Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

-DATE-
19910608
-YEAR-
1991
-DOCUMENT_TYPE-
-AUTHOR-
-HEADLINE-
SIEMPRE Interviews Castro on Revolution, Future
-PLACE-
ANNEX / Cuba
-SOURCE-
Havana PRENSA LATINA
-REPORT_NBR-
FBIS-LAT-91-113-A
-REPORT_DATE-
19910612
-HEADER-
BRS Assigned Document Number:    000008655
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA1006171891
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-113-A        Report Date:    12 Jun 91
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     13
Report Division:     ANNEX                    End Page:       20
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       08 Jun 91
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 113-A

Dissemination:  FOUO

City/Source of Document:   Havana PRENSA LATINA

Report Name:   ANNEX

Headline:   SIEMPRE Interviews Castro on Revolution, Future

Subheadline:   Discusses Socialism, Constitution

Author(s):   Beatriz Pages Rebollar, director of Mexican weekly SIEMPRE,
published in 30 May issue of SIEMPRE and carried as a PRENSA
LATINA ``exclusive; '' date and place not given]

Source Line:   PA1006171891 Havana PRENSA LATINA in Spanish 0629 GMT 8 Jun
91-FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Subslug:   [Part III of ``Fidel Castro, Present and Future of Cuba'' a report
on an interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by Beatriz Pages
Rebollar, director of Mexican weekly SIEMPRE, published in 30 May
issue of SIEMPRE and carried as a PRENSA LATINA ``exclusive;'' date
and place not given]

-TEXT-
FULL TEXT OF ARTICLE:
1.  [Part III of ``Fidel Castro, Present and Future of Cuba'' a report on an
interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by Beatriz Pages Rebollar, director
of Mexican weekly SIEMPRE, published in 30 May issue of SIEMPRE and carried as
a PRENSA LATINA ``exclusive;'' date and place not given]

2.  [Excerpts] [No dateline as received]-[Pages] You claim not to have absolute
power, but let me ask the following: Is there currently anyone who has
sufficient historic merits to replace Castro or should we believe that Castro
is irreplaceable in ensuring the preservation of the revolution?

3.  [Castro] No, I cannot and do not believe that Castro is irreplaceable,
because it would be disgraceful for me to think that. I would feel genuinely
distressed for believing such a thing. I am not the only historic leader. There
are several historic leaders within the party hierarchy who have prestige and
influence, including a brother of mine who had his beginnings along with me
with the attack on the Moncada Barracks. He has knowledge, experience, very
noteworthy historic merits, and working and organization capabilities. He is
the party's second secretary.  However, it is not up to me to decide this.

4.  There are sufficiently capable personalities in our country. Now, one thing
is to have all those characteristics: historic merits, experience accumulated
over a long period of time, respect, authority, and prestige. However, one
undoubtedly cannot ask each individual for his historic merits obtained in
specific political processes.

5.  You cannot ask all Mexicans to have the historic merits of a Juarez. That
cannot be expected because the role he played took place under exceptional
circumstances in the country's life. This does not mean that there were not
many other capable individuals, but there is no doubt that he had great
authority.

6.  Let us talk about other figures in history. In Cuba, Marti commanded a
great deal of authority. He had the great ability to unite all independence
fighters with his talent and brilliant mind and has been respected and
recognized by everyone. If the war of independence had ended and Marti had not
died, no other person would have had his experience and authority. The same
applies to Maceo and many other Cuban historical figures.

7.  [Pages] I understand that an article in the Cuban Constitution talks about
Cuba's committed solidarity with socialist countries. Will this article be
amended since countries of the East no longer define themselves as communists
and have forgotten Cuba because they are now busy taking care of domestic
problems?

8.  [Castro] I believe that more than a rule, it is a declaration of
principles. Do you understand? It is not an article but a declaration of
principles that deals with internationalism, fraternal ties, and the aid and
cooperation of the USSR and other Latin American and socialist countries.

