Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Part 2 of Castro Meeting With Evangelicals
Havana Cuba Vision Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000006473
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL1304010290
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-072          Report Date:    13 Apr 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     3
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       12
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       11 Apr 90
Report Volume:       Friday Vol VI No 072


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Part 2 of Castro Meeting With Evangelicals

Source Line:   FL1304010290 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0100 GMT 11
Apr 90

Subslug:   [Second of two installments on President Fidel Castro's meeting with
representatives of evangelical groups and the Jewish community in
Havana on 2 April--recorded]

1.  [Second of two installments on President Fidel Castro's meeting with
representatives of evangelical groups and the Jewish community in Havana on 2

2.  [Excerpts] [passage omitted] [Castro] Regarding the meetings with the FEU
[University Student Federation] Council that you mentioned, we discussed many
of those thoughts.  We discussed the topic of (?Christianity) a lot there. 
This was one of the points, because there are many different topics about this
kind of teaching.  There is also the topic of economics.  I was thinking about
the little comrade.  I asked the comrade: What kind of economics are they
teaching you? I said that we should intensely study the economics of
capitalism.  We are an island that is surrounded by capitalism everywhere.
[laughter] And you need to know it.  It is vital for revolutionaries like us,
who have to fight, to know this.  I considered this to be one of those ambushes
for those of us who do not know anything.  Those in the north, south, and east
(?did not know) a lot of things.  The students do not know what a multinational
company is, what a stock market is.  They do not know what certain kinds of
companies are, what forms they take; the policies they use to loot us, exploit
us.  We have to know about it to defend ourselves from many of their tactics
and strategies.  It is very useful.

3.  It is very useful. [repeats himself] There is no simple knowledge. Many
authors of economics of socialism right now are saying it does not work.  Do
you realize that?  But you said something, about scholasticism; a little can be
called dogma also.  Sometimes, this has been [words indistinct] and sometimes I
wondered: At times have we not turned Marxism into a religion?

4.  [Unidentified speaker] That is the worst that could happen. [laughter]

5.  [Castro] And I say it here in front of you all.  I am not speaking
pejoratively against religion. [laughter] But we have turned it--we could say
this--into a belief. To some degree, it has become a belief. So, that is why I
say that it has taken on a certain religious nature in the sense that it has
been made a belief.  If it is made a belief, then it is a religion, not a
political science.  It is, thus, not a political doctrine.  And so, he calls it
scholasticism, a type of dogmatic teaching.  Is that what you meant?  What does
that word mean?  Can you explain it? [laughter] I am trying to interpret

6.  But I was saying that much of what we discussed at that meeting was
published.  Things came out; some things I said about economics, the type of
studies, and the things, the things [repeats himself] about teaching Marxism. 
This was seriously analyzed by the youth, and it is a very serious thing. 
Well, David [not further identified], if you wish I will say something.

7.  It is not that I want to reduce the number of remarks, or hear the smallest
amount, but it seems to me that some of the things that you could add--I assure
you--I know about them already.  I have a premonition about them although I
have not heard them, but there must be anecdotes like that. [passage omitted]

8.  I am very happy to have had this meeting with you today so soon after the
visit to Brazil and my meeting with the believers--I think they were all
Christians there, I think they were all Christians there. [repeats himself]
There were representatives of churches such as yours and other churches.
Representatives of the Catholic Church were there.  Actually, the majority were
Catholic because Catholicism is a very widespread religion in Brazil. It has
also played an important role in the years of military governments, when there
were no organized forces, when there was nothing.  It played an extremely
important role helping people; helping the people who were in need, suffering,
going through all sorts of things.  The Catholic Church created grass-roots
communities.  It is an important, a very important social force, very

9.  Now, the meeting was ecumenical.  It was not only for Catholics; other
churches were represented there.  The various representatives spoke there. 
Those people had a great impact on me.  They made a tremendous impression on
me.  They have strength.  It is seen in their enthusiasm, in their singing, in
their slogans, in their tremendous combative spirit.  What I saw there made a
great impression on me.

10.  I believe you are very right in your analysis of the way I expressed
myself.  Actually, I could not say I was forgetful; there was almost a kind
of....[rephrases] I was comparing situations.  I was referring basically, in
that group, I was referring to the Catholics who were there and who were in the
majority at that meeting.  They were the ones who asked me the questions, in
general everyone did; but that question responded to a concern, a question,
from that majority of those who were there and who also posed to me the most
difficult problems.  That was one of the most difficult answers inasmuch as I
had to recount a little history.

11.  I was forced to explain the history of the problems we had had here at the
start of the revolution.  I was forced to be critical, which I do not want to
be here.  I answered that question with the greatest tact possible. I had also
met with the Brazilian bishops, who are very committed to the poor in Brazil.
This does not mean that all Catholic bishops have taken this position.  You
cannot talk about a majority or a minority, but there is a considerable group
that is breaking new ground, really.  There is also another group that has very
conservative positions on this, that is very opposed to this kind of policy.  I
even saw they had to cross stormy waters to be able to maintain those

12.  There is also another issue: liberation theology is considered something
subversive in the United States. In the famous Santa Fe documents--Santa Fe I
and Santa Fe II--since Reagan's times it has been said that liberation theology
had to be openly fought against because those were communist ideas and it was
nothing more than an instrument of those ideas and, therefore, had to be openly
opposed.  It was portrayed as one of the great dangers, really, to imperialist
domination in this hemisphere.  So there are powerful interests that want to
restrain, contain this movement which has enormous strength.  It is strong in
Brazil and in other countries.  The movement does not act the same everywhere
but this movement is also ecumenical. This movement of liberation theology is
not only within the Catholic Church but also within the other churches.

