Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Havana International Service in Spanish 0300 GMT 22 Aug 75 PA

[Joint press conference given by Mexican President Luis Echeverria Alvarez
and Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro Ruz on 21 August in Havana--recorded]

[Text] [Julio Pomar, Mexico City EL DIA] Gen Fidel Castro Ruz, there is
historical evidence that Mexico and Cuba have been the two Latin American
countries hardest struck by imperialism...

[Castro]  They have been the most...excuse me.

[Pomar] ...the two countries hardest struck by imperialism in the course of
their history, but still have been the only two Latin American countries
have have conducted deep social revolutions.  At the same time, however,
each has been different.  The question is: Do you think that Mexico and
Cuba would be disposed and ready to engage in a historic alliance...

[Castro] To confront a...

[Pomar] ...a historic alliance to say that they can each struggle more
effectively for independence in all areas?

[Castro] I think so.  In fact, all the steps we have taken bring us closer
to this possibility.  I agree with you that our two countries have been the
ones which have been hit hardest.  Which of the two has been hit the
hardest?  Perhaps Mexico because it has a longer history of national and
independent life, and because it lost more than half of its territory.  We
have had fewer years but have also been struck harshly.  When the war of
independence was virtually over and Spain was exhausted, U.S. intervention
began.  We were born to republican life with the Platt Amendment, which
left constitutional rights in Cuba intervened and a naval base which still
exists.  But if Mexico lost 55 percent of its territory, we are occupied by
this naval base in [word indistinct] of national territory.  The United
States occupies 10,000 hectares of Cuban territory.  Yes, although all our
countries have been hit hard, I agree that Mexico and Cuba have been the
ones hit hardest.  But we are not thinking only of a union of all Latin
American countries.  We should mention, because of the prerogative of their
[the Latin American countries] rights, for the defense of their
independence, for their survival and their future, and for the possibility
of their playing a role with all the other countries of the world.  Only
united can be defend ourselves against powerful enemies and only united can
be play a role in the world of the future.

[Orlando Castellanos, Radio Havana] President Echeverria, you are ending a
tour of 15 countries of Asia, Africa, the Mideast and the Caribbean.  We
would like you to summarize your impressions of your trip and its cultural,
economic and political significance for Mexico and for the countries you

[Echeverria] It really has been an interesting trip made during moments
which were critical for many of the countries which we visited.  We wanted
to get a closer look at what we know only from a distance, to see what some
oil-exporting countries which have large financial; resources are doing.
Let me say this, and I will alter the order of the 14 countries which with,
Cuba, we have visited: Algeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and a non-Arab Moslem
country, Iran.  Mexico, which has been separated from Black Africa, also
wished to visit two countries there.  We visited Senegal and Tanzania.  But
this Mideast conflict--very complicated.  If only for the purpose of
getting to know it better, we visited the battlefields.  The Arab-Israeli
conflict also caused us to go to Egypt, Jordan and Israel.  We had wanted
to come to Cuba for a long time.

These good relations, which are bearing fruit now in a tangible and
relevant manner, have exited for many years.  Certainly, Mexico never broke
relations with Cuba.  But, in the 4 1/2 years of my administration these
ties have been intensified and now Cuban-Mexican relations are very
cordial.  We are intensively engaged in increasing ties with the Caribbean.
Mexico has not been known as a Caribbean country but we have approximately
20 kilometers along the Quintana Roo coast in the Yucatan Peninsula with
islands as beautiful as this one: Cozumel and Mujeres islands.  And in this
task of strengthening our relations with the Caribbean, we wanted to do
more than just culminate our tour in Cuba.  Before leaving for the old
world, we visited Guyana and shortly before arriving in Cuba we visited

It was [words indistinct] of those which already exist and we made this
visit to 14 countries without any problems anywhere, with a clear mind,
observing everything.  We had read a lot about the countries we visited.
We knew the biographies of their leading personalities, their production,
their history, their aspirations.  But when we had the opportunity to get
close to their major actors we obtain the real truth about these countries
and many things which we know have been confirmed, and misconceptions about
the political leaders and inspirers have been rectified.  This has been a
unique experience.

We said we are the disunited fathers of the south.  Historically, this has
[words indistinct] the United States of America--the United States of North
America, I mean--since it achieved its independence and proclaimed itself
the father of independence, of manifest destiny.  What was manifest
destiny?  It was to continue a sort of gravitating toward the south and
toward the west, and this brought about the grave problems which have been
repeated in the new world, which for many centuries were the result of a
number of errors in the old world.

We are facing a world crisis, the crisis which represents the coexistence
of capitalism and socialism.  The crisis which represents the struggle of
Israel against the Arabs.  The crisis which represents the determination of
our peoples to achieve liberation and respect for their sovereignty, and
all of their attempts--so just, so respectable- for autonomous development.
And, a world view is important.  To the extent that we are all small and
weak countries, we will to the same degree be exposed to unjustified

What can i say about this adventurous, pleasant trip which ends in Cuba?
That we have confirmed our views and seen the Mideast problems closer; that
we have seen what the oil-producing countries which export a lot of oil and
have enormous resources are doing?  We already knew that they were doing,
we have taken a closer look at what they are doing.  We have made many
friends.  We can discuss problems in a civilized manner.

Mexico has been able to go from one Arab country to Israel and in 1 hour's
difference talk with the Egyptian president and with the Israeli leaders
and 4 days later, after we spoke with the Israeli leaders, we spoke with
the king of an Arab country.  We have flown over the battlefields and
listened to explanations from both sides.  We have made friends because we
are at the same distance from the powers, because we have an attitude which
permits us--although this could (?create) some problems the resolution of
which is an essential problem of our history--to go to one side or the
other.  We have met with the leadership of the socialist world in two
countries as important as the USSR and China.  We have gone to the Mideast.
We have visited, for example, Venezuela and two countries with which it has
conflicts, such as Guyana and Trinidad-Tobago, and this permits us to
understand better, to have more solidarity with our friends, to search from
better bases for our rights.  The path is still long before we reach the
solutions we want.  Therefore, we must awaken, unite with the whole world
and--as Marti wanted--look at the insides of many monsters in order to get
to know them.  We must strengthen our interests, our culture, our
independence.  This, in summary, is a little of what I could tell you about
this trip which has culminated marvelously in Cuba thinks to the kindness
of the Cubans.

[Luis (Cantonese), affiliation not known] Mr. Prime Minister, to what
extent has Cuba ceased to export its revolution to the countries of Latin
America and Africa?

[Castro] I can ask you another question: To what extent have we exported
revolution?  Because to cease exporting one has to have been exporting.
[applause] We have deep convictions.  The revolution cannot be exported.
Who would have been able to import a revolution into Cuba or to export a
revolution to Cuba?  Who, if not ourselves, would have been able to make
this revolution?  Who would have been capable of exporting a revolution to
Mexico?  Who, if not the Mexicans themselves and the objective conditions
would have been capable of waging the Mexican revolution?  Who would have
been capable of exporting to the old Russian empire the Bolshevik
revolution?  Who would have been capable of exporting the French
revolution?  I do not know of any case of revolution being exported.  Here
there is a tie between the principles of solidarity and the question of
exporting of revolution.

