Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Interview for Brazilian Bandeirantes TV
Havana Cubavision Television
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000005736
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA2903221590
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-062          Report Date:    30 Mar 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       16
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       26 Mar 90
Report Volume:       Friday Vol VI No 062


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cubavision Television

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Interview for Brazilian Bandeirantes TV

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro with journalist Maria Gabriela for the
``Face to Face'' program of Bandeirantes Television in Sao Paulo,
Brazil, on 15 March--recorded; monitored in progress]

Source Line:   PA2903221590 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0134 GMT 26
Mar 90

Subslug:   [Interview by President Fidel Castro with journalist Maria Gabriela
for the ``Face to Face'' program of Bandeirantes Television in Sao
Paulo, Brazil, on 15 March--recorded; monitored in progress]

1.  [Interview by President Fidel Castro with journalist Maria Gabriela for the
``Face to Face'' program of Bandeirantes Television in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 15
March--recorded; monitored in progress]

2.  [Text] [Castro]...economic and material nature. Brazil has significant
industrial development and has achieved progress in many areas of the economy,
science, and culture sectors. We are interested in this. We have also made
progress. For example, we have made great progress in the science sector--we
have tens of thousands of scientists working in the medicine and biotechnology
sectors and in producing advanced equipment-- advanced medical equipment, to
mention one area. We have also achieved development in the tourism sector.  You
have also achieved it and this could be a source of exchange between us. I
think that since we have many things and many problems in common, the
experience acquired by each country is very important to the other.

3.  We will discover more possibilities in many sectors inasmuch as we work and
have more contacts. There is a possibility for commercial exchange between
Brazil and Cuba in each developed area, and this possibility has considerably
increased. I believe that it should surpass the $200-million mark in each
direction, so there is an economic interest. There is also a political
interest. We are countries of this hemisphere and we must struggle for the
hemisphere's development and integration. I do not believe we have a future
without integration. Even though Brazil is the country that would least need
it, given the magnitude of its territory and resources, even Brazil would need
it. It would open up many possibilities.

4.  [Gabriela] President Collor de Mello says that Latin American integration
is changing from being a dream to becoming a reality. Do you believe it is a
reality today or is there a lot yet to be done? For example, a joint effort to
pay the foreign debt. Is this possible for Latin America (?nowadays)?

5.  [Castro] One cannot yet say that integration is possible.  Important steps
have been taken to achieve progress. For example, the steps taken by Brazil
with Argentina and Uruguay. These are the first steps. I believe it is still a
dream. The steps have been taken to make this come true. I believe our people
have no future if they are isolated. Integration has different importance for
each country. It is much more important for smaller countries than for
medium-sized and large countries, but it is important enough for all of us to
struggle for this integration.

6.  We can wage many struggles together. We should have waged them, above all
concerning the foreign debt problem. I believe that one of the most important
moments occurred in 1985. In my opinion, the optimum conditions existed to wage
a united battle and find a solution not only to the foreign debt, but also to
the new international economic order approved by the United Nations many years
ago; to the unequal exchange; to protectionist measures; and to all those ways
in which we are exploited and looted. That battle was not waged. I do not
believe that we fought enough in that sector. We lacked the strategy.

7.  Cuba talked much about the issue. In 1985 we spent entire months in
meetings with economists, labor unions, peasants, women, students, political
leaders, and scientists because we saw that it was a decisive moment.  The
creditors had yet to organize themselves. They were very demoralized, and I
believe that Latin American countries could have united to wage that battle--if
not a unity of Latin American countries, at least a unity of Third World
countries--and we would have won. I am sure of that. However, there was not
enough awareness of the problem. There was not enough political will to wage
that battle and the opportunity was lost.

8.  The creditors organized themselves afterwards and managed to impose their
strategy. They said they had to discuss the issue with each country, one by
one. While they joined together in the International Monetary Fund, the World
Bank, and the Paris Club, they imposed their joint style of negotiation on each
country. It was practically the struggle of the elephant against the ant; they
imposed their strategy. We were not able to jointly impose a negotiation
strategy. It was almost considered a crime to talk about a debtors' club,
simply because they said there was no such thing and they would not admit it
and that we were not strong enough to unite and jointly discuss the issue with

9.  [Gabriela] Commander, does Cuba feel excluded from Latin American
integration? Is it not isolated because it has a political and economic system
that is completely different from that of the entire continent?

10.  [Castro] Why should we remain isolated? I think that the difference in
ideology is not an obstacle. The difference in the economic and social system
is not an obstacle either. On the contrary, it makes it easier for us simply
because if we say we are going to buy trucks from Brazil of this or that type,
we will buy them from Brazil. If we say that we are going to purchase some type
of equipment Brazil has, we will buy it from Brazil, and if Mexico has some, we
will buy the type Mexico has.

11.  It is easier for us to enforce a policy and to enforce economic
integration agreements. If, within that economic integration certain areas or
branches correspond to us, we can push forward with them without any
difficulty. As for lifting taxes, we do not need to abolish customs taxes
simply because we do not charge customs taxes. So, if we pledge to develop
trade with any Latin American country, even if it is capitalist, there is
absolutely no obstacle.

12.  The most-favored-nation clause.... [changes thought] If they tell us
tomorrow that all customs barriers must be eliminated, we will eliminate all
customs barriers. We are in a better position than any other Latin American
country to integrate into the Latin American economy and comply to the letter
because our economy is not in the hands of transnational companies. One must
think that, as a rule, the transnational companies are foes of our integration
and that many times when they make investments, they do so to obtain an
advantage and to produce earnings that they take away and that escape from our
hemisphere. Our country is in the best position to prevent the flight of
capital. Not a single dollar escapes from our country simply because our
economy is a planned and programmed economy and the state decides where the
investments will be made.

13.  So, according to my point of view and because of other arguments I can
present, it is much easier for Cuba to integrate than it would be for any other
Latin American country.

14.  [Gabriela] Let us talk about sugarcane production...

15.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes.

16.  [Gabriela] Brazil and Cuba are major producers. Now then, here, in Brazil,
there are critics of sugarcane production because they say that the area used
to plant sugarcane could be used to plant food crops. Proportionally, Cuba has
a much larger area planted with sugarcane. It already has the same problems. Is
it short of areas to produce food?

17.  [Castro] I do not want to get into arguments with Brazilian alcohol
producers, for instance. I think that they have adopted a measure here that is
possible from the economic standpoint because they could count on surplus labor
and large tracts of land. I myself have estimated how much alcohol can be
produced with a hectare of sugarcane--whether it is four, five, or six,
depending on the yield of sugarcane per hectare. A country like Brazil can have
10 million hectares, 100,000 sq km. It is one-eightieth of its territory, and
in those 100,000 sq km--10 million hectares--it can perfectly produce 40
million, 50 million, 60 million tons of alcohol. At a time when gasoline was
worth $500 [quantity not specified]--it is now worth a little less--you could
get $3,000, or $2,500 worth of alcohol from a hectare and give jobs to many
jobless people.

18.  So, I made all the estimates from this standpoint and realized that
production was sustainable from the economic standpoint. I saw another
situation. One of Brazil's developments was based on the automotive industry,
which also provides jobs to dozens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of
Brazilians, and on other industries that work for the automotive industry.  The
country did not have enough oil. The country began to increase its oil
exploration. It discovered oil, so it is now producing 50 percent or 60 percent
[of what it needs], but still has to import.

