Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-157 Daily Report 12 Aug 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Fidel Castro 11 Aug News Conference

FL1208233594 Havana Tele Rebelde Network in Spanish 2000 GMT 12 Aug 94 FL1208233594 Havana Tele Rebelde Network Spanish BFN [News conference by President Fidel Castro with unidentified correspondents at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television immediately following his televised interview on 11 August in Havana -- recorded]

[Text] [Castro] [Words indistinct] they do not want them there, these people of a superior race. They are of a superior race and do not want these elements there. Now, they face this problem.

[Correspondent] Commander, how long will you wait for a serious response from the United States?

[Castro] We will wait for as long as necessary. The problem is no longer ours but theirs. We are calm. They created the problem. We can afford to wait. The longer they take, the worse it will be for them. They have generated the so-called mass exodus.

[Correspondent] Commander, you referred in your interview to five ships off the Haitian coast that are carrying out antidrug maneuvers in Latin America. They reportedly would form a kind of chain in the event that there is a Cuban exodus toward the United States. What does this mean for Cuba?

[Castro] No, that is their problem. I guess they know how to stop boats. We do not know how. They will run the risk of causing accidents if they try to intercept boats. Who knows how many ships have capsized or will capsize trying to avoid them. We do not mix the drug trafficking problem with this problem. We will continue implementing the antidrug measures that we have been implementing up to now. They do not run any risk.

[Correspondent] Commander, our newsroom just learned that a U.S.-Cuban ship that entered our waters to pick up 22 people has been detained. This is interesting in light of U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno's remarks, which describe these measures as impulsive and extreme [words indistinct].

[Castro] Perhaps there was [words indistinct].

[Correspondent] Three boats so far.

[Correspondent] Commander, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno made another remark to which I would like you to respond. She said: Our policy has always been to invite Cubans to use normal immigration channels.

[Castro] They won't give it to them. They may have invited them, but they do not give them permission to enter. They did in the past. They wanted to take our doctors, technicians, etc., at the beginning of the Revolution.

[Correspondent] It has always been U.S. policy...

[Castro, interrupting] That is a lie...

[Correspondent, interrupting] To invite Cubans to use normal immigration channels.

[Castro] That is a complete lie.

[Correspondent, in English with passage-by-passage translation into Spanish] Mr. President, I am Mary Murray, from NBC News. We have two questions we'd like you to answer. It seems that during tonight's interview you made a political link between the Clinton administration needing to end the blockade, the trade ban against Cuba, and resolving the immigration crisis. Is that accurate?

[Castro] That is logical, because the blockade is what compels large-scale immigration the most. If you do not discuss those problems, if those problems are not solved, then we would be deceiving ourselves. The large-scale immigration problem will not be solved. That is what I meant.

[Correspondent, in English with passage-by-passage translation into Spanish] So, does that mean the United States, the Clinton administration, will have to tell you that they are willing to talk about ending the blockade before they sit down with Cuba?

[Castro] Yes, I believe it will not be easy to solve the problems they have created, and they will not be solved overnight. However, ending the blockade would be an essential and decisive step.

[Correspondent, in English with passage-by-passage translation into Spanish] And Mr. President, are you...

[Castro, interrupting] Although it would not be the only step. It would be necessary to do other things, like I explained tonight.

[Correspondent, in English with passage-by-passage translation into Spanish] Mr. President, are you still thinking about opening up Cuban ports to U.S. boats?

[Castro] No, no, no. I cannot discuss what I think. I cannot reveal everything that I think. [chuckles]

[Correspondent] Commander, referring to the comrade's navy lieutenant's assassin, will Cuba demand that he be tried or at least propose that he be tried or sent here?

[Castro] That issue is not important. No, no...[pauses] We would like justice to prevail. We want them to punish him.

[Correspondent] What would Cuba want?

[Castro] I think that...[pauses] It is all the same to me. He can be punished there or punished here. They have him there, and I doubt very much that they will dare send him here. They are afraid of the protests from the mafiosi and fascist elements there.

[Correspondent] But, in case they...

[Castro, interrupting] If they punish him, we would be satisfied.

[Correspondent] We could provide the means.

