Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Interview With CNN's Ted Turner
Havana Cubavision Television
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000011176
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA2906042290
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-90-126          Report Date:    29 Jun 90
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       7
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       29 Jun 90
Report Volume:       Friday Vol VI No 126


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cubavision Television

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Interview With CNN's Ted Turner

Author(s):   CNN Broadcasting Chairman Ted Turner; at Havana's Palace of the
Revolution ; date not given--recorded; in English with
superimposed Spanish translation]

Source Line:   PA2906042290 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0200 GMT 29
Jun 90

Subslug:   [Interview with President Fidel Castro by CNN Broadcasting Chairman
Ted Turner; at Havana's Palace of the Revolution; date not
given--recorded; in English with superimposed Spanish translation]

1.  [Interview with President Fidel Castro by CNN Broadcasting Chairman Ted
Turner; at Havana's Palace of the Revolution; date not given--recorded; in
English with superimposed Spanish translation]

2.  [Text] [Turner] Hi, I am Ted Turner, and I have spent two very interesting
days here in Cuba traveling with President Fidel Castro, who has led this
country since the revolution began 31 years ago. This makes him the third
longest leader in power in the modern world. He is here with us in Havana's
Palace of the Revolution. Good morning, Mr. President.

3.  [Castro] Good morning, Ted.

4.  [Turner] In the United States it is said that Cuba is facing severe
economic problems. Is this true?

5.  [Castro] Well, yes we do have economic difficulties, just like all
countries in Latin America and in developing countries--to avoid using the term
Third World, which I know you, Ted, do not like--have economic difficulties. We
have had these difficulties for a long time now.  They are, to a certain
extent, understandable if we take into account that the United States has been
blockading the country for over 30 years, sabotaging our economy, and
prohibiting the export of even a single aspirin to our country. It is even
possible that we might have greater difficulties in the future, depending on
how events evolve in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

6.  However, despite everything, our health levels are above those of any other
developing country and above the levels found in many developed countries. We
could say that our educational and health levels are competitive with those of
the United States. In several instances, we are above the United States because
we do not have any illiteracy and we have very few functional illiterates in
the country. In the United States, they number in the tens of millions.

7.  [Turner] Thank you. I know this is a difficult question, but Cuba was
accused a few years ago of participating in drug trafficking. What is your
reaction to these accusations?

8.  [Castro] We would have to see who is accusing us.  Sometimes these charges
come from people who have been sentenced, and they have been offered all sorts
of benefits to make accusations against Cuba. There is a political objective
behind these charges, and they are totally slanderous. We could say that these
charges are truly cynical because, paradoxically, I believe that Cuba has the
most impeccable conduct in the world regarding drugs. Our country does not
consume drugs. We might have some very exceptional cases of drug consumption
because marijuana, for instance, can be harvested in a room the size of this
one. Our country has no experience with cocaine consumption. It does not exist.
I believe that if all countries would do what Cuba did with respect to drugs,
the drug problem would not exist in the world.

9.  Unfortunately, we had the case of some officers who were corrupted and were
accomplices in drug-trafficking activities. Nevertheless, our country's
response was exemplary. No other country has responded as we did.  We punished
the officers who were found to be responsible for the drug trafficking with the
most severe sentences. I believe that with this, we have totally removed this
evil by its roots.

10.  We have expressed our willingness to carry out coordinated action with
other countries. The Mexicans know this, and the Government of Colombia knows
this. The U.S. Government, however, has rejected any kind of agreement
regarding the problem of drug trafficking for political reasons. The U.S.
Administration does not want to be criticized by its Miami friends for reaching
an agreement with Cuba on drug trafficking.

11.  Our laws are harsh, but if it were necessary we would even approve tougher
laws. We are outraged and offended that drug traffickers should want to use our
territory to conduct these kinds of activities.