9.  Frankly, I really believe that it was a mistake to include that declaration
of principles in our constitution. It is not that it is immoral or unjust
because it reads: ``Based on a proletariat internationalism, fraternal ties,
the aid and cooperation of the USSR and other Socialist countries and the
solidarity of workers and peoples of Latin America and the world.'' I believe
that this declaration, when it was made, was in keeping with reality, but I do
not believe that it was necessary to include it in the Constitution of the
Republic, because this is not a constitutional principle, it is more like a
political principle. It would be more logical, for example, for it to be in the
party's statutes or principles and not in the state's, although its contents
are not unacceptable.

10.  You know how constitutions and documents are made.  Many people
participate in discussing the provisions.  Perhaps one pays more attention to
the content of each one of the precepts than one does to the simple declaration
of principles, without realizing that this can be used as material for
propaganda against the Constitution or as prime material for the slanderous
statement voiced repeatedly that we were but a mere satellite of the Soviet
Union. All of these things had to happen so that they would be convinced that
in Cuba there was truly an autonomous revolutionary process under way and that
this country never was, is, nor shall be a satellite of any sort.

11.  It is not an urgent matter. There are many other things that are more
urgent and essential at this moment.  Perhaps at a given moment-we have sought
to prevent modifications to the constitution as much as possible, although
there is no constitution in the world that can remain unchanged-whenever the
moment comes to make some sort of modification, one of the things that will
have to be changed is the declaration of principles.  This would not negate the
essence of our thinking in support of the progressive, democratic forces, and
socialist forces. Perhaps at a given time some of these paragraphs can and
should be redefined.

12.  [Pages] What political reforms are expected to be announced at the
upcoming congress of the Communist Party of Cuba to be held in a few more
months? Will there be changes in the party leadership, new people, new methods
of election?

13.  [Castro] There will not be any spectacular change; we must be clear on
that. A spectacular change would be, for instance, to proclaim a market
economy. There is not even a remote possibility that our congress will approve
that. There is not a remote possibility that our congress will approve a return
to capitalism.

14.  A spectacular change-such as changing the party name, seeking another name
to disguise it, and renouncing our position of communists and
Marxist-Leninists-will never happen. Changes such as abandoning the principle
of a single party will never happen. The single party system stems from an
historic tradition, not of Lenin, but of Jose Marti, founder of the
revolutionary party to achieve the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico. It
emphasizes closer unity among all revolutionaries to achieve great historic
objectives, including the independence of Cuba. Changes, such as proclaiming
the multiparty system in our country, will not take place. Thus, if spectacular
changes of that kind are expected, in my opinion, such changes will not occur.

15.  [Pages] What changes can occur?

16.  [Castro ] Changes of political importance, like the right of religious
persons to belong to the party, may occur possibly. This will lend an even
broader, fuller scope to our party, applying a principle that only certain
circumstances managed to restrict. Such circumstances gave rise to the
conflicts that arose between the Catholic Church and the Cuban revolutionary
state in the early years. They prompted us to adopt measures regarding the idea
of religious persons joining the party. It is worth mentioning that in general
very good relations were maintained with the rest of the churches.

17.  Basically, the Catholic Church was the church of the rich and the rich
reacted by wanting to use their church.  Church leaders also reacted,
generally, in support of the latifundist, bourgoisie, and exploitative sectors
that existed in our country. This led us to establish certain restrictions to
joining the party mentioned above.

18.  [Pages] You pointed out that there is no need for spectacular changes.
Does this mean that the party has no major problems that need to be overcome?