13.  This reminds me of the first time I had contact with church members. 
Well, the first time I attended an ecumenical meeting.  Because of the ideas,
the memories I have of my time when I attended a religious school are of a very
great sectarian spirit.  To even mention a meeting of Protestants, [words
indistinct] Catholics, Jews was impossible.  There was rather incessant
preaching to us since we were in the first year in catechism, they were always
trying to create in us--and I have talked about this publicly--prejudice,
animosity, against the other religions, any other religion.

14.  I think this must be related to the serious problems there are with some
religions, not only with the Jewish religion.  Here we have a representative of
the Jews.  I remember that almost all the education in religious matters that
was promoted with the people--not only with us in school but with even the poor
people-- everything related to the Holy Week, the myths of Holy Week; I
remember--and I have talked about this--they talked to us about the Jews. We
did not even know who the Jews were. They said they were the worst people in
the world, that they had killed God.  Since I reached the age of reason, we had
to be quiet at home during Holy Week. [audience laughs] We had to be still;
there was total mourning because God had died.

15.  God died on Holy Friday, then came the resurrection and all those things. 
As I told Frei Betto in that book--I believe it is included in Frei Betto's
book--I thought Jews were black birds that make a lot of noise and live in the
countryside.  So for me they were [words indistinct] Imagine this in the Middle
Ages, and this type of belief inculcated in a fanatical way. This would explain
many of the problems that have developed throughout history: pogroms,
persecution of the Jews. But let me say that at the time I was in school, there
was not a lot of difference between the Jews and the others, the other
religions.  Each was as worthy of hell as the other. [laughter] Hell was going
to be full, really. There was no possible forgiveness.

16.  At that time it was not [words indistinct] I really think we have made a
lot of progress in a relatively short period of time.  There is greater
understanding.  Here we have talked about the lack of understanding between
Marxists and Christians.  And it turns out that there has been a lack of
understanding as serious as this or worse between one Christian and another,
and another, and another.  Especially, the education I received in religious
matters was characterized by much sectarianism. This is the reality.

17.  I began to see this in my visit to Chile in 1973.  I am not going to
relate the history of the problems we had.  First, they were not fundamentally
with the other denominations; we had these problems with the Catholic Church. 
I have explained the history, the social reasons.  Many of the people who had
the opportunity of becoming a Catholic did so through the religious teaching in
private schools.  Private schools were the schools of the people who had the
most money.  For that reason, I myself was able to go to one of those schools,
La Salle, then the Colegio de Dolores, and Colegio Belen. There were many
schools of this kind.  They were for the middle class and up.

18.  To tell you the truth, there was discrimination of another kind.  Colegio
La Salle, the brothers of La Salle, were more democratic and had some black
students; but Colegio Belen, in spite of how rebellious the Jesuits
traditionally are--they have often been involved in great political
movements--did not accept black students.  This was simply a manifestation of
discrimination that also answered to the culture of that social class.

19.  At the time of the revolution, in the rural areas--and I have said this
many times--there was not a single Catholic Church.  There were none, anywhere
on the island.  They were not in the poor neighborhoods.  It was only in these
circles where religious education was really or basically received.  At the
time of the revolution, I remember that many classmates of mine.... [rephases]
Where are my classmates?  There are a few somewhere, survivors, like Cosme
Ordonez, a doctor in one of the polyclincs in Plaza, a prominent director of a
clinic.  I have the pleasure of knowing there are three or four.  Somewhere
around Las Tunas I ran into some who were in Colegio de Dolores, and so forth. 
However, there are very few.  There were clashes with all of them at the
beginning because of the revolutionary laws, because they were in those
sectors--landowners, bankers, businessmen, owners of everything.  They tried to
use the church, that church, against the revolution.

20.  Well, I have already explained how the first period passed, it was all
quite traumatic. [Words indistinct] a revolution, extremism, radicalism, things
typical of revolutions in their initial stages.  That was traumatic. It created
an unpleasant image. It created an unpleasant situation.

21.  I have also told how a papal nuncio was precisely the one who helped to
begin to overcome those problems.  But as I also said, I think I explained it
in Brazil, the manner in which we approached the problem had a great influence. 
We approached the problem very carefully, with a lot of wisdom.  We did not
want the revolution to take on in the eyes of the world an antireligious nature
[words indistinct] revolutionary sense, because if that happened it would have
helped imperialism, especially in Latin America at that time.

22.  I was aware that the church, the one with which we had the major
conflicts, was not strong among the poor in Cuba, among the simple people.  It
was strong in the sector that was in conflict with the revolution.  However, in
other places in Latin America it is obvious that the church [passage
indistinct] we had seen it.  I said everything that allows the revolution to be
considered an enemy of religion is a benefit, a favor, a service that is being
done to imperialism; and harms the cause of the liberation of the people in
Latin America.  This is a problem that has always concerned us.

23.  And that is why we handled all those problems with tremendous tact, and we
tried to avoid them, as I have publicly explained.  Everyone knows what has
happened with all revolutions, almost always, starting with the French
Revolution.  Some terrible conflicts occurred between the Revolution and the
Catholic Church, which was the dominant one.  In the famous estates general
where there were nobles; the middle classes on the one hand; the common people
as they were called; there was also the clergy.  The clergy was divided.  The
nobility was also divided a little.  However, when part of the clergy joined
with the common people it gave them the majority.  Part of the clergy joined
the side of the revolution, another part opposed the revolution, and there was
a tremendous class conflict with many people executed.

24.  The Spanish Civil War--everyone remembers; many people were executed. This
also happened in the Mexican Revolution and the Russian Revolution.  So there
has not been a single revolution in which the conflicts have not been bloody,
with the exception of a profound revolution where this conflict that arose for
the reasons I have explained was not bloody.  Not one drop of blood was shed. 
What happened in all the other revolutionary processes did not happen in this
case.  We are going to call a revolution, what a revolution is: a total,
radical, violent change in society. We reached a state of coexistence, so to

25.  We did not have these problems with the churches you all represent.  There
may have been cases, situations, as we know, but it never came to...[rephrases]
it never was--I say it sincerely--we never had this attitude, in spite of
private or personal positions of people.  This idea of conflict with the
churches that you all represent is not present in my recollection of history. 
This is the reality.  It was completely the opposite, as has been said here.

