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Castro Interview With Mexican Daily in Brazil
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000005505
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA2603192990
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-059          Report Date:    27 Mar 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     3
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       6
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       23 Mar 90
Report Volume:       Tuesday Vol VI No 059


City/Source of Document:   Mexico City EXCELSIOR

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Interview With Mexican Daily in Brazil

Author(s):   Flavio Tavares in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 22 March; all quotation
marks as published]

Source Line:   PA2603192990 Mexico City EXCELSIOR in Spanish 23 Mar 90 pp 1,

Subslug:   [Report on interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by Flavio
Tavares in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 22 March; all quotation marks as

1.  [Report on interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by Flavio Tavares in
Sao Paulo, Brazil on 22 March; all quotation marks as published]

2.  [Text] Sao Paulo, 22 Mar--Words, ideas, and concepts flow without pause as
Cuban President Fidel Castro says, in a statement that seems to be a
confession: ``Socialism is facing the worst crisis in its 70-year history since
the Russian Revolution, while capitalism is living through a time of euphoria.
It is a tremendous crisis which we can sense, through the intensification of
the Yankees' arrogance and their propaganda, that socialist Cuba will
disappear. There are many people, even friends, who have already expressed
their condolences to us while we are still alive....''

3.  Castro's face--circumspect and serious--framed by his gray beard and hair,
shows the tiring effects of his exhaustive activities during his visit to

4.  However, as he speaks--standing, seated, or walking through the wide halls
of the Anhembi Convention Center in Sao Paulo--Castro shows the enthusiasm of
the 1960's and is renewed with each word and histrionic gesture.

5.  The situation in East Europe is ``catastrophic,'' Castro says. Most of the
socialist nations are not only seeking a return to capitalism, but ``are moving
to imperialism's side.''

6.  For example, he noted, the leaders of Poland and Hungary `` perpetrated the
most despicable action'' when they voted against Cuba at the UN Human Rights
Commission. ``Now they will receive a prize for their action through IMF and
World Bank loans. I have no feelings of solidarity toward Lech Walesa. He met
with counterrevolutionary worms (Cubans living in the United States) and
declared himself an enemy of Cuba. Today he is pampered by the West and the
United States.''

7.  Fidel Castro, however, praised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: ``His
intention was not to destroy the party or socialism, but to improve them and
correct great mistakes.'' How are relations with the USSR? ``They are good, and
have remained the same despite the fact that we do not like some of the things
that are happening over there.''

8.  He stressed: The risks, not only for Cuba, but for socialism, ``will depend
on the internal problems they will have and on whether the USSR will
disintegrate, as Brzezinski and the United States hope.''

9.  During his seven-day visit to Brazil, Castro never used the term
``perestroyka,'' (restructuring policy). During his visit to Sao Paulo, we
accompanied him for eight hours on a day in which he met with journalists
representing EXCELSIOR and other newspapers, labor and political leaders,
intellectuals, Christian and religious leaders. On that torrid day, he only
``escaped'' a few moments to change his austere military uniform.

10.  Castro has always rejected the possibility of following in the steps of
the USSR: ``What for? We never experienced Stalinist phenomena in Cuba. There
was no purge in Cuba. We did not have one single political prisoner,
disappeared or tortured person. We did not conduct a forceful collectivization
of agriculture as was the case in Eastern Europe. People used to criticize us,
saying we were a satellite of the USSR. Now we are criticized for not doing
what the Soviets are doing.''

11.  Although he says that he respects the USSR and its reforms, with which he
disagrees, Fidel expresses criticism: ``We learned about inequitable exchange
from our trade relations with the USSR. Our sugar and nickel were worth
increasingly less every year'' compared to the value of Soviet products. ``I
travel on board Soviet-made planes. They are very safe, but they consume twice
as much fuel. Their trucks are very bad. They only travel seven kilometers per
gallon of gas. These trucks waste the gasoline that they themselves send us.''

12.  With a certain sadness, Castro says that he would prefer ``not to talk''
about his disappointment regarding the false internationalism of some European
socialist countries. ``While we sent them prime quality sugar and nickel, they
sold us junk built with outdated technology.  We built ditches and buildings
with that junk they sent us. A Bulgarian or Czechoslovak forklift cannot be
sold anywhere in the world. They do not work. We had to train experts who could
transform those machines into forklifts that could really lift things. The
Hungarian buses go six kilometers per gallon of gas and contaminate cities with
smug. The gear box of the Czechoslovak buses only have first and second gears
and consume 30 percent more fuel.'' As if he were on stage, Castro imitates the
sound made by a strained engine: ``Those buses sound like this: Vroom, vroom,
vroom, and then again, vroom, vroom, vroom...''

