cuba.

Then, we began to trade with socialist countries, and we traded under world
market conditions and prices.  Later on, little by little we realized that
a developing country under a blockade, unless it continued to place an
enormous burden on the people, it could not continue to develop with the
resources its economy was generating.  It was necessary to establish
credit.  But, what happened then, it could be determined by looking at all
projections, including all our exports and a reasonable growth of our
exports, that our import needs for development were greater than the growth
of our exports.

Since then we have not had any problems with markets.  In that sense we are
the happiest people in the world.  All we produce here has a market in the
socialist area, of course, because that is a large market at least with
respect to a small country like Cuba.  I do not know if it could absorb all
that is produced by Brazil, but it is [Unreadable text]apable of absorbing
all that Cuba produces, all its nickel, all its grapefruits, all its
tobacco, all its foodstuffs, all its sugar, all its liquors, everything.
Our limits are determined by our production capacities, not by the markets'

Nevertheless, it was said.  I can remember the first
projections, our first plans.  Now you can imagine what our first plans
looked like with our lack of experience.  From the year 1960, 1965 to 1970,
or from 63 to 68, 5 years, the trade deficit was growing annually.  It was
clear.  In the light of the doctrine, in the light of revolutionary
principles, in the light of international solidarity, should it be this
way?  Simply put, we needed preferential prices for our products.  That is
the way the preferential price began with our main commodity, sugar.  It
began with sugar.  Sugar had its ups and downs in the world market.  The
first price we were given for sugar was 6 cents when the world market value
was 3 or 4 cents.

Suppose it was 50 percent more at least.  Then we discover the law of
unequal trade.  It was magnificent with 6 cents, so much sugar, so much
earning this and that that year.  But at the end of the 5 years, what did
we have?  What we saw was that our sugar had a value of 6 cents over the 5
year period, while the prices of the goods we were importing from socialist
countries, which are governed and have historically been governed by the
world market prices, were going up.  Every year they grew by a certain
percentage, that is the price of everything exported to us while our sugar
continued to have the same price.  Thus, after 5 years sugar had a lower
value than it had the first year.

So a new matter comes up, the need for a sliding price scale.  That is the
popular import price index.  So we obtained a satisfactory price for sugar
later on, after many years.  Because this did not come from theory but from
practice, studies, observed realities.  The time came when we had a
satisfactory, profitable, even even profitable price for our sugar.  But
another clause was added, a sliding price clause.  Import goods were
analyzed and the price of those import goods rose, the top price of our
sugar also rose.  It started with sugar.  Then it continued with nickel,
citrus, and continued with our economy's main items.  This is how our new
economic order was built.  It did not come from any book or theory.  It
came from realities and it was established through the years.

We later discovered that those trade and investment credits were
accumulated and they became a debt which, although had very low interest
rates -- 2.3 percent, the first credits were around 2 percent -- but they
amounted to hundreds of millions.  They had to be paid at a given time.
This is when our first foreign debt renegotiation was made many years ago.
This is when we found a solution because solutions are found when there
are equal relations, when there are fair relations between developed
countries and developing or under developed countries.

This is how we then made the first renegotiation and payment was deferred
15 years without interest.  The debt renegotiation modality was established
for a long period of time without interest.

This is the foundation on the principle that this is a debt in theory.  In
reality...  Because the phenomenon continues to be true that developed
countries develop even more.  And there is a principle we have defined in
the CEMA, and that it is is established in the CEMA, that more developed
countries within socialist countries should contribute and should struggle
for the development of poorer countries, that they come closer to developed
countries.  That has been established as a principle.  It is applied to
countries such as Vietnam, Cuba, also countries such as ... [voice in the
background says, Mongolia] Mongolia, and other countries.  I think that the
CEMA there are also Laos, and, I think, Kampuchea.  Those countries are
even poorer than we are.  They have fewer resources.

I believe the principle of pardoning the debt should come from here, to
erase the debt.  We have not reached that stage yet.  But the stage will
come where debts should be erased.