26.  And it happened, well, we cannot be exempt from blame.  We do not claim to
be.  If one analyzes it coldly, it could be said that we are somewhat to blame
for this, for the development [words indistinct] situation that these problems
had not been resolved before.  The thing is that we were a little one-sided. 
We subordinated a little what we had to do and what we should have done to
relations we had had with one church.  And this became a major concern because
of the way that church was organized, because of its nature as an international
organization with a rather rigorous discipline.  It turned into an
international conflict for the revolution.  We had the imperialists as the main
enemy there.

27.  Perhaps we exaggerated but we paid a lot of attention to the idea that it
was incompatible, it would seem incompatible, to be a party member and have
religious beliefs.  We were mainly thinking of the believers of that church.

28.  We said, well, many of them left; there is a question of essential
faithfulness towards the country, towards the revolution.  We had to choose
between one thing and another.  A situation of distrust developed.  This was
not a matter of principle, and we had no reason to introduce it.  However it
was a practical reason in which we said....  [changes thought] Remember how
that struggle was; there were 300 counterrevolutionary organizations in the
country.  Remember all the problems--the Bay of Pigs, the October crisis,
whether we would survive or not-- those problems took up the main ideas, and
really that situation led to a state of coexistence.  We reached a state of
coexistence in many areas.  The conditions were not created; we were not able
to handle an analysis of this situation, to provide a solution for this
problem, at a given time.

29.  This is why I tell you that in 1971 or 1972; when did I visit there,
1971?--in Chile I ran into the first group that included pastors and priests.
It was a greatly varied group. There were Catholics among them. This is what
most caught my attention.  We had that first meeting and exchange of views in
Chile.  A book was published containing the discussion we held.

30.  [Unidentified speaker] [Passage indistinct].

31.  [Castro] Later in Jamaica, all the talks [words indistinct] were
published.  I think this was a very positive thing we did.  We adopted a
different attitude.  We always had the hope that this could have had an effect
and would also be our message for everyone, but also our message for that
church with which we had had the initial conflicts.  One thing happened about
10 years later, then the other thing.

32.  This should not be considered the only reason.  This should not be
considered the only reason. [repeats himself] This had a decisive influence.
Later I felt envious when I saw in other revolutionary processes how there was
a rapprochement.  A very great rapprochement between Christians and
revolutionaries took place in Nicaragua and in El Salvador.  I think this has
been a result of the evolution in thinking in this direction.  I think that the
existence of the Cuban revolution, the fact that it occurred, had a great
influence on the development of this thinking about liberation theology in
Latin America.  In fact it arose several years after the triumph of the

33.  I said that this is not the only factor.  We were the first, the first
country where the revolution occurred.  There was nothing similar to what we
know today as a trend in religious feeling in Latin America.  There was also
outside influence regarding our situation in the country.  There was the
influence not so much from outside, but the influence of the traditions of the
revolutionary movement; from the Russian Revolution, from the struggles of the
Marxists in the last century, the great and close relationship there was in
feudalism, and later when capitalism developed, with the dominant church.  In
this sense the church imitates the existing regime.

34.  We all are aware of history. I do not have to repeat it.  We know what
happened in the feudal age.  We also know what happened in the beginning, in
the most ancient times; then what happened in the feudal age; then what
happened in the capitalist age.  This association arose with the prevailing
social system, which was a class system; with social injustice. That is the
origin; every revolutionary, socialist movement appears from that struggle.  It
acquires quite a strong antireligious slant.  It acquired it.  This is a true

35.  Antireligious ideas developed a lot even on the theoretical level.  That
famous phrase--I do not remember if it was Marx or Lenin--in the ``Communist
Manifesto,'' about the opium of the people, that phrase gained strength.  It
almost became a principle.  This was because of a historical situation, as I
explained in Frei Betto's book.  We must say that these two factors joined
together: the historical tradition and the practical experiences we had here.
One thing was compounded by the other.

36.  As if we in practice were to discover the same thing that the history of
the last century, the history of the revolutionary movement, tells us.  To tell
you the truth I should say these factors were present and [word indistinct]
have had an influence.  When did we begin to discover this?  We began to
discover it precisely with the beginning of the Cuban revolution, based on this
movement that arose in Latin America about a commitment to the poor.  Another
image, another facet, began to arise.

37.  We began to discover other realities. Then we began to talk about
alliances between Marxists and Christians.  We have been talking about this
since Chile.  I think that I was the first socialist political leader to talk
about this.  That is how it was.  It is not a personal merit but a historical
coincidence.  Since the revolution arose and this movement arose in Latin
America, we looked on it with a great deal of sympathy and said this had a
tremendous revolutionary potential.  This really can make social changes
possible.  This can make it possible to liberate the Latin American peoples
from imperialist domination, from exploitation of man.  This can bring justice. 
This was brought up in 1971 and we are in 1990.  This was 19 years ago.

38.  The same idea continued to be brought up.  As I said, the idea of alliance
was put into practice in Nicaragua and other places.  When I met Frei Betto...
[changes thought] I met Frei Betto in Nicaragua and I explained to him the
problems we have here.  Of course, he is Catholic.  I explained to him the
problems we have.  I also met with other leaders.  I met Lula in 1980 in
Managua, at the first anniversary of the Sandinist victory.  Frei Betto had the
idea of doing an interview to discuss these problems.  He knew and had read the
previous dialogues I had had with a group of Christians, an ecumenical group. 
There were also Catholics at that meeting with Christians.

