Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro on Mexico, USSR, U.S., Other Issues

FL0912043088 Havana Television Network in Spanish 0130 GMT 7 Dec 88

[News conference held by President Fidel Castro with international
reporters in Mexico City on 3 December--recorded; passages within
slantlines represent indistinct portions of this news conference that were
supplied from an identical recorded version carried on Havana Cubavision
Television in Spanish at 0331 GMT 9 December]

[Text] [Unidentified moderator] Good afternoon distinguished colleagues.
With us is President Fidel Castro, who will answer your questions.  As
usual, we ask our comrades to identify themselves when they ask their
questions and to identify the organization they represent.  We have/already
assembled some of the interested reporters who wish/to ask questions.
Let's get started.

[Castro] How are we going to do this?  Who have you assembled?

[Moderator] We have assembled some comrades who wish to ask questions.  We
will start with that list and then we will open the floor to questions.
For the first question, Enriqueta Cabrera from EL DIA.  There are
microphones, so please ask for them when you have the floor.

[Cabrera] Commander Fidel Castro, after almost 30 years what is your
assessment of this, your first visit to Mexico?

[Castro] A general assessment of 30 years?  How's this?

[Moderator] [Words indistinct]

[Castro] It's very difficult to give an assessment like that in a few brief
words. I think time has flown by.  I have many impressions.  The first
impression was of the city.  I lived in one city and now I find myself in
another.  If you dropped me off somewhere around here I would need guides,
maps, and I don't know how many other things in order to orient myself.
Other impressions concern the great changes that have taken place in
Mexico.  Mexicans have built the largest city in the world, and the most
heavily populated.  This was done with the sweat and effort of the
Mexicans, although it's too big.

In the past 30 years I have seen a change in a group who has progressed in
many ways.  There is a cultural and technological level that is
considerable.  These are my first impressions.  I believe the trip has been
useful.  For me, personally, it has been very satisfactory.  I have had
many meetings.  I believe those meetings have been useful.

If you ask me, from an emotional point of view, it is extraordinary, in a
certain way, that I find myself here almost 32 years after having left.  I
think I left on 24 November.  We took the boat on 25 November and arrived
in Cuba on 2 March [corrects himself] 2 December. Yesterday was exactly 32
years since we arrived; today makes it 32 years and 1 day.

I don't know if back then, when we were heading for Cuba, we could imagine
that all those things could happen, and to relive all the emotions of
finding myself again in this city.  That's what I can tell you.  It's not a
very broad assessment, but it's an attempt to answer your question.

[Moderator] The floor now goes to Berta Fernandez of EL UNIVERSAL.

[Castro] This is tremendous.  How many rolls of film are you people using
up?  [laughter] Flashes, lights, human eyesight wasn't meant for that.
When the robots begin to take care of government's affairs they will be
able to tolerate this a little better. So many cameras and flashes.  Where
is she?

[Fernandez] Commander, I would like to ask you two things please.  The
first is that yesterday you spoke of the need to not destabilize Mexico,
does this mean that the advancement of the left-wing should stop?  Also, I
would like you to tell us please a little about the aggressions by
[words indistinct] that your country has received from the power of the

[Castro] Well look, the statements should be kept in context.  I didn't
say; I didn't issue that sentence regarding Mexico as a warning to anyone.
I was talking about the political and historical processes of Latin
America, and the difficult economic situation that Latin American countries
are enduring, and about the consequences, of a political nature, that these
events are having in this hemisphere.  I was saying that we should try to
prevent Mexico from being destabilizing. I meant to say that Mexico is a
very special country.

It is a country of 85 million inhabitants.  It is a complex country that
has its own history which is known from the last century to the present
century.  It has achieved the highest level of stability in the whole
hemisphere, much more than any other Latin American regime, government, or
state.  I was saying that it was a conquest, an achievement.  Mexico is a
country of such weight, importance, magnitude, of such international
prestige, of such importance to Latin America that I expressed a wish; the
wish that Mexico not be destabilized as a result of all the problems we are
experiencing, problems that are truly objective.  This really doesn't have
anything to do with the activities that are undertaken by the political
parties of this country.

On the contrary, I can say as a general guideline, that in spite of our
being revolutionaries, in spite of our having had to used an armed struggle
to free our country from tyranny, and despite having had a revolution in
Cuba, I have always said that violence is to be used as a last resort.  I
have always thought, as did our most illustrious patriot Jose Marti, that
you should pursue nonpolitical means when all other paths are closed.
Marti lived in a special suppressed state because there was no freedom from
the Spaniards.  He knew then that there was no other alternative but war in
the struggle to gain independence.  He used to say that the war had to be
short so that the sacrifices would be few.  I think if Cuba's independence
could have been gained without war, he would have done everything possible
to gain it without war.

On other occasions I have said that Lenin himself, and extraordinary
revolutionary of our century... [changes thought] I'm sure if he and his
party had an opportunity to make the social changes in that country, in
that old empire of czars, without war, he would have done so.  This is a
general thought.  I am in favor of change and I always prefer that changes
come about like that.  I think that all conscious men, men who think, who
know the costs of social changes would prefer them without violence.

I don't have to advise anyone because no one here is advocating violence.
It was just a general thought because this hemisphere is a powder keg!  It
looks like it's going to explode.  If the problems aren't solved it's going
to blow up.  It will happen just as it did in other cultures, in other
times, due to problems of an objective nature that were created.  Then,
while I was thinking about the repercussions that all these problems have
on the stability of these countries, I expressed that idea.  It was not a
warning to anyone nor was it advice to anyone and I certainly don't think
that there is a possibility of violence or destabilization in Mexico.  When
I said, I wished this, I meant that Mexico not be affected by all the
problems affecting Latin America.  I was expressing a wish.

About the war of words [preceding word in English], well, what war can we
refer to?  There is a war of words.  The empire has a monopoly on all mass
media.  It is a form of war against not only Cuba, but everyone.  The world
knows, almost, what the empire wants.  It's a type of war, and it is
carried out against countries especially like Cuba and Nicaragua; against
socialist countries, against revolutionary countries.  The beauty of this
is that they want to broadcast, but they don't want anyone to broadcast to
them.  They claim the right, as they call it, to inform other countries,
but when we want to inform them they say:  No, that's not right, that
produces interference, etcetera, etcetera.

I don't know if you want to know something more specific, but its such a
generic question on the war of words.  I can tell you that there is a
universal war of words; a reactionary war against all just thoughts and/or
the people's interests.  That war regarding Cuba/has been going on for a
long time.  From the very triumph of the revolution a number of stations
were created.  The empire has the so-called Voice of America [VOA].
They've even taken the name of the hemisphere.  The whole world knows them
as Americans, as if we belonged to some other hemisphere, or some other

The VOA is broadcast throughout the entire world.  Private stations were
established.  They established a medium-wave station on Swan Island during
the years of the Giron invasion and the psychological war against Cuba.
They have done it throughout the 30 years of the revolution.  Just recently
a special program for Cuba was established.  Cuba has always received
broadcasts from the United States.  What offended our people is that
station was given the name of Jose Marti.  That's an insult!  It's an
insult to our people, an insult to the memory of a man like Marti.  It's as
if they established a station north of here to inform, educate, and
indoctrinate Mexicans and named it Hidalgo, Morelos, or Benito Juarez.  I
think if a Mexican sees this he would feel as offended as we Cubans do.

Further more, we know that there is a strong ideological war, an
ideological struggle,/which is going to last a long time/.  I think that as
long as empires exist there will be psychological and ideological wars
against all progressive ideas in this world.  We are fairly immune to all
of that so I think we can stand up to this pretty well.  We've been there
for 30 years. We're still there.  All of us are still there.  I believe
that the words, and ideas that come out through--are such nonsense at
times--do almost no harm.  AIDS is more dangerous than the war of words.

[Moderator] It is now /EFE's/(Francisco Osaba)'s turn.

[(Obsaba)] Thank you very much.  Commander, two questions if I may.  First,
your conversations with the president of Columbia, in these past few days,
have caused anticipation.  Why is that?  Second, for several years we
Spanish have been waiting for your visit.  When will this take place?

[Castro] When will you invite me?

[(Osaba)] You are invited.

[Castro] You want me to go to Spain as a tourist?  [laughter] I've already
made a technical stopover there.  When I receive an invitation I'll see.
It depends on my work schedule.  I'm happy that you are waiting for a visit
and I thank you.  However, to visit Spain I need an invitation.  What?
[Castro is heard whispering to someone but words are indistinct] What does
a visit to Spain have to do with talking to Barco?  [Columbian President
Virgilio Barco]

[Unidentified speaker] [Words indistinct]

[Castro] Oh, to [words indistinct] when I'm going to Spain.  I have Spanish
blood, as we almost all do, and we have very good relations with Spain.  It
has always been an interesting country.  [Words indistinct] in spite of
having no other alternative than to fight the Spaniards because they were
too stubborn and didn't want to solve the problems via negotiation.

I've had talks with President Barco.  It's not the first time we've met.  I
got together with him in Ecuador and we met again here and had breakfast.
The meeting was very friendly and cordial.  Even though we don't have
formal diplomatic relations, we have real relations based on respect.  In
that meeting we talked about bilateral subjects and other things, but we
basically talked about general things, such as international affairs having
to do with Latin America.  We also spoke about international politics.  I
don't see why there has to be any anxiety about this.  I thought the
meeting was quite normal and we exchanged views on things that are of
interest to Cuba, Colombia and Latin America.  We talked about things of
international interest, nothing special. For me it was very pleasant to
have the opportunity to exchange views with President Barco.  He has always
been very nice every time I've had the chance to meet him.

[Moderator] Very well.  The floor now goes to (Gerardo Arreola) from LA

[(Arreola)] Commander, I want to ask you two questions.  It has been 2
years since the Third PCC Congress ended with the initiative to rectify
errors and negative activities in your country.  What has happened with
this campaign?  Has it worked and how far has it gone?  Second, your
presence here in Mexico now, and in Quito, some weeks ago, is highly
significant with respect to Cuba's process of reapproachment with Latin
America.  What is your assessment of the present relations between Cuba and
Latin America?

