Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Remarks at Missile Crisis Conference
Havana Cuba Vision Network
Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL1902223092
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-043-S        Report Date:    04 Mar 92
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       4
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       19 Feb 92

City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   SUPPLEMENT

Headline:   Castro Remarks at Missile Crisis Conference

Source Line:   FL1902223092 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0230 GMT 19
Feb 92

Subslug:   [First of four parts of the special program: ``Reflections on a
Crisis,'' a tripartite conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis held
in Havana from 9 to 12 January-recorded]

1.  [First of four parts of the special program: ``Reflections on a Crisis,'' a
tripartite conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis held in Havana from 9 to 12

2.  [Excerpts] [passage omitted] [Fidel Castro] Sometimes, I have been really
surprised as I listened to representatives from the American delegation,
because it seems to me that they are living in a unreal world, and I ask myself
if history can be ignored this way, as if there were no history of relations
between the United States and Cuba, a history of almost 200 years of relations
between the United States and Latin America, from long before Cuba or the Cuban
revolution existed.

3.  I ask myself the following question, without trying to create a
controversy, but in reflection: How many interventions were there in the
Caribbean before the Cuban revolution? U.S. interventions? How many actions
have they carried out against Latin American interests throughout history? How
can we forget, for example, how the United States emerged with great force from
among a small group of countries? They were the first to become independent in
this hemisphere. Later they expanded throughout their territory, and then they
expanded into the territory of neighboring countries like Mexico. They took
half of Mexico's territory, more than half of its territory.

4.  How can we forget what happened with respect to Central America and the
expeditions into Central America, or what happened in, let us say, Panama? The
whole process through which they gained control of Panama? How can we forget
the way in which they intervened in almost all the Central and Latin American
countries? How can we forget about the interventions in Nicaragua, Haiti, Santo
Domingo, and several times in Cuba? Well, here I am analyzing far beyond some
of the things that McNamara said yesterday.

5.  There is the issue that Cuba was always seen as a direct threat to the
United States. There was the perception that Cuba was a direct threat to the
United States and a violator of accepted norms of international conduct. He
added: Especially in the sphere of political freedoms and civil rights. I have
already referred to that. We could look for a list. We could see who has really
violated more international norms in the world.

6.  Then he talked, yesterday he talked, and I listened and noted, about the
different ways we perceive each other.  The United States teaches their
citizens that they freed Cuba. I truly believe that is incorrect. They should
not teach that to the American people, because if the United States intervened
at the end of our war for independence, we have our judgments, our opinions of
the situation.  We believe that Spain had been defeated, that Spain could not
endure the war with Cuba any more, the Ten Years War and later the War of 1895.
Spain was completely worn out.  That is when the United States intervened. They
occupied the country for a number of years.  They occupied Puerto Rico at the
same time, and they kept Puerto Rico. They occupied the Philippines, and they
kept the Philippines. In fact, McNamara said that some Americans thought they
had been too generous and should have kept Cuba, too.

7.  Cuba really received great support from world opinion.  It had fought very
heroically. Despite this, they were still here four years later, and they
imposed a government on us, really. They imposed the Platt Amendment. You know
that the Platt Amendment was an imposition.  They told us: Either you accept
the Platt Amendment, or there will be no independence. No country in the world
would accept this kind of amendment of their constitution, because it gave
another country the right to intervene to establish peace. The Platt Amendment
is greatly repudiated in our country, highly repudiated.

8.  I believe Americans would be offended if they were told that their
independence was won by the Spanish and the French-Lafayette, Miranda, Spain,
etc. It would be unfair to say that. The Spanish and the French helped, but the
American people did most of the fighting. No one has ever tried to say anything
else. I believe one of the things that needs to be done, since there are
different perceptions, is to educate American citizens, tell them the truth so
opinions are not formed on false premises.

9.  Last, McNamara said something that when I noted it, I thought about it. The
United States continue to think that their investments in Cuba contributed to
this country's development. From a technical, economic point of view, it is
undeniable that the U.S. investments brought about economic growth, economic
development. That is not under debate. But this all ended at a given time. That
was the initial stage in the first decades when they built a lot of sugar
refineries, but at a given time the economic development of Cuba ended.

10.  Alright, but I admit that; it seems right to me. It is right to say that
we have different perceptions, that we should begin to look at our different
perceptions of each of these issues. In any case, I believe that what we should
do is work to make sure that the historic, objective truth is told.

