Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


PA010251 Panama City LA REPUBLICA DOMINICAL in Spanish 28 Jun 87 pp 18-a,
19-a, 8-a

[Interview with President Fidel Castro by newsman Angel Maria Luna in
Havana; no date given; broadcast by Uruguayan television Channel 10's
"Priority" program on unspecified date, and published by the Uruguayan
weekly EL POPULAR on 20 March 1987]

[Text] Luna: Home again.  As it is already known, tonight we are going to
carry on "Priority" the interview that we held with Commander Fidel Castro
in Havana.

We already held interviews with Felipe Gonzalez, Daniel Ortega, Jose
Napoleon Duarte, and Vinicio Cerezo.  For over a year, we had been trying
to get an interview with this man because we feel that over and beyond any
similar or differing views, he has a substantial influence on this
century's political events.

We must publicly thank and offer our recognition to Foreign Minister
Enrique Iglesias because we were unable to achieve our goal through him.

To interview Fidel Castro is not easy.  Not only because of his personality
but also because of the circumstances that surrounded the recording of this

In a completely unexpected way, we were told that at a certain moment,
after a reception offered to the Uruguayan political and business
delegation, we were going to get the interview.  This was going to be at a
time when we did not have the technical equipment necessary to do the job.
Therefore, we must praise the effort and intelligence of Jorge Rodriguez,
our cameraman, because without his cooperation, it would have been
impossible to conduct this interview, which had to be done at that moment
or not at all.

You will have the opportunity to be with us sharing the privilege of this
interview granted by Fidel Castro to "Priority."  Castro is the man who
monopolizes the leadership positions of his country.  He is the top figure
of the Communist Party, the Army commander in chief, and the president of
the Councils of State and Ministers in a Cuba that no one dares conceive
without his presence.  Here is the interview with Castro:

Luna: Sir, how would like me to address you?  Commander?  President?

Castro: Call me Fidel, just like everyone calls me, all right?

Luna: Perfect, Fidel.  Nowadays, almost the entire world, except for Fidel,
is talking about Gorbachev's proposal to reorganize the Soviet Union.
There seems to be a need to know how the leader of Latin American
socialism, the man who is closer to us, interprets this.  Perhaps you will
make us understand better the democracy and the pluralism mentioned by him.
Perhaps you care to explain if there is a turn, as some mention, to
capitalism, or if these are masks of international communism.  A socialist
democracy?  I imagine that...

Castro: You are giving me a difficult task: to give an opinion about
something that is just beginning and is based on very complex matters.  I
think one cannot assess something that is just being born.  I think that
some of the things Gorbachev has set out to do are truly extraordinary.  I
can say that the main point, the key point of his policy is peace.  In
other words, Gorbachev, in his condition as the leader of a great power, is
aware there is no alternative for peace.  The world is threatened by a
nuclear catastrophe.  No one can know that better than those who have
thousands of deadly weapons.  I think the leader of a superpower, if he is
as truly responsible as a leader of a great socialist power should be, must
be perfectly up to date about and aware of what nuclear weapons are and
their destructive power.  He must be perfectly aware that a nuclear war
could be, would be -- and more than would be, will be -- the end of

Luna:  Socialists and capitalists?

Castro: Yes, everybody.  I think the world needed a new approach to this
problem, and this is what Gorbachev has precisely brought about.  I think
he has put everything, Soviet prestige and his own personal prestige, into
a battle for peace.  He has done this but with new approaches and
proposals.  I truly believe his position has caused an impact on
international public opinion.  This has opened a true possibility for peace
in the world.

Luna:  Would you allow me one question?

Castro:  Yes.

Luna: You talk about new approaches However, Lenin is constantly being

Castro:  Yes...

Luna:  The return to the sources, the return to the doctrine...

Castro:  Yes...

Luna: And it just occurred to me: this is a theory, doctrines that are
chemically pure, may become distorted when they go through certain men.
For example, one thinks of the Soviet Union, and of the time of Stalin

Castro:  Yes...

Luna: The distance between the theory and the doctrine, from Lenin to
Stalin; if I understand this correctly, Gorbachev is returning to Lenin, he
is reassessing the man...

Castro: Let me tell you that doctrines exist, but at the same time, men
interpret those doctrines.  The scientific socialism began...well, Marx and
Engels drafted the theories and we can say that Lenin was a great
interpreter of those doctrines.  He developed and applied them to the
specific conditions of the old empire of the czars.  He made important
contributions, and for that reason, there was no longer talk of Marxism
after Lenin, it became Marxism-Leninism.

Other leaders interpreted these doctrines in their own way.  I think Stalin
interpreted these doctrines in his time.  Remember it was precisely Stalin
who referred to Lenin constantly, and I think that in the great theoretical
issues, he interpreted Leninism correctly.  This is very difficult topic
that cannot be discussed in a few minutes.  However, it was when these
doctrines were applied that problems cropped up and they had to be analyzed
later on.  There was the problem of a personality cult and all the
consequences.  There were certain drastic methods of the government in
regard to the country's political leadership.  However, it cannot be denied
that Stalin had great merit.  He also made big mistakes but he had great

I believe that in the future a more objective analysis will be made about
Stalin's personality and his role in the construction of socialism in the
Soviet Union.  That country was torn apart, and was in very difficult
conditions.  There is no doubt he had the great merit of having implemented
industrialization in a country that was alone, isolated, and without any

Luna:  It was a very special historic moment...

Castro: And I believe he played a very important role in that.  However,
there were negative aspects: the personality cult, the centralization of
power, and Stalin's single person government, which led to abuses of power
in that period.

All of that was reviewed and later studied by the Soviets themselves and by
the Soviet leadership, and well, there has been no Soviet leader who has
not invoked Lenin.

Luna:  Of course...

