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Castro Talks About Environment, World Situation
/ 4-16 June Activities at
Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     PY1806005292
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-118-S        Report Date:    18 Jun 92
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     6
Report Division:                              End Page:       11
Report Subdivision:  4-16 June Activities at UNCEDAG File Flag:
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Portuguese
Document Date:       16 Jun 92
Report Volume:       

Dissemination:  FOUO

City/Source of Document:   Rio de Janeiro JORNAL DO BRASIL

Report Name:   SUPPLEMENT

Headline:   Castro Talks About Environment, World Situation

Author(s):   JORNAL DO BRASIL reporters Luciana Villas-Boas and Regina Zappa at
the Rio Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro on 15 June]

Source Line:   PY1806005292 Rio de Janeiro JORNAL DO BRASIL in Portuguese 16
Jun 92 pp 12, 13-FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Subslug:   [Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by JORNAL DO BRASIL
reporters Luciana Villas-Boas and Regina Zappa at the Rio Palace
Hotel in Rio de Janeiro on 15 June]

1.  [Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by JORNAL DO BRASIL reporters
Luciana Villas-Boas and Regina Zappa at the Rio Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro
on 15 June]

2.  [Text] [JORNAL DO BRASIL] You have told JORNAL DO BRASIL that you
considered Bush an honest adversary and that his presence at the UNCED was a
positive fact.

3.  [Castro] No. I did not say he was an honest adversary. I did not use that
word. I did say that he made what I consider a positive gesture. I was somewhat
impressed because I did not believe he would be there for my speech. He arrived
a few minutes earlier and listened to my speech. I did not know at the time
where he was exactly, but my comrades told me that he even applauded. I think
this is appropriate at this kind of conference where it is a habit to applaud
everybody even if one disagrees with them. I did not know whether Bush would be
there to listen to my speech, or that he would make this, let us say, educated,
gesture. I believe, however, that his presence, irrespective of our well-known
positions, was a contribution to the conference because he could have not come.
There had been a lot of talk on whether or not he would come. In this regard
all those present at the conference, so many leaders, of so many countries,
especially the major industrialized countries, made a contribution. Japan did
not show up. I imagine they had a problem. It would have been good for Japan to
be there. Japan's presence alongside the great powers would have been positive.
All the issues were discussed at length before the conference and documents
prepared in advance were signed at the summit. The conference worked very hard.
Each one of the treaties signed had a difficult delivery. Endless meetings were
held during those 10 days to prepare the documents. In the end they had them
ready. All this took place in a very pleasant, very positive atmosphere. We all
met for lunch and everybody gathered under the same roof. There were no
incidents whatsoever among the leaders, either out of courtesy or good manners.

4.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Did you talk to Bush?

5.  [Castro] No, no. We did not get together. Nowhere did they sit us side by
side. There would have been a problem if we had decided to talk to each other,
although I would have had no objections. I would have behaved in a completely
dignified and decent manner.

6.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Was Bush's isolation at the conference a display of
strength or of weakness?

7.  [Castro] I believe that the U.S. position elicited a unanimous reaction.
The people disagree with the U.S. position. The people are dissatisfied with
its attitude toward biodiversity. The United States was undoubtedly isolated. 
Practically all its allies signed the treaty. I believed that perhaps the
United States would adopt a more flexible position, but it did not.

8.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Do you believe that this was the first display of
political independence by Europe and the other U.S. allies after the end of the
Cold War?