[Castro] The questions you people ask are enough to write a thesis.
[laughter] I recall that the main report of the Third PCC Congress had 10
pages dedicated to analyzing the things that were wrong.  This is in
keeping with the traditional spirit of self-criticism that has been
characteristic of our revolutionary process.  Further on, we began to delve
deeper into those problems.  We analyzed mistakes and negative activities
that have occurred in the past 10 years, between the First and Third PCC
Congresses.  We tackled those things that we were aware of and considered
to be mistakes and negative occurrences.

That was, fundamentally, associated with the construction of socialism in
our country.  We had, and I'm trying to be concise, two phases.  One phase
was categorized as idealism, although/perhaps we tried to move too quickly
and skip/phases.  Later, when improving those idealistic mistakes, we
applied a system of guidance for the economy.  This, to a large degree,
compiled the experiences of other socialist countries in their construction
of socialism.  Then tendencies of another type began to crop up.  I would
say that they were errors in mercantilism.  Sometimes I use a stronger word
and say they are mistakes of profiteering [mercachiflismo].

Some enterprises began to plan around with economic concepts and categories
associated with capitalism.  They used these as instruments in the
construction of socialism. I remember, and perhaps some of you may now, how
Che warned us, with great concern, about the risks of using capitalist
notions in the construction of socialism.  We had the opportunity to see
some of the consequences and effects in practice.  When some of our
administrators, or/many of our/ administrators, began to act with
capitalist mentalities.  /They were called shoddy capitalists/.  They
didn't have the efficiency of the capitalists, on the one hand, and at the
same time they played at being capitalists with notions of rent, profits,
prizes, etcetera.  This would take time to explain.  It would become a
conference to analyze history, doctrine, politics, and things of great

However, these phenomena began to occur.  Volunteer work began to decrease.
People wanted to solve almost everything with money and for money.  We were
beginning to fall into the capitalist trap.  Another bad habit we
developed, which is also very negative, was the belief that by inventing
various mechanisms which copy capitalist things, socialism would build
itself.  Socialism constitutes the first opportunity in the history of man
to program development.  You shouldn't let yourself be dragged around by
blind laws, similar to ones that the capitalist system drags around. /The
capitalists themselves have tried to make/ corrections because they can't
leave them alone.

Under these conditions of socialism we began to develop the mentality that
mechanisms, which were virtually self-created, promoted the development and
construction of socialism.  I think that's one of the most negative
tendencies.  We can't abandon the belief that development must be
programmed.  /This is one of the/ great privileges of socialism.  /Of true
socialism/.  There's so much socialism and so many people call themselves
socialists.  We're speaking seriously, right?  [Words indistinct]
constructing a society, a new society that is completely separated from
capitalism.  Those tendencies were causing serious damage.

I have only mentioned a few things to try to explain what the rectification
process means.  It has meant a lot because the laurels of the revolutionary
spirit's solidarity and enthusiasm have become green again.  Not like the
man who only thinks about money.  It's as if he were a little horse with a
carrot dangling in front to make him go forward, or a whip hitting him from
behind to make him go forward./ Human society, mankind, must go forward,
but not because it has a carrot dangling in front of it, or a whip./ I
think those values are very important. /Ours is a small country/ next to
the empire which is only 90 miles... [changes thought] It's less than 90
miles because the base in Guantanamo is a very close.  It's in our own
country.  It's an imperial base imposed on our country by force.

What has kept us going are values.  Not the values of consumer societies,
but moral and spiritual values, patriotism, the feeling of human solidarity
which is so extraordinarily developed in our people.  That's what has made
us strong!  That's what has permitted us to endure despite all the
campaigns, the war of words, other types of wars, and the economic
blockades.  Our revolution is set over a very solid base; over very solid
and profound values.  We must preserve those values.  Nobody created the
revolution for us.  We did it ourselves!  No one defended it, and no one
can defend, our revolution.  We have defended it and we are defending it!

Of course the empire wants to destroy the revolution:  them and their
theoretical and the Santa Fe Group talk.  Sometimes they say it has to be
destroyed by force.  Other times they say it has to be weakened from
within.  If a revolution like ours, on a small island 90 miles away from
the United States, is not built on solid values, it wouldn't be able to
stand up to that powerful empire.  Our people are willing to fight.  They
are willing to die defending their ideals.  We are not a country that is
going to compete with the consumer societies of the empire, societies it
created by looting and exploiting the world.  We don't exploit anyone.  We
live from our sweat and work.  We don't live off the riches of other
countries.  We live with honor and dignity.  We will not ridiculously
compete with consumer goods against the imperialist societies.  Any other
country can make a mistake and nothing will happen to it.  Perhaps it is
the neighbor of a big socialist country and they can help them.  The
neighbor we have is the other one.  We can't make mistakes or be careless.

We cannot underestimate the moral values.  We can't underestimate the
awareness of the person in any sense.  That's why we had to rectify those
tendencies that distanced us from these principles and took us toward a
principle of consumerism or alienation.  Everything was done simply because
you got paid so much.  This does not mean that we ignore the laws and
principles of socialism, the system of socialist compensation which has to
be in accordance with the quantity and quality of the work that each person
gives to society.  I can tell you that the assessment is frankly positive.

The other question pertains to my trips to Ecuador and Mexico.  These trips
are signs of the new times.  They are signs of the greater spirit of
independence of the Latin American peoples.  They are signs of the greater
need for relations and unity.  They are signs of a greater awareness of who
is plundering and exploiting us.  They are a signs that the policy of
blockading and isolating Cuba has failed.

We previously did not attend inauguration ceremonies simply because we
weren't invited.  This time we were invited.  We were invited to Ecuador
and we went with pleasure.  This time Mexico invited us and based on our
experience in Ecuador where we had so many contacts with so many
delegations, with so many Latin American forces--we were able to hold
talks, exchange views, opinions, and, in a certain sense, to unite wills
and efforts--we came away defending the idea that we should unite even more
and fight united, not separately, against the great problems of our times
so that we can truly call ourselves independent nations.

We fought for all those ideas.  That is why I highly value such
opportunities to make these contacts.  That is why I accepted the
invitation to come to Mexico, a country with which we have special
relations.  I don't know if its a worn-out phrase, but to Cubans, Mexico is
like /second fatherland/.  It has been so; that is what we think of Mexico.
It's not just a phrase.  It has been demonstrated by actions.

Throughout our history, Marti came to Mexico during the colonial era and
many Cubans came here to fight.  During the difficult time of our
fatherland during the tyranny of Machado [former President Gerardo
Machado], many Cubans came here to Mexico to organize and fight.  After the
Batista military coup, we came here when the struggle became impossible.
We received hospitality and shelter here.  We felt that Mexico was ours and
that we had the right to work for Cuba here in Mexico.  This has not just
been done by Cubans; all of Latin America has done this.  When the
Uruguayans had serious problems they came here to Mexico.  When the people
of Argentina had very serious problems, they came here to Mexico.  When the
Pinochet coup occurred and the fierce repression began; when people
disappeared and crimes took place in Chile, hundreds of thousands of
Mexicans [corrects himself] Chileans came here to Mexico.  This was also
done by the Nicaraguan patriots and many other countries.  We had Latin
Americans here from everywhere, from all countries where there were
tyrannies or repressive governments.

Many people left their countries and came here because they saw Mexico as
common ground.  The most secure place they encountered during all these
years was our common home: Mexico.  They continued fighting and working for
their countries here.  That's why for the Latin Americans, especially for
Cubans, Mexico is our common home.

Mexico is the only Latin American country that did not sever relations, the
only Latin American country that did not follow the orders of the United
States.  It maintained relations.  It is a country with which, through all
these years and with different governments, we have carried out common
struggles in the international arena.

Those are special reasons.  We have with Mexico [words indistinct].  The
invitation is a positive action, a construction action and that's why I did
not hesitate to travel to Mexico even though our relations with Mexico are
not the result of circumstances; they are historic.  They do not pertain to
relations with men.  They are relations with institutions, a country, a
state which interests us very much.  It is a state that we Latin Americans
need very much.  Latin Americans need Mexico's presence and actions at this
crucial time.  That is why I can say: Yes, these trips are signs of the new
times and of improved relations between Cuba and Latin America.  The
relations are changing.

The United states does not like this at all because it demonstrates the
total failure of the policy of isolating Cuba from Latin America.  It is
Cuba's vindication for Latin America; the Latin America that one day left
us alone at the mercy of the empire.  The Latin America that at one time
associated itself with the empire to try and destroy our revolution.  The
only exception to this was Mexico.  There was later another large and
durable exception:  the peoples of Latin America.  They never joined the
treason, the isolation, the blockade, the attempt to destroy the

Thirty years have passed.  We've been patient.  We've persevered.  We've
been firm, loyal, and true to our principles.  We have not changed.  Latin
America's conditions have changed and that is what can be seen in these new
acts and in our presence at this ceremony marking the change in government.

I don't know if I answered your question.  You'll excuse me if my answer is
relatively long.

[Moderator] (Eduardo Kras Lune) of the REUTER PRESS AGENCY now has the

[(Kras Lune)] Commander, there has been much speculation on the eventual
changes that will take place in U.S. policy with the George Bush
administration.  We would be interested in knowing what expectations Cuba
has in respect to this new presidential administration.  That's one
question.  My second question is:  After your remarks 3 years ago on the
foreign debt, do you think that the situation has changed at all, above
all, taking into consideration the presidential change in the United

[Castro] In reference to Bush, they say he is less of an ideologue than
Reagan and he is a more pragmatic man.  That's what is said by Democrats,
Republicans, and other international politicians and analysts.  A pragmatic
man is always preferable to a man who is a recalcitrant reactionary with
the mentality of the past century--without offending the last century
[laughter]--as Reagan is.

These are nothing more than theories.  We will see how international and
domestic policies develop, how they play this and replay it in the United
States itself.  We do not want to build up any hopes right now.  We simply
want to see what is done, what occurs.  We want to see how the new Bush
administration acts.

In regard to the debt, the situation now is much worse.  We led a large
battle against the problem of the debt throughout 1987.  Above all, it was
a battle to develop awareness and unite wills.  We met with representatives
from Latin America.  We met with people from all sectors; students,
journalists, women, peasants, trade unions, political personalities.

In the year 1985, we saw the most important psychological opportunity to
carry out the battle not just against the debt, but against the causes of
the debt, which are protectionism, unequal trade, and all those forms of
plundering, which victimize our peoples.  In 1985, the creditor powers, our
plunderers, were not prepared.  In my opinion, this was the best time to
conduct a united battle.  That was the best time for all Latin American
countries, all Third World countries to unite.