19.  [Castro] Yes, the party may have problems. I believe, for example, that
the party must wage a permanent struggle to get increasingly closer to the
people. Our party has maintained such close ties to the masses and the people,
because its militants are the first ones to help out during trying times. They
are the first to accept sacrifices should we need to make mobilizations in the
agricultural field, the first to harvest crops, and the first to send out
internationalist missions. We will try to ensure that the party sets an
example, in all senses, of revolutionary spirit, authority, and ties with the
masses. We have struggled to keep it from meddling in administrative matters
and tried to ensure that it takes on a style that is characteristic of
revolutionary parties rather than one that employs bureaucratic methods. We
have a united, disciplined, conscientious, and revolutionary party. In other
words, our party does not have political problems.

20.  We have elected new leaders at each congress. We could say that we have
leaders from three generations today: the founders, that is, us; those who came
after us as the second generation; and the new ones who represent the youths
and were born and reared within the revolution.

21.  We will continue to advocate a systematic policy of promoting cadres from
all sectors and assigning tasks to all of them. For example, in our country we
have supported the labor movement, which is very strong, and we have supported
the women's movement to ensure their participation in the defense of their
interests and women's issues. Also, we have organized the peasants, neighbors,
and students. We have even organized the children and teenagers to ensure that
each one of these segments participates, in one way or another, in the tasks of
the revolution. We have also tried to promote cadres from the labor, peasant,
youth, women, and ethnic groups. We do not have national, but ethnic groups.

22.  Alongside the party, we have a youth organization, which has great
attributes and great tasks. In that sense, their actions are considered very
important; they influence all of society, and they influence the party.

23.  They have had truly close relations. There has not been any kind of
conflict between the party and the youth because the revolution has done
everything for the youth, the students, and the people, but principally for the
youths. If any sector has been privileged in our country, it is the youth
sector. Of course, we have also worked for the others, as we cannot forget
about our elders. But if you recall that our country was a country with a high
rate of illiteracy, infant mortality, unemployment, prostitution, poverty,
abandonment, dishonesty, sexual discrimination, and racial discrimination, you
will understand that the greatest efforts were channeled toward the youth,
providing each and every one of the children of this country with an
opportunity to study and, according to his merits, to reach the highest
academic levels and to participate responsibly in deciding the fate of our
country.

24.  There are tens of thousands of technicians and scientists who have
graduated under the revolution. It is logical that the needs of development of
the country and the need to overcome historic injustices caused us to make an
exceptional effort for the young sectors of our population who are also the
majority.

25.  [Pages] Some political analysts believe that if the Cuban Government
permits the creation of an opposition political party, it necessarily will be
sponsored by the United States. You, therefore, do not permit the appearance of
other political forces. Is that conjecture correct?

26.  [Castro] When the revolution triumphed, there were many revolutionary
organizations. Later, other counterrevolutionary organizations, which sought to
destroy the revolution and were at the service of the United States, emerged.

27.  Our 26 July Movement constituted the overwhelming majority of the
revolutionary movement. We were very open minded and always preached the
principle of unity.  Why? Because the United States preached division. One of
the strongest tools of the empires and dominators of other peoples has been the
principle: ``Divide and conquer.'' During the Roman era they called it, I
believe: ``Divide et impera.'' That was also the U.S. policy.

28.  Our policy vis-a-vis that policy was to unite. Hence, we worked
laboriously until we united all the revolutionary organizations into a single
organization. In this manner we achieved what Marti set out to achieve when he
organized the struggle for Cuba's independence. It was an enormous victory for
us to achieve that revolutionary unity, which has played a decisive role in
this resistance of over 30 years against the United States, which has always
attempted to divide the people, to divide the forces, to divide everything. For
us, having a party was a great victory achieved in the revolutionary process.
It was in keeping with our tradition and has been an essential tool in the
country's defense and in the survival of the revolution. Others have nuclear
weapons or military pacts; we did not even belong to the Warsaw Pact, because
we were not in it. Furthermore, we were not even in NATO.

29.  Unity is one of our essential weapons to survive as a revolutionary
process against a powerful and aggressive neighbor like the United States; we
will simply not give up that weapon, that formidable instrument-unity. If we
introduce multipartisanship under the country's current conditions, it will
simply mean that we will allow a division; that we will open our doors to the
country's division; and, of course, that we will open our doors to a division
that will benefit our main enemy, who threatens us and wants to destroy us.
That is why I say that, in my opinion, this principle will be in effect for a
long time.  How long? I cannot say.

