Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Views Political, Economic Situation
Havana Cuba Vision Network
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL2510212691
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-208          Report Date:    28 Oct 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       8
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       25 Oct 91
Report Volume:       Monday Vol VI No 208


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Views Political, Economic Situation

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro with unidentified reporters in Cozumel,
Mexico, on 23 October-recorded]

Source Line:   FL2510212691 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0152 GMT 25
Oct 91

Subslug:   [News conference given by President Fidel Castro with unidentified
reporters in Cozumel, Mexico, on 23 October-recorded]

1.  [News conference given by President Fidel Castro with unidentified
reporters in Cozumel, Mexico, on 23 October-recorded]

2.  [Text] [Reporter] Mr. President, this is a compound question. First, the
direct election of deputies to the National Assembly was approved at the
[Fourth Communist Party of Cuba] Congress. What would be the agency that would
ratify these elections? What electoral agency? Moreover, do you conceive of the
possibility that in these elections the Communist Party of Cuba would lose its
majority in the Assembly, and if this happened, what would be your position?
That is the first part of my question. And the second part...

3.  [Castro, interrupting] Ah, is this a compound question or what? It is a
treatise. What is the second part?

4.  [Reporter] The second part is: It has been said that as a result of the

5.  [Castro, interrupting] If you want to put it that way.

6.  [Reporter] A very profound restructuring of the state in Cuba is going to
be carried out, a very profound restructuring that would have to do with the
division between the state and the party, and would also have to do with the
appointment of a head of government, and you would then become the head of
state. What can you tell us about this?

7.  [Castro] You have asked about five questions, right? If the others agree, I
can try to answer. I think there is great ignorance about our current electoral
system. No one is familiar with it. It was approved in 1976 after a plebiscite
in which more than 97 percent of the population participated. On that occasion,
we made great efforts to establish new ways of selecting candidates and
electing them. If these ways were not the same as those in any other socialist
country, they were also not the same as those in the capitalist countries, or
semi-capitalist countries, or would-be capitalist countries.

8.  We established the principle that it is the people who directly nominate
candidates. We divided the country into electoral districts in which the
residents, meeting in assemblies-which I believe were much more democratic than
the famous Greek ones where neither the slaves nor those citizens outside the
law, who were the vast majority, could vote... [rephrases] In our assemblies,
the residents of the districts met. There might be eight assemblies, or 10 or
12, depending on the size of the district. Each of them nominated their
candidates. There was a maximum. There could not be more than eight or less
than two. These residents who were elected... [corrects himself] were
nominated, ran for election. If none got more than 50 percent [of the votes],
the election had to be redone. In my district, for example, I almost always had
to go vote two Sundays in a row, because no one person had obtained more than
50 percent.

9.  That was our system. That is, the party did not nominate the delegates, but
rather the population did directly.  Those delegates made up the municipal
assemblies.  Depending on the size of the municipality, there could be 80, 200,
or 300 delegates. They elected the president of the municipality, who had to be
a district delegate.  These in turn elected the delegates to the provincial
assembly. Our country is not a federal state. It never was; it does not have
those traditions, but in spite of everything, the district delegates elected
the provincial delegates. The district delegates also elected the delegates... 
[corrects himself] the deputies to the National Assembly, which is the highest
state authority in our country.

10.  But, although the district delegates were directly elected and nominated,
this was not the case with the provincial delegates, or the national ones. What
we have established that is new, based on those ideas of 1976-which I think
were very right-is that now the provincial delegates will also have to be
elected directly, and the deputies to the National Assembly will have to be
elected directly. The key problem is who nominates the candidates. You know
that throughout the world, as known up to now, the parties and the party
members nominate. The people do not nominate candidates. We have established a
procedure through which the residents nominate, the people nominate, and not
the party.

11.  Now to move to the election of the provincial deputies...  [corrects
himself] the provincial delegates, and the national deputies. The same district
delegates are the ones who will nominate the delegates to the municipal... 
[corrects himself] provincial assemblies. The same district delegates will
nominate the deputies to the National Assembly. This does not exist anywhere
else, and I think it is an extraordinary step forward. The party does not
nominate candidates, not even under our current system.  The party will have to
ensure that the principles and standards are abided by, but it will not
nominate candidates.