This is the same thing we are proposing for all. But in practice it does
not affect us because our debt, is renegotiated automatically, long-term,
and without interest. So, by not being affected in practice by this problem
... [leaves thought unfinished] what we have to pay in interest is less
than five percent of the country's total exports. What we have to pay for
the debt's services in the area of convertible foreign currency is less,
including some payments, is less than 9 percent of the country's total
exports. This situation is perfectly tolerable for us.

It is true that we have not presented this problem as our need.  It is not
that we are good samaritans, it is not that we are the most altruistic
people in the world.  I think we are altruistic, I say it sincerely.  It is
not that we are the most quixotic people in the world, but I believe we are

Our revolution's history and our solidarity with many countries has shown
it.  Cubahas over 1,500 doctors working abroad.  During the first years of
the revolution, we were left with 3,000 out of 6,000 doctors. The United
States took them, they shamelessly stole our country's brains.  They opened
the doors to everyone to leave us without teachers, doctors, technicians,
engineers.  We accepted the challenge by telling those who wanted to leave
to leave and said: let's train a new generation of technicians and
professionals.  Those who stayed helped us.

Today, we have almost 23,000 doctors and over 2,500 are graduating
annually.  This year, 2,500 doctors graduated.  We are having massive
graduations while maintaining good quality; we should say, increasing
quality.  There are around 50,000 Cubans working as internationalists
abroad, including engineers, technicians, doctors, and also soldiers,
Because we have had to help countries who have been attacked.

One hears about South Africa now.  But we have been giving aid to Angola
for nearly 10 years.  Angola is a country which has been uninterruptedly
threatened by South Africa.  South Africa is reaching its time of definite
crisis just as is imperialism, which is experiencing a castastrophic
economic and political situation.  We have had the patience and
perserverance of 10 years, without pay.  We could not even dream to ask
anyone to pay us for helping with soldiers, because the blood of a Cuban
revolutionary and Cuban internationalist does not have a price.  It cannot
be paid with anything. [applause]

Nevertheless, we have taken our struggle against imperialism in a variety
of fields.  We have helped quite a few countries.  There are Cuban
engineers, technicians, doctors.  There are scholarship holders from over
80 countries in Cuba, over 22,000 scholarship holders.  We are the country
with the greatest number of foreign scholarship holders per capita in the
world.  So we help many with what we have.  If one figures out how much it
would cost to an international organ the free solidarity Cuba gives to
Third World countries, it would amount to $1 billion a year.  The World
Health Organization has to pay $50,000 or $60,000 for a doctor in Africa.
Our doctors go there and work.  The only thing they get is food and
lodging.  It does not cost them a penny.  A European doctor has to go with
his family.  They have to pay transportation for the family, vacations,
everything, housing.  Sometimes, eight of our doctors live in one house.
They sleep in bunk beds if they have to.  But this aid can amount to over
$1 billion annually.  Of course, it does not cost us anything in foreign
currency.  We pay their salaries here in Cuba.

That is the mechanism.  We print the money and we collect it.  It does not
affect our foreign exchange.  Our system has certain advantages where all
these financial problems are concerned.

We had to begin rationing when the economic blockade began, and it lasted
for many years; there are still some products that are rationed in our
country. Nowadays we h[Unreadable text] two markets: One which is rationed
and subsidized and which guarantees the indispensable minimum to each
citizen; and another market with higher prices, the parallel market. But I
want you to know that in Cuba, which is the world's chief exporter of
sugar, sugar is rationed. Of course, the price is low and the rations are
more or less what people need, but we ration sugar to prevent waste of our

We have achieved our development with international cooperation but also
with a great effort on our part.  We have done it this way.  And we have
also -- as I have already said -- shared our cooperation, and we have done
it with a will.  To express it in a few words, an internationalist spirit
has been developed.  Where does this internationalist spirit come from?  It
comes partly from doctrine but it also comes from experience.

When we saw that the socialist countries helped us to survive and defend
ourselves, we felt a great moral obligation to express our solidarity with
others that were in need and required our help.  Experience taught us this.
It is a basic duty to reciprocate.  For this reason we have said that to be
internationalistic is to pay our own debt to humanity.  Others have helped
us and we have helped others.

We also take action because we are revolutionary, and the term
"revolutionary" refers to a category of persons who are perhaps quixotic,
dreamers, idealists, who want to solve problems, dispense and struggle for
justice.  And there are a lot of people like that.  I am sure that deep
down many of you are like this.

