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Column Criticizes Trade Relations With Cuba
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     PA0408044091
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-150          Report Date:    05 Aug 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     40
Report Division:     SOUTH AMERICA            End Page:       42
Report Subdivision:  Colombia                 AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       29 Jul 91
Report Volume:       Monday Vol VI No 150


City/Source of Document:   Bogota EL TIEMPO

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Column Criticizes Trade Relations With Cuba

Author(s):   Plinio Apuyelo Mendoza: ``A Lifesaver For Castro'']

Source Line:   PA0408044091 Bogota EL TIEMPO in Spanish 29 Jul 91 p 5A

Subslug:   [From ``Plinio's Column'' by Plinio Apuyelo Mendoza: ``A Lifesaver
For Castro'']

1.  [From ``Plinio's Column'' by Plinio Apuyelo Mendoza: ``A Lifesaver For

2.  [Text] What can Colombia and Chile gain by reestablishing consular and
trade relations with Castro's government? Until now the answer has not been at
all clear.  It is easier to say that Castro comes out of it receiving a little
oxygen, precisely at a time when his political project, burning in the bonfire
of a sinking ideology, is showing signs of asphyxiation.

3.  President Cesar Gaviria, who has successfully undertaken in Colombia a
project of political and institutional opening on a large scale, has probably
tried to extend this broadminded image to the international arena by making
official trade exchanges that, until now, have been more or less secretive.  To
explain his decision, President Gaviria said: ``At this time when the walls of
intolerance and incomprehension are coming down all over the world the
government prefers to join these international tendencies which uphold that
conflicts are better solved through dialogue, international law, and

4.  This undoubtedly refers to the end of the cold war.  Nevertheless, it is
worth examining to what extent the Castro regime deserves to benefit from this
new climate.  This new climate is basically the outcome of perestroyka and
glasnost, that is-an internal process of democratic opening in the USSR and its
consequences on the former communist world. This new climate is not because of
the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit's enlightenment on the world's
principal leaders.

5.  Therefore, if the Soviet leaders had maintained their ideological dogma; if
they had continued believing in planning an integrated economy and in the
continued construction of socialism; if with such ideological budgets, instead
of promoting freedom of speech, they continued to support, as they had, one
party rule; if they had continued to support the hard-line security
institutions and an excessive military apparatus, instead of the fundamental
reforms promoted by Gorbachev, the cold war, the two opposing blocs'
confrontation, would still hopelessly prevail.

6.  Consequently, the new international climate does not respond-as numerous
Latin American presidents seem to believe-to a pragmatism that eliminates moral
and democratic reasons, nor to the acceptance of ideological
pluralism-understood as the coexistence of democracy and totalitarianism. No,
it is just the opposite: The new international climate is possible because
communist totalitarianism-inefficient and oppressive, rejected by its own
people who were its victims-has collapsed. It has had to surrender because
democracy has triumphed.

7.  This is precisely what Castro has not done. He does not represent the
world's new reality, but rather an old reality that is crumbling, fed on dogmas
and absolutism. There is no reason why he should collect dividends from
perestroyka given he opposes it: He is a copy of an archaeological piece,
representative of a species in danger of extinction. Therefore, the Latin
American presidents do not have any obligation to grant him any concessions,
because in no way would this favor the world's current true open process, which
is comprised of pluralism but of democratic pluralism, not of preserving

8.  If the Latin American presidents expect the Castro regime's democratization
as a result of their gesture, they are truly gullible as Castro does not
believe in perestroyka. I heard Castro say in Caracas: ``Perestroyka is like a
friend's wife, you can invite her to your home to visit, but not to stay.''
Castro has labelled as ``repulsive'' the Soviet reformists' activities. He has
said on several occasions that perestroyka is the result of errors made in the
USSR and not in Cuba.

9.  The maximum leader has not given any indication of eliminating the one
party system, of accepting the basic principles of Montesquieu [17th century
French political philosopher], or of holding elections. Castro has said:

10.  ``I will not hold elections in Cuba, because I do not feel like it.''
These are his words and bear his seal as an arrogant fighter. Author Gabriel
Garcia Marquez reported the phrase as part of an interview Castro granted to
Xavier Rubest de Ventos, European Parliament member and Spanish writer,
(``Fidel: No Way Out?'' book by Ramiro Andrade, soon to be published).

11.  Why should we not believe Fidel? Why doubt his word when he has Cuban
Human Rights Commission President Elizardo Sanchez, along with several other
members of the organization, and Havana University leaders in jail for
criticizing the ``personality cult?'' Why not believe him when criticism is not
tolerated, when he has banned several Soviet publications, when the residents
of any given neighborhood must watch over those of another by way of the
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution [CDRs], and hotel employees spy on
their guests?

12.  It is quite simple to understand: He who establishes an orthodox system
does not promote heresy. Gorbachev can promote perestroyka, but Stalin cannot,
and neither can Castro. Castro has reached the end of the line and there is no
turning back.

13.  No one has had as much economic aid as that which the USSR has given him:
Some $100 billion over 30 years, according to economist Irina Zorina of the
USSR Academy of Sciences. This is not an exaggerated estimate. The reexporting
of Soviet oil, paid for in hard currency, and the subsidy on the price of
sugar, which sometimes rose to about five times the world market price,
represent aid worth $3.7 billion per year. Carlos Alberto Montaner has said
that with this subsidy, which is enormously larger than that granted by the
Alliance for Progress to the whole continent, Castro has managed to move Cuba
from being the third most developed country of Latin America to being the

14.  This drop may have the following explanation: influence; bureaucracy;
rhetoric; superstition; ideology; and the suppression of all forms, even the
smallest (including the farmer's markets), of private property. With the
reduction of the Soviet subsidies and the interruption of aid from eastern bloc
countries that have recently shifted to democracy, the Cuban situation becomes
somber. The country is headed along the same road as Haiti and Ethiopia under
the pleonasm of ``socialism or death.'' The ``special period in peacetime''
means that tractors will be replaced by oxen and plows and cars by bicycles.
The daily bread ration has dropped from 100 gm to 80 gm, the manufacture of
clothes and home construction are at a standstill, and electricity consumption
has been cut in half. All the island has left is its blue Caribbean Sea.

15.  There is hardship and totalitarianism, while Castro is the victim of no
one. Montaner has also said that, instead, it is the Latin American democracies
that have been his victim, as Castro has declared war against them. Colombia,
Peru, Guatemala, and El Salvador owe him nothing, except for his having
supported subversion and terrorism. We have paid with rivers of blood and
millions of dollars in damages for his delirious ideas. Whenever one of our
presidents, whose heart beats to the left, has offered a helping hand, Castro
has ended up stabbing us. What reason is there now to throw him a life saver?
Would it not be better to throw it to the poor people of Cuba who have suffered
his madness for 30 years?