12.  Of course, our country has three air routes. There are three air routes.
Were we to ban these air routes, it would cost enterprises that travel over
Cuba hundreds of millions of dollars. We also could not do this because it
would violate international agreements. We cannot register the planes that
travel over our country but, in the end, I believe that we have been exemplary
in fulfilling our duties regarding international traffic. We are willing to
accept any kind of international cooperation. We are willing to take any
necessary measures, such as a contribution to the struggle against the
drug-trafficking tragedy.

13.  [Turner] On the other hand, we understand that you are easing restrictions
on religious expression and that the Pope may even visit Cuba next year. Could
you discuss this?

14.  [Castro] What I can say is that, in reality, religious groups have had
complete freedom of expression in our country. This is well known. Certain
conflicts came up during the initial years of the revolution with the Catholic
Church, not with the Catholic Church as such, but rather with the Catholic
Church's hierarchy because the Catholic religion had expanded mainly among the
richest sectors of the population. There were certain contradictions with
revolutionary laws. There were serious contradictions between these sectors and
the revolution. These sectors tried to use the Church against the revolution.
Despite everything, the problem was handled very carefully by the revolutionary
government.  Not a single church was closed. No repressive measures were taken
against religious groups. Many churches which have always maintained a
relationship of respect toward the revolution in our country can attest to

15.  The problem was of a different nature. When the party was created, and
precisely as a result of contradictions that emerged with one of the churches,
very strict, strict [repeats himself] standards were established for joining
the party. The party did not include religious people among its members then.
That was a junctural measure.  Years have passed, and we understand that this
is a discriminatory principle. We have decided to overcome this difficulty and,
therefore, we are moving toward a policy of acceptance within the ranks of the
party so that those people who agree with the party program, with the
revolution, and are prepared to defend their fatherland, can practice some
religious belief.

16.  Concerning the pope's visit, no agreement has yet been reached on the
visit. Therefore, we cannot speak of a date for the pope's visit to Cuba.

17.  [Turner] We are going to take a break now and when we come back, we will
talk about Cuba's relations with the Soviet Union. Stay tuned. [commercials]

18.  We are back with President Castro.

19.  President Castro, how do you feel about the changes in the Soviet Union?
Have they affected Cuban relations with the Soviets?

20.  [Castro] Well, all these issues are always highly sensitive.  I would like
to speak calmly about these matters. We have no right to question any changes
in the Soviet Union. They felt that certain mistakes had been made throughout
history, throughout the 70 years of revolution in their country, and they
decided to take several measures to correct those problems. I believe that no
one can oppose this at all.

21.  We ourselves, in our case, at a given moment, also became aware of certain
errors and we began a process of rectification. This began in 1986, before
there was talk of changes in the Soviet Union.

22.  Therefore, we must respect as a sovereign right of all countries and all
parties the adoption of measures they feel are appropriate to improving their
political processes and socialism. So, as a matter of principle, we must
respect the fact that the Soviet Union has a sovereign right to adopt all those

23.  On the other hand, throughout these years, we have maintained good
personal relations with the Soviet leadership, with Comrade Gorbachev,
relations of affection and respect.

24.  We respect the sovereignty of the Soviet Union just as they respect our
sovereignty. They are having difficulties. They are perhaps facing greater
difficulties than they imagined they would. I have no doubt whatsoever that
Comrade Gorbachev is moved by the desire to improve socialism. These historic
tasks are very complex and complicated. Naturally, there has been no easy road
for the Soviets. They have had many problems, which everyone knows about. They
are economic, political, and national problems. There have been national
conflicts.  Naturally, all things affecting the Soviet economy, despite the
willingness of Soviet leaders, might affect our economic relations, not our
political relations. If the Soviet Union even wants to adopt the U.S.
Constitution, we would respect that.

25.  [Turner] How do you feel about recent events in Eastern Europe. Were you
happy to see the Berlin Wall come down?

