Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Remarks at Missile Crisis Conference
Havana Cubavision Television
Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     CM0303194592
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-043-S        Report Date:    04 Mar 92
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     7
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       11
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       24 Feb 92

City/Source of Document:   Havana Cubavision Television

Report Name:   SUPPLEMENT

Headline:   Castro Remarks at Missile Crisis Conference

Subheadline:   Part 3 of Castro at Conference

Source Line:   CM0303194592 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 2230 GMT 24
Feb 92

Subslug:   [Third 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.  [Third 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] In fact, as I said here, we
have a different policy from the one we had at one time. Times have changed,
and we have changed, to a certain extent.  I believe that, in our country, our
leaders are comrades who are more mature. We have more experience. We are more
realistic, without having lost our principles or even our idealism. But we have
much more experience. Latin America has changed, and we have changed also. They
changed with respect to us, and we changed with respect to them.

3.  Naturally, all policies involve commitments. You cannot support a
revolutionary movement one day and then, because it suits the state, say: To
hell with them. To hell with the revolutionaries. I think it can be said we
have fulfilled our commitment to the end. The way in which a new policy is
implemented cannot be based on changing one day and dishonorably forgetting any
kind of commitment that existed. We continued our policy to the end, but the
evolution of events freed us from this. With respect to the international
situation, taking into account all the changes in the world and based on our
own experience, we have also been ridding ourselves of commitments in other
fields. I explained here how peace was achieved in Angola and what our
contribution to that peace was. What we have not wanted to do is
participate.... [pauses] On that occasion, when we gave military support, we
did not want to participate in the internal conflicts. That is why in Angola we
generally did not participate in activities between the MPLA [Popular Movement
for the Liberation of Angola] and UNITA [National Union for the Total
Independence of Angola], except when they attacked us, except when there was a
dangerous situation. As a general rule, we did everything possible-and we
succeeded in this-not to get ourselves involved in internal conflicts and
politics.  I think the worst thing you can do is involve yourself in conflicts
with troops there. That is different from support or cooperation in the
military sphere.

4.  At one time, the so-called subversive wars, as the West called them, were
things that were always ascribed to the socialists, but later the United States
also adopted their policies in this area and organized their wars, their
irregular wars, wars in certain situations. The United States gave a lot of
support in Afghanistan when the Soviets were there. They supported it in
Angola. They gave UNITA a lot. Even after we had withdrawn, the United States,
which acted as a mediator in the conflict, avoided making any commitment to
supply weapons to the Angolans, to UNITA. But they continued to supply weapons
to UNITA up to the end. In Nicaragua, the history of the war against the
Sandinists is well known, with strong support from the United States. So what
at one time was a tactic by revolutionaries-irregular war-also became a U.S.
tactic. We must admit this. I think it would be fair and honest to admit this.

5.  I think that the age of those kinds of internationalist missions with
troops has also ended for us. There have been changes in the world, and there
is a new situation.  We would like to help.  We do not lack good intentions,
but it is not realistic to carry out that kind of operation.  We say
internationalism must begin with us, that the most important internationalist
mission we have is to make sure that our revolution will survive. Therefore,
our primary task in every sense is focussed here at home.

6.  Well, you have also seen what happened in Haiti with the overthrow of the
Aristide government. We looked with favor on the Haitian process. Then there
was a military coup, and they threw Aristide out of the government.  There was
an explosion of emigration, and a number of Haitians have ended up on our own
territory, because they come in their boats and they founder. Even so, we look
after them, we give them everything we can, waiting for some international
organization to take responsibility for them.  But one must see that Haiti is a
neighboring country. If we chose the U.S. policy, we could send a small
expedition, or a large one, I do not know, or one of those crazy things, and
restore democratic government to Haiti. Really, we are opposed to that, to
doing it ourselves or having someone else do it, because we are concerned about
how some are beginning to question all these ideas of sovereignty.