39.  He insisted on this idea and had the interview; I agreed to grant the
interview to talk to him about all these problems.  Now I should say that this
was the first case in which a leader of a socialist country discussed the
problem of religion with a different concept, with different ideas, with the
idea of unity, with the idea of an alliance between Christians and Marxists.  I
explained the reasons extensively.

40.  I want you to know that that book had a great influence on many events. 
It had great political influence on the subsequent aproach to these problems. 
This book has been translated, even into Chinese.  It has been translated into
Persian, into all languages.  I have met with Moslems visiting here who have
talked about my book.  They have read it.  They almost know it by heart.  These
are Moslem revolutionary people, such as the Iranians who overthrew the Shah,
very radical.  I have met these people, and they have read the book.  They have
received these ideas with great approval, great satisfaction, because this can
be applied to all religious beliefs; whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic,
Buddhist, or atheist.  Atheism has also become--can I say it?--a religion. Do
you see? [laughter] A religion of not believing.

41.  I say that this book that was done with Frei Betto [words indistinct] a
totally new approach to the problem, which had never been done.  He even asked
me about the famous phrase, and I said, well, it could be poison or a wonderful
medicine, depending on what meaning is given to this feeling.  If religious
feeling is put in opposition to social change, then it does become an opium,
but if it is joined to the struggle for social change then it is a wonderful
medicine.  I tried to explain what, in my opinion, were the historical origins
for arriving at that situation.  I would say that based on these dialogues with
Christians I have had since 1971 and the interview with Frei Betto, there has
been a new approach.  A totally new approach appeared almost 20 years ago.

42.  Well, with the problems we had had, this was useless.  Our message really
was useless.  I say it with a feeling of frustration.  I am not referring to
you.  For a long time you had a different attitude toward the revolution.  Many
Catholics also did, but we followed this policy because we were consistent in
practice also with the ideas we have presented.

43.  That entailed a historic decision.  This is the reality.  This is the
position.  In the meeting with the Christians there I said: I will not hesitate
to tell the truth. Because they asked for the answer to a really very difficult
question when they simply asked why believers cannot be party members.  It is a
very difficult question to answer simply because this is discrimination.  Yes. 
How can it be explained to those people, fervent revolutionaries?  How can it
be explained?

44.  This is why the first thing I said regarding this question was: If they
were you, they would have become members of the party a long time ago. At that
time my subconscious was responding to the entire drama of the problem we had
had.  That is what I told them.  Really, I think there are people worthy of
being in the best party.  [Words indistinct] that response but it is not that I
made that up.  If I have been proposing the idea of the alliance between
Christians and Marxists, the only thing consistent with this is that we are
truly united, that we are true allies.  We are working for the same cause.
[passage omitted]

45.  I am already aware that this problem must be solved.  I have told several
comrades.  I told [Communist Party of Cuba, PCC, Secretary Carlos] Aldana, I
have told [PCC Politburo member Esteban] Lazo, who is with me.  I have said,
look at this problem, a local thing of ours.  Because of a partial problem that
we have had at a given time, there have been no right circumstances to
facilitate a solution for us.  We are left with this problem hanging over us. 
It is a problem of principle because it is a problem [words indistinct] has to
be solved and this is the historic turning point.  It is the best time because
it is a difficult time; it is a time of great risk, a time in which things are
collapsing over there and the imperialists are becoming bolder.  They are
becoming more arrogant than ever, more scornful than ever.  They think they can
squash us like a cockroach.  This is a difficult moment, and why do we not
define this?  Why do we not define it?

46.  Of course, it is not that we have not been thinking about this, because
this idea is in the document that was published.  But I say, will we have to
wait for the congress to present it there or do we have to start bringing it up
as of now?  In fact, I brought it up there but I expanded more on it during the
speech.  I said that this problem must be solved.

47.  Naturally, I did not want--the time did not seem right at the moment --to
go into depth on this the way I am doing with you.  Perhaps we must go into
depth on this problem later so that everyone will assume their
responsibilities.  Because I say: I ask myself: Why do the rest of the
believers who have been loyal to the country, who have defended the revolution
enthusiastically and sincerely, have to pay the consequences of this problem? 
[applause] This is one of the questions I ask myself.  However, I ask another
one. Why do so many very good Catholic followers--because there are those who
are hardworking, exemplary--also have to pay the consequences of a certain
line?  Because we know how each of the institutions is.  We know how it is.  I
do not want to be critical. I do not really want this to become a reason for
criticism, to hurt other people here or elsewhere in the world, but it is
clear.  It is clear.  Why do the believers who are good, who are
revolutionaries, who are militia members, [words indistinct] for the country,
also have to suffer the consequences of this situation?

48.  I say we must have another approach to this issue.  We must state the
truth and state it clearly, and take another approach.  Of course, no one is
forced to join the party. It is entirely voluntary.  The party also demands
that certain requirements be met for a revolutionary to join.  That is
something else.  But exclusion from the party is discrimination.  I believe
that it is a matter of principle that we should solve, because it is the party,
the party is the one that has to guarantee the unity of all the people.  We are
not living in paradise.  We are living in a world full of all kinds of
problems, full of risks, full of threats.  We, a small country threatened by a
superpower, need unity.  If we have the idea that we should have a party,
consequently, it should be a party for all, of rights for all.  [applause]

49.  We must also be consistent with all things that we have approved in our
Constitution.  Our Constitution rejects any kind of discrimination--it is
clear--whether based on skin color, sex, or belief.  What meaning does it have
then to try to conduct a social project?  We have been clear.  Ours has been
the fairest society that can be imagined, the most humane that can be imagined,
which is what unites us.  What sense does this discrimination against believers

50.  I think that within this process of rectification, one of the important
things we have to deal with is that.  And not only because one person [words
indistinct] the party [words indistint] or not or a specific role, but because
there are many believers who are not members of a church, of a given church,
but who have their own beliefs.  They are animists.  We even had here the
spiritual leader of the Yoruba people.  How many beliefs do people have?  Let
us take those who go to the processions for Saint Lazarus.  They go to the
Saint Lazarus processions.  They have their beliefs.  Let us take those who
were not members of any specific church, but that somebody, that their
relatives inculcated a certain belief in them or they did it on their own.
Well, that person must feel bad.  He must feel bad in a situation in which
believers are discriminated against. [Words indistinct] and looked upon with a
certain contempt and forced to make a double effort [words indistinct]
revolution [applause].