Three years have passed and if we analyze everything that was said in 1985,
one can see how strictly and precisely the predictions have been fulfilled
since then.  Creditor countries have been able to manipulate the situation.
They've held talks, one-by-one, with each of the creditors [as heard].
It's like the cat talking to each of the rats individually. It's like
Gulliver holding talks with each of the Lilliputians.

The /very strength/ of each of these countries with so many problems, so
many difficulties /is that they never had/ to face the united attitude of
these countries.  Debtor countries were not even able to do what trade
union workers do. They can't meet to overcome something, to get better
salaries.  We were not able to do this.  Now all the consequences can be
seen.  Not everyone was aware of the problem.  We can even say that many
people were not aware of this situation. Now, after 2 [as heard] years,
there is more awareness of the serious nature of the problem, of the
consequences of this problem.

It is also clear that what was said about the debt being unpayable and
uncollectable is a reality.  Everyone now knows that the debt is unpayable
and uncollectable.  No one even speaks about the debt anymore.  Even in
financial circles, the Latin American foreign debt is now worth half or
less than half of what it used to be worth.  It's worth about 50, 45, or 40
percent but it's lower than 50 percent /of its value, but they are still
charging/ interest and interest rates are tremendous.

What happens is that they charge less each time because there's less money
each time.  There's constantly less money for capital flight.  Each time
there's less money that can be taken out of our countries' economies
although money is still being extracted from our economies.

It's similar to someone who is in an accident.  He's taken to the hospital
and instead of giving him blood; they take blood from him or the patient
dies and they continue to take the little bit of blood he has left.  That's
the picture today of the economies of Latin America and the Third World.
We're closer here to Latin America.  Does the economy grow or not?  The
economics of Latin American countries are at a standstill.  The gross
domestic product [producto real] per capita is less each time and income is
less than what was earned in 1978.  There are no solutions in sight.  There
is less purchasing power for products.  It's a truly tragic situtation.

I think you asked, or you alluded to, what can be expected from the U.S.
Administration.  You said something. /I think the one from REUTER said

[(Kras Lune)] I was referring to the debt.

[Castro] It was on the debt?  They/themselves have/many problems.  Do you
thing they will be aware of this?

I think that U.S. Administrations have been characterized by
nearsightedness.  They have lacked long-distance vision [luz larga].  They
have not been able to foresee the problems and the events that may arise.

I /have told this to/ many U.S. politicians.  The Government of the United
States does not make policies.  Instead, they improvise policies.  They
have always been guided by improvised policies.  It is possible that during
Roosevelt's time and during the great crisis of the 1930's, a U.S.
Government or statesman may have been able to make domestic and
international policy.  The last president who improvised a policy, but at
least, at least [repeats himself] he drew it up, was Kennedy.  This
occurred after the triumph of the Cuban revolution.  The triumph of the
Cuban revolution scared the empire very much.  The empire was so afraid
that the same would be repeated throughout the length and width of Latin
America that they drew up a strategy, or they improvised a strategy known
as the Alliance for Progress.

I see many young faces here, yes, young faces; don't smile [laughter], they
may not be as informed about the things that occurred at that time.
Anyway, after the revolution, the panic and the scare of the empire was
such that they elaborated a policy called Alliance for Progress.  Then,
they began talking about reforms.  The United States even began talking
about agrarian reforms--a term which had only been used by progressive
parties.  Before the Kennedy era, whoever would speak of agrarian reform
would be accused of being a communist.  The Government of Guatemala was
overthrown because it carried out an agrarian reform.  Anyway, they began
talking about agrarian and fiscal reforms, social, education, health, and
housing improvements, as well as improvements in the redistribution of
wealth.  They even offered aid totalling $20,000 billion.  That was 27
years ago, almost 28.

That was at the beginning of 1961, when they preparing the invasion of
Giron against Cuba.  Ever since they they have been... [shifts thought] At
that time, Latin America did not have a foreign debt.  At that time, our
products were worth something and could purchase something, much more than
today.  The population, back then was less than half of what it is today.
We had 20 percent of the problems we have today--all types of problems.
Today, the debt is 410,000 billion.  Our products aren't worth anything.
Plundering is greater each time.  The situation is much more critical; and
these nearsighted people haven't even realized there is a problem.  Maybe,
they'll discover it one of these days.  Hopefully, they will discover it.
It would be better if they did, because no one knows the consequences of
all these problems.  Maybe, they'll even elaborate a policy.  The logical
thing to do would be for them to be somewhat concerned--and not just come
up with some band-aid solutions.  They should be ready to hold discussions,
dialogues with Latin America to erase the debt and establish the new
international economic order which was approved by the United Nations, a
few years ago.

They should be ready to find basic solutions to the problems of Latin
America. /They should not seek bandaid solutions,/ because all this allows
for destabilization, social uprisings, revolutions.  Then they want to
solve it by sending Marines, waging dirty wars, invading countries.  Of
course, up until now, they have been been able to carry out that policy
because it has been a matter of [rewords] because these changes have taken
place in small countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, or Grenada.  In Grenada,
they solved the problem--there, where the revolution had committed
suicide--by landing their Marines and sending battalions of the airborne
division.  If some day, as a result of these problems, social uprisings
/occur/ in South America, for example, I wonder if they can solve the
problem by dropping paratroopers from the 82d airborne division.  I think
that if there is upheaval in that world, they will not be able to solve the
problem in that manner.  That world could devour not only one but 100
airborne divisions.

We cannot be /advocates/ of catastrophes; we prefer to foresee and resolve
problems.  We would even prefer for changes to take place without violence
in this hemisphere.  That is why I say that hopefully, they'll become
aware--not just them.  It's not only them who have to become aware, but
also the European Economic Community, the rest of the developed capitalist
/countries/ to solve these problems not only in Latin America but also for
the whole Third World.  But this is the situation, these are the
differences.  Let's see if the understanding of the current U.S.
Administration is enlightened.  Let's see if it understands and discovers
the reality, and if it is capable of being ready to elaborate a policy.  It
would have to be a policy which is the result of negotiations with Latin

In Uruguay, I understand that the Group of Eight discussed this.  They
talked about establishing a dialogue with the new administration.  I think
that they should not speak on behalf of the Group of Eight.  I think that
they should seek the support and the representation of all Latin American
countries so that they can speak and discuss matters on everyone's behalf.
I think they should express themselves as representatives of a whole
continent, this continent, which is suffering while finding solutions.  I
think it is the duty of the current Latin American ruling classes--it is a
duty.  In Ecuador, someone asked a question about this matter.

I said that, maybe, if there would have been some wise kings, there would
not have been a French revolution.  Maybe, if there would have been some
wise czars, there would not have been a Russian revolution.  /This is/ a
similar situation, because I can see [rewords] and I will say it directly
that objective conditions are being created in Latin America /which will
give birth to great/ social uprisings.  The most we can hope for is that
the ruling classes, the current ruling classes are wise enough to find
solutions to this problem which will allow peaceful changes, and not
traumatic events, to occur in Latin American societies.

[Moderator] It is now Marta Solis' turn from EL NACIONAL.

[Solis] I am a journalist for EL NACIONAL. Commander, what do you think of
democracy, and what do you think of Mexico's democratic process in the past
few years?

[Castro] You are asking me about Mexico, and Mexico's democratic process?
I think I shouldn't give opinions on Mexico's internal matters.  I wouldn't
want to make assessments of that nature, much less at this time when there
are disagreements in Mexico, as you know.  Therefore, I would not like to
make assessments about the host country which has invited me.

[Solis] What about your concept of democracy?

[Castro] In which world?

[Solis] In the world that you live in, Commander.

[Castro] I think there are many concepts about democracy.  There are some
concepts, /but I think,/ someone, I think it was someone from the United
States who defined democracy in phrases which became famous.  I think it
was Lincoln who said that democracy is the government of the people, by the
people, and for the people.  That has always been my concept of democracy,
and it is the concept that we have applied in our country.  Anything else?
You are always asking complicated, complex questions.

[Solis] No, it is not complex.  Are you in a democratic country or not?

[Castro] Yes, I am in a democratic country.  However, democracy does not
allow me to comment on the internal matters of the host country. [laughter]
I do not want to make assessments of that type.  I have my own opinions,
but I should not make them.  I made the decision not to interfere, in the
least, in the internal matters of Mexico.  So here I am speaking, you can
derive conclusions from the facts.  Draw your own conclusions.  [laughter]
Haven't I been invited here, to be in front of all these illustrious
journalists, and to answer all these questions?  But I don't have the
freedom to express myself about all that.  At least, personally, I am
enjoying a great democracy here in Mexico. [laughter]

[Moderator] Well, now the floor goes to Jose Luis Alcazar from IPS agency.
He has gone out?

[Castro] He has left?  [Words indistinct] the question?  What newspaper is
he from?

[Moderator] He is from IPS agency.

[Castro] What agency is the IPS? [laughter]


[Castro] And what countries does it more or less represent?

[Moderator] Its headquarters is in Rome.

[Castro] It is Roman.  Didn't he have the question here?

[Moderator] No.

[Castro] Oh, well!

[Moderator] It is now Jaqueline Gallardo's turn.  /From the ABC network/.

[Castro] Jacqueline from ABC.  Where is Jaqueline?

[Gallardo] Here I am, Commander.

[Castro] Very well.  Jaqueline what?

[Moderator, Gallardo simultaneously Reply] Gallardo.

[Gallardo] Just a few days from Mr Gorbachev's visit to your country, do
you feel really pressured by this perestroyka process?  And, what is the
significance of Gorbachev's visit to your country, exactly at this moment?

[Castro] We have never [repeats himself] been pressured by perestroyka,
because if perestroyka creates pressure, then it's not perestroyka.
[laughter]  It would be something else.  So, by definition, we cannot feel

The visit means a lot to us, because Gorbachev is a friend.  It is a
country which we truly love, it has expressed solidarity with us in very
difficult times.  It has cooperated with our country.  It has given us
proof of friendship.  The visit means welcoming a friend.  It is not the
first time that I will have spoken to Gorbachev.  I have already had the
privilege of doing it more than once.  I have excellent and pleasant
memories of my meetings with him--his fresh approach to matters, his
intelligence, his ability to converse.  We have spoke about many subjects.
His visit to Cuba, and his being here for a bit, is a great opportunity for
dialogue and an exchange of ideas on any subject he wants.  /We can talk
about /international politics, peace and current prospects in which he has
put great effort.  Therefore, we look forward to the visit.