26.  [Castro] This question has several sides. Many changes have taken place in
Eastern European socialist countries.  These changes began as reform projects
to improve the socialist system. This happened in a few countries, not in all
of them because the situation is not exactly the same in each country. In
Poland, for instance, there have been expressions of discontent for many years.
Poland has had difficulties for at least eight years. They have had strikes,
and unrest that led to certain changes.

27.  In other countries, like the GDR, the CSFR, Hungary, and Romania, sudden
changes occurred around the end of last year. But the situation is different in
each of them.  However, we do notice a strong tendency to implement changes in
a direction contrary to socialism. What was initially proposed as a reform to
socialism has become a movement toward the construction of socialism [as
heard]. That is, they are moving away from the construction of socialism and
are moving toward building capitalism, using capitalist methods and mechanisms.
In that respect, as a socialist and a man who is profoundly convinced of the
significance of socialism and what it has meant to our country, I cannot agree
with the trends socialist countries have taken toward capitalism.

28.  This is what I say, however: We must respect the right of each country to
build the economic, social, and political regime it deems most appropriate.
Cuban socialism was not imported. It was not brought by anyone. Our socialism
did not come to Cuba with any foreign troops.  We built our socialism. It was
built and supported by our people. It has been developed by our people and it
is, therefore, our very own revolution.

29.  You asked about the Berlin Wall. I recall that the Berlin Wall was built
as a result of the cold war, during times of great international tensions. At
that time, Soviet and American tanks were facing each other. We can say that
the wall served to separate Soviet troops from U.S.  troops. I believe that
following East-West detente and after the GDR's economic, social, and political
system changed, the Berlin Wall became meaningless. Its disappearance was only
logical and natural. There is no reason for it to exist under the present

30.  But the wall in Berlin is not the only one around. There are several other
walls, for instance, the wall the United States is building along the Mexican
border. The United States is building a sophisticated, electronic wall that is
3,000 km long to prevent the immigration of Mexicans.  Here we see that the
United States also has some experience with walls, such as the case of the wall
that is being built against Mexico. I ask myself, and I would ask the United
States: When will that wall disappear? This wall is much more difficult to tear
down than the Berlin Wall.

31.  This question of walls is not just a characteristic of a given situation
but of other things. There is another wall in Korea that divides the two
countries. The DPRK has protested this wall. It has protested the presence of
U.S.  troops there and it has put forth the question of unifying the two

32.  There are many walls. The United States has also built a wall on
Guantanamo's border. I ask: When will that wall come down? When will they
return our territory in Guantanamo to us?

33.  Another wall has been built in the Caribbean, the one the United States
built between our two countries to prevent trade and relations. I would say
that I would be happy if all walls were to disappear. That is my opinion. That
is what I think. [commercials]

34.  [Turner] How do you feel about the recent events in Central America and,
in particular, the elections in Nicaragua?

35.  [Castro] I believe that elections in Nicaragua developed under very
difficult circumstances for the Sandinist Front.  They were in the midst of a
serious, large economic crisis, worsened by the U.S. blockade. Also, they were
in the midst of a dirty war, which cost tens of thousands of lives.  Those
elections were unfavorable for the revolutionaries.  The revolutionaries became
a minority but that does not mean that the Nicaraguan revolution disappeared.
Instead, it means that the revolutionaries now face the historic task of
recovering that majority.

36.  They accepted the rules of the game, the agreements they reached with the
opposition. They must abide by these rules of the game. I believe that what
they do is correct.  They respect the rules of the game, the results of the
elections--although they were held under very abnormal conditions--and they
struggle to once again be the majority in the country. I do not think that the
Sandinist revolution has disappeared but rather that it is beginning a
different stage in which, I hope, that thanks to their efforts, they are able
to one day recover the support of the majority of the Nicaraguan people.