51.  They are discriminated against in their homeland, in their country, and in
their revolution.  And they defend their the homeland [words indistinct] they
are willing to surrender their lives.  They defend the revolution.  It is a
situation that cannot continue.  The issue is that what should divide us is not
whether one is a believer or not.  What should divide us [corrects himself]
what we should ask ourselves is whether we are revolutionaries or not. 

52.  [Words indistinct] it is really absurd, senseless, and foolish, because
the other thing [whether one is a revolutionary or not] is what can really
separate one Cuban from another--the cause, what I just said before, and not
beliefs.  If someone says: I do not believe in anything; if someone is an
atheist, and yet is a revolutionary, why should we make a distinction between
atheists or nonbelievers and believers?  There is no reason for that to become
an obstacle.  On the contrary, it becomes something that is absolutely
discriminatory when it exists.

53.  So that is the reason. [Words indistinct] problems that there may be.  I
was saying to people: After all, religion and churches are part of the culture
of a people. We have repaired churches. [Words indistinct] a city without
temples [words indistinct].  In other words, their ways not only [passage
indistinct] I believe that in culture.  [Words indistinct] because at that
moment we have a [words indistinct].

54.  Well, all that is neither reasonable nor rational.  But, but [repeats
himself] [word indistinct] that comes out of that situation and of that
atmosphere of mistrust that was created for a given reason and then became a
general standard that contributed to the lack of understanding.  This type of
division should not exist because it contradicts what we have been preaching
for a very long time.  I view society from a different perspective.  I imagine
a society that is totally free from any kind of discrimination.  I imagine a
united country because we have to be united.  If we are not united, they will
swallow us.  But we will be even more united.  As the comrade from Colon said:
They we will act the same with or without changes, but it is better with
changes. [applause]

55.  We must be truly united.  We must be truly united [repeats himself].  That
other thing [division] is foolish.  Of course, I would say that you have [word
indistinct] twice as much [words indistinct] like those who greeted me in
Brazil have.  Despite that and although I cannot tell you: Listen, you are
party members as of now, although I must admit that there is a situation [words
indistinct] give us support and understanding.  You know that we have to
overcome certain problems, but you do not even demand that we solve those
problems.  You support us.  And I am sure that your attitude not only increases
unity but also the solidarity among all those progressive, revolutionary forces
that are concerned about social changes and justice.  You contribute to
increasing that solidarity and satisfaction.  I am sure that those over there
[words indistinct] that this problem is going to be solved here. [Passage
indistinct].  Thus, [words indistinct] but you will feel that you have made
your contribution, because every little bit helps.

56.  [Words indistinct] that meeting [words indistinct] here, it will surely
have to be done tactfully [words indistinct] important turning point, because
it coincided with this whole local situation, with this collapse.  They [not
further identified] were also very encouraged by the visit to Brazil.  After
all, they are revolutionaries.  And at present, all revolutionaries have been
harshly attacked all over the world.  And one wonders what is going to happen
with socialism.  One wonders about the destiny of socialism [word indistinct]. 
And obviously, there is no future without socialism.  It is not difficult to
prove that.  There is no future without socialism.  If we are going to be left
with this garbage capitalism [words indistinct] years, it would be
better--well--that the Apocalypse comes before that happens. [crowd laughs] You
must know more about the Apocalypse than I do.

57.  Let us take the example of Latin America. It is incredible when one
examines data coming from the various Latin American countries.  It is truly
amazing.  Capitalism functions in those countries and it functions in the way
that you know it functions. It works in the same way that it works in the
United States, where there are millions of homeless people, thousands of
homeless kids without parents or anything.  Those phenomena exist there.  We
see these scenes combined with extreme levels of poverty.  We see those scenes
everywhere.  Then there is mendicancy, the drug problem, prostitution, and all
other vices.  Those vices are found among even the wealthiest people.  And if
this is the case with the capitalist world powers--and their mechanisms really
work there because they support each other; in other words, the dollar supports
the yen, the German mark supports the Italian lira, the British pound, etc. 
They support each other every time they have a problem, a deficit, or
something.  No one, however, supports Latin American currencies.  These
currencies inflate like a balloon and then explode.  These countries have
reached amazing inflation rates.  In one year, inflation went up to 1,500 [not
further specified] in Brazil.  In Argentina it went up to 3,000 and something
in one year.  Who knows what it is like in Peru.

58.  Latin American countries do not really have any plans.  One day they
invent one thing and the next they invent something else.  They simply cannot
solve their problems.  No strong currency supports them when inflation begins
to rise in these countries.  Money goes out of those countries through all
channels because people who hold bank accounts in local currencies know that
next month that money will be worth half of what it is worth now.  Thus, they
run to their banks, get their money, and take it to a country with a strong
currency.  What are those governments going to ask from a man who has 10,000;
50,000; 1,000, or whatever? [currency not specified]

59.  And if one of those governments raises its interest rates too high, to
prevent people from taking their money out of the country, then nobody invests
in industries.  People then begin investing in speculative businesses to make
more money based on [words indistinct].  It is a complete disaster for the
economy.  Capitalism does not solve the problems of any Third World country
unless it is a country to which resources are granted as a gift, as is the case
of some Asian countries.  Multinationals were sent to countries with very
repressive regimes, for example.

