Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Castro Interviewed at Revolution Square
Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL0501143593
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-003          Report Date:    06 Jan 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     1
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       10
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       01 Jan 93
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 003


City/Source of Document:   Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Interviewed at Revolution Square

Author(s):   Hector Rodriguez and Soledad Cruz at Revolution Square in Havana
on 31 December-recorded]

Source Line:   FL0501143593 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in
Spanish 0200 GMT 1 Jan 93

Subslug:   [Interview with President Fidel Castro by Hector Rodriguez and
Soledad Cruz at Revolution Square in Havana on 31

1.  [Interview with President Fidel Castro by Hector Rodriguez and Soledad
Cruz at Revolution Square in Havana on 31 December-recorded]

2.  [Text] [Rodriguez] We are going to have an extremely pleasant visit here
on our ``Today'' [Hoy Mismo] program with our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro.

3.  [Castro] Hello, how are you?

4.  [Rodriguez] The ``Today'' program is honored by your presence. I
congratulate you, and we would like, Commander, to....

5.  [Castro, interrupting] You have it all organized here?

6.  [Rodriguez] Yes, we had it all organized. If you will be so kind as to
have a seat here?

7.  [Castro] I thought you were going to be very busy.

8.  [Rodriguez] Yes, well, Commander, today has been a beautiful day, here at
this ``Yes To Cuba'' rally held to see the year out. Soledad was saying that
it has truly been a good night for (?many).

9.  [Cruz] Good. What I call a good night, right? And what has tonight been
like for you?

10.  [Castro] Well, for me it has been a really marvelous night. Marvelous is
the right word.

11.  [Rodriguez] A night with so many nuances, giving a very big ``Yes'' to
the Revolution, really.

12.  [Castro] Do you know what I was thinking? That really, if today had not
been rainy all day like it was, there would not have been enough room in this
square to hold all the people who would have come.

13.  [Cruz] Yes. That's right.

14.  [Rodriguez] Right, that is true. It has been raining since dawn.

15.  [Castro] I was impressed, at seeing how big the crowd was, and how
densely packed. All day, I have been thinking: What a shame that, after all
the efforts they have made to organize that concert, now the rain is going to
come and mess it up.

16.  [Rodriguez] Do not worry. Now it has cleared up at night.

17.  [Castro] At the end, it has been a bit better [words indistinct].
Besides, these downpours (?that we have had) had not been forecast.

18.  [Cruz] They were a surprise. It seems like there has been some bad
weather around, or something like that. But of course, no bad weather can stop

19.  [Castro] I was able to see some weather reports, and I think it is a cold
wave that is almost covering the island, over the eastern region. There is an
area of very heavy clouds near the eastern region, moving west.

20.  [Rodriguez] (?So it is bringing) rain.

21.  [Castro] Toward the north, there is an area....[rephrases] Toward the
northwest, that cloudy area has high pressures. They say that sometimes clouds
full of rain would pass. That is why we have been seeing showers throughout
the day.

22.  [Rodriguez] Yes.

23.  [Castro] I heard the rain last night, in the predawn hours.

24.  [Rodriguez] It started to rain shortly after 0300.

25.  [Castro] So, I thought: Maybe tomorrow (?the weather will be better). We
were worried not only about the ceremony but also about agriculture, which has
to finish planting (?tobacco) [words indistinct] also cloudy and rainy. The
sun would peep out now and then. I would say: Well, the weather is going to
clear up. But it did not.

26.  [Rodriguez] It would clear up and then go back to what it was before.

27.  [Castro] So a complicated situation arose, maybe.  Although it hurt this
mobilization to a certain extent.  That is why I was saying that, had it not
been for these rains, it would have been....[pauses] Because I know people who
had been planning to come with their families but who did not come in order to
avoid the rain, to avoid getting wet and so forth.

28.  [Cruz] Nevertheless, the square was packed with people all day. We, the
entire ``Today'' team, made a tour of the area in the afternoon, and there
were....[pauses] Under a tremendous downpour, the number of people present was

29.  [Castro] A heavy downpour?

30.  [Cruz] Very, very heavy.

31.  [Rodriguez] Heavy, there was a heavy one in the afternoon.

32.  [Cruz] Well, I do not know how much time we are going to have, how much
time you are going to give us. [laughs]

33.  [Castro] I leave that to you. You take as much time as you like [words

34.  [Rodriguez] But today is 31 December.

35.  [Cruz] Today is already 31 December, the last day of the year.

36.  [Rodriguez] At the beginning of the year, or at the end of last year, I
read the cables, those predicting that we would not make it.

37.  [Castro] It is 31 December here, but there are some areas of the Pacific
where it is not yet 31 December.

38.  [Rodriguez] Yes, well, in the Pacific....

39.  [Castro, interrupting] The other day I brought up a problem in the paper,
but I was finally given a public solution. I told them I had been thinking
about the trip Carlos Lage made to China, and the reports he sent, and I said
that if someone travels east on Monday, they can arrive on Sunday.

40.  [Rodriguez] On Sunday.

