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More on News Conference

PA1308203888 Madrid EFE in Spanish 1850 GMT 13 Aug 88

[Report by Gerardo Gonzalez Vega]

[Text] Quito, 13 Aug (EFE)--During the only news conference he held during
his stay in Quito, which began on 9 August, Fidel Castro today proposed
Latin American unity to overcome the problems affecting the countries in
the region.

As an example, Castro recalled that European nations, which fought among
themselves for centuries, created the EEC.  He stressed that for Latin
America, which is currently "fragmented" ["balcanizada"], integration "is
the only way to attain a better future for our peoples, which they

Castro was frequently applauded by the hundreds of journalists that
attended the news conference, which lasted almost 2 hours.

Castro, who today celebrated his 62nd birthday, won the hearts of his
audience when he said he was happy to be in Quito on that special day.  He
described Quito as "A city located in the heart of the world," and proposed
that it be declared the capital of a united Latin America, provided that
"Some of its mountains are cut down so planes can land more easily".

Castro discussed all the various topics raised by the press--Angola,
"perestroyka," Central American peace, foreign debt, and relations with the
United States.  He included several recent anecdotes.

He said that at the inauguration of Ecuadoran President Rodrigo Borja he
met with several Latin American presidents who attended the ceremony.
However, he said he could not comment on the matters discussed "as it would
not be tactful."  Castro said that although no official communiques were
issued, those meetings were very useful.  He said Costa Rican President
Oscar Arias overestimated Cuban influence when he said--after they met
here--that Castro's help is needed for peace in Central America.

He stressed that peace must be achieved without sacrificing peoples'
dignity, justice, and liberty and accused the United States of being
"arrogant interventionists."  He added that in the case of Central America,
Contradora Group countries have prevented U.S. intervention, which shows
that "Latin Americans can handle their own affairs."

Castro said:  "The United States is increasingly isolated in this
hemisphere."  Castro also talked about the little time that U.S. Secretary
of State Schultz spent in Quito and about the lack of response that he
received on 10 August.  The Cuban leader said:  "I almost applauded him"
thinking he was some Latin American figure.

After saving that Latin America has paid $145 billion since 1982 because of
the foreign debt.  Castro said that "To continue making us pay is just like
taking blood from a seriously injured man instead of putting it in him.

If the situation remains unchanged and industrialized countries'
protectionist policies against Third World products continues, Castro
predicted a drastic deterioration in Latin American social conditions.

The Cuban president asserted:  "We are approaching the conditions that
caused the classic revolutions, such as the French and October Revolutions.
We are approaching the beginning of social uprisings caused by
unsatisfactory material conditions, which are uncontrollable once they
break out."

Fidel Castro expressed the need for Latin Americans to prepare a strategic
plan for Latin America as "one of our most essential duties."

Concerning the Angolan situation, Castro said that the talks are about to
end in an agreement, in which the only pending point will be the
establishment of gradual withdrawal dates for the Cuban contingent.

He said the points of agreement are the independence of Namibia; the
cessation of all South African aid to the Angolan National Union for the
Total Independence of Angola (Unita) guerrilla group; international and UN
guarantees for an end to the South African aggression against Angola once
the Cuban troops leave; and the gradual withdrawal of Cuban troops.

The news conference given by the Cuban leader was held amid very tight
security measures, which Castro justified because of previous attacks on
him, although "It was worth the risk to be here with you," he added.

I was said unofficially that Castro wants to visit the Galapagos Islands,
1,000 km off the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, but according to his own
statements to the press, he will return to Cuba today, although for
security reasons his plans are still unconfirmed.