Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Mexico City EL SOL DE MEXICO in Spanish 20 Aug 75 pp 13-15

[Press conference with Fidel Castro and President Luis Echeverria, of
Mexico, held in Cienfuegos, 19 August 1975, during President Echeverria's
visit to Cuba]

[Text] Cienfuegos, 19 August 1975--Press conference with Prime Minister
Fidel Castro and President Luis Echeverria, during the latter's visit to
the industrial zone of Cienfuegos this morning.

Question: Commander [in Chief], what importance do you give to this visit
by President Echeverria?

Castro: It is a historic visit, an extremely pleasant visit for our people
and a great honor for Cuba, and we are happy.

Question: When are you going to go to Denmark?

Castro: Why, you have not invited me. How can I go to Denmark? Can I go to
Denmark without your permission? It is a country that has always interested
me and about which we hear a lot. I believe that it has a very highly
developed agriculture. I believe that it also has a very advanced livestock
branch. We eat butter from Denmark. We have an insatiable market for it.

Question: And when are you going to Mexico?

Castro: To Mexico, possibly next year.

Question: Have you already been invited to go there?

Castro: Yes, I have been invited. The president has extended a very kind
invitation to me.

Question: How are the talks going?

Castro: Magnificently, splendidly well.

Question: Will Cuba once more enter the Latin American family, the

Castro: We are a member of the Latin American family.

Question: Or the organizations, especially the economic defense
organizations like SELA [Latin American Economic System)? Will you come
back by way of SELA?

Castro: By the way on which we are now.

Question: Mr President of Mexico, what is your impression of this reception
in Cienfuegos?

Echeverria: First, I shall discuss the stay, which has been very impressive
for us in Cuba from the moment of our arrival. The very courteous,
brotherly, friendly, affectionate reception that you witnessed, and then we
saw Cuba's great development, the great dynamic work effort. A discipline
that comes from deep within the people for creative work that is
stimulating Cuba's agricultural, livestock and industrial development very

Question: How are the talks going, Mr President?

Echeverria: Very cordially and very interestingly and you will have news in
2 days about many constructive aspects.

Question: Mr Prime Minister, can it be said that there is now a personal
friendship between you and President Echeverria?

Castro: I believe that this friendship existed even before he came.

Question: You had seen him before?

Castro: No, I had not seen him before, but we had had various exchanges of
impressions on many topics. Many Mexican delegations have come to Cuba. He
did a series of things for our country. He made our country various kinds
of gifts; once, a library; another time, a work bus, and, after all, we
have exchanged many messages and gifts and all that, so I regarded myself
as his personal friend before his visit.

Naturally, it is riot the same thing at a distance as when one has an
opportunity to meet like this at close hand and get to know persons, as on
this visit on which it is possible to talk much and evaluate the person. It
is indeed possible to talk of a personal friendship.

Question: What results does that kind of friendship entail for the Latin
American people?

Castro: I believe that everything that tends to unite two Latin American
countries is a support for the union of the other countries in the region.
I view it as a structure that requires many foundations and a solid
friendship between Mexico and Cuba is part of the firm foundations that
have to be laid for the union of the peoples of Latin America.

Question: What does it mean for Cuba to come out of economic isolation?

Castro: Isolation still continues, because it is maintained primarily by
the United States, which has much economic power. The United States is
maintaining with all its might the economic blockade against Cuba, with the
result that economic isolation from the rest of Latin America has not
affected us so much, because we had had few economic relations with those
countries before. We have economic relations with the rest of the world.
The American blockade affects not only the economic relations between the
United States and Cuba, but also Cuba's relations with many countries,
since they own many technologies in the world and many equipment patents,
none of which we can acquire. They even interfere with international trade,
because they prohibit the importation of equipment containing Cuban nickel.
That is to say that the blockade by the United States extends practically

Less Hostility But No Detente

Question: Do you believe that the problem between the United States and
Cuba will be settled before the elections in the United States?