41.  [Castro] Traveling east, they can arrive on Sunday. That is, they can
leave China on a Monday, and depending on how fast they travel, they could
arrive in our hemisphere on a Sunday. When it was 0015 in China, it was 1215

42.  [Cruz] It is true there is a tremendous contrast in China, exactly one

43.  [Castro, interrupting] But you did not know one could travel back in

44.  [Cruz] I did not know. But I felt it, because everything was so
different. Everything was backwards, bedtime, everything was backwards, with
twelve hours' difference.  We would like to take advantage of this

45.  [Castro, interrupting] Of course you want to take advantage, this is....

46.  [Cruz, interrupting] This tremendous privilege for us....

47.  [Castro, interrupting] I had thought that you would want to do....

48.  [Cruz, interrupting] For those of us who work on the ``Today'' program,
and we also know that the viewers are going to be very, very interested in
this, in you giving us....

49.  [Castro, interrupting] The viewers are sleeping.

50.  [Cruz] No, do not think that. The viewers are still there.  As soon as
they saw we were in network and that we were going to continue, I am sure they
thought something was going to happen. I am sure, because our viewers are
tremendous. We announced this ahead of time.

51.  [Castro] I was able to get away from the ceremony, but I could not get
away from you.

52.  [Cruz] Well, we would like a brief summary of this year, from your point
of view, from your heart.

53.  [Castro] But does that seem like so little to you? I heard you asking
[Juan] Contino if I would be with you at 1930. I was in my office, I turned on
my television and saw you were doing a number of interviews. You interviewed
Contino, and you asked him for a summary. Do you think that it is so easy to
summarize one year like that in a matter of seconds?

54.  [Cruz] Well then, from your point of view, from your heart, your
feelings, what were the most important things about this year?

55.  [Castro] There are really so many that I would have to [word indistinct],
but I would say in the first place that this has been a year of extraordinary
merit for our people, a glorious, heroic year because of all the problems and
difficulties we have had. I would say this has been one of the most
extraordinary years of the Revolution because the tests we have had to undergo
have been harder than ever before and the year is passing.

56.  [Rodriguez] It is 31 December.

57.  [Castro] It is already 31 December. Very important things we have....
[pauses] All kinds of very important things have happened this year. I mean,
our sugar harvest was a heroic feat, the conditions in which we produced 7
million tons of sugar. It was a heroic feat for our people with the great
resource shortages, having gone through the year with the shortages of
resources, especially fuel and energy, with less than 50 percent of the energy
we traditionally had. Despite this we have maintained order.  We are still
organized. We have maintained this organization. We are not in chaos. Not one
school, hospital, or family doctor's office has been closed. I think these are
really extraordinary things.

58.  I would say that on the national level there was the challenge of the
elections. To me, this is one of the biggest tests a political process can
undergo, this test of elections which we are going through, with the two days
of elections at the base level, on 20 and 27 December. I think no other
country in the world, under conditions like those in Cuba, with the problems
Cuba is having, would have undertaken this test.

59.  [Cruz] That is true.

60.  [Castro] I said this in the National Assembly and I am completely
convinced of this. I think what is happening is an extraordinary thing. There
are many things on the national level. I will not try to talk about all of
them. On the international level, I would say one of the most important things
was the Rio Summit, because it was an all-inclusive event, a truly worldwide
raising of consciousness about the problems we have with the environment and
the dangers threatening humanity. I think Cuba's role there was outstanding. I
think I had never seen before, at any international event, the support for
Cuba there, the recognition of Cuba that I saw at that event. If I were to
single out an outstanding international event in which the world's attitude
toward Cuba was reflected, expressed there through the representatives of all
the nations that participated, that was one of the most noteworthy events. On
the international level, I would also mention the battle against the embargo
in the United Nations.

61.  [Cruz] Yes.

62.  [Rodriguez] The first defeat for the Americans, after the fall of

63.  [Castro] It was incredible. In that situation, the results were better
than expected. I would never have imagined that the United States would be as
isolated as it was. It was a situation in which the world reacted. You do not
even have to count the countries that voted in favor of the Cuban motion, but
just those that abstained or those that walked out, that did not participate.

64.  [Cruz] They did not want to commit themselves, but that gives (?them a

65.  [Castro] You must look at what it means for many countries to take a
position of this kind at the United Nations, because the Americans keep track
of all the delegations, what they do there, how they vote at the United
Nations. But of course, it is always difficult to give a summary because a ton
of things still need to be noted. We have not mentioned [words indistinct] for
example, we have not mentioned the Olympics.

66.  [Rodriguez] The Olympics.

67.  [Castro] You are completely right.

68.  [Cruz] And the number of cultural prizes given this year.  There were a
lot of them also, international music contests, the film festival, which I
thought was magnificent.  Because Hector and I have an ongoing argument about
sports and culture.

69.  [Castro] Sports and culture. But I thought that you got along so well!

70.  [Rodriguez] Yes, we do.

71.  [Cruz] Yes, it is a relationship of friendly disagreement, because he
defends sports a lot, and I have to defend culture.

72.  [Rodriguez] Because what happened in Barcelona had no precedent.

73.  [Castro] But it would be worse if you started defending sports and he
started defending culture.

74.  [Cruz] We have divided it up well, then.

75.  [Rodriguez] What a performance, though.

76.  [Cruz] Of course, without a doubt, the Olympics were incredible.