We live in a world which cannot survive in any manner other than adhering
to international norms.  We have always been disposed to respecting these
norms.  Those who will never have the right to demand respect of these
rules are the ones who attempt to export revolutions.  And if a revolution
occurred in Cuba which was not exported by anybody, the United States made
innumerable attempts to export counterrevolution to Cuba.  They failed in
Escambray, in Giron, with their economic blockade and with all their
hostile measures [words indistinct].  It attempted to export
counterrevolution to Cuba in shameful collusion with all Latin American
states with the honorable exception of Mexico.  What "right" guided those
countries who joined the economic blockade against Cuba--the isolation of
Cuba, the attempt to smash the Cuban revolution so that we would not
adhered to any set of norms?  And, of course, we considered that we had the
right to practice our solidarity with the revolutionary movements of other
countries.  We were not subject to any norm.  Those who wanted to export
counterrevolution to Cuba did not have any right to protect against our
solidarity toward the revolutionary movement of those countries.  But there
is a history which speaks for itself.  It is the history of the relations
between Mexico and Cuba.

We have adhered strictly to the norms of international coexistence.  There
was never one instance in which it can be said that there was a Cuban
activity related to Mexico's domestic policy.  But those who sought to
intervene in Cuba's domestic policy had no right to protest--not against
our interventions in their countries, bFt against our solidarity with those

In the name of the Cuban revolution I can say here that we have abided by
international regulations and are willing to continue doing so.  Those who
respect those regulations will see how we in turn respect them too.  I do
not think we should talk about exporting revolutions because they cannot be
exported.  What we should talk about is the attempt by the United States to
export counterrevolution. it is a well-known historic fact that,
unfortunately, the United States was successful in exporting
counterrevolution and fascism to Chile and this is what we should talk

The United States unscrupulously intervened with 40,000 marines in the
Dominican Republic to prevent the revolution's victory in Santo Domingo.
This is what we have to talk about, rather than the Cuban revolution's
alleged and hypothetical interventions. [applause]

[Unidentified newsman] Commander, the State Department has just announced
its partial lifting of the economic blockade against Cuba.  The State
Department also announced a number of decisions regarding the lifting of
the blockade. [?A good official trick].  I would like to know your opinion
about this.  What is Cuba's present situation in this matter and what is
the future of relations between Cuba and the United States?

[Castro] True, today we received several cables reporting that the United
States has partially lifted the economic blockade against Cuba.  This
blockade has lasted approximately 15 years.  Before the OAS heyday, the
implementation of the blockade was a unilateral act on the part of the
United States.  Later, as was usual, the OAS sanctified the measures
adopted by the United States. [Words indistinct] in Santo Domingo, it would
have been possible to expect the OAS to convene to condemn U.S.
intervention in Santo Domingo.  But the OAS met, sanctified the
intervention and several countries even sent troops to Santo Domingo.  This
was typical OAS behavior.  The United States unilaterally imposed the
blockage, it was backed by the OAS and we were deprived of the right to
belong to the OAS because our social regime was not compatible with OAS
principles.  But one of the first principles established in the Charter of
Economic Rights and Duties of States, so brilliantly promoted by President
Echeverria, is each country's right to implement the social regime it
considers adequate.  But that was why we were expelled from the OAS.

There have been some changes lately because Cuba's situation was
unsustainable in real life.  It had no political or moral basis.  The Latin
American countries even [words indistinct] disobeying these OAS agreements.
As a result of this, it was recently agreed in Costa Rica that the
sanctions would be retained--we are still being sanctioned.  One would have
to ask why are are being sanctioned.  It was agreed that each country was
free to establish economic or diplomatic relations with Cuba.  The right of
any of the Latin American countries to establish diplomatic or economic
relations with Cuba was acknowledged.  Many of these countries had not
needed this permission and Mexico was the first one among them for it never
heeded these dictates.  Therefore, it did not need any permission because
it had never surrendered its sovereign right to maintain relations with
Cuba. [applause]

Now the United States is taking a few more steps.  We had already taken
important ones.  For instance, we made possible an agreement between the
United States and Cuba to solve the problem of hijackings.  I do not know
whether you know or recall that hijackings were an evil invention of the
CIA against the Cuban revolution.  In the early stages of the revolution
they used to steal our planes and helicopters.  They sued to offer $100,000
to every air force pilot who left Cuba with a plane.  But like a boomerang,
all these things turned against the United States itself.  At one point all
these illegalities and violations of international law turned against the
United States because no other country has as many delinquents, as much
social chaos and as many unbalance people as the United States.  For a
number of reasons--in some cases political, in others, for reasons which
constitute common crime and in still others, because of mental
unbalance--their planes were hijacked and brought to Cuba.  This was not a
problem for Cuba but for the United States since we do not have thousands
of planes or powerful air monopolies.  Still, we unconditionally agreed to
sign that agreement to solve precisely a problem affecting not only the
United States but the whole world.  Despite the fact that there were no
relations between the United States and Cuba, we signed the agreement out
of consideration for the American people and international opinion.
Without imposing any conditions we helped solve an important American
problem.  Until now there had been no reciprocity on the part of the United

I must say that at the TIAR [Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal
Assistance] meeting they behaved realistically and voted with most of the
Latin American countries.  In Quito they abstained and with them their most
unconditional friends.  In Costa Rica they voted in favor of the proposal
which acknowledged each country's right to establish economic and
diplomatic relations with Cuba.  Now they have taken another step.  This
step consists of the elimination of various aspects of the economic
blockade.  As I recently told newsmen, until now the American blockade was
being fully enforced.  Now, basically, they have adopted three measures.

One if freeing the multinational companies, or whatever their name is--I
think they are called U.S.-company subsidiaries--operating abroad from
restrictions on their exports to Cuba.

