Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Visits International Fair

FL0811211288 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1413 GMT 7 Nov 88

[Interview with President Fidel Castro by unidentified reporter at 6th
Havana International Fair on 6 November--recorded]

[Text] [Reporter] As you know, we have had problems with some imported
products.  Do you think this fair could lead to the signing of an

[Castro] The problems we have had with information products... [corrects
himself] imported products is the result of the availability of convertible
currency.  We have had to restrict many things and reduce the quantity
based on our financial situation, our convertible currency.

[Reporter] However, many firms have made offers to facilitate credit now...

[Castro, interrupting] Yes, many firms have the advantage of proximity.
They are in neighboring countries.  Often products that come from Japan or
Europe take much longer to arrive.  That is why trade is increasing with
Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, with Latin American countries...

[Reporter, interrupting] There is also a new line to Columbia...

[Castro, interrupting] I think this helps.  These exhibits also give us
many ideas.  They shed much light on industrial possibilities.  The people
I have spoken with are very friendly, very cooperative, and well-prepared.
These people that come to the fair...

[Reporter, interrupting] They give the impression that they want to help...

[Castro, interrupting] These people are truly well-prepared.  They are
university technicians.  I have asked many of them about their professions.
Many of them have higher-level educations and they know how to present
their products.

[Reporter] Do you think participation has increased?  Many firms

[Castro, interrupting] It's been notable but it's also been a big headache.
Part of me is pleased and the other part is concerned.  I'm not accustomed
to coming to these fairs and each time I visit there are more stands to

[Reporter, interrupting] (?There's barely enough) time...

[Castro, interrupting] The number of stands keep multiplying.  You see what
time it is now?  I think this is not a time for the exhibits.  I came at
this hour because they have a lot of [words indistinct] at this time.  It's
very interesting.

[Reporter] You know that the fair is an important opportunity to promote
[words indistinct] products.  The Otis Elevator Company is a firm that will
play an important role in new constructions for the tourism industry.

[Castro] Yes.

[Reporter] What do you think about the possibilities for these products?

[Castro] I think this is very convenient.  We should not limit [words
indistinct] finished.

[Reporter] Of course.

[Castro] If we limit ourselves like this, then we won't be able to do much.
We have no alternative except to save in every area.  This firm is very
prestigious.  It is very prestigious, very well known in Cuba.  We want to
cooperate in manufacturing elevators.

[Unidentified speaker] That is already being planned.  An agreement has
been reached on this...

[Castro, interrupting] We're already building some, right?

[Speaker] Yes, yes [words indistinct] and also Expo-Cuba...

[Castro, interrupting] For example, they're being used in hospitals.

[Reporter] It's very important.

[Castro] They can be very useful in hospitals.  They should purchase only
what they need, what can't be manufactured here.  I don't know how all this
is being handled, but it's very convenient.  I've figured out how much
imported equipment costs, including transportation, and how much equipment
that is manufactured here costs, even though a certain percentage of the
components have to be imported.  The important thing is that the equipment
manufactured here is of the same quality as the equipment that is imported.
That is fundamental.

[Reporter] Of course.

[Castro] Many times people are in the position where they have quality
products and they succumb to the temptation to use a component that is not
of good quality.  If you have 100 components and you use 2 or 3 that are of
poor quality, you'll have wasted your time on the other 97 components.

[Reporter] Of course.

[Castro] it is very important to know in each occasion what we should use
and what we should purchase.  There is a great need for elevators, not just
for the new buildings under construction, but also for the thousands of
buildings that exist throughout the country.  Do you know how many Otis
elevators we have?

[Speaker] We have 1,800 Otis elevators.

[Reporter] Some of them are very old and maintenance...

[Castro, interrupting] Do you live in a building that has an elevator?

[Reporter, laughing] No, no, commander.

[Castro] You're speaking as if you...

[Reporter, laughing] No, I'm a reporter for the national television
newscast and I cover the tourism industry.  That's why I'm very interested
in elevators.  The Sime [Steelworking Industry] comrades are undertaking
cooperative efforts with the Itur, which is a Spanish firm, to manufacture
pumps for swimming pools.

[Castro] How far away are we from their exhibit?

[Reporter] Well...

[Castro, interrupting] I came here awhile ago and I haven't moved more than
a few meters.

[Reporter] Also, commander...

[Castro, interrupting] You work in television in the tourism sector?

[Reporter] yes, I work in television on tourism, trade and tourism.

[Castro] Are you well-informed on Varadero?

[Reporter] yes.

[Castro] We were there for several days and for the second time we
discussed plans for hotels built by Cubana [as heard].  It's [words
indistinct]; isn't it?

[Reporter] Yes, the [words indistinct] plan.

[Castro] The plan here, the Varadero plan, is very, very beautiful. [words
indistinct] We are analyzing it.  A group has already done an analysis.  We
will have another group analyze the same thing so that we have criteria to
work with.  There are many things to do and many alternatives.

One of the concepts they will be looking into is if the hotel should be on
the ocean and if it should be proprietor of a strip of land, or if there
should be several hotels with no one being the proprietor of the

[Reporter] That way it can be shared.