19.  This was developed very much when the price of oil went up to $30 per
barrel and Brazil had no other alternative but to follow that path to guarantee
[the supply] to its own automobile industry and save convertible foreign
exchange to be able to sustain economic development.  Cuba's situation is
different. There is no surplus land in Cuba. There is no surplus labor in Cuba
either. We have even had to mechanize the sugarcane harvest.

20.  It is more economical for Cuba to produce sugar, particularly since we had
secure markets at a reasonable sugar price. If we produced eight tons of sugar,
for instance, we could get for those eight tons of sugar--according to the
prevailing price of $400 a ton--over $3,000, plus the molasses and the
sugarcane by-products for animal feed.  If, in addition to that, you, you...

21.  [Gabriela, interrupting]... something like an alternative...

22.  [Castro, interrupting]... as an alternative energy [source], no. I am
going to explain it to you. I am going to continue explaining this to you. If
you could plant corn, when you made the economic comparison between the corn we
could get per hectare--which is sometimes three tons, four tons.... [changes
thought] If the world price dropped, or if the price we had fixed in agreements
with other countries dropped, it would be much more economical--given the
conditions of our climate and the scarcity of land--to produce sugar and all
its by-products, than to produce corn. This is because our climate is not an
ideal climate. It is not in the zone where the Great Lakes and the major
temperate corn-growing areas of the United States, Europe, and Asia are

23.  So, at the begining, we made every economic calculation in this sense. We
discovered later, and know today, that the corn for milk and meat production is
equivalent to sorghum; that corn, no, pardon me.... [changes thought] Some
research we did in our country allowed us to turn it into a feed rich in
protein. Our sugarcane became corn and sorghum, the raw material for the
production of milk, meat, and other feed for many animal species. This research
makes it more reasonable to use sugarcane as feed.

24.  That is why we had never considered alcohol....[changes thought] we used
to manufacture alcohol from syrup....[corrects himself] from molasses, but it
is much more economical and useful to turn molasses into proteinaceous syrup, a
syrup enriched through a fermentation process, and to raise, for example, pigs.
It is more economical to feed cattle than to use the sugarcane to produce
alcohol or molasses, regardless of the price of molasses on the world market.
You can manufacture alcohol for the petrochemical industry or you can produce
alcohol from molasses for export purposes, but it was undoubtedly more
economical to produce....[changes thought] It was matter of social policy and I
certainly considered it.

25.  If you review the statistics from any country and discover that a country
has a malnutrition rate of 50 or a high rate of infant deaths--and the cause is
partly determined by a lack of nutrition during pregnancy and a lack of
nutrition during the first year of life--and if you analyze the issue from the
social viewpoint, and if you do not have much land available, then it is
undoubtedly more reasonable to dedicate that work force of thousands, or tens
of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, and use that land to produce food for
the population. I wholly agree with you on that. I cannot give my opinion about
Brazil because Brazil possibly has the work force, land, and technology to
produce alcohol and produce food.

26.  I saw the Brazilians as very enthusiastic and I saw many countries asking
about the advantages of doing this, and I realized that many countries did not
have Brazil's enormous territory--8.5 million sq km--and enormous
population--130 or 125 million that it would have by that time--to produce
alcohol from sugarcane that was cut by hand. It is a fact that you can produce
alcohol from sugarcane that was cut by hand--at least at that time. That is why
I say: You have enough land for both things. However, many countries viewed the
whole idea with enthusiasm at a time when oil commanded such prices because
they thought it was a technology that could be applied everywhere, without
analyzing the availability of land and a work force.

27.  We analyzed everything very well in Cuba, and it was much more economical
to use the land for sugarcane production and trade for food that we could not
produce--for example, wheat. Our land is not good for wheat because we would
have to produce it at a much higher price, plow the land every year--as must be
done with corn and other crops. Meanwhile, with the sugarcane, you can get a
plantation every seven, 10 or 15 years. That is why it was much more convenient
for us to use the sugarcane for other purposes given Cuba's specific
conditions. The idea has been confirmed now that we have turned the sugarcane
into the raw material to produce meat, milk, and proteinaceous food of animal
origin. That is what I can explain about this, because I have thought a lot
about it.

28.  [Gabriela] President, like everyone else, I want to talk with you about
elections in Latin America. Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru,
Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua--political power is being
renewed in Latin America through elections. With due respect...

29.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes, yes, yes.

30.  [Gabriela] Without provocation...

31.  [Castro, interrupting] Of course.

32.  [Gabriela] I ask you: Is it not heal....heal....

33.  [Unidentified speaker] Healthy.

34.  [Gabriela] Is it not healthy to have leadership alternatives? Is it not
necessary to have leadership alternatives to achieve a country's development?

35.  [Castro] First, I answer your question with great pleasure.  The only
thing that worries me is that, since I have been asked the same question so
many times, I have had to answer the same way and I do not want to repeat the
same answer. I do not want to bore Brazilians with the argument.  Many of the
questions are the result of ignorance about Cuba and ignorance about the way in
which the state's powers are established in our country. Many people ask us
when we will hold elections--we hold elections every two and a half years. Our
country adopted a system that was not adopted by socialist countries--by any
socialist country-- and our party does not participate in the candidates'
nominations.  Those who participate in the candidates' nominations are the
people, who participate in various meetings in every district. They can propose
between two and eight candidates. Therefore, the people participate in those
elections and their participation is very high--like no other country.

36.  Barely 50 percent of the people vote in the United States and
approximately 97 percent vote in every Cuban election to choose district
delegates, who later elect all state authorities. The same delegates elect
municipal authorities, provincial authorities, and the members to the National
Assembly of the People's Government. The people also propose and discuss these
appointments in meetings. This is not known to the world because we do not have
the mass media of the United States.

37.  [Gabriela] But you can recognize that everything revolves around you. What
will happen to Cuba when you leave power?

38.  [Castro] Wait, wait, wait. You have asked me another question before I
could answer the previous one. You have lost me. You asked me about leadership

39.  [Gabriela] Yes.

40.  [Castro] I had to explain this. I have also said that there are many forms
of elections, now and throughout history. I am forced to repeat this: for
example, people in the United States have elections and almost no one votes.
The president is elected by 26 percent of the voters. It is not even a direct
vote. They vote.... [changes thought] Of course, they support a party, either
the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, which is the same thing. You must
understand that they cannot talk about leadership alternatives between
Republicans and Democrats because it.... [changes thought] They are the same
dog with a different collar. Latin America knows this better than anyone.

41.  Therefore, there are no alternatives to the existing status between the
two main parties--the establishment as they call it. I do not speak English
very well. The two main parties of the great U.S. monopolies succeed each other
in power. What exists in the United States is a continuation of power. They
even vote.... [changes thought] Each state has a number of representatives.
There may be a candidate who gets the greatest number of votes and yet he will
not become the president, because it will depend on the number of states in
which he won and the votes involved. Other countries do not elect their heads
of state. England does not elect one. They have a queen--I do not know the
current queen's name. With due respect, I do not remember. I think her name is
Elizabeth of England. This is a hereditary right which has existed for
approximately 500 years. A right by birth, an inheritance. It is power achieved
for genetic reasons because the sons inherit it from their fathers, the
grandsons inherit it from the grandfathers, and the great grandchildren inherit
it from their great grandfathers. Is it not like that?

