Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro's Caracas News Conference Broadcast

FL0702153289 Havana Television Cubana Network in Spanish 0130 GMT 7 Feb 89

["Part 1" of news conference held by President Fidel Castro in Caracas,
Venezuela, on 4 February--recorded]

[Text] [Moderator] Good evening to everyone, distinguished guests,
colleagues, and friends.  First of all, we would like to thank everyone for
having accepted the invitation to this conference.  As you can see, the
room has turned out to be somewhat small.  We would like to ask the
cooperation of those persons who are asking the questions, as well as of
those comrades who are taking pictures or filming this.

Comrade President, 309 journalists have registered for this conference.
Among them is a broad representation of Venezuelan journalists; there are
181 Venezuelan journalists who belong to 64 press organizations, 21 of
which are from the Venezuelan interior.  There are also 128 journalists
from other countries; 93 of them are here for the presidential inauguration
and 21 are permanent correspondents.  A large number of journalists have
signed up to ask questions.  Without further ado, we will allow them to
begin speaking.  There are microphones located in each end of the room.
Once again, we ask that you remain silent so that we can hear.

Fine.  The first one is Omar Luis Colmenares, deputy chief of the
international section of the Caracas EL NACIONAL.

[Colmenares] Good evening, Mr. President, in the speech President Carlos
Andres Perez gave this morning, he urged you to reiterate your role in
Latin American politics.  He said:  we need you to be part of Latin America
so that Cuba can participate more in Latin America's international
relations with the developed world.  A few hours after this statement, what
answer does President Fidel Castro have for the Venezuelan president?

[Castro] I have been informed about that statement, I read it, and I
completely agree.  I accept it, and I am in a position to support that idea
with pleasure.

[Colmenares] I what way do you think Cuba could become integrated?

[Castro] Well, I think we are becoming integrated. [laughter] I think our
presence here in Caracas is an expression of our will to become integrated,
as well as our participation in SELA, our visit to Quito, to Mexico, and
our cooperation in the search for solutions to the region's problems.
Right now, of course, I cannot mention all the forms of cooperation.  I can
only express our willingness.  I read with pleasure those words and we
support the idea.

[Colmenares] [Words indistinct] President Perez as a call for Cuba to join
the OAS?

[Castro] Well, if we are called to join the OAS, and Latin American
governments believe that it would be beneficial, we would be ready to join
the OAS.

[Colmenares] Thank you.

[Moderator] (Sorelis Figueroa) from the Caracas DIARIO now has the floor.

[(Figueroa]) Good evening, commander.  In your statements here in Caracas,
you have said that you have discussed several topics with President Carlos
Andres Perez, including th nonaligned countries, which you have [words
indistinct].  Venezuela has been interested for the past few years in
joining that group.  My question is:  In what way can Cuba help and perhaps
mediate among several positions to facilitate our country's membership in
that movement?

[Castro] There is hardly a shortage of Cuban cooperation.  Venezuela has
much authority, much prestige.  Carlos Andres have very extensive relations
with several nonaligned countries.  He has worked on the North [corrects
himself] South-South dialogue.  He has been part of the commission.  I am
certain that Venezuela's request to become a full member of the nonaligned
countries will be very  well received and will be supported unanimously.

Some resistance, some difficulties have emerged on certain occasions.  For
example, one can ask what Guyana's attitude might be because of the
difficulties that have occurred in the past.  When I had the opportunity to
speak with President Hoyte, Hoyte [repeats himself], who visited Cuba, I
asked him about this matter, I asked him what his attitude was and he
immediately and very clearly told me that Guyana would not raise any
objections and would support Venezuela's membership in the Nonaligned
Movement.  I then asked him.... [changes thought] I think he spoke about
this with Carlos Andres.  I also informed President Carlos Andres about the
Guyanese Government's excellent disposition.

[(Figueroa)] Did Guyana maintain its position during the meeting you held
with President Desmond Hoyte on Thursday afternoon, commander?

[Castro] I did not have the opportunity to meet here in Venezuela with
President Hoyte.  I simply greeted him at the luncheon hosted by President
Carlos Andres Perez.  We had already spoken for many hours about many
topics and I warned him there... [changes thought] We agreed that it would
be difficult to meet again and talk here in Venezuela.  However, I am
grateful to and also have a very good impression of President Hoyte.  He is
a very frank man.  He is a very serious man and in my opinion, the only
obstacle that could arise to Venezuela's membership in the Nonaligned
Movement no longer exists.  I am certain that Venezuela will be very
welcome by the nonaligned countries.

[(Figueroa)] Thank you, commander.

[Moderator] We now give the floor to Estrella Gutierrez, IPS [INTERPRESS
SERVICE] correspondent and president of the Foreign Correspondents
Association in Caracas.

[Castro] Where is she?

[Moderator] Here she comes.

[Gutierrez] Good evening, Mr President.  In 1985, you said that....

[Castro, interrupting] What year did you say?

[Gutierrez] I said in the year 1985.

[Castro] Yes.

[Gutierrez] You said that the Latin American countries, which were then
involved with the Cartagena consensus, instead of solving the debt problem,
limited themselves to writing little love letters without really responding
to the industrialized countries.  Four years later, with the activities of
the Group of Eight, especially after the December meeting in Rio de Janeiro
and the one in Caracas, do you still think that Latin American countries
have stopped writing love letters in order to actually establish a solution
or a joint platform on the debt? In this sense, how do you think the
industrialized countries will respond?

[Castro] It seems that you have good records, because it is true that I did
say this in 1985.  I did speak of the love letters to show how little
attention was given, how the industrialized countries paid practically no
attention to the documents and messages issued by the Group of Eight.

It seemed to me that a stronger stance, a more energetic demand, later
emerged.  There was a greater willingness to fight on behalf of that group.
I have also said, in case you haven't made a note of it--I don't know if it
was in Mexico where I said that the Group of Eight should speak on behalf
of all Latin American and Caribbean countries.  that representation should
not be arrogated and no one should be excluded.

The fact that the region has 85 percent of the debt is not reason enough to
exclude anyone.  I would say it is an additional reason to include
everyone.  If it owes so much, it would be better to have everyone's
support to solve the problem.  I also expressed by opinion that no country
should be excluded.  With regard to this, I spoke, let us say, in absolute
terms.  No country should be excluded, I was not (?even) thinking about
Cuba; I was thinking about Chile and Paraguay.  No one should be excluded
from our peoples' common struggle to solve the problem of the economic
crisis, deal with the debt, and carry out another series of struggles that
are required to solve the problems of our countries.

The Group of Eight should formally represent all Latin American and
Caribbean countries so that it can speak on behalf of all, because the
Group of Eight is a group that is already in existence.  I have stated this
point of view to various Latin American leaders, and they agreed.  I also
think we should look for a way, either through SELA, ministerial meetings,
heads of state meetings, or consultations.... [changes thought] I believe
that all Latin American countries should allow the Group of Eight to
represent them in the dialogue that must be held with industrialized
countries.  At least, the opportunity should be given to all those who want
to be represented.  Should 100 percent representation not be attained, it
should at least have the support of the large majority of Latin American
governments, and Caribbean governments--let's not forget the Caribbean.

With regard to action by industrialized countries, we could say that to
date it has been quite indifferent.  To date, we have not had an adequate
answer from the industrialized countries.  But I am under the impression
that those countries are gradually becoming more aware of the problem and
its seriousness.  I think that awareness is increasing in Europe, in some
countries more than in others.  I think that even in Japan this awareness,
this concern is increasing.

Something very important... [changes thought] I am under the impression--I
sense, and I hear news and rumors--that there is greater concern from the
U.S. Government and its current administration over the seriousness of the
economic problem and the Latin American crisis, and over the terrible
burden of the foreign debt that could be termed as subversive and
destabilizing.  I think this is very important, because, often, when I have
spoken with U.S. leaders, I have expressed my point of view about their
inability to make policies, their habit of improvising policies, and the
consequences that ignoring these problems could have, because our
hemisphere is becoming a powder keg.  I think that if anything has been
gained, it is that the U.S. Administration is becoming aware of this
problem, and this would mean some progress would be made toward the
establishment of a dialogue.