37.  Naturally, the situation in the country is not clear. It is still complex,
very complex. We cannot say that peace has been achieved. Counterrevolutionary
organizations do not want to disarm themselves. They have not abided by the
disarmament agreements. They have kept the best weapons. There are thousands
and thousands of armed counterrevolutionaries. The government has granted them
an area of 20,000 square km where they will even have their own police force
and where they will undoubtedly keep their organizations and thousands of
weapons.  This creates a duality of powers. It means there are two armed
forces. One does not know the consequences this may bring. We cannot as yet say
that peace has been achieved in Nicaragua.

38.  [Turner] Thank you very much. We must take another break now, but when we
come back we will talk about the incidents that occurred in China last year.
Stay tuned.  [commercials]

39.  Mr. President, what is your opinion about the student protests in China
last year?

40.  [Castro] Well, as we all know, the Chinese carried out very radical
economic reforms. According to what they themselves say, there are certain
political and social aspects in those reforms that were not sufficiently
supervised. So, for instance, this led to inflation problems, price increases,
discontent among some sectors in the population. They also said that,
politically, they were not paying adequate attention to the work done with the
people, with the masses. As a result, this led to various kinds of discontent,
which explains the events that occurred in Beijing.

41.  It is not the first time that students take to the streets. On certain
occasions, they have gone to support the government. I recall the Cultural
Revolution period when millions of students took to the streets with Mao
Zedong's ``Red Book'' to propose measures. In this case, I do not have a
precise idea of the magnitude of this movement but, unquestionably, there were
student demonstrations against the government. According to Chinese officials,
they were used by unhappy individuals to try to divert China's socialist path
and change socialism in China.

42.  I noticed that Chinese authorities made every possible effort to avoid
using force. Those events went on for weeks. Even the first soldiers sent to
Beijing were unarmed. The world media reported those events. Until at the end,
fearing generalized anarchy in that gigantic nation, they decided to use force
to reestablish order in Beijing.

43.  Repression against students has taken place everywhere.  In Europe,
repression against students and workers is very frequent. They use dogs, tear
gas, water cannons, etc. We can say that the Chinese are not experienced in
this type of struggle. When they faced the problem for the first time in over
40 years--this was the first time that there was a movement against the
government-- they unquestionably lacked the mechanisms and resources available
to the entire West to reestablish order whenever there are disturbances of this

44.  For example, since we are talking to the Americans, I would like to ask
them something. If the same thing that happened in Beijing occurred in a U.S.
city, if what happened in Beijing happened in Washington and the situation
became uncontrollable, how long would the United States have waited and what
means would it have used to reestablish order? I believe they would have
resorted to the National Guard. Whenever there have been problems in some U.S.
cities, they have called out the National Guard. They have called out the Army.
I am sure that the United States would not have allowed a chaotic situation to
occur like the one that lasted for over a month in China. The Chinese, in
general, are known for their wisdom, and not for violence.

45.  [Turner] Moving on to another subject, do you think that capitalism and
communism can peacefully coexist? I even understand that you have some [words
indistinct] in Cuba with some capitalist countries and companies. Is this true?

46.  [Castro] Well, since the first socialist state was founded--which was the
Soviet Union--Lenin referred to the principle of peaceful coexistence. That was
put forth in the revolutionary doctrine since the beginning.  The principle of
peaceful coexistence, which has always been defended by the revolutionary
movement, is not new. There should be something more than coexistence.  There
should be peaceful cooperation. Naturally, these ideas are now making headway
in the world.

47.  The idea of this cooperation is nothing new for us either.  Over 10 years
ago, we passed a decree-law referring to the possibility of cooperation through
joint ventures.  That does not mean a change of ideas. It does not mean that we
are renouncing socialism. It does not mean that we will program development,
plan our economy. [sentence as heard] I believe that being able to program our
development is a great privilege. Everything that man plans is always better
that when things happen spontaneously. I am convinced CNN prepares plans for a
year, for five years, and maybe they have 10-year plans.