There are always people who are plotting, doing things, and talking about
differences, things, and problems between the Soviets and us.  I have told
him that people comment on the fact that we do not do things exactly the
same way.  He tells me:  Why should we do things exactly the same way?  So,
we do things differently; we are two different countries, with different
mentalities, different idiosyncrasies, and different process, and because
there are not two nations alike.  Do you know of two which are alike? The
situation is similar to wanting to do things as the Mexicans do them or as
the Nicaraguans do them.  That does not make any sense.  I don't think
there have been two similar revolutions in the world.  That is one of the
major/lessons/.  The problems the Soviets have had are the different from
the ones we have had.  The way they carried out their agrarian reform and
solved their problems is different from the way we did it.

But I want to tell you--and of course it cannot be /otherwise/--all this
makes me laugh because they say we are satellites of the Soviets.  They say
we do what the Soviets do.  Therefore, if we do not do exactly what the
Soviets do, then we are bad according to others.  There was some Yankee
gentlemen who spoke at a Caribbean basin meeting.  He said that we were the
Albania of the West, or of the Caribbean, something like that--a very
strange, bizarre thing. [laughter] Notice the new terminology.  I don't
know what illusions they have about perestroyka.  I wonder if they think
that they can carry out that kind of campaign, or if they think they can
sow discord, or division between the Soviets and us.  Those are Yankee
illusions, because we are never going to give up our sacred right of
independence and absolute freedom, nor will the bonds of solidarity, or
fraternal and revolutionary relations which exist between the Soviet Union
and us be broken.  I know that in the United States there is great interest
in all these things. /They think, well/ if Cuba ends up alone, isolated, if
the relations between Cuban and Soviets /are affected,/ we'll swallow up
Cuba.  I say, how can they swallow us by themselves?  It would be easier to
swallow a steel hedgehog.  It would be easier to swallow a hedgehog the
size of the moon, than to swallow Cuba--I assure you of that.  But there
are some illusions about that.  That is why I take advantage of the
question, to clarify some things, okay?  Doesn't that seem right to you?
Thank you very much. [laughter, applause]

[Moderator] It is now Olga Bejar's turn from Bogota EL ESPECTADOR.

[Bejar] Correction, I am from /SERVIPRENSA/ press agency and Caracol radio
station.  Commander Castro.  I am here, to your right.

[Castro] What I was missing! [laughter]

[Bejar] Here I am.  What is your opinion about the way in which the fight
against drug trafficking is being handled in Latin America, and the United
State, as well as from the Untied States?  [Words indistinct] you, the
officials and persons who say they are certain there is a
Colombia-Cuba-Nicaragua connection for drug dealing?

[Castro] For drug dealing?  I think that the fight against drugs has not
yet been dealt with properly.  We have been /saying that/ ever since 1985.
The drug problem is not a Latin American invention.  The drug problem is an
invention of the imperialist consumption societies.  I remember that a few
years ago this problem did not exist.  I remember when we were in Mexico,
there was contraband, maybe of automobiles, and of other things, but there
was no problem... [rewords] or the states did not have to face the drug
problems.  Fortunately, it is a problem that Cuba has not been familiar
with, fortunately.

However, this problem evolves from the habits, negative tendencies of the
consumption societies--they created the market.  When they created a
market--in a hemisphere full of problems and needs--many peasants in some
Latin American countries instead of growing corn began /growing coca trees,
and marijuana /because it was... [rewords] well, they couldn't make a
living with what they had, so they began growing that.  That is why I think
drug trafficking--one of the most serious problems of our hemisphere,
countries, and societies--is a problem /that began/ in the United States.
We must thank the United States for another inheritance they have left us.
They are dealing with it only in repressive terms--in terms of fumigation,
arms, planes for fumigation and not in economic terms.  The economic issue
must also be dealt with.  When there are tens of millions of people going
hungry, and there are tens of millions of unemployed, how can you propose
the solution to drug trafficking to be based only on repressive measures?

I think that this must be related to the economic problems which Latin
America is facing.  I think it must be one of the subjects for discussion
between Latin American representatives and the new administration.  I
think that the problems of the debt, unequal trade, protectionism, and the
new order, as well as the /drug/ problem must be discussed--as one of the
most serious problems.  Drugs are even beginning to threaten the stability
of the states.  They are threatening it with colossal anarchy.  They are
already affecting the very integrity of states, or of some Latin American
states. That is why one of the problems in my talks with Latin American
leaders... [rewords] We have discussed this as one of the most serious
problems to which we must find a solution.  However, we must find a Latin
American solution.  We must find a solution based on a Latin American
policy, and not something which is imposed by the empire--which was the one
to cause this phenomenon.  We should be able to say that we are ready to
fight in order to resolve this problem, and that we are ready to cooperate
with those who created the drug problem.  You must be ready to cooperate to
find a solution for the Latin American problems.  I think those are the
proper terms in which that problem must be dealt with.

As for the accusations you were talking about, they are nothing but proof
of cynicism and the nerve of imperialism.  Those are the kinds of
accusations imperialists make against Nicaragua and Cuba.  I am telling you
that Cuba is the most drug free country in the world [repeats himself].  It
is a country--there are few countries in the world that can say this--where
no drug money has ever entered.  This is so, despite the fact that we are a
blocked country--a country which the empire has tried to asphyxiate.

This is so even though there has been no morale to protest it but we've
done it for revolutionary ethics.

There is a long history on the number of traffickers that have passed
through here and have been caught.  Who are the people who come here?  They
are the ones who get lost in their boats.  They get lost and arrive on our
coast.  Their motor breaks down.  They enter our jurisdictional waters.
They had to land so they landed here.  We have hundreds and hundreds of
people who have been tried.  We don't know how many U.S. citizens we've
tried until family members or political representatives asked us to please
reduce their sentences/all that/.  /To accuse Nicaragua and Cuba is proof
of their nerve/.

What is proven is that the counterrevolution was trafficking in guns.
Those who took weapons to Nicaragua were trafficking in drugs.

If we were dealing drugs, then we wouldn't have a debt.  We wouldn't have a
problem with convertible currency.  Fortunately, we have never allowed
ourselves to be swayed by those temptations.  [Words indistinct]  If you go
there, you'll know we don't have problems.  Marijuana is grown in Cuba.
You can even grow it in the living room.  Being so easy to grow marijuana
in Cuba, the cases... [changes thought] The consumption of marijuana is
sanctioned; not the sale of it.  Our penal code sanctions the consumption
of marijuana.  /The cases of trials for drugs, such as cocaine and other
kinds of drugs are practically never seen/.

We have a very healthy society, very healthy people and we can feel proud.
I think we can say that it is the cleanest country in the world regarding
drugs.  It is also a country where not a single cent of drug money has ever
entered.  We know that many countries /deal with drug money even though the
governments do not organize that business/, but we even know the statistics
on how much money, how much income is received in many countries from

Not a singled cent of drug money has ever entered in Cuba.  We have the
cleanest pages, the cleanest history.  It's not something that we have to
defend.  I simply tell you this because you asked me a question and I want
to respond.  We don't want /to feel irritated or furious because you are
talking about an accusation they made against us.  Our conscience is clear
and we are so satisfied with it that we'll test it to see if those
shameless people have a conscience/.

[Moderator] It is now Jorge Melendez' turn from EXCELSIOR newspaper.

[Castro] Where is EXCELSIOR?

[Moderator] Look, there he is in the back.

[Castro]/Have you ever been under lights like the ones/ over there?

[Melendez] Commander, I have two questions.

[Castro, interrupting] electronics, television.  Go ahead.

[Melendez] How are the quadripartite negotiations going between Cuba,
Angola, South Africa and the United States regarding the problems?  The
United States has said that Cuba has intervened and is in a very difficult
situation.  Secondly, less than 30 years ago, Che Guevara said that there
had to be one, two, and three Vietnams in Latin America.  How do you view
Latin America's situation regarding development and evolution?

[Castro] Well, what did you say about the negotiations, that Cuba
intervened, that the situation is very difficult?

[Melendez] News agencies...

[Castro, interrupting] What have the news agencies been saying?  When?

[Melendez] No, not today, a long time ago.  However, some news agencies
still repeat it.

[Castro] What is it that they repeat?

[Melendez] They say that Cuba is intervening in Angola.  And /for that
reason/ we asked how the four-way talks on this are going.

[Castro] So, what is your question?  Are you asking whether or not we are
interventionists, or how are the negotiations going?

[Melendez] The two are questions, Commander.  [Words indistinct] type of

[Castro, interrupting] I think it is truly ridiculous to talk about Cuban
interventionism in Angola.  What we have done is to comply with the mandate
of the international community, of the United Nations, of the people.  If
we are interventionists, why is it that the great majority of United
Nations' countries support our presence in Angola?  If we are
interventionists, why does the Non-aligned Movement, almost unanimously,
support the presence of our internationalist combatants in Angola?  Where
there is interventionism, the people revolt, they condemn the
interventionists, and the Nonaligned become upset.  /Because there is a
great difference between playing a revolutionary, internationalist, and
solidarity role while being an interventionist/.  The first to accept it or
condemn it is the international opinion.

Of course, that is propaganda, or better yet a slogan of the empire.
Everyone knows that one of the problems in the seventies was the struggle
of the countries colonized by Portugal--the struggle of the people of
Portuguese colonies for their independence.  The Nonaligned, the
organization of African countries, and the United Nations asked for support
for those countries in the same way that today they ask for support for
Namibian independence.  They ask for support for the oppressed people of
South Africa in their struggle against apartheid.  We are the only country,
located outside of Africa, that has sent its sons to fight against South
African racism, fascim, and apartheid.  This is of great historical merit.
In the long run, the world opinion of today and of future generations will
recognize it with great admiration.  We are very proud of the solidarity
role we played.

We have helped almost from the beginning of the triumph of the Cuban
revolution.  Since the sixties we have been helping the people of the
Portuguese colonies, Guinea-Bissau, /Angola/, and Mozambique to a lesser
degree because it was further away.  Our people were there.  During all
those years.