60.  The so-called neoliberal measures partiallt worked in Chile.  They
resulted in positive economic rates.  This grew much [words indistinct] nobody.
Well, last year the Inter-American Development Bank sent money to Chile, with
approximately 12 million inhabitants, instead of sending it to Brazil, that has
140 million inhabitants and has much greater need of development works than
Chile.  [Words indistinct]. They have a ferocious [words indistinct].  Workers
cannot protest.  Workers cannot demand improvements, and therefore the
situation is of course....  [changes thought] How much do those workers earn? I
think I have seen some information on that in the newspapers. I think they earn
about $60 dollars [not further specified].  At present, 40 percent of the
population owns 12 percent of the [word indistinct].  The masses suffer
greatly.  They do not have enough money to do anything.  In other words, those
capitalist theories have to be applied by a very repressive regime to be
successful.  Those regimes have to receive privileged aid and must also starve
their people to death.

61.  One can read about those things.  But there is no future there.  One can
breathe democracy all through Latin America, but Latin America lacks firm
economic foundations.  Nobody knows where these countries are heading in view
of their current situation.  And one is amazed after one examines those
countries' social statistics.  They have an average infant mortality of 65
percent over 1,000. [not further specified] Some have more, some have less, but
that is the average. Their infant-mortality rate of children between zero and
five years of age is 85 percent.  That rate is six times more than the Cuban
infant-mortality rate gentlemen.  Amazing!

62.  And then there is the problem of education.  We have almost 300,000
teachers.  When I talked to them [the Brazilians] about our education level and
indexes I told them: It is a better education than the one offered in the
United States. We have less illiterate people, of both the functional and the
nonfunctional kind.

63.  There is also the situation of women in Cuba.  I told them that women
represent almost 58 percent of our technical force; around 50 something.  I
mean, 61 or 62 percent of the population attending our preuniversity schools
are women, and they represent 57 percent of our university population.  In
other words, there is an increasing participation of women in the country's
technical field.

64.  I also spoke to them about our day-care centers, our semiboarding schools,
our scholarship schools, and especially about our special-education schools. 
We have the capacity for 80,000 special students.  They cannot even dream of
that.  The family-doctor program is something they cannot even dream about.  We
have a country free from beggars, prostitution, and drugs.  Well, I am not
speaking in absolute terms, but what I am saying is that those phenomena are
manifested to a minimum here in Cuba.  We have amazing health levels.  Those
countries cannot even dream of these things.  The Brazilian intellectuals and
Christians were amazed at this, because these things are their day-to-day

65.  I talked to the mayor of Sao Paulo, the most industrialized city in Latin
America, and she told me: We have 300,000 kids who cannot go to school. She
said 300,000 children. And we are talking about the most industrialized and
wealthiest country in Latin America.  And she told me: We have areas of 3
million inhabitants without a single hospital.

66.  Thus, when one compares all those rates, for example unemployment....
[changes thought] obviously we have very large personnel rosters.  But they
also have much larger personnel rosters there! [crowd laughs] The only
difference is that they fix those roster problems by laying off all kinds of
people.  And that is it.  We, we go slowly.  If we have too many people working
in a hospital, we wait until we expand the hospital and keep them on our
rosters.  We do not dismiss anybody.  We do not even send people home while
still paying them their salary because a man who feels useless, a man who feels
that his work is good for nothing; feels humiliated, bitter, and unfortunate. 
Thus, we prefer to keep people on our inflated personnel rosters until we can
tell them: [words indistinct].  It would probably be more useful for us to
dismiss those workers and continue to pay them their salaries, but we would be
humiliating them.  Thus, we must know how to do things to avoid humiliating
people and to avoid leaving people unprotected.

67.  Many of those countries lack social security services.  They have nothing. 
Cities grow in a totally disorderly manner.  People go and build houses here
and there and then [words indistinct] full of those things, because they then
start improving their situations.  They start off building cardboard houses,
but as soon as they get a chance, they replace the cardboard with bricks. 
Cities grow in the midst of absolute disorder.  Sao Paulo has approximately 17
million inhabitants.  You should see that city.  It is absolute madness.  You
can imagine the kind of social and human problems that a city with 17 million
people has.  Well, try to imagine what kind of problems it will have with 30
million people.  People spend most of their time going from one place to the
other.  They spend hours moving from one place to the other.  There is no order
and there cannot be.  There is no way to have proper potable-water systems,
power system, and hospital services in a city that grows at that pace and in
such a disorderly manner.  The streets [five-second break in reception] the New
York skyscrapers [seven-second break in reception].

68.  Gentlemen, they [not further identified] have brought us a social model
that is unsustainable.  If that model were applied in China, in India, well,
but the model brought by those capitalist, developed countries is being applied
in Latin America.  And these countries are a major disaster.  And they are
increasingly disastrous.  There is too much alienation.  There are thousands of
homeless kids.  I believe that there are approximately 30 million homeless
kids.  I almost refused to accept the figures they gave me in Brazil.  They
have estimated that they have 20 something million homeless kids.  You can
imagine the kind of life those kids have.  There are millions of kids going
around homeless in those Latin American cities.  What kind of future can they

69.  Capitalism will never solve any of those problems.  I said: Capitalism
will not solve your problems. And I said that very carefully to avoid being
accused of subversion.  [crowd laughs] I gave them some data.  But there is no
distribution of wealth there.  No one is concerned about solving those
problems.  People are incredibly unprotected there, and even in highly
developed cities and countries.  And I saw those big, developed cities.  I gave
them the example of what [words indistinct] two years.  They have gained more
in one year than in three centuries.  From the net value of their gains, we
would have to substract, however, [seven-second break in reception].

