Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Interviewed on Visit

FL1308122388 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0000 GMT 13 Aug 88

[Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by special correspondent Pedro
Martinez Pirez and unidentified reporters on 12 August in Quito--recorded]

[Text]  [Martinez Pirez]  Commander, what has been the outcome of this, the
4th day of your visit to Quito?  What is your assessment?

[Castro]  Personally, I am ecstatic about my contact with the people.  It
has been a great experience, an unforgettable experience.  I am going to
spend part of my birthday here, at least a few hours of it.  But I am going
before you kick me out.  [laughter]  One should not stay a minute longer
than necessary.  I have made an effort to keep all my appointments, all of
them.  I still have two things to do, including holding a news conference.

[Reporter]  When will you hold the news conference?

[Castro]  Most likely tomorrow.  Principally for the Peruvian.... [corrects
himself]  Ecuadoran press, for some of the accredited members of the press;
otherwise, we don't have room for it.  It becomes an assembly.  I would
like conditions suitable for reflection.  There are many topics, very
delicate topics.  I don't want to rush and talk about any old thing at the
risk of making mistakes.

[Reporter]  Of course.

[Castro]  It would not be good for anyone.

[Reporter]  This is a very important visit.  This is the first time that
you have come to South American in 17 years.

[Castro]  Yes, 17 years.  I was in Nicaragua twice; Nicaragua belongs to
Latin America but not South America.

[Martinez Pirez]  There were reports that you had visited Ecuador prior to
1959.  Is that so?

[Castro]  No. That would have been nice.  I was in Venezuela, Colombia, and
Panama.  Coincidentally, I was in Bogota at the time of the "Bogotzao."

[Reporter]  You were in Costa Rica too.

[Castro]  I visited Costa Rica during my stay in Mexico, before returning
to Cuba.

[Reporter]  As regards South America, you are familiar only with Chile and

[Castro]  Chile and Ecuador, yes.  Once, in early 1959 [as heard], when I
was a child, when I was a child [repeats himself] I made a brief tour
[Castro chuckles] of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.  Very brief.  I was in
those three countries.  Well, I was an absolute novice.  Imagine.

[Martinez Pirez]  Commander, I have read...

[Reporter, interrupting]  [Words indistinct]  come again to Ecuador.

[Castro]  Well, I was very honored by the invitation, first of all.  I like
the country.  I have become friends with many Ecuadoreans who have been in
Cuba for various events.  They have always been excellent.  I have met with
a lot of people who have been here.

Third [as heard], we are always excluded, discriminated against.  So, when
we are not excluded, when we are not discriminated against, when we are
invited, we are not going to refrain from coming, whatever the risks
involved in traveling, risks stemming, as you know, from the practices of
our adversaries.

[Martinez Pirez]  Commander, you have said that man does not live by oxygen
alone.  Why is that?

[Castro]  Well, not by oxygen alone.

[Martinez Pirez]  Talking about the altitude.

[Castro] Ah, that's true, speaking about the altitude.  Not by oxygen
alone.  I alluded to the fact that there's less oxygen up here.  But
there is so much affection, so much warmth, that they make up for it.  So,
recalling the phrase, man does not live by bread alone, I said, not by
oxygen alone.

[Martinez Pirez]  You have been observed admiring nature at the meeting
with Oscar Arias and on your arrival in Quito.  In fact, there are some
Ecuadoreans who are thrilled by that.

[Castro]  They were telling me that Quito could be the capital, that
Bolivar had said Quito could be the capital of a united Latin America.  I
said, well, if you ask me, I'll vote in favor right away.  I am going to be
biased, because I have liked the city so much, its climate, its physical
beauty, and especially the people.

[Reporter]  [Words indistinct].

[Castro]  I was impressed because I know it from history.  I admire the
heroism with which the Ecuadoreans fought that battle.  They made the
country finally free.

[Reporter]  Like the Sierra Maestra.

[Castro]  I think it's higher.  Well, Turquino might be higher if you start
from sea level, but notice that this peak is more than 2,000 km a mountain
over another mountain.  How high is the Pichincha?  (someone says:  More
than 4,000]  I saw Chimborazo on my way to Chile.  I was very impressed.
How high is Chimborazo?  Six thousand.  Tremendous.  An impressive
white-capped peak.  Well, I have to resume my meeting.  I will talk to you
tomorrow.  I'll meet with you tomorrow.