48.  Any great businessman, any industrial man knows that planning and
programming is necessary. We believe that the development of a country must be
planned. We have not renounced any of the possibilities of socialism. We have
found formulas for cooperation in the field of tourism and even in other
fields. We have a tremendous potential for tourism in our country. We can build
250,000 rooms for tourism. We have hundreds of kilometers of virgin beaches,
extraordinary natural places, which, as a whole, are better than the areas in
the rest of the Caribbean.

49.  For a long time, we had our doubts about whether we should promote tourism
or not. We had our doubts as to whether tourism would benefit us or not. In the
end, we reached the conclusion that tourism is one of the country's natural
resources and now we are developing it.  This is done, not only with our own
capital, because part of the potential is being developed with our own
resources, but also with foreign capital. I would say that 20 percent of the
rooms that are now being built are the result of joint ventures. This is a new
experience for us.  The first hotels are already in operation. We visited one
of them. I believe great prospects are opening up because we are not levying
taxes. They do not have to pay rent for 10 years. They do not pay any taxes on
the equipment they import because it is considered part of their capital.  They
do not have to pay any import taxes on materials for hotel operations. There
are many advantages.  According to investors' estimates, their investment can
be recovered in two or three and a half years. I think very few countries have
these conditions.

50.  [Turner] OK, we will take another break, and when we return, we will
discuss the Third World debt. Thank you.  [commercials]

51.  Mr. President, what do you think needs to be done about the huge Third
World debt?

52.  [Castro] A long time ago, I forecast that the debt was unpayable and
uncollectable. Facts are proving me right.  The debts of many Third World
countries and of Latin America are only worth 20 cents to the dollar, maybe 15,
14, or 12 cents to the dollar. Whether the debt is reduced by one cent or by
zero, in practice the debt is unpayable and uncollectable.

53.  The debt should disappear once and for all. I think this will help world
trade tremendously, because what most developed countries have is a surplus of
products. They have an underutilized industrial capacity while the rest of the
world have enormous needs and little purchasing power.

54.  The overwhelming reality is that the gap grows between developed and
underdeveloped countries. Some call them developing countries, but actually we
can call them underdeveloped countries because they are increasingly distant
from developed countries. They have increasing problems of education, health,
employment, housing, and food. I think this is one of the most serious problems
for our future world for which there are no answers. I do not think that
developing countries have any answers yet for these problems.

55.  [Turner] President Castro, from your standpoint, what do you see as the
major obstacle to normalizing relations with the United States?

56.  [Castro] These obstacles do not depend on Cuba. They depend on the United
States. First of all, I believe there is a lot of disinformation in the United
States about Cuba, total disinformation. It is the result of 30 years of
negative campaigns and publicity on Cuba. As a result of this, tens of millions
of people in the United States simply do not know what is happening in Cuba. On
the other hand, the U.S. Government has banned the visit of U.S. citizens to
Cuba. There is no way to make new contacts between the peoples of the United
States and Cuba. There is a lot of prejudice regarding Cuba and that makes it
very difficult for the emergence of forces capable of defending a more
realistic policy concerning relations between Cuba and the United States.

57.  The United States also uses a variety of slogans. The United States said
when we were helping the Angolans in their struggle against South Africa that
relations could not improve as long as there were Cuban troops in Angola.

58.  Naturally, we could not negotiate our relations with the United States on
the basis of Angola, at the cost of Angola or Ethiopia. But these situations
evolved. The situation in southern Africa changed and Cuba was able to withdraw
its troops. The situation in the African horn improved and Cuba was able to
withdraw its troops. The situation in Latin America has changed and Cuba has
improved its relations with most Latin American nations.

59.  Sometimes they would say that when Cuba stopped exporting revolutions--a
very abstract and generic idea that was very capriciously used--relations would
improve.  The true fact, however, was that they were waging war on us and we
were forced to defend ourselves. This war was waged by the United States and
other countries which joined forces with the United States to blockade Cuba. 
These circumstances have changed and, as a result, Cuban policies changed with
respect to Latin America, as a rule, as a rule [repeats himself].