Castro: Because Lenin is a point of reference, but they find themselves in
new situations and must interpret those doctrines as the new situations
arise.  There is no doubt that Mikhail Gorbachev is inspired by Lenin's
ideals and that he interprets them and applies them to new situations in
the USSR and the world.

Luna: One must take them into account to distinguish the difference, right?

Castro:  Mmh...

Luna: The ecological [as published] and historical factor, the current
historic times...

Castro:  Yes...

Luna: The previous question I asked was in regard to the indoctrination of
man, but do not think I am trying to formulate a trick question.

Castro: I will try not to fall into any trap, okay?  I know you will not
make me fall into any trap in this or any other sense.

Luna.  To see up to what point Cuba's socialism is not turning into
Fidelism. [sentence as published] That is what one sees in people, on the
streets, in feelings, and through a very special attraction that the people
have for Fidel.

Castro: Let me tell you.  I believe I have played a role in the history of
our revolution.  I have had something to do with the events and in a
certain way I have had an influence on the events, but I do not think the
revolution has been my work.  It is a work I like very much and love very
much, and for which I have fought unceasingly since the first day, but it
is not my work.  I look upon it as the work of an entire people.  You have
mentioned the word Fidelism, but I have never heard the word Fidelism in
this country...

Luna:  No, no, no.  The word is mine.  I tried to interpret...

Castro: So you can see, I have never seen in my country's press,
television, or radio, the word Fidelism, because in my country there really
has been no personality cult and I have felt all my life a real anathema to
what one could call a personality cult.  I recall that one of the first
measures we took during the first days of the revolution was to issue a
decree prohibiting the use of names of living leaders of the revolution in
the naming of streets, or for statues and paintings.  All those things are
ridiculous.  Moreover, we even banned the use of photographs of revolution
leaders.  You are here and if you see a photograph of a leader, it is
because it was taken from a newspaper, a magazine, or a magazine cover, but
never because the government has printed photographs for the people.

That term is never used in our country and I do not believe it will be used
internationally.  I consider myself a humble revolutionary who has made a
humble contribution concerning the application of the revolutionary
doctrine to the concrete conditions of our country, which is 90 miles away
from the most powerful imperialist country in the world.  I have a humble
contribution of actions and ideas to revolutionary practice, I do not feel
that gives me the right to establish a doctrine with the name of Fidelism.
Recently a book was edited containing my thoughts, many of the things I
have said throughout the years.  I took a look at it after it had been
printed and I must confess I am satisfied with all the things I have said
throughout the years.  This is because I was able to ascertain that my
position has been consistent throughout.  I do not know if one can call
that a doctrine, I think it would be too presumptuous to call it a
doctrine.  In my opinion, it is a revolutionary thought that has remained
consistent.  I feel it has been my humble contribution to the revolutionary
movement, let us say.  On the other hand, I feel our people have achieved a
great feat, the feat of resisting successfully for almost 30 years the
siege, the hostility, and the blockage by the most powerful capitalist or
imperialist -- as you prefer -- nation on earth.  It is, of course, an
imperialist country, there is no doubt about that.  We have been doing this
now for 30 years.  What I mean is, all Latin American peoples have become a
little bit more independent as a result of our having struggled and having
faced up to the United States.  I think that as a result of our struggle,
the United States has come to accept a little bit more our Latin American
peoples, to despise them a little bit less, because it has seen how a very
small country stood up to it, was able to stand up to it and to remain
steadfast all these years, and is still doing so.  Yes, I believe it has
been a historic test.  Not mine, but a historic deed of our people that I
am sure, some day the rest of the Latin American peoples will recognize.

Luna: I want to tell you something: When we were coming over here on the
plane, your friend and our foreign minister, Comrade Enrique Iglesias,
enthusiastically defined your personality, stating: "Fidel is government
and opposition at the same time, because self-criticism is always present
in him; also, he is a man we always see speaking about Latin America and
acting on the basis of his thought.  Moreover, he is, without a doubt, one
of the few personalities of this century."  I would like to stress the
first point.  Do you feel like the government and the opposition when you
sometimes become tough with your people and your ministers and you ask them
for more effort and efficiency?

Castro: I would say I devote 90 percent of my time to emphasizing the
errors and deficiencies in things that I feel are being done badly, and I
devote, let us say, 10 percent to the positive things.  I think our
revolutionary process has many positive things and undoubtedly even
extraordinary things about which we are aware.  However, in my view, in
revolutionary practice, rather than feeling satisfied with what is being
done, rather than feeling self-satisfied, it is better to feel
dissatisfied.  It is better to emphasize the errors and the defects than
the successes and the good decisions.  All my life I have been very frank
in analyzing our problems and our actions and I have generally always been
very critical.  In recent years, I have been even more critical because I
became aware of some errors, some negative tendencies we were falling into,
and I felt I had to place much more emphasis on the criticism of the
negative aspects.  In some way, in a revolutionary process, the leaders
have to play the role of government as well as of the opposition.  After
all, what is self-criticism?  One of the essential, fundamental, and vital
principals of a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary is the idea of
self-criticism, the concept of self-criticism.  Self-criticism has to exist
in the nucleus, in the committees of the municipality, in the party, and
above all, the most important thing, in the people and before public

It is very hard to criticize oneself, and I honestly tell you I know very
few men who are capable of self-criticism.  Self-criticism demands courage;
not only self-criticism of mistakes one might have committed, but also
self-criticism of the work that the collective, the party, all the
revolutionaries are doing.  I have never had the least doubt -- and I think
it is a revolutionary virtue -- that self-criticism must be Systematically
implemented.  However, self-criticism is one of the rarest and most unusual
things you will find in men s public lives.  It is the rarest thing you
will find in politicians' lives.  Maybe it is because we consistently apply
the principle of self-criticism that some say with irony -- or with humor
rather than irony -- that we play the simultaneous role of government and
opposition.  I would like to have more comrades play the role of opposition
We constantly encourage that spirit of self-criticism.  Rather than
self-satisfaction, I think that self-criticism is what really helps a
revolutionary process advance.  Of course, Iglesias is very friendly, very
affectionate, and very generous in his comments.