42.  They have an emperor in Japan. Also [words indistinct].  The head of state
is not elected by direct vote. Felipe Gonzalez is not elected by direct vote.
The people elect their parliamentarians and then they elect the Spanish head of
state. The same thing happens in Italy and the FRG. In France there is another
mixture of formulas to elect the president. There are many ways to elect a
country's president. Thus, election by direct vote is not the only electoral
system. As you may know, many factors affect the system of election by direct
vote. The truth is that if I were nominated as a candidate, and if they let me
speak a couple of times, perhaps I would not do badly; perhaps I would win an
election by many, many votes. Perhaps, I could win an election by direct vote
only by talking to the people, without having to deliver televised speeches. My
victory in an election by direct vote would probably depend on whether I was so
old that no young women would want to vote for me or--on the contrary--on
whether young women see me as a grandfather figure and therefore vote for the
good grandfather. If for example I were a very good speaker, but I knew nothing
about economics, statistics, or anything of the sort, I could still convince
millions of people to vote for me. Who can then guarantee that an election by
direct vote is the best way to elect a country's president?

43.  I respect that system. We must all respect that system.  And we all do.
But in my opinion, the system by which the country's parliament elects the
president is a more reliable one. That is the system that prevails in Cuba. It
is a more reliable and responsible system. You know that all human beings are
very emotional. [Castro claps] It could be that perhaps you run for the
presidency and I will have no other choice but to vote for you. [Castro claps]

44.  [Gabriela] [Laughs].

45.  [Castro] Of course. I will see that you are nice, that you talk nicely,
that you smile, and then I will decide to vote for you. At that moment I just
forget about everything else, I fall in love with you and I vote for you. Do
you see what I mean? All these factors influence the electoral system of direct
voting. In addition, the media has great influence on that system. Financial
resources exercise great influence on that system. I am aware of the way in
which many elections in our Latin America are held. We talk and clap, but the
wealthiest candidate wins. That is not always the case though. No, no. I could
never assert something like that. But there are Latin American countries which
even use U.S. electoral techniques about what a candidate needs to do to be
liked by the people and to obtain their vote. The candidates who have more
means and who are more known by the people can win an election. [Words
indistinct] that way. I am not saying the system is bad. All these systems
change. One system is replaced by another. I am not even critizing the British
system with all its royal blood or the Belgian or Swedish systems. You know
that for many years Sweden has lived in a social-democratic system. People have
a very good standard of living there. And yet Sweden has a king. I am not
criticizing those systems. I am simply stating that there are many ways to
elect a president and I have never heard anybody say that the British do not
have a democratic system. It is a democratic system simply because it is a
British system. [Castro pounds table] I have never heard anybody say that the
Swedish system is not a democratic one. And it has all those things I

46.  We could go further and talk about the Catholic Church for example. The
Catholic Church is a state, the Vatican.  It is an institution. The pope is not
elected by direct vote in the [words indistinct] Catholic Church. Not all
priests and bishops can vote for the pope. Only a certain number of cardinals,
who have been elected by a pope, can vote to elect the pope. And everybody
respects the Vatican as a religious institution and a state. And then suddenly
our system, which we believe is a very democratic one, is not considered such.
And people ask us when are we going to hold elections in Cuba.

47.  [Gabriela] Can I change the question slightly?

48.  [Castro] Go ahead, change it. Yes.

49.  [Gabriela] You are wonderful. I would also vote for you, by the way.

50.  [Castro] Thank you. That gives me hope because if I had the means, I would
communicate with the people.

51.  [Gabriela] You are Cuba's living history, both the free and extraordinary
history of Cuba. What would happen to Cuba if you were no longer in power for
one reason or another?

52.  [Castro] Right, like because of a heart attack? In fact, it is a miracle
that I have not had one here yet, because working 24 hours straight without
sleep, I myself have wondered whether I am going to have a heart attack or not.
And then I tell myself: No, I am not, because nature has given me a very
healthy heart.

53.  Everybody has blood pressure problems caused by worries or by an excessive
consumption of animal fat which raises people's cholesterol levels or their
blood pressure, thus leading to a cerebral hemorrhage or any other disease.
[Words indistinct] even AIDS. As you know, I greet and embrace many people
everywhere I go. Perhaps, if somebody has an injury and if there is contact
between my blood and somebody else's blood...even that could happen. In other
words, we could die at any time.  And I agree with you on that.

54.  What would happen if I died? Your question places me in the center of
efforts that many--not one single man-- but many men have made. You are placing
me in the center of efforts made by an entire nation. If all those efforts
collapse, I should be sent to hell. And I say hell, because that is the place
which is more or less worthy of an individual who has been so wandering and so
incompetent as to believe that social and revolutionary work can be conducted
based on his personal efforts.

55.  I maintain the premise that the revolution is the work of an entire
people; that it is built by an entire people; that it is defended by an entire
people as a mother or a father defends their children. That is our revolution.
It is defended by all of the people.

56.  Our revolution has many talented people. What have we done? We wiped out
illiteracy very early on. We gave all Cubans the opportunity to go to school.
Hundreds of thousands of youths have gone to universities, including
exceptionally talented youths. And now we have wonderful youths.  They are very
cultured. If we were talking about illiterate people... If you said to me: In
Cuba only 20 percent of the population knows how to read and write. But the
truth is that those who work in factories in Cuba have at least finished high
school. Workers in Cuba have completed high school and, or university studies. 
We have developed our people's talent, not only technological and scientific
talent, but political talent. We have wonderful youths who can continue the
work of the revolution.

57.  Alternatives must exist. We can adopt 20 different measures or do 20
different things. We have been the founders of the revolution.

58.  Founders of revolutions have much authority, there is no doubt about that.
However, a revolutionary is not a guy who engages in business. He is an
individual who devotes himself to a cause. He can renounce this cause. I could
even tell our country: Just forget about all of us; we do not want to continue
working. We are all going to retire. Do we have a right to retire? We have been
waging a battle for more than 30 years against the most powerful empire of the
world. Does a soldier, a fighter, a revolutionary have a right to retire? We
cannot determine that.  We do not really care. I have said we will continue
struggling, from one position or another. Our people have decided that. We are
not the ones who will decide that. Revolutionaries only rest in their tombs. We
will play one role or another.

59.  I met with the members of the University of Havana one day before leaving
on this trip. I spoke to them about these same topics. There were 40,000
university students meeting there. We have had very close ties with them. I
have said that as long as my heart beats and I can move a finger, I will be a
soldier of the revolution and I will serve the revolution from any place that I
could. Now, there are some things I cannot understand.

60.  Thatcher has been prime minister for I do not know how many years. She is
reelected, and when she makes mistakes, she is not reelected. The Falkland
Islands' war led to Thatcher's reelection. She was undergoing a political
crisis, but since she was able to wage war, she was given an opportunity to use
modern weaponry and encourage chauvinism, she won the elections.

61.  Felipe is also elected, others are reelected. If many mistakes are made,
they are not reelected. If we had made many mistakes, the revolution would not
have existed. Why does it exist? Why do we wonder why the revolution exists in
a nation where the people have weapons in their hands? The people would not
even have to wait for elections to make changes in any government because the
people have the votes and the weapons. They have both things; they have power.

62.  What are we without the people and without those people who defended the
revolution against more than 30 years of harassment by the United States? If we
make mistakes, we die. Now, these politicians cannot tell others anything.

63.  Felipe can be elected 20 times if he works well because there are no
constitutional restrictions on that. Let us suppose that Felipe is Plato
revived. A political genius, one of the greatest in the world, and he wins 20
elections in Spain, and he lives as long as Methuselah. Are there any
constitutional provisions that ban Felipe from doing this?

64.  First, we were de facto. The victorious revolution gave us the
responsibilities, but we institutionalized the revolution many years ago. We
have our electoral system. It is true that the revolution was a de facto
government. All revolutions are de facto governments, starting with the French
Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, and all the revolutions that have existed
everywhere, all of the time. First, they have been de facto governments, and
later they have institutionalized the revolutions. That is what we also did.