12.  So the people are the ones who directly nominate candidates, and the
delegates of the people are the ones who nominate. Before, the delegates
nominated and elected people. Now, they will nominate but not elect people. 
They will nominate the candidates, but the voters will elect both the
provincial delegates and the national deputies directly. The national deputies
are the members of the National Assembly, and number about 500, more or less.
The number increases as the population increases. The other branches of the
state emanate from the National Assembly.

13.  There are electoral commissions that are organized to prepare for this
whole process. Elections are complicated; you know this very well. This is well
known everywhere. There are all the ballots, all the candidates, all the vote
counts, and everything. We have the agencies that will take care of that. The
law... [rephrases] Because the congress did not establish this. The congress
could establish its statutes, but it cannot dictate a law to the National
Assembly. The congress recommended a policy, presents an argument, presents
some principles, and the National Assembly has to put these principles into

14.  Of course, in our country, fraud is something that is not even thought of.
In the 30 years of the revolution, it is something that... [rephrases] I do not
know who would ever think of carrying out fraud, because this clashes so much
with our people's dignity, decency, and ethics that it would never enter
anyone's head. So here there will not be any kind of problem concerning the
mechanisms and institutions that take care of organizing this whole part of the
electoral process and the vote counts. This will have to be established by the

15.  Question number three, that if we lose... [rephrases] Simply, if the
revolution does not have the majority of the population, it loses. But before,
even now, if the revolution gets a minority of the votes, the delegates, the
residents select their candidates and elect them. And now the residents will
select their candidates and elect them, with this step forward. In our opinion
it is a step forward, and we did not take it as a concession to anyone, but
rather because of our intention to improve and democratize our society more and
more. But this assumes a majority of the people. If the majority of the people
are not behind the revolution, the revolution could lose power.

16.  This does not mean that if the revolution loses power it will surrender,
everyone will hang themselves, or everyone will commit suicide. We do not have
plans for that, but I can tell you that we are revolutionaries, we are
principled people, and we have always acted in accordance with this.  We will
always act in accordance with this. We could have the phenomenon of a
revolution in the minority, and then we will have to see how we can defend the
revolution from a minority position while respecting the laws, respecting the
principles, and respecting the results. No one should have any doubt about

17.  About the very profound restructuring, I do not know what that refers to.
We have been making changes. Our state works and works well. It works
efficiently. We produce almost 8 million tons of sugar. We are the country in
the world that with the fewest square kilometers in area produces more food per
capita for the world.  We produce calories for 40 million people in the world. 
Did you know that? I doubt that even the Argentines, who produce a lot of grain
and meat, produce as many calories per capita as Cuba, in spite of the fact
that Argentina has 60 times the national territory of Cuba.  We have an
organized country, an organized state, an organized people who work. In the
midst of very difficult conditions, as there were in 1990, we produced a sugar
harvest of 7.6 million tons of sugar, in spite of adverse climatic conditions
and other factors. Our country is a well-organized country; it works and
produces. Our state is well organized.

18.  We did not talk at the congress about profound restructuring of the kind
you have mentioned. We did not make a statement about this. The Central
Committee has the power to make decisions in this regard. We will have to see
what changes require more profound constitutional reforms and what kind of
processes they would involve.  But as for me personally, I can tell you that I
am not a man who clings to office at all. I fulfill my duties. I consider
myself a slave to duty and work. I will do what I can as long as I can and as
long as our people want me to or want my contribution. But I am not a man who
clings to honors and posts. I always keep in mind one of Marti's thoughts,
which is that all the glory in the world will fit into a kernel of corn.
Therefore, any kind of structural changes that may be made, that give me a post
or that give me another post, would not concern me at all, nor was this a
subject of discussion at the congress.

19.  [Reporter] Mr. President, why do you think that communism failed in the
Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, your former associates?

