Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC



Castro Remarks on New Foreign Minister, Bids Farewell to Alarcon
Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     FL0204170693
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-93-063          Report Date:    05 Apr 93
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     2
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       4
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       02 Apr 93
Report Volume:       Vol VI No 063


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

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Remarks on New Foreign Minister, Bids Farewell to Alarcon

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro given at the Ministry of Foreign Relations
in Havana on 1 April-recorded]

Source Line:   FL0204170693 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in
Spanish 0100 GMT 2 Apr 93

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro given at the Ministry of Foreign
Relations in Havana on 1 April-recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro given at the Ministry of Foreign
Relations in Havana on 1 April-recorded]

2.  [Text] Today, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, president of the Councils
of State and Ministers, attended the hail and farewell ceremony to officially
present the new foreign minister, Roberto Robaina Gonzalez, and send off the
former one, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada.

3.  [Begin Castro recording] [applause, audience chants: ``Fidel''] The fact
of such a brilliant foreign minister as Alarcon's having to leave the position
to occupy another position of great responsibility must have shaken up the
ministry. Well, although it was difficult to find a new foreign minister, it
was also quite difficult to find a president for the National Assembly, after
the electoral process we had, and when we really needed someone who would
symbolize that entire process. It was like a symbol of the role of the
National Assembly, of its importance, of the nature of the electoral process
that we have just had. I think Alarcon's presence in the National Assembly was
the culminating point of that entire process. You have already seen with what
unanimity Alarcon's candidacy was received within the National Assembly and
how all the deputies present voted for him unanimously and with what unanimity
his election was received by the population.

4.  Well, we had solved a very important problem. We had solved the problem of
the National Assembly. We still had to solve, however, the problem of the
Ministry of Foreign Relations. A vacancy had occurred. How do we fill that

5.  Well, I imagine that if there had been a consultation process, we would
have had thousands of candidates, because every mind harbors its own idea of
who could be foreign minister, what so-and-so would be like. We were
interested in people's opinion. We were interested in all that. We were
interested, of course, in how a new minister was going to be received at the
Foreign Ministry, regardless of who he might be. But possibly few people
imagined that that new minister could be Robertico, because of the duties he
was carrying out in the youth movement; because of the important role the
youth movement plays; because he is not a Foreign Ministry career
professional; because he is young; because he does not have experience in
these matters.  Thus, few people were expecting Robaina to be chosen for this
Foreign Ministry position.

6.  I have since racked my brain-and before, too, of course-thinking about who
else could have been received unanimously here and by public opinion as well.
And I really cannot come up with anyone. But, well, perhaps some might have
been received with a greater or lesser consensus. I am sure no one would have
aroused as much controversy as Robertico. Of that I am sure!  [audience

7.  Well, for one reason or another-either because he came from the
organization, or because he was an ambassador, or because he was older, or had
more overall experience in the Revolution, or whatever....[changes thought]
But such a person would not have aroused as much passion, both in favor of and
against, as Robertico has aroused.

8.  I have listened to opinions. We have tried to get people's opinions. One
of the things that came up most often was the matter of experience. That he
did not have experience in this field, in this sphere. Some people argued that
he does not speak foreign languages. In short, there were different ideas
about the matter-among the revolutionary ranks, I mean. I am not talking
about....[rephrases] When I talk about divided opinions and different views, I
am talking about the revolutionary ranks.

9.  Now, those concerns were very well-founded. They were justified. They were
understandable, as much those who talked about experience as those who worried
about how Robertico was going to dress the day he had to go to, oh, I do not
know, the United Nations, let us say. [audience laughter] The United Nations
is a very respectable place, but I imagine that the day I showed up there in
one of these guerrilla uniforms [audience laughter]-and it is the uniform I
have used all my life-it was kind of sensational. Some people might have
thought it was not very diplomatic.

10.  I remember that Krushchev actually took off a shoe, there at the United
Nations, [audience laughter] to get people's attention. They were saying I do
not know what and he wanted to protest; so he beat on the table with his shoe,
there at the United Nations. That was, well, a sort of an Olympic record.
[audience laughter]

11.  Many such things have occurred at the United Nations.

12.  But what I am trying to say is that the concerns of the revolutionary
comrades from diverse spheres were worthy of being taken into account, and
worthy of being respected, because they were well-founded concerns.  They were
based on something. Moreover, they also showed the great importance everyone
places on the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the great importance everyone
places on the position of foreign minister.  Perhaps another
ministry....[rephrases] with difficulty in another ministry....[changes
thought] Because I know of cases in which, to a different ministry, some very
competent but new and unknown comrade has come and yet that has not given rise
to comments. People have read the file in the paper; and such cases have not
elicited passions the way Robertico's appointment has.

13.  That is to say that....[rephrases] This meant that the population in
general, the revolutionary comrades, consider this position very important;
that they are concerned about it, that they have an opinion regarding it, that
it is a matter of the greatest interest. Some asked us if we in the Politburo
and in the Council of State were crazy, for having made such a decision.

14.  I do hope, Robertico, that that idea that we might be crazy will not turn
out to be justified! [audience laughter] But, well, in any case, were this to
turn out to be the case, it would at least be a collective craziness.
[audience laughter] A very well-thought-out and well-analyzed craziness,
thought out and analyzed on the basis of a whole series of circumstances of a
political and practical nature, and analyzing the variants. And each was
discussed, one by one, with all the....[rephrases] with many comrades.