Luna:  He really admires you.

Castro: We mutually admire each other.  We knew each other and were friends
for a long time, when he was a prestigious leader of an international
organization, and had not yet held a public position in his country.  He
visited our country many times, and we established a friendship.  We have
spoken many times with Iglesias right here.

I even criticized him because he had not visited us for 2 years; I told
him: Since you became foreign minister, you have not wanted to visit us.
It has been a very pleasant, very interesting, and very constructive visit.

Luna:  Fidel, shall we change the topic?

Castro: No, no.  Continue with whatever topic you want...I like to talk.

Luna: Last week, in this same program, we spoke with Guatemalan President

Castro: You did not really think we have exhausted the previous topics?  If
there is some doubt...

Luna:  No, simply...

Castro: you want to speak more about Gorbachev?  Perhaps we did not
sufficiently address all of this.  I would like to tell you I have a very
good impression of Gorbachev.  He is a very intelligent, brave, and daring
man.  He is doing extraordinary things in the USSR, especially with a very
self-critical spirit in regard to the problems that the USSR has had during
these years.  He has increased the rate of development in the USSR,
implementing scientific and technical advances.  I think his most important
role is international.  I think if there were really hope that a climate of
peace and coexistence would be achieved in the world, history would have to
honor Gorbachev for this.

He is doing very important things in the Soviet Union.  He is renewing
cadres, and promoting young people and new ideas -- political and economic
ideas.  This is a much more complex field in which it is more difficult to
express an opinion.  I think many of the things that are being done will
bring about great results because all things he is doing will have to
undergo the tests of time.  Perhaps 10O percent will not be achieved, and
perhaps he will not be successful in all things.  We are following with
much interest what Gorbachev is doing.  We really think everything that has
been done in the Soviet Union is of great importance because of the
repercussions they might have in that country -- which is a giant, a giant
of socialism -- and internationally.  However, I really think it would be a
little too premature to issue an opinion.  We will have to wait for the
development of events to analyze each and all of the things he is doing.

Luna: Undoubtedly.  I agree with your statement that we must wait; all
processes are evolutionary, aren't they?

Castro: I know him through our relations and my personal contacts with him.
He is a very intelligent, very honest, very well-intentioned, and a very
talented man.  He is demonstrating it.

Luna: There has been talk, even by TASS, about two great currents of
"conservatives and progressives."  This has evidently resulted from the
initial, outright proposal this "revolution within a revolution," as
Gorbachev's message was characterized.  However, the problem was also
brought out in it.

Castro: He did not talk about a revolution but about a restructuring.

Luna: He talked about restructuring, but the interpreters, the analysts
have said that...

Castro:  You have talked about "conservatives and progressives?"

Luna:  Yes, in a telegram that...

Castro: I thought, instead, that the words conservatives and progressives"
were Western terms [quotation mark as published].

Luna:  TASS also says so.

Castro: When analyzing China's problems, the international news agencies
talk about conservatives and progressives" in their news reports.  I do not
believe this is Soviet terminology.  In the USSR when they talk about what
some people think and some don't they say "conservatives and progressives,"
and I would say this is old terminology.  I do not know if there is [as
published], because...actually, I would feel, I would be suspicious of the
West's sympathy.  I would not feel very pleased if the West began praising
me because I think that, from the political standpoint, the imperialist,
capitalist, liberal bourgeois thinking is -- I say this frankly -- the most
negative, retrogressive, reactionary, and conservative thinking in history.
For this reason, I think we revolutionaries must not allow ourselves to be
manipulated in any way.  We cannot allow anyone to include us in any way in
the category of conservatives and progressives" from the Western
standpoint.  In my opinion, what actually determines if something sounds
progressive is capitalism's point of reference.  The more we move away from
capitalism, the more progressive and revolutionary we are.  The closer we
move to capitalism, the more conservative and reactionary we are.
Therefore, the preeminently capitalist regimes will not be so kind as to
say a revolutionary is progressive.

In any event, I am very suspicious of Western qualifiers.  I doubt that
TASS used this qualifier, but, if it did, it must have been a mistake.

Luna: Independent of the language aspect...

Castro:  Yes, yes.

Luna: may be, it is quite possible that these tendencies do exist,
even for generational reasons, and that they would be called something
different: however, there must have been people who reacted more rapidly,
more slowly, or on a different manner to the changes proposed by Gorbachev,
who said: We must go forward: we cannot fall back and have nowhere to fall
back to.

Castro:  Right.

Luna: I think that the reaction of a 20-year-old man cannot be the same as
that of a 60-year-old or a 70-year-old man.

Castro: It depends, because I am already 60, and I think that my political
views and my attitudes with regard to problems have not changed from those
I had when I was 20.  Yes, yes.  I think that I have become more
revolutionary, a more convinced revolutionary over the years.  I feel more
revolutionary at age 70 [as published] than at age 20, and more at age 60
than at age 30, and I think that I will feel unfortunate the day I wake up
and feel less revolutionary than the day before.  So, this matter of the
international news agencies...

Luna:  Would you be a revolutionary again at 30?

Castro: I would be the same as 30 years ago with the experience I have now.
I think I would do things much better.  I would do the same things as now
but with much more experience and possibly with much more efficacy.

Luna: Last Sunday we talked on this same program with President Vincicio
Cerezo in the wake of Brazil's moratorium in the payment of interest on its
foreign debt.  President Cerezo said with a faint smile: Fidel Castro says
the debt must not be paid, but he is up-to-date on his.