70.  ...Of how they are fighting inflation, because inflation has become a
monster in those countries.  And they cannot do anything with their free-price
and market economy because of their inflation rates.  Thus, norms, regulated
distribution is 10 times more preferable, because if, when all is said and
done, a country needs 10,000 teachers [two-second break in reception] when
inflation appears, because each teacher here has more or less his or her norm.

71.  Obviously, we always have to seek incentives for salaries.  For example,
we are always looking for ways to collect money from nonessential areas.  We do
not dare collect money from our milk production or from any of our staple
items.  We collect money from rum and tobacco production and from other luxury
items.  You understand this concept better than anyone else--you have to
understand this better than anyone else--because you know how superfluous,
senseless, and inhuman those luxury items are.  Capitalism does not solve the
problems of the Third World.  They have to implement a programmed economy. 
They have to invest every single penny in a strictly honest manner and in the
right areas, because they will always have one-fifth of what they need to
invest and it is not possible to invest that one-fifth in whatever they want. 
They have to create a rigorous investment program to guarantee development and
solve the various problems.

72.  This cannot be done in capitalism.  I tell them [not specified] all the
time, we have solved in 30 years what you have not solved in 300.  We
experienced some delays because of the phenomena I have explained.  We stopped
building child-care centers.  Now the country is doing more with fewer
resources.  I am waiting for the day in which we can say we have 85,000 slots
available for special education schools, when all of them are available.  For
Latin America this is a dream for the year 3000.  [crowd laughs] This is
regarding special education schools. Not to mention child-care centers, not to
mention the some 1 million students--between the ones who who stay all day and
the ones who stay part of the day--for each 10 million people.  This makes it
so easy for the student, for the family, the mother, the woman to join society.

73.  When I mention our social progress I say the program for women is no
longer a project, it is an objective reality.  Women have training, a certain
degree of education.  They are essential.  They are taking the lead in many
things because of their own merits.  It is not a matter of good wishes, of the
noble program of giving opportunities to women [words indistinct]. It is
unavoidable that it has it [crowd laughs].  It has it even if it does not want
it.  [Passage indistinct].  I mentioned a few of these things to the
intellectuals, to the Christians and they were amazed.  This causes amazement
there.  Do you know what the role of women would be if there were no child-care
centers, schools, scholarships, and they have to work?  [Words indistinct]
because life imposes it on them.  Many of them are single women.

74.  The situation causes pain, causes sadness.  One can see very clearly that
that has no solution. I am not talking about Lima, I have not been in Lima. It
is said that in the outskirts of Lima there are some 4 or 5 million people who
do not have a roof over their heads.  That situation is repeated in everything
in even the richest countries such as Venezuela, which has who knows how many
billions of [words indistict] of oil. The city is surrounded by.... [changes
thought] So it happens in even the richest countries.

75.  A country that is as rich as Argentina and [words indistinct] at this
time. I was saying that we are closely following the measures they take
regarding inflation.  It is terrible.  Whenever there is no inflation there is

76.  I believe they are making in Brazil one of the most daring efforts to
straighten the situation.

77.  The first thing I do every day is read all the news reports because I am
curious to see how they can find [words indistinct] solutions to those problems
under those conditions.  It is difficult, it is difficult [repeats himself]
because there was strong opposition in the congress.  I believe 10,000
amendments to the program have already been proposed.  If one had nothing to
do, it would be something to observe what was happening as if it were a movie,
and see country by country how (?capitalist countries) really have no future.

78.  For all progressive and revolutionary people this time is a bitter time, a
hard and terrible time. They see capitalism and imperialism, and they really do
not see a thing.  This is one of the questions that is created.  Many people
are starting to respond to the situation.

79.  I was saying, I did not give you my view that this political
discrimination leads to all the rest of discrimination.  This is where the
problem lies.  If he was going to join the party and it was said that he was a
believer.... [changes thought] All other discriminations are present.  If we
put an end to this discrimination we would put an end to all the rest and
[words indistinct] based on confidence and principles. [Words indistinct] we
are united because we are revolutionaries.  This would be based on
revolutionary unity among all Cuban revolutionaries, without any type of
discrimination.  All would be possible.  What is not possible on this basis of
confidence and unity.  This would be one of the best principles we could have
for the defense of the country, the defense of the revolution, and the struggle
for justice.

80.  Precisely, I believe the basis from which I always parted, and I said it
at the beginning of the revolution....  [changes thought] Since I had the
opportunity of studying in a religious school I was able to familiarize myself
with Christian teaching.  I am not a sectarian but [words indistinct] during
that period I was able to see many things.  I acquired political consciousness
and saw very clearly that socialism and communism are the ideals of a Christian
who strictly abides by Christian thought. [applause]

81.  Of course, an trend opposite to this [words indistinct] would be in
contradiction to the convictions.  If a man is very rich, very rich, very rich
[repeat himself] he should be asked to hand over his money. [Words indistinct
from a member of the audience].  He should be asked to hand over his money to
help the rest.  He has no right to be rich next to a poor man. There is less
right to exploit the poor man, and there is no right for one to swim in a sea
of abundance.  You cannot imagine in what abundance he swims.

82.  So, for a Christian there can be a true convergence of goals--you have to
look for it--with a sincere socialist, a Marxist, a socialist, a communist,
even this is utopian.  Communists existed before Marxism.  Communists existed
before Leninism.  Many people thought of a single society a long time ago. They
were called utopians.  I began being utopian.  I had read nothing from Marx, or
Engels, or Lenin when I started to see--while studying political economy when I
was a sophomore in university--that capitalism was a disaster.  I arrived at
that conclusion early on when I saw the anarchy in production, overproduction,
unemployment.  There were a number of basic things.  I started to think how
society needed to be organized so it would function in a just and rational way. 
Not only just, but also rational.  Capitalism is a terrible waste of energy and
resources. There is a terrible waste of economic resources because 500 do the
same thing and then three or four are left.  The others go elsewhere with the
money.  No.