Castro: I really cannot answer that. We have, rather, a criterion, an
attitude of patience with regard to all this and it does not matter much to
us whether it is settled before or after. It is very difficult. I have no
data on which to make a judgment.

Question: Can there be talk now of detente?

Castro: I think that there is less hostility, rather than detente. It is
difficult, precisely, to talk about detente when the economic blockade is

Question: McGovern and emissaries have been here, have they not?

Castro: Not emissaries, strictly speaking, but rather members of the
Congress of the United States have come to me as representatives of the
United States Congress, not as representatives of the government. There
are, of course, more contacts at this time with American political leaders
than there were formerly. If you want to call that some kind of detente,
you can call it that, but really it is difficult to talk about detente as
long as so a aggressive a measure as the economic blockade against Cuba is

Question: Should a common Latin American front against imperialism be
derived from the support that you mentioned a while ago, when you were
talking about Mexican-Cuban friendship?

Castro: I believe that imperialism is what has prevented the union of the
peoples of Latin America. Union would not be formed against the United
States, but rather union would be formed for the real independence of our
peoples. The peoples' independence was taken away by the United States, no
one else.

Question: The formation of SELA also implies collaboration with countries
like Chile. How do you view that?

Castro: In that kind of organization it is difficult to exclude anyone, but
we were invited to join and we said that we would. We are not the ones who
invite, but rather the promoters and organizers. It seems to me that it is
very difficult for the organizers to exclude any country, very difficult to
exclude it, because it is somewhat like what happens in the United Nations,
where there are very dissimilar countries. The social regime must be
disregarded in these organizations that aspire to become factors of union
of the Latin American countries, because, if we analyze it well, if we
should now say that "we are going to collaborate only with socialist
countries," we would be all alone, would we not? There is no other solution
than collaboration between countries. If you say progressive countries,
there are more of them, but they still would be only part. It seems to me
that this kind of institution, having its origin in an intention to become
established with only part of Latin America, would not attain its
objective. In that kind of organization, account is taken of the nature of
the economies and of the common interest, rather than the nature of the
governments of all Latin America.

Question: Commander [in Chief], do you use the bus that the president gave
you for your work?

Castro: I have turned it over to the Ministry of Education. Do you
understand? What I do, when I receive gifts like that, I say that I shall
put it where it can be most useful, without reserving it for me to use.

I seek out the use. When I am given an electric car, I send it to the
electrical industry, because the purpose is for us to test it. I am no
specialist in the problem. I send it to our automotive industry for
testing, that is what I do. If it is a mechanical gift, a vehicle, I send
it for tests also, because we are interested in acquiring it, we are
interested in evaluating its quality.

Usually, I do not always make personal use of the things given to me, but
rather I try to seek a rational use for them. In this way, I give its real
significance to any gift that I receive.

Question: Mr Prime Minister, we are in the Lazaro Cardenas Technological
Institute. What recollection of Gen Lazaro Cardenas does your visit here
bring back to you?

Castro: Lazaro Cardenas is a symbol of the constant struggle of the Mexican
people for their freedom, for their dignity and for the recovery of their
natural resources. Lazaro Cardenas is a man not only of Mexico, but also of
Latin America. His figure has a historical value, and it will increase in
size as the years go on. Lazaro Cardenas is the great initiator of the
recovery of the natural resources of Latin America for the peoples of Latin
America, for the peoples of the Third World.

Question: Do you think that Allende was wrong?

Castro: I cannot think that Allende was wrong. Allende did what he had to
do. He forged the unity of the Chileans within the political framework in
existence in Chile. It was a constitutional framework.

The gates were open for political struggle and he struggled on that road.
He did what he could do for the revolution and then the gates closed. He
did what only men of great ability know how to do, which was to die
defending his ideas and his Constitution, to die defending his country's
Constitution, to die defending the prerogatives of the people's government,
with weapons in his hand.

