Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Comments on Relations With Brazil
Havana Tele Rebelde Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000005188
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL2203022490
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-056          Report Date:    22 Mar 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     4
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       7
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       19 Mar 90
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 056


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Comments on Relations With Brazil

Subheadline:   Address to Clergy in Sao Paulo

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro to clergy in Sao Paulo; date not

Source Line:   FL2203022490 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 1800 GMT 19
Mar 90

Subslug:   [``Excerpts'' of speech by President Fidel Castro to clergy in Sao
Paulo; date not given--recorded]

1.  [``Excerpts'' of speech by President Fidel Castro to clergy in Sao Paulo;
date not given--recorded]

2.  [Text] I have also referred to the 500th anniversary of the so-called
discovery of America, everything that occurred throughout the centuries, and
therefore that scientist's efforts had such a human content, but now we need a
lot of [word indistinct] so they will understand and defend us.  Because we are
the new Indians of this hemisphere. I was saying that in my opinion, when we
analyze the social and economic situation of our peoples, I said that the level
of exploitation is greater, and in my opinion, in this hemisphere our peoples
have become net exporters of capital to the rich countries, to those who have
exploited us for centuries, those who made themselves the owners with
our....[rephrases] those that became rich with our sweat and blood, and today
continue to exploit us.

3.  I said that today, perhaps every year that passes, from our sweat, our
efforts, our sacrifices, they extract from this America of ours more gold than
they extracted in one century before. I would almost go as far as to say they
are extracting more gold than all the gold they took in four centuries, or in
three centuries. I did a simple mathematical calculation, that if one ton of
gold now is worth about $10 million on the world market--it could be more or
less--and when we think that the net capital that leaves Latin America as a
result of the debt, only as a result of the debt, or interest on the debt, or
remittance of capital, without counting the money that leaves when people
change their country's currency for dollars and take it out with them, is
equivalent to--the money that is taken out, that they take from us, from a
hemisphere that must develop, that must resolve those problems [Leonardo] Boff
was talking about, for those houses, those teachers, those doctors, those
schools--what they take from us is equivalent to 3,000 tons of gold each year. 
While children die of illnesses, while 700,000 children in Latin America die
who could be saved; 700,000 children.

4.  That means that in the time we are meeting here, how many children who
could have been saved are dying? I am not talking about those who are incurable
but about children who could be saved. If the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
killed about 100,000 people each, it is as if seven bombs like those were being
dropped on the children of Latin America each year. And I am talking about
children less than one year old. I think we could even include in this figure
the children....[rephrases] In this figure I have to calculate the births; I
think the children that die out of every thousand live births, that is, the
average in Latin America is between 60 and 70 out of every thousand live
births. We would have to add the children that die between the ages of one and
five. The figure in Latin America is 85 children out of every 100 live births
who die between the ages of zero and five.  [figures as heard] The ones who
could be saved from these, with a rate similar to that of Cuba, the Cuban
mortality rate, would be about 700,000.

5.  Our rate is 11.1, and the rate, adding those that die before age five,
totals about 13.5 out of 1,000 [live births]. In Latin America it is 80 or 85.
Those are the levels of infant mortality. One must ask: Why? Why? I was saying,
in response to I do not know how many questions I have been asked these days,
all kinds of questions....[changes thought] Perhaps you have heard some of the
answers when they asked me about Cuba, based on a tremendous ignorance of Cuba,
because even the mass media; they manipulate even what we think; they export to
us even what we know, and they inculcate it in us, and they fill our heads with
lies and disinformation because of the monopoly of the mass media, so that one
is amazed at the ignorance that exists among our peoples about each other, and
the enormous ignorance about Cuba. But I was saying, in a word, what socialism
has meant in our country: simply having solved in 30 years a problem that Latin
America has not solved in 200 years.

6.  And I said: Why don't they ask us about the causes? This kind of reflection
leads inevitably to the conclusion that changes must be made; these problems
must be solved. If we start to talk now about education, if we talk about
health, we find similar phenomena. The vast majority of children in Latin
America do not complete even the third grade. The vast majority do not even
complete secondary school, or preuniversity studies. There are still tens of
millions of children without classrooms and teachers in Latin America.