To date, the strategy used by creditors has been to organize a club and to
talk individually with each one of the countries.  This does not even leave
room for the basic conditions of equality and fairness.  I also think that
Latin American and Caribbean countries must join forces for that dialogue.
I don't see any other path, any other alternative.  I think our countries
should have a firm, energetic attitude.  Nothing is gained by begging.  I
think one should demand.  I think the least that can be demanded is
dialogue.  I sense the moment is nearing when that dialogue can come about.

[Moderator] Okay, we go on down the list, and Alexis Rosas, from Venezuelan
TV Channel 8 and NUEVO PAIS correspondent, has the floor.

[Rosas] Good evening, commander.  We discussed this topic, which you just
mentioned, when we spoke with you Thursday night when you got to your room.
The hours passed quickly and Vice President Dan Quayle declined to meet
with you or with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.  My question is:  What
makes you so optimistic when this is part of the U.S. principle of

I would like to add another question.  What do you expect from the Central
American presidents' meeting in El Salvador on 13 and 14 February in regard
to the possibility of peace?

President Oscar Arias said in conversation with you that he saw that during
its course, at least in El Salvador, it would be very difficult to achieve
peace by integrating the guerrillas into democracy.

[Castro] Who asked Vice President Quayle for a meeting?  This is the first
report I've heard that I asked Quayle for a meeting.  I don't think that
Daniel asked for a meeting either.

I think it was before you and I spoke.  I don't know if it was said later.
Someone spoke on his behalf and Quayle said he had no plans to meet either
with Castro or with Ortega but neither Castro nor Ortega asked Quayle for a
meeting.  I pronounced Quayle correctly, didn't I? [laughter] I really want
to know. [applause]

We did not say this in a scornful manner, not at all.  We explained the
realities and we also explained that we did not have any prejudices.  We
have no prejudice in matters that regard us and we do not consider it a sin
to meet with Quayle.  In my opinion, this is what happened.

I think that... [changes thought] I was asked this question when I arrived.
I arrived early but the statements were made earlier.

[Rosas] You continue to remain optimistic that George Bush will change
Reagan's policy in regard to everything that occurs....

[Castro, interrupting] I am going to use a handy little phrase:  I am
moderately optimistic. [laughter] First of all, I try to use logic.  I try
to be realistic.  The United States, as much as Latin America, needs this
dialogue.  I think the United States, as much as Latin America, needs to
cooperate to find a solution to this crisis.  I think everyone needs it
because if developments continue as they are, there is no telling where
they will lead.  It could be.... [changes thought] I said this is a
subversive, destabilizing factor.  I think that if they act logically, they
should promote that dialogue.  In addition, there have been reports, rumors
and people have talked about this.

I have an impression, which is not the same as just being optimistic.  I am
neither an optimist nor a pessimist in this matter.  I have the impression
that the U.S. Government, with the current administration, has a greater
awareness of the seriousness of the problem.  Therefore, this increases the
possibility for this dialogue.  Reports to this effect have been received
from different sources.

That was your second question.  What is your third?

[Rosas] The question was about your expectations....

[Castro, interrupting] I cannot read my own writing here.

[Rosas] It was about your expectations for the San Salvador meeting on 13
and 14 February on the Central American problem.

[Castro] I can honestly tell you that in this respect, I am relatively
optimistic. [laughter] I say that because of the impressions I got from the
meetings.  I even participated in some of them.  I participated in a
meeting Carlos Andres held with Central American leaders.  President Alan
Garcia was also there.  I was invited to participate in that meeting.  I
have also spoken with Daniel.

The other day there was another meeting that I could not attend because I
had other engagements here with many people.  I asked Comrade Carlos Rafael
Rodriguez to attend the meeting on our behalf.  He also got a good

I know that the Sandinists are very decisive about finding formulas.  These
solutions will not be easy.  However, I am aware of their decision and
their willingness to work in that direction.  At one time it was not known
if there was going to be a meeting or not.

Carlos Andres, as well as Arias and practically everyone, expressed their
concern that a meeting would be held without results.  They wanted to
ensure the results.

I know they have made progress.  It would be a good sign if the meeting
were held--a few days are left, not many.  They were basing the meeting on
the premise that is should not be held if results were not going to be
obtained.  These elements of judgment and especially the disposition in
which ... [rephrases] the flexibility and the will the Sandinists have is
what makes be be relatively optimistic on the possibilities of success.

The last thing you were referring to was El Salvador.  I have talked with
President Arias several times.  I came away with a good impression of the
meetings, a very good impression of him.  I have said it before--for a
while, I thought perhaps he had been given the Nobel prize as a way for the
Europeans or I believe the tribunal.... [changes thought] Cabo [Colombian
writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez], you should know who are the ones who give
out the Nobel Prize. [laughter] [unidentified speaker makes indistinct
remark] But what is it, a foundation? [unidentified speaker makes
indistinct remark] That's the one that gives them out, but who nominates
the candidates? Anyway, I thought this was done perhaps to help achieve
peace in Central America.

When I had the chance to meet with Arias, to talk extensively with him,
when he told me about the long track record he has on this, when I listened
to his reasoning--added to some information I had regarding how little
Arias' effort had been appreciated because he was looking for a peace
formula and not a warmongering solution--I reached the conclusion, and I
told him so and I said it publicly, that President Arias really deserved
the prize and he won the prize.  This is my point of view. we have talked a
lot about all subjects.

There has been something almost like a competition between Costa Rica and
Cuba in certain education, health, and other indexes.  They have worked a
lot in that direction and a healthy competition has come about in these
areas.  We had talked a lot about this.  Now we talked again.  We talked
for almost 2 hours.  There weren't as many appointments that day.  You can
imagine how meetings are scheduled in a situation such as this one, how
messages are exchanged.  Sometimes a certain time is set and it is
impossible to meet because other things come up.

I really had a pleasant time talking to him.  I believe we have reached
higher levels of communication and mutual understanding.  I do not want to
mention all the details here.  It would take too long.  I have defended
some theses.  He has some views about which I have tried to persuade him
with considerably strong justifications.  He has some ideas, premises on
which he bases his arguments that I know are not exactly so.  But I can
say, because I know remarked--I believe he said on television that he
talked with me--that I said he had overestimated my influence with the
FMLN.  He said that he agreed but that they would never do anything against
a view I had expressed.  You can't even say that.  I have explained this to
him.  I even tried to get them to talk with him.  I tried.  I tried to be a
mediator.  I said:  It is better for you to listen to him.

No organization lets someone else speak on its behalf.  Al political and
revolutionary organizations, like countries, are very zealous of their
prerogatives, their independence, their personality.  I have always been
careful not to adopt paternalistic attitudes toward political organizations
or take upon myself to represent those organizations.  I respect their
independence very much.  I believe that is is precisely this line, this
style, that has allowed us to develop excellent relations with many
organizations.  We have never adopted hegemonic positions, ideas, or
attitudes, regardless of the size of the organization.  I am even more
cautious with the small ones.

This is the view I maintained in my explanations to him.  I have also
explained to him our ethical principles.  He was telling me that there are
times when one has to stop showing solidarity.  I said:  This is not the
way to deal with any organization.  We would never do this.  This does not
go along with our precepts.

These are the kinds of things we talked about.  He is truly very interested
in finding peace for all of Central America--not only in Nicaragua but also
in El Salvador.  I discussed with him the declarations released recently by
the FMLN.  The FMLN takes a position that I believe is very good.  I
believe it is very sincere, very clear, very transparent.  I am speaking of
the proposal to postpone the elections--I am not sure if for September or
around that time--and to take a number of steps to guarantee a clean
electoral process, an electoral process with guarantees for all.  It
categorically says--as it has never said before--that if this occurs under
those conditions, the FMLN would accept the authenticity of the electrical
process.  I read this phrase, the principal phrase, and I thought it was
very clear.  The statement did not say this was going to be the final
solution, but one of its lines said that this would lead to an
irreversible--it uses this word--process for the political solution of
problems in El Salvador.  They were very clear, very categorical
statements.  I do not believe I am the only one who has valued all these
positive aspects of the organization's statement.