30.  I cannot answer how long imperialism would last, either; but, as long as
imperialism is aggressive, hegemonic, and dominant, I will say-if someone were
to ask me-that we must stick to that principle, that political instrument,
meaning the unity of all the revolutionary forces in a single organization, as
long as imperialism exists.

31.  What you state in your question is actually true. That is not the issue,
the cause, but it is an element that must be taken into consideration. If we
are going to be divided and if we are going to let others divide us, we would
be making a very grave historical mistake; that type of mistake cannot and
should not be made. That is what I can tell you.

32.  [Pages] Many people ask if freedom would not demand the right to
multipartisanship, freedom to decide, and freedom to hold elections, above all.

33.  [Castro] What kind of freedom are you specifically referring to?

34.  [Pages] The freedom to choose and have several choices.

35.  [Castro] That is precisely what we have in the party. I even told you
about the idea to let believers join the party, because we must strive and
struggle so that the party represents all the people.

36.  It is true that the party is primarily an expression of the most humble
sectors of our population-the labor, peasant, and working sectors-which
represent the vast majority of the nation, but it must also represent all the
sectors of society; it must represent the people, including retired people and
the elderly.

37.  The party's unity does not contradict its role as an institution that
represents society; it must include all the possible alternatives. We strive to
make this happen; we strive so that each citizen's merits, rather than
privileges, are encouraged within the party. Our party should become the best
instrument to encourage the political development of the country's best
citizens, who should have the full and unconditional confidence of the party
and the people.

38.  We have two things here: the party and the state's organization. They are
two different things. Regarding the issue of several candidacies, it is
established in the Constitution, above all in our electoral code. The party
does not appoint the candidates to the post of district delegates. The
delegates elected by their district elect the other state representatives. They
elect the municipal representatives, they personally elect the province
representatives, and they personally elect the National Assembly
representatives.

39.  There are over 10,000 district representatives. Candidates for
representative are not nominated by the party; they are nominated in assemblies
by residents of the district. Ignorance of our way of doing things does not
give anyone the right to slander us, or to act on just any premise with regard
to the manner in which we have organized our state. Therefore, the right to
which you refer is implicit in our laws and our Constitution-the people make
the nominations.

40.  Now, neither demagoguery nor money are the determining factors, as is the
case in other parts of the world, where a person without money generally has no
chance whatsoever. Electoral campaigns are increasingly expensive around the
world, and the poor have very little chance of being elected to anything,
because they have no money to pay for radio, television, opportunity [as
received], travel, or airplanes. Here in Cuba, in general, rich people were
elected as congressmen-big landowners and once in a while some prominent
intellectual or brilliant physician with great prestige. Only the rich people
in our country were in the parliament. Today our parliament consists of
workers, peasants, students, laborers, and youths from any station and any
background.

41.  If you go to our National Assembly, which has about 500 deputies, you will
find no landowners, wealthy people, embezzlers, or millionaires. You will find
people, people of merit, because in our electoral process, as I explained to
you, the demagogue, the thief, the embezzler, or the petty politician has no
chance of becoming a member of the National Assembly. In what other country is
this true? I add these to the foregoing arguments, because we have a higher
concept, the concept that our system is more developed and more democratic. One
could continue to talk about this. The matter will most likely come up again
over the course of the interview, and I do not want to dwell on the subject.

42.  [Pages] One of the charges, the criticism most frequently leveled at
Castro, is that he remains in power without having been elected through a
popular electoral process in which there were other contending parties. Would
you be prepared to compete as a candidate at any given moment?