65.  [Maria Gabriela] I could mention a list of socialist countries that are
choosing another path.

66.  [Castro] What path?

67.  [Gabriel] Another one.

68.  [Castro] Another one, but how do you define that quote another one

69.  [Gabriela] They...

70.  [Castro, interrupting] From an economic and social point of view?

71.  [Gabriela] All of that began with the establishment of Gorbachev's
perestroyka, do you agree?

72.  [Castro] Yes, but not all of those processes. The process in Poland began
before perestroyka.

73.  [Gabriela] However, perestroyka led to all of that.

74.  [Castro] Maybe without that being the purpose. I believe perestroyka was
conceived as an effort to correct errors of socialism, to improve socialism.
However, maybe those who designed perestroyka could not imagine the effect it
would have in those countries.

75.  [Gabriela] So you feel that Gorbachev is a reformist and not a traitor.

76.  [Castro] I would not go so far as to call Gorbachev a traitor. If I call
him a reformist, I am saying this in a positive manner. He wanted to improve
socialism. That is what he wants. But we also did the same thing. Even before
talking about perestroyka in the USSR, we were talking about a process of
rectification at the Third Congress of our party, early in 1986, and before
that there was talk about perestroyka in the USSR. We had been conducting our
efforts to improve socialism, to rectify errors and negative trends.

77.  I am going to tell you the truth. The main errors that we had to correct
were those that stemmed from some things we copied from the socialist
experience although our revolution was always notable for having a great
creative spirit. We did things in a different way and interpreted revolutionary
ideas in a different manner at certain times. There were some things we copied,
especially while building our economy. To better understand this, it would be
necessary to get a book entitled ``The Economic Thought of Che'' because Che
was a prophet.  Since the beginning of the revolution, when he was appointed
industry minister and was entrusted with organizing industrial production and
socialist enterprises, he immediately understood that it would be an error to
try to build socialism using capitalist models. He thought deeply this.

78.  Each year that passes, I feel more admiration for Che because when we
still had other concerns about consolidating the revolution, he, because of the
tasks with which he was entrusted, thoroughly delved into this. As a very
clever man with a great creative spirit, he began to question all methods that
were being implemented in building socialism in all socialist countries. He was
a prophet and a visionary because we should now question the roots of the
economic problems socialist countries have faced. The huge effort made by a
country like the Soviet Union cannot be denied--a country where a native
revolution took place. There were social changes in other socialist countries,
because of international circumstances such as World War II and its subsequent
end. However, in the USSR and also in China, there were true revolutions which
were not determined by external factors, which were not determined by external
factors [Castro repeats himself].

79.  [Gabriela] Commander, let us talk about another current revolution. Does
not Soviet perestroyka suggest a weakening of economic centralization?

80.  [Castro] As I see it; as I see it [repeats himself] Gorbachev's efforts
were intended to solve problems in the Soviet Union. We have carried out
economic rectification measures in a different way. This would be difficult to
explain. However, we began by making the interest of the nation prevail over
those of socialist enterprises because we saw that by using specific
capitalistic models, enterprises were beginning to act like capitalist
enterprises and placing their interests over those of the nation.  The issue of
centralization has to be analyzed from various points of view. It has nothing
to do with the method of building socialism. There can be an administrative
decentralization and decentralization in the use of public resources and
spending, as we have. We have a huge administrative decentralization. The
central state in Cuba does not get involved in the administration of schools.
Schools are administered by municipalities and provinces. Hospitals in our
country are not administered by the central government; they are administered
by the municipalities and provinces.

81.  Most of the transportation system in Cuba is run by the municipalities and
provinces. Local production industries are not run by the central government.
We are more decentralized than even the U.S. Government--I mean the U.S.
country--and the Brazilian federation. This is very healthy. The principle of
decentralization is very healthy in the areas of administration, economics,
industry, and enterprises.

82.  The Cuban state runs the energy industry, the railroad system, the
national transportation enterprises, and the large branches of the chemical and
mining industries, which are basic industries that cannot and should not be run
at a local level.

83.  I said from the start that there must be an economic development program
and plan. Being able to plan a development program is not a privilege. That is
what we are doing. Sometimes the plan becomes too confining. A five-year plan
is prepared and new possibilities arise two years later, but it is necessary to
wait two or three years before implementing them. Or maybe you make an annual
plan in December and new possibilities or new problems arise in March and you
must solve them. In my opinion, this is a personal view. The ideal thing is a
combination of the program or plan--whatever you want to call it--and the
capability of providing quick solutions to new situations and problems. We
sometimes make a scientific discovery and the decision to implement it is made
less than 24 hours later. We go from a pilot plant to a large scale plant so
that we can implement that scientific discovery.

84.  The ideal thing....[changes thought] What does socialism have? Socialism
has the privilege of being able to program things.  What does capitalism have?
It does not have the privilege of being able to program things, but it usually
provides quick solutions to new problems and situations. However, the economy
has been developed in a chaotic manner. In fact, modern facets of capitalism
also call for plans. Even if they are tentative plans, they provide guidance,
manage credits, and this type of thing.  Thus, they are able to guide the
country's development in one direction or another.

85.  Referring to the centralization of investments, if you have.... [changes
thought] If you need 1 billion [currency unspecified] and you only have 200
million [currency unspecified], you cannot pass on the decision of how to make
the investment. I have discussed this with specialists, eminent administrators,
and capitalists. I told them: When United Fruit Company or General Motors or
any of those large enterprises has less money than they need, if they had 1
billion [currency unspecified] and only had 200 million [currency unspecified],
do they adopt the policy [corrects himself] is the decision on how to spend
those 200 million [currency unspecified] individually adopted in each one of
the great transnationals' factories? They said no.

86.  Really, it is important for an underdeveloped country, which never has
enough resources, to make the decisions on the most important investments and
development plans. That is the viewpoint I defend, and that is what we do in
our country. In fact, we are doing more with less resources than ever by
implementing these ideas.

87.  [Gabriela] Commander, several East European countries which have
traditionally been Cuba's allies, recently voted against your government in a
motion criticizing the human rights situation in your country. Are you not
afraid of these changes in their position? Is the change capable of affecting
the economic relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba?

88.  [Castro] No, because the Soviet Union voted in our favor.  The Soviet
Union strictly abides by all the pledges and agreements with our country in
every sense. Thus, we have no complaints about the Soviet attitude. We know
that they have some definate problems and sometimes those problems can cause
the supply of merchandise or raw materials to be somewhat difficult. That is
the type of problem we have. Our relations with the USSR are different from our
relations with other countries.

89.  I would not like to repeat so much. I analyzed these parties' [as heard]
attitudes during the closure of the women's congress in Havana approximately
eight or 10 days ago. We can use the word treason in this case, but it is
treason of various degrees. Poland was already in the hands of opposing forces,
meaning forces that had declared their intentions to build capitalism in
Poland.  Czechoslovakia's situation was not the same, but it was already in the
hands of forces which had showed their inclination toward capitalism. The
ruling party in Hungary was still the same one, meaning the same party that
signed economic agreements with us.

90.  [Gabriela] Romania?

91.  [Castro] Not Romania, because it did not vote; it was not on that
commission. We cannot judge Romania for what Hungary did nor can we judge what
remains of the GDR for what Hungary did. This is why I have not mentioned those
two countries.

92.  However, Bulgaria was there with the same party, which changed its name. A
change in party name...[changes thought] If I change your name tomorrow, if I
called you Azucena or any other name instead of Gaby, you would not be changed;
you would continue to be the same person. A change in name does not alter the
commitments that you have made throughout your life. That is Bulgaria's case.