9.  [Castro] Well, it was a show of political independence. I do not know
whether it was the first or the last. The positions were different; even among
developed countries they had different shadings. Norway's position, for
example, was a very good one. The position of (Canadian Premier) Mulroney was
very weak and open. He is one of those who lends very weak support to the idea,
the effort [to save the environment]. The positions of others were more
cautious, with more reservations. The position of rich developed countries at
this kind of conference is not an easy one, mainly because it is not easy to
justify the enormous waste of resources and wealth in the light of the poverty
prevailing in the developing world. Everybody remembers that colonialism gave
birth to the large capitals and neocolonialism fed them. The foreign debt
became the means to perpetuate backwardness and underdevelopment. Protectionism
is an enormous obstacle for the development of Third World countries.  Over the
last 10 years unfair trade has cost the Third World $1.4 billion and the
servicing of the foreign debt has cost $1.3 billion [figures as published].
Thus, the Third World lost almost $3 billion in the last 10 years.  These are
terrible obstacles for development. The Third World knows very well that it has
financed capitalist overdevelopment during the colonial times, but also that it
continues to finance this development under the neocolonial status. Therefore,
this excessive luxury, and the squandering and waste of resources have been the
cause of environmental problems. It is not easy to justify this. Those who are
guilty of this squandering and waste cannot have a clear conscience. People are
talking about developing countries, but in reality they are underdeveloped
countries. I say this because the gap between developed and underdeveloped
countries is growing.  What we have are underdeveloped countries, countries
that are falling behind. The gap is growing bigger and bigger. The more luxury
and waste there is among consumer societies, the greater the poverty elsewhere. 
The international organizations have all the statistics.

10.  Every year 14 million children die from curable diseases.  These deaths
could be avoided through proper health programs. It is as if a bomb were thrown
at the children of the Third World every three days, a bomb like those of
Horishima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 100,000 people. Whereas bombs
leave radiation, the hunger and poverty that kill all these children also leave
their aftereffects, such as malnutrition and poverty that do not allow the
children that do not die to attain full physical and mental development. It is
known that malnutrition causes a certain degree of mental retardation. I do not
know about children, but it is known that many women die in the world because
of epidemics: scores of millions every year, more than during World War II. We
see this happening every day. We are horrified, and rightly so, by border
conflicts. We are horrified when 10, 20, 30 people die. Meanwhile, 40,000
children die every day but no one talks about it. The Americans are the worst
pollutors of the environment because they consume three-quarters of the energy
they produce. They consume most of the metals and raw materials. There are also
problems related to their lifestyle.  Advertising turns this lifestyle into the
aspiration of all Third World societies. It is, however, impossible to live
like they do. Let us analyze. In the United States there are at least two cars
in every house. There is at least one car per person, maybe more, I do not
know. Now, let us just imagine what would happen if China implemented a
development model aimed at giving each person a car, or if India's development
model also sought to provide each person with a car. What would happen if
Africa did the same? How long would the fuel last? How long would the air last?
The air is already receiving 21 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Twenty-five percent of it comes from the United States. Almost all of it comes
from developed countries. The consequences are disastrous for both soil and
water and are causing a global catastrophe, the terrible heat, the tornados,
the excessive rains and the droughts. The last 10 years have been the hottest
of the century, and 1990 was the hottest of them all. All this has its
agricultural, social, and economic consequences. The reduction of the ozone
layer is very serious because this layer protects human beings from ultraviolet
rays. The number of people with some kind of skin cancer in the United States
is appalling. Both developed and developing countries are aware of this

11.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Can the environment issue bind the Third World together
from now on?

12.  [Castro] Objectively speaking, the environment and development should be a
factor of unity. There lies the significance of this conference. People do not
know if they will be alive tomorrow, or if they will eat the next day. Those
who walk around barefoot, those who can die from a disease, those who go
hungry, do not worry about the environment, but they do worry a great deal
about development. The combination of environment and development should be a
binding factor for all countries because no one can escape from environmental
degradation, and everybody knows this. It is also known that there must be
development, that the world cannot go on like this, that the mess is getting
worse all the time. A great many developed countries are aware that they have
no options but to implement policies to help resolve underdevelopment. The two
things go together. Now that the Cold War is over, what pretext can there be to
continue spending millions and millions, enormous, almost incommensurable
amounts on arms? In the last few years military spending has amounted to $13
trillion.  These funds would have been enough to finance development, enough to
implement life-compatible environmental policies. I believe that environment
and development should together become an element of unity among nations. This
is what happened here at the conference. It should not unite only the Third
World, because alone the Third World will be unable to resolve the problem. The
developed countries cannot resolve it either. We must all come together and
work together as we have done at this conference. Finding a solution to these
problems is extremely urgent. We are not dramatizing things; the problems are
much more serious than people realize.