77.  [Castro] There is an extraordinary event I did not mention. It was said
that because Cuba did not attend the two previous Olympic Games, we would be
in a worse position. With two more medals, we would have placed ahead of
China, and we lost two medals that we could have won. We lost by a hair, for
example, in weight-lifting and in boxing when they did not treat us completely
fairly in some of the decisions. We could have had 18 gold medals and finished
in fourth place.  That is going to be very difficult in the future because
China has enormous potential in sports and they are developing it.

78.  [Rodriguez] Cuba does as well.

79.  [Castro] And we are also developing it.

80.  [Rodriguez] We have great sports potential.

81.  [Castro] If we are pointing things out, and if you ask me about something
which is notable this year, it is the fact that even though we do not have the
final figures, I am almost sure infant mortality dropped in 1992 in comparison
to 1991.  With the problems we have, this is truly extraordinary. I did not
think we would be able to maintain the infant mortality rates that we have. In
fact, the figures have gone down by a few tenths of a point, which is what I
think probably happened. But I think we will have the exact figures in another
three or four days.

82.  [Rodriguez] It has been very difficult to reduce those rates, but it is
much harder [words indistinct].

83.  [Castro] It is difficult, but we are struggling to bring it below 10 [per
1,000 live births]. This is our historical struggle. Several provinces are
below 10. Havana City is under 10, even though I understand-[Pedro] Chavez
told me-that it went up a little bit this year, from 9.3 to 9.5. But I think
Las Villas [Villa Clara Province] has less than seven.

84.  [Rodriguez] There are also municipalities that have....

85.  [Castro, interrupting] There are municipalities that have three or two.
Imagine, the capital of the United States has a rate of 30 something, I think,
according to some figures I saw not long ago. They have more than 30 for every
1,000 live births in the capital of the United States.  But the capital of
Cuba, during the special period, has less than 10.

86.  [Rodriguez] It is because we are an organized country.

87.  [Cruz] Really, what we have achieved in the health sector is beyond
argument. It is unmatched anywhere. It is something that no one can deny.

88.  [Castro] The problem is to keep it at this level under these conditions.

89.  [Cruz] That is what is truly extraordinary.

90.  [Castro] Let me tell you something. I imagine that [words indistinct] you
usually work a lot in general but I started watching you early.

91.  [Rodriguez] Yes, we were here early.

92.  [Castro] I saw you on television at approximately 1915.

93.  [Cruz] Yes, I began at 1900. That is when the ``Today'' program begins.

94.  [Castro] I wanted to know what was going on with the weather [words
indistinct] in my office. I was able to see the Havana channel program, but
when the Havana program ended, you began immediately.

95.  [Cruz] Yes.

96.  [Castro] Almost right away and early. How many hours has it been since
then? From 1900 to almost 0100. It has been six hours. You have been working
six hours.

97.  [Cruz] We also worked in the afternoon, and the technicians have been
working since yesterday, and they were here for the rehearsal.

98.  [Rodriguez] For us, for me, for all our team it is an honor to have
worked on a day like this.

99.  [Cruz] Of course, and the day of the elections was another day when we
also were very happy to work.

100.  [Castro] Who was the other comrade who worked with you?

101.  [Cruz] Rita Rosa.

102.  [Castro] She said that she was finding people to interview.

103.  [Cruz] Yes, Rita Rosa. She is on the other set. We were on top of some
scaffolding and she stayed behind conducting the interviews and I came here.
She is still conducting some more interviews.

104.  [Castro] I was able to watch the whole show.

105.  [Cruz] Yes, there was a (?video-bin) there.

106.  [Castro] I would have liked to have been able to see it from the front,
but I saw it through the video.

107.  [Cruz] (?Video-bin).

108.  [Castro] (?Video-bin) is what it is called?

109.  [Rodriguez] (?Video-bin).

110.  [Castro] You know more about these new things. I thought that it was
excellent [words indistinct].

111.  [Cruz] What good artists we have, right? How nice it is they are with

112.  [Castro] Robertico [Robaina] was telling me about many of them because
naturally I was not familiar with everyone. I know a large number of them. I
have heard them, some more than others. Of course, they are very well known.
Robertico introduced me to several new artists. He was explaining that most of
them have emerged from the [fine arts] schools.

113.  [Cruz] Yes. Our schools are....

114.  [Castro, interrupting] They are of very high quality.

115.  [Rodriguez] We are reaping the fruits of the fine arts schools, in
music, and in everything.

116.  [Castro] Yes, They told me about music, painting, and also literature.

117.  [Rodriguez] We have developed fabulous potential.

118.  [Castro] You see, he is talking about culture.

119.  [Cruz] Yes, he is talking about culture.

120.  [Rodriguez] Culture is in sports, in science, and we are an organized
nation. This is why we have reached this moment despite everything that has

121.  [Cruz] And we will continue.

122.  [Rodriguez] And we will continue.

123.  [Castro] But you have been a great help with your program. I have
confessed more than once that I am a follower and assiduous listener of this
program, whenever I can.  Unfortunately, I cannot always watch it, but
whenever I can, I watch, part of it, the part that is before 2000, when I can,
and then the interviews. I watch everything I can. Sometimes I have to do
other things, but I keep checking. There is a lot of news. You give quite a
bit of news. One can keep well informed. You analyze problems of great
national interest, problems of different kinds. I think that as a new program,
it has been extraordinarily successful, and I think this success can continue
to grow, just as it is.