13.  As if he were apologizing to history, Castro looks in the distance and
says: ``To explain all this, it is necessary to go back to Che Guevara's times.
Che Guevara used to say that socialism cannot be built based on capitalistic
ideas such as benefit and profit. Che was a prophet who saw all things very

14.  Castro admits that the present moment is a ``very, very difficult'' time
for Cuba, but ``what are revolutionaries good for if not for facing difficult

15.  Do the events in Eastern Europe mean that socialism as a social, political
system could disappear?

16.  Fidel gives a withering response: ``There is much confusion and uneasiness
regarding what is going on in Eastern Europe.

17.  ``From the Cuban point of view, there are two dangerous situations: The
first one is the collapse of socialism in a part of Europe. The second is the
difficulties that may appear in the Soviet Union.

18.  ``But there was a true revolution in the USSR unlike in the other European
countries, where socialism was taken to power by a series of historic events.
The situation is very different in Cuba. We built and defended our revolution,
although we had the support of the socialist field.

19.  ``Now, the military and economic threat unites us again.  The United
States and capitalism hope to defeat Cuba economically. But the situation in
each East European country is different. Poland and Hungary are desperately
seeking a way back to capitalism. Czechoslovakia is too, although in a
different way. The positions of Bulgaria and Romania are still unclear. The GDR
is different.  The problem there is to see whether the GDR will be absorbed by
the FRG, the most powerful European nation. If that happens, there will be no
doubt that the capitalist system will completely put away the system that
prevails in the GDR, which was built with much sacrifice in the most devastated
part of Germany after World War II.

20.  ``Socialism will face the same fate as capitalism, which replaced
feudalism. Napoleon led Europe to capitalism, but later became a conqueror.
Socialism will experience progress and setbacks, but will finally win.
Socialism is the kingdom of the future. We, men, have not renounced our
aspiration of being angels, being better. Furthermore (raising his voice) there
has been no eternal society.

21.  ``The liberal ideas that some people want to resuscitate today are dead.
Those liberal ideas operated well in the metropolises, but not in Latin
America, Africa, or Asia.  In 200 years the liberals failed to solve any
important problem in Latin America. Today, without counting the things that are
taken away from it as a result of unequal exchange, Latin America each year
exports capital equivalent to 3,000 tons of gold. Spanish and Portuguese
galleons did not take away that much from here in four centuries of conquest.
Capitalism takes more out from Latin America each year than the colonists did
in four centuries. We have nothing to thank that philosophy for.''

22.  What happened in Nicaragua? How do you explain the disaster of Sandinism?

23.  Fidel takes another sip of water or fruit juice from a pink plastic cup,
which accompanies him everywhere he goes.  This cup is very, very different
from the crystal glasses that are on the table. This is ``Fidel's cup.'' It is
the one cup that one of his bodyguards uses, for security reasons, to serve him
drinks. He said: ``The CIA has tried to kill me on several occasions, even
under the ocean. I like to spearfish and they planted a very large and pretty
coral that would explode as I picked it up. But we uncovered everything,'' he
said before answering the question.

24.  ``The Nicaraguan problem is different than all others.  They were carrying
out a revolution; they were not building socialism. The dirty war unleashed by
the United States prevented them from ever developing their revolutionary work.

25.  ``In Cuba there was and there is revolutionary work; this keeps the people
united. But the war wore them out in Nicaragua. They created the impression
that if the Sandinists continued (in power) war would continue. They insisted
that the military service was an aggression against the youths and that more
mothers would lose their children. There was a brutal wear down.

26.  ``Subjective mistakes were also committed (by the Sandinists) in their
relationship with the masses. But they were not determining factors in their
defeat. The determining factor was the counterrevolution's dirty war supported
by the Yankees. However, the Sandinists have thousands of weapons and must
retain them; they must preserve them. Without weapons, there would be a
disaster. They must remain armed not to carry out a coup d'etat, but to defend
the revolution's social achievements, to defend the constitution.''

27.  Castro cites the times of Salvador Allende in Chile as an example:
``Capitalism resisted in Chile when it lost the 1970 elections. Capitalism does
not give up, less so can the revolutionaries. To those who are euphoric over
the Sandinist defeat, I say: ''The Sandinist cause is not lost in Nicaragua; it
had not yet become a socialist process.``

28.  He then refers to Panama. ``The U.S. disaster is about to begin, or has
already begun, in Panama. The Yankees got Noriega out and killed hundreds or
thousands of men and women, but they do not have money to give to the `fat
one.' That is why the `fat one' went on a hunger strike.'' (The ``fat one'' is
Panamanian President Guillermo Endara but Castro will not mention him by name).