11.  [Passage omitted] [Castro] Smith has spoken about their major concerns,
which were Cuba's military relations with the Soviet Union. That was among
their three major concerns. He spoke about Eisenhower's decision because
[Anastas] Mikoyan had come here. Now it turns out that Mikoyan, and Mikoyan's
visit, is to blame for everything, because it occurred to the father of our
friend to visit us in the name of the Soviet Union. All this immediately
justified an order to organize the overthrow of the Cuban revolution.

12.  If they had known who Mikoyan was, and Mikoyan's nobility! If they had not
initially acted based on prejudices!  Mikoyan almost rid the United States of
Castro, without meaning to, because he brought a Soviet helicopter that had
just been manufactured. I would say it had just been designed. We made a tour
of all of Cuba, showing him tourist places, beaches. We went to some beaches on
the southern coast of Cuba, in Cayo Largo, where no one lived. There, Mikoyan
took off his clothes, took a swim in the Caribbean, got back on the helicopter
and continued his trip. At that time we did not have protocol or organization.
We did not have anything. We made almost a round trip throughout Cuba in an act
of friendship with him, courtesy with him, at that time.

13.  It was a miracle that we were not killed in that helicopter.  The Soviets
had just conquered space. They had sent a man into space, and when we were in
the south and had very little gasoline left, the Soviet pilot insisted that we
should head east. I told him that to the east was the sea and we would crash. I
told him we had to turn north and go to a certain point, and we had 20 minutes
of fuel left.  For the first time in the contemporary era, an aircraft was
hijacked. I did it. I reached the point where I said: Well, I am in a very
difficult dilemma, about to drown out of courtesy. [laughter] Either drown out
of courtesy, or out of the elementary obligation to survive I have to hijack
this helicopter.

14.  Fortunately, at the last minute I thought of appealing to Mikoyan, and I
persuaded him. I said: Look, if I am wrong, the worst that can happen is we
will reach land.  But if I am right and the pilot is wrong, what will happen is
that we are all going to drown in the sea. There is no other solution. I was
able to convince Mikoyan. That was a trip. About 20 years later, the Soviets
recommended to us, they sent us a recommendation, that leaders should not
travel by helicopter because it was too dangerous.  [passage omitted]

15.  [Castro] We based ourselves on the concept, the assurance, that if an
invasion of Cuba occurred, a nuclear war would break out. We were certain a
nuclear war would break out if an invasion occurred, in the situation that had
been created, with the possession of nuclear weapons.  Well, everyone here was
resigned. We said: Well, we have to pay this price. We will have to disappear.
I say this frankly. We saw that danger. I think that the conclusion that can be
drawn, Mr. McNamara, is that if we are going to go by matters of opinion,
nuclear war cannot be avoided.

16.  We must eliminate the danger of nuclear war through other means and not
based on the idea that people are afraid of nuclear weapons, the idea that
people will hold back for fear of nuclear weapons. We have lived through that
very special experience in which we became almost the first target of those
nuclear weapons, and no one lost their composure or lost their calm. How can
one assume that humanity's instinct for self-preservation will act with much
greater energy in the face of a danger of this kind?

17.  I share the view that those 50,000 warheads are crazy.  But people have
been doing crazy things for some time now with their technology, which is much
more developed than their organizational ability, and much more developed than
their politics. These dangers exist. Right now we are all concerned because of
the problems that have arisen in the Soviet Union. Everyone is concerned about
the possibility that there are several republics that have nuclear weapons,
that the republics have nuclear weapons, because all this is an enormous

18.  Now, he asks me my opinion if in the event of an invasion by all those
troops, with 1,100 flights and all that, I would have agreed to the use of
tactical nuclear weapons. I answer with all frankness that yes, I would have
agreed to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.  Because in any case, we based
ourselves on the principle that this war would become a nuclear war and that in
any case we were going to disappear. Before the country was totally occupied,
we were willing to die to defend the country. I would have agreed, if this
invasion that is being talked about had occurred, to the use of tactical
nuclear weapons.

19.  You have asked me to speak frankly, and I must say with all frankness that
that would have been my view. I think that if Mr. McNamara or Kennedy had been
in my place and had their country invaded and their country was going to be
occupied, because the correlation of conventional forces was enormously
unfavorable, they would have used tactical nuclear weapons.