7.  We talked about the children who die; what can we say about those who do
not die, who suffer from malnutrition? The percentage of the population in
Latin America that suffers from malnutrition is very high; in some countries it
is higher and in others lower, and in some it reaches 50 percent, not among
children but among the population in general. The doctors are familiar with its
effects on the development of underfed children, children with malnutrition.
They are familiar with the effects on the development of their intelligence,
their mental potential, how this affects them throughout their lives, how this
affects these people throughout their lives, how this reduces their prospects,
how it reduces their capabilities in all senses, how much suffering and how
many misfortunes accompany these calamities.

8.  I think that if our people do not want, and very rightly, these problems to
occur, changes must naturally be made. When we talked about the housing
problem, we talked about the situation in most of the Latin American capital
cities; more than 50 percent of the population lives in slums. Caracas--the
capital of the richest Latin American country, with the highest income in Latin
America, which produces oil, which exports large amounts of oil--has 60 percent
of the population living in slum districts. This is the reality and it can be

9.  How many years have passed since we became independent? Why have other
countries developed and ours have not been able to? Why don't those rich,
developed countries have this kind of calamities, and the peoples in our
America suffer from them? Anyone can understand that it is impossible for us to
handle these realities as long as we live under exploitation and looting,
carrying an enormous debt burden of hundreds of billions, and having to pay
tens of billions every year. It is one of the many ways through which they take
our resources. They will get richer and richer, they will get extremely rich,
and we will get poorer and poorer, and these calamities will become more and
more numerous.

10.  This is why the need for changes is so obvious. Not just changes are
needed, however; integration is needed. The unity of our peoples, our
strengths, is needed. We will not have any future, none of our peoples, if we
do not unite. If we do not unite, we will face an even worse future than that
of the indigenous population the famous discoverers found here.

11.  It is based on these realities that the unity of our peoples becomes
essential, and changes become essential. In our country we have solved these
problems, fortunately, and although there are still many things we have to do,
new possibilities always arise, new hopes, new prospects, and we are working
intensely in that direction. I think that you, and this group I see here, are
fully aware of these things. To make these changes, people like you are needed.
Changes in one way or another--I am not talking about violence, I am talking
about political changes--can only be made by people like you.  [applause]

12.  Concerning the second question, which is also a difficult question: Why
are there no Christians, or believers, in the Communist Party of Cuba? These
two things are related. What we would have wanted most is the continuation of
this process in Cuba. We need this process in Cuba. This process would be very
good for our revolution in Cuba. I can say to you very frankly, I think that if
we had people like you there, they would have been in our party for some time
now. [laughter, applause]

13.  Unfortunately, it is not that there are no Christians, and good
Christians. There, the problems have been of another kind. We have not had a
church of the poor.  [applause] In the majority church, which was the Catholic
Church, we have not had that, and we have felt the lack of it so much! We could
even have multiplied the influence of our revolution if it had been like that.
Many religious people work with the revolution. We have the example of the
nuns, who with extraordinary selflessness work in hospitals and different
projects of a high human value. More than once I have mentioned them as
exemplary communists.  I have said this to our people, our nation, even to our
party members. These nuns are exemplary communists.

14.  We have asked our people to be like them, although I should say that we
have tens of thousands of Cubans who do that work, that same work, in our
institutions, as a result of this generosity, this nobility, this dedication a
revolutionary should have; that people with feelings of solidarity, human
feelings, should have. I would say that we have tens of thousands of monks and
nuns in our party. [laughter] The illogical situation is that we have monks and
nuns in our party, we have monks and nuns, but we do not have believers in the
party. It is a paradoxical situation, really.

15.  It is a situation we would like to get out of. We would very much have
liked, it would have helped us a lot, to get out of this if we had had a church
like the one you have. [applause] I am referring to the Catholic Church.  We
also have the Christian churches, with which we have never had any kind of
problems, but we did have problems at the beginning of the revolution with the
hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Although I have said this before, I am going
to repeat it: the thing is that the church in our country, the Catholic Church,
was the church of the rich, the big landowners, the landlords. I myself studied
in the Catholic Church. Frei Betto has explained this in depth.