13.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Do you believe in this union of Third and First Worlds?

14.  [Castro] I believe that it is imperative for us to work together. Unless
we do it, there will be no solution.

15.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Can't the environment bring the Third World together?

16.  [Castro] I believe that both environment and development are key issues.
Developed countries are interested more in ecology than in the development of
the Third World. It is possible that Third World countries are interested more
in development. The two things, however, are very important and should go
together. Separately the two issues will not unite, they will not instill a
fighting spirit. The two issues are inseparable. This is something new for the
Movement of Nonaligned Countries, whose members have many problems and for whom
development and environment are vital.  These issues could become the core of
the nonaligned countries' struggle for independence and against the last traces
of colonialism. When I talk about development, I talk about everything that
influences it, such as foreign debt, protectionism, unfair trade, and
technology transfers.

17.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Has Cuba overcome the harshest part of the crisis, or
are worse times ahead?

18.  [Castro] We are in a full crisis, amid a very harsh and long crisis, but
we are ready for any problem. For example, the situation could be worse with an
increase in oil prices and a reduction in sugar prices, from which we earn the
scarce currency with which to face the crisis.  While we are creating new
resources under very harsh circumstances, because we are suffering from a trade
blockade, new adverse factors may turn up, so we must prepare ourselves well
for that, and not raise short-term expectations. This is why our program is
very important.  Its merit is having carried it out under a very difficult
economic situation. Until the present no country felt the economic blow that
the disappearance of the socialist world represented for Cuba. We lost 60
percent of our imports. Cuba is currently receiving only 40 percent of the
imports it used to receive, and less than 50 percent of the fuel it used to
receive. This has also taught us to defend the environment, the ecology. We
discovered the value of bicycles; why wasn't the value of this kind of
transportation not appreciated before? Everybody used to ride on the bus to
travel a few blocks, while it is much more healthy and clean to use a bicycle.
The Chinese, out of wisdom and need, further developed the use of the bicycle.
How many buses are necessary to replace all the bicycles? And how much fuel
would they have to use?...  We are facing a struggle without glory. But it will
be better to consider that the blockade will be prolonged.  This blockade is
not only longlasting but is increasingly hardening. New things to hinder our
development are created yearly; even our trade efforts, including our economic
opening to foreign investments, which is an undeniable need-affecting the
development of our country, the conditions in which it must develop. There is a
meticulous and firm struggle against all of our country's activities. The
blockade tends to become worse. We must prepare ourselves to resist an
increasingly hardened blockade on Cuba.

19.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] What can Cuba do to promote a political opening and at
the same time combat the economic crisis?

20.  [Castro] From the political point of view I think that we have a
government system that is really superior to those in the rest of the world.
The way we managed to implement it must be taken into consideration. We have a
single party, but the party does not choose or postulate candidates. In Europe
the parties are the ones that postulate and elect the parliament
representatives. Based on a calculation of the amount of votes a party may
obtain, it establishes lists of candidates and priorities. If a party knows it
can elect three deputies, it places them first in line. The people vote for a
party and the party is the one who chooses the candidate. In Cuba, the party
does not postulate or elect candidates. The neighbors (citizens) are the ones
who postulate candidates. It is the people who elect them. That is how we do
it, but nobody knows about it. In the neighborhood meetings they propose
several candidates to delegates for each voting district. After that, an
election is held with not less than two and not more than eight candidates.
Sometimes there are eight, seven, five, or only two candidates. The public is
based mainly on their knowledge of the merits of the candidate. We do not have
an election campaign with signs that pollute the city and make it dirty and
which demand millionaire expenses, making it difficult for those who do not
have money to have access to politics. In Cuba, our system is broad and free.
It is even more healthy in the field of political ecology. The election system
in Cuba used to be like a high school system.  The delegates of the voting
districts elected the National Assembly which in turn elected the government.
Now we have direct elections for deputies to the National Assembly and direct
elections for delegates to the Provincial Assembly. We will try to preserve the
purity of this political system in which 95 percent of the population
participates without any obligation to vote. In the past, less than 50 percent
of the voters participated in the elections in the United States.