93.  This happened because these countries are so desperate to curry favors
from the United States to obtain loans from the World Bank, and IMF, to obtain
favored-nation status, and money. What they have done is repugnant. Now that
the United States wants to broadcast a television station originating in that
country in violation of our country; now that it is threatening us, their
governments are siding with the disgraceful U.S.  campaign against Cuba.

94.  This can indeed be described as treason in various degrees. This could
affect our economic relations because they have indeed made commitments with us
as we have made commitments with them. We supply them with sugar, nickel,
citrus fruits, and important raw materials and buy from them things that nobody
in the world would buy from them. We buy certain technologically outdated
equipment that only we can use. I regret having to repeat this argument, but
you asked a question and I must explain this to you.

95.  Only we buy that equipment. We just sent out sugar.  Sugar prices are now
relatively high. We sent out about 1 million tons of sugar costing more than
$300 million today [corrects himself] costing $400 million today.  What do they
supply us with? Food? How much?  Between $40-45 million in food. Food is among
our important imports; it is a priority.

96.  Only we can use many of the other things such as equipment that we buy
from them. If those things were on the market, they would not be able to
compete.  Therefore, they may adopt economic measures against us, but at the
same time they would be harming their own economies because they would have to
go elsewhere to obtain our raw materials and products.

97.  [Gabriela] The rapprochement of the two superpowers is a reality, a fact.
There is almost a cordial relationship; there is a detente...

98.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes, the improvement in their relations.

99.  [Gabriela] Yes, between the United States and USSR.  Does this not imply
that there could be a change in U.S.  policy toward Cuba and vice versa?

100.  [Castro] I do not understand your question very well.

101.  [Gabriela] There is a detente between the two superpowers in the wake of
perestroyka, between the USSR and the United States. There is an almost cordial
relationship. Will this not change U.S. policy toward Cuba?

102.  [Castro] There is indeed an improvement in USSR-U.S.  relations. However,
these two countires are not seeking the same goal. My understanding is that the
USSR advocates a sincere peaceful policy while the U.S. policy is
opportunistic, because while it is talking peace, it is increasing the arms
budget and continuing to implement Star Wars and develop increasingly
sophisticated weapons.

103.  The USSR wants something from the United States, but the USSR is seeking
peace while the United States is seeking hegemony. This is the root of the
problem. We have no objection to the improvement of relations between the USSR
and the United States. We object to whatever is motivating the United States to
implement this policy with an arrogant and overconfident attitude.  This poses
a threat to other Third World peoples.

104.  We wonder what kind of peace is involved here. The peace of the large
powers and the empire's war against small countries? War against Panama,
Nicaragua, and Grenada? Bombings of Libya, intervention in any country;? 
Intervening in Philippines and meddling with its domestic affairs, including
its planes using that country's aircraft carriers?

105.  We want a definition of what kind of peace is involved here. We demand
that it be a peace for all countries and not only between the large powers;
that this not be a war of a large power against small Third World countries. 
This is my view of the situation and we have clearly voiced our opinion in this

106.  [Gabriela] Let us talk a little about tourism.

107.  [Castro] About anything you want.

108.  [Gabriela] President, if you had to convince a group of Brazilians to
visit Cuba as tourists, what would you tell them?

109.  [Castro] Perhaps, I would tell them that Cuba is hell.

110.  [Gabriela] [Laughs]

111.  [Castro] Perhaps if I tell them that, they would become curious and would
want to find out what hell is like.  Perhaps that method would work because
many people want to visit Cuba and many tourists want to come to Cuba. [Words
indistinct] they are taken to the beaches.  They are taken to [word indistinct]
but they say: No, we want to see the things of the revolution. We want to know
about school and health programs and all that.

112.  Anyway, what would I tell Brazilian tourists? I would tell them that they
would have a lot of fun in Cuba with little money. I would tell them that they
are going to find more affection than in any other place. I would tell them
they are going to find hospitality, a healthy society, a beautiful country, and
nice weather, although that would not be anything new for you because you have
both tropical and temperate regions. But I would tell them that we have
absolutely beautiful and extraordinary places. I would also tell them that they
are going to meet a very patriotic, friendly, and revolutionary people. Do you
think these things would awaken some kind of interest in visiting Cuba? I would
tell them that we are not going to indoctrinate them and that we are not going
to drown them in Marxist-Leninist ideas. I would tell them that they are going
to return home healthier and happier for having visited Cuba and ready to
continue working for Brazil's development.

113.  [Gabriela] Let us now talk about education. The new Brazilian education
minister expressed his interest in getting acquainted with the Cuban education
system.  You have practically eradicated illiteracy in Cuba. How did you do

114.  [Castro] We mobilized the people during the first years of the
revolution. All teachers, high school and university students were mobilized.
We mobilized 100,000 students. We placed one teacher in almost every peasant
home and in one year we had practically eradicated illiteracy. We then
conducted a follow-up education program. With this program, we figured out a
way to send those peasants to second, third, sixth grade, etc.  Obviously, we
could not do that by mobilizing students.  We had to do it by organizing
teachers and creating schools for adults. At a lower but sustained pace and
after a certain number of years, those schools educated Cuban adults up to the
sixth grade. In addition, there were no new illiterate people because we sent
teachers all over the country. Not one single kid was left without a teacher.
That was the first thing we did. We set up at least one classroom in every
single town in the country.  We trained enough teachers to educate all Cuban

115.  We waged other battles after that. We waged battles against school
backwardness. Then the explosion of high school students forced us to create
ways to urge students to join teacher training schools and to convince them to
work and study at the same time. That is how we created a series of programs to
reach the current level. One hundred percent of our children go to school.
Those who are mentally retarded attend special schools. We have an entire
system of special schools for this type of children.  We have an entire system
of high schools, trade schools, college preparatory schools, college
mathematics preparatory schools, sports schools, schools to train physical
education teachers, and many other schools centered around a national education
network that serves our entire population of children, teenagers, and youths.

116.  In Cuba, over 90 percent of high school-age kids--those between seventh
and 10th grade, seventh and 10th grade [repeats himself] are in school. Over 90
percent of our kids between 12 and 15 years of age also go to school.  These
ages correspond to students of first, second, and third year of college
preparatory school according to our education structure.

117.  We have approximately 300,000 university students. Of those 300,000
students, 120,000 are studying regular careers. The others are teachers,
nurses, and the like, who are taking courses to obtain their bachelor's
degrees.  There is a total of 300,000 of them and approximately 200,000 of them
are already working. The others are regular daytime students.

118.  We are very pleased with our education system. I think it is better than
that in any developed country. Our education system is better than the U.S.
education system.

119.  [Gabriela] Mr. President, corruption is one of our biggest problems...

120.  [Castro, interrupting] Of course, but I think I missed something I wanted
to tell you. We would gladly receive the new Brazilian education minister and
give him all the information available to us. We would be really pleased to see
Brazil--with its talented people and resources--implement an education program,
which is essential for the country's development and future. We are now
beginning to see the results of what we began to do in the field of education
30 years ago. Excuse me for interrupting you.

121.  [Gabriela] All right, corruption...

122.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes...

123.  [Gabriela, continuing] one of our biggest problems.  Do you have
corruption in Cuba?