When finally in 1975, they triumphed, we had the intervention from South
Africa--the racist and fascist South Africa, the South Africa of
apartheid.  Angola asked us for help, and we sent them help. We had
enough courage, and /audacity/ if they wanted help we would help them and
we struggled, despite the fact that it is 10,000 km away.  We struggled
against the South Africans, and we helped to defeat the South Africans.  We
forced them to leave Angola, and we have remained there ever since.

Then they began again, once they recovered from the scare.  They began once
again to conspire, wage dirty wars, organize bands, and arm
bands--something similar to Nicaragua.  South Africa did with Angola what
the United States does with Nicaragua--the dirty war.  Not only that, but
once in a while they intervened.

That is a story which has lasted/almost 14 years,/ until finally a crisis
was created at the end of 1987 with a large scale South African
intervention.  It was not in the area where the Cuban troops were but
toward the east of the Cuban troops.  It was over 250 km, almost 300 km,
from the last position of the Cuban troops in a place called Menongue.  I
would need a map here to explain this to you.  It was to the east.  We were
defending a line of approximately 900 km from Namibia to Menongue.  The
South African intervention occurred against a group of Angolan troops in
the southeast of Angola--300 km from our line.  It was not the first time
they did this, it was their second time.  They did it to interfere in the
actions of the Angolan Army against the counterrevolutionary bands.  They
intervened with their elite troops, tanks, and aviation.  However, they
didn't only intervene there, at 300 km, but they advanced.  They advanced
all the way to a place called Cuito Cuanavale which is 200 km to the east
of our last position.  There, in a shameless way, they tried to solve the
war through military means.  They tried to annihilate a group of Angolan
troops, large brigades.  They were some of the best Angolan troops.  This
created a tremendous crisis by the middle November 1987.

I was on my way back from the USSR.  I had gone there for the 70th
anniversary celebration.  I had conversed there with my Soviet friends,
with Comrade Gorbachev, not about this, however.  By 7 November, the crisis
had not quite taken shape yet.  When we returned to Cuba, approximately 8
days later, a very serious crisis had been created.  They were already
trying to take Cuito Cuanavale and to annihilate to group of Angolan troops
in Namibia.  We found ourselves in a very difficult situation.  Everyone
was asking us to support them.  The Angolans were asking us to support
them.  However, that was 200 km from our lines, from our last position.
The logistical problems were very serious.  We would have to travel through
200 km of forest roads.  Frankly, that was not the ideal place for a
decisive battle. But they asked us for help, and we had to support them.
In order to support them, we needed to reinforce the troops, so we did it.
I can say that our pilots and planes were very efficient in Angola.  Many
of them helped to save the situation.  It was necessary to cross the 200
km, and /to send/ armored units to Cuito Cuanavale.  There, along with the
Angolans, we prepared the defense.  We prepared a defense and the racist
troops crashed right into the defense of Cuito Cuanavale.

The South Africans suffered in Cuito Cuanavale a sort of /little
Stalingrad/.  Their best troops crashed there against the Angolan-Cuban
defense, against mine fields, artillery, and air force.  In reality, our
pilots took over and controlled the air [space].  What we did was to halt
them.  We created a trap there and they crashed.  Since that was not the
place for the decisive battle, a powerful troop was created with the
reinforcements sent that advanced /toward toward the south/ and threatened
the strategic points that were of more interest to South Africa.  There
were some clashes.  The South Africans came out very badly.  They faced a
truly powerful force and decided to talk.

We had said that we did not want a military victory, that we were
reinforcing the troops not to seek a decisive military victory but to find
a solution to the problem.  Talks had been going on for a long time between
Americans and Angolans to find a political solution.  South Africans made

Only when South Africa faced a truly powerful force and saw the danger
ahead did it decide to talk.  We have agreed to talk because our goal--as I
said before--was not to seek military victories but a political solution.
That is what happened there [in Angola].  We have been holding talks since
then.  Those talks have been long and hard because South Africans are not
serious people.  No one in the world believes in them.  Neither Africa nor
the United Nations believe in South Africa.  South Africa is not easy to
deal with.  The Unites States is more aware of that than anyone.  I must
say that I think the United States has been really making a serious effort
as a mediator, although it a quote mediator unquote and a quote
intermediary unquote.  The United States is a very particular kind of
mediator, because on the one hand it tries to solve the overall problem and
on the other hand it helps UNITA [National Union for the Total Independence
of Angola].  UNITA is the Angolan counterrevolutionary group--the Angolan

The United States refuses to give up its presumed right to help the
counterrevolutionaries in Angola.  It refuses to give up that right.  The
United States, however, has been trying to seek an agreement that includes
the implementation of UN Resolution No. 435, Namibia's independence, and
the end of South African interference in Angola's internal affairs.  We
have reiterated our willingness to withdraw our contingent of
internationalist soldiers from Angola if that agreement is reached.

We have been holding discussions on this basis.  We have made a great deal
of progress.  We have really made a lot of progress along this complex,
risky, and difficult road to try to agree on each detail and point.  I do
not want to prolong this explanation with technical details concerning this
problem.  We have already reached Resolution No 435.  We have also agreed
on a timetable for the withdrawal of the Cuban troops.  We have agreed on
establishing a time frame for that withdrawal and for the withdrawal of the
Cuban troops from the Namibian border.  We agreed on the withdrawal of the
Cuban troops toward the north and the beginning of the withdrawal of the
Cuban troops to Cuba.  We agreed on a withdrawal timetable.

Right now there are talks in Brazzaville.  They are discussing specific
details, but there are things we cannot accept.  Cuba suggested a
verification process-Cuba and Angola [corrects himself] suggested that the
United Nations come to verify the withdrawal of our troops, and we are
discussing this with the United Nations.   We are discussing verification
procedures.  In essence, we already have an agreement with the United
Nations concerning the verification of the withdrawal of our personnel.
Now, however, South Africa wants to participate in that verification, and
we do not agree to that.

Under no circumstances will we agree to that.  We cannot let them be part
of the verification process, because the verification process is a serious
agreement that will be formalized by virtue of documents that Cuba and
Angola will sign with the United Nations.  The United Nations is the one
that must verify the trop withdrawal.  There is a little word there.  South
Africa wants a certain phrase to appear on the quadripartite agreement, a
phrase that grants it certain rights over the verification process.  We do
not agree with that.  There are only very small details still pending.  And
the problem is not with Cuba.  Cuba and Angola have worked hard, which the
United States knows.  The U.S. representatives who attended the
negotiations know how much each party has worked, and they know the
seriousness with which Cuba and Angola have worked.  [Castro pounds the
table] They know Cuba and Angola were guided by basic principles and did
not yield in matters of principle or lose patience.

We are strong.  We have 50,000 men there [in Angola].  That is no secret,
it is common knowledge.  We have a considerable number of weapons, tanks
antiaircraft weapons, and expert pilots.  The South Africans know what we
have there, it is no secret.

We are not impatient.  We would like to have peace, we would like to clear
up the remaining details in order to withdraw our troops, but if we have
to stay there 10 more years [Castro pounds the table] we have enough
courage and strength in our people, enough solidarity and internationalist
spirit to be there for 10 more years.  We would stay 10 more years before
yielding on matters of principle.  That is the situation and what we are
discussing there.  Angolans and Cubans have discussed that and we strongly
agree.  That is what I can tell you.

The other question was about the three Vietnams.  Basically, what is it
that you want me to answer?  Do you want me to say whether or not the
slogan of the two or three Vietnams is correct, and whether or not it is
valid?  So actually, what is your question?  I would like to know so that I
don't waste too much time on this answer. I am asking you, the reporter.

[Melendez] What would Cuba's /attitude be today in Latin America now that
certain democracies, which were closed before are now open?/

[Castro] Well, I am not going to challenge Che's slogan.  At the time Che
said it, it was absolutely correct.  It must not be interpreted literally.
I think it was in a letter that he wrote, or he said it at a conference.
/He felt very deeply about the situation in Vietnam/.  He said it in terms
... [rephrases]  What he wanted to say is that if imperialists had to be
committed not only in Vietnam... [rephrases] or if revolutionary movements
were developing in other areas, this would be like a form of solidarity
with Vietnam.  /In sum/ what Che wanted to say is something that can be
expressed in a Spanish saying:  Things have a way of turning out just the
way you don't want them to.  [Al que no quiere caldo, tres tazas; literally
translated: He who doesn't want soup, give him three cups] So Che would
say, if one cup of soup is not enough for imperialism, it must be given
three cups--in a strategic sense.  So, for the moment, he had the idea of
carrying out a revolutionary process in South America--that is what he
wanted to say.  I do not have any contradictions to what Che said at that

Presently, there is no Vietnam.  Although there are other phenomena such
as what is happening in Nicaragua, or the genocidal war that the United
States supports in other parts of this hemisphere, specifically, in El

But/that is not that old situation/.  I believe that the situation in Latin
American has /changed/ quite a bit.  Democratic processes have opened up.
At this time--as we said before--a dramatic situation exists in the
economic area.  I talked about this a lot in 1985.  I was asked what was a
priority, whether social changes or the survival of our countries, our
countries' independence, and the possibility for development of our

If conditions for independence do not exist, conditions for a revolution
are much more difficult.  When a revolution takes place such as in
Nicaragua, the immediate result is Yankee hostility, economic blocking,
dirty war, /and the attempts of economic suffocation/.  In reality, we say
it is more important to guarantee the conditions for independence.  It is
more important that Latin American countries unite in this battle against
the foreign debt and to achieve the new international economic order so
that the minimum and essential conditions for independence and
development--and we add--for Latin American integration--are created.  I
believe these are basic principles and ideas.  If you ask me what is more
important in this struggle, whether the struggle and this unity or change
in one or two countries, I would say this struggle is more important.  I
would not stop being a revolutionary because of this.  I am not going to
protect or die of sadness because one or two revolutions take place.  I
know what happens when they do take place and what happens afterwards, when
countries are suffocating economically and they do not have possibilities
of carrying out their revolutionary goals.

This is why I have said I believe in this battle for independence, for the
survival of our peoples, to have the right of having a place in the world
in the 21st century, which is at our doorstep.  I believe this is more
important today than a revolution in one country or another.  This is the
view I have.  Conditions have changed.  The Cuban revolution has not
changed in the least, but conditions have changed in these 30 years in
this hemisphere.  They are totally different conditions and we create
political strategies and our relations with Latin America in light of these
concepts.  Latin American leaders know this.  I believe they understand
perfectly that this is an accurate and constructive point of view.  We have
a number of things in common besides differences in systems.  We are all
being looted, we are all being choked, we are all being squashed.