The U.S. State Department itself reacted positively.  This had never
happened before with any of these statements.  This could also be a symptom
of a better political will to find political solutions instead of military
ones.  The State Department said that this proposal should be taken into
account.  This is something that seems very important to me.  So, this time
when I spoke with President Arias, this declaration already existed.  It
was one of the subjects we discussed.  It also seems that it is something
else that has come about that is very positive.  We spoke about all these
things.  I think that, without being too indiscreet, I have basically
explained to you the things we talked about on this subject.

[Moderator] Fine; (Marcel Roo) may now speak.  He is a correspondent for
the Spanish press agency EFE.

[(Roo)] Good evening, Commander.  I would like to ask you two questions.
One deals with the Palestinian problem.  The Palestinian State has just
been created at the United Nations, and we would like to know your opinion.
the other question deals with a statement you made during your speech
marking the 31st anniversary of the Cuban resolution.

[Castro] Thirtieth anniversary.

[(Roo)] During the 30th anniversary, from the Santiago de Cuba balcony, you
said that the revolution is going to last 100 years.  I wanted to know why
you give an ending date to the revolution.

[Castro] Well, I think the creation of the Palestinian State is an
important step forward, and it has been recognized by a large number of
countries.  I don't know if over 100 countries have recognized it, or
almost 100.

Where did you go?  You asked the question and got lost. [laughter] Stay

I also think the Palestinian cause has gained a lot of international
support in recent times.  I believe this is a result of the heroic
resistance of the Palestinian people--unarmed and only using their bodies,
their lives.  It is such admirable resistance that it has awakened a great
feeling of solidarity throughout the world, even in areas where there was
not much support for the Palestinian cause.

The creation of the Palestinian State has determined a series of important
events.  First of all, I would say it has created a more solid unity among
Palestinians.  It has brought about an analysis in the United Nations of
the Palestinian problem, as well as in a growing number of European and
other countries that have expressed their support for a political solution,
for the need to find a political solution to this problem that has been
going on for so many years.

I think that an important step has been taken by the Palestinian movement
and this improves the chances for a solution.  The Palestinians have
recognized and accepted the UN resolutions on the issue and they have
recognized the right of the State of Palestine [corrects himself] Israel to
exist.  A series of important steps have been taken in many directions and
I think progress is being made toward a political solution in the Middle
East which is today one of the most serious problems that still exists.  I
think that we should all work to find a political solution to the
Palestinian problem.

In regard to my remarks from the balcony--it was not a serenade
[laughter]--I was expressing certain ideas.  I was responding to those who
thought that the revolution was reversible.  There are those who thought
that new generations who had not experienced the problems of the past in
our country, who had not suffered, would be weaker generations
ideologically.  They thought those generations could be influenced.  Some
thought the revolution could be reversed, reversed [repeats himself].

I am familiar with the ideas of all those institutions that make studies.
I am familiar with the ideas of many circles in the United States that have
not renounced the thought that the revolution will disappear.  They analyze
alternatives to methods on how it should disappear.  Since they have not
been able to make it disappear militarily, they will attempt to make it
disappear by ideological means.  They think that the new generation will be
easier to influence when the generation that led the revolution no longer

Those remarks were a response to this and I expressed my confidence in the
new generations because I know them.  I am familiar with their qualities,
their virtues, their revolutionary awareness, even though they have not
lived under capitalism.  That is what I wanted to say and I gave it a date.
I wanted to say that the revolution is a process that develops with time.

We are not going to talk about a political phenomenon.  We are going to
talk about a religious phenomenon.  It could be said that Christianity will
last 100 years or that it will last 100, or 2,500, or 3,000 more years.  It
could be said that the most noble ideas in Christian thought will
disappear; the idea of justice, love for one's fellow man, all those ideas.
They will not disappear.

The revolution is a concept.  It is an idea, a change in the world, the
establishment of new values.  It is in that sense that I wanted to say that
the revolution will last 100 years.  I just wanted to say 100 years.
However, I do not agree with the idea that the revolution will literally
last 100 years.

Our revolution has lasted more than 100 years because our revolution began
10 October 1968 [year as heard] when the first war of independence was led
in our fatherland by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, father of our country.  It
has been much more than 150 years.  We say our struggle is the continuation
of that struggle.

They fought for independence for 10 years.  They were not able to win
independence.  They fought alone.  They did not have many small towns
fighting for their independence.  It was the people of a very small island
who fought against Spain for 10 years.  They did not reach their goal but
they helped renew the struggle.

U.S. intervention occurred.  We did not achieve our complete independence
and we have always said that our revolution is the continuation of that
struggle.  It is the continuation of the revolution that began in Yara in
1868.  Thus, the revolution has not lasted more than 100 years as an ideal
for justice, liberty, equality among men, and well-being for our people.
Those ideals are renewed, perpetuated.  We could also say that if we
consider this to be the revolution, then the revolution can last 1,500
years, 1,000 more years.  The revolution can last forever.  It was in this
sense that I was discussing years.

However, I do not agree that the revolution will only last 100 more years.
I would like it to last as long as our people exist, as long as our
fatherland exists. [applause]

[Moderator] We now give the floor to Jesus Romero Anselmi of Radio RQ 910
and director of the program entitled, Hot Torch [Antorcha Caliente].

[Castro] Hot Torch?

[Romero Anselmi] Antenna, the program is called Hot Antenna.  It is called
Hot Antenna.  [laughter]

[Castro] Okay.  [Laughter]

[Romero Anselmi] No one would listen to it if it were called Hot Torch.

Mr President, in the Caracas meetings, one of the topics that generated the
most news was the debt.  Everyone spoke about the debt during the Caracas
meetings.  The Group of Eight has become a group to discuss debt problems.
Everyone talks about the debt in every group.

Whether we, the Latin American countries, pay the debt or not, we will
continue without integration.  Latin American integration is not possible.

Why is integration not a part of the rhetoric of Latin American leaders?
Why was integration practically absent in a very superficial declaration on
the Andino Pact, which Cuba (?supposedly) has nothing to do with.  Besides
this, there is no statement on Latin American integration.

We talk about exports.  We are exporting capital and we are barely
importing consumer goods.  Everyone talks about nontraditional exports.
Why is there no nontraditional export market in Latin America, the
Caribbean, Central America?

[Castro] There were all sorts of meetings in Caracas.  Unfortunately, I
could not attend every one of them.  [laughter] Among other things, it was
a lot of trouble to move around in the hotel.  It became a pitched battle
that truly made me very sad.  That is why I could not participate in all of
them.  There was even one meeting that I regretted very much not being able
to attend.

We were told at the luncheon at the "Casona," as you call it, that there
would be a meeting.  Carlos Andres himself told me that night or the
following morning at the meeting of Central American leaders.  The luncheon
was at 1230.  I asked:  When is the luncheon?  I was told it was at 1230.
I thought that the luncheon would begin and that it would be followed by a

I then went to Bolivar's tomb to lay a floral wreath.  That took some time.

When I arrived there after 1230, the meeting had just ended.  I missed a
very important meeting.  It seemed very important to me.  I have a few
ideas I wanted to discuss in relation to this need to support and designate
the Group of Eight to represent us in the dialogue that will follow.  I
truly regret not being able to participate in that meeting.

You talk about rhetoric on the debt.  Look, as I have explained, one could
not expect a profound analysis of the problems in Caracas.  That is
absolutely impossible in an event such as this.  I think that the presence
here of almost all the political leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean
expresses their willingness.  It becomes a symbol, the expression of a
tendency to move toward unity and action, toward a common struggle.