Castro: I do not want to say anything that would be unkind to Cerezo.  This
is the first nonsensical thing I have heard Cerezo say.  This demonstrates
that the Guatemalan president lacks information.  We were up-to-date on our
debt approximately 1 year ago because we did not have the problems other
Latin American countries had.  We have waged the problems other Latin
American countries had.  We have waged a great battle against the foreign
debt in favor of a resolution of the crisis of the foreign debt.  We have
talked not only about the foreign debt, because the foreign debt is a
consequence of the system of economic relations existing in today's world.
The foreign debt results from the unequal trade, the protectionism, the
dumping, and the unjust economic order prevailing in the world today.  It
is a consequence of underdevelopment.  We said that underdevelopment is a
consequence of colonialism.  This is our view; generally speaking, it is
quite broad and does not refer only to the foreign debt.

We have said that this debt must be written off and that we are not
debtors.  We are creditors of the developed capitalist world, which has
exploited us for centuries.  I have said that the debt is unrepayable; that
it is uncollectible; that it is unrepayable from the economic standpoint,
from the political standpoint, and from the legal standpoint.  It is
because the peoples did not contract these debts.  This responsibility is
not binding on the people.  We all know how these debts were contracted.

We know these debts cannot be justified from the political, economic,
moral, legal, not even from the mathematical point of view.  These debts
are unpayable, and I can prove this to you mathematically.  I can prove it.
We have stated the debt must be the issue [favor] to unite the Third World
countries, not only to eliminate this unjust economic order that currently
exists in the world, but also to eliminate unequal trade, dumping,
protectionism, flight of capital, currency manipulation, and all those
problems.  In 1985, and for many months, we brought up this issue.  I think
that time, and what is happening, are proving we were right.  As each day
passes, the debt grows; and as each day passes, it becomes more unpayable
and uncollectible.  I will even dare to say that the debt will not be paid.

I think that if Cerezo said that -- and I believe you since you were the
one who interviewed him -- he did not delve deeply into the problem; he did
not seriously analyze the problem.  By referring to my statements in the
manner he did, he is being shamefully superficial.  We told the world we
were not waging this battle for ourselves; we are waging the battle for the
Latin American people and for the Third World.  Our debt is not that big.
Our most important and basic economic relations are not with the West but
with the socialist countries, and we have excellent trade and economic
relations with the socialist countries.  We have excellent trade relations
with those countries.  We have achieved the new international economic
order in our relations with the socialist countries.

This debt affects us in our economic relations with the capitalist
countries, but only l2 or 10 percent of our economic relations are with the
capitalist countries.  This is a very small percentage; however, it is

There is a certain amount of technology, raw materials, and products we
cannot get from the socialist countries.  However, the crisis does not
affect us so strongly, because our economic development does not depend on
our relations with that cruel and merciless world -- the developed
capitalist world -- but with the socialist countries.

We are not waging a battle to defend our interests.  We are waging a battle
because of our principles, and we are waging a battle to defend the
interests of the Third World and the Latin American countries.  This is
what we have been saying.  We were not being suffocated by the debt.  That
was our situation until the first trimester of 1986, when, not because of
our wishes but because 40 percent of our income in convertible exchange was
affected, the price of oil dropped sharply.  At that time, we were
exporting and reexporting 3 million tons of oil.  We suffered the effects
of hurricanes, drought, a drop in the price of our export products, and the
devaluation of the dollar.  We do not have a market in the United States,
in the Western area [as published], but we trade with Japan, Spain, France,
the FRG, and Italy; and the currency of these countries went up.  We were
abruptly affected, and in a matter of weeks, our income in convertible
exchange was cut by 40 percent.  Faced with this situation, we were forced
to stop all our payments; we had not other alternative.

But if Cerezo is traveling the world and saying those things, then he does
not know what is going on.  I can forgive him because he has just assumed
power in a country where 10 or 12 men are killed each day, a country with
limited possibilities of having a real government.  The soldiers and the
death squads are the ones that make decisions.  He must not have had much
time to hear what I have said or see the truth of the Cuban problems.
Perhaps this is why he said such a foolish thing.

Luna:  Perhaps your well-known good credit rating made him...

Castro: Yes, we always have had a good credit rating.  However, our
situation was different because the revolutionary government requested the
loans on behalf of the people.  That money did not end up in Miami,
California, New York, or any other country -- which is what happened to the
hundreds upon thousands upon millions of dollars given to Latin America.
That money was invested in our country.  It was invested for the good of
the people.  Those banks granted us loans despite the pressures exerted by
the United States.  We felt we had certain commitments because our
situation was not the same.  Our loans were not granted by the
multinational banks that sought a place to invest the surplus of their
petrodollars and went to the Third World countries to invest.  Much of that
money was used to buy weapons, much of that money was taken out of the
countries, and much of that money was embezzled.  None of that happened in

Therefore, our moral commitments were not the same.  We were given the
money, but not money to send abroad, to embezzle, or waste.  We were given
money to invest in industry, and it was invested in services for our
people.  When we were waging the battle against the foreign debt, we were
not thinking of ourselves.  We were thinking of the Third World, and we
were defending a principle.  Therefore, our situation is not the same.

Nevertheless, we have been victims of the dumping by the capitalist
countries, the protectionism, the financial maneuvers, in other words, the
unequal trade.  We were also a colony and we also owe our underdevelopment
to the centuries-old colonialism and the neocolonialism imposed by the
United States.  From that standpoint, they are our creditors.  From that
viewpoint, we are in the same situation as the other Latin American and
Third World countries.  However, from the standpoint of how the resources
lent to our country have been utilized, the situation was different from
that of the great majority of the Latin American countries because the debt
was contracted in another way and one would have to ask what happened to
the money that was lent to each of the Latin American countries: more than
$150 billion left the countries because of inflation and as a result of
high U.S. interest rates.  The money ended up in Europe, Switzerland, the
United States, and other places.

Our money did not end up in any of those places.  It was invested here and
that is the reality.  That is why I can speak to you about this topic and I
think it is ridiculous a president who presumes to be informed says such
things in Uruguay.