16.  There have been many changes since then. This word `ecumenical' was never
even mentioned. For a Catholic to speak to a Protestant was a great sin.
[laughter] He was condemned to go to a place almost as hot as here in this
room. [laughter, applause] If then they were like dog and cat, there has been
an enormous change. It makes me very happy to see this sense of respect, of
understanding, of brotherhood between all Christians.

17.  The dominant church in our country was the Catholic Church of the colonial
period. We were the last country to obtain our independence from the Spanish
crown, almost a century after the nations of Latin America. We also then had
interference by the Yankees. The clergy was Spanish, and pro-Spanish. It was
against the country's independence during decades of heroic struggle. It
greatly identified with that power, which really distanced it from the
patriotic feelings of those who fought in three wars for our independence.

18.  When the Republic came, it was independence in form only--a seal, a
flag--but the economic and social situation continued to be the same. There was
neocolonialism imposed by the United States. The clergy, and the leaders of the
clergy who were also in large part foreigners, continued to be Spanish. And all
during the Republic there was an identification of the clergy with that

19.  There was no participation in the struggle for the liberation of the
country. There was not a single church in our country's entire countryside, not
a single Catholic Church.  There were some local churches of other religious
denominations but there was not a single Catholic Church.

20.  Religious education was closely linked to the rich sectors. I already gave
you my own example. They were in conflict with the revolution and attempted to
use the church against the revolution. This caused friction, trouble,
conflicts, antagonisms, and distance. This is what caused the establishment of
the rule at the time our party was founded. It is not a principle and does not
have to be a principle. It is not irrevocable but it was established during
that long period, during those many years.

21.  There was a time in which relations began to improve.  They improved for
various reasons. We were always very careful, very prudent. If some priests
came in a mercenary invasion, the sanctions were not severe and we released
them in the shortest possible time. When there was a confirmed case of a priest
participating in a counterrevolutionary activity we would also do everything
possible to solve the situation, and if there was no other choice than to
impose sanctions on him, he would be in prison for a minimum period of time. We
were always particularly careful in seeing that no excesses were committed. We
were careful and prudent in the way the problem was dealt with.

22.  We gave the Catholic Church and all churches in our country absolute
guarantees to practice religion. This is rare because if you analyze the
history of revolutions in which these types of conflicts occurred .... [changes
thought] you will see that they occurred in almost all of them. There were all
types of situations, severe sanctions, executions, and at times, even murders.
There has hardly been any profound process in which these kinds of conflicts
have not appeared--they appeared in all--or in which priests have not been
executed or those types of measures taken.

23.  If one analyzes the history of our relations with the church, in spite of
the problems, there was not a single case in which a priest was mistreated or a
priest was executed. In the cases in which there were prison sentences, they
were in prison a minimum of time. I believe this was very important because we
always talked about the sense of social justice of Christianity. I spoke
repeatedly of the teachings of Christ. I brought passages from the Bible where
it could be considered [words indistinct] the social and revolutionary measures
we were taking.

24.  A nuncio who was in our country also helped to overcome the difficulties.
He was Monsignor (Sachi). He was a very gentle and intelligent man. He made
many efforts to help overcome these difficulties until they were overcome. 
However, the legacy of, say, reservations remained. Norms had been established.
I talked about this with Frei Betto. It is in the book he wrote ``Fidel and
Religion.'' I should tell you we were hoping that the Brazilian Catholic Church
would influence the hierarchy of our church. We were hoping that this powerful
church movement in favor of the poor would be extended to Cuba and help us
create the conditions to overcome the barriers that existed, so Christians
could join in.