He was not only a brilliant man from the intellectual point of view. He was
extraordinarily brilliant and he fought to the death. His was the first
great resistance to clash with Chilean fascism and he died in combat. In
that apparently lost battle, he was winning the battle against Chilean

Allende's death plunged the fascist Junta into discredit and brought it to
the point of isolation. That Junta was hated not only because of its crimes
and its ideas, but also because it was the murderer of an extremely honest
man, one of the purest of men, one of the men who most loved the people and
one of the most unfortunate of men who had acquired prestige not only in
Latin America, but also all over the world. He was always respected and
liked everywhere in the world.

It can be said that fascism was already condemned to failure in that
apparent defeat of Allende, that Allende won his battle by dying, first in
the field of ideology. But he gave his people a great banner, that banner
that one day will crush fascism. Thus, Allende was not wrong either about
the courses of the struggle that he chose within the circumstances in which
he carried on his revolutionary activity, or about the time for decision.

Perhaps the Junta would have liked a weak Allende, an Allende who would
give up, an Allende whom they might have put on an aircraft and sent into
exile to discredit him. But they could not do that to Allende.

It must be realized that Allende held out for 5 hours against the attacks,
the guns and the air force of fascism. Even from a military point of view,
Allende's resistance, the length of time that his resistance lasted, were
not only a human feat, but also a military feat.

Legal Framework for Socialism

Question: Do you believe that there is a path to socialism within a legal
regime established in Latin America, within the established legal

Castro: It depends on many factors. It depends on the correlation of
internal forces. That is very important. There are times when a movement
can achieve success by means of a very large parliamentary majority, under
conditions of another kind of army than the Chilean army, which is much
educated in the fascist idea, with certain Prussian embellishments in style
and form.

Allende was confronted by the fact that he had had a victory that did not
give him a majority in the Parliament, in a situation that cost him much
effort, later, to carry out his activities. He had much support.

And it also depends not only on the correlation of internal forces, but
also on the correlation of external forces. Chile is a country that is very
far from all socialist camps, isolated in South America, in a situation in
which imperialist domination is still very great. Do you understand?

There are many adverse factors in that situation, but in a changing
situation, in a situation in which a feeling for independence continues to
be created, a Latin America that gradually acquires another kind of
personality with regard to imperialism and in which the revolutionary
movement can have more support and can have more allies, there could be
circumstances in which changes will be achieved even through peaceful ways.

With this I mean that the various ways should not be decided on simply,
mechanically. It seems to me that, in each case, the course advised by the
situation must be adopted.

Question: The last time that I was here with you there were people of the
Latin American left, like Paz Estenssoro, Arevalo, Cardenas. Do you not
believe that there is a crisis of prominent leftists in the upper levels in
Latin America?

Castro: Every period has had its prominent persons and there are some very
new persons. Besides, the problem is not only one of persons, but rather
the immense idea, the problem, is one of the people also. The problem is
one of subjective factors in the masses.

Leaders are needed. They are important. But leaders do not solve the
problems. Leaders can live or they can die. They can rule or they cannot
rule. On the other hand, when ideas come into being and become incarnate in
the people, they cannot be defeated, a situation similar to today's Cuba.

At certain times, leaders had very great importance. In the present
circumstances, revolutionary ideas are the ideas of all the people, in an
already organized revolution, in an already organized people. Leaders no
longer have the role that they might have had at a certain time. The people
now have the role in their hands. The people are the guarantee of the
revolution and, therefore, when that situation is reached, the work is

The People Made the CIA Fail

Question: It has been published that the CIA tried to kill you 24 times. To
what do you attribute that failure of the CIA?

Castro: It may have been more than 24 times. There were 24 better known
cases. Well, because they underestimated the people. They underestimated
the revolution. They underestimated our Security Corps. They did not
realize that the leaders of the revolution were defended by all the people,
all the organized people, watching over the enemy, observing the enemy and
combating the enemy. It would prove easier to liquidate political leaders
without the people's support, without the support of all the people, but it
was difficult to liquidate the leaders of the revolution who had the
support of all the people.