[Castro] Of course, but I do not believe in that. [chuckles] They have deceived us too many times. They have carried out the deceitful maneuver of threatening to punish and to do this and that. They have threatened, but they have never punished anyone. The most [words indistinct] have Orlando Bosch, who killed...[pauses] who is the main culprit in the airline explosion, and he is free to walk the Miami streets. What do you expect?

[Correspondent] It was reported during your interview tonight that the assassin [Lionel Macia, the man accused of killing Lieutenant Roberto Aguilar Reyes during a recent boat hijacking, who is currently being held in the United States] has been sent to a state prison. Is that part of...

[Castro, interrupting] That is part of the process. They are in a tight spot. They are in an embarrassing situation. They were fooled. They believed the lie that the one who was killed was really the one who hijacked the boat. They now must do something to cover up for appearances. These are no more than appearances.

[Correspondent] Nevertheless, they have imprisoned him but have not taken measures against the others who hijacked the other boats.

[Castro] They believe they have taken measures. A jury would not condemn them. They have applauded and encouraged these actions. They need to condemn themselves.

[Correspondent] Do you think it is just another U.S. trick, this appearance of seriousness and justice, prompted by fears of another Mariel boat lift?

[Castro] They fear many things right now. They fear international public opinion. They also fear Cuba's reaction and response. They are afraid.

[Correspondent] Commander, how would you describe -- and this is the last question I will ask, so that my colleagues also get a chance -- the editorials of THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST?

[Castro] I did not get a chance to read them in detail. I glanced over them.

[Correspondent] And what was your opinion on these newspapers, with so much influence...

[Castro, interrupting] I agreed with some points. It is interesting that they made this the topic of their editorials.

[Correspondent] For example, THE NEW YORK TIMES states: The United States is trapped in a dilemma that it created itself.

[Castro] That is true.

[Correspondent] Commander, the Cuban people have faced several unfortunate incidents. Do you think that these events could create a certain level of insecurity...

[Castro, interrupting] I do not think so.

[Correspondent] And do you think these incidents could encourage...

[Castro, interrupting] No, on the contrary. The antisocials who want to go to the earthly paradise welcome anything that will get them there. Those over there who want to reunite with their families or those who are asking for visas would also welcome anything that would help them achieve their purpose. I imagine that some of these people hope for that. The [word indistinct] elements have no possibilities because there are people who have legal possibilities, but they are not given visas. They are not authorized to enter that country. U.S. law allows for it, but they are not granted visas. The immense majority of these figures are also denied visas. They welcome anything that will help them. You could say that they are trapped: On the one hand, they do not want these people to immigrate; on the other hand, they encourage the exodus of these people. They do not want these people to go there legally. This is all very strong propaganda against the Revolution.

[Correspondent] I ask this because every time there is an incident like this, each Cuban asks himself: When will these incidents end, incidents that undermine our nation and our integrity?

[Castro] Yes, they ask themselves this for good reason. However, we must also be level-headed when we act. I would say that this type of person deserves to be punished harshly. They are traitors, and our people always seek the harshest treatment for traitors and turncoats. In reality, a government's responsibilities do not allow it to order violent measures, repressive measures. There are many people who wish we would kill those people, but we cannot do this. We cannot relinquish our standards, our principles, and advocate violent repression. On the contrary, we try to avoid it, not only as a matter of principle but also because this is what they want. They want us to impose violent repression. They want us to modify our laws. They want to get us to exceed ourselves. It is much better to act according to the principles and truth. What we say can be proven. They tell lies and more lies. People believe what we say. Those over there are the first to believe. If we say we will open this port and offer such facilities, they know that it is true and come with complete confidence. If we guarantee that they can come, they will come because they trust us. They believe our word. They have demonstrated this on different occasions. Many of them are extremists, the population with radical points of view.

We cannot allow ourselves to get carried away with outrage or with extremism or radicalism. That is how it should be. That has strengthened our Revolution. When people react as they reacted the other day in light of the violence and protests, they react because it is a revolution of principles and morals. We even prefer to risk casualties under certain circumstances.

It is very different to speak of a foreign invasion. We must have a tremendous amount of self-control and cannot abuse our power when we fight unarmed individuals. We are convinced of this political practice, even though I know some are radical and always want what they call an iron fist because they detest what they have done. If we allow ourselves to get carried away, then we are giving the enemy a powerful instrument to push world opinion into isolating us by presenting us as a repressive society of assassins and many other things.