20.  [Castro] It is as if I had an academy of science and history, and at least
700 researchers to make an in-depth analysis of all the problems that occurred
there. It is as if I asked why capitalism failed in Latin America; it is as if
I asked you why capitalism failed in China; or if I asked why capitalism failed
in Africa; or if I asked why capitalism failed in Bangladesh; or if I asked why
capitalism failed in hundreds of countries in the Third World that are dying of
hunger and where 40,000 children die every day. It is a difficult question to
answer, but I can tell you that failures are also relative. It can be explained
a little better in Eastern Europe because socialism arrived there from outside.
It was not an indigenous creation. But in China, socialism was an indigenous
creation, and it has been very successful, extraordinarily successful. Since
socialism arrived in China, the famines have ended; the great calamities have
ended. This year, in fact, when there was extensive flooding, this would have
meant millions and millions dying from hunger.  And with 100 million hectares
of land, China has worked the miracle of feeding and clothing and making shoes
for 1.14 billion inhabitants.

21.  In the USSR, no one has done these studies, and I think that these studies
should be done. The last word has not yet been spoken in the USSR, because
right now in the USSR there is neither capitalism nor socialism. Neither of the
two. Neither a market economy nor a planned economy. Now, I find it difficult
to accept the idea that a social system like the one in the USSR has failed.
When that country, after a bloody war, was invaded, was occupied, was reduced
to an insignificant area, blockaded by everyone, forced to build socialism in a
single country, industrialized the country which was destroyed again within 20
years, that lost 20 million people, in only 20 years they rebuilt the country,
and it became a country that produced 630 million tons of oil, 700 billion
cubic meters of natural gas, thousands and thousands and tens of thousands of
kilometers of oil pipelines and water pipelines, a country that has produced
more than 150 million tons of steel, more than 140 million tons of cement, is
one of the top fertilizer producers in the world, reached levels of production
of wood, pulp, and electricity that were enormous, among the highest in the
world, it is difficult to believe that the social system has failed.

22.  I do not know if that country [words indistinct] today a highly developed
country if it had ended in the czar's hands; or perhaps it would be like
Afghanistan and many other Third World countries. Therefore, neither capitalism
or socialism can claim victory. Neither have been successful. Capitalism has
been successful in some places. Socialism has been successful elsewhere. We are
extraordinarily satisfied with what socialism has done in our country. Among
other things, it has reduced the infant mortality rate to 10.7 for every 1,000
live births in spite of the Yankee embargo. There are many rates like this. It
would be very difficult... [rephrases] When I think that in addition we have
raised the life expectancy rate to more than 75 years, and we have a country
without beggars, hungry people, unemployed people, even today, in spite of the
special period, it would be very difficult for me to think that socialism has
failed in our country.

23.  If you look at the picture in Latin America, where capitalism has existed
for hundreds of years, then you would have to ask what successes capitalism has
had, and if capitalism has not failed. If we take into account that there are 4
billion people living in the Third World, full of hunger, disease, illiteracy,
it would be very difficult to say that colonialism, capitalism, and
neocolonialism have been successful. I think that the last word of history have
yet to be spoken.

24.  [Reporter] Yes, Commander Castro, what are the chances for a rapprochement
or understanding between Cuba and the United States? What would you consider to
be a good signal from the United States towards Cuba; and likewise, what would
be a good signal from Cuba towards the United States?

25.  [Castro] I see very few chances right now for an improvement in relations,
because right now the U.S. Government considers itself the master of the world,
the leader of a unipolar world. They feel great hate for our country and our
people. They are experiencing a great triumphalist euphoria.  They think the
Cuban revolution has no future after everything that has happened in the
socialist bloc, and they do not feel in the least like doing anything to
improve relations between Cuba and the United States. On the contrary; they
want Cuba to collapse.  They will not be satisfied with anything less than the
head of the revolution and the revolutionaries, and they do not have any idea
about giving up the least chance that the revolution will be destroyed. That is
what can be observed of the thinking of the leaders of that country, to judge
by their speeches.

26.  An unequivocal signal would be the unconditional lifting of the economic
embargo against Cuba, which has now lasted for more than 30 years; the return
of the occupied territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base; the end to the
aggressions, threats, and hostilities against Cuba. That would be a good

27.  It is difficult to ask us to give signals. We do not have an embargo
against the United States. We do not occupy a single piece of American
territory. We do not feel hostility and hate for the North American people nor
for the United States. So, there is no equivalency in our circumstances. In
exchange for all this I have mentioned, we can offer them our friendship,
consideration, and respect, which is what we feel towards other nations of the
world.  There is no hate for U.S. citizens in this country, and they know this
very well. There is no jingoism in Cuba.  Jingoism is different from
patriotism, because patriotism is based on awareness. Jingoism is based on
contempt and the allergy of one country for another. We have educated our
populace in internationalist feelings and friendship with all nations. North
American visitors can observe the respect and consideration with which they are
treated, just as all visitors to our country are treated.

