Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-153 Daily Report 9 Aug 1994 Colombia

Castro Continues Visit, Meets Officials

Holds `Exclusive' News Conference

PA0908021894 Santa Fe de Bogota Inravision Television Canal A Network in Spanish 0000 GMT 9 Aug 94 PA0908021894 Santa Fe de Bogota Inravision Television Canal A Network Spanish BFN [From the "Seven O'Clock Newscast"]

[Text] Cuban President Fidel Castro, who is at this time boarding his plane for Havana, held an exclusive news conference with some Colombian media. The "Seven O'Clock Newscast" was there. The more I know Colombia, the more I love it, Castro said.

[Begin Castro recording] I was able to appreciate exceptional qualities in Garcia Marquez as an organizer. One would imagine that a writer is usually a disorganized person, but Garcia Marquez is a very organized man. He a very fine organizer. On that occasion, I became convinced -- I must say this as a friend and admirer of his -- he would have made a great president.

I sincerely view Gaviria as a friend. We have made contact throughout these four years at the summits and meetings in Cartagena. When one knows a person and is fond of that person, one is satisfied that person can hold such an important but difficult position.

I am not opposed to any of the views President Samper expressed yesterday. He mentioned a few more things. There is one you did not mention which is very important. He said it twice at the beginning of his speech -- I would have to reread his speech -- and later in the speech. Samper said he would not allow anyone in the world to dictate to Colombia the way it must resolve its problems and the way it must deal with the drug trafficking issue. This is a very important statement President Samper made, which I applauded. I said this is not an internal thing; this is defense of sovereignty.

I really want to say a few emotional words. I feel a growing liking and love for Colombians. I can state that the more I know Colombians, the more I deal with Colombians, the more I love you. [end recording]

The last time Castro visited Santa Fe de Bogota was 46 years ago. Before his news conference, Fidel spoke to an auditorium of supporters of various parties on his presence in Santa Fe de Bogota on 9 April 1948, the day Liberal political leader Jorge Eliecer Gaytan died.

[Begin Castro recording] So many things happened to me in 48 hours. I don't think anyone has ever had a similar experience. I only know I joined the first column advancing toward a police station. [crowd laughs and applauds] [Words indistinct] better than a witness who also had to get a rifle.

I was not able to get a rifle. All I was able to get was a large gun that hurled tear gas [crowd laughs and applauds] and a bunch of large wooden bullets. They resembled canyon shells more than infantry bullets. A lieutenant told me: Blow it all up! He gave me his rifle and asked me for support. I accepted happily.

What I did in those days, when I joined the people, was one of the most altruistic things I have ever done in my life, one of the most selfless and pure things I have ever done. And after so many incidents, I ended up at the Fifth Police Station, but not under custody, no. I ended up at the Fifth Police Station with about 400 policemen who had rebelled. I can assure you there is nothing worse than to have one single rifle among so many people without rifles [crowd laughs and applauds] because the others want you to win the Battles of Boyaca, Junin, and Ayacucho with your rifle and its 14 bullets. [crowd laughs and applauds] [Words indistinct] a few students with me and a rifle to seize the station. But I was so lucky -- there is no doubt I was extremely lucky those days -- that the station had already been seized. [crowd laughs and applauds] [end recording]