I was saying that if a police battalion had broken up the demonstrations that were held the other day and several people had been shot, they would have used this against us. Nevertheless, it proves the opposite when the people respond. Where else does this happen? I have always believed in the importance of the masses confronting these manifestations and the masses being the ones to confront these situations and the weapons being saved for the invaders or the mercenaries. It is a different story when they are armed. However, since they want to provoke us, they have done all in their power to provoke us.

Our coast guard saved 25 people in the capsizing. They have blamed our government for the drownings. The coast guard saved them. The ship would have probably sunk with all those people on board. What coast...[pauses] What do you call them?

[Correspondent] The coast guard?

[Castro] No, not the coast guard. The tugboat workers, the tugboat workers did not tell anybody. The others had [word indistinct] all the communications. They did not try to sink the tugboat but to prevent the tugboat from being stolen. As a matter of fact [words indistinct] kept its distance. They hit the tugboat. Of course, [words indistinct] at night and at sea. It would have been better for them not to have followed them.

However, the U.S. Government implied that Cuban authorities were responsible for the incident. Our authorities had nothing to do with the incident. It was the reaction of the workers themselves. Are we now going to take away our workers' morals? It would have been better if the accident had not taken place, but those workers did not want to lose their boat. It was an accident and unintentional.

The story about the capsized boat traveled around the world. Who knows how many Haitian ships they have capsized. Who knows how many thousands of Haitians have died. Ah, but this boat, where it took place, it sunk by accident. They blamed the whole thing on the government and the Revolution. Our coast guard saved 25 lives. The other six people were rescued by the others. However, they were on their way at the time. They were not yet there.

Furthermore, our coast guard has been instructed not to shoot or intercept the boats. They have been instructed to proceed in that manner. Of course, all this may encourage a bit. They feel that... [pauses] It is a fact that we will not guard U.S. coasts. That is a fact.

[Correspondent] Commander, will we take measures to protect our ships and...

[Castro, interrupting] We must take action. I said this the other day, but see how even this measure -- having an officer on the boat -- he was betrayed -- has not prevented this. Measures must be adopted with the airplanes and the boats. No, we have to adopt precautionary measures -- on land, rather than on water -- to prevent the theft of an airplane or a boat. Once on the water and with people on board, it is better that they leave. Instructions had already been issued to the Border Guard Troops on how to act and all that, but we cannot continue like this. They want no one to come here from over there. Let them handle that unpleasant task.

[Correspondent] Nevertheless, over there they say that you want to dictate U.S. immigration policy.

[Castro] They want to dictate our policy. If the conditions and the willingness have been created for what they call a mass exodus, then they have been the ones to create this problem. They cannot expect us to solve their immigration problems. It is not the same.

[Correspondent] Commander, how could this be used during the upcoming Latin American summit, in Miami? How did the Latin American presidents in Colombia feel about these latest incidents?

[Castro] They did not even mention the incidents. Everyone is busy with other things. On the contrary, [Cuban Foreign Minister] Roberto [Robaina] was telling me that many foreign ministers were very impressed with the fact that I had attended Samper's inauguration. With the campaign that was being waged, they wanted everyone to believe that we were facing a difficult and complicated situation. They were very impressed and satisfied that the Cuban delegation attended the ceremony. I was treated very well.

Clinton himself does not even know what the Miami summit is all about. They do not have an agenda nor do they know what will be discussed or what will be done. They made that up, and by demagogy they hold it in Miami. Now, they do not know what to do with that. That is the truth.

[Correspondent] Mr. President, as you know, President Clinton lost an important vote in Congress on his Crime Bill. How do you think you can negotiate with Clinton when he is losing his popularity? Do you think he would agree to meet you?

[Castro] We have never been opposed to negotiations. He is the one who has not wanted to negotiate with us. We negotiate with whoever wants to negotiate with us, whether he is up or down. It would not be right not to want to talk to someone because he is losing points or ratings. We realize that he is the President who is recognized by the United Nations and internationally. It is truly worrisome that Clinton has lost popularity, because one does not know what forces could emerge. If Clinton weakens and other forces emerge, more progressive forces...[pauses] But no one can guarantee that. The fact that Clinton has been losing popularity worries me because it makes him more susceptible to pressure.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I must go.

[Correspondent] Thank you, Mr. President.