124.  [Cruz] You are saying all this to us....

125.  [Castro, interrupting] At least (?that is what I think) from my personal
experience, because I have little time to watch television. Even so, I try to
find as many minutes as possible to watch this program and see the news. I
realize what this program means and the great help it represents for the
country at this time we are living through.

126.  [Cruz] That sets a very high goal for us. You can be sure that all of
us, absolutely all of us, will make the greatest effort every day so that you
can feel proud of us, and so the people can as well.

127.  [Castro] I have already told you this; it is nothing new.  Besides what
I have said publicly.

128.  [Cruz] And [words indistinct] also. I have [words indistinct] comrades
in television asked about Cuba Vision, and you have said: Well I like the
news. Other people watch other programs, but I like the news. This gives us
satisfaction and happiness.

129.  [Castro] But normally when they record my remarks, Cuba Vision shows
them first. Then they pass them to the ``Today'' program.

130.  [Cruz] Well, we take turns.

131.  [Castro] I have problems of conscience, because when I speak at length,
for 40 minutes, I am taking all that time away from you. That really worries
me. But today, with the problems with the electricity....

132.  [Rodriguez, interrupting] And with the press.

133.  [Castro] And with the written media, television fills an enormous
vacuum. So, many people who cannot see it in the press or whom the press does
not reach can see it on television at night. In addition, with the power
outages, those who do not see a program of national interest-or of national
necessity, we could say-one day, those who do not see it on Monday can see it
on Tuesday. Imagine, you know I like sports, but I was worried when I saw that
the ``Today'' program had to divide its time between baseball, the news,
analyses, and all the things you do every day. Because our people like
baseball a lot. Not all the games are equal. Look, by watching ``Today'' to
see what news you are giving, I have started seeing baseball games again! I am
more informed about what is going on with baseball, the hits, runs, and all
those things, and the condition of the....

134.  [Cruz, interrupting] We are also going to broadcast boxing. We are going
to broadcast other sports, not just baseball.

135.  [Rodriguez] I think it was a wise decision, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays....

136.  [Castro, interrupting] I would have....[pauses] I do not know if it is
true that....[pauses] The thing is that the different things compete, but it
does not have a great political interest for your program, so no matter what
is going on in baseball, baseball is outside that. It is a different activity,
although it has a lot of fans. The programs are not the same every day,
either. Of course, you have done another good thing. You have broadcast from
Bayamo, Santiago, Holguin, and other places, and that is good because you have
been able to choose and select. It seems this system of yours is successful.
But I missed the program, because even though I am interested in sports, I am
more interested in the nation's problems, the things you analyze,
international problems. We must also congratulate Mendoza [not further
identified]. I have seen some of his programs. He has worked....

137.  [Cruz, interrupting] He has also been here.

138.  [Castro] Yes, I saw him on the (?video-bin), right?

139.  [Cruz] (?Video-bin).

140.  [Rodriguez] [Words indistinct] today.

141.  [Castro] But I did not hear him. His voice was not on.  This was in the
intermission before the program started, when the political rally ended and
the other part started.  I must explain about the political rally also. I
would have liked to say something there, but I felt terrible thinking about
the rain coming down, the people out there all day, how tired they must be,
and if one starts speaking, one will speak for at least half an hour, 40
minutes, and that did not seem appropriate to me. So I waged a bit of a battle
with the audience. I made my apologies so I would not repeat-and it was not
really necessary for me to repeat-a speech [words indistinct]

142.  [Rodriguez] What he said was very rousing.

143.  [Cruz] What he said was very good.

144.  [Castro] I was sorry, very sorry about it, for the people, because they
asked me to and they asked me quite forcefully. Those are the contradictions
one has. They make me speak almost everywhere, in spite of the fact that I
always resist. But this ceremony was also more important, more significant.
You cannot improvise a speech under those conditions, with that audience, at
that time, with it threatening to rain, at a time when we must analyze closely
everything we say.

145.  [Cruz] Of course. But I think it was excellent, really. I think it was
excellent, and the people took it well, and everything came out very well.
What I would like now is for you to give us your predictions for 1993.

146.  [Castro] Yes. I would have to almost be a prophet. But, you have already
discussed quite a bit with Lage [words indistinct] that program. Before
answering you, I should say, to finish talking about the program, that the
program with Lage had an enormous audience and aroused a lot of interest.

147.  [Rodriguez] I think people liked it.

148.  [Castro] It was an excellent program. I should also say that on election
day, you did excellent work also, on 20 December. The only thing was that
someone made a mistake and instead of continuing with that, when many people
had not yet voted, you went to baseball. I hope that on 24 February, you will
not go to baseball, no matter what the game is. This has tremendous strategic
importance, this difficult battle that is being waged.

149.  [Cruz] Well, in the midst of so much praise, some criticism is very
good, to keep us on the mark. That is very good.

