Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Signs Health Accord, Delivers Speech
/ 14 June Proceedings
Havana Radio Rebelde Network
Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL1606011092
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-116-S        Report Date:    16 Jun 92
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     11
Report Division:                              End Page:       14
Report Subdivision:  14 June Proceedings      AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       13 Jun 92

City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio Rebelde Network

Report Name:   SUPPLEMENT

Headline:   Castro Signs Health Accord, Delivers Speech

Author(s):   Cuban President Fidel Castro at the signing of a health
cooperation accord at the UNCED at the Riocenter Conference Hall
in Rio de Janeiro on 12 June-recorded]

Source Line:   FL1606011092 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 1205 GMT 13
Jun 92

Subslug:   [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the signing of a health
cooperation accord at the UNCED at the Riocenter Conference Hall in
Rio de Janeiro on 12 June-recorded]

1.  [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the signing of a health
cooperation accord at the UNCED at the Riocenter Conference Hall in Rio de
Janeiro on 12 June-recorded]

2.  [Text] There is something I should say to our friends, Brazilian friends.
It gives me great pleasure on the occasion of this great event, the summit in
Rio de Janeiro, which has become the capital of the world, to discuss issues so
vital to the world such as development and the environment, the protection of
the environment, and at the same time to have been able to sign this accord. I
have to confess that for me it was a surprise. I did not know that it was so
advanced and that everything was ready. I was told yesterday that it was going
to take place today.

3.  I think that they understand me. [Words indistinct] do not believe that
this represents a sacrifice. In all reality, this is nothing. It does not even
merit your gratitude. For us, it is a simple thing through which we fulfill a
basic duty among friends and brothers. The origin of our experience dealing
with people affected by radiation emerged after the Chernobyl accident. We were
not aware of the existing situation there. One day, certain authorities and
social organizations contacted us and explained the tragedy in their midst.
They did not only contact us, they also contacted many other countries asking
for help in treating the children from Chernobyl.  We, of course, gave them a
positive answer. We did not have much experience in this field but we were
willing to assign our best doctors, research all the information, and give
these children the care they required. In other words, contribute, along with
the rest of the world, to solve that problem.

4.  The truth has to be told: Very few countries gave a positive answer. Some
countries welcomed 20 or 30 children; some just offered them a vacation and
afterwards this was never again mentioned. At that time, when we told them to
send several hundred children for treatment in our hospitals, when the first
planes arrived with those children-some doctors from the former USSR came
along, as well as relatives and teachers with the first groups of children who
arrived-is when, in conversation with the parents and adults accompanying the
children, I became aware of the magnitude of the Chernobyl tragedy. I asked
them: How many people have been affected? They answered: Hundreds of thousands
of children. I had no idea of the magnitude of the problem.

5.  We had planned to use a number of pediatric hospitals to treat those
children, but when we realized the magnitude of that problem we remembered that
when we had a dengue epidemic in our country-a strange epidemic which to this
day has not been fully explained because it did not exist anywhere else in the
world but suddenly, suspiciously it broke out in Cuba leaving us no choice but
to become convinced that it might have been introduced deliberately-it was
massive, then we adopted a series of steps, fought a war against that epidemic
and defeated it. We ended up using schools for this. We ended up using schools
for this. [repeats]

6.  Governor, as I was saying, I was explaining the origin of our experience in
the treatment of radiation victims.

7.  In the fight against that epidemic we had to use entire school buildings.
The hemorrhagic dengue epidemic is transmitted through mosquitoes. We basically
turned the schools into hospitals. It happened during a vacation. I thought
that such a massive problem required an adequate response.  We realized that we
had a vacation city for children with a very large capacity. During the summer,
20,000 children can use it. During the normal school term up to 10,000 children
can be given classes there. We offered that city to the Soviets for the
treatment of the Chernobyl children. Of course, we discussed this idea with the
leaders of the pioneer movement; we discussed it with the children in the
schools. We explained to them that we had to sacrifice the vacation programs to
be able to treat the Chernobyl children, and we told the Soviets they could
send as many as they wanted. They could send as many as 10,000. Of course they
would be responsible for....[pauses] We were not in the situation that we are
now. Right now we have a more difficult economic situation, but we told them to
pay for the fare, transport the children, and we would take care of the medical
attention, the food, medicine, all the expenses [word indistinct]. We were able
to do this because we already had incurred expenses at that center as a
vacation facility.

