Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Returns Home, Talks To Press

FL0512160688 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1236 GMT 5 Dec 88

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, first secretary of the PCC Central
Committee and president of the Councils of State and Ministers, arrived in
Havana from Mexico City last night.  He was a guest at the inauguration of
President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Army General Raul Castro Ruz, second secretary of the party, welcomed him
at the Jose Marti International Airport. [Video shows Castro stepping off a
plane and being embraced by Raul Castro and other officials] Members of the
PCC Politburo and the Central Committee were also present.

Immediately after his arrival, the commander in chief had a brief exchange
with members of the press.

[Begin recording] [First reporter] Commander, you made reference in Mexico,
and have done so before on the need for Latin American unity.  You also had
the opportunity to meet with presidents invited to Salinas' inauguration.
Is there a will on the part of the presidents to take concrete steps for
this Latin American unity in the future?

[Castro] I would say yes, there is more awareness and there is much more
need.  These objective situations are being reflected by the attitude of
the government leaders.  Of course, this was the point in which (?all
presidents coincided,) especially in all political statements.

[First reporter] During the news conference you said that Cuba did not have
dogmatic (?objections) regarding the OAS.  Is this not true?

[Castro] Yes.

[First reporter] Have Latin American governments expressed interest in Cuba
joining this continental organization?

[Castro] Well, what do you know about the interview?  What has been
published here?  I do not know what has been published.

[First reporter] Excerpts.

[Castro] It was long.  It lasted about 2 and 1/2 hours.  About 18 questions
were asked.

[First reporter] Yes, you touched on many subjects.

[Castro] Yes, indeed.  I said that in response to a question that was posed
to me.  It truly reflects our position.  This was already mentioned at the
Group of Eight meeting in Acapulco; Cuba's right [to join the OAS].  The
Group of Eight made this initiative.  This was when we had to reach a
decision.  We arrived at the conclusion that if this was going to be useful
to the unity and integration struggle, we could not turn the OAS issue into
a dogmatic matter.

As I said yesterday, if that is useful for something it can be done but it
wouldn't make any sense if it doesn't.  This is what I responded.  This
interest has been expressed by the Group of Eight.  There is no hurry.  It
is not a priority matter.  The continuation of contacts, of unity efforts
to face the most serious problems such as the debt, the economic crisis,
and all direct and indirect ways of economic looting the Latin American
countries are subjected to are much more important.

Do you want to know something else?

[Second reporter] Yes, commander.  I would like to know... [rephrases]  It
appears that the new U.S. Administration will have to get used to the Cuban
presence, to a more active role of Cuba in the Latin American continent as
a result of your visit to Ecuador and Mexico.

[Castro] It is a new situation.  They must have not liked this one bit.
All newspapers carried yesterday's interview and published very objective
reports on everything that was said.  They were very clear, categorical
statements.  In my view, they were harsh.  There was not a lot of kindness
toward imperialists.  We have been taking this same message everywhere.

This trip was not an easy one from the political standpoint because of the
internal differences that came up.  We analyzed it and decided that we had
to accept the invitation despite internal differences.  As I say, strategy
cannot be subordinated to tactic.  That is clear, our objectives, these
elements, these [words indistinct] decisive struggles.  There were
misunderstandings, misunderstanding are the part of left-wing sectors.  Of
course, this is why it was difficult.  Everyone was happy in Ecuador.  Here
the right was not happy and the left was not happy.  But in my view,
objectivity prevailed.  There were a lot of objective factors.

I had a meeting--I believe a very good one--with the leaders.  They were
very nice.  They said they were happy, that they lamented... [rephrases]
they would have preferred that it [my visit] would have taken place under
different circumstances but that it was an extraordinary thing for them.
In my judgment, this was an intelligent thing to say instead of turning the
trip into a setback for the left when it could have been presented as a
step forward for the country, a success for the left.  I was very careful
in everything, not letting myself be influenced by any kind of analysis.
When I met with left-wing people--I believe it was an excellent meeting.  I
went there and told them categorically... [rephrases] I explained that it
is easy to do things when there are no problems, but that it would have
been cowardly not to go there, to be isolated, and not participate.  Well,
I explained what our line was, our strategy, and the reasons for having to
make the trip.  The meeting resulted in the analysis of a number of things
that had nothing to do with [words indistinct] that difficulty.

The press reported well on this and I believe that, in the end, those who
were unable to understand will realize that it was the best policy.  Beyond
all those things, the support, the generalized sympathy of Mexicans
prevailed.  That is, people were able to see and separate one thing from
the other regarding the internal problems created by the visit.  I even
said I understood it, that I was not upset or irritated with anyone because
of the fact that I understood that they could be concerned since the
situation was somewhat contradictory.  Cuba's position is very clear and
transparent, the objectives are very clear and very far-reaching.  Everyone
understands that this was the thing to do.

Our work has been intense in the last few days.  We went to Oriente and
came back.  We left for Mexico the same day we returned from Oriente.
There has been a lot of activity.  So...

[First reporter, interrupting] People will be waiting for you at the

[Castro] Yes, it seems that participation in tomorrow's event was an
unavoidable commitment.  We later have to work on Gorbachev's welcome.

[First reporter] On the 9th.

[Castro] On the 9th.  I don't know what other news has been heard here.

[First reporter] Nothing, just that.

[Castro] This is a very busy month.

[First reporter] And later there is also the National Assembly meeting.

[Castro] The National Assembly, another visit we are going to have...

[First reporter] Uh-huh.

[Castro] The Central Committee and the 30th anniversary [of the triumph of
the revolution]

[First reporter] Exactly. [end recording]