FBIS-LAT-93-200 Daily Report 19 October 1993 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Responds to Church Groups' Letter FL1710211093 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 1800 GMT 16 Oct 93 FL1710211093 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Letter from Cuban President Fidel Castro to "the signatories of the message to the Cuban Revolutionary Government, representatives of various religious institutions" in Havana on 13 October] [Text] Havana, 13 October 1993 To the signatories of the message to the Cuban Revolutionary Government, representatives of various religious institutions. Dear Brothers and Sisters: I have carefully and respectfully read the documents issued following the recent meeting of pastors of the evangelical churches, ecumenical movements, Christian institutions, and Catholic laymen, especially the one directed, through me, to the Cuban Government. I want to take this opportunity not only to acknowledge that note but to express some ideas inspired by the reading of your observations so you may better contribute to the exchange of ideas you mention in your letter. First, on behalf of all the companeros who right now carry the heavy burden of leading the country to port, safe from the dangers currently besieging it, I want to thank you for your word of encouragement and acknowledgment. At a moment when so many join to condemn and slander us, it is encouraging to see that such a large and distinguished group of men and women, who because of their spiritual and moral office are in a privileged position to evaluate without prejudice the efforts we are making, know how to value our efforts and the justness of our intentions. We are happy to see that you understand the importance of joining efforts to end the criminal blockade against our country. We believe that your note to the UN secretary general is a specific expression of a clear awareness about the paramount role the blockade plays in the context of current aggressive actions against Cuba, awareness about the major burden the blockade represents in the difficult situation our country is enduring, and awareness about the need to adopt definite positions condemning the blockade. This is the way to assume a stand of solidarity with the people, the way to usefully serve the fatherland. We are also pleased that you have been able to understand the full significance of the solidarity Cuba is generating throughout the world as an expression of moral support, which is very meaningful in a world increasingly subjected to the hegemonic will of the dominant power, a support that our people appreciate in a situation as difficult as this one. We have always believed that we must count on our own forces to pull forward, that only our united and firm effort will give us victory. The primary importance of solidarity is that in addition to showing our enemy that Cuba is not alone, it encourages the people to continue to strive and reaffirms their trust. We have never believed that we are omniscient or possessors of complete knowledge. With that in mind, we can struggle to improve our work and to adapt it to the circumstances existing at any given moment. I can assure you that I am not one of those who have been fully satisfied with what we have done, or one of those who believe that we cannot make mistakes. It should suffice to recall the reasons for and the very name of our rectification process, which was having very promising results. This process represented our awareness of the need for correcting errors and deficiencies resulting from the implementation of some formulas inherited from socialist construction processes or imposed here or inherited from history. This process represented our awareness of the need to produce more and to better benefit the people. We share your reasonable concerns about the possible effects on the social sectors of some of the economic measures we are currently forced to adopt. We do not ignore the dangers lurking here. If we have taken these steps, with the full understanding of the majority of the people, it is because the nation had no alternative. Of course, we could have chosen to preserve the purity of those values of equality that are the foundation of our struggle and which are the essence of our philosophy. Right now, however, it is more important to save the revolution and national independence by facing true reality and making decisions responsive to the exceptional circumstances bearing on Cuba as a result of the demise of the socialist nations and the heightened economic blockade by imperialism. The blockade harms us much more now that we have lost markets, prices, and basic supplies. Only an heroic, dignified, firm, and intelligent resistance can save our nation. We ask you to contribute your endeavors to the efforts all our state and social institutions are called upon to make so the erosion that could take place in these and other values and norms of individual and social conduct are minor. One must say that if the revolution had not created those meaningful social ethics that only our most fanatical enemies ignore, we would not be debating these problems today. All our efforts have been geared toward the promotion of the sense of solidarity among mankind. That is why we much more than anyone else do not want to give up that higher goal of creating a community-oriented, human, and united society, with whom you express your commitment in your message. Meanwhile, it is not possible to question or minimize the significance of the ethical, moral, and human values ingrained in the admirable effort made by our people all these years. What is this transformation task of the Cuban society accomplished by the revolution? What is this sustained effort for almost 35 years to overcome illiteracy, to raise the school and the cultural level of the people? What is the struggle to reduce infant mortality to levels comparable with those of highly developed nations, translated into the saving of thousands of lives. What is the battle undertaken against all expression of discrimination due to race or sex? What is internationalism practiced in a reasonable manner by Cuba? "The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." That was said by one of the purest revolutionaries of our times, Ernesto Che Guevara, whose death in the campaign against the common enemy of the people recently marked a new anniversary. We have never ceased to be interested in or willing to stay in permanent communication with all sectors of our society who, although they hold different views on some of the current problems and their best solutions, nevertheless agree with us on the essential premise that these solutions must be subordinate to the higher interests of national survival. I think one of the most fruitful expressions of this willingness for communication was the April 1990 meeting with a large group of delegates from churches and ecumenical movements, where together we openly studied Cuban Christians' current concerns and expectations. The possibility of believers joining the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC], considered after the agreements reached at the 4th 1991 PCC Congress were signed, was a very important step in the direction of this sector's full participation in society's political life. In addition, one of the most significant results of the constitutional amendments and the electoral system reforms was the possibility of ensuring greater participation in the makeup of the state's deliberative bodies at their various levels, to which an increasingly more important function is assigned in the group discussion of the matters of interest in the community. Through the improvement of these new ways, the best possible use of their great potential, and through any other mechanisms that might be deemed feasible, practical, and useful, it is our purpose to remain open, as we have been up to the present, to any and every possibility of exchanging views and searching for common grounds on any of the subjects mentioned in your message. Brothers and sisters, the homeland is the task of all who are willing to sacrifice themselves for it. It is an altar, not a stepping stone, as Marti said. It is an altar where, without fanfare or boasts, we should place the best in each one of us for the benefit of an unpostponable collective work; not a pedestal where we can stand in the vain pretense of accumulating doubtful and late merits based on intrigue or treason. For this reason, we will always welcome the views, even if we disagree with them, of those sincerely interested in furthering our social progress work. We will never listen with respect, however, to those who harbor insidiousness, serve the enemy, or betray their people and homeland. At a time when the Cuban nation's survival is at stake, it is our duty to preserve our unity and fight to the end. The Gospel warning: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against itself cannot stand" is valid for the country's present conditions. The country is harassed, blocked, and threatened by a powerful enemy bent only on destroying our identity and our independence. Let us also bear in mind something against which Marti warned: "The Cuban revolution is not a beggar. It accepts and only asks from those who love and know her and obeys the country for which it is done." Dear brothers and sisters, may you receive my cordial greeting, together with our government's gratitude, for the lofty and constructive purpose of your messages. Yours truly, [Signed] Fidel Castro Ruz.