8.  In reaching an agreement with the children, we told them: Well this is the
contribution that you are going to make to help the Soviet children. Therefore,
our expenses were not going to increase. It was the same number of workers. A
number of doctors were chosen.  We also made hospital facilities available but
we also realized the following: Not all the children had the same problems. The
first ones went to hospitals, and for a child, a hospital becomes a prison. The
child must remain there, but it seemed to be a much better idea to use that
vacation city because many of them could be treated there; what they needed was
air, sea, food, and care. However, some more severe cases needed to be admitted
to the hospitals.

9.  This is how we conceived the solution to the problem.  This experience,
this work was started over three years ago. Do you remember Rosa Elena [Simeon,
president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences]? [Words indistinct] the Soviets did
not fully use our assets because problems were already beginning to arise
within the USSR-a great disorganization, a great chaos was beginning to take
shape-and they did not even have the means of transportation to send the
children. Three regions of the nation had been affected: Ukraine, Byelarus, and
Russia-three different regions of the nation. This is why our potential was not
fully used, otherwise we could have treated tens of thousands of Chernobyl
children. Nonetheless, we have treated over 8,000 children who suffered the
consequences of the Chernobyl accident. In this manner we have amassed
expertise, lots of expertise.

10.  As I mentioned before, in many cases there was a need to have a medical
exam on the basis of certain symptoms, specific factors, to reach a diagnosis
and separate the severe cases from the not so severe, provide specialized
treatment in the hospitals for the severe cases and provide treatment within
more normal conditions to the other children. We had to reach diagnoses and put
aside all the ties between the accident and the symptoms. We had to find the
reasons for the symptoms because a symptom could appear which could occur
normally, but since the accident took place, people blamed the accident for
certain illnesses. In this manner, those children received truly top care; the
best doctors were assigned to this task and many children-the most delicate
cases- were well treated. Practically all of them have recovered; only in some
exceptional cases the life of a child could not be saved because the illness
was already very advanced.

11.  I believe that through this Cuba gained great expertise in matters related
to radiation and radiation contamination. This is a truly terrible thing
because radiation cannot be seen and the thousands of families evacuated after
the accident returned to their homes, which were contaminated, and they tended
the land, drank milk, ate potatoes and food, and were being affected. It was an
enormous tragedy, and I truly believe that that country did not respond to the
magnitude of the tragedy that had occurred. It was hardly even mentioned. I
believe that in a catastrophe of such magnitude all state resources have to be
assigned to respond to it, such as when there is an earthquake, when a large
natural catastrophe takes place all resources have to be assigned to it.
Extensive flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes-in these circumstances state
resources have to be used to respond to the emergency.

12.  I am giving you this explanation to clarify that this effort is
insignificant next to what we did and are doing because that program still
continues. We took care of all the medical expenses, medicine, food, and
medicine [repeats] for the children. What has to be spent in medicine is not
too much, and as you said, although in the affected region there could have
been approximately 6,000 people, the number of people with the symptoms, the
number actually afflicted, is much smaller. If all 6,000 had to be treated in
Cuba, all 6,000 could be treated in Cuba. We have the resources to receive
them.  [applause]

13.  You would be in charge of travel expenses, but of course, more important
than all of this, or as important as all this, is the exchange of
experience-the fact that we can transfer to you all the expertise we have
accumulated so that Brazil has this knowledge available if it needs it or if it
wants to help another country where a similar problem might arise. There are
hundreds and in the future there will be thousands of nuclear plants. The risk
of accidents cannot be totally dismissed. Therefore, the experience which
Brazil will acquire could serve to help others. It could even be helpful for
Brazil if some day, unfortunately, it needs this knowledge.

