Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-089 Daily Report 8 May 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Views U.S. Blockade, South Africa

FL0805232694 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in Spanish 0000 GMT 8 May 94 FL0805232694 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks Spanish BFN [Excerpts of interview with President Fidel Castro by Caribbean Braodcasting Union reporter Sharon Marshall, in Barbados, date not given, passages within quotation marks recorded]

[Text] During the interview granted to the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Fidel discussed the results of the Small Island Nations Summit.

[Castro, in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English] "I believe this summit is a continuation of the Rio Summit. The Rio Summit was extremely important since it helped to build an awareness about environmental issues. Politicians are not usually very well informed about these matters. I believe that in Rio, for the first time, they faced up to the tragedy that environmental degradation means for the world. At that time, they were undergoing a learning process.

``At this conference, I noticed an increased awareness among politicians, and more awareness among industrialized nations, more than in Rio, and within a short period of time. Since Rio, politicians from island states have of course been more aware than anyone else. I recall that members of our delegation had had contact with representatives from these countries, and they were truly distressed by future prospects.''

Fidel also made reference to the historic victory of the South African people in the recent elections that brought an end to apartheid.

[Castro] "The work that took place helped preserve the independence of Angola, reaffirmed the independence of Namibia, and accelerated the disappearance of apartheid. I think it helped accelerate the process. Namibia, in any case, would have become independent sooner or later. Sooner or later, apartheid would have disappeared because apartheid was intolerable in today's world. The South African people, like the people of Namibia, fought hard and long, made many sacrifices, and attained their goals. I believe they had great leaders. They are a great, extremely courageous, hard fighting, energetic, intelligent, capable people. They have reached this point.

``We have to study the period from after the end of the war, the period of the elections, and the extraordinary role played by Mandela -- his leadership talent, his wisdom. He was an unifying force, overcame every obstacle, and remained firm. He was flexible in achieving this political miracle, these elections in which everyone participated and which achieved such a resounding victory. It was a great victory for the people of South Africa, a great victory for Africa, for the world, and for the liberal movement. I believe we all now need to contribute to support harmony and peace.''

Fidel reiterated the conditions necessary for the normalization of ties between Cuba and the United States.

[Castro] "First of all, for the blockade to end. It is an unfair, harsh, cruel blockade, which includes medicines and foodstuffs. It was imposed on Cuba 35 years ago. It is one of the longest blockades in history, and the most unjustified of all.

``Second, for the United States to resign itself to the fact that Cuba is an independent, sovereign country. Third, respect for our people's right to choose the political, social, and economic system they believe most fair. These are the three essential factors. We do not have anything against the United States. We have not blockaded the United States. We do not want to change the U.S. social system; we do not seek to establish socialism in the United States. This, in any case, would be as complicated as establishing capitalism in Russia. They are similar things, given the characteristics of these countries. We are therefore not trying to rule the United States, nor diminish its independence one iota. It is not that we have a problem with the United States. It is the United States that has a problem with us.''