The second measure refers to the elimination of the economic sanctions that
used to be applied to other countries which traded with Cuba.  That is,
they had stopped all economic aid to any country negotiating with Cuba.  I
remember for instance the case of Bangladesh.  Bangladesh used to sell us
jute sacks for packing our sugar and it was going through a very difficult
situation.  They [the United States] offered them...  I do not know whether
it was 100,000 or 200,000 tons of cereal.  I do not think [words
indistinct] in this country of 70 million people but their condition was
such that Bangladesh could no longer export jute sacks to Cuba and it was
forced to stop its jute sack exports to Cuba This measure has now been

Still another restriction has been eliminated: They used to forbid ships or
planes enroute to Cuba from docking or landing in U.S. ports or airports.
This restriction has been eliminated now [word indistinct].  I sincerely
regard these steps as positive.  We learned of these measures with great
satisfaction, nevertheless, in its essence, the economic blockade persists
because the prohibition on all trade between Cuba and the United States

This punitive measure is also forbidden in the Charter of States' Economic
Rights and Duties approved by a large majority of UN members.  Let us say
the blockade has been partially suspended and that we salute this gesture
on the part of the U.S.  Government.  But in essence, the blockade is being
maintained in the manner which most affects Cuba.  In all sincerity we
would like the blockade to be lifted in its essential aspects.  We are not
asking the United States to give us a [word indistinct] but to maintain
with us the type of relations it maintains with other countries, because
the prohibition on trade with Cuba is still detrimental to the Cuban

The United States regards a blockage or embargo as an act of war.  So much
so that they have said that if the Arab countries reinstitute an oil
embargo it will resort to military measures.  This means the United States
regards the embargo as an act of war, yet, it has maintained the embargo
against Cuba and the prohibition on any type of U.S. export to Cuba.
Whether fuel, raw materials, machinery, equipment, technology, foodstuffs,
medicines--it forbids practically all types of exports to Cuba.  For 15
years we have endured this.  If the United States [word indistinct] regards
the oil embargo as a very hostile act, we feel they should suspend the
embargo against Cuba.  We believe the prohibition on all trade between the
United States and Cuba should be eliminated.  It is not easy to negotiate
with a dagger at one's throat because this violates the dignity of him who
has the dagger at his throat.  But such is Cuba's case.

We are willing to negotiate with the United States with absolute
seriousness, frankness and responsibility.  But we would not like to do so
with a dagger at our throat.  This is the Cuban Revolutionary Government's
position.  A climate of dignity, equality and honor has to be created if
there is to be a truly healthy atmosphere in which to discuss the
differences between the United States and Cuba.  These differences cover a
variety of problems which range from the problem of indemnities--those they
may demand from us as well as those we may demand from them after 15 years
of blockage--to other problems such as the occupation of a part of our
national territory with the Guantanamo Naval Base.

Our position is that we would not like to have to negotiate with a dagger
at our throat.  But we salute the measures adopted and the partial lifting
of the embargo, and regard them as a positive gesture on the part of the
U.S.  Government.

[Froilan Lopex, Mexico City EXCELSIOR] Commander Fidel Castro, in truth,
sir, there is no peaceful path to socialism.  The socialists' revolutionary
struggle alongside the workers is usually bloody because of repression.
Surely, there is no truly peaceful means by which to achieve socialism.
Nevertheless, in its first socialist and revolutionary moment Chile, and
now surely Portugal, seem to give recent evidence that prosocialist
revolutionary struggle is no longer so bloody.  So you think, commander,
that in our days a less bloody and more peaceful path to socialism has been
found?  If so, do you foresee any movements following in this trend?

[Castro] Until now, history has surely taught us that there is no peaceful
means by which to achieve socialism.  This much is true.  The Russian
revolution was the first socialist revolution.  Then came the war against
fascism, which was very violent and resulted in the expansion of socialism
to many countries.  Then the Chinese revolution, also very violent.  The
Vietnamese revolution was a mixture of a national liberation revolution and
a struggle for socialism.  There were the Cuban revolution and the Chilean
revolution, which was violently interrupted.

So far, it is true, history teaches us this.  Why?  Because a new type of
society appears in a given country or group of countries in circumstances
in which imperialism is still very powerful.  Imperialism has blocked or
tried to has not blocked any revolution.  It suppressed the
Chilean process, but did nothing but help to expand the Chilean revolution.
It did not stop it.  All this depends on factors within the country, on its
correlation of forces.  It is true that the socialist revolution came into
being amidst violence, but this does not mean that we can postulate about
the impossibility that at any given moment in history profound social
changes may take place in a country through peaceful means.

In Chile there was a very difficult situation.  The Popular Unity
Government did not have a majority of the voters.  It had an army--an
apolitical army--a rightist congressional majority, an old bourgeois
constitution, an economic crisis, a tremendous drop in copper prices, a
great many difficulties which were provoked by imperialism's conspiracies:
first, the destabilization--a new word in the political vocabulary--of the
country, and then the conspiracy which led to the coup and to the murder of
President Allende.  These are difficult circumstances.  This does not mean
that, theoretically, there cannot exist situations where there would be an
overwhelming popular majority, a parliamentary majority, a different kind
of army, one which would allow a peaceful transition from capitalism to

We cannot exclude this possibility, because circumstances change and a new
correlation of forces may take place.  Everything first depends on the
internal correlation of forces and then on the correlation of external
forces; internally because it involves the changes necessary for each
country and externally because an international correlation of forces can
prevent the action of imperialism.  Many countries..I even know cases of
governments that at the beginning did not have socialism as an objective,
countries which became independent.  This is the case of the Congo of [word
indistinct].  Here the government has evolved toward socialism and is now
carrying out a socialist program.  The case of South Yemen, they won their
independence, established a popular government and are working toward
socialism.  The case of Somalia in Africa, the case of Algeria, first a
national liberation and now they also are working toward socialism.

Of course, these countries did not achieve their independence without a
struggle.  Neither Yemen, nor Somalia, nor Algeria achieved their national
independence without a struggle.  Their struggle was popular and created
the conditions for an advance [words indistinct] causing more profound
social changes. it seems to me that revolutions will continue throughout
the world in one way or another.  I would not dare say that there cannot be
a peaceful revolution in a country.  Let us give an example: In Italy the
left is very strong.  The Communist Party and the Socialist Party there are
very strong.  At any moment, a union of these two parties could bring about
a very strong correlation of forces which would facilitate the achievement
of socialism by peaceful means.  This could also happen in other European
countries.  The United States is sometimes mentioned, not in the United
States but in Latin America.  They have very strong popular movements with
a very broad majority, a parliamentary majority, a very large popular
majority.  This can lead to a situation which would make a peaceful
transition possible.  I could not make any fast statements, or say
dogmatically that a peaceful transition is not possible.  Up to now it has
not been possible, but I do believe that it is possible in the future
despite our own experience and despite the fact that in Cuba it would not
have been possible any other way.  This is what I can tell you in this

[first name indistinct] [Quinones, Havana GRANMA] I would like to ask the
president of Mexico about the popular greeting our country gave you and how
you apprise the friendship of the Cuban people toward the Mexican people.

[Echeverria] Because of the welcome, the great reception that you gave us,
so cordial, so gentle, I cannot limit myself to making a superficial
interpretation.  The Cuban people are very hospitable.  We are neighbors,
brothers and we share many common bonds.  We share something: A struggle
which sometimes we see as a Latin American one.  Sometimes we do not see it
in terms of our being very close neighbors of a great power, with all its
consequences.  So it is necessary to study these facts without failing to
study [word indistinct].