Luna: Regarding the debt, do you think Brazil's decision responds to
principles or to purely economic reasons?

Castro: In the first place, I think it responds to purely economic reasons.
Brazil does not have an option.  Brazil had to suspend payments and it did.
It had the courage to do so.  I think Brazil's decision is a truly historic
event.  I said and I repeat that after Brazil's decision, things will be up
to the debtors.  Brazil simply decided to suspend payments.  Brazil does
not reject negotiations.  Instead, it seeks negotiations.  I have said that
whatever the result of the negotiations and whether or not this problem is
resolved through negotiations that are highly satisfactory for Brazil, from
now on the debtors will have the last word because it was not the IMF, it
was not the creditor banks, but the debtor country that courageously
decided to suspend the payments.

It is to be hoped that there will be negotiations and some solution.
However, it is also hoped Brazil will obtain important financial
concessions, otherwise, Brazil will be unable to pay the debt.  Those
concessions Brazil will obtain in negotiations -- if satsifactory
negotiations take place -- will be beneficial for all the debtor countries.

Luna:  As a precedent.

Castro: Well, that in the first place.  If no agreement is reached and if
Brazil remains firm and decides to indefinitely prolong the suspension of
payments, it will need the resolute support of all the Third World
countries, all the countries of the Group of 77, the nonaligned countries,
the Latin American countries.  It needs and deserves the support of all the
Third World countries because, to some extent, Brazil is not only defending
its cause, but the cause of all the Latin American countries and of all the
debtor countries.

For the time being, so far as Cuba, is concerned, Brazil will have our
total, complete, and unconditional support.  I really admire the decision
it has made.  It was a resolute and brave decision.  I think it is also
defending principles.  I think Brazil is defending a principle of interest
to all the Third World countries.

Brazil has said the debt cannot be paid with the people's hunger.  I think
that is a principle.  However, Brazil could say: I am not paying the debt
because I cannot pay the debt in the current conditions.  I could also say:
reduce the interest rates, give me 20, 30 or 40 years to pay, give me so
many years of grace, and then I will be in a condition to pay.  We hope
that Brazil will be successful in this battle it is waging.  It will
undoubtedly have our support.

If the industrialized capitalist countries want to use Brazil to teach a
lesson, if they want to take reprisals against Brazil, they will fail
because Brazil is a country with enormous potential resources.  If it
remains firm in the faces of any blackmail attempt by the capitalist
creditor countries, I have no doubt it can count on the support of the
Third World countries, the Nonalighed Movement, the socialist countries,
all the truly progressive forces of the world.  That is my opinion.  We are
watching events and I believe Brazil has sufficient strength to
successfully wage this battle.

Luna:  The foreign debt is not the only Latin American problem.

Castro:  I would like to address this topic a little more.

Regarding the debt I can tell you the following: It is not only Brazil.
All of the Latin American countries are experiencing a difficult situation.
Latin America's imports in 1985 were approximately $91 billion.  In 1986,
they were $78 billion.  That is $13 billion less.  In 1985, Latin America's
trade surplus was $33.5 billion.  In 1986, Latin America's trade surplus
was approximately $18.5 billion.  That is $15 billion less.  In 1986, Latin
America paid $30.1 billion in interest and profits [utilidades].  Latin
America received $8 billion from investments and other sources.  Therefore,
$22 billion was the total net transfer of capital from Latin America to the
industrialized countries.  We are seeing the absurd fact that an
underdeveloped region of the world, with great economic stagnation, whose
production per capita is less than it was in 1980 and 1979, is transferring
capital to the developed capitalist countries.  From 1982 to 1986, the net
transfer of capital from Latin America to the developed capitalist
countries amounted to $132 million [as published].  To be more exact,
$131.9 billion in 5 years.  That situation is unsustainable.  It is
explosive.  If you export less, if you increasingly have less surplus, if
you have to continue obtaining tens of billions of dollars from the blood
and sweat of the Latin American peoples to give them to the developed
capitalist countries, this points to an unsustainable situation for the
economy of the Latin American countries.

I said, and I am not repeating and reiterating it, that the foreign debt of
Latin America is unpayable and uncollectable.  Facts make evident what we
have been systematically saying.  Taking into consideration this data I
would like someone to explain how Latin America can possibly pay its
foreign debt.  Mathematics say, in an irrefutable way, it cannot be paid.

Luna: At that time, or perhaps a little later, you also said the foreign
debt is endangering the democracies of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.  At
this time, apparently, Brazil's decision has strengthened, at least, the
democratic structure, considering all the support and the agreement secured
for the decision.

Castro: I said that for a very simple reason: In order to pay the foreign
debt in the conditions that the capitalist creditor countries were
demanding, the countries had to take measures so drastic that any
government trying to impose them would be finished politically.  This is
why the governments of Brazil, Argentina and Peru stated they were not
prepared to accept the conditions.  Governments that were the result of a
democratic opening were asked to imposed restrictions and sacrifices on
their people that would have pushed the democratic processes in those
countries into a crisis.  I said that and I maintain it.

Undoubtedly, the debt is no longer being paid under those conditions.  We
can say, in the first place, that the debt has not been paid at all for
some time.  What is being paid, or what the countries are trying to pay,
is, exclusively, the interest on the debt.  The $31.1 billion [figure as
published] I mentioned represents debt interest and profits.  Remember
there are the interests, the profits, and also that much money leaves Latin
America through capital flight.  Do not forget that.  This is not being
considered.  Much money also leaves Latin America because of unequal trade
practices.  This is not being considered either.  I am speaking of $31.1
billion paid in the form of interest and profits made by foreign
enterprises in Latin America.  What we are discussing is whether or not
interests are being paid.  What the creditor countries have done is to lend
money so they receive interest.  Meanwhile the debt keeps growing and is
not paid.  This is cancer.  It does not have a logical solution.  The
discussion now is whether or not the interest is being paid.  At the end, I
have said this and now I will repeat it and reiterate it, at the end
neither the debt nor the interest will be paid.

