Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Views Agricultural, Military Issues
Havana Tele Rebelde Network
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000004415
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL2103002091
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-055          Report Date:    21 Mar 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     5
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       8
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       20 Mar 91
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 055


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Views Agricultural, Military Issues

Author(s):   unidentified reporter; place and date not given--recorded]

Source Line:   FL2103002091 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 1134 GMT 20
Mar 91

Subslug:   [Interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by unidentified reporter;
place and date not given--recorded]

1.  [Interview with President Fidel Castro Ruz by unidentified reporter; place
and date not given--recorded]

2.  [Text] [Reporter] What does the top leader of this revolution think on a
day such as today, when Cuba is being accused, when it is being said that we
are alone, that there are no possibilities for Cuba to survive; we,
nevertheless see a camp such as this one, youths such as these?

3.  [Castro] Well, I think that [words indistinct] depends on us, of what we
are capable of doing. We have proven the enemy wrong more than once throughout
history. As far as the loneliness is concerned, we are never going to have more
company than the one we have now because never before had a such a small
country such as Cuba had such a big responsibility. This explains why so many
hopes are focused on Cuba today. This has won the sympathy of the peoples who
are living under the terror of having to endure the U.S. hegemony and
despotism. Today more than ever, it can be said that any country must be ready
to resist, and the Cuban people will not disappoint those who have placed their
trust on us.

4.  [Reporter] Earlier today, we were discussing that results can already be
observed in, for example, the food program. That is, the people say that they
are able to get potatoes, for example, in the food markets....

5.  [Castro, interrupting] Produce in Havana City in February doubled that of
February 1990, and produce in March will also double that of last year. The
amount of produce in April will also be large. What we are doing now is
distributing and storing produce. For example, we must store about 50,000 to
60,000 quintals of potatoes per day for about 20 days so that we may have
sufficient supplies for the months of June, July, August, September and
October. We, therefore, have a good reserve.

6.  [Reporter, interrupting] In the cold-storage houses, too....

7.  [Castro, interrupting] In addition to what is being done.  The banana
plantations are growing and they are beginning to yield fruits. Tubers have yet
to come in from other provinces. I believe that by the second half of next
year, production will increase considerably, particularly the plantain
production which has been turned into a main crop in view of its high yield

8.  Now, in the spring program a total of 300 caballerias of boniato, 300 of
yucca, and 225 of squash must be sowed.  There are great plans ... [changes
thought] The plantains are growing, that is, there will be more plantains
during the second half than in the first half of the year.

9.  By the second half of next year, Havana will be virtually self-sufficient,
that is, under normal weather conditions, if there are no hurricanes. Nature
must always be taken into account. Nature has not been too benevolent with us
this year. The heat in January hit tomato plants very hard. It also hit potato
plants very hard. But everything was sowed in time, particularly potatoes. We
are studying how to reduce the tomato sowing period because in order to
increase harvest, we also sowed during January and February. But all experts
and scientists are convinced that with the varieties we have available, we must
sow up to December at the most. The weather is such an unpredictible element.
Although the weather in January is supposed to be cool, this year January was a
hot month. This affected tomato plants, but we could rely on the reserve fields
sowed in Pinar del Rio. The Pinar del Rio tomato reserve helped us because they
were harvested before schedule. They have done quite well. But here, we
specifically sowed tomatoes used for salads and over there, tomato for
industrial production. We have a very good variety of tomato for industrial
production because both the Rome variety and the 78/80 variety are very good.
They taste very good and are good for manufacturing tomato paste....

10.  [Reporter, interrupting] They are good for salads, too....

11.  [Castro, interrupting] I like to eat them in salads. I think these
tomatoes are of a very good quality.

12.  Next year we are planning to sow 50 caballerias of (manaluz) tomatoes on
stakes, as well as other varieties in order to increase the yield. We also have
to see how to protect the plants. Our main enemies are the plagues, very strong
plagues, along with a humid and hot climate.  The plagues increase when we have
a hot and humid month. Therefore, we have to wage a strong battle against

13.  I tell you that in Pinar del Rio, tomato plants are fumigated every three
days. We have to fumigate the plants almost every three days under hot weather
conditions. The month of February was a little bit better. In March, we even
had some cold weather. We are not supposed to have any more cold weather from
now on.  There is not much prospect for the tomato plants sowed in February. It
is useless to sow tomatoes in February.