21.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Are new leaders being trained in Cuba? How will the
island fare after Fidel?

22.  [Castro] Possibly much better. There is a new generation that includes
many more scientists, technicians, cadres, experience, knowledge, and culture.
When the revolution began 30 percent of our country's population was
illiterate. Today our workers have finished basic secondary school; there are
hundreds of thousands of university graduates; there are 300,000 professors and
teachers; and there are scores of thousands of scientists and engineers. Of the
first contingent of revolutionaries, fewer and fewer are left all the time.
There is a natural process of promoting young cadres in provinces and
grassroots organizations. In Havana it is almost illegal to become old. Very
soon we will have to create an organization to defend the political rights of
the elderly because for the sake of promoting the young the few old people left
are about to be pensioned off. Painters, doctors, scientists, artists-no one
wants to retire, but politicians must retire. Doctors do not want to retire
because they believe that the older they get the more they know, but it is not
the same with politicians. If they replace us, however, we will not be ashamed.
As humans we will not be ashamed. Our greatest satisfaction will be to see that
our young people can do without us. We are not worried about the time when we
will no longer be around. We do not have many years ahead of us. One would have
to be very optimistic to believe otherwise. Political work is not conducive to
a long life. Tensions, worries shorten the lifespan. We are not afraid,

23.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Do you believe that the world is still moving toward
socialism even after the demise of the Soviet Union?

24.  [Castro] At this point the world is not moving toward socialism but toward
neocapitalism, neoliberalism, the political trend in fashion. Let us see for
how long, because this trend usually leads to enormous social crises in a very
short time. Just because socialism has lost some ground does not mean that the
socialist idea is dead. As a modern concept capitalism was born with the French
Revolution. It burst into the world through the French Revolution, bringing new
ideas and new institutions that opposed the feudal system. Great progress was
attained, then capitalism lost ground. We should not forget that Restoration
followed the French Revolution. Restoration, however, could not restore
everything exactly as it was. But those concepts, those ideas, are still
prevalent.  A modern society does not achieve progress in a linear fashion. It
may experience highs and lows, retrocession.  Socialism is now experiencing a
retrocession. But this does not mean that socialist ideals and objectives have
been abolished. The reality of today's world has shown us that humanity must be
more rational if it wants to survive-the peril of a nuclear war is gone but
there is environmental contamination-by preserving the living conditions to
which man has adapted millions of years ago and from which it has evolved. No
one rejects the theory of evolution anymore. Even Darwin, who was so criticized
and slandered, is accepted by all. Even the British prime minister mentioned
Darwin in his speech.  Everyone accepts the theory of the evolution of the
species, of this species that has evolved into an intelligent being and which
has yet to prove that it has evolved for the good of nature. What will happen
if man-that species known as homosapien who has not yet sufficiently proven his
wisdom-changes in one century the natural habitat which has taken him thousands
of years to adapt and he is unable to adapt to these new conditions? Many
phenomena dealing with the destruction of nature are beginning to occur-foods
highly contaminated with chemical fertilizers that are harmful to health in the
medium- and short-term; fish that are caught in high seas are often highly
contaminated with mercury-a substance that is harmful to health-because of
water pollution. Man's respiratory illnesses are constantly increasing because
of the saturation of gasses. This is not caused only by the destruction of the
ozone layer, which increases the possibilities of developing skin cancer, but
by dozens of other phenomena. What will we do in 40 years-when the world
population will reach 10 billion-in order to feed ourselves if we continue to
destroy nature, erode our soil, and destroy our forests? We will not survive if
we do not apply all the science that man has acquired to solve these future

25.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] How does the Cuban regime, which has always vindicated
humanism and more humane social treatment, view the death penalty?