Luna: For that to happen there would have to be some changes, Latin America
would have to be more united.

Castro:  Of course, of course.  But the debt is only part of the problem.

If the debt were to be erased tomorrow and the conditions of unequal trade
that exist today, the policies of dumping and protectionism, the
manipulation of the world finance practices that exist today, all those
things that the Yankees and the big and developed capitalist countries do,
were to continue, in a matter of 10 or 20 years we would be back in a
similar situation.  My position is that the problems of underdevelopment
demand not only that the debt be erased, but also that unequal trade,
dumping, and protectionism end.  It demands the application of a new
international economic order approved by the United Nations, and even then
many countries would need much international cooperation to achieve

The Latin American countries need not only the elimination of the debt and
the implementation of a new international economic order, but also economic
integration.  Without economic integration, the Latin American countries
have no future.  Even countries like Brazil, with great economic potential,
need integration as an indispensable condition for their development and a
dignified place in tomorrow's world.  Isolated, dispersed, and economically
weak countries will have no place in the era of computers, electronics,
biotechnology, and robots.

Much has been said about integration and everybody has talked about
integration but integration has never been so necessary and urgent as it is
now.  That is, we should not just talk about this debt I already consider
unpayable.  Now it is more important to struggle to put an end to the
abusive policies being implemented against the Third World countries.  Now
it is important to struggle for the new international economic order and
for integration because they are the sine qua non for development and for
survival as independent nations in Latin America.

Luna: Could that integration among countries with various political regimes
be possible?

Castro: There is no choice.  We cannot wait for a revolution to take place
in all the countries to have integration.  We, as a socialist country --
practically the only one in Latin America -- are prepared to participate,
to join.  I believe this integration is perfectly possible.  We have spoken
with many industrialists here.  You have witnesses the honesty with which I
spoke to them and told them how integration is possible in tomorrow's
peaceful world because if there is no peace then we will not be able to
talk about anything, be it the debt, or integration, or the new
international economic order, because there will be no one on this planet
to care about such matters.  The premise for everything I am talking about
is peace, the avoidance of a nuclear war that would exterminate mankind.
Supposing we have a world at peace, we have no other alternative but
integration.  In that peaceful world there will be socialist and capitalist
countries.  We, a socialist country, see no obstacle to economically
integrating Latin America.  There is the case of Europe.  The European
countries spent centuries waging war on each other, wars that lasted 10,
30, and 100 years; today, however, all the European countries -- having
different governments and languages -- compose the EEC.  None of those
countries would believe now that they could possibly survive without the
EEC, and those are very industrialized countries much more than those of
Latin America.  Great Britain and the FRG, the cradles of industrial
development, now cannot imagine their existence without economic

How can small countries, like the Central American countries or many small
African countries, plan their economic and political future without
integration?  It is not necessary that the countries turn to socialism; all
they need is a degree of political development and responsibility on the
part of their political leaders to struggle for integration.  It has been
proven that economic integration is possible even within the capitalist
system.  If Europe has it, why can't Latin America?  We, who are a rare
species in Latin America because we are a socialist state, could say it is
impossible.  I say there' is nothing that is impossible, and integration in
Latin America will not only get our support but also our cooperation and

Luna: Yesterday at the Biotechnical Institute I heard one of the directors
quote you.  He said: "If we do not board the car of science and technology
now, we will never board it."  I think that for integration, the
incorporation of science and technology becomes a matter of concern for all
social economists.  Am I correct?

Castro: I have always said, and you read the quote, that the future is a
future for men of science.  Since the beginning of the revolution I have
been aware of the importance of science and technology for the development
and advancement of countries.  I saw that one of the instruments used to
dominate our countries was the monopoly of science and technology that the
developed capitalist countries had.  From the very beginning we put forth
every effort to develop in the field of science.  We had no research
centers.  We created the Academy of Science and we have more than 100
research centers.  The most recent center is the Genetic Engineering and
Biotechnology Center.  This places us among the 10 most advanced countries
in this field.  Biotechnology, like robotics, computer science, and
electronics, are vanguard technologies.  We are trying to advance in the
fields of biotechnology and computer science.  We are trying to expand our
knowledge in the field of computer science.  This is being taught in all
the universities, in all the technical science schools of the universities.
We are also teaching computer science in our middle level schools and in
the next 2 years, we will be teaching this subject in all our secondary
schools, all our university schools, technological schools, and all the
technical science schools at the universities.

We have also created something which is very interesting and which you have
probably not yet heard of.  We have created exact science schools.
Remember that when the Cuban team visited Uruguay recently, they placed
first in the Latin American competition.  I think we have advanced quite
rapidly and will soon be among the first in the fields of computer science,
mathematics, and all the exact sciences.  This is an essential requirement
for development and it is also an essential requirement for the
independence of our countries.  Today's science and technology in the Third
World is provided by the developed capitalist countries.  Not only do they
have a science and technology monopoly but they also steal the best minds
of the Third World.  I have heard very intelligent Latin American men
speak, but these men do not work in their countries; they work in the
United States, in the UK, and in Europe, because they were not able to
carry out their research work in their own countries.  We are giving this
much emphasis just as we have given much emphasis to the development of
medical research, a field in which we occupy an outstanding place.  I can
assure you we are doing truly revolutionary things in medicine and, without
any doubts, in a few years we will be number one in the world.  Today we
are number one in the Third World in public health.  I feel that in 10 more
years we will be number one in the world.

Luna: Do you think that only a communist regime can be number one in the
fields of health and education?