150.  [Castro] You discussed that with Lage. He said 1993 would be difficult.
In spite of the enormous efforts being made, 1993 will be difficult. It is
always better to expect greater difficulties than to think we will have fewer
difficulties. As a strategy, we must always expect the greatest difficulties.
If we adapt our minds to something less difficult, we will not be prepared to
endure these tests. I do not want to go into the reasoning at length. I have
repeated it many times in recent days, and Lage mentioned it, but really we
must make enormous efforts to meet all of our daily needs, from fuel to food
and medicine.

151.  Because a country which has almost 11 million inhabitants, more than 90
percent of whom have electricity; a country with so many social services of
all kinds, which has schools, hospitals, research centers, and cold-storage
centers; cannot do without electricity, and we are spending more than 40
percent of our income on fuel. It is not easy. We have some uncertainties in
the coming year. We cannot base our hopes on the changes in the United States.
We must wait. We must wait and observe closely everything that occurs in the
United States and the world, because what occurs in the United States and the
world affects us quite a bit. We must see what effect the famous Torricelli
Law will have on our economic dealings, since one of the most difficult things
we have to resolve is the question of shipping. That law is one-sided.  It is
aimed directly against our ability to (?lease ships) [words indistinct] to
import. Sometimes even if we have the minimum amount of funds to import
something, the problems are with the shipping. Because we also have to ship
everything we bring here from more than 10,000 km away.

152.  [Cruz] Very long distances.

153.  [Castro] Perhaps the closest place is Canada.

154.  [Rodriguez] Mexico.

155.  [Castro] Well, of course, we import a few things from Mexico. It is the
closest. You have seen the troubles the ship Pinar del Rio had. It almost
sank. It was bringing the Pastors for Peace donation. Of a cargo of about 300
tons of steel, more than 100 tons were lost. There was a force 10 sea. It was
one week late in arriving. You can see the problems with shipping. The ship
that came from India traveled for 37 days, 20,000 km. But there are many ships
that have to come from China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Europe, and Argentina. No
one could predict yet for certain what the consequences of that law will be.
It is the law in the United States. We must also see what the attitude of the
new administration will be.

156.  [Cruz] That was the question I wanted to ask. Could the new
administration have a more benevolent attitude?

157.  [Castro] It is very difficult to predict, and it is better not to get
one's hopes up. Naturally, it cannot set a worse policy than the United States
has followed. On the international level, and with respect to our country, it
is impossible for it to set a worse policy. It could be said that the U.S.
Government devotes itself almost entirely to Cuba. It would seem the
administration works against Cuba alone. It would seem the entire U.S.
diplomatic corps throughout the world was working against Cuba.  As bad as the
Torricelli Law is, the things they do outside the Torricelli Law are even
worse. They are committed to hampering all of our economic dealings;
sabotaging every effort we make in the international economic arena to develop
our economy, develop joint enterprises; and sabotaging the economic opening we
have made.  With respect to foreign investments, and all the trade dealings
Cuba conducts to buy or sell, to export our products, to obtain credit, to
obtain anything, they conduct an implacable and systematic harassment against
even the smallest effort made by Cuba.

158.  [Cruz] It is because the challenge we represent hurts their pride.

159.  [Castro] We are practically alone. All the billions they invested in
subverting the socialist countries, and the resources-political power,
economic power-that they devoted to this, is now allocated against us, at a
time when there is a terrible crisis in the world and countries are under the
control of international credit organizations to such an extent that they
cannot make a move without serious consequences for their own interests.  This
is because they depend on the IMF, the World Bank, or other credit
organizations. These countries are victims of pressure by the United States.
In many cases they are not in a position, in objective terms, to resist that
pressure. The United States exerts pressure not only against Third World
countries, but also quite a bit of pressure against the developed countries.
However, despite this, there was a strong reaction against the Torricelli Law.
Yet, the world is not aware of the full extent of the embargo. The embargo has
aspects which are much worse than the Torricelli Law; that is, this systematic
and constant effort they make.

160.  [Rodriguez] Including medicine and everything else.

161.  [Castro] And everything else. For this reason it is better not to make
any predictions yet. It is wiser to prepare for a hard and difficult year and
to work even harder and better. This is where we must put our efforts. We must
wage battles on the different fronts we have to fight on during the
forthcoming period, and of course, we must maintain our presence of mind,
spirit, and unity, the levels of unity of our people, party, mass
organizations, and revolutionary institutions. We have a test ahead. It is a
difficult battle; it is the National Assembly elections, which are of decisive
importance. I have followed the consultation process very closely. What is
happening with the consultation process is truly impressive, and it is still
going on. I believe that in the history of Cuba, such a process has never
taken place in selecting the people who will become candidates to the National

162.  [Cruz] It has to be very extensive.

163.  [Castro] And it is becoming even more extensive. They are holding new
consultations. On 29 December they held new consultations. On 30 December,
consultations were also held at the provincial level regarding cadres at the
national level and cadres at the provincial level.  Since the responsibility
of the candidacy commission is very great, the size of the candidacy
commission has tripled. The national commission is working, collecting
information, from 0800 until 0000 or 0100, because this has been an
extraordinary consultation process. It will be worthwhile to study this in
depth at a later time. It will be worthwhile to report on everything that has
been done in this regard, because I do not think it has any precedent in
history. We ourselves did not have experience in this area. We are traveling
down a new road, but I have seen the people work with an extraordinary amount
of commitment and dedication in everything that concerns the upcoming
elections for deputies, who are the fundamental branch of the state.