7.  I think sovereignty is a very strong thing. I do not know if one day the
whole world will be a single family, if the whole world will be a single state,
if the United Nations will become a federation of states, or if there will be a
universal government. I have read some fiction about universal government, with
people voting by television, even. They did not have to move to elect the
universal government, and all those things. But the issue of sovereignty is
very important to us. I think it is very important for many countries in the

8.  The events that have taken place in the Soviet Union show the strength of
nationalist feelings. They are extremely strong.  Even the Marxists at a
certain time thought that these nationalist feelings-which were very positive
at one time-would be weakened.  We always viewed nationalism as a step forward
over feudalism, over the feudal age, the tribal age. Well, it was a very
positive force. As internationalists, we have also seen the positive and
negative aspects of nationalism. Nationalism has enormous strength. I do not
think the time has come to end the principle of sovereignty, especially when we
are seeing a great rise in hegemony like that of the United States.

9.  While the bipolar world disappeared, an almost unipolar world has arisen.
The influence and power of the United States in the world are things that
concerns us. It concerns all of us a lot, if we are going to go from a bipolar
world to a unipolar world under the command of the United States. We do not
really want to be under anyone's command, but they have real, tangible power. 
Perhaps the United States themselves will have time to think all this over.

10.  I remember in those times when I talked with senators and visitors to our
country, and they told me the Soviets wanted to take over the world. I said to
them: Do you sincerely believe that? I saw the Soviet Union making a great
effort to solve their problems, a great effort to solve their problems
[repeats] and to develop. We could not see any intentions of taking over any
world, regardless of the fact that they looked favorably on any revolution
because they saw the triumph of their ideas, more or less.  We saw that. But
whether they wanted to promote it, that is another question.

11.  Here we have spoken a lot about when we helped the revolutionaries in
Venezuela. I can add more, since we have spoken with such trust. You cannot
imagine the tremendous reprimand we received from the Soviets for assisting the
revolutionary movement in Venezuela.  Since we are saying these things, I can
say that they were totally opposed to our support for the revolutionary
movement. We did not do anything on behalf of the Soviets. The Soviets did not
have anything to do with the revolutionary movements in Nicaragua or anywhere
else. They did not have anything to do with the troops we sent to Angola in
1975, because the only thing that came from the Soviet Union were worries.

12.  We were alarmed one day when they said they were going to send a division.
We told them: What is already there is much more than one division. There is no
real news in the idea that a division will be sent there. What was going there
was regiments and more regiments.  Because after we had the conflict with the
South Africans there, when we Cubans were there helping the Angolans towards
the end of the colonial period, and the South Africans came and they penetrated
about 1,000 km over the border with Angola, the first Cubans died there. They
were people who were helping the Angolans. We could not avoid it. It was no
longer a matter of helping Angola, but of saving the Cubans who were there. But
the Soviets did not have any sympathy with our moving troops to Angola.

13.  It is true that they had some commitments to the MPLA, just as they had in
Mozambique with FRELIMO [Mozambique Liberation Front]. They sent them weapons.
Many people sent weapons to the liberation movements in Africa, many people in
the world. But, well, they had some commitments and they sent some weapons.
Later on, they made some coordination work with us. We asked them to please see
if they could send some weapons when we were there and things were tight.  We
asked them to send some weapons to match the ones sent to the Angolans,
including some of ours. But the theory that the Soviets were using us to
establish their government of the world is a false theory. I say this
sincerely. We often had contradictions with and criticism from the Soviets
concerning our activities.

14.  But when I argued with some American politicians, I told them: Do you
think the Soviets want to take over the world? Do you think that anyone is
crazy enough to want to take over the world? Why do we not give it to them? 
Because the world is a gigantic mountain of problems.  Who would want to be
given all those problems? I think the United States will also discover that the
world is a gigantic mountain of problems. The United States is going to
discover the world's serious problems. This is a time of euphoria and
everything because of everything that has happened in the USSR, the Gulf war,
and all those situations. There is euphoria, but the world is a very harsh,
very difficult reality.

15.  I think the Americans are going to discover this world.  We can already
see that the Soviets do not want it. I had suggested that we give it to
whomever wants it, really.  But, well, we can agree on living in a world of
peace, a world where there is stricter compliance with international norms, as
a principle, as a policy, as a fact, out of the maturity of our political
processes and the experiences we all have. [passage omitted]

16.  I understood that some things had been done by Khrushchev, some
concessions had been made. Some pretexts had been taken, something that was
going to be changed, and they told him they were going to pull him out of that
one.  Because I am sure that the Kennedy administration was not unaware that it
would benefit Khrushchev if he could present himself to his own leadership as
having been able to obtain a few things from the crisis. One of them could have
been these things. A good diplomat would have said that these missiles were not
being withdrawn because they were old but because there was an understanding,
as a demonstration by the Soviet Union of goodwill and to encourage feelings of
friendship and peace.