We also take action because we are fighters and have accepted the
imperialist challenge of the country that tried to destroy us, that
challenge of the system that tried to destroy us, blockade us, and crush
us, that threatened us and sent mercenary expenditions, that tried to
destabilize us, and planned assassinations of the revolutionary leaders,
that did everything! But I have forgotten those plans, or rather I laugh at
them. Their ridiculous plans to eliminate us amuse me, their belief that a
revolution can be eliminated by eliminating its leaders, that a revolution
is like rabies and that, by eliminating the dog, rabies can be eliminated.
They don't realize they would have to eliminate an entire rabid people,
that is, an entire revolutionary people, which it is impossible to do. We
are fighters and we are motivated by struggle also. I do not believe this
is exceptional. We are fighters, we like to fight, and we have been

I have been describing many of these problems for many years, as we became
aware of these serious truths.  Because underdevelopment is very serious
and it is very difficult to become developed in this world even if you make
a maximum effort and save every last penny.  By the way, there has been no
flight of capital from Cuba; not one cent!  Of all the credits Cuba has
received, not one cent has fled Cuba, not one cent has been embezzled.  We
have always done everything possible to optimize our investments.  I
believe the results can be seen in the levels of education and health of
our people, and in many other aspects, objectively.  Although we do not
claim the work of the revolution has been perfect, it has been a continuous
effort, serious and constant, carried out with a degree of efficiency.
This was one of our distinguishing characteristics: The fact that not one
cent was lost, not one cent of capital fled Cuba.

When you spoke of the causes of the debt, you forgot to mention the fact
that capital flight is one of the prime causes of the debt.  Because loans
were made and the money did not even arrive, or it arrived and left
immediately.  There are $170 billion Latin American dollars.  A Dominican
spoke of over $7 billion, and I think this figure is low but Latin
Americans have $170 billion in Switzerland, the United States and other

The Yankees are waging a dirty campaign that is just a little cynical, as I
explained recently too. They say: Castro recommends nonpayment but Castro
is the best payer, and he pays. This is astounding because we have acquired
a new standing -- that of being a good payer. Because they have always said
we cannot pay and do not lend us a cent. They pressured all the banks,
showing that the price of sugar was dropping, that the price of nickel was
dropping, that we could not pay! And now they must be very upset by the
miracle that the United States says we are the best payers. They do not say
we are not a country that can be blockaded although we are a country
blockaded by the world's greatest economic power. And we have created our
own defensive mechanisms against that blockade, and these are our relations
with the rest of the Western World. We are running a risk with the campaign
we are waging. We are running a risk. There have been some attempts at
pressure, I will say this very discreetly. [laughter] what we have done
when we saw anything was to speak out energetically. Of course we react if
they take the slightest measure against us. But they must not act to please
the Yankees or help them in their economic blockade of Cuba. For this
reason we have said that as long as those countries or those banks with
which we [words indistinct] that resisted pressure and lend us money that
did not flee the country or get embezzled, we will continue to renegotiate
with them as long as they do not join in the U.S. policy of blockade.

In short, the policy we will follow is to pay all our creditors that are
Third World countries, whatever happens.  We do not owe one cent to any
U.S. bank or the IMF or to any world credit organization, all of which they
control.  When we had to build a highway, we could not go to the World Bank
to ask for credit.  We had to get it from our own sweat, our sacrifices,
but we built the highway, the dams, the infrastructure, the schools.  I
constantly see cables on the World Bank lending money to fix a highway, to
build a dam, to build a themoelectric station.  We have done all these
things with our own resources, with socialist credits, with help, but we
have never received help from any organization.  This is the situation of
our finances.  I believe our position is absolutely correct and is not at
all contradictory.  We are not going to play a fool's role or react to a
provocation or be swept along by intrigues or cooperate with the
imperialists in their aggressive policy against Cuba.