60.  Now, the United States is always inventing a new condition. Now, for
example, it has established conditions of a domestic nature for the improvement
of relations. I must definitely and categorically say that our country will
never accept anything affecting our domestic policies as a condition for
improving our relations with the United States. It is as if we were to tell the
United States that to improve relations with Cuba, they have to change
something in their economic or political system, or that they must change some
domestic policies.

61.  We could elaborate a long list of things that we could demand that the
United States change in its domestic policy. We could demand the disappearance
of drug consumption. We could demand that the abandonment of children be
eliminated, that it eliminate the problem of the homeless elderly in New York
and in other places.  We could demand the elimination of unemployment.  Who
knows how many things we could demand. We could demand that poverty, racial
discrimination-- discrimination against blacks, hispanics, etc.--and tens of
thousands of other things be eliminated. Anyone can understand that it is
absurd for us to require changes in U.S. domestic policies to improve our
relations. That is why I say that the ideas and mentality of the U.S. 
Administration will have to change. Its opinions will have to change.
Possibilities will have to emerge for the people of the United States to have a
better image. It is not a question of image, but, in reality, of providing
better information on Cuba.

62.  I believe that the mass media could help improve that image. I think that
these conversations, images, and ideas, the information you are providing is a
positive thing. It is not negative. It will help improve the level of
information. However, I believe that a lot of time will pass before the
circumstances that hinder our relations are overcome. I am not very optimistic
about this.

63.  [Turner] Now, we will take another break, and we will be back in a few
moments. Stay tuned. [commercials]

64.  Mr. President, how do you view U.S. Government attempts to block the
televising of the Pan-American Games from Cuba to the United States?

65.  [Castro] There is a steady attempt to prevent the televising of the
Pan-American Games to the United States.  This has an objective. The purpose of
it is to deprive the country of resources from the Pan-American Games.  The
U.S. Government is possibly ignoring the fact that television broadcasting
rights are very small compared to the expenditures for organizing the games.

66.  The United States might also boycott the games. It would have no legal or
moral grounds for it. It will be totally unethical because Cuba made an
agreement with U.S. sports authorities during the Indianapolis games.  We
participated in and helped make those games more brilliant. I say this because
there have been rumors to this effect, but I do not think it will happen. I do
not think the United States will make the political and ethical mistake of
boycotting the Pan-American Games.

67.  [Turner] This is something that a lot of people have been asking, because
you are certainly one of the strongest personalities running a country today.
What plans have you been making for your succession? What will happen to Cuba
after Fidel Castro is gone?

68.  [Castro] There is a large trend, especially in the West, to associate
historic events with political personalities.  That is why you frequently hear
such expressions as: Castro's Cuba, what Castro said, what Castro did, all
these things. They cannot understand that a single man can do nothing, that
historic events are primarily the task of the people, of millions of people, of
tens of thousands of leaders, of hundreds of leaders, thousands of cadres. They
are the ones who make events possible.  How can a single man alone defend his
fatherland? He can defend it when millions of men are ready to do so.  How can
a single man make a revolution? We had men as extraordinary as Marti who died
in the war. In the long run, however, his death did not prevent Cuba's
independence. It also did not prevent a revolution as radical as socialism from
being carried out in our country, such as the one that is occurring in our

69.  Cuba has lost many highly capable men throughout our history, but that did
not hinder the ultimate development of our people. That is why, despite the
tendency to assign merits to men, my departure will absolutely not influence
the future of our fatherland and I am convinced of this.

70.  [Turner] How would you hope the world will remember you?

71.  [Castro] I do not know how the world will remember me.  I simply hope that
the world, and especially our people, will remember me for what I really am.

72.  [Turner] Thank you very much, Mr. Castro.

73.  [Castro] Thank you very much, Ted, for your patience.