Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Eyes Education, Defense

FL160300 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0100 GMT 16 Jan 87

[Announcer-read report followed by video of young people assembled, young
man exchanging views with Castro]

[Text] [Announcer] Our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, first secretary of
the party's Central Committee and president of the Councils of State and
Ministers, has held a wide-ranging and fraternal meeting with delegates and
guests at the Eighth Latin American Congress of Students [CLAE]. Several
topics were discussed during the more than 3 hours of dialogue.

[Unidentified speaker] There are two things that interest me in the Cuban
process. I am a student leader. This is my first visit to Cuba. Besides, my
ideological frame of reference is not the same as the one building the
revolution here. Therefore, I am curious about some aspects which I hope to
tell you briefly. The first thing that impresses me is the exceptional
quality of the educational process at all levels and the access of all
sectors to (?free) medical care. In particular, because they are services
that in the short term do not produce income or foreign exchange for the
state that provides them.

[Castro] It is quite economical for the level it is performed at, because
you must take into account that a person here is not the same as a peso in
New York, or a dollar in New York. The dollar in New York gives you a
single bus trip. A peso in Cuba used to give you 20, although we recently
had no alternative but to increase the fare. Now it's 10 trips. [laughter]

[Speaker] I understand. Thank you...

[Castro, interrupting] That is, many times...[changes thought] what I want
to tell you is that what we do here with a peso, in New York, in the United
States, it costs 7 or 8 pesos to do. I believe that with a little money
600,000 or 700,000 children's lives, with a bit of attention to health,
with just a little of that money that is wasted on many things, that ends
up in the United States, is stolen, or is spent in luxury items -- with
that money alone, hundreds of thousands of children's lives can be saved.

Education here, too...[changes thought] well, we are critical with all
that. In regard to education, you, many of you were able to see that in the
meeting with the students. But you can see the enormous strides we have
made in health services, which in the United States...[corrects himself] in
education, which in the United States would cost 6 or 7 billion.

[Speaker] In addition, I was interested in knowing, given the geopolitical
context of Cuba, how much you spend in weapons. This as a way of

[Castro] The expense derives from all the people's efforts towards
combative readiness, from the training of hundreds of thousands of men in
the regular forces, and from the training of millions of men and women
organized and prepared to defend the country. Let us say that we have made
minor arms expenditures. We have purchased rifles. We needed so many that a
single country could not have supplied them with the speed that we needed
them. I assure you that we have created conditions that make it impossible
for imperialism to occupy the country. It could invade the country, it
could occupy our territory for a time, but it can't stay here. Because it
would have to fight millions of men and women, everyone armed. Against
millions of mines, against millions of hand grenades, against millions of
explosive devices in a war -- it's not that we are going to take Washington
in a war or that we are going to sink their battleships and carriers. We
are going to sink the United States because we will turn this into a
quagmire as big or bigger than Vietnam. They would need millions of men to
keep this country occupied. They would have hundreds of thousands of
deaths. Imperialism is not strong enough to withstand this. And it
demonstrated this in Vietnam. [applause]

[Announcer] On repeated occasions during the meeting, the delegates
expressed [Unreadable text] of the internationalist and solidarity spirit
that characterizes the Cuban people. They also said how glad they were to
have the commander in chief attending this student event. Regarding the
importance of organizations such as the continental organization of Latin
American students, Fidel stated: [video shows two men speaking, quickly cut
off] We have had difficulties with the videotape. We apologize. We hope to
move along with the commander in chief's participation in the CLAE meeting.