I even said--this is the point of view I expressed to students, peasants,
workers, everyone--we said Latin American countries could develop with what
is being paid for the foreign debt.  This is true in general.  There are
some countries which are so poor that they have nothing to pay and nothing
to save.  But in general, we said countries could develop with the $30
billion dollars that is paid for the debt every year.  This is without
counting capital flight and other forms of looting.  I was saying that if
the debt is wiped out it is incorrect to think that the money saved is
going to be spent on; that money will be used for development.  We told
this to laborers.  I know that there are many needs, but creditors claim
that if this is done, countries cannot develop.  We maintain that countries
could develop if investments were made with the money being paid for the
foreign debt.  It would not have been right to present a popular slogan,
any slogan or hope of investing those resources for consumption.  We say
the money has to be invested.  I say this is vital, and fundamental.  We
were not creating demagogic platforms.

We were addressing the ones who suffer the most.  The ones who suffer
the most in all these crises are laborers, peasants, the poorest sectors.
We told them:  You must sacrifice your fair share.  We say unity among
countries is needed, unity among countries is needed to wage this battle.
This has been the essence of the strategy we have been carrying out.

We have also said if this problem is not solved, social explosions will
take place /in this country/. 1, 2, 3, or 10 can take place.  Nobody knows.
Nobody can prevent it.  Nobody can stop social explosions.  Nobody can
create them.  You would have to be ignorant, and willful, to believe that
social explosions can be created or exported.  Who would have been able to
create the French Revolution in 1789?  Who could have created it?  Nobody
created it.  There were thinkers, philosophers, but objective events were
the ones that [words indistinct] the French revolution explosion.  The same
happened in the explosion of the old czarist empire in the 1917 October

Those objection conditions are present.  Che doesn't have to say it /and
that he asks for/ one, two, or three Vietnams.  It would not be Vietnam
because there is no longer war in Vietnam.

These things could happen if a solution is not found.  We conduct our
international policy based on principles and not on national interests,
convenience, or any kind of opportunistic factors.  We base them on
principles we have been maintaining, the ones we have been defending.  We
can justify them.

I believe this is the difference between the time Che wrote this and now.

[Moderator] It is Ruben /Montedonico's/ turn, correspondent for EL NUEVO

[Castro] Do you have many more who have asked for turns?

[Moderator] About four.

[Castro] How many?

[Moderator] Four or five.

[Castro] People are going to get tired./Not only you and me/.

[(/Montedonico/)] Commander, a U.S. Administration will end in a few days.
It promised to solve the Central American conflict /to defend/ its own
interests.  Another one begins and the situation in Central America is even
worse than in 1980.  /Attacks/ on Nicaragua continue, civil ware continues
in El Salvador, and now Panama in being attacked.  Considering this
situation, what is your view on the Central American region?  Thank you.

[Castro] This is a truly complex situation.  It is difficult to solve.  I
believe nobody can predict at this time what will happen.  Nicaraguans have
defended themselves and have done it right.  The counterrevolution has
suffered.  Reagan's policy failed in Nicaragua although hostility
continues, efforts to encourage the dirty war continue, and efforts are
being made to support the counterrevolution.

Now it will be very important to see the attitude of this new
administration, to see if it insists on continuing the dirty war.  I
believe this is going to be one of the first tests of the so-called
pragmatic spirit--which has been talked about.  Will it becomes obstinate
or try to negotiate?

Nicaraguans are willing to negotiate and find political solutions.  They
have unequivocally shown it during these/ few years/ especially lately with
their courage, their ability to hold discussions, and attempts to find
solutions through negotiation.  I do not know if you have interviewed
Daniel Ortega who was here.  I imagine that he could answer this with much
more knowledge/ than I can answer this question.  I can only say what I

Reagan's policy has failed in El Salvador.  It has not been able to crush
the Salvadoran revolutionaries with 8 years of enormous weapons supplies.
It will be very important to see what approach the new administration is
going to take on this issue, whether it wants to solve the conflict through
military means or if it is willing to support political formulas and
negotiating means to also find a solution to the problem in El Salvador.
I believe this is also going to be a measure of /the attitude/ with which
this new U.S. Administration begins.  I am also talking about this, giving
my views and I believe /that the Salvadorans revolutionaries themselves
should outline their own views, thoughts, and proposals/.  I really cannot
speak for them.

We have seen another failure of the [U.S.] Administration in Panama.  They
wanted to wipe out the Panamanian Government.  Behind all the Panamanian
politics, the U.S. policy [corrects himself] regarding Panama is the notion
of reverting the Torrijos-Carter treaties.  Time goes by.  Only 11 years
are left before the Americans must leave Panama and give total control of
the canal to the Panamanians.  There are many reactionary people in the
United States who oppose those treaties.  Many people in the Reagan
administration want to negate those treaties.  Some people want to annul
those treaties and maintain the indefinite control over the Panama Canal.

All of this hypocritical campaigning, truly hypocritical /campaign they
have carried out against the Panamanian leaders/ has been inspired by this
aim.  The Panamanians were underestimated.  What has happened is what
always has happened to them.  The U.S. looks at Latin Americans as
worthless people who can be manipulated, who can be crushed.  They have
found everywhere that the mixture we have of Indians, Blacks, and Spaniards
is a mixture that cannot be underestimated.  It cannot be belittled.  It
has been proven.  Cubans proved it, Nicaraguans proved it, Salvadorans
proved it, and Panamanians are proving it.  They are courageous people/;
they are combative people/.  They are not easily scared and cannot be
crushed easily.

I am truly amazed at the way Panamanians have resisted despite the infernal
barrage of accusations and the campaigns that have been conducted against
them.  Many of them are slanderous, many of them.  I cannot respond to each
one of the attacks, but I know for a fact that many of the accusations are

This is typical.  It is a classic aspect of U.S. foreign policy.  Panama
was a policy failure.  I believe that Panama is also going be another test
for the so-called pragmatic spirit.  We will see whether they want to
negotiate with Panamanians or if they insist on imposing a solution through
a blockade, /intervention, and through force/.

I believe these three points are going to measure the spirit and ideas
with which this new U.S. Administration will begin.  You have referred to
three paces that are three symbols of failed U.S. policy.  This policy of
force has not brought them success anywhere.  Perhaps they will decide on
the negotiation policy.  This is not the easiest way.  I will tell you it
is not easy, but it is the only way in which reasonable construction
solutions can be found to the problems you have mentioned.

[Moderator] The floor now goes to (Loane Basol) from the (?O ESTADO) of Sao

[Castro] Sao Paulo.

[(Basol)] Could you make a brief analysis on Brazil-Cuba relations since
the two countries resumed official relations in 1986?  I have a second
question.  In the last Brazilian elections /important victories were
achieved by socialist leaning parties, /which is going to rule the main
cities in the country for the next 4 years.  I ask you, what is your
opinion on the rise to power of the left in large Latin American countries
such as Brazil and Mexico?

[Castro] I am going to respond to the first question.  Relations in
general are going well.  They are satisfactory.  There has not been a large
increase of trade between the two countries, but there has been a great
increase in cultural relations, contacts in every sense, cooperation in the
scientific field,/ and even/political relations are very good.  I believe
that relations between Brazil and Cuba have a good outlook.  It is just a
matter of time.

Regarding what you said on the victories of left-wing parties, without
wanting to get involved in your problems, those of the Brazilians, and
speaking in general terms, I see a radicalization process in /our/
countries.  Those processes are related to the objective problems I
referred to before, to a a dramatic and tragic crisis in the economic and
social field.  I see this without having to wait for elections.  I see it
in our contacts with many Latin Americans.  Often there are international
events /for women, for instance.  Hundreds upon hundreds of women get
together, from almost all social sectors/.  I do not see a single radical
thought, a single radical attitude, a single radical spirit.  This is true
in the most varied social sectors because these problems are affecting
everyone.  Of course, they affect more the peasants, laborers, and the
poorest sectors.  But it also affects the middle class,
professionals,/small employers,/businessmen, and many times the national
industry when it is paralyzed and goes bankrupt.  All these inflationary
problems affect everyone, all these trade problems affect some to a greater
degree and others to a lesser degree.

I have been watching--as we talked in the meetings held in Havana 1985.  We
are exceptional witnesses because we turned/into a sort of meter, like the
created by [name indistinct], the physicist expert on distance, which is
said to be preserved, with marks,/ on a bar of platinum.  I still remember
that.  It hasn't been that long since I attended primary school and was
taught those things [laughter].  We are that little bar.  We measure it
through the relations they have with us, the way we are treated, the way in
which they exchange impressions, the way they express themselves when they
go to our country.  We are exceptional witnesses of that radicalization
process which is taking place practically everywhere in our hemisphere.  It
doesn't responds to subversive plans /or campaigns, or any such thing, but
actually responds to an objective situation/ in the economic and social
areas and an increase of problems in these countries.

This happens not only in women's meetings.  If there is a meeting of
attorneys--attorneys in general do not tend to be very radical although
almost all revolutionaries in various times have been attorneys.
Apparently they were left without employment and a certain radicalism came
up from this.  Somehow they turned into /professional/ revolutionaries.
Even I was an attorney.  There were many others.  But I see,/ I find that
all of them are radicalized/.

This happens in meetings of specialists in primary medicine or in meetings
of pediatricians, orthopedic specialists in private medicine and public
medicine, all types.

You find that they are radicalized.  I see it in teachers meetings.  They
have met many times.  I have seen them and I have even met with them.
Almost always, when there is that kind of meeting in which 800, 900, 1,000
delegates or people from Latin America attend I find the teachers
radicalized or a tendency... [rephrases] They suffer.  They talk with a lot
of pain that there is not budget for education, that there is a shortage of
teacher, that they have gone backwards.  They talk with a terrible grief.
Doctors tell you the same thing.  They know that only a certain amount
lives can be saved, so many children and more resources are needed.  They
react with terrible irritation against the debt, and against the economic
crises.  They see it, and witness this.