26.  [Castro] The death penalty is not something to sympathize with. The death
penalty is a resource to struggle against plans to destroy the country. We can
advocate for the eradication of the death penalty as an ideal but we cannot do
it unilaterally. We are willing to sign an international treaty by which all
countries commit themselves to eradicate the death penalty. But if we make our
rules more flexible, less strict, regarding certain perils we may be paving the
way for our own destruction. You must understand that there are many people who
believe that our revolution will be wiped out by the United States and this is
why it is trying to enter Cuba to sabotage our economy and promote terrorism
against the people. If these people believe that the maximum punishment they
will receive will be spending some months in prison and later savor their
treason, we will be unable to restrain them. Within this context, it is
impossible to renounce capital punishment because it is a necessity imposed by
the war situation we are experiencing. The death penalty exists in all
countries at war. And Cuba cannot forget that the most powerful world power
that has ever existed in history is waging war against us and it is trying to
destroy us. We are not living under normal conditions. Under normal
circumstances, we may practice that superior humanism that advocates the
eradication of the death penalty.

27.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] You said that Cuba still practices internationalism,
but the fact is that the economic crisis and the end of colonial wars have
obstructed the exercise of internationalism. What ideological impact has this
had on the Cuban people?

28.  [Castro] At a given time we had to send combatants to different African
countries. The most important case was that of Angola, which was attacked by
South Africa.  We had more than 50,000 men in Angola. We were forced to send
this kind of assistance, and I am sorry we did because I would have rather sent
doctors, teachers, and experts instead of soldiers. When the circumstances
changed, peace was achieved. The South Africans withdrew, Namibian independence
was recognized, there was great progress achieved regarding apartheid, and the
reason for our presence there ceased to exist. We left.  Under our present
circumstances, we could not send this type of assistance. But we can still make
important contributions in the fields of health, education, technical
cooperation, and medical assistance. We have almost 100 doctors in Nicaragua.
We do not have any military programs anymore, but we do have other programs. We
have doctors in dozens of countries. There are scholarship programs for
thousands of Third World youths. We have programs in Cuba for Chernobyl
children. More than 10,000 children are being treated. No one speaks about
these things, not even us. And even today after the demise of the USSR we are
open to cooperation with three republics, mainly, Ukraine, Byelarus, and
Russia.  During the Rio de Janeiro conference, I could have discussed the
blockade on Cuba and the unjust policies imposed on us. But we decided not to
do this from this podium so as not to deviate from the main issue, so as not to
divide the conference. I didn't even mention Cuba. I did not speak of its
interests, or about its problems. I believe that this also constitutes an
expression of solidarity, an expression of internationalist policy. We support
the cause of those countries that want to achieve development and which we have
been supporting for many years in a consistent manner.

29.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] In Cuba we heard people say that the time has come for
Cuba to think about itself and not about others.

30.  [Castro] No, on the contrary. People are aware that the best service we
can render others is to resist. People are aware that by defending our ideals,
by defending Cuban independence, by defending our trenches, we are fulfilling a
great internationalist duty. Internationalism also entails overcoming the
current difficult situation we are experiencing. At a time in which the balance
of power has ceased to exist, and in which our bipolar world has evolved into a
unipolar world, with only one hegemonic power, we practice internationalism by
defending the trenches of socialism, just ideas, and independence. This is what
people are saying: The current task is to save the revolution, the fatherland,

31.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] What was your most important thought the day that the
Soviet flag was replaced by the Russian flag at the Kremlin?

32.  [Castro] I believe that the entire world views with sadness, with
ever-increasing sadness, the great tragedy that was the disintegration of the
USSR. It shattered the world balance. Now the balance is tilted only to one
side and, if people disliked bipolarity, they will like unipolarity much less,
the prevalence of a single country above others. The prevalence of a country
that is not characterized in its history by fraternal feelings, by loving other
countries. Quite the contrary, it surged at the expense of its own indigenous
population, of the territories of other countries, and it continued to expand
like a great empire at the expense of the economic and political interests of
the rest of the world. I would not like to confuse the country and the empire
at this time because this country harbors many progressive people who are
ecologically conscientious, who are aware of the poverty that others suffer.
But the empire that the United States represents is quite powerful and this
makes people restless all over the world. I can peceive this restlessness among
its own powerful allies in view of the risk that this political and military
power may be used against their own interests.  Much more so now when there is
a great economic struggle among the developed countries' groups: Japan, the
United States, Europe.