However, we could not expect to see spectacular agreements and resolutions
here because it is not possible in an event such as this.  A meeting of 1,
2, or 3 days would have to be called especially for this.  The topic would
have to be discussed thoroughly, and thoughtful statements would have to be
made on the problem.

Of course, the debt is the most discussed topic at this moment because of
the difficulties it creates for everyone.  However, for example, I think,
and we have stated this many times, that there are a number of factors

We talk about solving the debt problem.

[Romero Anselmi] But whether that is paid or not....

[Castro, interrupting] We've discussed solving the problem of unequal
trade, an end to protectionist measures, dumping and other methods used to
exploit and plunder our countries.  We talk about the need for a new
international economic order as stated and approved by the United Nations.

These are joint ideas.  A single one of these factors cannot solve the
problem.  Tomorrow, the debt could be forgotten and we would continue to be
in the same bad state or even worse because through unequal trade, other
countries have taken much more from us than the total amount of the debt.

We talk about the debt but no mention is made of unequal trade.  We must
discuss how they sell us products at a higher price each time and how they
pay us less each time for what we sell.  There is data, statistics to show
this.  Thee are irrefutable figures to show this.  This is a very serious
problem, too.  It's not just the debt.  The need for a new international
economic order is inevitable.

All of this, however, is still not enough.  We also need integration.  We
have stated all this.  Other leaders also state this in one way or another.
One may emphasize one thing and the other will stress something else.  I
remember that we have been stating this combination of factors since 1985
because this is an integral group of problems and needs in our countries.
If they are not resolved, not even the independence of our peoples would be
possible.  The future of our peoples, a place in the world in the upcoming
century, the political and economic survival of our peoples would not be

This is how we see the problem and we don't state this as simple rhetoric.
It is true that there is much rhetoric.  There is no doubt.  We have to
stop the rhetoric and turn the words into acts.  This is a very real need.

It does not seem unusual to me, however, that a substantive document was
not issued on all these points because an event of this nature is not
conducive to this type of analysis, to this type of work.  Perhaps it might
be more conducive in a meeting of 3 or 4 days such as those the Nonaligned
Movement hold.  They draft documents and they issue declarations which is
possible to do during that time frame.

There were meetings of all kinds among the Group of Eight, among the
Central American leaders.  There were all kinds of meetings but there was
no meeting with a definite purpose to work on this topic.  However, I
think, I consider it to be positive, very positive that this expression of
a united spirit was demonstrated.

It seems to me that the president of Venezuela and the country of Venezuela
itself have demonstrated their ability to hold meetings.  They have
demonstrated their prestige.  The thing is to promote this type of
tendency, this movement in a certain direction until the problems are
discussed in depth and all these things are discussed with clarity, with
much precision in an objective manner so that these things do not become
simply rhetoric or words, so that we can work toward a program of this

The export of capital is very real.  It's tremendous.  It is said, and the
international organizations agree, that between 1982 and 1988, the net
capital that left our countries was $174 billion.  That's the net capital
that was taken out.  This is an unusual phenomenon.  It is truly unusual.
Some say that the figure is $180 billion.  This past year, the net capital
that was taken out was $29 billion.  This does not include capital flight.
That is not included in this figure.  This figure also does not include
what is lost in unequal trade.

If all this is added together, one can see with an almost mathematical
clarity the plundering we are experiencing, the unbearable situation in
which we live.

Naturally, more than arguments, objective truths determine the facts, and
will eventually determine the behavior to be followed.  The objective
reality is so serious that it will inexorably determine, sooner or later,
the behavior to be followed--and the sooner the better, the later the
worse.  Inevitably, every time there is a crisis, the steps and measures to
handle that crisis also come about.

That is how I view the problem.  Frankly, I would not dare,in any way, to
underestimate the importance of all these meetings.  However, I believe we
are making progress.  For several years we have been observing what has
been happening in this hemisphere; and presently, we are noticing new
phenomena.  That is why I think we are nearing the hour of truth, and the
hour of decisions.

[Moderator] It is now William Echevarria's turn.  He is a young journalist
from Channel 4, Venevision, the first one to interview Comrade Fidel on his
arrival in Mexico.... [corrects himself] Caracas.  [applause, cheers]

[Echevarria] Good evening.  First of all, I would like to thank the
president for his attitude on arrival here in Venezuela.

Getting to the subject, first of all, I would like to ask something that
many people think and ask questions about:  Is Fidel Castro waiting until
he dies to leave office?  Would a possible successor be his brother, Raul?
Another question is:  At the moment, many political analysts are thinking
about the weakening of the socialist and capitalist systems.  Maybe at the
moment, we need a new political theory that would be a sort of balance
between the two.  Would the conjunction of the capitalist and socialist
systems be considered a new theoretical policy?

[Castro] Well, I will try to answer the question about what many people
think:  Will Castro wait until he dies to leave office?  I think there have
been many people, especially to the north of Cuba, that have been wishing
Castro would die so that he could not carry out his activities in Cuba.
Frankly, I would like to leave power before I die.  [laughter[ If someone
could guarantee that for me, I would be very happy.  I would rather leave
death for later.  [laughter, applause] What you are saying with regard to
Raul is a result of known reasons.  There were many assassination plots
against the revolution's leaders, especially against me.

This is not something I have made up.  This is testimony in the U.S. Senate
which investigated a few of the cases, and considered them as proven.  The
United States, the U.S. intelligence organizations, their technological
power, and all their capabilities for death cannot be underestimated.  I
truly admire their inability to kill.  [laughter] They thought of
everything.  They knew if I went to the beach, if I picked up shells, or if
went underwater fishing.  They even invented a pretty shell that would
explode when I picked it up.  Who knows what was supposed to happen to me
with the shell, the underwater creature.  I am surprised at that.  Every
time I see a shell, I remember the plots.  [laughter] On more than one
occasion, I have seen a pretty shell, and I don't pick it up.  [Castro
laughs] This is dumb, anyway, because one knows about shells.  [laughter]
One has some experience.

They even invented tobacco to poison me.  [laugher] At that time, I had not
quit smoking yet.  They invented things for my beard to fall off.
[laughter] What was I going to do?  They did not do any particular damage
to me.  The reason for the beard was that we didn't want to waste time
shaving.  Besides, we didn't even have knives for that.  [laughter] Then
they just wanted to ridicule us, and wanted our beards to fall off.  I
think that they should be very happy that my bear is gray.  [laughter] I
know of people who shaved it before the gray hairs showed.  So, it seems
that the gray hair can be more dangerous than the beard falling off.  Well,
this is simply ridiculous.  But they thought of everything--shootings
[words indistinct].

Once, a lot of bazookas, weapons, were taken out of Guantanamo Base.  I
thought it was enough to kill an elephant and not a man.  They had rifles
with [word indistinct] telescope, poison.

I would tell you a story about the importance this has, just to give you an
idea, since it is being discussed.

I was once going to drink a milkshake.  Someone was there.  I drank the
shake.  Three was someone there, who had been influenced by the CIA, with
poison in his pocket.  He became scared at the last minute.  He appeared to
think:  Its effect will be too quick and I won't have time to escape.

In Chile, when I toured Chile, there was a mass of people.  The great
welcome I received from a million people over many kilometers was
dangerous.  This was during the Allende government.  There were people
there with cameras.  They obtained Venezuelan passports and had the
credentials of Venezuelan journalists.  They had cameras with weapons
inside them.  They stood as I'm standing here today, pointing their
weapons, but they weren't suicidal and they didn't shoot.

What I want to say with this is that these experiences are very well known.
We said that the Yankees should not delude themselves into thinking that if
they kill me the revolution will end.  We have someone who would
immediately assume my responsibilities.  This is an elementary
precautionary measure.