29.  Castro adds: ``They have invented thousands of lies about Noriega. But the
United States will become demoralized in Panama. No matter what they do there,
they cannot keep the Panama Canal. Panama is not lost,'' he pointed out without

30.  However, the mention of Panama makes him turn back to Cuba. ``The Yankees
invaded Grenada and Panama.  Now they are threatening us again. However, they
know that if they invade Cuba they will leave 250,000 dead.  And when the
coffins begin arriving in the United States, the people of the United States
will turn against the invasion.''

31.  He asserted that the Cuban people are up in arms.  ``There is democracy in
Cuba because, in addition to elections every two and one-half years for the
People's Councils and the National Assembly, the people are up in arms. The
students, the peasants, the workers; in a nutshell, everybody is armed. In
which one of the countries that claim to be `democratic' and criticize us,
saying we are not democratic, are the people armed?''

32.  The issue serves as a pretext for him to criticize the Soviets again. ``If
we adopted the Soviet military doctrine, the United States would win in an
eventual invasion of Cuba. We have 10 divisions. The enemy has 50.  We would
have all the conditions to be defeated. Then, from the stands, the people would
watch the parade by the victorious invaders and would cry over their defeat. 
However, our concept predates the arrival of the Soviet military men. We have
prepared the people to defend the revolution; all men and women know what to do
in the event of an invasion.''

33.  What will happen to you if the supply of Soviet oil runs out and the U.S.
embargo is intensified?

34.  ``I have already said that if we wake up one morning with the news that
the USSR no longer exists, we will not surrender. If the oil runs out suddenly,
we will seek it on the world market. We have already begun drills and exercises
for times of crisis. ''We can stop social development for five years or for as
many as necessary to resist. Our social development has been so intensive--in
housing, education, and public health, for instance--that we can stop it from
continuing for five years and it would cause no problems. We have solved in 30
years what Latin America has not solved in 200.``

35.  Castro then talks about Latin American integration, which is perhaps the
only way Cuba may try to survive if Soviet aid--which is already beginning to
be cut off--is cut. ``We have no customs or tariff barriers. Cuba is open to
Brazilian, Mexican, and Latin American capital in general. We can integrate
with capitalist forms without forsaking socialism.''

36.  Cuba will not follow the current Soviet model ``because it does not need
it,'' Fidel says.

37.  ``Cuba is a democratic country. The people take part in the
decision-making,'' he notes, but gives no details about the manner in which the
participation takes place.

38.  ``We never use tear gas or trained dogs against the people. This does not
happen in Cuba,'' he adds, prior to stressing: ``The prisoners in Cuba are
treated well; they are in good health; they are not tortured.''

39.  Castro does not mention him, but this is an allusion to poet Armando
Valladares, who used a wheelchair when he left prison. This is an allusion to
reduce Valladares' credibility.

40.  The Cuban president denies that agriculture in his country is in ruins.
``Cuban agriculture is able to feed the people with 3,000 calories a day, and
we export calories for 40 million other people in different parts of the
world.'' He states that only what is scarce is rationed.

41.  Castro then speaks of the social achievements in his country. More than
700,000 people work in education.  ``In the West, the manufacture of underwear
is included in the gross domestic product (GDP), but providing health and
education and undertaking a heart transplant are not included in the GDP.
Capitalism invented that outrage of measuring production. Even what an army
does is included in the GDP, but not what is done in health and education.''

42.  Fidel Castro Ruz believes that ``the countless errors'' committed in
Eastern Europe created problems for socialism there:

43.  ``Fortunately for Cuba, we are very far geographically from the USSR. We
did not have Soviet tanks to defend our socialism. The only tanks we had near
us were those of the United States, in an aggressive stance to annihilate us.

44.  ``Woe to the country that needs the tanks of another country to defend its
socialism. Woe to the socialism that cannot be defended by its people. It does
not deserve to be called socialism.''

45.  Castro states that because of this, he does not see the need for political
reforms in Cuba: ``We are not opposed to the perfecting of socialism, but we
believe that socialism is not defended by destroying the party.''

46.  In Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities, Castro was only seen irritated
when asked about some Brazilian leftist leaders' suggestion that he hold a
plebiscite or direct presidential elections.

47.  ``If I were to arrive in Cuba and tell the comrades that a plebiscite or
direct presidential elections must be held, they would think I was crazy. They
would say: `Fidel was given some potion in Brazil which made him crazy.' No
plebiscite or direct election is needed in Cuba. There are elections every two
and a half years. The plebiscite has been these past 30 years in which the
people, with weapons in hand, supported the government and resisted the United
States,'' Castro concluded.