124.  [Castro] Let me tell you. You can hardly find corruption at the level of
high-ranking leaders--at the level of cabinet minister or vice minister. It is
very difficult to find the phenomenon of corruption at the level of manager of
a factory or an enterprise. In other words, that is very difficult. I can point
out to you very exceptional cases because we have been on the watch for it and
a conscience against it has developed in our country. Therefore, you can only
find extremely exceptional cases of corruption and we have tried and severely
punished culprits when we have discovered them. We have a vice president in
jail for embezzlement--a vice president of the Executive Committee. We have in
jail a [cabinet] minister. We have even had one at the level of minister, but a
post... [changed thought] We have even had a comrade who worked on a team, who
worked with me. At a given moment this comrade, who had attained a certain
importance--an intelligent young man indeed--allowed himself to be tempted and
committed.... [changes thought] Yes, some people are in jail because of it, but
the ones at those levels are very few.  Now then, in other countries...

125.  [Gabriela, interrupting] There was the case of General Ochoa [Gen.
Arnaldo Ochoa, tried and executed for drug trafficking, other crimes], for

126.  [Castro] The case of Gen. Ochoa was not exactly embezzlement. It involved
crimes other than typical embezzlement. He had begun to use funds, first
without authority, or sometimes with the pretext of (?taking basic materials to
camps). After that, on a personal basis, he began to use the money and thus he
managed to gather up an amount and open an account abroad. The amount was not
large, but it was.... [changes thought] I do not remember exactly. It was
something like $100,000 or $200,000. It was not very clear what he intended to
do by putting that fund together in an incorrect manner. He took funds.

127.  It was not the typical crime of embezzlement. What was worse about Ochoa
was that he had learned that there was a group that was involved in drug
trafficking activities. It was a group from the Interior Ministry with
important functions. It was a section of the Interior Ministry. He learned
about it and did not report it. He not only learned about and did not report
it, but contacted them to try to carry out drug trafficking deals...

128.  [Gabriela, interrupting] Even...

129.  [Castro, interrupting] This was the crime, this was Ochoa's most serious
crime, the crime...

130.  [Gabriela, interrupting] Attempts have even been made...

131.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes...

132.  [Gabriela] Have not attempts even been made to link (?your) name with
that of Noriega?

133.  [Castro] Yes, of course, what do you think the United States (?wants) to
do? They are indeed trying to link it.  Now, what do you want me to tell you? I
will explain anything you wish about that.

134.  [Gabriela] No, no. What I want is to know...

135.  [Castro, interrupting] Yes, you have raised an interesting point, because
it demonstrates the cynicism of the U.S.  policy and propaganda. They did this
through a deserter Noriega had in Panama, who made an accusation and said that
a laboratory had been occupied. He said that when the laboratory was occupied,
I was asked for advice about what to do about it and that I had told him
[Noriega]: Return that money and release those people.  If anyone had dared ask
me for advice about such things--and I have no recollection whatsoever in my
life of anyone, much less the leader of another country, coming to talk with
me, a revolutionary who acts and has acted all my life based on principles, to
discuss a thing like that with me. I would have said: Do you think I am a sort
of priest and you are here to confess and ask me for advice? If anyone ever
approaches me and tells me that, maybe I will give him that advice.

136.  However, the problem is as follows: Even since Torrijos' time, very close
relations have beem established between Cuba and Panama. Even Torrijos, since
the time when the canal was under discussion--he said this publicly-- sent
delegations to Cuba to report on all the details of canal negotiations.

137.  When Torrijos died he was replaced by others and then Noriega replaced
him. [as heard] Noriega was Torrijos' replacement and he continued Torrijos'
struggle for the canal. Now then, Noriega worked....[changes thought] He was
G-2 and he worked closely and cooperated with U.S. intelligence. There is
something else. I have proof, irrefutable proof, of all the topics that I
talked about with the Panamanian delegations and what we talked about every
time this man called, I do not remember his name.

138.  [Unidentified speaker] Blandon.

139.  [Castro] What?

140.  [Unidentified speaker] Blandon.

141.  [Castro] Blandon. Now they are taking more of Noriega's people and
promising them money if they accuse Noriega. I have even talked with Noriega's
lawyers. If this is the evidence they have against Noriega, then they have no
evidence against him, and I have all the proof which proves the falsehood of
those accusations. I have given part to the lawyers but I have kept another
part.  You know how the judicial procedures work in the United States. They
reach a settlement, come to an agreement, and I cannot show all the cards, but
I have all the cards in my hands to irrefutably prove the lies. Now the United
States has brought a problem upon itself. It has invaded that country. They
have kidnapped Noriega and it turns out that they have no evidence to back
their charges.

142.  [Gabriela] But...

143.  [Castro, interrupting] Wait. This creates an image on an international
level, no?

144.  [Gabriela] President, Cuba has a single party system.  Only...

145.  [Castro, interrupting] Just like in the United States.

146.  [Gabriela] Yes. Only the PCC, the Communist Party of Cuba.

147.  [Castro] Yes.

148.  [Gabriela] I imagine that there are other facets which have different
opinions and thoughts in your country.  How can those facets state their views?

149.  [Castro] There are two basic facets in our country. The revolutionary
current and the counterrevolutionary current, meaning the continuation of the
United States' actions against the Cuban revolution. Those are the basic
currents. There are no others. All the revolutionaries are with the revolution
and the counterrevolutionaries are on the other side. Many of them live in the
United States and, as a matter of fact, there are small groups that oppose the
revolution and are at the service of the United States.

150.  I can tell you something about this. One day I talked with a group of
Italian parliamentary members and I told them: Look, the country defends itself
with unity, the close unity of all the people. Our people's unity is our NATO.
The people's unity is our Warsaw Pact. We will make no concession which implies
the smallest division among our people because it is a vital issue for us. The
need for other parties has not risen in our country and no one knows when it
may rise. I tell you the unity issue will prevail above all for the time being
and as long as our country is threatened.

151.  [Gabriela] What does that mean? Political prison?

152.  [Castro] It is political prison if someone violates the law.  I believe
you also...[changes thought] If someone conspires against your country's
constitution; if someone spies on the government and the Armed Forces in favor
of a foreign power; and if someone acts against the country, would you refrain
from taking some action or would you punish him? Do not your penal laws and the
penal laws throughout the world punish that kind of crime against a state's
integrity? We punish the crimes against our socialist state, but following
legal procedures, legal norms, and established laws.

153.  In fact, there were 300 counterrevolutionary organizations in the early
years of the revolution. There were....[corrects himself] they were organized
by the United States, but the people won the battle in the long run, and that
is why the counterrevolution's activities are minimal. Let me tell you, we have
no need.... [changes thought] All the revolutionaries are united in our party. 
There were previously several organizations but at a given moment we decided to
unite and we have maintained that unity.  This makes it possible to unite all
the counterrevolutionaries' viewpoints. You ask me if the
counterrevolutionaries' have any chance and I say no.

154.  [Gabriela] Do you have many political prisoners these days?

155.  [Castro] We now have a minimum amount of political prisoners?

156.  [Gabriela] How many?

157.  [Castro] There are possibly 100 or so political prisoners, if you call a
political prisoner or someone who plots with the enemy to act against the
revolution a spy. However, the minimum number... [changes thought] there was a
time when there were thousands, back in the early years of the revolution.

158.  [Maria Gabriela] President, you know that this interview would not have
been possible a short time ago in Brazil.  We had a period of totalitarianism,
and a socialist leader like you would have been banned from television.

159.  [Castro] I gave some interviews to the press.

160.  [Gabriela] The press?

161.  [Castro] Some journalists visited me.

162.  [Maria Gabriela] There is no doubt it was censored [she laughs] because
for 20 years we had a strong censorship.  Now let us see. You have a
state-controlled media. What does that mean? Does it mean that whatever is
published or announced must be in accordance with the state's interests first
of all?