17.  I think that really Khrushchev needed some cooperation, because I
definitely think that he stopped being the leader of the Soviet Union as a
consequence of the missile crisis. Khrushchev was replaced as a consequence of
the missile crisis, in my opinion. That whole situation ended up costing him
the post of secretary general of the CPSU. Whoever reads Khrushchev's letters
and knows his attitude can understand that for Kennedy and the United States,
it was better to fight, deal with, or have relations with Khrushchev, whom they
already knew well, than with a new leadership when it was not known what policy
it would follow.

18.  There is no doubt that the leadership that replaced Khrushchev's
government worked on missiles, and worked hard. It is not known what they
invested in that, but the missile crisis also had a traumatic impact on the
Soviets and therefore they began to work desperately in search of what they
called nuclear balance or parity which, as has been said here, is relative.
There is no doubt, however, that the Soviet Union came to have a very
significant strategic force. This can be deduced from the agreements that have
recently been reached between the United States and the Soviet Union, from what
the Soviet leaders themselves have explained to us about what these agreements
consist of, how many missiles of what kinds are to be destroyed. The SS-20's
did not exist at the time of the missile crisis. Between 300 and 400 of them
were placed in Europe. I understand that these missiles have been destroyed.

19.  But there is no doubt that the leadership that replaced Khrushchev set out
with all possible speed to develop missiles and nuclear weaponry. This is true. 
I do not think the armsrace is good for either the USSR or the United States.
Perhaps many of the problems that occurred later in the USSR were a consequence
of excessive spending on weapons. The United States also suffered from this, if
you analyze the $10 trillion of U.S.  public and private debt. These are
astronomical figures.  You need a rocket to reach these figures, really. There
are enormous economic problems in the United States, the low savings rate, the
low profitability rate, the way investments are made. Many of them are in
residences and other things.

20.  If we really analyze the problems of the U.S. economy objectively, we can
draw the conclusion that while the Japanese, Germans, and others invested in
technology to make their economies and industries much more competitive, the
United States invested colossal sums in weapons. If we look at the problem of
the budget deficit-it is said that it will be higher this year than last year,
and it is already extremely high-it is astronomical.  If we also look at the
trade problems, the trade deficit and all that, they have existed for almost 15
years. There is no economy that can endure that.

21.  Someone said to me: But the USSR went bankrupt with the arms race. I said:
But it was not only the USSR, you did too. Perhaps a Khrushchev administration,
knowing Krushchev's willingness, would have permitted arms negotiations,
negotiations for peace. It would have been possible to save infinite amounts of
money that have been spent on weapons, and it would have been possible to seek
the kind of understanding during Khrushchev's time that was sought with
Gorbachev.  If one analyzes history, what could have been and was not, I think
that anything that helped Khrushchev would have helped U.S. policy more. That
is what I think.

22.  We never even thought about the alternative of the Warsaw Pact. Really, we
did not become members of the Warsaw Pact in the first place because we did not
like that pact very much, to tell the truth. In the second place, they would
not have accepted us. It did not even occur to us to ask to join the Warsaw
Pact. It was better that way; now we would be without the Warsaw Pact. We never
asked to join.

23.  About the brigade: All of that was part of our resistance to having them
take away what they had brought. We did not want them to take away the
missiles. They decided to leave the surface-to-air antiaircraft missiles, but
we also opposed their taking away the brigades. Because if Cuba was the
cause...[pauses] A word is good, but a word backed by four motorized armored
brigades, even if we did not have any tactical missiles, it is better than a
word, and it is a better expression.

24.  We spent 14 years in Angola, and we are a very small country, gentlemen.
If you analyze the effort you made in Vietnam, where you had 500,000 soldiers
at a given moment, and at that time you had a population at least 20 times
greater than Cuba's, it is as if you had had over 1 million soldiers in
Angola.... [corrects himself] in another country, abroad. It is said that the
USSR had I do not know how many, I do not remember the exact number, in
Afghanistan. I did the calculation, and the number of men we had abroad was
much greater per capita than the USSR ever sent to Afghanistan, and they were
right next door; they had a common border.

