Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro on Gorbachev's Visit

FL0504192389 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 2300 GMT 5 Apr 89

[Report on interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by GRANMA reporter
Nidia Diaz at the Jose Marti international Airport in Havana on 5 April]

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro spoke to the press shortly before
the aircraft in which the highest Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was
traveling took off.

[Begin recording] [Castro] In the morning, the Soviets asked us, in
deference to Gorbachev, that we come in a covered vehicle because the
morning is somewhat cool.  Now they have to make a long trip.  They have to
go to England.  They did not want to take the risk that he would catch a
cold.  The people from their own delegation asked us this.  So, we decided
to come in a covered vehicle.

Logically, the people were expecting to see the uncovered vehicle.  He was
trying to say good-bye to everyone but the people did not realize it
because they were expecting the uncovered car.  They did not realize that
we were traveling in the covered car.  On behalf of Gorbachev, the Soviet
delegation, and myself, I would like to ask people to excuse us because of
this.  I know they were mobilized:  there was great enthusiasm since early
in the morning to wait along the route the motorcade took.

[Reporter] We know the people are going to understand.  Commander, we would
like to take advantage of this moment for you to tell us the last
impressions of Comrade Gorbachev after the address to the Assembly...

[Castro, interrupting] Everything went very well until the last moment.

[Reporter] After the meeting with the journalists and after the assembly

[Castro] Everything went well, until the last second, until the sad moment
of the farewell.

[Reporter] According to our estimates, Gorbachev was in Havana for 63 to 65

[Castro] Yes.

[Reporter] I think it was 63 hours and 15 minutes.

[Castro] More or less, a little more than 60 hours.  Two days and a little
bit, and a night. [corrects himself] That is 2 days and 3 nights.

[Reporter] Did you agree on a future visit to Cuba and the Soviet Union?

[Castro]  Well, we have talked about everything.  Of course, he extended me
an invitation and insisted on this.  I have to wait for the right time.  I
told him that, in any case.  I preferred to pay a working visit rather than
an official visit because official ones involve a lot of protocol events
and one has to take time for that.  I like working visits better.

[Reporter] Commander, as we read in the paper, he was very interested in
the family doctor program.

[Castro] He was interested in everything.  He was interested in everything.
[repeats himself] He was interested in the family doctor program, the
social minibrigades we saw building housing and the research centers.  He
caught on to everything very fast.  This is why I was trying to get the
comrades to not make very long explanations because he catches on very
fast, immediately.

[Reporter] Then, can you characterize this visit as...

[Castro, interrupting] As historic, excellent, excellent.

[Reporter] I believe this will silence all the campaign...

[Castro, interrupting] I was with him all the time.  That is, during all
the tours, everywhere, and at the receptions.  We were invited to a dinner
at the [Soviet] Embassy last night.

We talked a lot.  He was truly very happy.  He was very happy, very
joyfull, very satisfied until the last moment.  He regards our people very
highly.  He was praising our people a lot.  When we were coming over in the
motorcade and he saw the people, he wanted to say good-bye.  He made very
pleasant and friendly comments about our population.

[Reporter] There goes the plane.

[Castro turns, waves, as the plane is heard taking off]  There goes the

[Reporter] Commander we do not ant to...[rephrases] We know these have been
a very busy 63 hours for you.

[Castro] Thank you very much.  These days have also been filled with hard
work for you.

[Reporter] No, no. The work has been for your and his benefit and for the
information for all the Cuban people.

[Castro] Thank you very much.

I also talked with the television people explaining the matter of the
medal.  It as something that was agreed with them.  I said they want to
establish a style.  They believe the decorations were abused.  There was a
time in which the honor of decorations was abused.  They strongly oppose it
and are trying to avoid decorations as much as possible.  So, considering
this, we took into account their wishes.  We did not want to put pressure
on this.

[Reporter] I believe, as you say, it has been a historic visit for all our
people.  Everyone was waiting to see his charisma, his reactions, because
in a way we received the type of campaign that had been going on abroad, it
has been a great experience for all of us.

[Castro] Of course, it was a great defeat of all the intrigues against
relations between the USSR and Cuba. [end recording]