163.  [Castro] You are going to get me into trouble with many businessmen and
many important Brazilian people, which I do not want. You putting me on the
spot. The press in our country is in the hands of the various grass roots
organizations. The party has its newspaper, unions have their newspapers, as
well as the youth, women, and the Army. They manage and edit their own

164.  The counterrevolution does not have a newspaper, but I will tell you
this, although I do not want to start controversy or meddle into Brazil's
domestic affairs, or start an argument with anyone here; I did not come here
for that because I can discuss, argue, or reason with anyone. However, the
owner of the television station appoints its director, anywhere in the world.

165.  Even in the United States, a country that wants to be a model for others,
whatever is published reflects what the owner of the television station wants.
He appoints whomever he wants. The same thing occurs with the mass media. No
one knows this better than we do.  Important events may be taking place, but if
the government asks the media not to mention them, they are not reported. There
is a lot of hypocrisy in all of this. On occasions we have gathered 300,000
people in front of the Interests Office to protest the violation of our
airspace.  However, in the United States a week passes and no one reports it.
Why is this? Who decides? First of all the owners, and many times the

166.  The way in which mass media is distributed in our country is as I told
you. It is managed by various organizations. They are responsible for the
editorial line of their newspapers. It is not the same as in a system of free
of enterprise. Do you understand?

167.  [Gabriela] Mr. President, I always remember you holding a cigar in your
hands. However, I see that you no longer hold a cigar. Why? Have you stopped

168.  [Castro] The Yankees thought I had lung cancer. [Maria Gabriela laughs]
They had hoped so. However, the real reason why I stopped smoking, although
tobacco is an important product for our economy and exports, was that we were
conducting a health campaign. With each health campaign, it was concluded that
a sedentary lifestyle which included smoking, and other factors were harmful. I
decided that my contribution would be to not smoke at public events, so I
announced my decision.

169.  [Gabriela] Do you still smoke, anyway?

170.  [Castro] No, I stopped smoking years ago. I decided not to smoke at
public events. On some occasions, during interviews like this one, I would
light cigars as the interviews were for foreign consumption, although they
would be shown domestically too. I appeared with a cigar. However, I realized
that it was necessary to strengthen the health campaign, and I decided that my
last sacrifice for public health would be to stop smoking.

171.  [Gabriela] Did you enjoy it? Did you enjoy smoking cigars?

172.  [Castro] I started smoking when I was very young. My father, who had his
own ideas about man, taught me how to drink wine. He was from Spain. I used to
return to the countryside during my school vacation ...[changes thought] my
father was a landowner but he was also a humble man. We always got together
with other people, and he thought me how to drink wine, he used to get some
bottles of wine from Spain during my vacation.  Then, when I reached my third
or fourth year of high school, he gave me a cigar. That is how I learned to
smoke. One enjoys the smoke, the habit, the taste.  Although I did like to
inhale the smoke, it is still harmful, even for others. When I made the
decision to quit smoking, I told my comrades that it would be my last
sacrifice. No one had to convince me. I made the decision and announced it
would be my last sacrifice for the country's public health. So one day I
stopped smoking; since the motivation was strong, it was not too difficult.
Some people thought I would smoke at home.  However, I said to them: Look, in
order to smoke, you need two or three accomplices: one to get you the cigars,
another one to get you the matches, another one to clean the ashes you leave,
because tobacco smokers leave ashes everywhere they go.

173.  I mean, do you not think that I would die of shame thinking that one
single person knew that I was deceiving all the Cuban people by continuing to
smoke? Do you not think that I would die of shame if I hear that person saying:
What a shameless man! He tells the people he does not smoke and yet he does. Do
you not think that those three people having a bad opinion of me is enough?

174.  [Gabriela] But you still drink wine, right?

175.  [Castro] Of course I do. I also drink tea, rum, cognac, and whisky.
[Castro claps] I have deprived myself of very few things. It was such a big
sacrifice to stop smoking.

176.  [Gabriela] Is it true that you are a very good cook?

177.  [Castro] Well, I cannot say I have been given an olympic medal in
cooking, but I cook well, modesty aside.

178.  [Maria Gabriela, interrupting] What kind of dishes do you make...

179.  [Castro, interrupting] If you want, I can fix you a very good cod fish, a
good fish. I can invent a new recipe each day. Sometimes I cook it with garlic,
some others I cook it with onion. I cook things differently every time. I
prepare such good spaghetti that you would end up licking your fingers.

180.  [Gabriela] You used to play basketball.

181.  [Castro] I played various sports when I was young, when I was a high
school student.

182.  [Gabriela] And what are your hobbies now?

183.  [Castro] I will not say that I do nothing, but I will tell you that I
swim [Castro plays with meaning of words in Spanish].

184.  [Gabriela] Do you swim?

185.  [Castro] I swim.

186.  [Gabriela] Do you swim everyday?

187.  [Castro] Every time I can. I swim almost every day. We have a lot of work
now, but I used to swim in the ocean.  I always went offshore to dive. I got
used to that. I need something more than the beach. I have to swim in the open
sea. I also swim in pools. But sometimes, months go by before I can go out to
the sea. But I try. I discipline myself to do exercise, which is good not only
for one's physical but also mental health. It is very important, because it
oxigenates the brain cells. I recommend that you do exercises, and I will not
charge you for this advise. People tend to think that exercising only helps the
body, but it also helps the mind. If I have made too many mistakes today, you
have to bear in mind that I have been working for about 24 hours straight
without rest and that I have been unable to swim 20 or 30 lengths today. Bear
that in mind.

188.  [Gabriela] Commander...

189.  [Castro, interrupting] This house does not have a pool.

190.  [Gabriela] Commander, why are you always dressed in your uniform?

191.  [Castro] This is my style. This is the first style I wore.

192.  [Gabriela] Is it a habit or do you wear your uniform, because you prefer
to do so?

193.  [Castro] Yes, it is a habit. Well, I wear this one only when I travel. I
normally use the olive green one, the same one I wore when I was in the
mountains. It is more practical and reasonable. I do not need to change colors
or to pick different suits, etc. My uniforms last a long time. I have been
wearing it for a long time so I got used to it. The uniform does not mean that
I am a militarist or anything like that. This uniform is what I wear. It is
what I work in the same way that miners, drivers, and metal industry workers
have their work clothes. I am very happy with these clothes. I do not want to
change them. I do change clothes at night when I wear my pajamas. I could not
sleep with my uniform on because I would be very hot.

194.  [Gabriela] [Reporter giggles] What color of pajamas do you wear?

195.  [Castro] Well, they give them to me and I get different colors. Sometimes
they have stripes; sometimes they are one color; sometimes they have designs. I
feel very comfortable wearing them at night.

196.  [Gabriela] Commander, is it true that you work at night and sleep during
the day?

197.  [Castro] No. I work of course. In the mornings, I usually read a large
number of documents and papers. I then use the afternoon and the evening until
about 2300, 2400, 0100, or 0200, depending on the circumstances....  [changes
thought]. Sometimes there are interviews like this one and you can ask me
questions for three hours and I will answer you for three hours.

198.  [Maria Gabriela laughs]

199.  [Castro] I try to sleep between five to six hours. I am flexible in that
regard, but I do not work at night and sleep during the day. One always rests
more at night.

200.  [Gabriela] Cuban men and Brazilian men are considered male chauvinists,
but you...

201.  [Castro, interrupting] Maybe Brazilian men...

202.  [Gabriela] [Laughs].