There is a very serious crisis, a grave imbalance, a diversity in many
countries which demands that differences be set aside, that emphasis be
given to common factors which exist among neighboring countries and
countries with which, although far away, there is a common denominator and
a basis for understanding.  If the Cuban people have greeted us with an
extraordinary display of joy--and not only now, but to all of our
delegations which have come over the past 4 years to see the tropical [word
indistinct] developed to feed Cuban [word indistinct] in such an excellent
manner, to see the [word indistinct] of the fishery industry, to see the
great developments in education.  We sent 50 distinguished women here 3
months ago to establish contacts with the authorities and with Cuban
women's organizations.  We also sent an artistic delegation that, as you
know, my wife headed in January.  All this has been a permanent way of
acting.  And when somebody along the way asked me how I was being greeted
here, I had to answer: in the most cordial way because of our interests and
because we are in the Third World in search for solidarity. [words
indistinct] That is, in my judgement, the significance of the profound
cordiality of these people.

[Castro] If you gentlemen allow me I will tell you something in this
regard.  Our people have greeted president Echeverria in an exceptional
way, but not as a result of a special effort on our part for President
Echeverria.  We believe we have greeted President Echeverria the way he
should be greeted, the way the president of the country and the people who
were an exception--in their conduct toward Cuba--to the betrayal of a whole
continent.  It was the way we had to greet a president who has given much
proof of friendship toward our country and who knew how to qualitatively
change the relations between Mexico and Cuba from formal to truly friendly,
even brotherly relations.  It was the way we had to greet a distinguished
world statesman, the man responsible for that great victory of all
underdeveloped countries: The Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of
States which was approved by the United Nations.

He is also a promoter of this new organization that represents a hope for
Latin America: the Latin American Economic System, which of course did not
exclude Cuba.  He is promoter of measures such as the creation of the
Caribbean Multinational Shipping Enterprise.  We had to greet him as a
fighter for relations with Cuba, as a statesman who condemned the economic
blockade against Cuba throughout Latin America and who urged governments
everywhere to maintain relations with Cuba, as the president of a country
with which we have close and profound relations.

We have greeted President Echeverria primarily as an illustrious
international statesman and as a friend of our country.  We could not have
greeted him any other way.  We did nothing special for him.  We paid Mexico
and its president the honor, the love and the enthusiasm that they deserve
from our people. [prolonged applause]

[Juan Chaves, Caracas EL NACIONAL] Commander, within the framework of the
shouts of viva Mexico, viva Cuba, I would like to ask you if Latin American
unity is proof that the doctrine of cooperation is the shortest road to a
type of internationalism in which political and economic ideologies become
secondary matters.

[Castro] Your question implies the answer.  I say: Yes, I fully agree with
that opinion.  Friendship and cooperation is the road of our countries'
future, especially when our countries have so many common interests and
ties as is the case between Mexico and Cuba.

[first name indistinct] [Petrova, TASS] Mr. President, what is your
appraisal of the cooperation between Mexico and CEMA?

[Echeverria] It is very positive.  In April of 1973 at the invitation of
the government of the Soviet Union I headed a delegation as large as the
one with me on this trip and we set the basis for trade and economic
relations with the socialist countries.  I believe that the socialist camp
has made important technological and economic advances which are very
interesting for Mexico.  This is not merely because it is a matter of
principle, of depending on one market during long periods of isolation,
because of a search for equilibrium.  No!  We want to have relations with
the whole world as long as our sovereignty and man's inviolable rights are
respected.  We have not had relations with the present Chilean regime, or
with the South African Government, or with the Spanish Government for many
years. [sentence indistinct]

The outlook is very positive.  We have established contacts with Soviet
industry.  We have ordered the designs for a tractor.  These designs
include Mexican elements.  With these designs it has been possible to build
the tractors in Mexico and they have already filled a gap in the
agricultural machinery sector.  We have ordered six first-class tuna
fishing boats from Poland.  We often import Czechoslovak machinery.  We
have gone to expositions in East Germany.  In other words, we have
established contacts without precedent.  I do not know what the fear was of
the socialist member countries of CEMA.  In 1 month we signed this
agreement and an agreement with the European Economic Community.

We continue depending on one market.  Some 35 percent of our sales and 35
percent of our purchases were made with the United States of America--of
North America.  This is, anyway, an economic part of the so-called Manifest

In 4 years we have made friends, markets, economic and cultural relations
with the world.  This is the policy which has characterized Mexico's
international life. [word indistinct] after the USSR [word indistinct]
which raised great interest. 120 Mexican businessmen held a meeting a year
and a half ago in Mexico City to get the aid we need and at the same time
give a reciprocal treatment to socialist countries.  This should be carried
out in the most equitable, respectful and friendly manner.

[Ricardo Garbial, Mexico City ECELSIOR]: I have one question for Castro and
another for President Echeverria.  Yesterday you said the revolution [word
indistinct] cannot allow opposition or differences, that freedom of
expression in Cuba has forced an unmovable limit which is the revolution
itself. [words indistinct] This reminds me of the barbaric ecclesiastic
organizations [word indistinct] am I correct?

[Castro] Your appreciation is not correct.  Your question is brief but I am
afraid the reply will not be brief.  In the first place you cannot compare
us with the barbaric ecclesiastic organizations.  These organizations
existed throughout history to defend feudal interests--the interests of
minorities and exploiters, the Revolutionary Government is opposed to all
this.  The Revolutionary Government stands against the interests of the
minorities, privileged and exploiters.  There is a great difference between
the context of [words indistinct] They were thrown to the lions or
crucified.  There was a period [words indistinct] when religious belief had
to be defended against the wealthy, powerful and exploiters.  Modern and
socialist revolutionaries are like the early Christians.  They have had to
face all sorts of persecution.  Now let us take the marxists--you started
this argument--[laugher] who see capitalist society, similar to the
bourgeois society, as a period of dictatorship of the minorities over the
majorities and their exploitation.  In other words, the privileged ones
exploiting the [word indistinct] workers exploitation in the United States.
There was a transition period consisting of the so-called proletariat
dictatorship.  Marxism does not think of a social system as a bourgeois
democracy [words indistinct] It was regime of force in which the exploited
seized power and used it to serve their own interests while abolishing
rights and privileges of the bourgeois society.  This is how it was at the
beginning [word indistinct] by Marxism.  You can talk of the workers
democracy as a democracy of the majority.  You can talk of the people's
dictatorship because it was necessary to make changes in the structure and
take power from the bourgeoisie, from all state offices, from economic
sectors, from means of communications and from cultural activities and the
thinking habits they had established.  Socialism is not just the conquest
of political power.  It must also conquer economic power and it even has to
change the culture.  It is conceived as a power movement.  It is coercive.
We are not saying that we are implementing the bourgeois democracy because
that would be a lie.  We do not think like a bourgeois democracy.  We think
in terms of a labor democracy, a democracy of the proletariat, in which, we
have abolished the rights of the exploiting class of the country. [word
indistinct] This is how we planned it and are implementing it.  Of course,
we call our system a democracy. [word indistinct] Second, it gives the
people a full participation they never had before in any other community.
Third, the people fully participate in all important decisions.  Bills are
submitted to the people for their discussion.  This not only calls for a
democratic process to approve a bill but also an educational process for
the people.  An example is the law of the civilian and family code.  A plan
was drafted and submitted for discussion with the people.  It was delicate
problem because it concerned the problems of women's equality.  It affected
the historic supremacy of man [word indistinct] Many men could not
understand this new situation.  It was precisely in discussions with the
people that they became aware not just that a bill must be approved, but
that this bill is approved with full support of the majority of the