25.  I tell you that we practically do not have problems with other
denominations. There are some exceptions, such as Jehova's Witnesses, because
of their rules and the things they impose on their members. They create other
types of conflicts regarding whether the person can or cannot receive medical
treatment, whether he can join the military service or do certain jobs. In
general, the problems have not existed with other denominations.  We especially
have had them with the Catholic Church.  I was telling you about our hopes.
Brazilians--Betto, Boff--have visited our country. They have attempted to
influence them but in reality .... [changes thought] I am not referring to the
congregation, to the Christian and Catholic people: I am referring to the
hierarchy. There has been practically no progress. Two or three years ago they
met to analyze.... [changes thought] If you look at the guest list you will see
ecclesiastical authorities from the United States and other countries but
absolutely no one from the liberation theology. Frei Betto, who is well known,
Boff, and others who are appreciated and loved by our people, were not invited
to that meeting.

26.  It was enough for a priest or bishop to sympathize with the church of the
poor for him not to receive an invitation to that kind of a meeting. Years went
by, they carried out a very slight self-criticism, and nothing more. This is
our reality. Another sad reality is that our church's hierarchy felt it was
more a church of those who live in Miami, of those who abandoned the
fatherland, of those who sided with the United States, than a church of Cuban
Catholics. Of course, many of those landowners, rich people, landlords, many of
those people went to the United States. They preferred to go to the United
States. Our church's hierarchy considered itself a church of those people. This
is the reality. Since I have to speak I speak.

27.  It is very dependent on other Western churches, on the help of the U.S.
church and other churches in Europe. It is influenced by those churches. The
hierarchy of the U.S. Catholic Church has much influence in the Cuban Church.
U.S. policy has no little influence in the church's hierarchy. There is no
other choice than to say that it never identified itself with the revolution
and it has remained somewhat hidden waiting to act against the revolution if
the revolution encounters difficulties. This element turned into the great
obstacle that prevented us from advancing more on that path.

28.  This is expressed very clearly in Frei Betto's book. I want you to know
that through that book it is the first time a socialist leader presents his
thoughts and makes an analysis of the way religious problems should be dealt
with. They are the most extensive views and ideas ever expressed. Everything
said in that book represented a great opening on the part of the revolution.
That book has been translated into numerous languages for Chinese, Iranians,
Russians, for Moslem countries, for countries with other religions. That book
has had an influence, it has been read with enormous interest. It was the first
time a socialist leader approached that problem.

29.  There has not been the response we would have liked to see, to this
opening in which we expressed our liking of the church of the poor. The
response has not made us confident enough to have Christians join our party,
without having a militant one day experience a conflict of conscience for being
a member of the party and, at the same time, being obliged to follow the orders
and guidance of the church's hierarchy. I say this problem does not lie on the
Christians or grassroots believers. Unfortunately, we have had these problems
with the high-level hierarchy of the Catholic Church. [applause]

30.  Speaking very frankly and clearly I explain to you that this has been the
obstacle, the obstacle that has not yet been overcome for Christians to be able
to join the ranks of our party. I hope that all this will happen. I do not see
it close, I do not see it close.

31.  As a result of the problems that have appeared in East Europe as a result
of the difficulties being experienced by the Soviet Union, and the belief that
the revolution may have very serious problems, the belief of some who
underestimate our people and think they will not be able to resist difficult
tests, this situation is conducive to opportunism and the erratic belief that
the revolution will not last long and that we are going to back to the past.
This situation conditions certain behaviors. We are preparing and dedicating
ourselves during these times.  We are making an enormous and endless effort to
increase our revolution's resistance capabilityy and to resist all the tests
that these days are not precisely only economic in nature, but threats in the
military field of an arrogant, angry, and triumphalistic empire that believes
it owns the world and believes the Cuban revolution needs to be crushed and
that Cuba must be defeated.  Difficult years are approaching. They are years of

32.  This is a reality, but it is also in circumstances such as these that
opportunism is made evident. Feelings surface of those who were never with the
revolution, those who long for the past and dream for the impossible idea that
our fatherland can return to those disgraceful times of oppression, looting,
and exploitation that fortunately disappeared many years ago. We cannot go back
now when you dream more than ever of solving those problems, now when you dream
more than ever of a better world.