83.  It is a system that developed and allowed the development of these few
societies.  They are a few that live in the consumption society.  It does not
solve the problems in Third World countries.  It will never solve the problems
of Latin America.  One can categorically say this.

84.  I believe that you have had to go through a difficult period during these
30 years--this has to be admitted-- with all those social situations, [words
indistinct] economic, and with revolutionaries, with the enemy.

85.  [First unidentified speaker] We have a lot of happiness, a lot of joy at
an extraordinary time [words indistinct].

86.  [Second unidentified speaker] It has compensated.

87.  [Castro] Yes, but it is a reality that you have been discriminated
against.  That political discrimination is expressed in all the other things. 
When we eliminate that.... [changes thought] we are going to eliminate it as
soon as possible. [applause]

88.  This is the prevailing sentiment in the party's leadership.  Nobody
disagrees with it.  As you say, we have to do some work in persuasion with
everyone.  I have been doing this. [crowd laughs] I have been doing my job. I
believe that this is why your own words, all that helps.  One has to say it
because we have to create a new awareness about this.  One has to work against
prejudices and things.  Do not think that is always as easy.  I see it in the
economic and political area.

89.  Sometimes ideas from abroad are introduced and it is not easy.  There are
people who are taken over by those ideas.  Only time and life leads them to
acknowledge how many mistakes were included in many of those ideas that came
from abroad.  Sometimes economic ideas--because they studied them in all those
books, do not think that they only studied religious matters--economic ideas
are pretty deeply rooted in many people.

90.  It is not a matter that it is said.... [changes thought] The party is
disciplined. The truth is that the party is disciplined and has the ability to
understand.  It will understand.  It will understand.  [repeats himself] It can
be said that 100 percent will understand; there may be one who [words
indistinct] things from books, texts from from abroad [crowd laughs] that may
have more difficulty.  I am convinced, I have no doubt that the members of the
party, as a rule, will understand.  We are many.  Because in the party....
[changes thought] As I say, we have a country of communists.  You can see it in
all those people who are part of the contingents, the hundreds of thousands who
go to fulfill internationalist missions.  People do a lot of things.

91.  One has to see that among people who do bad things there are many people
doing excellent things. Those people are communists.  They are (?not) in the
party.  Not all communists are in the party.  However, those people are going
to understand.

92.  I tell you that I have had a very good impression of this meeting.  From
the contact that I have had with you I feel, especially today--I began the
conversation with the doctor who is taking care of the children there--as I
listened to you, I see how much nobleness, how much kindness there is in your
soul; how much patriotism, how much sense of justice, wishes for justice,
yearning for justice.  Therefore, our party gains a lot.  I agree with what one
of the comrades says.  That there should not be [word indistinct], that nobody
should hide an inner feeling.  It must be very unpleasant to have a
convinction, one of these feelings which does not harm anyone and can do good
to many that suddenly had to hidden as if it were a sin because they are going
to our hell. [crowd laughs and applauds]

93.  It is a hell created by prejudice; it is a hell created by a lack of
understanding. [Words indistinct].  You can be sure that it (?prevents) many
from being happy because in the middle of [words indistinct] worries and
prejudice....  [changes thought] One has the girlfriend as it happened to
[Castro chuckles and audience laughs] the comrade here and the other one has
the mother, the other one has an uncle, or the other one has the grandmother.

94.  I remember when I arrived in Havana during the first days of the
revolution, the first weeks; I went to see the old woman--I called my mother
the old woman--and my mother's mother, my grandmother.  I arrived in a building
where they stayed in an apartment, the two were lying down. [Passage
indistinct].  They had a number of saints and things, medals, millions of
things.  I saw the religious fervor they had; with what fervor, with what
enthusiasm, with what hope they saw on all that.  Well, this was even more so
after the war. Who knows how many vows they made during the war. [crowd laughs]
The miracle you talked about happened. They saw us alive there. Imagine. What
harm could it do. I was always very respectful of her and her believes. All
those things help one understand.

95.  How many have a grandmother?  This is really going to create a conflict,
not only among revolutionaries, but among patriots, noble people, those who
want justice, in the heart of families, personal, and social relations--all
kinds of conflicts.  You can be sure that all of us now with a more clear
awareness of all this situation--that this problem we have experienced which
should have been solved before, I think we are going to solve it in the best of
times.  And as a result of an entire process.  It is going to be much more

96.  This could have been decided by a few leaders through an analysis, a
committee analyzing things, a commission.  However, life has basically been the
one creating the conditions to finding a truly serious and profound solution. 
When you compare yourselves with the first Christians.... [changes thought] At
least, according to what I know about the first Christians, you know;
Christians were persecuted, were thrown to the lions, when Christians were
treated as communists are treated now.  This is how they want to treat
communists even in those countries that have made a lot of changes, and over
there, in the world.

97.  I made the comparison.  During the beginning of the revolutionary movement
you were treated harshly, but Christians have been treated worse for centuries,
for centuries. [repeats himself] You need to compare the 600 years the first
Christians experienced with your 30 years.  [crowd laughs and applauds]

98.  In the end you are going to feel happy.  You are going to say: Because we
played the role of martyrs in something, [crowd laughs] we were firm, our faith
was not weakened.  You are going to be able to say: Neither our Christian faith
nor our patriotic faith was weakened.  [applause] It is more extraordinary: in
this crossfire coming from all directions, your revolutionary faith was not
weakened. [applause] Faith in socialism was not weakened. It grew. Well now it
is going to grow more.  [applause] [Words indistinct] many times, this has to
be fixed, this has to change.  Someone had to hear your prayers. [crowd laughs
and applauds] They were heard in heaven and on earth. [standing ovation]
[passage omitted]