I met with the bank representatives the first time we negotiated [word
indistinct] some time ago, and we talked and I explained a lot of things to
them.  The Yankees sabotaged the discussions.  They even drew up a paper to
challenge all our documentation, and gave a copy to each of the bankers.
But we also had a copy. The bankers thought they shared a great secret.
And when I spoke with them, I said you are worried.  You are checking out
the guarantees and you should see what the united States is doing.  Look at
the campaign they are carrying out.  Look at the document you all have in
your pockets and that I have too. [laughter] Look what it says.  They are
sabotaging the negotiations, apparently because they don't want you to
[leaves thought unfinished] I told them that we recognize that you trusted
us despite U.S. pressures and we are willing to pay but you must cooperate
because, if you don't we will decide how we are going to pay; when, how,
and how quickly we are going to pay.  We are going to make the decisions.
We spoke clearly saying that we understood we had certain moral obligations
towards them because, in mid-blockade, they had cooperated but they should
not let themselves get swept up in Yankee intrigues or drag their feet.

This was how we renegotiated with that group of banks, two or three years
ago.  We renegotiate constantly because not everything is renegotiated at
once.  One amount after another is renegotiated, and that is how it is

But we have been running the risk -- the only risk we have run -- that they
will be tempted to take reprisals against us because we have been waging
this campaign.  We had told them that we are going to continue with this
campaign and that we cannot be pressured.  Very few have tried to pressure
us, and they have received their answer.

A short while ago we were talking about how an isolated country can make
decisions by itself.  We are now talking about joint action by all nations,
Latin American and Third World nations, but beginning with Latin America.
[words indistinct] proclaiming that an isolated country accept the burden.
We prefer prior consensus, united action.  We even prefer a dialogue with
the creditors, not to pay the debt but to tell them the way in which the
debt is to be erased.  We can do this elegantly, even in a friendly way.
We have explained that.  But we also foresee that countries that are
desperate will take the step.  Some have already taken the step and kept
quiet about it.  It may happen that some country of sufficient importance
will take the step and proclaim that it is going to suspend payment, then
it may be the object of a blockade.  Foreseeing this circumstance, we have
done a lot of work in all the nonaligned countries, all the countries of
the Third World.  We have sent many documents to all the chiefs of state.
And we have also created conditions of solidarity with countries that out
of desperation find themselves forced to take that step.  We do not
consider this ideal but it could happen because no one is certain that the
prior consensus, which would be ideal, will be achieved.

It seems to me that this crisis can be unleashed by desperate countries
having to adopt the formula of suspending payments.  This is a possibility.
We have worked toward this, planning a strategy.  The United States has
shown itself to be lacking in ideas and a little bit desperate.  For this
reason they have intrigued to present the contradiction between the banner
we are raising and the fact that we have renegotiated our debt in
convertible currency.

We have been working to increase awareness.  This is the culmination of a
long struggle.  I explained recently how in 1971, 14 years ago, at a
meeting in Chile of the ECLA, we discussed the problem of the debt, and it
was then $30 billion in Latin America.  In 1979, after the sixth summit at
the United Nations, we explained the problem.  They may have given you
material containing my UN speech, in which I analyzed the situation.  We
saw the situation was accelerating because of the energy crisis, an energy
crisis caused first and foremost by the waste of the industrialized
nations, which created the conditions that caused prices to rise and made
things very difficult for many countries.  But the petroleum-producing
countries cannot be blamed.  You have to blame the wasteful international
system that created those circumstances.

I am not going to give you my opinion of how those resources were managed.
Unfortunately, they were not handled in the best way by the countries that
had those resources.

Then in New Delhi, in 1983, at the seventh summit meeting, we discussed
this problem of exchange.  We had been discussing all these problems for a
long time, and we saw that the crisis, the hurricane was upon us and we
were almost in the vortex of the storm.  We used the time to carry out
multiple activities.  The crisis is here and it seems to me that this is
the time [changes thought].  Ideas do not generate crises, It is crises
that generate ideas.  I cannot say that in 1971 we had any idea of the best
way to solve this problem.  By 1979 we had some idea but we said at the
United Nations that the famous decade of development was a joke, that there
had been no such development.  And we demanded $300 billion in 10 years.
Really, in 10 years.

