Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro on Soviet Foreign Policy, Third World

PA1009024588 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0157 GMT 4 Sep 88

[Report on President Fidel Castro's meeting with Ecuadoran deputies in
Quito, Ecuador, on 12 August]

[Excerpt] on the morning of 12 August, Fidel held a 4-hour meeting with
members of the Ecuadoran Congress during which he answered questions from
the legislators and addressed at length all the topics in which they were
interested, ranging from the rectification process in Cuba and relations
with the United States to current international problems.

[Begin Castro recording] I believe that Soviet foreign policy, the Soviet
peace policy, and the successes that have been achieved are some of the
most extraordinary things Gorbachev has done.  He has done a service to
mankind, and we should be eternally greatful for this as long as this
process continues, as long as this process really leads to detente, to the
end of the arms race, and to the decrease of danger.  However, this process
still has a long way to go.  Nevertheless, it has meant new hope for the

I think that for us in the Third World, this is very important.  To our
great satisfaction, for the first time and in a very clear way, the issue
of the debt has become a factor in the formation of Soviet foreign policy,
and the issue of the unequal trade balance and the new [international
economic] order have also become factors in the formation of Soviet foreign
policy.  There had practically been no talk about these problems.  Instead,
I would say that they were ignored.

He [Gorbachev] brought up the need for disarmament, but he linked the issue
of peace and disarmament with development.  He raised the position that we
have been defending and that was one of the cornerstones of the proposals
we made in 1985, which was when we asked: Where will the resources to solve
the debt problem come from?  Where will the resources come from to solve
the problem of unequal trade so that Third World countries can acquire a
purchasing power of hundreds of billions [currency not specified] each
year, with each successive year having greater resources?

It is paradoxical that while only 60 to 70 percent of the industrial
potential of many of those [developed] countries is being used, it is
paradoxical that while those countries have tens of millions of unemployed,
here we need what they could produce.  The developing countries need many
of those machines that they could produce.  We have always said that if we
had purchasing power, even the industrialized countries would benefit from

Well then, to our great satisfaction, one of the banners raised by
Gorbachev in his foreign policy is the issue of directing the resources
from the arms race toward development.

From the political viewpoint, this is, of course, unobjectionable, but this
is not achieved with just words alone.  Trade unions will not achieve wage
improvements by making speeches.  That is the truth.  Trade unions obtain
wage improvements when they unite and when they struggle.  However, we poor
have not even been able to form a union or to act as a small union.  Trade
unions unite and make demands.  That is why I was saying that ideas are
very important because they provide orientation and clarification; however,
the main thing is to struggle for our needs.  Therefore, we do not disagree
in the least with Gorbachev's foreign policy.  On the contrary, we
resolutely, firmly, and enthusiastically support it, fully aware of what
the end of the arms race and what the reduction of the threat of total
destruction would mean.  Of course, those that would have more to lose are
the consumer-based societies.  We, on the other hand, would lose less.

In addition, for us a declared war has been in existence for a long time.
I can give you a figure, that it is a fact that every 3 days, 40,000
children die in the Third World from curable diseases.  These are children
who could be saved, 120,000 [figure as heard] every 3 days.  I have said on
some occasions that every 3 days, a bomb with the power of those used
against Hiroshima and Nagasaki goes off among Third World children.  Who
can deny this?  The United Nations, health and children's organizations,
UNICEF, all of them have the indisputable facts that show that every 3
days, 120,000 children who could be saved die.  They do not die in Europe
or in the United States.  They die in our countries.  They die in the Third

That is why I say that we are suffering from a war, with the dropping of
the equivalent of an atomic bomb among the children every 3 days.  I am not
talking about the adult population.  I am not talking about those who die
prematurely.  I am not talking about the intelligence that is lost or made
defective because of lack of essential foods at the right age.  I am not
talking about that.  It would take me too long to speak about that.

[Castro continues]  Well, I think the way that the Soviet leadership has
linked peace, disarmament, development, unequal trade, and the new
international economic order is excellent.  Of course, it provides moral
support.  It does not mean that just because there is talk about this or
because this principle is proclaimed that there will be progress or that
problems will be solved.

The enemy tries to create rifts and to divide the USSR and Cuba.  I have
spoken with Gorbachev about these topics, and the talks I have held with
him have been excellent.  He is an intelligent and brilliant man who is
easy to talk with.  The meetings I have held with him--which have lasted
for hours--have been very serious and respectful.  One day I told him that
the enemy wants to sow dissent among us with the argument that we do not do
the same things, that we do things differently.  And he asked me:  [Words
indistinct] why should we have to do things the same way?

A new element of Soviet policy, a new element that we have brought up is
that the influence that a socialist country might have, that the USSR might
have, cannot stem, as in past times, from orders or from the hegemony of
one party over others.  The influence that one must aspire to exert is a
moral, intellectual, and practical influence.  However, efforts are made to
sow division between us and the Soviets.  It is true that we do not do
things in the same way; it would be ridiculous and unforgivable if we did
things in the same way.  We have consistently applied the principle of work
and study.  Marx had proposed this.

[Words indistinct] situation of the working class in Britain, how 8-year
old children were working.  They found that children could produce, and how
terrible it was that children were working 13 or 14 hours a day.  They
spoke of the combination of work and study.  In his teachings, in his
ideas, Jose Marti insisted on the combination of work and study.  Because
of Marx and Marti's teachings, we implemented this.  I think this had
greatly influenced the younger generations of our people.  Those who are
under 40 have participated in the work-study system in one way or another.
In no socialist country did volunteer work acquire the levels it acquired
in our country.  We have promoted it.  It has its ups and downs.  We have
had to undertake our rectifications.  That began before there was even talk
about perestroyka, as a result of the last congress of our party.  That is
another topic.

I do not want to extend myself too much, but we have had a different
education.  Our people's spirit of solidarity is very great.  The spirit of
doing volunteer work and of cooperation is very great, very great.  I would
really say that it is at a higher level than in any other country.
Awareness has been raised.  We [words indistinct] each country should apply
doctrine adapted to its conditions.  Each country should solve its problem
with its own formula and solution.  I think there should be pluralism in
the interpretation of doctrines.  It would be a huge, an enormous mistake
if a country thinks that the formula it applied is a universal formula.
There are no universal formulas.  There are no universal solutions.

One of the things that I have said in the analysis of these things, more in
the economic field...[Castro changes thought] I would have to speak at
length to explain why the application of socialist countries methods at a
specific time in the administration of the economy brought us serious
problems.  That is why our rectification is partly the rectification of
things that we copied and partly things that we invented, which is another
story.  It began in 1975 and 1976 with the so-called system of economic
direction and planning.

It is about these problems to which I referred in that speech [not further
specified], and I said that each country should solve its own problems, and
I explained how we did things differently.  I said that if one's corn
aches, why should one seek medicine for a toothache, and if one has a
toothache, why should one seek medicine for corns?  It would be exactly the
same thing if we were to do everything that the Soviets have done to seek
solutions to their problems.  We have other problems, and we have to seek
solutions to our problems.  That is the essence of what I am talking
about, and I do not think this in any way contradicts the links of
friendship and solidarity that should exist among the socialist countries.
[applause] [end recording] [passage omitted]