Question: What do you expect of the First Congress of the Communist Party?

Castro: We expect many things. We expect great successful achievements, and
we are working very hard for them.

Question: What course should be followed by the people of Latin America?

Castro: I believe that the surest course for underdeveloped peoples is the
course of planned economy, elimination of luxuries and investment of all
resources in an optimum, rational manner. That is achieved basically by
means of the socialist course, because it is the only one that makes it
possible to attain in 25 or 30 years what took capitalism 100 or 150 years

When a capitalism emerges, the road is long and very hard, and our people,
the most economically, socially and technically backward people, have to
accelerate their pace, in order to get across the abyss confronting the
more advanced peoples. They cannot afford the luxury of anarchy. They
cannot leave the solution of problems to the spontaneity of the interest of
individuals. They have to work collectively, to use all human and material
means in that historic advance, and they have to do this in the most humane
manner, because the most inhumane way of all was the capitalist way, which
brought with it great depressions that brought about great suffering and
great problems of all kinds. It was an inhumane course. It takes care of
the essential problems of the others. But, in order to take care of man and
to be able to develop, resources must be used in a rational, optimum
manner. These are the problems of planned economy. That is the essence of a
socialist course. That is my deepest conviction.

Opponents of Socialism

Question: Cuba has had large groups opposed to that development. Does that
mean that there are minority, selfish groups opposed to this humane course
for achieving socialism?

Castro: At times, powerful groups are also opposed and are also helped by
prejudices, the culture that created capitalism and the habits of thinking
inculcated in the masses and even habits of consumption. The selfishness,
the very alienation that capitalism has created in the people become an
obstacle to the advance of the people, because they have not defended
themselves only with arms, they have not defended themselves only with
money, but they have also defended themselves with propaganda. They have
defended themselves with ideology. They have defended themselves with a
reactionary culture. It is not easy to overcome those obstacles.

Question: How do you view Mexico's course?

Castro: I believe that it is moving forward, that it is making progress in
the technical field, in the economic field. It is training new generations
of very competent, very efficient people. Let it suffice to point out the
fact that there are 500,000 students in Mexico's universities. That is to
say that they are training a new generation of technicians. They are making
an effort. Mexico has made use of the advantages implied by the revolution.
It is the only country in Latin America where this kind of revolution
occurred before the Cuban revolution. It broke its feudal bonds and moved
forward. It advanced on a capitalist course, but capitalist courses also
mean a move forward under specific historical conditions and they mean
progress. I do not deny that. They are also reaping the harvest of the
policy of Cardenas: nationalization of oil, establishment of Mexican
Petroleum. The new deposits are Mexican. The oil industry is Mexican. The
petrochemical industry is Mexican. These are very good things. They are
encouraging the production of the iron and steel industry. They are
stimulating the electrical industry. They are laying solid bases that can
ensure subsequent development of the economy and society of Mexico.

It is a country that needs it. It has a large population and a population
that is increasing at an amazingly fast rate. It has needs and it has to
move ahead rapidly toward development of its natural resources. It is
essentially a country with large natural resources. Mexico has that
advantage: a country with large natural resources forming a material basis
for the well-being of the Mexicans. It has resources. It has many more
resources than we have.

Question: What is your opinion of its mixed economy as a course to follow?
Do you regard its mixed economy system as valid as a course to follow?

Castro: How can I answer that? Merely that I respect the course chosen by
each country, and, as is logical, I think, and my convictions are related
to the course that we have followed, that it seems to us to be the best
course, ours, it seems to us. That is an opinion. But I respect courses
and, naturally, a mixed economy may imply progressive aspects, may contain
progressive features. Do you understand? The difference lies in the fact
that there are countries that have no mixed economy. There are countries in
which private interest dominates completely. In a country in which the
state already has considerable weight, considerable participation, there
are factors that assist progress. They are compensatory factors, in a
certain way, for the disadvantages that the capitalist course of
development has.