Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Blames U.S. for Defense Costs

FL162114 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1254 GMT 16 Jan 87

[Video speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the Eighth Latin American
Congress of Students, CLAE, in Havana's Palace of Conventions on 15 January
-- recorded]

[Text] During the more than 3 hours of dialogue, it became obvious on
several occasions that the delegates [to the Eighth Latin American Congress
of Students, CLAE] recognized the Cuban peoples' profound spirit of
internationalism and solidarity and, above all, the productiveness of the
meeting with the president of Cuba.

[Castro, shown seated at a table] Rather than giving a speech, it seems to
me that it would be better to let you speak, if you would like to ask any
questions about Cuba, its positions, whatever topics interest you.

[Student] How much does it cost or how much does the increase in the
imperialist's warlike armament policy cost the Cuban revolution to assign
large amounts of resources towards the idea of defense to be able to defeat
an imperialist aggression?

[Castro] Well, you are not the only ones who have a U.S. military base. We
also have a U.S. military base. They took a piece of land by force based on
a treaty signed at the beginning of the century. They did not even give it
an expiration date. If we have a political battle to liberate it...
[changes thought] because that will not be resolved with weapons. It would
be erroneous, completely in error. That is what the Yankees would like. It
is possible that we would have a reason to use force to liberate that
territory but we would prefer to assist in liberating other much larger
territories. And it has helped me in one way or another because the enemy
has to be presented with the battle at the proper time.

We have our political demand and we will continue with our political and
legal demands. We have all the checks they pretend... [corrects himself]
that they submit every year pretending to pay rent, which to us ultimately
is great proof that we are the proprietors because proprietors are paid
rent. They pay $2,000. What do you think of this, with this devaluated
dollar? [Castro laughs] In comparison to the beginning of the century, it
is probably worth 5 centavos. What they pay us, they pay us [repeats
himself] one-twentieth of the part... [changes thought] 5 percent of what
they (?used to pay) because we have saved all the checks.

The problem of the bases is a common problem. They have used Puerto Rico
for all this. The troops that committed the felony and crime of invading
Grenada departed from Puerto Rico. They are trying to train people there
because they like to use Latin American blood as Latin American cannon
fodder for their military adventures. It was the same in Korea and Vietnam.
They prefer to use black and Latin American citizens in their adventurous
wars and, naturally, this commits us to a great effort. They do not force
us. They have kept us under a permanent military threat in addition to the
economic blockade which costs us. We estimate that the economic blockade
has cost us billions of dollars. If we add the cost of the military
threat... [changes thought] the cost of the U.S. military threat has cost
us 20, 25, or 30 billion pesos [as heard]. That figure is not exaggerated.

How many... [changes thought] not just that, how many very brave cadres do
we employ in the defense area? How many brave revolutionaries, intelligent,
capable boys, and [Unreadable text] workers do we employ? We use an
enormous amount of human resources.

We are trying to measure here with money but you have dozens of thousands
of cadres dedicated to defense tasks who could be dedicated to education,
development, productive activities. And measuring this in money is more or
less the figure [word indistinct]. We prefer to pay the price in billions
of pesos than to pay dozens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives,
than to pay the price in blood. Among other things, if this country is not
invaded, it is because of our efforts, our capability to resist. That is
what has checked, that is what is checking [an invasion] now.

We are very far from any socialist country. If we are invaded by the United
States, we will have to defend ourselves. They have absolute air, naval,
and military superiority in this area and we will have to struggle alone
because of our geographic reality. We have never hesitated. That is one
positive aspect when one knows that his defense depends on his own effort.
A country feels very independent when it knows that it depends on itself
for defense. That has also strengthened our spirit of independence, our
confidence, and our pride, our healthy pride. We ourselves, alone, provide
the human effort. I refer to our skin, our blood. We are...[changes
thought] alone, we are able to stop the imperialists, to convert ourselves
into an unconquerable country.

I believe this also strengthens patriotic and revolutionary feelings. I
believe that revolution goes farther the more it has to make efforts to
achieve it. I would say that the development of a revolution is directly
related to the sacrifices it has to make to conduct and preserve it. This
is why that in the case of Nicaragua we have seen that this dirty war has
greatly strengthened the Nicaraguan revolution and it has given it a
dreadful strength. A great peoples' army with very good combative
capabilities and a very efficient army has resulted from that way of almost
4 or 5 years.

[Student] To conclude I would like to say that most of our views are shaped
through the information we obtain, as you said, from news agencies and
within the framework, on behalf of all the other Chilean leaders of all
ideological tendencies who have had the opportunity to visit Cuba, I thank
you because this is the only way of overcoming this information obstacle
and also for increasing the Latin American unity. Because as I said at a
CDR [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] event held this week, it
is very likely that the revolution we are going to conduct in Chile will be
different from this one but one thing is very clear, the two revolutions
will never be enemies. Thank you commander. [applause]

[Castro] That is so true. There are big differences of style and shape
between the Nicaraguan revolution and ours and we are two countries that
are very close, very fraternal. Our relations are very old. However, they
conduct their revolution their own way and we conduct ours another. I
believe each country -- it cannot be any other way -- will do it with its
own special characteristics according to the situation of the country.

[Announcer] Referring to this student movement which aims at a greater
continental unity that can hold a congress such as this one. Fidel said:

[Castro] We can say that you are privileged by having an organization of
Latin American students. You are actually very privileged. We would have
loved to have something like that. Also this Latin American student youth
has much more political maturity -- the others were not bad -- but its
political training is much better. I would say that in general they have
more anti-imperialist positions as a rule. There were many anti-imperialist
positions as a rule. There were many anti-imperialist students, those from
Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, even those of the Liberal Party I am not
referring to students of the Communist Party but those of Gaitan's Liberal
Party, the nationalists, not the Arnulfo Arias Nationalists but those
patriotic students who were very anti-Yankee because of the canal. The
students who were members of the Democratic Action Party at that time were
also anti-imperialists, very active as were, of course, Dominican students
and Puerto Rican students with their independence movement.

There is much more maturity in the Latin American students' political
thought which, in my opinion, is a result of these situations I was
explaining to the delegate from Trinidad. I believe students have a very
important role to play in this struggle to the extent they are capable of
continuing to mature, developing their ideas as you are demonstrating here.
These problems related to peace are new problems.

During my time, in 1947, the first bomb had exploded in Hiroshima...
[corrects himself] in 1948, only 3 years before. This abyss we have today
did not exist, this threat of nuclear holocaust. I listen to you with great
admiration when you discuss subjects such as peace, arms race, foreign
debt, and the combination of all these factors because you are living in an
entirely new world.