164.  [Rodriguez] On 24 February.

165.  [Castro] February 24 is a historic date. It is only two months away.

166.  [Cruz] This means that on that day you cannot broadcast a baseball game.

167.  [Castro] On that day I would at least like to turn on the television and
see you talk about the problems of the elections and not about the game being
three to one in the fifth inning, although some of us may be great sports

168.  [Rodriguez] No, at 0700 we will be on the air.

169.  [Castro] I think you should remain there until the polling stations
close and continue giving information. It was very interesting. I watched
several of the interviews you did. I was watching you that day. I almost did
not go to vote because I was watching your program. I arrived late because I
was watching your program and your interviews. Luckily, during the baseball
game, in between innings, you repeated some of the interviews. They were good
interviews. There was Melba's [not further identified] interview; there was
the interview with Melba's mother also. The interview with [Jesus] Montane's
mother was also included. I think it was you who was doing the interviews.

170.  [Cruz] Yes, thank you.

171.  [Castro] I was listening to all this.

172.  [Rodriguez] On that day we are going to....[pauses] It is not going to
happen again. On that day we will begin at 0700 and we continue until the end.

173.  [Castro] I did not know that you had a chair ready for me here.

174.  [Rodriguez] It is an honor....

175.  [Castro, interrupting] That you had a platform here, and that you were
going to seat me here and subject me to an interrogation. At least I have also
asked you several questions.

176.  [Rodriguez] It is an honor to have said farewell to the year in your

177.  [Castro] In this chair, I feel like the opposite of Jesus Christ.

178.  [Cruz] Good. So you will want to send a New Year's message to the
viewers of the ``Today'' program and all the Cuban people.

179.  [Castro] I ask them for all the patriotism they are capable of, all the
dignity they are capable of-which is a lot-and all the spirit of sacrifice
they are capable of. I ask them to have confidence. I ask them to trust in the
ultimate victory of the Revolution, which would never have been possible
without that great amount of dignity, patriotism, sacrifice, and revolutionary
spirit. This is what I ask from everyone on this 31 December, on the 34th
anniversary [of the Revolution], which reminds me of the final days of the
war, but I am not the best person to talk about this. Mendoza is the best
person to talk about this. But I remember that on 31 December we were getting
ready to attack Santiago de Cuba.

180.  [Rodriguez] You were in Palma.

181.  [Castro] On 1 January, our troop movements for attacking Santiago de
Cuba began. We had a truly excellent plan. They had 5,000 soldiers, and we had
1,200, but we had never had as many soldiers as at that time. We already had
the whole schedule, the whole plan.  We were planning to take the city in six
days. The experience gained during all those days prior to the victory gave us
a certainty about how to do things. We were going to surround it battalion by
battalion. I do not know if Mendoza knows all this, or if I have ever told
this story, about where they had their main battalions.  They had one at the
airport, another battalion in Boniato, another in Quintero Hill. The bulk of
the troops were at the Moncada Barracks-I remember it as if it was today-and
the main buildings in the city were under their control. At this hour we had
all our troops ready to surround one battalion first. We were going to
surround each battalion with 300 soldiers to create a correlation of forces
with the classic strategy of surrounding the units and fighting off the
reinforcements.  Therefore, the first day we were going to conduct a battle,
and they were going to make an effort to rescue that surrounded unit. On the
second day, a second battle.  That would make two battles. Likewise on the
third and fourth days. On the fourth day, four battles would be taking place
against....[pauses] If there were four battalions. I believe I am missing one
battalion, the one in El Caney. They had a fourth battalion. On the fourth day
they would be waging four battles within the city in an attempt to rescue
their units, because no army can afford to leave a unit under siege. This
would wear them down terribly. The units would be surrendering one by one. On
the fifth day the city would rise up in arms. We were going to transport
through the bay 100 guns of the 350 we had seized at Palma Soriano, in
addition to the ones they already had. On the fifth day the city would rise up
in arms. By the sixth day the city would have been taken.  Thus, we should
have taken the city on 6 January. That would be the great battle for Santiago
de Cuba in which we were to use all the experience we had accumulated with a
correlation of forces which might seem greatly in favor of the enemy-5,000
against 1,200. Those 1,200 would have taken the city. Anyhow, we are glad that
battle never took place, that it is not in Cuba's history, because several
dozen lives would have been lost, at least several dozens lives of our people,
who survived when the collapse took place. Later, we took the city without
firing a single shot.

182.  [Rodriguez] Without firing a single shot, at 1800.

183.  [Castro] The city was taken almost from the moment we called for a
general strike, because we organized a quick attack on the city and gave
orders to one column to advance while we publicly denounced the coup d'etat. 
We gave orders to all the troops and called for a general strike. I sent a
column under Rene de los Santos to advance quickly along Central Highway to
ask the [enemy] soldiers to surrender, the battalion located at Quintero Hill,
and if they did not surrender to give them a brief period, a matter of
minutes, to do so, and if they did not, to open fire. Because what we did not
want was for the coup maneuver to consolidate, and we wanted the hostilities
to break out immediately. So I began moving toward El Caney.

184.  [Rodriguez] Time was of the essence.