This occurred during a public ceremony at Revolution Square.  Since Raul
was considered, in the Yankee documents, in the Yankee information systems,
to be more radical than I.... [interrupted by laughter] Since Raul has very
great qualifications--I won't give a biography here--and since in my
opinion he has the skills and the confidence of the people, I used the
theory that if I died, they would get someone more radical then me.
[laughter] This is what we felt.  We then selected a second alternate
successor and we felt we should also have a third and fourth alternate,
even a fifth, so that there would be no impasse, no problems.  I think we
have not done this sufficiently well but these are decisions that the party
and the leaders of the party have to make.

This decision was made so early that the party was still not functioning.
The new party did not yet exist.  What existed was out movement.  A new
party had not yet been created as a result of the fusion of the various
forces.  However, it is the party, not I, that has to make the decisions if
something happens to me.  There have been many opportunities.  Fortunately,
nothing has happened--fortunately, for me.  [laughter] [Castro chuckles]
Someone else may think that this has been very bad luck for them.

I repeat, however, that this is not my decision.  That has to be decided by
the party.  It has to be decided by the party, the leaders of the party, as
well as the leaders of the state.  That is the way things are.  Don't think
there is a king or a one-man government.  We have a government with a
collective leadership.  The Council of State is a collective organization.
The PCC Politburo is a collective organization.  Don't think that I'm doing
whatever I feel like doing, naming whoever I want to name.

If you want to criticize powerful people, you can analyze the institutions
of the United States and see the power the U.S. President has.  If someone
has studied Roman history and the book of the 12 Caesars, which I think was
written by Suetonius, he can see that U.S. presidents have more power than
a Roman emperor.

The President of the United States can declare war all by himself.  He can
unleash a nuclear war without consulting with anyone.  That is true.  He
carries a little briefcase.  What is that briefcase for?  They say it
contains the codes.  If a U.S. president goes crazy one day and opens the
briefcase, he can unleash a nuclear war before anyone realizes he is crazy.
[laughter, applause] Yes, yes.

They say, they say [repeats himself] that Nero did not have that kind of
power.  They say he set Rome on fire and them played a guitar or a lyre, or
I don't know what, while Rome burned. [laughter] However, he could set Rome
on fire but he couldn't do anything else.  He could not set the world on
fire.  That is well known.  That is a reality.  It's incredible, fabulous.
There was never again such an accumulation of power.

I cannot declare a war.  I cannot declare a military action.  That has to
be discussed.  The leaders of the party and the state discuss this.  I
cannot name an ambassador, nor do I want to do so.  I cannot appoint a
minister nor do I want to do so.  I cannot name a vice minister.

In all parts of the world, presidents can make appointments based on laws.
I don't know; it's something like Law 512 [as heard].  I don't appoint
ambassadors.  All the presidents of the world have that authority.

In Cuba there is a procedure.  Several proposals are made.  The Politburo
analyzes who should be ambassador.  I cannot tell you here who will be
ambassador to Venezuela.  I cannot decide who will be ambassador, minister,
or even an official.

I do not name anyone.  Sometimes, I have to officially sign what has
already been agreed.  I will not deny that I can influence, and I have
authority within our institutions.  That is understandable; many years of
struggle have gone by and people have trust.  Of course, I will not deny my
influence, but often, not everything I think of is carried out.  Sometimes,
the majority opinion is followed.

An example I can cite is the establishment of the peasant free markets.
that was a mistake in our country's conditions.  That is what happened as a
result of copying.  This is something we should not have copied.  I did not
agree, but I accepted the opinion of the majority.  I never try to impose
views within the leadership.  Although, I must admit I do have influence
and authority.

This briefly defines the functions we have and the procedures we follow.  I
would say that any president has more power than I do.  However, it would
probably not be as easy for someone else to have the influence that has
been gained through our many years of experience, relations with the
comrades, ever since we began our struggle--with very few resources up to
now.  This is how our country actually functions and the way in which
decisions of this nature must be made--decisions that may concern you.

[Echevarria] Mr President...

[Castro, interrupting] You were talking about the analysts' theory of
equilibrium.  I think there is a problem with that.  I think that
capitalists and socialists have problems.  I agree with you--these are
important problems.  Capitalism has serious problems--it is the system.
The situation we are experiencing is ideal for this system--a system
through which we are being plundered.  It is ideal that a third world
exists.  It is ideal that over 130 countries are underdeveloped.  What
originated this?  Colonialism, neocolonialism, and the exploitation of our
peoples originated this situation.  We finance the development of
industrialized capitalist countries.  What is the consequence.... [corrects
himself] the cause of development?  Are we inferior beings?  Are we worth
less than the Europeans.  Is it that our marvelous mix of Indian, black,
and Spanish--which is what the majority of Latin Americans are--or
Portuguese and Caribbean is no good?  Is it that we, the residents of those
nations, are an inferior race?  What did underdevelopment do to us?  Is it
that we, the residents of those nations, are an inferior race?  What did
underdevelopment do to us?  Is that a just, humane system?  We can see it
in the crisis.  It is a system that has led 4 billion people in the world
into misery.  This cannot be an ideal system.  If this situation
exists, there is a crisis in the capitalist and imperialist system when you
see the order that is has established in the world.

So, we have two worlds.  We have a rich world, and the waste of the
resources it uses is almost irritating.  Every day they plunder more.  They
buy our coffee, raw materials, and whatever else they cannot produce at a
low price.  They buy our cocoa [word indistinct] basic products, as cheaply
as possible.  They have imposed those conditions on us.  What they do sell
to us is increasingly expensive.  When you try to buy an x-ray machine, or
medical equipment, or industrial equipment, you will see how the price is
ever higher.  what they sell to us has been produced at at salary of
$1,000, $1,500, $2,000; and what they pay for our products has sometimes
been produced with wages of $40, $50, or $100.  All this is a sign of a
crisis in the capitalist system.  There are also serious problems in
socialist countries, in many socialist countries; we also have problems.
Socialist countries have made mistakes, and so have we.  But I have always
said that it is better to make our own mistakes and not someone else's.
That is one of the views I hold.

Socialism is new, very new.  It still has a lot to learn and a lot to look
for in terms of efficiency.  It is not a 500- or 1,000-year-old system.
Capitalism began its development over 500 years ago.  And I admit....
[changes thought] The truth is that even today.  Western propaganda is
putting a lot of emphasis on this supposed crisis.  [Words indistinct] a
definitive and irreversible crisis, like a failure of the system, which I
do not believe.  After 30 years of struggle and experience, I feel more of
a socialist than ever, and I believe in socialism more than ever.  I
believe in it as a more just system.  I am not saying that it should be
imposed, or anything like that.

Today, I was explaining to a group of intellectuals-.... [rephrases] I
answered a question from one of them who asked: Can the theory be accepted
that the alternative in Latin America is either fascism or socialism?  I
gave my honest opinion that fascism is falling by the wayside--aside from
what can happen in a particular country.  Generally speaking, nothing worse
than what has already happened in some countries could happen anymore.
What happened in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay can no longer happen.  Fascism
is falling by the wayside like an anachronistic instrument.  On the other
hand, I think there is a greater possibility for military coups.  However,
I have said that in the current conditions, there is a greater danger of
social upheavals than of military coups.  Countries are becoming
unmanageable, ungovernable.

The objective situation converts.... [corrects himself] has come to crush
the prestige and authority of politicians because of unsolvable problems.
I did say that I do not want the immediate alternative to be socialism.  I
also said that we could not wait for socialism to arrive in order to fight
against the debt or for integration, for unity, or all those objectives.  I
even said that socialism does not assume integration.  Theoretically, it
does, but everyone could be socialist and not be in agreement.  Sometimes
even within socialism a strong nationalism, national self-interest, and
chauvinism emerge.  This is because socialism is not a world system.  It is
a system of independent countries.  I was saying that we have to begin
fighting as of now for all these objectives with the governments that exist
in Latin America.  We do not have to wait for socialism to exist.  That
would be crazy.  That would be complete inaction.

I think that we.... [changes thought] Many of these problems are of
interest to social sectors.  They interest the middle class, the worker,
the businessmen because they are all suffering the consequences of this.
They cannot wait for socialism to fight for these goals.