25.  I want you to know, even though Luanda seems closer, it is farther away
than Moscow. On a map the north looks bigger, but when you get on a plane, it
takes two hours longer to get to Luanda than to Moscow, traveling by [words
indistinct] Luanda is farther away than Moscow.  The southern front was 1,000
km farther than that. We were there for 14 years because of a commitment,
because of honor. Everyone knows perfectly well that it was said many times
that we were paid for our soldiers.  We were never paid for a soldier. One has
to know how to fulfill one's commitments. I think that it is a principle.  You
cannot abandon a country. That is against ethics, against a moral code, against
honor, against principles.  We have known how to keep these principles, with
the revolutionary movement and other countries. We knew how to keep them.

26.  Well, the four brigades, the four regiments, could have stayed here. At
the end, and as a result of our struggle and our talks with Mikoyan, it was
agreed to leave a regiment here. That was something, right? A drop in the
bucket, as the saying goes. We did not have lunar, tactical, or strategic
missiles, we just got a drop in the bucket, that is all.  Do you understand? A
brigade was left. Is that something?  Well, better something than nothing. It
was said that a brigade was left behind. Until Alejandro [not further
identified] explained to me [pause]... someone explained here that because of
that brigade, a U.S. Senator-I think his name was Church- began to agitate, as
if it was a discovery. Everyone knew, Kennedy knew, that the brigade was here.

27.  No publicity was given to the brigade precisely to avoid problems, but the
brigade stayed here until the nonaligned countries sent for a consultation in
1979 when we were in the midst of the conference. They did consult us that
time. They wanted us to say that the brigade was a study center. When we were
writing up a telegram to say that we did not agree with changing the brigade's
name and saying that it was a study center, the news was published in Moscow
that Study Center No. 2 was what had stayed here. You can see what a problem
they caused us. We could not agree to that.

28.  So reporters asked us what it was. We said: Well, what was called a
brigade, we now call a study center. I said: It is a perfectly trained unit
with all its combat capabilities.  We had to do wonders, but I made ironic
comments about the problem. I let everyone know that it was really a brigade.
But we did not want to leave the Soviets boxed in by their announcement and
create a new conflict, because the brigade was no longer called a brigade and
was called a study center. We never agreed to that. I can tell you that they
consulted us, but they never waited for the answer. That is the truth, and its
name was changed.  [passage omitted]

29.  At that time, we always saw obvious dangers, because during this whole
period we are talking about, the Ocotober crisis, these things were going on,
and even after that they continued. They were covert operations and all kinds
of operations against us. We always saw these dangers, but they did not disturb
us, I can say that sincerely. What we have done in the face of these dangers is
always to prepare the people, prepare ourselves better, organize resistance,
organize intelligent resistance against the type of war that may be waged
against us. We have a philosophy, this whole philosophy is intensified even
more after Reagan's administration. The Santa Fe Document, Reagan's threats;
all those things forced us to think a great deal about the concepts and
doctrine of defending the country to arrive at what we call the concept of the
war of the entire people. This is not a conventional type of war, the Iraq
type, or anything like that.

30.  These are our concepts, and they were born from our very origins as a
revolution, and from the history of Cuba itself. Cuba had to confront Spain
when Spain was one of the strongest military powers of that time. All the Latin
American nations had already become formally independent from Spain. Cuba had
to wage its struggle alone in the second half of the last century, and the
Cubans struggled a lot, a lot, a lot, and totally alone.  As revolutionaries,
we are not only inspired by the past, Marxist ideas, also Marti's ideas and the
military experience of our people themselves in their struggle against Spain
for many years, but our concepts about the struggle have also been influenced
by how we took power, the clandestine struggle, and especially the struggle in
the mountains.

31.  I have already said that the difference in strength between Batista and us
was very large, in Batista's favor.  When we won the war, there were almost 25
more Batista soldiers, more than 25 men under arms for Batista for each one of
our men under arms. Of course, this gave us a certain amount of confidence,
some experience. We have been developing all these ideas, especially since we
saw that Reagan's policy was very aggressive with respect to Cuba. We have
spent 12 years preparing ourselves for an invasion of Cuba; what we would do,
how we would have to respond, how we would have to resist, all those kinds of
ideas, which we have developed to a great extent.  I do not pretend to impress
anyone with this. I am answering your question. We do not lose any sleep
because of any kind of danger there might be to our country's security.