43.  [Castro] If our Constitution were to provide for that, or had provided for
that, and if the conditions were right for it-I mean if we were not living in
the real world in which we are living with the problems that our country is
facing-that would not bother me at all. This is not a dogma. The particular
organization of a country or its electoral system are the result of a number of
historical factors, as I explained to you. Nevertheless, I have always enjoyed
a contest. I have always liked to fight, and when I began my public life as a
student, as a student delegate, I can assure you that I won a large number of
votes. In fact, when the coup d'etat took place on 10 March, I was involved in
political activities and had been nominated to be a representative. It is not
that I had planned-and I say this frankly-to pursue a political career. I had
been convinced for a long time that the revolution could not be carried out by
such means, and that in our country, the revolution would have to be waged as
we actually waged it. However, one has to choose the moment and wait for
favorable conditions.

44.  At the time we could wage a political struggle and we waged a political
struggle while waiting for a political and social crisis to determine the need
to seize power through revolution.

45.  I always thought about seizing power via revolution, but I was aware of
political methods and I did not dislike them at all-I liked the struggle, and I
liked the competition. The revolutionary process established a certain form
here and I have to participate in elections anyway.  One must constantly
participate in elections: When they elect you as a delegate to the party
congress, you must participate in an election with many people, and you have to
participate in another election when you are appointed to public office, in
other words, when you are elected as a delegate to the party congress, or when
you are elected president of the State Council of the National Assembly. This
must not be confused with the post's authority. This is not a presidential
government. We have a state council.

46.  [Pages] How much power does Fidel Castro have within the Cuban Government?

47.  [Castro] Any president in Latin America has more authority than I do, and
the U.S. President has, incomparably, more authority than I do because the U.S. 
President may declare a war, even a nuclear war, without consulting the
Congress. I do not have the prerogative to do this because I have two bosses-I
have the party and I have the State Council.

48.  I cannot even appoint a minister; it must be approved both by the party
and the Council of State, and, above all, it must be approved by the Council of
Ministers, which has legal authority. I cannot appoint an ambassador-I cannot
appoint a comrade ambassador just like that. Presidents in other countries, and
in the United States, appoint ambassadors and ministers.

49.  I have power. Yes, I do have power, but power is a different thing. Power
is not a constitutional thing per se.  Power depends on the authority you have,
your prestige, and the respect you earn. It is different. Referring to this I
can say that I have more power than other political leaders because I have the
people's support and I have my comrades' trust, and because I have authority. I
have the prestige to carry out my functions. Therefore, they are not
constitutional prerogatives. A constitution may give you authority, but if you
do not have the people's support and if you do not have prestige, then no one
will heed you, which is usually what happens.

50.  [Pages] Is power a moral force?

51.  [Castro] Yes, it is a moral force. We are witnesses of that truth. Power
becomes true when it is not based on force, but on the people's support and
consensus. Cubans are an unruly people. They demand excellence and will obey
only those who possess merit. They demand a suitable background and abilities
from their leaders. This is why I say power is one thing and authority another.
I have less constitutional authority than any other Latin American president.
You can go to all the countries on the continent and ask their presidents
whether they have the authority to appoint ambassadors or ministers.  According
to the constitutions of these countries, those presidents have all the
authority they might possibly want. The U.S. President's power, however, is
absolute.  Not even the Roman emperors had the U.S. President's power to
unleash even a world war. Nero was accused of burning Rome. He is said to have
set fire to Rome, assuming that was true and not a fabrication of Suetonius or
some other Roman historian. But, while Nero could not set fire to the world,
the U.S. President might unleash a raging catastrophe on the world and wipe out
mankind. That is personality worship. That is constitutional, not moral, power.
That is authority no other political leader possesses. Any president has more
authority than I. This is how our system truly works. I am not inventing
anything. [passage omitted- duplicated passage]

52.  I believe the solution to the problem of who will replace me is not one of
men, but of institutions. In truth, we can be replaced only by the party, the
party directorate, the state's leadership, and the National Assembly. In other
words, institutional leadership is the fundamental factor.  Individuals,
regardless of their merit, can be replaced by institutions. It is impossible to
rewrite history to create other leaders with exactly the same historic merits
of those who lived at a particular time or were similarly experienced.