At present we are discussing the new constitution which is also submitted
to the people.  There is not one important bill which is not submitted to
the people for discussion.  The people participated in drafting the legal
norms and laws which no other society has ever discussed.  In other
countries bills are approved by congress.  Here, practically, the people
must approve it. [word indistinct] Therefore, our dictatorship is that of
the great majority of the people.  That is why we can call it a labor or
popular democracy instead of dictatorship.  In fact, it can be given
different names.

In this temporary period the traditional privileges of the bourgeoisie are
[word indistinct].  There is a struggle going on to change the people's
culture from the old culture established by the ruling class to a new
culture with a new concept of life, the state and of everything, and which
represents the interests of the classes which traditionally were exploited.
From this position [word indistinct] what we could term as the opposition
against the bourgeoisie.  They used to be owners of the newspapers radio
and television stations, the economy, the army, the state and everything.
Today they do not own anything.  They used to deny the workers access to
those means.  Today we forbid them and those who support their ideologies
access to these means.

[Words indistinct] Still it is not completely established.  In the future
we will be implementing Marxist principles more thoroughly in the
establishment of popular powers and in shaping the socialist state.  In
reality we have had a provisional government for the past 15 years.  This
situation is going to end with the establishment of definite institutions
for the Cuban people and state.  It is true that it has been said that we
do not allow the enemies of the working class to act.  We do not deny it.
But I do not think it is just to compare us with medieval institutions.

[Garibal] The question for President Echeverria is the following: You have
said that your foreign policy is the result of your domestic policy to the
point that both are the two faces of one political policy.  However, public
opinion [word indistinct] [laughter] believe that, having been indisputably
progressive in your foreign policy, nevertheless you have not managed to do
as much in domestic policy.  Am I right?

[Echeverria] Do you grant me the right to disagree?  In Mexico
circumstances are [words indistinct] It is evident here when a Mexican
newsman speaks to the president.  We have many problems, we have old
problems.  I must admit that the Mexican revolution has much more to solve
than what it has achieved so far.  A great effort has been made, with this
I am simply talking about our country.  Since 1824 with our first
constitution, we consecrated the free expression of ideas. [word
indistinct] The Mexican revolution is not, nor does it pretend to be, a
socialist revolution.  It is, according to the Constitution of 1917, a
social democracy.  But we are all children of history.  That is to say, we
have to, as Commander Castro Ruz did when he referred specifically to the
Cuban problems, see our historic problems in a very definite manner.  Each
country does what it can.  We all want to achieve an ideal.  I do not
believe that our international policy is anything special, but neither do I
believe that our domestic policy lags far behind.  It has served as a base.

In regard to the freedom of the press, we have more than 20 newspapers in
Mexico City, we have 700 radio stations.  In Mexico City alone, there are
six television channels of which four are private concessions, and with a
system which has perhaps solved, according to our history and our
idiosyncrasy, a fundamental problem.  I do not intend to establish a
comparison.  They are undoubtedly different systems, the Cuban and the
Mexican--socialism and social democracy--I think we have solved a problem
which we inherited from the 18th century, the reading of the
encyclopedists, the knowledge of the [word indistinct] of the French
revolution, the existence of political parties and the individual and
social freedoms for which the Mexican people struggled.  The Mexican people
fought when, for example, in the old czarist Russia they did not even dream
of having the freedom under which the Mexican people have struggled since

When the czarist repression consolidated a way of thinking and prevented
any opposition to the regime, Benito Juarez, within Mexico's freedoms,
arrived at the solution of the problem which for me is the solution to all
other problems.  He struggled to change the country's old feudal structures
and later to lead us to our second independence.  With these ideas, with
his great vision, and with the banner of effective suffrage Porfirio Diaz'
regime was destroyed and he created a new constitution where we reconciled
individual rights with social rights. [Words indistinct] but the people
which also rule in Mexico have not wanted what the Cuban people have
wanted.  We have maintained this.  We have many newsmen and we respect
them...Marxists, Leninists...oh, but when we touch one of them or simply
give them a hard look, they speak of repression.

They would never admit any repression, nor accept any limitation to the
freedoms which have been installed as a system in Mexico.  That many of our
problems have not been solved, I agree.  There is much to be done.  I
believe that we must struggle for centuries to come before we arrive at a
solution according to our ideas, aspirations and needs.  I believe that our
achievements are very modest.  There are many important things, we have a
great industrial development, 3 million unionized workers, 8 million
organized peasants, we have great economic contrasts.  These are problems
of freedom.  These are problems of the obstacles which, according to the
individual and social freedoms, are pitted against the wishes of a
revolutionary government.  However our history does not allow us to act

We have to think strictly about no reelection.  We must strictly believe
that when a newspaper lacks paper--a newspaper which does not dare attack a
multi-national company because it purchases advertising--it will attack the
government and the president.  This happens with many newspapers in Mexico.

The newspapers which enjoy all the freedoms never make strong attacks on
the multi-nationals which purchase advertising and their editorialists are
never truly independent.  Let them hear well.  When an article attacking
the fundamental interests of the commercial community arrives at a
newspaper, it is rejected.  But the president can be attached; no one
bothers them, we give them a pat on the back.  They get angry because
perhaps we do not read what they write and are not angry at them.  These
are the results of freedom.  Yet when this newspaper is short of paper we
supply it.  This problem is solved and for me this is fundamental to solve
all other problems.

Within this system we must hasten our social policy.  We must increase the
social [word indistinct] of all of them.  There are many ways to serve the
people but Mexico has a historic commitment which has been handed down to
us since the 18th century.  What can we do but think about the basic
solution to all our problems.  We take our political opponents in our plane
so they can see what we do. [applause]

These are different methods.  What I ask of those who have to hand in an
editorial every day--and at 2000 hours they are told what it must be
about--is that when they sit down, think what they are going to say, act
with responsibility, think about their country.  Do not fear that they are
going to be dismissed because of the economic interests of the concerns
they work for.