14.  We are trying to find new, more resistant varieties. But this is no easy
task. Hundreds and hudrends of varieties from all over the world have been
brought to Cuba. We are trying to find tomatoes that are resistant to heat and
plagues; but we are also striving to achieve high-quality tomatoes and a high
yield per hectare. A lot has been done on this and we have worked a great deal
on this sector in Cuba. There is an institute called (?Liliana Dimitrova) that
has been working on this for about 12 years [words indistinct] and this tomato
is good and solid [passage indistinct]. This tomato is of excellent quality. 
It has a strong skin. It does not rot easily when ripe. You can see that it is
not attacked by insects easily. This variety was produced here. There is
another variety, the 38/78 variety, which is also being tested here. Many
varieties have been produced.

15.  We must also take into account that weather conditions have changed. These
weather phenomena were not present in the sixties or the seventies but there
were already observed in the eighties. Six out of the seven hottest years in
the last 150 years were recorded in the eighties. The hottest year was recorded
in 1990. We will see how 1991 rates when compared with the statistics but we
are already experiencing weather changes....

16.  [Reporter, interrupting] [Words indistinct] very hot.

17.  [Castro interrupting] Experiencing the changes which may result from the
greenhouse effect that scientists are discussing so much. This compels us to
find new varieties by applying new biotechnological techniques, and find more
resistant seeds through mutations.

18.  As you can see, the opposite is true with plantains.  Plantains are better
off with more rain and hot weather.  But potatoes, tomatoes and many other
vegetables cannot endure this kind of weather. Therefore, we had to struggle a
lot. This year we had a sufficient supply of cabbage because there was a
biological control against plagues. This is why we had a sufficient supply of
lettuce.  Now, sufficient quantities of carrots are entering the markets. You
cannot count these crops in the summer.  During the summer you can only rely on
eggplant, beans--there is a veriety that grows well in the summer--okra,
cucumbers, herbs are also being sowed, they are already being sold in 50 food
markets [words indistinct] caballerias, more will be sowed next year. We are
going to take advantage [words indistinct] this year, because up to now no one
really knows how much this capital consumes because all supplies are sold.

19.  [Reporter] This also helps to promote the consumption of vegetables which
are very healthy for us.

20.  [Castro] These camps will become nutrition schools because each one of
them will have their herb gardens.  Many herbs.... [changes thought] Onions are
also affected by heat. I forgot to tell you that [passage indistinct]
particularly onions, potato. There is a fungi they call (alternaria) and when
there is a cloudy day and there is a lot of fog in the morning, it grows
extremely quickly. Sometimes this coincides with the southern winds. The
southern winds blow very hard sometimes for three or four days. It happened
this month. There were wind gusts of 110 km. So, what happens? This does not
allow fumigation or irrigation because it blows the water away and you can
hardly fumigate. So, if you get (alternaria) with southern winds for four or
five days, you find yourself in a dead-end street.So, we are looking very
closely at all these things this year. This year has not been good weatherwise.
Nevertheless, we have and will have tubers and vegetables despite everything.
The quotas were fulfilled....

21.  [Reporter, interrupting] [Words indistinct].

22.  [Castro] The most interesting thing is that this has happened with the
participation of the people. The people also have a greater awareness of the
efforts being made in the countryside; that the work is difficult. The people
have worked harder than ever. These shifts of 8, 9, 10, and 11 hours were never
worked before. They have had great yields. This group exceeded the quota by 67
percent. It has worked a lot. The people have taken it very seriously. This is
why I say everything will depend on us.

23.  [Reporter] A last question, Commander. It was published in GRANMA today
that the possibility of the period of time for the military service be reduced
to two years is being studied. Nevertheless, we continue to insist and we are
aware that one of our current missions is to continue to defend ourselves and
prepare for defense. How are these two ideas, these two goals compatible?

24.  [Castro] I believe it was explained well in the note. The note explains a
number of factors. Similar measures had been taken a long time ago. Time was
reduced to many comrades.

25.  [Reporter] With Order 19.

26.  [Castro] Aside from the Order 19 for outstanding [servicemen]. This was
also applied on those who had not been able to enter the university. They
fulfilled their service and had meritorious service. It was a massive measure.
It was reduced by one year. The person was given the opportunity to study for a
year.... [changes thought] It was six or seven months at first but we did not
believe it was enough time and a year of studies was established so that they
would not be at a disadvantage to being admitted. There were thousands and
thousands, there should be some tens of thousands--I cannot tell you the exact
figure--but many thousands of students who entered the military service to whom
a year was reduced. They would not have had the right to enter the university,
according to the formula used considering their grades.