Castro: I think that if you just leave these things to spontaneity, you
will achieve nothing.  The problem that the capitalist countries have is
that they leave this to spontaneity.  There is not enough medical
attention, not enough attention is given to the problem of health, not
enough attention is given to research science.  Private medicine will
never give you the same results we have achieved with our medical system.
I would have to say that in health, education, and other fields, these
results can only be achieved in a socialist regime.  I honestly say this.
This does not mean a capitalist country cannot have its health and
education programs.  There are some capitalist countries that have
important health and education programs.  But a Third World country, a
capitalist country that falls under the category of underdeveloped, can
only have these programs if there is a dynamic and active participation by
the state.  Only in this manner will the country advance in these fields.
That is our situation.

There are countries with a pretty good health system.  Argentina has a
pretty good health system.  I think Uruguay and Costa Rica have a pretty
good health system.  They were way ahead of us and I can honestly say that
today we are way ahead of them in every aspect of health.  But it is not
what we have achieved but the goals we have set for the next 10 and 20
years.  Our advancements now place us in first place, but the goals we have
set ourselves will place us in the first place among all the countries,
socialist and capitalist.

For example, the infantÝmortality rate in Cuba is 13.6 percent.  It is
approximately 11 percent in the United States and there are regions there
where it is much higher than ours.  It is higher among Hispanics and
blacks.  Consequently, we are only 2 percent different than the U.S.
infant mortality rate.  I think that ours will drop to 10 percent in 5 more
years.  I do not want to expand too much on this.  However, I could tell
you the reason why we are certain it will drop to 10 percent, despite our
climate, which is less healthy than a mild climate.  There are more insects
in the tropical climate.  There are conditions that are more ideal for
viruses, bacterias, and so forth.  Genetic factors can also have an
influence in the tropical climate.  But I am sure we are going to drop to
10 percent because we already have mountain and rural areas where the rate
is less than 10 percent now.  This is a result of the family doctor, a
practice that we are spreading throughout the country.  We are also
beginning to apply prenatal genetics.  We have a program of intensive
prenatal care for the mothers.  We have created very modern cardiovascular
surgery centers for children.  All these factors must reduce the infant
mortality rate to less than 10 percent.

Life-expectancy is 75 years.  I am sure that in 10 more years we will raise
this to over 80 years.  I am completely sure about that.  We are not
comparing ourselves with the Third World countries.  We are not comparing
ourselves with any country of Latin America, Africa, or Asia.  We are
comparing ourselves with the United States, the richest capitalist country
and have no doubt that we will leave it behind.  I have no doubt.  I am
sure about that.

Luna:  It is good to have it as a parameter, no?

Castro:  Well, it is that we have to compare ourselves with it.

Luna: You said all this is possible if peace continues.  A few days ago
international dispatches reported there was a concern that was made public
in Venezuela: The building of the thermonuclear plant in Cienfuegos.  I
think this was brought up by the president of a Venzuelan nuclear power

Castro:  Those are Yankee maneuvers, ridiculous Yankee maneuvers.

Luna:  Not another Chernobyl.

Castro: Those are tricks by the United States, which moves its pawns to
challenge the establishment of our nuclear plant.  It just so happens that
the United States has nuclear plants in Florida and everywhere and none of
these fools are saying anything about it.  The U.S. nuclear plants are less
safe than ours.  Much less.  It is very difficult for a nuclear plant to be
built with the requirements with which we are building ours and with a
technology that is not that of Chernobyl.  It is a technology that is
similar to that of the United States but with safety measures the United
States does not use when it builds its plants.  The personnel are so highly
qualified that no U.S. plant has personnel that are that highly qualified.
Many highly qualified engineers and experts will work there.

And the fools keep annoying others with that.  We do not have hydraulic
energy.  We do not have coal.  We do not have easy energy sources.  We have
limited petroleum production.  The country is developing.  All the energy
sources.  We have limited petroleum production.  The country is developing.
All the energy it produces is based on petroleum.  How can one question
Cuba's right to build an electronuclear plant?  We are building one of the
safest electronuclear plants in the world.  We are going to train
physicists and high level scientific personnel to run the plant.  But then,
these fools, the pawns of the United States, come up with meetings in
Puerto Rico -- a brother country but, unfortunately, merely a colony of the
United States -- to discuss the Cuban nuclear plant.  Therefore, it is
ridiculous and worthless to pay attention to that.  A U.S. legislator wrote
me a letter.  I wrote and explained to him we are willing to give them all
kinds of information but at the same time, they have to give us all the
information about the plants they have in Florida and in the rest of the
United States, as our neighbors.  Then, based on reciprocity, we are
willing to offer all the information about our nuclear plant and what he
wanted to know.  But only based on reciprocity.  Or is it that they think
we are not capable of running an electronuclear plant?  In contrast, the
Yankees in Florida can build 40 of them and no one can say anything.  We do
not accept such inequality.  So what I can tell you is that we have the
most profound contempt for those individuals who said foolish things about
the construction of our electronuclear plant.

Luna:  They mentioned the Tlaltelolco treaty...

Castro: Yes, and we didn't participate in the treaty because we didn't want
to and we still don't want to.  When the United States disarms itself then
we will sign all the treaties.  However, having a Yankee base there [not
further identified] where they can place a nuclear weapon if they want, why
should we be docile and make commitments of that sort?  We are not planning
to build nuclear weapons but no country should have rights over another as
a matter of principle.  Not signing those treaties is a Cuban moral
statement.  The United States can have millions of nuclear weapons, it can
threaten our country and it can forcibly have a base in our territory, and
on top of this they want us to be like sheep and sign all the existing
treaties and commitments that we will not build nuclear weapons.  We are
not thinking of building nuclear weapons, because it makes no sense to do
so and also because we could not build them.  It could be absurd to attempt
to make nuclear weapons and this is not our purpose.  But we just don't
want to sign unilateral commitments.  We are willing to sign a commitment
that has been signed by the United States; the rest is hogwash.