14.  I know that the director of that medical center, who is one of the best
hospital directors, Dr. (Bostre), visited you and participated in the
negotiations. He manages that center and is an outstanding person. His hospital
is one of the hospitals which has participated the most in this task.
Therefore, in the beginning we would need to send some doctors and scientists.
They will later travel to Cuba with the children. Later they will acquire the
expertise, but as long as you have this need, believe me, it does not represent
any sacrifice for us nor any special expenses to treat all the children
required. Nothing gives us more pleasure, especially when we are looking at
such a charming and friendly little girl. Who would not be moved by the
possibility of helping if it were necessary?  I hope that she is alright. Come
here. [laughter and applause] Stay here. [applause]

15.  Well I have very little left to say. No, not the food. I was going to say,
since he mentioned sports, that it is true that President Collor is very
excited about the athletes' training center and today, during a meeting with
him, he mentioned it with much enthusiasm. I did not know where, but I just
found out that the center is being built nearby. He told me that Juan Torrena
[vice president of the National Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation
Institute] was visiting a group of trainers participating in this program. This
is a field in which we can happily cooperate with Brazil. I believe that all of
this helps us understand each other better, get closer, strengthen ties.  You
are a large country and we are a small Caribbean nation but are very much alike
in many ways. We have common roots, we have a common culture, and I really,
truly do not see the difference between Cubans and Brazilians. [applause]

16.  The difference is that Brazil is a giant and I am very glad that Brazil is
a giant because we know what it is to have a giant enemy, we understand well
the value of a giant friend, [applause] a giant friend, a giant brother. This
is how we see the Brazilians and we feel like a kind of little brother of the
great Latin American family because I believe that Brazil should be a pillar of
the integration, unity, and brotherhood of not only some Latin American
countries but all countries and Latin America. We have the right to dream
because life teaches us that today's dreams, as Marti used to say, are the
realities of tomorrow. In this meeting, this assembly, this summit, we have
been dreaming. Who would have imagined that so many leaders, heads of state,
and prime ministers would meet together someday? No one had ever dreamt it. I
am glad to have attended.

17.  [Several unidentified speakers comment on President Bush applauding
Castro's speech.] I believe, what I think is, that all the speeches were
applauded even if there we were in disagreement and that tradition was
established.  Many applauded. He was present when I spoke. I made every effort
to be present when he spoke. I had to run because there was only a 15-minutes
recess, a very brief recess, and they started at 1515 and I had to run and
arrived almost when they were going to announce Bush.  I told myself: Let me
get there quickly to avoid meeting him on the way to the podium. [laughs] But,
very well, I was aware that he had made the gesture of applauding and as a
basic duty of education and courtesy he deserved my applause. I believe that
was the beautiful thing of the summit. We have applauded all, many whom we were
in agreement with, others because we partially agreed, and all because it is a
basic duty of education and because that is the reigning spirit in the summit.

18.  I congratulate you for the success because this summit is already a
success. It helped to raise awareness, it helped to raise awareness [repeats]
because I believe that all the heads of state and all the leaders during this
week have been receiving a lot of information regarding environmental problems.
These problems are much more serious than what they seem. To think that every
year 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide end up in the atmosphere, 21,000 million,
21,000 million [repeats] not 21 million but 21,000 million tons of carbon
dioxide end up in the atmosphere is enough to panic. You call it billions, but
the Spanish billion is a million million. It will be a billion in approximately
40 years. But what atmosphere can tolerate 21,000 million tons of carbon
dioxide mainly from fossil fuels? This does not include the fluorocarbons which
are also produced in large amount and affect the ozone layer. It does not
include other gases.

19.  This is horrendous. In our country we are beginning to experience the
impact of the greenhouse effect and it has been proven that the hottest years
of this century have taken place, almost most of them, in the decades of the
eighties and nineties. The year 1990 was the hottest and we do not know about
this one. When I left Cuba the heat was terrible.