[Unreadable text] realized that circumstances were changing, that the
absurd situation that had been created gave us the initiative.  Because we
were not begging.  If we begged, they could wait a lifetime and not pay any
attention to us.  But we were giving.  Latin America was giving $37 billion
then in 1984 and receiving only $10 billion, $10 billion that are lost to
us through capital flight.  It turns out that we were giving them almost
$40 billion net per year, double what the Alliance for Progress considered
necessary for economic and social development in a 10- or 15-year period,
plus $20 billion they were stealing from us by lowering prices.  We have
not yet found coherent and more scientific explanations for that
phenomenon, which in fact exists although I cannot explain it.

Comrade (Cuscou) said that this year it would be $26 billion because in
addition to the 22 percent drop in prices since 1980, 21 percent had been
added in trade with the United States, and the price drop was going to be
more than 30 percent.  It is an incredible situation that is getting worse
and worse.

We were giving them the money.  The initiative meant the possibility of our
ceasing to give them money and taking the initiative ourselves.  This is
when I started to draw up all the ideas for solutions, the essence of which
is transmit a message to the masses, to the workers, to the middle classes,
to the tax payers, even to the industrialists of the developed capitalist
countries.  In opposition to the possible argument that it would ruin the
banks, cause increased taxes, and cause bank accounts to be lost, we drew
up an idea in which military outlays were in essence sacrificed,
associating in this fashion this struggle to solve the problem of the debt
and of the economic crisis with the struggle for peace, which is perhaps
the most moving cause in the world, especially in the industrialized world.

[Unreadable text] this world, because we were dying exactly as if we were
at war, because tens of millions die every year: children, persons without
medical care, persons whose lives are shortened because of many reasons, in
numbers equivalent to all those who died in World War II, every year!
[words indistinct] The message of peace may not strike us as deeply as it
does countries that are in a different situation.  Nevertheless, I believe
we should go with those who are struggling for peace, with those who are
struggling for development.  We are seeking formulas that are not illusory,
that have an objective basis, and can be accepted.  We are struggling for
the dissemination of all those ideas and for this reason we are attending
all these meetings.  I would deserve to go to Hell -- and even the
liberation theologists who say revolutionaries are also instruments of God
would agree I should go to Hell -- if I aspired to save this system, which
bears the blame for all this.

What we have proposed is the following: Capitalism is going to die whatever
happens; it is a dying regime.  But if they tell us that the solution to
this problem of the debt, of the economic crisis, of the new international
economic order, the creation of conditions for our development, even the
possibilities of social change... [changes thought] why are there social
changes in a country like Cuba and why do things like those that happened
to Cuba happen precisely to Cuba, or to Nicaragua, everything that has
happened to Nicaragua, or to Grenada, which they invaded with a specific
pretext, and that pretext was the errors of the revolutionaries themselves.
Or they invade Santo Domingo as they have invaded many countries, to
collect a debt of blood for their social changes, because they are divided

I say that if a struggle to resolve the debt problem, the economic crisis,
a new order, and the creation of the conditions for independence [changes
construction] [Unreadable text] cause it is not now a matter of building
socialism immediately.  It is a question [Unreadable text] immediately
achieving the independence we have lost and which we have less of than we
had under the Spanish Government.  (?This would be) objective.

While we were governed through viceroys, the Yankees govern us through
their proconsuls every day all day.  They not only govern us, they
indoctrinate us every day.  They brainwash us truly with all the means of
communication as you know perfectly well.  And if this is true, we are not
talking about building socialism immediately.  We do not oppose socialism,
not at all. [laughter] But tell me whether solving all these problems while
increasing the possibilities of peace -- decreasing the danger of war by
using a part -- 30 or 40 percent -- of the trillion years that are spent on
arms to solve the debt problem, the economic crisis, and pay for the new
economic order -- the new economic order has to be translated into much
greater income from our exports -- If the price of all this is that the
life of capitalism is to be prolonged for 10 or 20 or 30 years, this is a
price we should pay gladly.

I would say that this struggle tends to preserve humanity, if we can win
out, and I believe we can.  A group of petroleum-producing countries
imposed its prices in a certain situation.  A group of coastal nations with
the aid of Third World nations imposed the 200-mile limit.  A few battles
have been won.  I believe that all the Third World countries together can
fight this battle at a decisive moment and win it.