This is all I ask of them.  It is a different way of working, another path.
But this is what has allowed us to develop the international policy
mentioned by Commander Castro Ruz.  I do not know if I have made myself
clear.  Thank you. [applause]

[Jesus Suarez, Havana JUVENTUD REBELDE] Mr. President of Mexico, you have
been one of the main promoters of SELA.  Could you please expand on your
creation and on the perspectives this organization opens for the region's

[Echeverria] We have proposed it to defend Latin American economy.  Some of
the opinions of the other Latin American countries have been expressed at
our insistence.  If we had more courageous and determined men like
Commander Castro Ruz in Latin American things would be advancing better.
But we have taken a step.  We must defend the prices of our products.  In
the great international markets SELA advances in spite of some
reservations, some psychological restrictions, in spite of some of the
trends we have observed in some Latin American countries which love their
dependency.  SELA is a forum for negotiations, it is an office to learn
about the prices of our products in the world and to learn about the prices
of products we buy, and how can be consolidate our dealings, how can be
consolidate the purchase of equipment before sellers which are not always
honest or sellers with inflated prices or who speculate with us?

When we ponder the ideals of Bolivar or Marti which illuminated the past
century, which started and ended in the past century, we come to the
conclusion that we must be more practical, courageous and determined.

We have had to overcome pressures, which were formerly felt to be very
powerful and which had frightened others, in order to attain the advanced
mentioned by Commander Castro for which we are very grateful and which will
mean the beginning of an alliance.  Latin America must one day be a
political federation.  We have been the disunited states of the south.  We
have been divided by North American expansionism.  But we are to blame
because of an old inherited individualism and our lack of unity.  We can
say we are not only victims because, lacing courage and productivity, we
have been from the days of our independence too isolationist and
individualist.  We are beginning to unite in economic respects, without
worrying that someone will export us a revolution or an idea, or that we
encourage things that are not done in other countries.  Or, as happens with
Cuba in other countries, there is national envy because of the deep and
valuable reforms carried out in Cuba.

If we can overcome this, we will have taken a step forward in Latin
America.  Sometimes we are very optimistic when are are united and when we
carry out actions of understanding such as the one between Cuba and Mexico
which is now coming to its climax.  Perhaps it will not be as important as
those in coming years.  But sometimes we have reservations and fears and
the colonial spirit and the tendency toward dependency.  We see that we
have to strive much.

It will be [word indistinct] with the international policy according to the
manner in which we solve our domestic problems.  There is an
interdependency in economic matters.  We must defend our sovereignty in
political matters and be intelligently more interdependent in economic
matters.  International policy is a factor to hasten the solving of
domestic problems.

We have not solved many problems in foreign policy, but the ones we have
solved will help us solve the domestic problems of trade and technological
exchange.  During these years relations between Mexico and Cuba have always
been respectful and involved an intensive cooperation in economic matters.
Beginning with this visit relations between two Latin American countries
will become more intense, in technological exchange, in joint investments
and in mutual aid in many fields useful to both countries.  This is how
international policy is based on domestic policy.  This is one of your
[presumably Castro's] statements.

It would not be possible, despite the great freedom--sometimes
license--[word indistinct] in Mexico. it would not be possible for us to
have let precisely 1 1/2 months ago.  On the eve of changing presidents,
when we are just days away from the end of a great presidential campaign in
Mexico which is going to define many things [word indistinct] essential
calm for the freedoms of (?Mexico).  I would like to be told, now in times
of inflation, now in times of food scarcity, whether it is easy in
countries with problems like ours--which are those of many countries--for
the chief of state and the leaders of the political organizations, the
leaders of the constitutional powers and all the activities to leave the
country for 1 1/2 months?  It is because we have more problems solved than
many licentious snipers would like to believe. [applause] That is what I am
referring to.  It would not be possible in times of inflation or with the
anxieties that abound in Mexico as in other countries--problems which we
patiently hope will never lack paper or time or either [Echeverria
chuckles] sorry, I meant space. [sentence as heard] They would not be able
to leave if they did not have problems (?that they had already resolved).

In the economic system it is necessary to balance wages and prices.  This
occurs throughout a large part of the world.  We have had a social policy
whose results we are now observing.  There has not been an important strike
in Mexico for a long time.  And it is not because strikes are not allowed.
The year before last there was a general strike called by our friends the
labor leaders and when the private businessmen--the state enterprises had
already agreed--finally agreed to arbitration they simply made a mathematic
adjustment to compensate and lessen the imbalance created by inflation.
The same thing happened last year.  So far this year the [word indistinct]
collective labor contracts have been signed.  We have just--during the
tour, [word indistinct] signing the most delicate [labor] contract in
Mexico, that of the oil industry.  And they informed me--in Algeria, I
believe--that the matter had been (?satisfactorily) resolved with the labor
union that is producing the oil.  And these are just social demands.

Therefore, [word indistinct] is no problem. [Words indistinct] several
problems that have not been resolved.  The great problem was solved in our
way, with our traditions, our history, our specific organizations, with our
respect for all other countries-- because each country has its problems and
its way of solving them.  It is because, simply, we must leave things in
the hands of the institutions and tomorrow we will see that [several words
indistinct] of the presidential campaign that begins in a few weeks.  I
could refer, with figures, to many things: I could say that we have
quadrupled farming credits in 3 years.  I can say this recognizing the
flaws in our agrarian reform, which was not planned.  We were not
accustomed to planning in 1912, 13, 15, and 17 when there was a sort of
avalanche, a reconquering of the old world, [word indistinct] inclusive,
that belonged to very powerful countries as opposed to other countries.

I began to summarize our history and I could also talk about the impulse
given to the iron and steel, and oil industries, the tripling of the public
education budget and the growth of the petrochemical industry.  All have
helped to resolve many problems. [word indistinct] We will return tomorrow,
as cool as when we left, during truly critical moments.  Our international
meetings have not been held because chiefs of state cannot leave their
countries as a result of inflation problems, of political problems.  This
is our testimony, please accept it.

[Unidentified newsman--in English, with subsequent translation] After the
question about the partial lifting of the blockade against Cuba--that was
rather clear and precise-- but I would like to [word indistinct] at one
point: When you said that you were willing to negotiate with the United
States, clearly and fully, but not with a dagger at your throat, are you
saying that the lifting--the entire lifting of the blockade by the United
States--is a precondition to any discussion of the other outstanding
problems between the United States and Cuba and the normalization of
relations between the two countries?

[Castro] I believe so.  I feel that the basic effect of the blockade, the
most aggressive facet of the blockade, still persists in the total
prohibition of trade between the United States and Cuba.  I believe that
this measure harms Cuba.  It also harms the United States.  We have not
imposed any blockade on the United States.  We have not established any
prohibition on trade with the United States.  Then why does the United
States maintain the prohibition?  It is maintained as a political, economic
weapon against our country, a weapon which the United States itself
condemns when it is applied to it by other countries.  While these measures
exist, there is no equal basis for discussion between two countries.  We do
want to hold discussions with the United States.  We do want to negotiate
with the United States, and require a (?number) of equal conditions and
dignity to make discussion possible.  And not while a very aggressive
measure is being maintained, such as the total prohibition of trade.  This
is not a condition, I would call it the essential requisite for equality to
exist,for discussion with dignity.  Notwithstanding this criteria, we
consider the measure announced today as a positive gesture.  It gives us
satisfaction, and we greet it, and in our opinion it implies an advance
toward the possibility of creating conditions that will allow us to engage
in discussion on an equal basis and with dignity.