If you meet with economists and you find the same radicalization process in
the middle class sectors, in those professional sectors.  This is a very
important symptom.  I was not really joking when I said this /thing about
the attorneys/.   All these professional and intellectual sectors are the
ones who later supply the theory to revolutionary processes.  This is a
reality because they have more culture, more education.  I see, I observe
those things happening in Latin America.  They are clearly coming.  We are
exceptional witnesses of this.  We are a good ruler, a good yardstick to
measure what is happening.  We measure the mood and we had never seen the
mood we are seeing now.  This is why I am not surprised that when these
kinds of situations occur the radicalization spirit is expressed in some of
these electoral processes.  This is what I can tell you.

[(Basol)] [Indistinct question]

[Castro] What was that?

[(Basol)] [Indistinct question]

[Castro] You are better informed than I am.  [laughter]  What will be going

[(Basol)] The information we have is that you will go to Brazil on 25
/January/--to Sao Paulo--/to inaugurate the new memorial along/ with other
Latin American leaders the.

[Castro] An invitation was extended to me at a local level.  A Latin
American memorial is going to be inaugurated. The governor of Sao Paulo
visited Cuba.  He talked a lot with me.  He explained what they were going
to do with that memorial and he invited me in a truly very pleasant way.
But he is the governor of the state.  That state is part of a country which
is called Brazil and has a federal government. If I accepted all the
invitations that are made at a local level I would be travelling all the
time.  There would not be enough fuel in Cuba for me to accept all
invitations. [laughter]

This has to be looked at very carefully.  You see that the Spaniard already
invited me. [laughter]  He asked me when I am going to go to Spain.  He
said they are waiting for me in Spain.  They have extended me many
invitations for me to go to Spain.  Maybe I will go to Galicia which is the
land of my forefathers, of one of my forefathers.  I may go and visit as a
tourist.  I do not want to place our friend Felipe in an embarrassing
position.  When he asks me to come, I will go.  I will go when he invites
me.  This may happen sooner or later.  I have plenty of work.  Don't you
think that I am trying to put myself in a position to want to travel all
the time.  [laughter]

This is what the situation is.  The government has to handle it.  It is
known that the invitation was made.  If the Brazilian Government says
[rephrases] shows interest that I pay this visit, I will or I could.  It is
a little farther away from Mexico but it is just a few more hours away.  We
do not live in the time of Columbus' caravels when 3 months were needed to
get to a place.  In just a few hours, times goes by talking in the plane
and you have already arrived.  So, there is nothing certain on that.  We
should not put pressure or put the Brazilian Government in an embarrassing
position.  It is the one that has to decide when it believes it is more
convenient, when it is more useful, when it considers I am not an obstacle
there or cause it a lot of trouble.  The Sarney government has to decide
this. If it doesn't happen then it will be some other time.  I have not
lost hope of visiting such a marvelous country as Brazil.

[Moderator] Commander, do we have a chance for a couple of more questions?

[Castro] A couple of more questions.

[Moderator] The floor goes to (Almel Altuza) from the FORTIN MAPOCHO

[Castro] From FORTIN MAPOCHO. Those people are rough.  Not only the mapoche
people, but the ones from this newspaper.

[(Altuza)] Commander Castro or Fidel as we called you in Chile when you
went there.

[Castro] Thank you very much.

[(Altuza)] I represent the FORTIN MAPOCHO newspaper which, as you know, is
the first opposition newspaper to open has opened during the dictatorship
in my country.  The question on behalf of so many Chileans who are
struggling there deals with the following.  The international community
/has seen with a little/ astonishment that the Chilean opposition or the
Chilean citizens who have a tradition of political struggle have opted
against the dictatorship through the plebiscite as a mean of political
struggle.  Surely you are better informed than I, you know that the no vote
won.  This has brought the possibility of a democratic opening.
Specifically, my question is:  As a leader of a revolution which ousted a
dictatorship through armed means, what is your assessment of the
opposition's triumph and what would be the message you would give the
Chilean citizens who favor democracy, and in particular Commander Castro,
to the members of the left-wing who still remember your visit and still
value your opinion?

By the way, if you allow me, you mentioned that Latin American exiles have
continued working outside our countries.  This is true.  The only thing I
know how to do is write.  I have two books that I would like to give you if
you allow me.

[Castro] Thank you very much.

[(Altuza)] Thank you commander.

[Castro] Marti said that a just principle from the bottom of a cave can do
more than an Army.  If your books are an expression of those principles
they can do more than many weapons can.

I have to tell you /that the news about the No-Vote/was received in our
country with a lot of joy.  Coincidentally, in that same day a ceremony
took place at noon in which we unveiled a bust of Salvador Allende at a
hospital we were /expanding.  It was a bust in the park/.  A women's
meeting was taking place in Havana.  Many Chilean women attended.  They
made me speak at the ceremony.  I was not scheduled to speak there but they
almost forced me to say a few words.  I expressed my opinion and my
certainty that the people were going to vote no.  It would have been
against all laws of human psychology, of society, of everything, that
people who have suffered this [words indistinct].  Despite the climate of
terror created by Pinochet, the resources, propaganda, the fear he tried to
saw among the citizens, the people were going to vote no.  I said this on
that day.

I believe the Chilean people had to right to use any means to get rid of
Pinochet.  Fifteen years are quite a lot. There have been 15 years of
repression, crimes, tortures, missing people, and humiliating the people.
So I would have never criticized or disagreed with those Chileans who were
willing to offer an armed response to the Pinochet regime.  However, this
is not the only way.  There was no other way for a long time.  People had
to resign themselves to Pinochet's presence for a long time, for an
indefinite period of time.  Those who were willing to sacrifice their lives
deserve to be respected.  Those who were willing to fight with weapons
deserve to be respected.  Chile's independence was also achieved with
weapons.  Chile has had to be defended with weapons more than once.  So
those men need to be respected.  The justness or unjustness is not measured
by success.  Many times when men sacrifice themselves they are turning into
a seed of something.  Sooner or later they give fruit.  Those who attempted
to oust Pinochet by other means could not reach their goals.

Other possibilities began to appear.  Pinochet was in power many years.  He
created a constitution, elected himself for many more years, and attempted
to elect himself for more.  An alternative to oust the tyranny through
voting came up.  A number of factors came together.  I truly believe that
the secret of getting rid of Pinochet by any means--either through armed
struggle or through political means--was unity.  I believe that if all
opposition forces got together, Pinochet would not have been there for 15
years.  He would not have been there for almost 17 years [words
indistinct].  Pinochet's best ally was the division of the opposition

A pretty broad unity level was achieved this time.  If you ask my opinion,
I was convinced that if Pinochet had not been ousted through other means,
the possibility of ousting him through the plebiscite should not be ruled
out.  I was always convinced of that.  I always thought all Chileans should
register, that the entire left-wing sector should have registered.  I
expressed this point of view every time I had a chance to speak with
left-wing people.  Because the peoples [rephrases] even the people who
favored an armed struggle [rephrases] if people cannot give a respond one
way, or they don't see it, or it is not close, any other opportunity to
solve the problem and get rid of the tyranny cannot be wasted.  I defended
this point of view many times a long time ago.  Even a year before, when
there was talk that a plebiscite was set for a certain date, for October, I
always thought--every time I could I said it--that everyone should
register.  I always thought nobody should abstain.  Any revolutionary,/who
under such circumstances, had suggested abstension would have made a
mistake, but actually /nobody mentioned it.  As far as I know, the entire
left-wing /left-wing registered without exception/.  Even those who did not
believe in the plebiscite as a solution gave the plebiscite a chance.  They
respected the plebiscite.  They even declared a truce because of the
plebiscite so Pinochet would not have the least pretext to use fraud or
violence.  So I have witnessed, I can assure you, that everyone cooperated
with the plebiscite, that all the left registered and that the left voted.
An important step has been taken.

Now, let's see if... [rephrases] Pinochet is still there and is determined
to stay there another year, or two.  Right now, it is early December; and I
think that /the elections will be held /in December.  The opposition will
have to use another strategy, but whatever strategy it uses will have to
based on unity, and on a search for unity.  Without unity, Pinochet will
remain there one way or another.  Therefore, they will have to unite
because every battle field has its rules.  War has its rules, and political
means also have rules.  Unity is an indispensable requirement, and I have
faith that they will attain it.  I also have faith that Chilean people will
not waste a single opportunity to get rid of Pinochet.

That is the message I can /relay through you /to the Chileans, now.  I am
not in a /position to say anything else /or else it will be said that I am
a strategist saying what needs to be done in Chile, and I don't want that

[Moderator] Now, it is (Carlos Casio's) turn from the /AP press,/ and
PROCESSO magazine.

[(Casio)] Commander, this afternoon you said that you are in Mexico, and in
Quito, as a symptom of the times in Latin America.  You said that if there
aren't reforms, there will be revolution or coups d'etat.  You also said
that Cuba holds a constructive role on the continent's position.  I think
that based on this position, the Group of Eight, which met in Acapulco a
year ago, spoke about Cuba's reentry in the hemisphere's community, and of
the reentry into a reformed OAS.  We know that within the framework of the
SELA [Latin American Economic System], Cuba is participating in a new joint
scheme that could end up in a north-south hemisphere dialogue between
Canada and the United States as the north, and our America /to use Marti's
words/.  How do you view this process which is also developing within the
framework of continental integration?  I would like for you to tell me how
Cuba is participating in this, what prospects do you see in this, and what
characterizes an integration which will benefit the masses, and not only
oligarchies, or businesses?  And a second question?

[Castro interrupting] You (?have) another question?

[(Casio)] Just a very short one.  Thirty-four years ago you met here in
Mexico with Che.  I would like you to make a quick reference to that

[Castro] Well, I am going to need a book to answer your questions.  They
include many very interesting subjects.  I think I have already partially
answered some /of these questions/.  You said that I had said that there
would be outbreaks and coups d'etat.  What I have said is that during this
process of democratic openness, I do not see much of a danger of coups
d'etat but /rather /a danger of social outbreaks.  I did not say this
because I am excluding the possibilities for coups d'etat for any
particular country.  I said this because objective conditions are so
difficult that the military should think a little.  They should think.
They avoid the responsibility of taking charge of the state.  It used to be
in many countries that with one fourth of the problems which exist
today--strikes, what today is called disorder, chaos, and anarchy--it would
have been enough to take charge of the government.  Many of these problems
occur today (?and) the military doesn't show the slightest enthusiasms in
taking charge of the government because societies are becoming
ungovernable, unmanageable.  Even the military in some countries is afraid
that their intervention would aggravate and worsen the problems, as well as
accelerate outbreaks.  That is why, from the military's point of view, the
problem does not appear as imminent as it used be in other times.