33.  It is sad to see a country like the Soviet Union disappear.  But no one
can deny this country's great influence in all aspects. The October Revolution
had its influence on thinkers, politicians, writers. The USSR influenced the
struggle for the liberation of peoples. It influenced the disappearance of the
colonial system, even though it was later replaced by a neocolonial system. It
helped influence the well-being of workers because the social revolution forced
the bourgeoisie around the world to show concern for the working class which
then tried to implement a fairer distribution of wealth and resources. All this
is due to the October Revolution. This country paid for its fight against
fascism with the lives of 20 million men and women because without this
country's struggle, without its heroic struggle, fascism would have taken over
the world. For some time, that is, because all empires last for only a certain
period of time, they do not stay indefinitely. Hitler thought that his empire
would last 1,000 years but it did not last even 10 years. No matter how much
political, economic, or military pressure it can muster, even the United States
will eventually discover that the world is ungovernable. The USSR was destroyed
twice in 25 years but it was still able to industrialize, and this despite the
blockade and isolation.  The USSR had great industrial resources and a large
territory, which is not the case for Cuba, a small country with scarce
resources. The USSR was able to industrialize and reconstruct the country after
World War II. It had great scientific successes even though it did not always
use its successes with the right criteria. The USSR was able to achieve nuclear
parity in very difficult conditions and was able to confront the U.S. military
power. The USSR was able to produce 600 million tonnes of oil per year, 300
billion cubic meters of gas, 150 million tonnes of steel, 140 million tonnes of
cement, dozens of millions of tonnes of fertilizers, tens of thousands of
kilometers of oil and gas pipelines, and a fantastic energy network in that
very cold country. It did not make elegant shoes but it had great success in
the production of basic raw materials. It was able to integrate the country
that was born during a war, through conflicts. It is sad to see the country
splitting with wars and bloodshed just when Europe is uniting politically and
economically. The world is concerned about that, people are not happy to see
the infighting. It is still uncertain how the situation will evolve but it is
sad to see the scattering of qualified USSR scientists and technicians, the
increase in unemployment-which will probably reach 15 to 20 million in one
year. It is very, very sad. We must respect a country's right to hoist the kind
of flag it wishes. It is understandable for me to feel sad when the Soviet
Union's flag and symbols were taken down.

34.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] Did you feel any fear during the Soviet disintegration

35.  [Castro] Us? No, certainly not. We were very calm. We felt secure and had
high morale. During dangerous times people produce more adrenaline. Our people
produced a lot of adrenaline-political, revolutionary adrenaline when thinking
of the difficulties ahead. It is surprising- and must be recognized by our
enemies-that this small country stood alone defending its ideals when the
socialist world disappeared.

36.  [JORNAL DO BRASIL] What do you feel when you think that a tiny Caribbean
island-against all political forecasts-is the bastion of socialism at the end
of the 20th century?

37.  [Castro] We did none of that. We were not looking for any type of glory. I
think life has not been very kind to us. But we are the most independent
country in the world. We do not depend on anyone. We only depend on the world
as a whole. Life was difficult and subjected us to difficult tests. But I think
that we still will ``thank life''-as Violeta Chamorro's song says-for giving us
so much. Because life gave us the difficulties but also the virtues to face
them. I am sure that in the future when we remember this period we will be
happy to have lived during this special period, because in times like this
virtues flourish, people learn to work more efficiently. In times like this
people learn things they could not learn before. I want to congratulate Brazil
for the extraordinary success of the conference. Brazilian prestige was greatly
enhanced by this conference, which will be considered a historic event; no one
will dispute that.