Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Urges Joint Action for Debt

FL0512194288 Mexico City NOTIMEX in Spanish 1745 GMT 5 Dec 88

[Text] Mexico City, 3 Dec (NOTIMEX)--Cuban President Fidel Castro today
urged the Group of Eight to try to get all Latin American countries
together to solve the continent's foreign debt.  During a lengthy news
conference of almost 3 hours he said:  We have to fight united so we can
continue calling ourselves independent countries.

According to him, Latin American leaders should find joint solutions to
prevent traumatic events.  The continent is a powder keg that will soon
blow up if a solution is not found to the most serious problem it has had,
the foreign debt.

He said the United States has always handled us like the cat that talks
separately with the little mice and, faced with this situation, we Latin
American countries have not even been capable of getting together as any
workers union would do to defend their rights.

He added that now nobody doubts that the Latin American foreign debt is
unpayable and uncollectable.  Proof of this is that the foreign debt is
being sold in financial circles at less than 50 percent of its value.

Castro asserted that the matter continues to be the collection of foreign
debt interests which represents a great drain which should be avoided.

From his point of view, U.S. Administrations from Kennedy up to the present
have been characterized by their myopia and inability to make long-range
plans.  They do not carry out policies, they improvise them, he said.

He asserted that the day the United States realizes the problem that
foreign debt represents, it will surely use one of its dirty war tactics;
interventions and attacks, to prevent social explosions, but this will not
work because countries will no longer allow it.

Castro said the $30 million Latin America pays annually for its foreign
debt services could allow the nations of the continent to grow.  Thus,
finding a solution to this matter is a battle of survival.

Referring to the role of the OAS and the SELA, he said good efforts have
been made but they have not been enough.  Castro added that Cuba will study
the possibility of joining the former organization to the extent that it
stops being at the service of the United States.

Responding to a question regarding his expectations of President-elect
George Bush, he said, it is said that Bush is more pragmatic than
ideological and he hopes that Bush doesn't have the same last century's
reactionary thinking Ronald Reagan has.  However, Castro said we will have
to wait and see before assessing Bush.

Throughout the news conference attended by over 100 journalists, Fidel made
many references to Mexico and expressed the regard Cubans have for this
country, which they consider their second homeland.

He noted the role Mexico has in the Latin American concert and asserted
that he hopes it can continue with the climate of stability and democracy
it currently has.

Speaking of Angola, Commander Castro said Cubans will not leave the country
if an agreement is not reached at the United Nations which would allow the
Angolans to live with liberty and dignity, "Even if we have to stay there
10 more years."

He sharply denied that his country is a springboard for drug smuggling.  He
said this is one of the many lies the Americans have made up.  Cuba is one
of the most drug-free countries in the world, he asserted.

Regarding Central America, he said it is hard to foresee what will happen
in the region inasmuch as the United States continues with its dirty war.

Finally, he denied that Cuban-Soviet relations have deteriorated and said
he was pleased with Mikhail Gorbachev's upcoming visit to Cuba.