27.  Of course, they also have to take a test but they found their second
chance to enter the university. Many thousands of students who are very good
students who are....  [changes thought] We plan to maintain this. Of course, it
would not be reduced by a year but we plan to maintain the incentive for
students to fulfill their military service with merits and have a second chance
to study. All these things had been done. In addition, there are other
realities, there are other realities [repeats]. The number of.... [changes
thought] The academic and technical level our students have today.... [changes
thought] When we began, [words indistinct] many of the ones who came were
illiterate. Some had completed first or second grade. Now they arrive after
they have completed their 12th grade or are mid-level technicians. The level of
training is very high.

28.  There has been a very big change of concepts. The idea was present at the
beginning but there were neither resources nor weapons. This was the concept of
the war of all the peoples. It involves the entire nation and makes the entire
nation an army. The war of all the people concept applied at the level and in
the magnitude it is applied now is not the same as in the years the military
service was established. Now there are millions of people. Everyone is a
soldier, men and women. We are much stronger.

29.  In addition, people are coming from Angola. We have some.... [changes
thought] Over 50,000 men are returning. A certain number will come in the next
few weeks. Defense has strengthened tremendously with all this. If, in addition
to this, you also analyze the need for savings, which the Armed Forces are
doing--of fuel and of everything--this is even more justified during the
special period. There are reductions of, say, periods of time, reductions in
the spending on transportation, foodstuffs, and clothing. Of course, all the
measures taken by the Armed Forces are not included there. We have millions of
weapons. We did not have them when....  [changes thought] We have large amounts
of weapons.  We have to keep them ready and we need to have the personnel
prepared, well prepared, well trained. This is why this can be done now.

30.  There is no contradiction. It is good. We are doing many other things that
[words indistinct] we are working on the strengthening of the theater of
operations. We are doing a lot. You have to look at all this. I do not want to
talk too much so that we do not explain everything we are thinking, but we are
doing other things that strengthen defense a lot, more than ever. Our defense,
by simply having 20,000 more men.... [changes thought] We have an enormous
number of people in reserve who have accumulated in all these years. So, what
needs to be done is to look at the entire set of factors that determine
defense, such as the psychological and morale factor. I believe that one of the
missions of the Armed Forces at this time is to help the economy. They are
helping with the Youth Labor Army [EJT].

31.  Right now in Pinar del Rio, I came across some 2,000 soldiers of the
Western Army who went there for three months. They are helping a lot in the
picking of tomatoes that are arriving in Havana. You can see it everywhere in
movements such as this one the people are conducting here. The EJT is making a
very big effort--as I was telling you--very big. One of the tasks of the Armed
Forces is to help the economy of the country during the special period. It is a
very important one. It has a lot to do with the wishes of the Armed Forces to
help the economy and reduce costs.

32.  How can costs be reduced and be stronger? That is a science. You can spend
a lot more and be weaker. The secret of our defense today is to be much
stronger and spend less.

33.  This is very good for the kids. It can be done. We are not in 1959 or
1960. How many reserves did we have in 1960, in 1961? When was the draft
started? Was it in 1962? [Someone responds: 1962.] How much of a reserve did we
have then? We had a lot of people from the streets, militia men, and all that
but we did not have the organization and the amount of experience and reserves
we have today.

34.  Defense is not a matter of number and type of weapons alone, it is a
matter of intelligence. This is the most important thing of all, the human
factor, intelligence with which the defense is conceived, by knowing the enemy.
We are not a bit surprised by the things imperialists are doing around there
because we have known them by heart for a long time and we have been preparing
ourselves for a long time precisely to face those things. We know by heart all
those things about the cruise missiles and all that. None of that surprises us.
We have prepared all our plans for a fight against that kind of enemy. Do you
see? So it is not a matter....

35.  [Reporter, interrupting] So, we are ready.

36.  [Castro] I believe Marti said: More important than the number of weapons
on hand is the number of stars on one's forehead. This is how the expression
goes more or less. It is very clear, very clear, very clear [repeats].  Another
time he said: A just thought from the bottom of a cave [rephrases] a just idea
from the bottom of a cave is stronger than an army. This is what we are:
Trenches of ideas are better than trenches of stone. We are a just idea. We are
trenches of ideas. Our people and combatants are composed of millions of men
and women who have many stars on their foreheads.

37.  [Reporter] Thank you very much, Commander, for this interview.