203.  [Castro, interrupting] Do not say that about Cuban men because we have
been training ourselves for 30 years.

204.  [Gabriela] Once you said...

205.  [Castro, interrupting] We have been trying to rid ourselves of prejudices
for 30 years. Ask the Cuban women.

206.  [Gabriela] Yes. No, no I am not asking you about Cuban women. I am asking
you about...

207.  [Castro] The Cuban women just held their national congress recently.

208.  [Gabriela] Talk to me about women in general. You once said that women
have a dual job. They have to work as revolutionaries and...

209.  [Castro, interrupting] And they work at home...

210.  [Maria Gabriela, interrupting] And they play their revolutionary role in
their relationships with men. Commander, talk to me about women.

211.  [Castro] That is a serious topic. I promised I was going to give you
short answers. I believe discrimination against women is one of the most
difficult prejudices to eradicate. We have struggled for 30 years, but not
without success. We obviously have to set up new goals. Cuban women are working
toward those new goals. That has been a party policy, a policy of the
revolution, and a policy of the Cuban Women's Federation, which is organized
and composed of millions of women. These women have struggled against
discrmination against women. We have made great progress in that regard. We
even have a family code.

212.  Many couples, especially young couples, share the household chores these
days. Not only mothers stay at hospitals with their sick children.  Fathers do

213.  Women were discriminated against in our country.  When the revolution
triumphed, only 190,000 women were working. They worked in bars, were
housemaids, and things like that. This shows you how much we have advanced,
because the women's progress is not just a slogan; women need equal
opportunities, equal work, and equal training.

214.  We have advanced so much that today there are 1.4 million women in the
labor force; they are nearly 40 percent of the country's labor force; they are
58 percent of the country's technical force; 58 percent [repeats himself]; they
are 55 percent of the university students; and they are 61 percent of
pre-university students. These figures are fresh in my mind because I was
looking into them to prepare for the women's congress.

215.  Therefore, in our country there is a right to have an equal salary for an
equal job; there is a growing consideration for and a growing awareness among
women. They have been in the front ranks of this battle. Today they have other
goals. An issue that they often discuss is how to share responsibilities at
home and parental responsibilities. They have many needs.

216.  However, at this time, because of the situation of threats, everything
associated with the revolution and country's defense have become a priority,
even at the congress.  Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the progress we have
achieved and the status of women in our country today.

217.  Nearly 50 percent of our country's scientists are women and 60 percent of
our family physicians are women. I believe that they indeed occupy a position
that is irreversible in our country's development.

218.  [Gabriela] Commander, can you sing?

219.  [Castro] I have a terrible voice. [Maria Gabriela laughs] I sing little,
but I like music; nature did not give me a good singing voice.

220.  [Gabriela] Do you dance?

221.  [Castro] I am very bad at that too; I am disappointing as a dancer.
Therefore, I do not recommend myself as your dance partner.

222.  [Gabriela] [Laughs] Are you a happy man?

223.  [Castro] I think so. I feel very happy and satisifed with my life and
what I have accomplished over the years. As the popular saying goes: I can die
in peace.

224.  [Gabriela] Your critics claim that you are a dictator. Are you a
dictator? Who is a dictator?

225.  [Castro] I am an slave of the people. That is what I am.  I am a man who
works day and night on behalf and for the people who have a very strict notion
of what justice and equity should be; a man who will never be accused of having
abused power. However, what can we expect our enemies to say about me? That I
am a saint? I have my own views. We can continue to discuss this in our next
interview. [Maria Gabriela laughs]

226.  We could talk about anything you want. I can tell you that I am a slave
and a servant of the people. That is how I view myself and feel. This is how my
compatriots view me. This is very important.

227.  [Gabriela] Let us play word association now. I will say a topic and you
reply with a phrase or word...

228.  [Castro, interrupting] A word or phrase? Those are the rules of the game?
I will fare very poorly in the end.  [Maria Gabriela chuckles] You have made me
nervous with this game.

229.  [Gabriela] Cuba, define it.

230.  [Castro] The earth's most sovereign country.

231.  [Gabriela] Brazil, define it.

232.  [Castro] The most beautiful country; the country most deserving of envy
on the earth, because of its resources and its people, its men and women.

233.  [Gabriela] Revolution, define it.

234.  [Castro] Revolution or death.

235.  [Gabriela] Religion, what is its role?

236.  [Castro] That does not call for a phrase, but an explanation. [Maria
Gabriela laughs] Religion must be respected. Man's feelings must be respected.
You know what I think about this, because (Fey Beto) subjected me to a lengthy
questionaire on all sorts of issues and edited a book that has been published
in many languages entitled Fidel and Religion. This book has even been read in
China and Arabic countries. It has been read in many countries, because I
believe it was the first work that focused on the atittude of revolutions and
socialist states toward religious beliefs.

237.  [Gabriela] Marxism-Lenism, is it superseded?  [superado]

238.  [Castro] No, Marxist-Leninism must be developed and studied further, as
it is a method for analyzing historical problems. There had been no other
method of analyzing history before Marxism.

239.  [Gabriela] Any idol?

240.  [Castro] I have no idol.

241.  [Gabriela] What are you afraid of?

242.  [Castro] Have I ever been afraid? I think every man can feel afraid in
the struggle. Courage is not being afraid, but challenging and overcoming fear.
I could feel afraid of not being totally able to fullfil my duties as a

243.  [Gabriela] A book?

244.  [Castro] Jose Marti's work. War and Peace also...

245.  [Maria Gabriela, interrupting] Tolstoy.

246.  [Castro] Or, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

247.  [Gabriela] By Garcia Marquez.

248.  [Gabriela] [Asks another question] What is being modern?

249.  [Castro] To be a revolutionary.

250.  [Gabriela] Democracy?

251.  [Castro] To be a revolutionary. To bring true democracy to the people and
the masses.

252.  [Gabriela] You were in jail.

253.  [Castro] Jail is a place where one studies a great deal and rests a great
deal. Afterwards, one longs for the peace one had once experienced.

254.  [Gabriela] Model country?

255.  [Castro] Cuba

256.  [Gabriela] Passion?

257.  [Castro] Passion? Revolution, and love too.

258.  [Gabriela] A major statesman?

259.  [Castro] Ho Chi Min was a major statesman.

260.  [Gabriela] A dream?

261.  [Castro] The times I have dreamed that I am back in the mountains
creating the revolution.

262.  [Gabriela] Define the United States?

263.  [Castro] An imperialist country.

264.  [Gabriela] The Soviet Union ...

265.  [Castro, interrupting] Plunderer of the world. A country that has written
brilliant pages in the history of mankind, and that has made major contribution
to mankind's progress, a friendly country, a brother country, a people we love
a great deal.

266.  [Gabriela] The Soviet Union?

267.  [Castro] Yes.

268.  [Gabriela] Your future?

269.  [Castro] My future is to work until my last breath for my country and the
work of the revolution.

270.  [Gabriela] Fidel Castro by Fidel Castro?

271.  [Castro] I have not written that book yet. I have not.

272.  [Gabriela] Why? How do you ...

273.  [Castro, interrupting] I am a man who is very unhappy with himself and
highly self-critical. I am never satisfied with the things I do because I feel
that I have not done them well enough. I think this is a virtue. I am highly
self-critical. I am constantly analyzing what I have done and if I have done it
the best way or in the most adequate manner.

274.  [Gabriela] Thank you for this interview.

275.  [Castro] I do not know how this interview will come out?

276.  [Gabriela] Fantastic.

277.  [Castro] Thank you, very much. [applause]