28.  [Reporter] Mr. Commander, I would like to ask you, first: If Cuba needs
oil why has it not asked Mexico or the Group of Three for it; and what is your
responsibility and that of the Cuban revolution with respect to the Latin
American left, now that there have been changes in Eastern Europe and the USSR;
and what does the membership of religious believers in the Communist Party of
Cuba mean?

29.  [Castro] Well, the Soviet Union has supplied us with oil for more than 30
years. They have supplied it for more than 30 years, and we have not needed oil
from another source. We have been certain of receiving this oil, and in
addition we have received preferential prices for our sugar. There are various
prices for sugar. There is dumping on the international market. That is where
they dump the sugar, and the price is far below the production cost. There are
the agreed-on prices, like the Lome Convention prices between Europe and the
countries that supply oil, that sell it. There are the prices the United States
pays to the few suppliers it still has, because the United States used to be a
major importer and now it imports almost none.

30.  There are these agreed-on, preferential prices, like the ones we received
from the socialist community and the Soviet Union. Oil is one of the products
whose prices have risen the most. Oil is one of the products that gets the
highest prices in the world. Oil prices have absolutely nothing to do with
production costs. That is the truth.  Oil prices shot up because of those wars,
the wars in the seventies. OPEC oil prices are regulated monopoly prices.
Production is increased or decreased depending on the market, the demand. This
is easy to do with oil; it is very difficult to do with other kinds of

31.  When the revolution triumphed, we needed 4 million tons. Oil cost 2 pesos
per barrel. At that time, with 1 ton of sugar you could buy at least 7 tons of
oil. If we were still in that time, we would not have great problems. We would
say: Well, gentlemen, 1 million tons of oil or the equivalent of 2 tons of
sugar-one or 2 tons of oil. But now, right now, with 1 ton of sugar-and you
have to plant it, cultivate it, harvest it, ship it; it has a very high labor
cost-you can now buy barely 1.3 or 1.4 tons of oil on the world market. So,
although Cuba has increased significantly its sugar production, all its sugar,
at the price on the world dumping market, would not be enough to buy the oil,
only the oil, that the country needs.

32.  Bear these circumstances in mind. For our country it was a great economic
achievement-which we have been proposing precisely for the Third World
resources-to receive fair prices for our sugar. The Soviets sold us oil in
accordance with world market prices, which rose a lot, but they paid much
higher prices for our sugar. These prices were below the production costs in
the Soviet Union, but much higher than those on the world market.  In spite of
this, most of our exports to the USSR went to buy oil, in spite of this.

33.  Now, how much has our country's consumption increased with economic and
social development? It has increased to 13 million tons. This year we had to
impose very harsh restrictions because we received 3 million tons less-3.3 more
or less-in 1990. This forced us to impose harsh restrictions by the end of last
year. The agreement for 1991 was for 10 million. This has been fulfilled fairly
well, although a deficit has occurred in recent weeks and is beginning to cause
us some problems. But up to now we have followed the same trade policy as we
have for 30 years, up to this year, 1991, and we have received oil from the
Soviet Union. We have not needed to find other sources of oil.

34.  That is not easy, either, because to buy oil you also need the means to
pay for it, and to pay for it we need a price for sugar. You would have to see
how much sugar there would be on the world market then, what price would it
get, what price would oil get, and what chance we would have of buying it. That
is why we have studied all the variations. We produce some oil, a few hundred
thousand [tons]; we could reach 1 million tons. But we have studied all the
variations: If we have 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 2, 1 or 0 [tons of oil]. That is our
duty, because we want to overcome these problems.

35.  Are we going to sit down and cry like Mary Magdalene?  Pardon me for
mentioning Mary Magdalene, who was a woman who cried from emotion. She did not
cry out of anger or cowardice. Are we going to sit down and cry out of anger or
cowardice or emotion? We are not even going to cry from emotion. However
emotional we may be, we try to be realists. We are realistic revolutionaries,
and we will face whatever problems there may be.