53.  Individual merit must be substituted for collective merit.  Individual
experience must be substituted for collective experience. Individual authority,
the moral authority that you mentioned, can be replaced only by moral
collective authority. This is the secret of substitution under such
circumstances.

54.  There is an old thought that I expressed a long time ago: ``Men die, but
the party is immortal.'' It means that men die, but institutions are immortal.
Men may die, but institutions do not necessarily have to die. Now, you are not
going to hold another person responsible for my task.  Without the experience
that we have accumulated over so many years, without the same authority and the
same influence, he would need the help of all the others to carry out the task.
If he has the help of the others, he will do what anyone could do individually,
but much better.

55.  [Pages] However, that other person will not have the legend, Commander.

56.  [Castro] States cannot live on legends. Not even parties can live on
legends, which occurs only in certain circumstances. You also have a country
with many legends. You had, on a relatively recent date, Lazaro Cardenas, who
was a legend. When I was in Mexico, I remember that he had tremendous authority
and prestige because of his background, his participation in the Mexican
revolution, and his history of being the one who nationalized the oil industry.
The fact that he was the president who promoted agrarian reform, social
justice, and the stabilization of the country earned him great prestige. When I
arrived in Mexico, I found a man who had enormous authority and prestige. He
played his role as was appropriate for his time.

57.  Previously, others had had great prestige. Obregon, for example, had great
prestige and great authority, and before Obregon, Madero achieved that
authority. When Bolivar was alive, he had enormous, fabulous authority, the
authority earned by a man of his merit, talent, and genius. De Gaulle had great
authority in France. When there was a moment of very serious crisis as a result
of the war in Algiers, De Gaulle was called: ``Please come and help us out of
this situation.'' Who could do it? He could, because he had great prestige. In
all countries, either as a result of the struggles for independence, or as a
result of the wars in which they have been engaged, as a result of particular
historical circumstances, certain people have always emerged, and later have
been replaced by others without their historical merit or knowledge. Then come
the institutions.

58.  In our case, which is the question I am to answer, we are being replaced
by institutions and we can be replaced by institutions. It is the only way, and
this we believe. I firmly believe that.

59.  [Pages] Do you believe that the constant U.S. aggression against Cuba has
kept the process of democratization on the island from being faster and more
profound?

60.  [Castro] I believe we should not accept the premise that the process could
be faster or more profound. I believe that the revolution in itself was a
speedy process of democratization in view of what existed in our country, and
it was a very profound process. Thus, we do not believe that we are facing a
situation of something speedy that is being hampered by the United States. 
Instead, I would say that the United States has been unable to prevent the
speedy and profound process created by the revolution.

61.  [Pages] Let us fantasize a little bit: What if Fidel Castro decides to
implement perestroyka in Cuba at any given moment? Would U.S. aggression
against the island end?

62.  [Castro] First of all, Fidel Castro could never implement perestroyka in
Cuba because Fidel Castro cannot adopt such an important strategic decision by
himself. Second, if you want to know my personal opinion, we have no need to
copy what was done in the Soviet Union. We are two different countries, with
two different mentalities and two different idiosyncrasies. I respect the
Soviet people very much and I am quite fond of them, but theirs is a
multinational state and we are not a multinational state.

63.  Historic events that never occurred here have occurred in that country.
The Stalinist phenomenon never occurred here. Our country never knew such a
phenomenon, meaning the abuse of power, abuse of authority, personality cult,
statues, etc. That is unknown here. We have no need to rectify Cuban mistakes
that were made in other countries. No one was forced to join a collective farm;
that phenomenon never occurred in our country.  We have no need to rectify
mistakes that never occurred.  Things were done one way, our way, in our
country. We made our own mistakes but we have no need to rectify historic
mistakes that were made in the Soviet Union; that would be foolish. Those are
two different histories.

