Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-117 Daily Report 15 Jun 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro CNN Interview on Summit, OAS

FL1606170694 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2300 GMT 15 Jun 94 FL1606170694 Havana Radio Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [Interview with President Fidel Castro by unidentified CNN reporter in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on 15 June -- recorded]

[Text] [Reporter] What do you expect from this summit?

[Castro] Every summit has had a positive effect, has fostered a closeness and friendship among the peoples of Latin America. Diverse initiatives have sprung from the summits. This summit is already an institution and constitutes a Latin American force. This is something new which did not exist before. Previously, the Latin American peoples meet only when summoned by the United States. This is the fourth time we have met by our own initiative.

[Reporter] Do you expect this summit to be akin to a platform to allow Cuba to rejoin the OAS?

[Castro] I do not hope for that much. This is a complex problem. Diverse opinions have been expressed. We have to wait to see the final result in favor of Cuba's reincorporation in the OAS. That does not necessarily guarantee, however, that the good wishes of many Latin American peoples can be effected.

[Reporter] What is your answer to the call by all the Latin American leaders advocating a political and democratic opening in Cuba?

[Castro] No, not all. Some very respectfully expressed their views. I appreciate their concern for Cuba but I in turn replied, you heard it, that I could not believe that not a single word had been said against such an unfair and inhuman blockade which is trying to make our people surrender out of hunger and turn our country into a blood bath, and which attempts to dismiss the heroic resistance which Cuba and the Cuban people have put up in defense of dignity and sovereignty of the peoples of Latin America for more than 35 years. Our views are ignored.

Our country has been institutionalized and we have our views on how the country ought to be organized, how to keep the country united. We have our Constitution and follow it. I believe our practices and the participation of our people are truly much more democratic than that of others systems. There is more than one model of democracy. I also explained how distraught we were by the fact that it has not been acknowledged that Cuba has attained the greatest social progress in the history of this hemisphere; and that this hemisphere has the worst distribution of wealth and land, that millions of people die every year, people who could be saved. We have done so in Cuba. Only in Cuba, the Revolution's social efforts have not only educated the entire population but also saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. [Words indistinct] the others have not done this.

[Reporter] As you explained, Cuba has experienced great social development. Currently, great economic development is taking place.

[Castro] No, great economic development is not taking place right now. We are under a double blockade. We have endured the U.S. blockade for over 30 years and we have had to abide the outcome of the collapse of the socialist bloc, with which we had the bulk of our trade, and the disappearance of the Soviet Union.

[Reporter] Is Cuba attracting foreign investment?

[Castro] It is, not in the proportion we would like, but increasingly so.

[Reporter] Could we expect to see an opening in Cuba like in the PRC where a market economy coexists with a socialist government?

[Castro] We have studied the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences and everything useful and applicable to Cuba that we can take from that experience will be undoubtedly implemented. We cannot mechanically copy everything they have done because their situation is different. For example, in the PRC, 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas where in Cuba, 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas. We cannot do in rural areas some of the things they do. We have to do things differently. We are in close contact with the PRC and Vietnam and have studied them seriously in addition to our own contributions. We have also conducted a significant economic opening and are aware that we have to solve problems under very difficult conditions. It was easier to resist the blockade when the USSR existed and we had guaranteed trade and markets, fair prices for our products, and had credit and technology which today we do not have. Nowadays, we have to accomplish this on our own and under enormous U.S. pressures.

[Reporter] You have made a unique statement by wearing a guayabera for the first time in over 35 years. Does this imply a change?

[Castro] Well, rather than a change it is matter of (?deference) and respect, first of all, to the local climate and second, to the request of the organizers. They sent word to please come in guayaberas or shirts. I did not have any guayaberas or shirts, our suits. I had to rush. Someone lent me a guayabera for measurements, then one was made for me at full speed. I had no idea how it was going to fit. On Monday, the very day I left, guayaberas were being made for me. Thus, I complied with all the requirements of the climate and the host and I am very comfortable.

[Reporter] Will there be Fidel Castro in Cuba for a long time?

[Castro] Who can tell if there will be Fidel Castro in Cuba for a long time? It all depends on my health and, above all, my capacity to contribute to solve the national problems.

There is no need for Fidel Castro in Cuba for a long time. We have many outstanding comrades able to do the job. We have been developing younger and well prepared cadres. I am not indispensable. I do not believe myself indispensable, nor does it worry me how much longer I may have, how long I am going to last, or for how long will they demand that I fulfill certain duties which, by the way, are not easy.

[Reporter] Do you not think it is time for the Cuban people to have other political options?

[Castro] The Cuban people participated in elections not long ago.

[Reporter] But it is a one party system.

[Castro] Yes, but the party does not nominate the candidates. The candidates are nominated directly by the people. In other words, we do not have one but a thousand, every citizen has the option to make a nomination. The neighbors in the district meet and nominate candidates.

[Reporter] But these are candidates from the Communist Party of Cuba [PCC]?

[Castro] Well, it is an honor. There are many who are not members of the PCC, however. Yet, in Cuba, the candidates are nominated by the people, not the PCC. The PCC does not participate in the nomination of candidates, the mass organizations do. The percentage of the population that votes is much higher than in the United States, a higher percentage than in any Latin American country. That is a fact.

[Reporter] Regarding the embargo: Canada has said that it supports the lifting of the embargo against Cuba. Do you believe this is a good beginning to which the U.S. will be receptive?

[Castro] Canada has always followed independent and outstanding policies regarding ties with Cuba, a policy of respect for our national sovereignty. This policy, like Mexico's, has been upheld for over 30 years through various administrations, conservative, liberal, and progressive.