36.  That is why we have studied all the possible variations, but the policy we
have followed is basically one of restrictions and not of searching for new
sources.  Because for this, we would have to solve the problem of financing, in
the first place: sugar prices, sugar markets, etc. For now, we are maintaining
trade with the Soviet Union, or with the republics of the Soviet Union, and we
will maintain this trade as far as possible. It will not be due to us if this
trade is suspended, because they need nickel, sugar, citrus fruit, and Cuban
products. We are developing new and very important areas: biotechnology,
biomedicine, the pharmaceutics industry, and advanced medical equipment.

37.  We are moving forward in a number of fields, within our strained
circumstances: our tourism program, our food program, which is the number one
priority. We are domesticating oxen, manufacturing bicycles, inventing
everything that must be invented, anything rather than yielding and
surrendering. That is why we have not started any negotiations of the kind that
you are asking me about.

38.  About our role with the left now that what was called the socialist bloc
has disappeared: Our obligation, I think our first duty, is to stand firm as
revolutionaries, patriots, and socialists; to never renounce our banners, never
renounce our ideas. If there are not many who are confronting that
super-powerful empire, at least there will be some of us in this world who are
capable of confronting it. Ideas are more important than acts. They are more
important than wars; they are more important than battles. Because many battles
have been lost, but the ideas have won out at the end. Many wars have been
lost, but the ideas have won out. Many revolutions have been lost, and at the
end the revolutions have won out.  That is why for us, the value of ideas
cannot be measured. We are ready to fight, to confront that unipolar world,
that hegemony. We are determined never to lower our flags, ever. We are ready
to repeat, if necessary, the history of the Christians in the catacombs of
Rome, to give an example, rather than giving up our principles, rather than
renouncing our principles.

39.  I think this is the best service we can do for the Latin American left,
the progressive men, the democratic men, the men who dream of a better world
and not a world dominated by the Yankees for 1,000 years. If sometimes one must
endure a bossy Yankee-and there are some bossy Yankees, just as there are very
fine, very decent, very elegant ones-but if sometimes one must endure a bossy
Yankee-and who knows this better than the Mexicans?-it is terrible.

40.  Just imagine what it would be like to deal with a state, with the most
powerful empire on this earth, armed to its teeth, with all kinds of weapons,
nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, all sophisticated weapons. They will give
orders only to those who are willing to receive orders.  Those who want to be
slaves, will be slaves; but no one will ever be able to give orders to someone
who does not want to receive them. No one will ever make a slave of someone who
does not want to be a slave. I believe that these feelings, these ideas, today
represent our humble contribution to the just causes of the people.

41.  Have I left something out? On the believers?

42.  I believe that the matter of the believers was a necessary and essential
rectification. Throughout the history of the international revolutionary
movement, the exclusion of believers from the party was never established. In
the case of Cuba, it was due to the unusual conflicts that emerged between the
Catholic hierarchy and the revolution during the early years. Unfortunately,
the Catholic religion was the religion of the rich.

43.  I went to Catholic schools because my parents had the money to pay for my
education in that kind of school where, as a rule, there were no blacks or poor
people.  Also, there were no churches in the rural areas. That is not the
situation in Latin America and other countries; I know this. I am talking about
the situation in Cuba. But, there were many other churches in Cuba. There were
many Catholics who always supported the revolution.  However, when the
situation emerged we chose not to create a conflict in the hearts of our fellow
countrymen.  We did not want them to feel forced to choose between being loyal
and obedient to the party or being loyal and obey to the church. The radical
nature of the revolution during those early years may have influenced this.
There was a certain puritanism, a certain Jacobinism. But the fact is that when
the party was making its first efforts to organize, it decided that every
aspect of the party's political, economic, and philosophical doctrine had to be

44.  As the years went by we were able to see that there were many believers
who were magnificent revolutionaries, internationalists, and hard-working
patriots. They met all the requirements needed to be good communists, even if
they were materialists, dialectic, or believers, despite their religious
belief. Many churches in Cuba always maintained excellent relations with the
revolution and there was never the slightest conflict. Furthermore, throughout
Latin America, millions of people, believers, were expressing their solidarity
with the Cuban revolution and supporting the Cuban people. We were given prove
of this during many contacts with the people. In 1973 I held a lengthy meeting
in Chile with a group of priests for socialism. Several religious denominations
were represented in that group. There were also meetings in Jamaica, Nicaragua,
and Cuba. We had a long time to think and meditate on this and we reached the
conclusion that it was not fair, first of all, for a person to be denied
membership to the party because of his religious beliefs, especially in light
of the fact that we only had one party. We reached the conclusion that it had
to be everyone's party. We reached the conclusion that it was discriminatory,
and we also reached the conclusion that it was necessary to overcome that
phase.  We have been talking about this for some time now; during those
meetings I mentioned.