20.  After the experience we went through, do you want me to tell you
something? I am happy that the decision was in the hands of the military
officers here, and that they did not have to ask permission. That made it
easier for the Cuban and Soviet military officers to reach an agreement. It was
an advantage for us. I wish they had given the tactical nuclear weapons to us.
It would have been wonderful. We would not have been in a hurry to use them,
you can be sure of that. So the closer to Cuba the decision to use an effective
weapon against a landing was made.... [changes thought] Of course, after that
they would have fired 400 tactical weapons; no one knows how many they would
have fired against us. But we were already determined and resigned to our fate.
I have already told you that the idea of the withdrawal of the weapons had not
crossed our minds.

21.  I have read Khrushchev's letter to you. That letter shows a total
political willingness, a total determination.  Khrushchev knew all the factors,
he knew what weapons they had, what the correlation of forces was. But we were
firm. In fact, in my message to Khrushchev I tried to avoid the least
indication that we were worried. In my letter to Khrushchev I had to....
[changes thought] Look for the pamphlet that is around here. Have you not found
that pamphlet? Is it there? Has it been lost?

22.  Now, in my letter to Khrushchev I had two concerns.  First, not to use
language that would conflict with his great desire for peace, that would
conflict with his language, his psychology, and all that. I did not want to use
words that might be too strong and conflict with his idiosyncrasy, his
mentality. I think that he must have suffered a lot in those days, because he
was not a man of war, a man who wanted war. He was a man who was sincerely
concerned about peace. Of course, when the result of all of that was going to
lead to war, he must have suffered an extraordinary amount. Therefore, in my
message I wanted to do two things: not say anything that would conflict with
that, but at the same time not say anything that would imply that we were
worried or afraid.

23.  I said that in some of the sentences. I said: You have been and are a
tireless defender of peace. I understand how bitter these hours must be for
you, when the results of your superhuman efforts are so seriously threatened. 
Nevertheless, up to the last moment we will keep our hope that peace will be
saved, and we are willing to contribute whatever we can. But at the same time,
we are calmly preparing to face a situation that seems very real and close to
us. Here I thank him and express once more the infinite gratitude and
appreciation of our people for the Soviet people, who have been so generous and
fraternal with us, etc.

24.  I had those two concerns because that was a very delicate message. I
thought it out well, because as I said on a previous occasion, I was afraid of
hesitation, because you know, and historians know very well, that hesitation
has been the cause of many defeats throughout history.  Behind every defeat
there has been hesitation, hesitation and mistakes. I said: If there is
hesitation, there may be defeat. Because I also know the Americans. I think the
Americans always do everything possible not to make mistakes. They can make
mistakes; I do not mean that they are infallible, but in general they like to
foresee everything. Why 5,000 warheads? That seems like too many, and then they
continued to make more. Between the USSR and the United States, they made a
great number of warheads before this movement began in the reverse direction.
But others continue to make nuclear warheads, and the manufacture of all these
weapons is incomprehensible and unnecessary. [passage omitted]

25.  [Castro] But you put up that satellite. Perhaps if you had informed us
about the number of missiles the Soviets had.... [changes thought] Why did you
keep quiet about it? It would have been a good thing if the satellite you put
up there had showed the missiles the Soviets had. It would have been a good
thing to say so. But you must have had your reasons to keep quiet about that
information. You had it and we did not. It seems that Kennedy did not have it,
when he was conducting his election campaign, according to what has been said
here. Later he found out, of course. They gave him the briefcase and the codes
and all those things. They gave him the information about what the Soviets had.
We did not know this.  So I imagined, I could imagine that the Soviets had a
few hundred intercontinental missiles, not a lot. Later it was said that they
had reached 800 or 1,000, I do not know.  This has been said publicly in all
those talks. It seems that later they accelerated their production of missiles. 
But the figure that was given here yesterday of 40, 50, or 60, is really a low
figure for missiles.

26.  We could think of a figure of thousands, because that was the impression
that was created. If Kennedy, who was a senator and was in the top circles,
thought there was an imbalance in ballistic missiles, what is so strange about
the rest of us, the rest of us beings in the world, having incorrect
information? Because of all of this, I said that if I had known of a figure
like that, and we had discussed this based on the strategic issues that really
I believe, I continue to think, are at the bottom of this matter, I would have
advised prudence, since for us there was no anxiety or fear because they were
going to invade us or crush us to dust, because when it comes down to it we had
been raised with the mentality of fighters and patriots, ready to fight. We
were not afraid of fighting.  [Words indistinct] at that exact momen