In fact, there is a new epoc which reflects all these things that we have
talked about in these meetings.  These meetings are good, such as the
meetings of the Group of Eight, the meeting in Uruguay.  They are positive
steps, but they are not enough.  They are not broad enough.  I believe that
they must find a mechanism,/through which they can obtain/the
representation of all Latin American countries/,such as a general/ meeting
or some other type; they will have to find some mechanism.  With regards to
this, we have defended the concept of broad [representation].  No one
should be excluded.  It should be like the United Nations.  When the heads
of state or the Nonaligned meet in the United Nations, the most diverse
political personalities meet.  If they want to exclude someone, well...
[rephrases] I believe that if someone wants to exclude himself, let him do
it.  Let him exclude himself, but no one should be excluded.

I am merely suggesting that the Group of Eight which is acting as a leader
in this /battle/, should act as a representative of the whole hemisphere.
It should look for a way in which to obtain that representation and then to
discuss and hold talks with the United States on behalf of all Latin
America.  That is the point of view we hold so that it has greater

You also mentioned the OAS.  We do not have a /dogmatic/ position with
regards to that.  The OAS was an instrument of the United States against
Cuba.  However, it was an instrument at a time when there was a lot of
submission in Latin America, when no one in Latin America would dare to say
no to the United States.  Today, there are many countries who dare say no
to the United States.  We have seen it in international types of battles.
These are the same kinds of battles fought by the United States to condemn
us, such as in Geneva, with its wicked charges on the subject of human
rights.  The United States found itself before a firm decision by Latin
American governments.  It was not able to handle, manipulate it.  It
applied tremendous pressure.

When there is secret visiting, we do not have problems.  Everything turns
out well for Cuba when the voting is secret.  Recognizing what Cuba has
done and Cuba's set of principles, people vote [accordingly].  However,
when the voting is public, things turn out very bad because the Government
of the United States applies a lot of pressure.  The United States, [for
example], has the key vote on a World Bank credit, in a negotiation with
the IMF, or with the Inter-American Bank for Development.  The United
States has the final word in many organizations /when/ credit must be
obtained for food, etcetera.  Through our own experience, we know that when
we must face the United States in open voting, the battle is very
difficult. Governments would have to be almost suicidal if they vote
against what the United States wants.  Despite that, however, a very high
number of Latin American governments have opposed that maneuver.  They
/opposed the maneuver to pit Cuba against Latin American again and to sow
discord among us/.  I should say Mexico had an excellent attitude.  It did
not hesitate one bit during those battles.  It did not hesitate a bit when
the United States made this attempt, this maneuver against Cuba.  /The
Latin American governments no longer do what the United States tell them to
do/.  At least many governments do not comply with U.S. orders.  They have
refused to continue complying with its orders.

When Cuba was expelled from the OAS, or it was suspended--I don't know how
to call what they did--when we were denied of the right to participate in
the OAS, /Latin America/ was totally dominated by the United States and
totally obeyed it.  Some resisted more and others less.  Finally, all but
Mexico accepted.  Those times have changed.  The United States can no
longer use the OAS as an instrument.  Even though many islands, former
British colonies... [rephrases] the number has increased.  Those countries
with very weak economies are more easily controlled by the United States.
Not all, but many of them depend--small countries with a small population--
depend heavily on the United States.  Many of those British Caribbean
islands were not independent at the time.  The United States can no longer
manage the OAS at will.  There is a new situation.

We receive with satisfaction, we appreciate the agreements and efforts made
by the Group of Eight countries defending Cuba's right to participate in
the OAS.  We do not have a dogmatic attitude on this.  If the OAS is of no
use it is not worth being there.  If the OAS can be useful, if Latin
American governments believe it is of some value, and can be a useful
instrument, and they consider it is convenient and positive for us to join,
then we will take into account those points of view and we will be willing
to accept the view of Latin American governments without any kind of
dogmatism.  So there is no dogma for us.  We analyzed it in light of how
useful, how convenient, how positive it could be to be in that institution
now that the Latin American countries cannot be managed by the United
States as it managed them at another time.

I believe that with this I respond to part of what you say.  I need to
answer to the last part.  I can tell you that I did indeed meet Che when I
traveled to Mexico in 1955.  I believe it was in June when I traveled.  I
had been in prison. Batista, with his political games, had to agree to the
demand to grant amnesty to the prisoners sentenced for the attack on the
Moncada Barracks in 1953.  When I arrived here, several of our comrades
were here.  Raul, Raul Castro, my brother, was already here.  He had
traveled several weeks before.  Other Cubans were here and they had gotten
together with Che.  When we arrived here we started to hear about Che, an
Argentine physician.  He was called Che because all Argentines are called
Che. This is when Che started to be called this. /And at the home of Maria
Antonia, a female Cuban comrade who lived in (Ampalan 19).  There must be
someone around here who remembers.  [Unidentified speaker says "49."] Yes,
49.  It is not too far, well,/I don't know where it was [laughter] but it
was close to Reforma/on a small street there/.  That is where some Cubans
were arriving.  We met Che a few days after we arrived.  He writes about it
in a letter when he left Cuba.

Che became very popular among us.  He became very dear to us.  Che already
had a very solid political education.  He had studied Marxism.  He liked to
study a lot, he had a lot of depth.  All this was more reason for us to
become closer.  Although we did not have a socialist program yet, a group
of our movement's leaders already had a Marxist education.  This was not
the immediate program our movement had, because it would have not been the
appropriate time.  Objective and subjective conditions were not present for
such a program.  This is why /this program is/ the Moncada program.  Anyone
who reads it can see /that it was the forerunner/ of a socialist

We spoke very clearly, but many people did not believe in programs because
there had been so many programs in the world, and so many unfulfilled
programs.  People said many things.  Some people said that we were young
kids, so they did not even pay much attention to the Moncada program.
However, Che did like it.  He was interested in it.

He came from Guatemala.  He was very bitter, and had suffered a lot from
what had happened in Guatemala.  He was there during the (Arbenz)
administration when the CIA intervention occurred which overthrew the
government.  He was very enthusiastic about the social movement, the
reforms that had taken place, the agrarian reforms, but he returned with
all that disappointment.  So, when he saw a group of Cubans who were
planning a revolution in Cuba--the return to Cuba to fight against
Batista--he became enthusiastic and immediately offered his services as a
volunteer and became part of our group.

At that time he was a doctor.  I think he worked at the Cardiology
Institute.  He did some research /and was very studious/.  Another very
typical thing about Che was that every week he would try to climb the
Popocatepetl [volcano], he called it the Popo.  He would never reach the
top, but he tried it every week.  I think this is something beautiful which
reflects Che's character and spirit.  He had allergies and asthma.  Just
imagine what an attempt it was for him to climb the Popocatepetl.
Although, Mexico because of its/altitude and dry climate, back/then there
was also more oxygen [laugher], less industry, and less problems like the
ones that the ecologists call air pollution.  Ever since we met, he would
go there almost every Sunday.  He would get half way there,/go further up,
and not get to the top in end,/ but he would try it again.  This was proof
of his character, perseverance, and tenacity.

This is how he joined us, and he gave his body and soul as he would always
do /totally devoting himself to the tasks he had to do/.  He trained with
us.  He was very inspiring.  We trained legally at the firing ranges.
There was a firing range called /Los Ramitos/ where we would train, and we
did not violate the law by doing this.  Although, I have had to admit, with
all honesty, that we did commit technical violations of the law because we
were getting organized and obtaining arms. However, they were not moral
violations nor political violations of Mexican law.  We also did not carry
out any activity against the Mexican Government.  With regards to that, we
maintained the tradition of Cubans--the Cubans who fought for our
independence, and all the generations of revolutionaries who preceded them.
So, to sum it up, we practiced at the firing range.  Che was a good
marksman.  We were specialized in [words indistinct], and he was a good
marksman, very dedicated.  He trained with a lot of discipline, and he was
known for that.

However, back then no one saw in Che the great soldier he was; he was seen
as the doctor of our expedition.  Che was /already a communist, but his
exceptional qualities made him a great soldier from the first moment, one
of whose characteristics was total, instant devotion.  If there is one
more thing I have to add is the following: /When he joined our movement,
for you to get an idea of a premonition... [shifts thought] How many
obstacles did we have to overcome to gather the necessary means, to
embark, arrive, fight the war, and finish victoriously?  Che was someone
who constantly would take chances with life.  You had to stop him so that
he would not take so many chances.  He was always the first volunteer for
any difficult task.

He would tell me:  I only want one thing: that when we finish the struggle
in Cuba, I can then go to my country to fight. For reasons of state
we/could not do that.  See how long it has been. /We had just met him, and
he joined us.  I promised him that for no reason in the world or reason of
state would we prevent him from returning to his country.  That is
precisely the basis of what occurred afterwards.  /We would have liked him
to wait longer./ We would have liked for him to play the role of /tactician
he began playing in the guerrilla unit he organized.  But he had this idea
for a long time/.  We keep our word.  So he made the decision to [words
indistinct] even the enemy wrote lies about him lies.

We suffered so much when Che left and left the letter which we couldn't
publish.  To publish it would have been /to warn about/and increase the
risks that he could be intercepted on his way.  He had /gained some time in
a mission in Africa.  [sentence as heard] We kept the letter for a long
time.  Campaigns and false accusations started to circulate to the effect
that we had problems with Che, that Che had /been murdered, that Che had
disappeared, that Che had been gotten rid of.  We put up with many of those
kinds of campaigns until the day we were able to publish the letter, and
the day on which all the truth became known.

Since you asked me, I have had the opportunity to recall this pleasant
memory.  I don't think I have ever said these things publicly.

What is happening?  Are we running out of time?

[Moderator] Commander, /we have a request from Imevision.  They want to
ask a question/.

[Castro] [Words indistinct] an interview becomes so long, it becomes a bad
interview.  One becomes tired [words indistinct] [laughter] I think they
will understand if we /refrain from taking any more questions/.

[Moderator] Well comrades [applause], I think it's time to (?leave) I would
like to thank the President [words indistinct due to applause].