45.  During a trip to Brazil last year, a year and a half ago, I met with a
very large religious community in Sao Paolo.  These were very democratic,
progressive, and very revolutionary people, good friends of the Cuban
revolution.  When I returned to Cuba I explained, in detail, the contradiction
of having so many noble and good people supporting the revolution and the fact
that the party was not admitting people to its ranks because of their religious
beliefs. A political and ideological struggle, battle, was begun. It was
necessary to broach this matter in depth. It was necessary to talk about this
and despite all this, it was not easy. We found that the attitude of some of
our members was very hard and radical, very intransigent. It was difficult for
them to imagine a communist in the party who was also a believer, even though
this believer agreed with the party's plan, in doing all that a communist
militant does, in giving his life for the cause of the revolution. Despite all
this, it was still necessary to discuss the matter, especially with the younger
members of the party. It was not an easy change to make in the party statutes.
However, after a lengthy process-the whole process that preceded the congress
during which hundreds of thousands of meetings were held-this issue was
resolved and it was brought before the congress with almost unanimous approval.
It was not unanimous, because when the delegates discussed the congress
documents during the provincial assemblies, there were many members who brought
this matter up. However, at the congress we reached a broad consensus and the
decision was made.

46.  I believe it was a necessary rectification and a just rectification. That
is how we viewed this issue of believers becoming party members.

47.  [Reporter] I would like to ask you something. Upon his arrival this
morning, Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez said that this was an
excellent opportunity for Cuba to join Latin America. My question is: Was this
truly a good opportunity? Specifically, what is Cuba going to do to join the
Latin American world? For example, will this become the Group of Four?

48.  [Castro] Another group? [laughter] It is undoubtedly a very high honor for
us to aspire to becoming members of the Group of Four. There will be no such
Group of Four.  We will have all the groups the main Latin American leaders
wish to form to carry out various tasks, reach various goals. My status, at
this moment, and I feel very honored by it, is one of guest of the Group of
Three. I must stress that the Mexican president is the host and he issues the
invitations. He invited the other two presidents and with their approval, he
invited me to the meeting. As I have already said, I feel very honored.

49.  Even when CEMA existed, we, who are people of, how should I put it,
patriotic feelings, Latin American feelings, feelings of love for the region
and the world with whom we share the same culture, language, and other similar
things, always felt that Latin America and the Caribbean were our natural
surroundings for integration.  We always felt that we were part of CEMA beacuse
of the situation we were experiencing. However, we always felt that, even
though ways of integration and plans could be developed with CEMA, our future
and shared homeland was with Latin America. This is not the first time I say
this. On various occasions and during many news conference I have said it. We
always felt this was our future.  Perhaps we thought that we would have to wait
until everyone became a socialist, so something like this integration could
take place.

50.  Today we know much about this. Very interesting integration processes have
taken place throughout the world.  There came a time when we felt that even
though we were socialists, we were the best suited country for integration in
Latin America. What is integration? Abolishment of a customs tariff? There are
no customs tariffs in Cuba. We deal directly with the states, enterprises,
state enterprises, or private enterprises. Jingoism, narrow-minded nationalism?
Fortunately, Cuba never experienced those problems. We are a broad-minded
country; a country educated in Marti's thoughts, an internationalist country, a
country that during the years of the revolution has received a great
internationalist education. We are a country with strong ties with Latin
America even though there was a time when we were blockaded by everyone, except
Mexico. Relations with everyone had been broken off, except with Mexico. With
Mexico we maintained our friendship and contact.  There continued to be an
exchange among artists, writers, scientists, labor leaders, peasant leaders,
and political leaders. Even during those difficult years we maintained ties
with the Latin Americans.