This is what I was saying today.  I do not think that there is a definite
crisis; not at all.  There is a series of tests.  We do our own thing;
others do theirs.  We cannot share other people's criteria on how to
resolve these problems but we respect those criteria.  Above all, we are in
favor of perfecting socialism, as Che stated.  Che thought and meditated
about this a great deal.  His premature death unfortunately prevented this
idea from being developed further.

I am against the use of capitalist mechanisms in the construction of
socialism.  That criterion is based very much on Che's ideas.  He arrived
at these views before we did.  While we were preoccupied with our tasks,
fighting against the Giron invasion, the problems of the October crisis,
the survival of the country, he was thinking about these things.  He was
very studious.  He had been named industry minister and he had to
administer the socialist industries and deal with the problem of their
organization.  There is a book on Che's economic thought which is worth
reading.  There is also a book on our positions.

I am profoundly convinced, however, that we--I respect what everyone else
does--should not use capitalist categories and methods to construct
socialism.  I do not believe in the possibility of a convergence or a
fusion of the two systems.  I believe a system is either capitalist or
socialist.  What can occur in socialism is retrocession.  It is not written
anywhere that socialism is irreversible in any country, and neither is
capitalism.  One can advance toward socialism and afterward, because of
errors or because of a combination of factors, return to capitalism.  A
country can break away from capitalism and advance toward socialism.  These
are two very different things.

We recognize that efficient capitalism exists in some European countries;
in Sweden, for example.  However, Sweden does not say it's a socialist
country.  It says it is a free enterprise country, a capitalist country.
It says it is not a socialist country.  It has a much better distribution
of wealth.  It sets very high taxes.  If someone earns $1 million, he has
to pay half of that.  Enterprises pay taxes.  The state tries to lighten
the burden.  It tries to introduce health, education, social security, and
assistance programs.  However, it does not pretend to be a socialist

There is a socialist party in the Spanish Government but there is no
socialist system.  It has a clearly capitalist system.  It is very
capitalistic and it also is trying to find a better distribution system.
Sometimes conflicts arise like the ones that have recently emerged, social

In France there is a socialist government of a socialist party but there is
no socialist system.  It is capitalist, simply capitalist.

What I don't believe in is a hybrid system.  This does not exist.  I think
that there are statisticians, who are much more intelligent, and other
people who have tried to strive for the survival of the system.  They do
not practice the methods that were practiced in the times of Engels, when
he studied the life of the working class in England, when children worked
up to 14 hours, when there was hunger.  All those problems existed.

The theoreticians and the leaders of capitalism have worked hard,
especially after the socialist revolution, after the fear of socialism
emerged, after the [words indistinct], after the October revolution.  Their
fear of revolutions made them humanize their system as much as possible or
make the system more tolerable.

However, from my modest point of view, no hybrid system is possible and no
fusion is possible.  These are two totally different concepts.  I think
that we should defend those concepts and principles.  That is what we do.
We do not want to alienate ourselves from anyone.  We want to apply our own
criteria, our own point of view.

However, I don't believe in the theory of fusion.  I can believe in better
distribution within a capitalist system, a better distribution of wealth;
but I don't believe in fusion.  These are two completely different
concepts, like a square and a circle.

I don't know if philosophers have discovered how to square a circle, but
they are incompatible.  [laughter]

[Echevarria] Mr President, your first few words indicate that we Venezuelan
journalists may soon be able to learn what Cuban reality is like.

[Castro] Has someone prohibited you from doing so?  Did you ask for a visa?

[Echevarria] I can ask for one...

[Castro, interrupting] You are the first one to see me.  You don't have to
thank me; I should thank you.  Thanks to you, I had my first contact with
the Venezuelan people and it wasn't planned.  [applause]

[Moderator] Lenin Balero of the newspaper PANORAMA in Zulia now has the

[Balero] Mr President, it is a pleasure to have you visit our country.  In
recent months you attended the Latin American presidents meeting in Quito,
Mexico, and now here in Caracas.  You may have observed the changes that
have occurred in Latin American policy.  What will your position be in the
immediate future, in regard to your country, Latin America, and the
Caribbean, to more strongly apply the democratic process in the area?

My second question, Mr President:  I have unofficial information that you
will be in the country until next Tuesday and that you will visit some
production areas in the country.  If you visit us in Zulia, which is where
I am from, you will be very welcome.  [applause]

[Castro] I thank you very much for that invitation and I'm very honored.  I
did not know you were going to invite me.  When you told me that I am going
to be here until Tuesday, I was going to ask who will pay for it?

In the second place, I....

[Balero, interrupting] Excuse me, when do you leave?

[Castro] I subscribe to the principle that it is better to leave 1 minute
earlier than 1 minute later.  I think that they won't be able to stand me
here for more than 24 hours.  [laughter] Especially with all the
controversy that has occurred, with all the television reports that have
been carried.  I think that it's time the Venezuelans get a rest.

You had another question or you were going to say something else?

[Balero] When do you leave? [laughter]

[Castro] It's a secret.  [applause] However, I will tell you that I will
leave as soon as possible.

[Balero] I do not want you to think that I ask because I want you leave.

[Castro] No, I'm sure that's not the reason.  Thank you very much.

You ask me about what I will do.  We have been in all these places, not for
presidents' meetings, but for inaugurations.  Some people have asked me:
If you're new [as heard], why do you attend?  I simply tell them:  Because
I've been invited.

I used to not get invited.  [laughter] This is a sign of the new times.
The Ecuadoran president invited me.  Then the Mexican president invited me.
He invited me.  He invited me.  [repeats himself]

I think Carlos Andres' gesture was made at a high price.  I jokingly asked
Carlos Andres when I saw him in Quito:  Are you going to invite me?
[laughter] He did not say anything.  He did not commit himself.  [laughter]
However, he invited me later.  Then he wasn't the one with the problem; I
had the problem.  Should I go or not?  I had to confront this problem in
view of all the thunder and noise and all the controversy that broke out.

I asked Carlos Andres if he would invite me, just to make him nervous.
What will he say to me, I wondered, if I don't go the inauguration and I
meet him again later at a meeting of the nonaligned countries or something
like that?  He'll ask me: What happened to you that you could not come?
[Castro chuckles] I did not have much of an alternative.  There was nothing
else I could do but go, which I did with much pleasure.

These events that have occurred are symbols of the new times.  If you like,
I can give you another story about my meetings with Carlos Andres.

He told me:  You've changed a lot.  I told him:  You've changed too.
[laughter] Both of use have changed.  [Castro chuckles] Someone asked me:
Have the two of you changed?  Are the two of you the same?

No, we have not changed.  We are just more experienced.  What is changing
is our world and the continent we live in.

You ask how we can include ourselves in the process of democratic
development.  Well, we'll do whatever we can.  What we really cannot do is
export it.  Some may say we cannot export it, because we don't have it.  I
say:  We do not export it, because you cannot export revolution or
democracy.  That is a reality.  I do not accept the theory that they can
really be exported.

[Moderator] Ana Luisa Herrera now has the floor.  She is from CNN
Television Network and Telemundo.

[Herrera] Commander Castro, the charges made by several Cubans on
violations of human rights in Cuba will be voted on again in Geneva in a
few days.  Last year, the vote was in Cuba's favor by a very small margin.
This year, the issue will be voted on again.  I would like to know what you
can tell me about this, what you think, how it will be resolved.  Also,
with regard to human rights, I would like you to tell me why there are
still political prisoners in Cuba.  What can you tell me about the
"plantados" who are still there?  Also, why is it that when journalists go
to Cuba, you have not allowed them to visit the Mando Negro Prison?  I
would also like you to answer for how long will Cuba continue giving advice
to Nicaragua.

[Castro] Are you done?  [laughter]

[Herrera] Yes.

[Castro] You don't have any more questions?  Too bad!  What a shame!  The
first question is.... [rephrases] it was a long question.  You can repeat
them as we go along, can't you?  You have written them down, right?

