Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Discusses Agrarian Reform, Elections
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000007240
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PY2704232290
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-083          Report Date:    30 Apr 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       3
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       27 Apr 90
Report Volume:       Monday Vol VI No 083


City/Source of Document:   Asuncion LA OPINION

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Discusses Agrarian Reform, Elections

Author(s):   Augusto Barreto in Havana; date not given]

Source Line:   PY2704232290 Asuncion LA OPINION in Spanish 27 Apr 90 pp 10-12

Subslug:   [``Exclusive'' interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by Augusto
Barreto in Havana; date not given]

1.  [``Exclusive'' interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by Augusto Barreto
in Havana; date not given]

2.  [Text] [Barreto] Commander, one of the most advertised aspects of the Cuban
Revolution abroad is agrarian reform. Could you outline its extent in view of
the fact that landownership is one of the main problems affecting Latin
American peasants?

3.  [Castro] Cuban agrarian reform was carried out in two stages. There were
two agrarian reforms. When we implemented the first stage, each landowner was
granted a maximum of 400 hectares. During the second stage, we handed out 650
heactares. At that time we told the peasants: ``There will be no other agrarian
reform. Any other evolution [as published] will have to be achieved through
other means. If you want to retain this piece of land for 1,000 years, you may
do so.''

4.  [Barreto] Is there a mandatory cooperative system?

5.  [Castro] We have never forced any peasant to join a cooperative or farm.
But when they age, or their sons become physicians or teachers, or they want
other things because they can no longer work, we purchase the land from them
and we grant them a pension. The Cuban cooperative system is completely

6.  [Barreto] Commander, a large group of Brazilian congressmen recently
drafted a letter requesting the holding of direct elections in Cuba with the
presence of international observers and human rights commissions. I believe
this letter was issued during your visit to Brazil...

7.  [Castro] Yes, this is true. This was some of the first news I received when
I arrived in Brasilia.

8.  [Barreto] How did you react?

9.  [Castro] The first thing I thought was that the anti-Cuban campaign had had
a great impact in Bazil and that the majority supported this position. But I
was not discouraged; I was calm, objective. I have so many things to say to any
Congress. I can propose the promulgation of four or five laws in a single
minute, and I can tell legislators: ``If you do what I say, I will do what you
have requsted of me.'' Had I done this I would have put them in a terrible
spot. There are so many things that are needed in a Latin American country. It
suffices to mention the undernourished children that only reach the second or
third grade; the high mortality rate of one year olds, or of children from one
to five years old; unemployment; underemployment.

10.  [Barreto] Why do you not pass a law or establish a congressional group to
resolve these things?

11.  [Castro] But this is not the case because the Cuban National Assembly of
People's Power would not think of sending a letter to the Brazilian Government
telling it what to do. This would be an interference [in their domestic
affairs], a lack of respect, of consideration...

12.  [Barreto] Did you have a chance to face the congressmen who signed this

13.  [Castro] No, no...something funny happened. The following day, when the
new government was installed and president Collor de Mello was supposed to
deliver a message to Congress, I arrive at the site and everybody greeted me
with applause. Then I wondered: ``Are these from the left or are they the ones
who sent the letter requesting the holding of direct elections?'' Later a long
line of deputies stood in line to greet me, one by one.

14.  There were deputies from all sectors, from the left and from the right.
One of them was introduced to me as being a rabid rightist. He approached me
and cordially greeted me by saying that he was very happy to see me there. He
talked to me as a great friend. And I wondered: ``But were these the ones who
signed the letter. How strange are human beings. Humans act one way today and a
different way the next day.'' Later, I forgot about it, and I became more
concerned with the confusion that had been created in the minds of many

15.  [Barreto] What confusion?

16.  [Castro] Well, confusion regarding Cuba can be seen in the questions of
many reporters. This confusion is not of bad faith, but confusion that has been
disseminated. But anyway, I answered all their questions with great patience.
With pleasure I answered them. On several occasions I also asked them: ``Why do
you not get into the depth of the problems? Why do you not go into the gist of
the problems? Why do you let yourself be dragged by slogans? Why do you consent
to be led by guidelines outlined by imperialism? I had to say so many things to
them because no one could have imagined as much nonsense as I heard during
those days. Not only nonsense, but many questions of good faith.

17.  [Barreto] What did they ask you?

18.  [Castro] What is going to happen in Cuba with the end of socialism in the
East; when are we going to have direct elections; what about human rights
violations in Cuba, and I do not know how many other things...and these things
hurt me a lot, to see so many intelligent people with so much confusion.

19.  [Barreto] How did you answer them?

20.  [Castro] I also asked them: ``Are direct elections the only ones existing
in the world? Are they the only ones? Do you know whether there are elections
or not in Cuba?  Have you ever read the Cuban Constitution? Do you know that in
Cuba we have elections every two and one-half years? Do you know how candidates
are chosen in Cuba in each of the more than 10,000 electoral districts? No.
They did not know.