[Echeverria] If you will allow me, I would like to say that in reality
there is a Latin American blockade against the United States.  It is a
blockage in the minds of the peasants, the workers, the university
students, the new generations, a psychological blockade, a moral blockade,
that the United States is not going to be able to (?overcome) until it
radically changes its policy vis-a-vis all Latin America. [lengthy

[James Reston, New York TIMES--in English with subsequent translation]
Mister Prime Minister, could I ask a question for clarification on what
seems to me to be a critical point: Are you saying that there can be no
negotiation, even on the question of how to negotiate, until the United
States lifts its blockade entirely?

[Castro] Well, I believe that there can be negotiation on how to negotiate,
in which we propose that in order to achieve serious, responsible, just
negotiations on a basis of equality and dignity between the two countries
it is necessary for the essential part of the blockade [to be lifted].  The
essential part of the blockage is the prohibition of trade between Cuba and
the United States, because otherwise it would be but a weapon to make
demands on Cuba.

We can talk about the negotiating process in which we will always maintain
that conditions of equality must exist to discuss and to negotiate.  Why
hold discussions if there are not conditions of equality, if one party
maintains a powerful leverage against the other party?  To negotiate under
pressure, to negotiate under duress does not appear reasonable or just to
us.  It is not a whim.  The blockade measure affects Cuba as well as the
United States, it affects both countries, it affects the interests of the
United States, it affects a principle which the United States always
defended: freedom of trade.  In fact, it constitutes a weapon which the
enemies of the United States can use at a given moment against the United
States, and when these enemies or some persons use these weapons against
the United States, the United States considers it a grave matter.  The
United States says that if there is an oil embargo a grave measure, a very
offensive measure, a very aggressive measure.

Yet the United States imposed on us not only an emergency embargo but an
absolute, total embargo--the prohibition of the sale of equipment, of
technology, to Cuba, prohibition of the sale of foodstuffs to Cuba,
prohibition of the sale of medicine to Cuba.  One cannot conceive a more
cruel policy by a powerful, wealthy country such as the United States
against a small, underdeveloped country such as Cuba, than to pursue the
objective of making the revolution fail, to pursue the objective of
strangling the revolution, to do away with the Revolutionary Government.

Well, those were the objectives it once had and today they are objectives
which are maintained as an arm of negotiation.  This is how we view a
situation which does not offer the minimum conditions for engaging in
discussions.  This does not mean that we object to establishing contact and
does not mean, either, that we object to holding talks.  But we maintain
the principle that in order to engage in deep negotiations, it is necessary
that the economic embargo imposed against Cuba by the United States be

[Question by unidentified newsman] Mr. President, commander in chief, on
behalf of the Cuban newsmen we thank you fro your attention this afternoon.
The Cuban newsmen have no other questions.  I do not know if our friend Mr.
Fausto Zapata has anything.

[Fausto Zapata, affiliation not specified, presumably Mexican] We have
another question which we wish to ask and it will be made by Mr. (?Libeiro)
Duque of INFORME MEXICO [not further identified]

[Duque] This question is both for Commander Fidel Castor and for the
Mexican president.  There are in Latin America 15 military regimes.  In
view of this, I want to ask you your opinion on what the role of the armed
forces should be in the development and evolution of our countries.

[Echeverria] Who is the question for?  The important thing, in my opinion,
is not whether it involves a military or civilian government.  The
political manner in which popular ends are sought is not the essential
thing.  The essential thing is the ends.  What is being sought, regardless
of whether it is through the civilians or the military, is a path of social
revindication in all its aspects.

For a long time Mexico has had, and I believe will continue to have, a
civilian regime.  But the army guarantees the political and democratic
evolution of our country.  It plays an important role.  In other countries
the military regime promotes sweeping social reforms.  This means that the
army is an instrument of the people, aside from any other role which it
plays.  It is a positive element insofar as its tasks supports or directs
popular revindications.  This is said by the university student, the
lawyer, the constitutionalist, the civilian president of a country whose
army is a guarantee of maximum democracy.  The soldier says so too.  The
essential thing is the ends of the political and economic process of a
country.  This is my conviction.

[Castro] I agree with the president that the essential thing is the policy
of the military government.  We have...we can talk of so many military
regimes, I do not know how many there are, 17 or 14 or 12 but I know, for
example, that the Peruvian military government's policy cannot be compared
with the policy of the Chilean military government.  In Chile there is a
military government which was a reaction against a popular movement, an
instrument of the right and imperialism which destroyed Popular Unity and
established a fascism, a fascism with al the Nazi characteristics even in
regard to the style of the Chilean militarymen who dress like Prussians,
salute like Prussians, march like Prussians, and assassinate like
Hitlerians. [laughs from newsmen] Everyone from artists and intellectuals
to workers and peasants; they mutilate, torture and kill men and women
alike.  The Chilean junta resorts to typically fascist procedures.  It is
resorting to mechanisms to justify the disappearances in Chile.  Countless
numbers have been arrested or have disappeared.  No one knows where they
are.  They have been pushing the theory that they have been pushing the
theory that they have disappeared in exile.  We know the names of many
persons who were arrested or who totally disappeared.  As you can see,
these are all the Nazi fascist characteristics which, furthermore, are
obsolete in this era because if Hitler failed ignominiously it is absurd
that at this late date there is a Pinochet seeking to play Hitler's role.
This has no future.

On the other hand, the Peruvian regime is a political, progressive and
nationalist regime which has carried out a great agrarian reform; has
recovered oil and iron, the basic industries of the country; and which
strives to effect deep structural changes.  That is, while we have a
fascist military regime in Chile, we have a progressive military regime in
Peru which works for the people, for national independence and for economic
development.  We also have the case of Panama where there is a military
government, but a progressive government, a government which is the first
in the entire history of Panama to adopt a firm position in defense of
Panama's sovereignty by demanding the recovery of this sovereignty,
demanding its rights in the Canal Zone.  It is waging a battle, worthy of
admiration and respect, for the sovereign rights of that country.  In the
past there were military regimes in Panama which were allied with the
imperialist interests.  We can also cite as an example the Government of
Ecuador, which is a military government.

In my opinion it is not as progressive as the Peruvian Government but it
also has nationalist positions in defense of national interest.  It does
not have relations with Cuba, but in all international meetings it has
adopted a position in favor of lifting the blockade against Cuba.  In Quito
and Costa Rica it came out in favor of lifting the blockade against Cuba.