32.  We have spent a long time living like this. All our lives have gone by in
this uncertainty. You Americans have not experienced anything like the
uncertainty we have experienced. If you were extremely concerned about the
number of missiles here, in spite of the 5,000 nuclear warheads you had, and
for you anything threatened U.S.  security, you can imagine what it is like to
be a neighbor and adversary 90 miles from such a powerful nation as the United
States, which also has an American base on your territory. We have had to adapt
our minds, our thoughts, to that reality. Man has a very large capacity for

33.  I can tell you that we have a kind of leadership- regardless of the fact
that some comrades have more influence than others; of course the ones with
more seniority have more influence-but since we were organized as a
revolutionary movement, we have had a collective form of leadership. Each one
has his responsibilities and duties, and we maintained this throughout these
years. When the proposal was made about the missiles, there was no disagreement
among us. When the outcome of that crisis came about and we adopted the
specific position that I have explained here, there was no disagreement among
us. There have never been real disagreements. There have been subtle
differences, but not regarding these things I have mentioned.

34.  During the revolution's history, there may have been nuances. Some may
have been more influenced by the Soviets, and others less, really. I liked the
Soviets a lot, and I have said this here. I have not spared a single word of
appreciation for the Soviets. I still see them here.  Naturally I must feel
friendship and affection for them.  If you thought some things were surprising,
imagine how surprising the things that have happened in the Soviet Union must
be for us. Well, this has been worse than the missile crisis. What was the
missile crisis in comparison to the situation we find ourselves in after the
disintegration of the Soviet Union? It is a very serious thing, but we have not
lost our composure, calm, spirit, confidence, or assurance.

35.  Well, many of our people studied in the Soviet Union.  There are greater
and lesser influences. There have been nuances in certain economic concepts,
but we have not suffered deep, serious disagreements about principles within
our leadership. The contradictions of lesser importance that have occurred
between us have always been resolved by talking about and discussing things. We
have succeeded in doing all of this, by holding as a sacred thing, by
maintaining our unity. In all the difficult moments, all the dangerous moments,
that unity has been even greater within our party and leadership.

36.  We should not make the mistake of thinking that the revolution is one man.
We would all be in a bad way if that were true. We have strived to train
cadres, new cadres. There is a large number of new cadres in our country's
leadership. There are many young people. We try to renew ourselves. You might
be asking, why do they not renew me? I would say that it would be wonderful if
they could renew me. But if in these very difficult times it occurred to me to
resign or propose that they should look for someone else to carry out the
duties I perform, they would say that I was the biggest traitor in the world,
and the greatest con artist in the world. But we have a lot of new people. We
are renewing our cadres, always with the hope that we will have a team and
maintain our ideas, our line, and the same spirit. We think we are achieving
this, really.

37.  I do not think that in the United States they are thinking about regular
invasions. Under certain special circumstances, it could happen. It would
probably happen. But if we maintain our unity and cohesion, it would be more
difficult. Their hope is basically placed in the idea that the revolution will
not survive the challenges it faces, the problems it currently faces, that is
based on the fact that we are receiving almost, well, what shall I say, not
even one third of the fuel we used to received. We are receiving billions less
in imports. That is why we have entered the situation we call the special

38.  But perhaps one day we will be thankful for the special period because of
the efforts our people are making in all fields today, the scientists, workers,
engineers, the thousands of scientists, to try to solve our economic problems.
They are truly grandiose, they are admirable. We have tried to make the people
understand and stick with us in this difficult struggle, because that is the
essential point. Each one should make a contribution, an effort.  That is why I
say that if we work as we should work, at the end we will have to put up a
monument to the special period.

39.  I will not say that I will ever be happy about what has happened in the
Soviet Union. This will always cause us sadness. We hope that in some way or
another they will maintain a level of unity, a common economic space they
created over the course of decades, and that they will maintain a common
defense if they do not want to be treated like a Third World country. We hope
that they maintain, as far as possible, their unity in everyone's interests, in
the interest of world peace. I think that no one would want the USSR to explode
into 20 different pieces. I do not think anyone would benefit from that.  That
would even worsen the world's current economic problems.

40.  I have spoken at length about these considerations, because if I tell you
that our task today is to survive, it seems appropriate to me to add some ideas
about how we intend to do that. [passage omitted]