[Castro] It's an idea.  Another consideration is whether the rooms should
face the ocean or the city.  For example, plans have been drawn up for a
hotel that could be built close to the Riviera Hotel.  It would be a short
distance from there.

[Reporter] Yes.  However, commander, in reference to the Varadero plan, the
avenue close to the hotels next to the ocean will have trees planted so
that it can be a pedestrian walkway.  I think this will allow the tourist
to see the city without being bothered by traffic and other things.

[Castro] When you come to an exhibit such as this you see how many firms
offer products that we need...

[Reporter, interrupting] They offer products we need for tourism.

[Castro] No, we need them for national development, but they're costly.
The importance of tourism is that it should produce income for the
acquisition of those things the country needs for development.  It's
important.  We have to work on this, on learning how to treat our visitors,
and we have to fight all those things that disturb visitors.  I know that
visitors like certain things.  All those things...

[Reporter, interrupting] That's true.  This applies to everything related
to tourism.

[Castro] Now we have 120 km of virgin beaches north of the country on Diez
Street and we will conquer those 120 km.  For example, in Cayo Coco, there
are more than 20 km of virgin beaches.  However between the northern coast
and the (?Cayeras), especially in the (Cayeras), there are around 120 km of
beaches similar to those in Varadero.  They are not all alike.  Some are
better than others.  Our northern coast truly has a fabulous natural beauty
as far as beaches are concerned.  We have to be able to take advantage of
those resources and use them.

[Reporter] We have to be able to use them.  Yes...

[Castro, interrupting] We don't have a large amount of oil, but we have
sun, seas, a healthy climate.  We have that.

[Reporter] Commander, is the development of tourism important than,
especially for the year 2000?

[Castro] I don't think we have any alternative.  We have to heavily develop
tourism.  There is no question that the development of the beaches for
international tourism helps national tourism.

For example, Varadero has 2,000 rooms.  A large part of those rooms were
used in the summer for national tourism.  Even though part of the rooms
were occupied in the summer, it will always be a small portion, 30 or 40
percent.  It will never be much more.  The tourists that come from more
developed countries have more economic resources.  And they, above all,
look for the beaches, the sun, in the winter months.

The day that Varadero has 30,000 rooms, if 40 percent of them are occupied
by foreign tourists, we would have 18,000 rooms left for national tourists.

[Reporter] There are many possibilities.

[Castro] All those beaches that are developed will also help national
tourism.  We must not think that everything that is constructed will only
help international tourism.

It is coincidental that people in this country have the mentality of a cat
as far as winter is concerned, as far as winter is concerned.  When the
water temperature drops to 26 degrees centrigrade, no one goes swimming in
the ocean.  No one goes swimming.  People here go swimming when the water
is 28, 29, 30, or 31 degrees centrigrades.  However, no one goes to the
beach during the months of January, February, or March.  For many years the
hotels were empty in the winter.  No one went there.

Now, in a certain sense, this coincides with the interests of the country
because the population is not accustomed to go to the beaches during those
months that international tourists arrive.  During the months that foreign
tourists do not arrive, our population goes to the beaches.  Everyone wants
to go in July and August.  Rooms can't be filled in 2 months.

We plan to continue developing camping on the northern coast.  Every year
we build one or two more.

[Speaker] There is also a plan for swimming pools.

[Castro] Yes, we have to build pools.  We have made arrangements to use the
rock with...

[Reporter, interrupting] We will use rock slides [deslizadores].

[Castro] We plan to use rock slides and ladders.  You appear to be
well-informed on all this.

[Reporter] Yes, commander, I...

[Castro, interrupting] You took advantage of the opportunity to spread a
little propaganda. [laughs]

[Reporter] Yes, of course.  I interrupted your tour but now I would briefly
like to know your opinion on this fair because trade contracts have almost
tripled in comparison to the previous years.  This is a very beneficial
thing for us...

[Castro, interrupting] They're not going to publish everything you've
collected here because they won't give you that much room.  You know how it

[Reporter] Yes, commander, they will.

[Castro] I can tell you that this fair has acquired more prestige, quality,
a larger audience, and it is now an important event from an economic
standpoint.  It not only puts our trade enterprises in touch with all these
firms; it also places our industry in touch with these firms.  There is
always cooperation.

For example, there was a case of a firm that used to sell us products.
They taught us how to manufacture it and now they are selling us something

[Reporter, laughs] They are selling us something else.

[Castro] They used to send us the finished product.  Now they sell us the
raw material to make the product.  They continue to have a market with us
and we save money and make progress.

[Reporter] We save money.  We need technology, commander.  Right?

[Castro] Yes, we need very much.  We also need to develop technology.  We
have in some cases.  Some of our equipment is unique, especially in the
medical area.  Some equipment is unique.

[Reporter] Now there are several articles in the fair...

[Castro, interrupting] I have to wait and see the Cuban exhibit at the end.
The neuronic, suma [ultra microanalytic system] equipment is there.

The neuronic equipment will discover if a new-born child has any kind of
deficiency.  You don't have to wait until the child can speak.  We'll know
as soon as he's born.  It's not just a matter of knowing; we can solve many
of those problems.  hearing deficiencies can lead to mental problems; if he
is treated early, then that is very good.