51.  That situation has changed so much that only in a few exceptions, all
countries have relations with us. If these are not diplomatic relations, they
are consular relations.  Those countries that do not have diplomatic or
consular relations with us, will have certain informal, but friendly,
relations. In other words, the situation of the relations between Cuba and
Latin America have changed greatly.

52.  Now that we are involved in the practical tasks, we have seen that there
are many possibilities for integration. We must take into consideration the
recently concluded Guadalajara Conference. One of the main issues broached
during that conference was the integration of Latin America. At that time we
expressed our willingness to integrate ourselves with Latin America. To
integrate economically as well as politically. If someday Latin America should
decide to unite into one great common nation, which was the dream of the
liberators, Bolivar's dream, Morelos' dream, Hidalgo's dream, San Martin,
Sucre, O'Higgins' dream, everyone's dream to a greater or lesser degree...
[changes thought] They had an extraordinary vision. They were able to see what
the relations between the continent and the northern colossus would be like.
And Bolivar said it long before Marti did. He said that they would plague us
with misery in the name of freedom. The liberators struggled for and dedicated
their whole lives to make the dream come true. Back then there were no radios,
airplanes, trains, or cars. They traveled this huge hemisphere preaching unity.
The day of unity is drawing near as there is a need for survival. It is not a
only a dream, a wish, something sentimental. We either unite or we will end up
being nothing. We either integrate or they will disintegrate us. We either
unite and develop as a great community of nations, or they will absorb us. We
run the risk of being absorbed, of being invaded even without the use of
weapons, of being invaded by their finances, technology, and markets. It is a
big risk to take. That is why we are staunch supporters of that unity and we
are willing to integrate as the situation allows and if the Latin Americans
wish to unite. We clearly stated that, regarding Latin America, and our
economic ties with Latin America, Latin American investments in Cuba, and Cuban
investments in Latin America, that we are willing to go farther than with any
other region of the world.

53.  Nevertheless, in the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves,
and not starting now but for some time, our country has been opening its doors
to foreign investment. Because there is an imperious and vital need for
capital, because capital, technology, and markets are needed for development.
Yes, if we had someone who gave us all the technology, all the capital, and all
the markets, we could have chemically pure and exclusive property of the 11
million Cuban citizens. But those are imaginary ideas. They are not real. With
great realism we have been opening the possibilities, and there have really
been a lot of offers. There are a variety of methods of economic partnership
with Cuba. Of course, I do not mean that Cuba is putting the country at the
disposal of the transnational companies. All this development with the
participation of foreign capital must be under the direction of the revolution
and the revolutionary government, and in line with the objectives of socialism.

54.  Now, what has happened with the first investors, who are obtaining
excellent profits, great facilities? Sometimes within three years, three and a
half years, they recoup their capital. In 10 years they triple it, but we also
recoup our capital in three years or three and a half year.  Or we triple it in
10 years. They have found an excellent...  [rephrases] They have found trained
people with a good educational level, capable of discipline when there is
organization, experience, rigorousness, and the relations of our business
partners with our workers are excellent. Their relations with the members of
the Communist Party of Cuba and the Union of Young Communists are excellent.

55.  They have been able to see how the facilities for repatriating capital
work. They are automatic. They are working. That is one of the possibilities.
But we have been opening our doors. If a factory closes because it lacks raw
materials, and it has the machinery and the labor force, we should not allow
that factory (?to close).  We immediately analyze and we often have offers for
raw materials or for a partnership in the factory or the marketing of the
factory's products, of agriculture or industry, to obtain the raw materials,
and we make mutually beneficial arrangements. That is why we have opened up a
lot in this field.

56.  Sometimes they propose a deal to us. We think about it again; and perhaps
if someone from somewhere else has proposed it, we would think it over a lot,
but if someone from Latin America proposes it, and in accordance with our views
and ideas on Latin American integration, we will agree to it. I should say that
I also think that the most varied social situations can fit into a united Latin
America. Because even in a united Latin America, there will not be two
countries that are exactly alike. Some will have higher living standards; some
lower. Some will have greater social services than others.