Other Latin American military governments are completely fascist.  We must
distinguish one from the other.  The president clearly explained the
mission of the army in Mexico.  Mexico's conditions are the facts that it
has enjoyed stability for dozens of years and that its history determined
the role of the civilian government and the role presently played by the
military.  In other countries there was no Mexican revolution, there was no
establishment of a civilian government.  These are different circumstances,
totally different.

I believe that in given circumstances in Latin America the armed forces can
play an important role.  And the facts which I have mentioned are evidence
of this.  In Peru there were no political forces capable of promoting the
changes.  The military has been the key element in promoting these changes,
as has been the case in Panama.  I believe that the military in Latin
America are [word indistinct].  The military has been used historically in
U.S. imperialism as an instrument of reaction and as the guardian of the
status quo.  It has sought to mold armies throughout all of Latin America,
with a few exceptions.  But in Cuba it organized an army to maintain the
status quo.  U.S. imperialism has sent thousands of experts to Latin
America.  It has trained thousands of soldiers in the United States in
repressions--police and army officers, because it considered the army an
instrument of repression, an instrument at the service of imperialism.  I
think that it is historically very significant that the military is
beginning to gain a nationalist awareness and beginning to acquire an
awareness in favor of the interests of their peoples.

From the viewpoint of the interests of the peoples of Latin America, I
think that we must really hail the fact that some armies have gained an
awareness of their duties, of their patriotic duties, of their popular
duties.  This deprives the United States of one of the most powerful
instruments it has used to prevent social change.  And a clear example of
this is Chile.  You will recall, for example, that when the United States
began to take measures against the government of Chile, to veto its
credits, to create difficulties of all kinds on account of the copper
nationalization, it maintained optimum relations with the Chilean Army.

The Pentagon maintained close contacts with the Chilean Army, supplying it
arms and all sorts of ammunition.  It was clear that it saw in the Chilean
Army the best counterrevolutionary instrument.  As a matter of fact, it was
used as such.  So far, with few exceptions, the armies have been the
instruments of imperialism in preventing social transformations.
Developments in recent years show that some armies are beginning to become
conscious of their duties, which is undoubtedly a political action of great
importance.  This has not been the only change: in many Latin American
countries, the church also used to be a supporter of the status quo.  But
in recent years we have also seen important sectors of the church in Latin
America trying to solve urgent social problems and take positions in favor
of structural changes for progress.  Thus, two great pillars of
imperialism--the military and the church--are beginning to crumble and
cease to be instruments of reactionary sectors and of the status quo.  I
believe that military and church officials can play an important role in
the progress and transformation of Latin America.

[Echeverria] On behalf of all the Mexicans who in a few hours will be
leaving for Mexico, on behalf of government officials, politicians,
newsmen, youths, intellectuals, artists and all those who have received
your hospitality without exception, we want to congratulate you for what
the Cuban revolution has accomplished, and we want to thank you for the
hospitality and fraternal way you have treated us. [applause]

[Castro] Just a few words to thank president Echeverria for what he has
just said and to tell you that we fully appreciate the historic
significance of this visit of the Mexican president and delegation to our
country.  We are the ones who should express our gratitude for the honor of
having you with us.  I want to take advantage of this opportunity to say
that the improvement in relations between Cuba and Mexico--which are so
promising and which you, as we, hope will set an example of relations
between two Latin American countries--is due to a great extent to your
effort and innumerable acts of friendship for our country.

We also have had the opportunity to share these days with the Mexicans and
their president and to appreciate his great political qualities.  We have
had the opportunity to see the Mexican president at work in cooperation
with all his assistants.  We have witnessed his fraternal, affectionate,
and considerate attitude toward all the men who work with him, his constant
concern over matters of strategy, tactics and even of details.  We have had
the opportunity to see him worry about our society's most urgent needs,
about people, children and social problems.  We had the chance to see him
trying to leave some memory wherever he arrived.  At last we had the
opportunity to see him in person and to appreciate his tireless solidary
spirit and generosity wherever he went.  Besides his capacity to organize
and do things, I will never forget among the many things we [words
indistinct] small peasant's community where we arrived unexpectedly: he
donated 1,000 books for a library, a slide projector and slides, some arts
and crafts and a bust of Juarez.  He not only offered these things which
were in Mexico, he saw to it that what he had offered was sent to the
peasant community the next day.  As a matter of fact, 30 hours later
everything he had offered was received here.  Today we inaugurated a
handsome language center [word indistinct].  Yesterday we dedicated a
magnificent mural painting at Benito Juarez School.  But that was not all:
Yesterday afternoon when he was supposed to have the afternoon free, we
went to see the mural at the Chapultepec Heroes School.  Further on, a few
kilometers ahead, we went to see a mural in another school.  The mural
depicting the [Molinos del Reino] battle.  Beautiful murals done here on
the initiative of President Echeverria in each school which carries the
name of distinguished or heroic deeds of that nation.  We also visited the
Lazaro Cardenas school where a mural of great artistic value is to be
painted.  The number of events in which he showed his concern for Cuban
problems was countless, as well as his desire to improve relations between
our two countries, which as I said before had passed from formal relations
to fraternal.  Having become better acquainted with him it is almost
impossible to imagine anyone who works as much as he does, who cares so
much about social and human problems.  I wish to express our appreciation
for the opportunity of meeting him personally.  I believe these days will
work as a cement, as steel, in strengthening and making the relations
between our two countries indestructible.  We have signed important
communiques.  We not only have signed them; what is important is the
president's concern for technological problems and international
cooperation.  What is important is our desire, our will to work according
to those documents we have signed.

Finally, I want to tell you that this is the first time I have taken part
in a meeting of this kind.  I had no idea what it was going to be like.
[laughter] In this type of meeting it is difficult to praise an illustrious
visitor.  Perhaps I could speak of him with more eased if he were not here.
This meeting has been held in a magnificent democratic spirit between two
countries with two different systems.  Ours is a socialist regime.  The
Mexican regime, as President Echeverria called it, is a social democracy.
Certainly we have differences in a series of matters, specially in our
social systems.  But we have much more in common, many more common
interests in all other fields, in the field of history, culture, and
economy.  The progress in the relations between Mexico and Cuba has been a
result of all those things which united us and for which our countries
should struggle.  Our differences are not as important as our common
interests and objectives.  Finally, I believe that no matter how [word
indistinct] the differences [word indistinct] I feel that there has been
plenty of freedom of opinion in this news conference on both sides.  There
has been a truly democratic attitude in this meeting of Cuban, Mexican and
other newsmen representing foreign news agencies.  I had no idea what this
meeting was going to be like. [word indistinct] blaming Zapata. [laughter]
It was the president who told me that this habit had been established in
our countries.  This has been a pleasant meeting with you and we want to
thank you for it. [applause]

[presumably Echeverria] Gentlemen, newsmen, this meeting has not ended, it
is fimply in recess.  It will continue in Mexico City in the first half of
next year. [applause]