[Herrera] No, what I have are other notes.

[Castro] What do you have?

[Herrera] The first question is on Geneva.

[Castro] On Geneva, that is right.  I must inform you.  First of all, I
don't know if you were aware that this whole movement was organized by the
United States.  Do you, or do you not know that?  Those were accusations
made by the United States.  It was something that actually became an
obsession for President Reagan.

[Herrera] But the presentation of the accusations has been based on
accusations made by hundreds and hundreds of Cuban exiles, and based on
their experiences in prison.

[Castro] You can even say thousands.  But I'll ask you a question.  Has a
single one of those accusations been proven?  Has it been proven that
Valladares was tortured?  Did he (?do) the things he wrote in his book?
What has been proven is that Valladares was a policeman for Batista.  The
documents are historical; they are irrefutable.  Everyone in Cuba knows
that.  What has been proven is that Valladares was even given a job in the
revolution when he no longer was a policeman.  This was done so that no one
would be unemployed.  We didn't have a vindictive spirit.  We didn't know
that Valladares was a henchman, torturer, criminal.  We thought he was
merely a policeman in the Batista regime up to the last moment.  Then we
learned that 20,000 [as heard] people had died in the country.  That is one
thing.  Valladares did not go to prison for political ideas.  Valladares
was in contact with the U.S. Embassy.  He belonged to a
counterrevolutionary group that was setting off bombs and carrying out acts
of terrorism.  All that was completely proven and he was sentenced for it.

I tell you this because he is the U.S. representative at the Human Rights
Commission.  Valladares pretended to be paralyzed.  It is incredible.  As a
matter of fact, he even managed to lie to us.  There was a campaign for

I asked one of our best specialists:  Why don't you analyze this and see if
there is a solution to this problem.  We believed his medical condition.
Then the doctor treated him and he informed me:  He's faking; he's
perfectly well.  There's nothing wrong with him.  I asked:  How is this
possible?  He said:  Look for a way to prove it.

We looked for a way to prove this.  We used television to try and prove
there was nothing wrong with him.  We have the video of Valladares.  We
have distributed it.  If you like, we will send you a copy so that you are
well informed.

[Herrera] Can you tell me...

[Castro, interrupting] Wait, then ask your questions!  Give me a chance to
speak.  [laughter] Is there no freedom of speech here or what?  [laughter]
[Castro chuckles] I will let you talk all you want and I will let you ask
whatever you want, but allow me to finish my statement so that I can inform
everyone else because this is what this is for.

Okay then, he would get up every day to do exercises.  I saw him do
exercises, calisthenics.  He was one of the healthiest prisoners in the
country.  I am not that critical of him.  You know that prisoners invent
things to see how they can improve their situation or to (?amuse
themselves).  I did not even consider him that much to blame.

I remember when Mitterrand became insistent on this issue.  It was being
said that the situation was very difficult, that the papers of the right
wing were undertaking a big campaign.  They became interested in
Valladares.  If you like, we will send it to you, too.

When Valladares was told--the decision was made:  we had the film--he was
shown the film.  Do you know what his reaction was?  He instantly got up.
[laughter] He, himself, no longer denied the lie!  [applause] Do you know
how Valladares left then?  He left on his own two feet on an airplane.  He
went up the stairs; he went down the stairs.  It is incredible that
Valladares would deny this.  He says the film is a fake.

It would be as if 10 years from now you took out the film that you're
making today and I said:  That's a lie.  It was invented.  I was not in
Caracas.  [laughter] I did not hold a news conference there.

That type of thing is inconceivable.  That's how lies have been fabricated,
like this.  That applies to all those lies.

Ask a Cuban citizen, among millions of residents, if there is any torture
there.  Ask them if they know of a single case of torture, a single case.
I'm not talking about 100, 50, 20, 10, or 5 cases of torture, just a single
case there.  The people of Cuba know this and the friends of Cuba know
this.  We have very many honorable friends in the world.  They would not be
our friends if this were true, if those false accusations were true.

Who are the people who make those false accusations against us?  Who are
the people who fight against apartheid, hunger, poverty in the world,
injustice in the world, and colonialism?  The enemies of the people are not
the ones that fight against us.  [sentence as heard] The people who make
those accusations do not forgive our stance, which is that to fight and
rebel against the empire is a worthy endeavor.  They are the ones!

I think this is an insult to the many excellent friends we have in the
world, the mere idea that we are torturers.

I met today with a large group of intellectuals.  They told me that it was
not 800 but 1,400 people who signed the declaration of welcome.  I know
that many complained that they were not advised.

Let's say that the people making those accusations are liars, charlatans,
and friends of criminals, assassins, and torturers.  Either they have not
been in Cuba or they have invented that lie.  Our people cannot be insulted
like that.  They are a people with a revolutionary culture and awareness,
educated by the revolution.  The revolution itself instilled the principle
that the physical integrity of people must be respected.  There is no
single case of execution by firing squad.  Many of the Giron invaders are
still very healthy there.  They were mercenaries at the service of a
foreign power that invaded the country.  They are healthy and not a single
one of them has ever said that he's been tortured and I saw....[changes
thought] I can say something else:  What dignity, what discipline our
militia members showed.  They did not kill a single one of them.  They did
not hit anyone with their rifle butts even though 72 hours of fierce combat
took place.  That is how our people conduct themselves.

Those accusations are an insult to our people.  In addition, they are an
insult to world public opinion because lying to world public opinion is an
offense.  If I tell you a lie, I'm insulting you.  If I tell you lies, I'm
insulting you and I'm showing you a lack of respect. [crowd applauds and
chants:  "Fidel! Fidel!"]

Excuse me, comrades, but I wonder why people need to be lied to--hundreds o
millions, thousands of millions.  Why does does the whole world need to be
lied to?  They confuse and they lie.  I think we have been able to prove
that the people's skin is thick; they have intuition, instinct.

Just think about the fact that the revolution has been terribly slandered
for 30 years.  I am talking about slander and not about a difference of
opinion.  Many things can be said.  They can be antisocialist.  They can
talk about our mistakes in building socialism.  However, I am talking about
slander, one of the worst kinds of slander.  After 30 years, and after the
strong campaign against Cuba, it would have been impossible to visit this
country.  They were practically calls to violence against the visitor--even
against a madman, should one appear.  There are many ways of inducing

Finally, what was the Venezuelans' reaction?  I have been truly impressed.
I think never before....[changes thought] It is one of the most
extraordinary experiences that I have had.  It is one of the most
impressive things; their reaction.  The reaction of the new generation of
Venezuelans.  Who are those hundreds of journalists interested in talking,
greeting us everywhere?  Are we bandits, admirers of criminals and
torturers?  I wonder [words indistinct] who didn't believe.  Unfortunately,
not everyone believed.  many did believe and were lied to.  Who believed?
Basically, those who were interested in believing all the things said.
That is what I can tell you with regard to that type of slander against
Cuba. [applause]

I will finish the Geneva issue and then I'll give you the floor again.  The
vote in Geneva was the year before last.  You can't imagine the kinds of
pressure the United States used.  President Reagan would phone the members
of the commission.  The pressures the United States placed on Latin
America!  I think one of the most admirable things Latin America did was to
keep up a united front; Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil
abstained.  They put such terrible pressure on the governments.  It is
incredible!  We know it.  It is a truth that has not been publicized but
that is very well known.  Despite that, they were not able to get the
approval for an investigation.  They were defeated.  They tried it again
the second year.  There was great pressure.  It is very difficult to fight
pressure from the United States because all countries need something from
the IMF, the World Bank, and the Inter--American Development Bank such as
credit, food, markets.  One has to be very courageous to challenge all
that.  But the countries gradually challenged it.