21.  [Barreto] How are candidates elected in Cuba?

22.  [Castro] They are chosen by neighbors. The party cannot intervene in the
election of a district delegate. And that district delegate is the one who
elects all state powers; he makes up the Municipal Assembly, elects the
Provincial Power, and elects the National Assembly of the People's Power; and
more than 60 percent of those delegates chosen and elected by the people make
up the People's Power.

23.  [Barreto] You also said something like this, that the Spanish king was not
elected democratically. According to some press reports this has caused some
uneasiness in Spain.

24.  [Castro] What happened was that I asked the reporters, as an example,
whether all chiefs of state are elected directly. Then I mentioned the king of
Spain, who is also a chief of state. Is he elected by direct vote? No. The
kings are descendants of the Bourbons, from I do not know how many centuries
ago, who had I do not know how many dynastic wars. They are not elected by
democratic right but by genetic right, by the genes transmitted since Queen
Isabel. However, no one goes to Spain, or no Parliament thinks of sending a
letter demanding the election of the king, or the chief of state, by direct
vote. Nevertheless, the king was elected 500 years ago, many more years than
since I was elected president the first time. It should also be noted that I am
never called ``president.'' Everyone calls me ``Fidel,'' because I am a
neighbor of the citizens, and this is not understood. Many think that I am some
almighty being, that I live in a crystal box away from the world, a god on
Olympus. I hope that a letter is not addressed to me now to take away my name
Fidel. Do you know how many chiefs of governments in Europe are elected by
direct vote?

25.  [Barreto] I do not know...

26.  [Castro] Felipe Gonzalez is not elected by direct vote, nor are the Prime
Ministers of Italy, West Germany, Great Britain, or Greece. None of these prime
ministers are elected by direct vote. The parliament members are though, and
the parliament members, through a coalition, elect the prime minister. And how
are the deputies elected? By lists. Everybody knows how this trick works.  A
party nominates a given number of candidates and places two, three, or four at
the top of the list and these are always elected. In Cuba, the people elect the
delegates who elect all the authorities. I am not opposed to the method of
election in those countries, but it is not a direct method. And in the United
States? Do you know how many people vote in the United States?...

27.  [Barreto] How many people vote there?

28.  [Castro] Forty-eight percent of the electors...forty-eight percent! The
rest see it as so much trash that they do not even vote. They say that two
political parties exist, but there is only one. There is nothing in the world
more like the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. They do not make any
difference. That is the kind of alternative they have: A bourgeois party for
another bourgeois party; an imperialist party for another imperialist party. 
The two take turns at governing. U.S. presidents are elected by 25 or 26
percent of the votes, but have more power than Roman emperors! Why do they not
write to the President of the United States to change the method of election?

29.  [Barreto] How do Cubans participate so their votes can be accounted for?

30.  [Castro] Here, the district delegate has to regularly meet with the
electors to account for his actions. We go from workers' congress to workers'
congress to discuss policies with them. So we go from women's congress to
women's congress, from congress to congress of the Revolution Defense Council,
from student congress to student congress at the secondary school and
university level, from peasants' congress to peasants' congress. There is
practically no policy that is not discussed with all those organizations. This
is not so in any other place in the world.

31.  [Barreto] The years you have been in power is the most questioned point...

32.  [Castro] Yes, they talk about the years in government. I ask them, and for
how many years can Felipe Gonzalez be elected? For how many years can Kohl be
elected? For how many years can Thatcher be elected? And others, and others.
Some of them euphorically say, we are going to stay so many years. If Felipe
had the health of Methuselah and lived 500 years and did not commit great
mistakes? He can be reelected 80 times; he can be prime minister for 320 years.
Nevertheless, nobody goes over there and asks him, hey, boy, how long do you
expect to be here? Then, why can Thatcher, the Japanese prime minister, the
Spanish prime minister, be elected 80 times, and I cannot? Why do they protest
if I am elected and reelected? After all, I have not made any great mistake. Or
perhaps carrying out a revolution 90 miles from the United States and resisting
the imperialist blockade, hostility, calumny, war against us, and constant
threats for more than 30 years; that have forced us to invest so much of our
resources, energy, and make sacrifices, is the easiest thing to do in the
world's history?  If we did not defend our revolution, who would have come to
defend it? Soviet tanks? The Soviet tanks were too far away. The tanks that
could get here rapidly were North American tanks. All this leads me to think
that more important than the disgrace of living so close to the United States
is the luck of living so far away from the Soviet borders. We then never
expected that the Soviets would come to save our revolution if we alienated the
masses and made all kinds of errors. How lucky! Because a revolution that
cannot defend itself is not worth saving.  What good is a revolution that has
to be saved?