Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-152 Daily Report 7 Aug 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Speaks to Reporters

PA0708031394 Havana Radio Havana Cuba in Spanish 0057 GMT 7 Aug 94 PA0708031394 Havana Radio Havana Cuba Spanish BFN

[Text] Cuban President Fidel Castro arrived in Colombia today to participate in the inauguration ceremony of Ernesto Samper, the new Colombian president. A few minutes after arriving at the airport in El Dorado, the leader of the Cuban Revolution held an impromptu dialogue with reporters who went to the airport to welcome him.

[Begin recording] [Castro] say hello to all of you and to greet the Colombian people, particularly the people of Bogota. I was in this city 46 years ago, and it is a great honor to have the opportunity to return [words indistinct]. Now, how can I help you?

[First unidentified reporter] Good afternoon, Commander.

[Castro] You mean good evening, right?

[First reporter] Commander, what is your opinion about what occurred recently in El Malecon in Havana?

[Castro] You mean in El Malecon and in other parts of Havana. They were incidents that could be expected, logical, that have been in the making for a long time. But they were a total failure. Faced with the U.S. provocations, the people of our capital city demonstrated a high degree of dignity and patriotism and responded in a lofty manner.

[First reporter] Thank you.

[Gonzalez] Good evening, Commander. I am Frank Gonzalez from PRENSA LATINA. Last night you gave a very clear outline of Cuba's position vis-a-vis the U.S. harassment maneuvers. Have you received any response or reaction from the U.S. Government regarding the statements you made last night?

[Castro] Well, I spoke twice yesterday. I spoke in the street, while walking through the city with the people, then I spoke on television. On television I mentioned a conversation between the head of the U.S. Interests Section and the Foreign Ministry in which a threatening statement was made in reference to what I had said earlier on the street. I specifically reiterated and explained in detail our position that we cannot be the guardians of the U.S. borders. Either they take steps to stop encouraging illegal departures from the country, or we will instruct our border guards not to obstruct in any way whatsoever the departure or entrance of vessels to and from Cuba. The response that was received referred to the statement made in the afternoon.

Then, in the evening, I spoke about and explained Cuba's position very calmly and coolly. We have not received any specific response to this statement, except a question from the U.S. Interests Section if we had anything for them. Our response was that we had nothing for them, that we had nothing to say, and that our position was very precise and clear.

[Ruiz De la Torre] Commander, good evening and welcome to Colombia.

[Castro] Good evening, and thank you.

[Ruiz De la Torre] I am Cesar Ruiz De la Torre from the Colombian news agency COLPRENSA. Commander, following the end of the Cold War, new relations appear to be based on drug-trafficking issues. As you know, there has been a scandal here in Colombia with the president-elect, who is going to be inaugurated tomorrow. What is your opinion regarding the new way the United States is handling things and the drug-trafficking scandals?

[Castro] Two things: First, the Cold War may have ended for many people, but not for us. Second, I am truly outraged over the way the drug-trafficking problem has been handled following the elections, and I am firmly convinced that a vile case of slander has been carried out against the Colombian president-elect. That is what I believe, so I feel it is my duty to say so.

[Parra] Good evening, Mr. President. I am Ivan Dario Parra from the "Cripton Newscast." I would like to again welcome you to our country. My question is: President Gaviria reestablished bilateral relations with your government. How do you think these relations will work out with the Samper administration? Do you think there will be even more cooperation between the Samper administration and your government?

[Castro] Our relations with President Gaviria have been excellent. We do not have any complaints. We are very satisfied and have advanced a lot. If relations can be any better, then we hope they will be better. We are certain, however, that they will not slip one single millimeter backward, and we hope they will continue developing for the benefit of the unity and integration of Latin America and for the benefit of the relations between our two countries and the friendship between the peoples of Colombia and Cuba.

[Unidentified speaker] [Words indistinct]

[Castro] A lady wants to ask a question, what can I do?

[Second unidentified reporter] Welcome, Commander.

[Castro] Thank you.

[Second reporter] My question is related to the situation that has just developed in Cuba. Don't you think these demonstrations in a certain way are prompted by the economic crisis and the social nonconformity on the island and...

[Castro, interrupting] Please, repeat the last part.

[Unidentified female reporter] The social nonconformity. This is the information we have received via international dispatches.

[Castro] But of course.

[Second reporter] Here I am, answering your question. What steps is your government taking to control this situation?

[Castro] [Words indistinct] with the difficulties. We are struggling against them, and we are making advances. We are truly experiencing a difficult period, but what you refer to as nonconformity affects only a portion of the people who are discontented. But one also has to consider the great patriotism among the vast majority of the people, who understand the causes of the problems we are facing and who want to defend the fatherland, the revolution, and socialism. [end recording]