57.  So we do not see our social system as being incompatible with the economic
and even political integration of Latin America. Because if they tell us:
Tomorrow there will be a federation It was agreed that everyone could join. Do
you want to join? We will join, and we will be ready to analyze and discuss
legislation, laws, things, everything that concerns that kind of unity. Because
in today's world there are all kinds of unity. European unity is one kind; it
is advancing slowly. I think the Soviets want to have another kind of
community. The Japanese have another kind over there. What will our Latin
American unity be like? No one can say. But we can say that we are absolutely
sure that we fit into that great Latin American community.

58.  [Reporter] Commander, I would only like you to answer two things. One, is
there any interest on the part of your government in establishing a dialogue
with the United States; and two, why have you not asked that your country be
included, at this time of crisis, in the San Jose Pact because of the
preferential conditions for supplying [oil] that are granted to the member
countries? Just those two questions, Commander.

59.  [Castro] If we were to say that we are interested in talking with the
United States, the result would be that tomorrow the State Department would
issue a statement saying that they have no interest and will never speak to
Castro, and poor Castro would be shown pitifully asking the U.S. Administration
to talk to Cuba. The most we can say is that we have never objected to
discussing our differences with the United States. We have never objected to
negotiating those differences. That is what I can say on this.

60.  About the San Jose Pact, I already explained before how we were solving
that problem. We should continue to struggle to solve the problem as we are
solving it up to now, because for us it is the only solution. This involves a
problem about markets for our products. There would be a problem about prices.
There would be a number of factors that... [rephrases] Participation in this
pact would not solve our problem. I do not say that this pact has no value. I
think it is a valuable, useful, and generous pact on the part of Mexico and
Venezuela. It provides considerable aid to certain countries.

61.  But they are not in the same circumstances as Cuba.  There are Central
American countries that have hydraulic power, water. They consume little oil
for electricity. Cuba does not have that hydraulic power. In Cuba, all the
electricity must be produced from oil.  There is very little from water. In the
eastern region there are some areas we are studying. We would have to make
costly investments and they would take time. In Cuba we use water primarily for
irrigation. We do not have great falls. The island is long and narrow. It does
not have the rivers you have, rivers like in Central America, Brazil,
Argentina, or others.

62.  We do not have hydraulic power. Everything is from oil.  In our country,
with our social development, more than 90 percent of the population has
electricity. There are very high levels of hospital beds and education, all of
which require the use of electricity. Economic development: production of 4
million tons of cement requires oil. The sugar industry consumes the least oil,
because the sugar industry produces bagasse. We produce bagasse equivalent to 4
million tons of oil, but it is used mainly for meeting the needs of the sugar
mills. The surplus is used to produce pulp, wood, and other things.

63.  So our fuel needs are very large, under normal conditions. It does not
seem right to us... [rephrases] out of consideration and respect for these
countries-Mexico, Venezuela-because they are carrying out different kinds of
international projects, negotiating for peace in the region, doing many things,
negotiating various kinds of agreements between countries. Out of consideration
and respect for Mexico and Venezuela, we have not wanted to introduce this
element into our talks with them. Not a single time in my talks with Salinas or
Carlos Andres Perez have I mentioned the word ``oil,'' nor have we requested a
single drop of oil. That is the policy we have followed, thinking, beating our
brains, imagining how we are going to face the problems, how we are going to
solve them.

64.  We have confidence that we will solve our problems.  What no one can be
sure about is the level of sacrifices that we will have to make. That is the
great unknown. We know the dangers that threaten us, the sacrifices that await
us, but we also know the excellent things we are doing. Because we are
producing things with our intelligence. We have tens of thousands of scientists
at work. It was impressive to listen to those scientists in that congress that
was just held. Their talent, their ability to express themselves, and their
potential were impressive.  They have great potential.

65.  We have tens of thousands of scientists at work. We even mix a little
water with diesel fuel, and we invent all kinds of things to conserve fuel. We
have machines that work with wood. I said that we have domesticated 100,000
oxen and we are domesticating 100,000 more. We have produced fertilizers
through biological means, antibiotics through biological means. We are applying
and turning to science in all areas, not only for the food program and the
country's development but to confront these problems.

66.  Fuel is the most difficult problem. Without discussion, it is the most
difficult. But out of a basic sense of consideration for my hosts, who invited
me to this country and have invited me to Venezuela on other occasions, I have
never said a single word about oil. That has been our policy.

67.  [Unidentified speaker] Thank you, Mr. President. You have been very kind.