Clarification made by the journalist to the television audience: Fidel
Castro told us he thought this interview would be much shorter.  All the
guests at the reception we mentioned previously are waiting for him and he
also wanted to visit Gabriel Garcia Marquez at this early hour because it
was his 59th birthday -- and he did so at a later hour.  Very kindly he
suggested we should end the interview because he was really tired.  The
following are the last subjects we discussed during this interview that we
are giving you today on the "Priority" program.

Luna: Fidel, how would you sum up these almost 30 years of revolution,
since that distant literacy campaign, up to the present with those
billboards that can be seen in the streets of Cuba that read: With Fidel,
Toward the Year 2000?  What is the present state of Cuban society?  What
role does the family have within the country's social structure?  How has
it developed?

Castro: The family plays a decisive role and this contradicts statements
made by socialism's detractors that socialism is against the family.
Within socialism strive for the development of family institutions as we
demand a great deal from the family unit.  Children's education is not only
the responsibility of the state, or the schools, or mid-level education
centers; the family has a great responsibility in this task.  We have
increasingly developed our educational institutions but have always started
from the concept that parents play a fundamental role in their children's
education and that education must develop in a close-knit cooperation
between family and state education institutions.  The same applies to
health programs: the family plays a predominant role.

Of course, the concept of family is different from that before the
revolution.  Before the revolution the family was very dependent on women,
women were not educated to develop their intellectual and professional
capabilities but were educated for marriage.  Marriage was a failure and it
was a disaster for women because we lived in an unequal society.  Today
women have equal status.  More than 55 percent of the country's technical
force is made up of women.  There is liberty.  There are also more divorces
and this is due to the equality.  But we do not like this; we would rather
have a stable family as it benefits the children's education.  The existing
society has worked hard to achieve women's equality and it has paid off.

I can tell you we are very satisfied with our society's evolution.  Of
course, I cannot deny we have problems but these can be overcome.  There
have been difficult times, but today in our society, the leaders of the
revolution have a great deal of experience.  We are always acquiring
experience: individual experience and collective experience.  We are
fighting against errors, against negative trends.  We are living in an
exciting time of great advances, in spite of our economic difficulties that
are the same as those of the rest of the Latin American countries.  We are
carrying out far-reaching economic and social development plans.  I can
tell you that after almost 30 years of the revolution's triumph, I have
never felt as `optimistic as I and all the Cubans presently feel.  If you
would have had the opportunity to tour the country and talk to the people,
you would have confirmed what I am saying with you own observations.
Somebody spoke to me about a billboard somewhere that states: Now we are
really going to build socialism.  At a recent meeting with the unions to
commemorate a historic date, I explained to them what I wanted to say with
this statement.  Almost 30 years ago when we met with Raul and other
companions in a place in the Sierra Maestra -- we were seven men with seven
rifles -- I affirmed with great confidence about the immediate future: "Now
we are really going to win the war."  Recalling that time and taking into
account the measures that are presently being taken, we can visualize the
wisdom we have accumulated in all these years.

I used the statement: "Now we are really going to build socialism."  I
explained to the workers that this does not mean we had not been doing that
during all these years, but rather that we have worked much and we have
advanced much.  What I did was to compare what we were doing at the time
with what we are doing now.  I reaffirmed my beliefs and I literally
repeated that statement.  That is why I said: "Now we are really going to
build socialism."

Luna: You have to admit it is not only personal or professional pride, but
because the people of Uruguay are very anxious to hear you...

Castro:  It could be because of the time we have not been in contact.

Luna: Of course, but I wanted to ask what you know about today's Uruguay.

Castro: I have always had a special liking for the people of Uruguay,
because when our revolution was going through its most difficult times --
at the time of the blockade imposed by the United States in an attempt to
isolate us, at the time of the direct aggressions by the United States, at
the time of the attack on Playa Giron -- the workers, students, and the
people in general were very much in solidarity with Cuba.  From that time
on, we have always, always had a feeling of gratitude for Uruguay.  That is
why we have always been closely following its political difficulties.  We
are very happy over this democratic opening, over its current process, and
we are closely following the evolution of events of our southern brother,
this small southern country.  In the same manner in which we -- here in the
Caribbean -- are making an effort and are struggling to overcome
difficulties, we see that you are also struggling to advance and overcome
difficulties.  Now is the time that we see there is a very great spiritual
rapprochement between Cuba and Uruguay.  Perhaps we do not know very much
-- and we would like to know much more -- but we are closely following all
Uruguayan events.  We have sincere and strong feelings of friendship and
love for Uruguay.

Luna: You were telling the industrialists and businessmen who recently met
that even under economic conditions that were not as favorable, there would
be a favorable feeling for trade with Uruguay.

Castro: What I was saying was that we should not be thinking about 1985,
86, but in 87, 88, 89, 90, and in the future [sentence as published].  I
feel possibilities are opening up for development and exchange, as well as
possibilities for relations between the two countries, because both
countries are small.  Cuba cannot be as important for Uruguay as Brazil, or
even Argentina.  Those countries have a higher population with greater
possibilities.  However, what I did say was that between the two of us, we
were defending principles: The principle of exchange, of trade among the
countries in our area, and the principles of integration of the Latin
American countries.  The volume of principles we are defending is much more
important than the volume of our business.

Luna: You have given us a lot of your time.  You may rest assured that
everyone is going to feel is was very little time.

Castro: I think everyone is going to feel it was a lot of time, at least
that I have talked a lot.  However, I want you to advise your people of the
hour of this interview...(He looks at his watch) It is 0200, and it has
been a long work day in which we have already used up a great deal of our

Luna: That is correct.  However, this conversation is proof of the love and
affection you have given to this interview, something for which I wish to
express my gratitude once again.  I do wish to tell you now that perhaps in
a while we will again visit you.

Castro:  Fine, come back again.

Luna:  Thank you very much.

Castro:  I wish you much success.

Luna:  Thank you, thank you very much, you are very kind.