64.  We had already made several mistakes by copying things, and we became
fully aware that the less we copy the better. Personally speaking, I have never
been a copier. My character is allergic to copies, but if a tendency to copy
things develops in our country, meaning the tendency to copy what other
socialist states did-because those phenomenons occur in the revolutions-well,
such and such a country waged the first revolution, it has more experience,
etc.

65.  We have had to rectify certain things we incorrectly copied, I mean
institutional things, no? I am talking about the method to prepare plans, the
management system, the economic plans, some of those things. However, in my
opinion, we had no need to make reforms, changes, or rectifications of errors
and negative tendencies that did not adapt to our realities. Before perestroyka
was mentioned, we had talked about the rectification of mistakes and negative
tendencies in different areas, above all in the economic sector. We also meant
mistakes and negative tendencies that we had been countering on our own. This
is our process and it has nothing to do with that process.

66.  If we did what the Soviet Union did, the Yankees would certainly be happy
because, in fact, the Soviets have practically destroyed themselves. The
Yankees would be happy if we destroyed ourselves. If we divide ourselves into
10 factions and start a tremendous struggle for power, the Yankees would be the
happiest people in the world. They would say: We will now get rid of the Cuban
revolution. However, we will not destroy ourselves, that should be quite clear.
If we make the type of reforms that have nothing to do with Cuba's conditions,
then we would destroy ourselves.

67.  History will have to have the last word, because many of us are currently
suffering the consequences of what happens in the Soviet Union, that is quite
clear.

68.  The real answer to your question is: If we were to begin a
self-destructive process, if we started carrying out reforms that have nothing
to do with our history or our mistakes, the Yankees would be happy.

69.  [Pages] Why is the United States concerned with Cuban democracy when it
does not pay attention to other countries where injustice, human rights
violations, and leaders' despotism have the people's submerged in backwardness
and misery? Why is the United States obsessed with Cuba?

70.  [Castro] We really are an obsession for the United States.  In the first
place, the United States should start by worrying about its own democracy
because less than 50 percent of eligible voters actually vote in the United
States, and the president is only elected by 25 percent of the voters.

71.  Over 95 percent of the voting population participates in our elections-the
ones I told you about. Since the Constitution of the Republic was established,
between 96 and 97 percent of the voters have participated in our elections
every two and a half years to elect the lower members to the National Assembly
of Cuba. In the United States, the president and congress are elected by 25
percent or less of the voting population. Over half of the U.S. citizens do not
care to vote. They do not care enough to give up a trip, a movie, a dinner, or
a party to go vote. The United States must start by solving that situation. The
president is elected by an insignificant minority which has all the strings and
power to carry out its political purpose.

72.  There are terrible problems in the United States. They talk about human
rights and it turns out that the Saxon whites never go to the gas chambers or
the electric chair.  The electric chair, the death sentence, all those things
are for the blacks, Chicanos, Hispanics and those who do not belong to the
``superior'' race.

73.  The lowest infant mortality rates are for the superior race, the whites
and those who have money. The high infant mortality rates, the worst jobs, the
inferior chores are for the blacks and the Hispanics. Those who pick tomatoes,
vegetables, and perform similar work, are Haitians, Mexicans, or Latin
Americans because Americans do not do that type of work. Others must do the
harder labor.

74.  They have all sorts of phenomena such as drugs, gambling, prostitution,
beggars, and many other problems.  Therefore, the better possibilities are for
the rich and the powerful, that is reality. I believe they must start by
worrying about their human rights. Often I see a photograph of dogs and
policemen in jump suits repressing blacks, students, and workers. We see those
photographs, so they must first be concerned with their own democracy and their
own human rights.