185.  [Castro] I moved toward El Caney also with a strong column, because we
wanted to break the impasse immediately. But by the time I arrived at El
Caney, there were already officers there wanting to negotiate with me. I asked
them to gather the officers in charge of the Moncada Barracks at El Caney. Who
would have predicted that five years, five months, and five days after the
Moncada Barracks attack, I would be meeting in El Caney with the officers in
charge of that powerful Santiago de Cuba army? I met with them.

186.  Mendoza said yesterday or the day before-I was listening to him-that
that is where the surrender took place. It is not correct to speak of
surrender. I did not mention the word surrender to those officers.

187.  [Rodriguez] What words did you use?

188.  [Castro] If I had spoken of surrender, this could have hurt their honor
or pride.

189.  [Cruz] Of course.

190.  [Castro] I asked them to disobey their orders. I explained to them that
[General] Cantillo had reached an agreement with us and had betrayed that
agreement, that the agreement had not been complied with. The agreement had
been reached a few days earlier. He arrived by helicopter and met with me near
Palma, I believe in the former Oriente Sugar Mill. I presented three
conditions, because he insisted on returning to Havana. I told him to not go
to Havana; that it was not necessary to go to Havana. I said: Carry out a
mutiny among the Santiago de Cuba regiment and I guarantee you the regime will
not last another 24 hours. I told him to mutiny with the support of our
forces. Let's join forces.

191.  I wanted to find an elegant solution, since he had come to negotiate. He
acknowledged we had won the war, but how can we end it? I suggested to him how
to end the war, but he insisted. I told him: Let's carry out a joint movement
of the Santiago de Cuba military forces and our forces. We spoke many times
with the military. We followed a policy of freeing absolutely every prisoner
of war and treating the injured. Also, we fought them and caused many
casualties. Because we conducted a very generous war, we had very great moral
influence among the enemy troops.

192.  I told him: Let us end it this way to spare as many honorable
individuals among your ranks as we can. He agreed. I told him to not go to
Havana, not to risk going to Havana. He told me it was safe, that he could go
to Havana. I presented three conditions. First, there would be no coup d'etat
in Havana. Second, Batista would not be allowed to flee. Third, there were to
be no negotiations with the Yankee embassy. Those were the three conditions.
Cantillo went to Havana and carried out, organized, precisely those three
things: the coup in Havana, Batista's escape, and the talks with the U.S. 
Embassy [words indistinct] approximately around 30 December. We received news
to wait, that there was good news. I said: What do you mean wait? We halted
the military operations waiting for this movement, and we cannot halt the
military operations.

193.  [Rodriguez] When did you find out about the coup?

194.  [Castro] Let me explain it to you. On 30 December I sent a letter to
Rego Rubido telling him that after 31 December-I gave him a deadline, I do not
remember exactly if it was 24 hours-if the agreement was not complied with,
hostilities would break out again, and that once the fighting began it would
not be stopped until Santiago de Cuba was taken. I told him we were going to
attack the city. So on 1 January we were to begin, and we were in what today
is the America Libre Sugar Mill, I think that is its name, the Contramaestre
Mill, now the America Libre Mill. We were there in the mill's camp area. That
is where we were sleeping. We were between Maffo, which we had just taken, and
Palma, which we had taken a few days earlier. But we were there, preparing all
the movements for the attack on Santiago de Cuba. At some point in the predawn
hours, when the news began spreading, someone woke us up and said: Batista has
fled. Batista has escaped. Then we started hearing reports that a government
junta had been formed; that a judge, whose name was, I think, Piedra

195.  [Rodriguez, interrupting] His last name.

196.  [Castro] I think what was rock-like about him was really his nerve. We
heard this man had been declared provisional president of the Republic, that
there had been a coup in the capital. So I immediately went at full speed to
Palma and I told Mendoza this. I went to the Radio Rebelde station. I
instructed Camilo [Cienfuegos] and Che [Guevara] to continue the operations,
and I instructed all columns everywhere to continue military operations, not
to let up in any way, to initiate the hostilities, not to give anybody time to
do anything.

197.  We called for a general strike, and after the instructions to Camilo and
Che to march on Havana, and to the entire population to join in with the
general strike, we went to....[rephrases] we conducted this operation. But
what was the exact time? We would have to pinpoint the time at which the radio
stations began reporting the news, whether at 0300 or 0400 or 0500, because
immediately, they woke us up in the predawn hours to tell us the news.

198.  These are things, feelings one has. One has certain impressions. We saw
the war was won, because I knew we could stop the coup. But there is
something. One feels a sudden void. The first feeling one experiences is that
of a terrible void. When one had been working at this for two years, and
suddenly that scene changed completely.  The war was over. That happened to me
twice. Once was when we wound up the offensive, and I saw that was....[pauses]
that we had....[rephrases] that victory was....

199.  [Rodriguez, interrupting] When the battle of El Jigue was won?

200.  [Castro] No, after the battle of El Jigue, when we destroyed their main
units and forced them to withdraw 10,000 men. That was a fight between 300 men
and 10,000! When the operations ended, we had 900 men.  We had captured over
500 guns from them. We had 900 armed men. We had gotten them from the schools
we had there for recruits, and we had armed them with the weapons we had
seized during the offensive. Well, your questions have made me go back in

201.  [Rodriguez, interrupting] But that story is very good!