So, what did we do to find a solution?  We, ourselves, invited the Human
Rights Commission to visit the country, to talk with whomever it wanted, to
visit prisons, everything, and to tour the country from one end to the
other with absolute freedom.  No one imposed this on us.  If someone had
imposed it, you can be certain that Cuba would have been visited by no one.
You can be certain that Cuba is not inspected by anyone.  But [words
indistinct] international meetings, U.S. institutions that for many years
have fought us.  But we have nothing to hide.  The only thing we do not
have to accept are impositions.  That is another matter.

Cuba is in the Human Rights Commission.  It was elected by a large number
of votes, because when votes are secret, many countries vote for Cuba.
However, in the UN Human Rights Commission they discuss the public vote.
No one can mark an "x" without the United States knowing about it.  The
country that got the most votes was Cuba when it was elected a member of
the Human Rights Commission.  The matter is more difficult when it is
public; these are the reasons I repeat this to you.  However, the U.S.
position on all that is weakening, and I don't think....[changes thought]
Last year, the United States became stubborn about that.  I don't know what
they will do this year, but we are frankly quite at ease.  I do not thing
they will win that battle.  However, if they do win a battle, it would be a
Pyrrhic victory.  They would not gain anything, nor would they harm, in the
least, the moral of our people and our revolution.

Now we come to the second question.  You shot your questions off one right
after the other like a machinegun.  Did you receive any training in this?
[laughter] Okay, good, good.  What's the second question?  It was on
political prisoners.

[Herrera] It was on political prisoners that....

[Castro, interrupting] Why are there political prisoners?  I am going to
ask you something.  Have you ever been to Italy?  Have you ever been to
Italy?  [repeats himself] Have you been there?  I'm asking you.  Have you
ever visited Italy?  Have you ever been to Spain or not?  Have you ever met
with Felipe Gonzalez?  Why don't you ask Felipe Gonzalez why there are
political prisoners in Spain?  Many Basques are prisoners because of
activities against the Spanish state.

Many people are imprisoned in Italy for activities against the Italian
state.  The same thing applies to France.

How many Puerto Ricans are imprisoned for activities against the domination
of the United States?

You ask us why we have to have counterrevolutionary prisoners.  We used to
have many during another period and they were well punished.  What I can
assure you of is that no injustices were committed.

We knew that the people are the ones who defend the revolution.  It's very
difficult to fight against the revolution because all the people cooperate.
They join ranks with the revolution.  This makes counterrevolutionary
action difficult.  However, when they went to the courts, we knew more than
the counterrevolutionaries themselves knew.  There are a lot less
counterrevolutionary cases now.  We knew more than they did.  If they did
not know what they did in January, on the 25th, if they could not remember,
we knew.  There were many people who belonged to the revolution who
infiltrated the ranks of the counterrevolution precisely to (?prevent)
violence and torture.  We have never used these methods.

Our security organizations were very well developed because they used
intelligence and not violence.  When individuals were arrested, everything
was known about them.  They were demoralized when they were simply
presented with all the evidence.  How do you think we defeated the

At first, there were about 300 counterrevolutionary organizations in Cuba.
Imagine that!  Sometimes three people would meet and set up an
organization.  All this was promoted by the CIA, by the United States.
They also thought that the country could not resist, that it was a (?game),
a children's game and that they could win glory, they would....[changes
thought] The moment came when almost all the leaders of their organizations
were our people.  [laughter]

Our police worked well.  They knew things.  They knew everything.  They
asked us:  Do we or don't we have the right to penalize someone who wants
to commit, who does commit sabotage, who wants to carry out an attack, who
is a U.S. spy?

Perhaps the people of Venezuela would reject this.  If you had people doing
this kind of thing, would you punish them or not?  Would I have a right to
come and ask the Venezuelan Government why they have prisoners?

They are called political prisoners to distinguish them from those who are
thieves.  There's even a legal, philosophical discussion that is recognized
as political crime.  Law students know this.  In general, they say that
when the motive is political....[changes thought] If someone wants to kill
me, I wouldn't say that it is a common crime.  The intention is not very
pleasant to be but I would say it is a political crime because the
motivation is political.

However, some of the more eminent lawyers say that one can only speak about
political crimes when those who act against the state do so to improve the
state.  They do it to produce social changes.  Those who fight against the
state to make the state regress for reactionary reasons are not political
criminals.  That is the thesis of (Jimenez de Azua), one of the most
brilliant Spanish lawyers.  Nevertheless, we have never adopted that

We simply look at the motivation and if the motivation is political, the
prisoner is political.  We actually call him a counterrevolutionary but
it's the same, more or less.  They are the prisoners to whom you are
referring.  We had a lot of them.  The activity decreased and there are
very few of them left.  I can't give you the exact number.  It could be
about 10 people.  I don't think there are as many as 100 or more than 100.

We have even promised the release of many of the remaining prisoners
through the U.S. church.  They have to get visas for these prisoners to
travel to the United States.  Some of them are dangerous.

Now I would like to ask you a question.  Did you know that Posada Cariles
was in the Giron invasion?  Did you know that as a traitor to the
fatherland he could have gotten capital punishment and he only got 2 years
in prison?  You at least have heard that he came here to Venezuela and
organized the attack against a Cuban plane.  Our entire sports team, which
had won all the gold medals, died in that accident.  More than 70 people
died.  Everyone knows what happened.  Everyone knows.  The Venezuelan
people know.

They know what Bosch did.  Who is Bosch?  He organized that attack.  He
even used Venezuelans to carry out this attack.  The Venezuelans were
arrested.  Now he is completely free.  He appeared somewhere in El
Salvador.  Look what he did.  He left prison to go help the Nicaraguan
counterrevolution from El Salvador.  He helped in the dirty war.  Many
individuals get out of prison and they become militants of very bad causes
in the world.

Do you think that if someone does what Posada Cariles did he should be
punished?  Is it fair to release him?  We even released him once.  How many
of those Giron mercenaries that we freed committed crimes again, killed,
murdered our people?  You could consider the leaders of our party
responsible for being generous with people who later killed our comrades.
Nevertheless, we released them.

Then, what is being questioned?  The right of our state to defend itself is
being questioned.  Why is it being questioned?  Any state can defend
itself.  Nevertheless, if we defend ourselves, we are the evil ones.  If we
punish those who violate our revolutionary laws to try and destroy the
revolution, we are the evil ones.  Why?  Why does this deception arise?
Why are we measured with that yardstick?  Its simply not fair.

I'm willing to answer all your questions.  Tell me if there are any more
but you will have to answer some questions I ask you, too. [laughter,
applause] [camera shows Castro leaning back in his chair and is heard
whispering to the moderator seated on his left:  "Give the floor to someone
else, now. (?There's no more)."]

[Herrera] There's one last question, commander.  When will Cuba stop giving
military assistance to Nicaragua?

[Castro] It's a crime.

[Herrera] I beg your pardon?

[Castro] It's a crime.

[Herrera] No, the question....

[Castro, interrupting] How many countries does the United States give
military assistance to?  [laughter] It gives aid to everyone.  [applause]
The United States has bases all over the world.  [applause]

The country is being attacked.  It is the victim of a dirty war that has
cost it tens of thousands of lives.  They began a revolution and they had
no military experience.  We gave them advisors.  At one time, we had 100
people there, not troops, but teachers in the academies, instructors to
train officials and sublieutenants.  We had them there.  I think it was a
noble, just thing to do.  It was a just cause.

We can say that the number will be largely cut when the Nicaraguans decide
to do so.  We cannot unilaterally decide this.  Only the Nicaraguans can
decide the day when they no longer need us, and when they tell us they
don't need us, we will withdraw the few remaining advisers with pleasure.

I want you to know that there are many more doctors, health personnel,
advisory personnel.  I want you to know that during a certain period of
time and with great sacrifice, 2,000 teachers held classes in the most
remote areas of the country, in rural areas, in very difficult conditions.

The response expresses....[rewords] The concrete answer to the question is
that we will immediately withdraw our advisers as soon as the Nicaraguans
ask us to do so.  We will not withdraw them if we are asked to do so by the
United States.  We do not obey orders from the United States.  [applause]