15.  I must say that the first two comrades who were asked for their opinion
were Jose Ramon Balaguer and Ricardo Alarcon. They happened to be together and
we even asked them what they thought and they began to work out theories
[audience laughter] and mention names in an attempt to find a solution to the
difficult problem of choosing a minister who could replace Alarcon. And when
the name of Roberto Robaina was mentioned, they were speechless [se quedaron
asi] [audience laughter].  And I am going to tell you that, both of them,
both- because, in the first place, we wanted to have their opinion first of
all-really liked the idea a great deal.  They thought about it and they did
indeed think about it!  They expounded on the matter and I think all the other
comrades on the Politburo who were consulted about the idea had the same

16.  We know the kind of work Robertico has done when he has had to travel
abroad, when he has had to talk to political figures and face big news
conferences. We have seen his talent for and brilliance at tackling difficult
issues and responding to difficult questions. Those are unquestionably
characteristics required in a foreign minister, as is a deep political and
revolutionary conviction!  Those are real characteristics of Comrade Robaina,
and those of us who know him, who have talked with (?him) many times, can
attest to that.

17.  Discipline. When I talked to Robertico alone one day to ask him his
opinion about this-an occasion on which the first to be surprised, and the
person most surprised, was himself....[changes thought] I also remember the
time I talked to Robertico to give him a mission in Angola, as a political
cadre there at a decisive moment in that war, when our troops
were....[rephrases] when our troops were advancing toward the south, preparing
for a tremendous counterattack that would solve the famous problem of Cuito
Cuanavale, a great distance from there; that would force the enemy to withdraw
from Angola.  And that operation, in which 40,000 men were committed, and
where important political work needed to be done with the young
cadres....[changes thought] We asked the youth movement to send a number of
cadres there, to be sort of instructors, or political officers, or whatever
you wish to call them-to do political work with the troops, a thing so
essential at a moment as decisive as that!

18.  And I remember Robertico's answer, and the answer of the....[rephrases]
as a youth cadre. I remember the enthusiasm, the discipline, the determination
with which, in a matter of days, they got ready and marched off to fulfill
that mission.

19.  I have not spoken with Robertico only when it has been a matter of
promotions to constant tasks, (?matters) of work to be done here in the
country or other things. I have also spoken to him at moments such as that
one, in which the lives of so many men were at stake and there was political
work to be done. It is impossible for me to think that a person who has
sufficient qualities to accomplish political work among young combatants in a
war could fail to also have the political ability to do the job in the middle
of this war that the diplomatic battle that our country is having to wage in
all spheres against the most powerful empire on earth and in history

20.  We no longer had Alarcon here. Alarcon was undoubtedly the perfect
foreign minister for us. Nevertheless, we had to find someone capable of
developing the experience, the knowledge, the characteristics of Alarcon.
Also....[rephrases] Well, we needed someone young. We have many cadres who are
older but, well, would you be willing to have us send you a minister who is
already 60, 65, or 70 years old? [audience answers: ``No!''] It is different
if we come from way back, right? [audience laughter, applause]

21.  If someone is going to start out new, it is different. It is better for
him to be young [audience laughter] and learn.  It is the young who are sent
to study at the university.  One no longer sends people 50 or 60 years old, or
even people 45. One sends younger people because anyone seeing someone
beginning a university career at age 45 years would say: What's with you, sir?
[audience laughter] Can you not do something else? Why do they not send some
young man there, to begin the university career!

22.  They do not send....[changes thought] Well, when one is going to begin-in
this field, specifically-to acquire experience that must be acquired, a young
person is needed. Youth is indispensable, in diplomacy as in war.

23.  Regarding youth, I was commenting yesterday at the Politburo meeting that
had we not been the age we were when it happened, we would not have been able
to climb the Turquino mountain range when we did, carrying 70-pound loads on
our shoulders. And there is something else that must be taken into account:
that the work of the Foreign Ministry, or the nation's foreign policy, is not
the job of a single man. It is the job of a team, of a work group.
Furthermore, it is the job of the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC], the Cuban
Government, and the people of Cuba. As Alarcon used to say: Foreign policy is
everyone's job. All of us have to conduct foreign policy.  In fact, Alarcon
himself, from within the National Assembly, has to conduct a great deal of
foreign policy, through all these commissions and committees for relations
with all the legislatures, through the legislatures of the world, and through
the governments, and all that.

24.  There were also other factors. This ministry is important
internationally. And we also took into account the fact that Comrade Robaina
has been a member of the Politburo for some time now. He is also a member of
the Council of State. He has an important standing within the Revolution and
within the PCC. It was also necessary for the comrade who replaced Alarcon to
have as high a standing as possible, the greatest possible access to all
sectors and all levels. That was very important. If we could just bring that
into line with Robertico's energy, initiative, and creativity, we would be on
our way to fashioning an idea of who....[rephrases] of a minister
that....[rephrases] of who might be able to do that job- that [word or words
indistinct] begin gathering all these characteristics. And I think, am
convinced-as were all the rest of the comrades who expressed their opinion on
this matter-that Robertico possesses all the qualifications to carry out these
duties. And it is very good for him to feel committed to the revolution, to
the PCC, to the Cuban people, to those who expressed an opinion in favor, and
also to those who expressed an opinion against. He has to work very hard so
that those who held a different opinion will one day have to say: Well, I must
say that, indeed, once accepted, he is doing a good job.  As I myself am sure
he is going to do. [applause] [end recording]