202.  [Castro] To that 31 December 1958, and you have made me take Mendoza's
place here. Mendoza is the man....

203.  [Cruz, interrupting] No, no! What a privilege!

204.  [Rodriguez] What a privilege!

205.  [Cruz] No, what a privilege it is to hear the story told by the main

206.  [Rodriguez] Because there are generations that must hear that story,
which is so good and so beautiful.

207.  [Cruz] On top of it, told by the main participants, by the principal
participant. I think that is really a good gift.

208.  [Castro] The thing is, we have a great debt to history, and to posterity
and the people, because I have not written down all these experiences, all
these things I am telling you about.

209.  [Cruz] True. That is true.

210.  [Castro] A lot of material has been gathered. Work has been done.
Because I could not remember today on what day we visited such-and-such a
farmer. Nevertheless, there are historians who have already been able to
pinpoint all those facts, and they greatly facilitate the reconstruction of
the story. But that story is a very interesting one. Well, that is what I
remembered when we began talking about dates, and about that 31 December of 34
years ago.

211.  [Rodriguez] Almost no time at all, right?

212.  [Castro] We are talking about 31 December.

213.  [Rodriguez] Yes.

214.  [Castro] Of course, what day did we take Maffo? I think we took it on 30

215.  [Rodriguez] The battle of Maffo was [words indistinct].

216.  [Castro] We had two armies: one in the front line and one in the rear.
We had the Bayamo army as the rearguard, and the Santiago army as the
vanguard. We occupied all the territory between Palma....[corrects himself]
no, not Palma, between Bayamo and Santiago.

217.  [Rodriguez] Santiago. Yes, that entire area.

218.  [Castro] We were defending our rearguard on the river near Jiguani. But
we had hit the Bayamo troops so hard-they had elite troops-during the Guisa
battle, that the enemy now respected us. They did not counterattack. We
established our defense positions on the river, and they did not counterattack
any more. Meanwhile, we continue advancing toward Santiago de Cuba. We had two
armies, one in front and the other behind. But during this time we were
already blocking the retreat route of the Guantanamo army....[pauses] the
Bayamo army, between Manzanillo and Bayamo. We had already severed
communications between Camaguey and Oriente. We had surrounded 17,000 troops
in Oriente Province.

219.  [Rodriguez] The war was already won. It would have been very

220.  [Castro, interrupting] We had the island divided in two with Che
attacking Santa Clara while Camilo was really concluding the Yaguajay battle,
which was delaying him.  Sometimes, certain units put up heavy resistance,
such as at Maffo. The troops at Maffo resisted for 20 days.

221.  [Rodriguez] That was a battle....

222.  [Castro, interrupting] But they were delaying our attack on Santiago,
because we could have had the Bayamo troops on our rearguard, but we could not
have a battalion surrounded there. This occupied some of our forces, and we
needed their weapons for the Santiago de Cuba operation. This is why we took
Palma first and Maffo second.  But at Maffo they had dug tunnels underneath
the pavement and filled them in with sand bags. There was nothing, it was
almost impregnable [words indistinct].

223.  [Cruz] That is it, let us extend an invitation to you to come to our
studio. That is an outstanding debt.

224.  [Castro] Mendoza is in the Academy of History, and what I can do is help
him in some of these things.

225.  [Cruz] It is an opportunity for you to visit the studio where we do the
``Today'' program, and we can talk about history on the air.

226.  [Castro] I believe that Mendoza has been there several times.

227.  [Cruz] He has his own weekly time slot.

228.  [Castro] Well, allow me to congratulate you not only for your work, but
for the contribution you have made during 1992, a very difficult period. I
want to congratulate you for this and express my personal appreciation and the
appreciation of every revolutionary for the work you have done.  I wish you
even more success in your work during 1993. I thank you for this pleasant and
happy opportunity to remember the past.

229.  [Rodriguez] I believe that it has been an outstanding....

230.  [Castro, interrupting] This opportunity to talk to you.

231.  [Rodriguez] We give you best wishes for the New Year.  We need you to
live a long life. We wish you very good health. We all need you. Therefore,
our best wishes. The doors of the ``Today'' program are always open to you.

232.  [Castro] I received your messages when I sent you a message through Lage
telling you I watched the program and congratulating you [words indistinct]
and your work team, to whom I sent not a written message but an oral message.

233.  [Cruz] Yes, it was relayed to us.

234.  [Castro] I know you received it and are working with great enthusiasm. I
believe you are making great use of the energy [words indistinct]. I hope you
do not lack electricity in order to continue your programs. Please, give my
greetings to all the other members of your work team.

235.  [Cruz] I want something. I want, on behalf of the Cuban women who are
the rearguard, as you said today, to give you our best wishes and tell you on
behalf of all of us in Cuba who love you so much, from our hearts, truly, that
we need you very much and we appreciate very much the fact that you are here.
We appreciate the example you have set us all these days and all these years.
I want to give you a Happy-New-Year kiss on behalf of all those many, many,
many people who love you.

236.  [Rodriguez] A hug. I wish you the best.

237.  [Castro] A hug for all the viewers and all the people.

238.  [Rodriguez] Thank you very much, Commander.

239.  [Cruz] Thank you very much, Commander