I told myself, let's suppose that all these suppositions cannot coincide
because mankind is not wise enough, not sane enough to do what should be
done at a time like this.  The danger of war will remain and that is not
completely agreeable.  But someone proposed today that this problem be
discussed in the meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan if they are going to
talk peace, and of reducing the arms race.  This is a logical suggestion,
very logical.  I don't know whether we can convince them, but it is logical
they should discuss what is going to be done with those resources.  And
that would be the even better news for humanity, news not only of detente
and of the hope of a reduction of the arms race but also of the investment
of a considerable part of those resources in the solution of the problem of
the crisis, the debt, development, and all those things.

At heart, I am convinced that this situation is going to increase our
awareness. I speak of revolutionary explosions and not of revolutions
because I believe that subjective factors for resolution do not exist. They
are still far away. The masses themselves do not understand the phenomenon
of imperialism but I believe they will learn it with this daily lesson.
What is the debt? The masses do not yet understand it fully, which is why a
great deal of information must still be disseminated. They are nevertheless
learning rapidly.

Here we have seen Indians from the Andes who have transmitted their message
to us on the debt, and it was impressive. And if they, who have had little
chance to study, understand the problem and can explain it and transmit
their message, I believe that when this problem has reached the awareness
of the workers, the peasants, the students, the intellectuals, the middle
class, all the progressive, nationalistic, patriotic sectors of Latin
America, which are the immense majority -- because the only persons who
will not benefit are a minority -- I believe we will have taken a great
step forward in solving this problem. The subjective conditions will have
approached the objective conditions, and if it is is not resolved the way
we are suggesting, which seems to most rational to us, then there will be
no other solution than that of revolutionary explosions, with a lot more
danger of every kind. But let me say, we have no fear of revolutions, the
word revolution does not frighten us, and we accept revolution as a
possible solution. But we believe the possibility of resolving the problem
in the most rational and peaceful way should be used. And if this cannot be
achieved, then the solution will have to come. I say there is a baby
waiting to be born and it will have to be born come what may.

With or without an attending physician.  That is, the midwives aren't very
visible yet but when the time comes the baby will be born and the midwives
will show up as they always do.  The midwives of history always show up.
They do not make themselves midwives of history; history makes them

If Marti had been born in the 17th century, he would not have forged the
party of independence.  Marx and Engels and Lenin would not have been able
to write their books.  They could have written on utopia 100 years earlier
but they could not have written about scientific socialism.  If Lenin had
been born in another epoch he would not have been Lenin.  Neither would
Bolivar, so justly praised today, have been Bolivar if he had lived 100
years later or 100 years earlier.  And neither would Sucre or San Martin or
Morelo or Juarez.

He tells me he considers himself a history maker.  It is not the man who
makes history.  It is history that makes the man.  Everytime there has been
a crisis and a need during any era, leaders have emerged.

I believe this responds to many of the comrades statements that we are
mediators between the Third World countries and the socialist countries.
We have always been the lecturers.  We have always been defending all these
points of view.  I remember when 10 years ago the new peace order, the new
international economic order was discussed, the socialist countries
provided their cooperation, When the Law of the Sea was being discussed,
when though this idea was detrimental to the socialist countries, including
ourselves, we were the advocates of the Third World countries supporting
their Law of the Sea claims.  They had large fleets and this was
detrimental to them but they offered their support.  I have no doubt that
the socialist countries and all the progressive forces, including
capitalistic countries not known as colonial forces, would support the
solution to this problem.

I am sure that if we accomplish that unity, the United States will be
isolated with just a few countries.  I am convinced of that.  In the United
States itself, there are people who are thinking about the youth meeting.
I read a recently published article in the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  My
pronunciation is always very bad. [laughter] The article says we have
reason, that the formula is correct and no other formula would resolve
anything.  I was amazed.  So I am going to run the risk of being accused of
being the savior of [words indistinct] which is the last thing I ever
imagined in my life [laughter] but I hope that I would be just with
everyone [laughter].  Not just with myself but with you because with this
formula you are proposing here, it could be that you will he accused in the
future of being saviors of capitalism.  I believe that it is more likely
you will be accused of being saviors of peace, saviors of the future, the
peoples' destiny.  Thank you very much. [applause]