75.  Throughout history they have been allies of the world's most repressive
governments. They were Pinochet's allies. They were the allies of the Latin
American military dictatorships. They were the allies of the military
dictatorships and repressive governments of Central America. They were the
allies of the worst governments in the world and they were interested in those
governments because they were docile to U.S. policies and interests. They were
South Africa's allies. They were the allies of Franco's government in Spain for
many years, they made military alliances with those who hurt and kill dozens of
Palestinians every day. They are South Korea's allies and maintain 40,000
soldiers there while every day workers and students are repressed. Furthermore,
approximately four young persons have set themselves on fire, incinerated
themselves, burned themselves alive to protest everything that is happening
there. The United States does not care about that. The United States has never
had political ethics, the United States has always had interests and only
interests.

76.  [Pages] You have pointed out that the United States has always been allied
with repressive governments. Nevertheless, this same government accuses the
Cuban Government of repression, of having introduced terror on the island, and
not providing the inhabitants with a decent living.

77.  [Castro] Has anyone done more for children than Cuba?  Do you know how
many hundreds of children's lives we have saved by reducing the child mortality
rate from 60 to 10.7 [units not specified]? Do you know how many hundreds of
thousands of lives we have saved with our health programs? Do you know how many
people have recovered their health with our help, how many people have seen
their life spans extended as the result of our efforts? How much good we have
done to the children in our country without exception by giving them education
and an opportunity to get a job and reach any level of success? How many women
we have saved from prostitution, how many citizens we have saved from drugs,
how many people we have saved from unemployment and begging? Let me know
whether there is a single, just one, homeless child in Cuba. There are 30
million homeless children in Latin America and there are millions of homeless
people in the United States, despite its huge and fabulous wealth.

78.  Cuba, however, is being slandered. This country where not a single citizen
has been murdered for political reasons or reported missing, where physical
violence has never been exercised. Everyone knows this. Despite all that has
been said in the world and the most loathsome slanders written against Cuba in
books, physical violence has never been exercised against anyone. We have this
practice since the war. Does anyone think our people would agree with or
support the revolution other than because of its highly humanistic nature,
spirit of justice, and the desire to obey the laws of the revolution? How many
people die in Latin America? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization
and UNICEF, 800,000 children die in Latin America every year who could be
saved. None of the children that could be saved are dying here. These
organizations have said that, if these 800,000 children had the health level of
Cuba, they would be saved. So, which crime must Cuba be chastised for? Why must
Cuba be slandered? Thirty million children are without a home in the world. In
Cuba, there are none. There are tens of millions of beggars in the world.  In
Cuba there are none. In every Latin American capital, children can be seen
wiping car windshields, dodging the lines of cars, and coming up with millions
of schemes just to survive. Is that not a flagrant violation of their human
rights? What human rights can a system like that of the United States speak,
when that country has imposed such poverty, underdevelopment, and misery on all
our countries, and has exploited and looted them?  The United States has no
moral authority to speak evil of Cuba. What can the United States say about
Cuba?

79.  They are simply cynical and stubborn and would not forgive us the fact
that we have resisted. This is the only explanation.

80.  [Pages] They do not forgive the fact that Cuba is a symbol?

81.  [Castro] I think that, yes, Cuba is a symbol. I have no doubts about that.
It is an example and I am convinced of that.

82.  [Pages] What will you do to end this campaign, which accuses Cuba of being
the Latin American country where human rights are violated the most?

83.  [Castro] Imagine. What can we do? Can we possibly do more than what we are
currently doing for the people?  We have waged a long battle. It is not easy to
fight against the enormous U.S. publicity and propaganda apparatus. It has
fabulous means to send television programs to all parts of the world; it has
invested thousands of millions in this. A small country cannot easily counter
this.

84.  What we can do is fulfill our duty and obey our conscience, and history
will recognize what each one has done. What can we do? We have nothing to
rectify, we have incurred no errors. We simply have ethics. We simply have
principles. I believe that the only thing we can do is to continue with what we
are currently doing, which is exerting ourselves to the maximum for our people,
even in the most difficult conditions.
-END-


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