Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-94-165 Daily Report 25 Aug 1994 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Views U.S. Ties, Emigration Crisis

PA2508031994 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish 0200 GMT 25 Aug 94 PA2508031994 Havana Radio and Television Networks Spanish BFN [Interview with Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, by program host Hector Rodriguez and reporters Rosalia Arnaez, Arleen Rodriguez, Luis Baez, and Susana Lee, in Havana; from the "This Very Day" program -- live]

[Text] [Hector Rodriguez] As announced earlier this evening, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, president of the Republic of Cuba, is here to participate in this program. We welcome him again. Good evening, commander.

[Castro] Good evening.

[Hector Rodriguez] We have here a panel of journalists. From left to right, Susana Lee, Luis Baez, Rosalia Arnaez, Arleen Rodriguez. I want to point out that Cuban television and radio, as well as Radio Havana Cuba, are now in network. I immediately give the floor to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro.

[Castro] Thank you. On this occasion I am compelled to review, as briefly as possible, events that have led to the current situation, meaning what we may call the complex and serious crisis that has been created, given the topics we have discussed. Hence, I think it is appropriate to continue with the same team, because you are well aware of the issue.

[Hector Rodriguez] Exactly.

[Castro] It is possible that I may expand a bit on the initial statement because I have some issues to discuss, and I want to do it coherently, so that it is not interrupted with questions. I will later give you the opportunity to ask all the questions you want, because today we began earlier, at 2200.

[Hector Rodriguez] At 2200.

[Castro] I think that those who watch the soap opera will not complain. Right?

[Hector Rodriguez] No, it is over.

[Castro] We have inconvenienced the fewest number of people possible.

A chronology of the events: hijacking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat. Accident with other tugboats that cause the craft to sink. Thirty- one people were rescued by Border Guard troops. Thirty-two people drown. This happened in the month of July, in mid-July.

[Hector Rodriguez] The 13th.

[Castro] The 13th. The 13 de Marzo on 13 July. Within the campaign unleashed after this event, President Clinton stated on 18 July that the incident is another example of the Cuban regime's brutal nature. It was proven that the authorities had absolutely nothing to do with this accident, which was duly explained.

Tuesday, 26 July. Hijacking of the Baragua passenger boat with 30 people aboard. The hijackers, armed with a pistol and various knives, threaten to kill a passenger, a 17-year-old woman. They throw two passengers overboard -- one of them three miles from the coast -- and they threaten to throw others overboard. The boat is intercepted 36 miles from the Cuban coast by a U.S. Coast Guard unit that picks up 15 people and turns over the hijackers' weapons. The patrol boat crew follows the boat but take no action in order to avoid accidents. They simply rescue the people thrown overboard.

Wednesday, 3 August. Hijacking of La Coubre passenger boat by a group of people armed with a pistol, a revolver, a hand grenade, and various knives. U.S. Coast Guard units pick up the hijackers and other passengers, more than 100, on the open sea. Later, Border Guard troops help the remaining 76 passengers.

Thursday, 4 August. Hijacking of the Baragua passenger boat -- for the second time. Murder of Lieutenant Gabriel Lamoth. The boat ran out of fuel, and since their intimidation plot failed, the hijackers were captured next day. The boat and its passengers were brought back without problems. In this case, what really happened is that they surrendered. They were within our jurisdiction, they ran out of fuel, they got tired, and they asked the authorities to help them.

Friday, 5 August. Vandalistic actions by counterrevolutionary and antisocial individuals in Havana, linked with the hijacking of boats for immigration. This provokes the overwhelming reaction of the revolutionary people in the capital. My first appearance on Cuban television to review events that occurred that day. I said then: If the United States does not adopt quick and efficient measures to stop encouraging illegal departures from the country, we will feel duty-bound to instruct the Border Guard troops to not obstruct any boat from leaving Cuba.

We have defined our position. We do not oppose solutions if there is sincerity, honesty; if they wish to solve things; if they do not want to pull our leg; but we cannot continue to guard the United States' borders. We state this here, in the presence of the people and the world, denouncing events which have occurred and how they have occurred.

Sunday, 7 August. Funeral ceremony to bid farewell to Lieutenant Gabriel Lamoth Caballero. Speech by General Ulises Rosales del Toro: If the United States is willing to discuss with Cuba serious solutions, honest negotiations on this issue, we do not oppose a joint search for solutions. The idea is again repeated.

Monday, 8 August. A U.S. Coast Guard source reports 5,154 Cubans have been rescued in the Florida Straits to date in 1994.

According to the source itself, the numbers for previous years are: 1983-1989, 630; 1990, 467; 1991, 2,203; 1992, 2,557; 1993, 3,656; and in 1994, 4,731 as of that date, which was 1 August. One can see here that the number of people who are being received illegally in the United States has been increasing year after year. This shows that a massive exodus was already under way, for reasons that I will explain later.

That same day sub-officer Lamoth Caballero was buried in Guantanamo. Also that same day the ferrocement vessel 5034 of the military unit 4349 of the Revolutionary Navy was hijacked at Mariel, and Corvette Captain Roberto Aguilar Reyes was murdered. At the time he was a navy lieutenant. I think that in reality his rank is navy captain. He used to be a navy lieutenant.

There is a mistake here in this information. Even though our Border Guard troops immediately reported the hijacking and the crime to the U.S. Coast Guard, a unit from this naval force intercepted the hijacked vessel and picked up the 26 people on board, including the murderer himself, and took them to Key West. Subsequent statements by U.S. Government spokesmen and officials cast doubt on the veracity of the information regarding the murder of combatant Aguilar Reyes. They even identified the dead man as the hijacker and murderer Leonel Macias Gonzalez.

Tuesday, 9 August. In an editorial, THE WASHINGTON POST asks President Clinton to think about Cuba in a new way and to soften the embargo because the policy pursued up to now punishes innocent people and gives Fidel Castro a card of nationalism that hinders political change. That same day the Coast Guard reports that it has assisted 116 rafters in the past 24 hours, for a total of 539 in the month of August and of 5,270 in the year. So as of that date, 9 August, there were 5,272 [figure as heard] admissions: the mass exodus is under way.

Thursday, 11 August. THE NEW YORK TIMES urges the U.S. Government to soften the economic sanctions on Cuba and to change its immigration policy toward Cuba, and affirms that the United States is trapped in a self-created dilemma. That same day, 11 August, the Coast Guard reports that in the past 48 hours it had assisted 116 Cuban rafters and that the total number of rafters assisted in 1994 had reached 5,435.

That very same day I said on Cuban television: Discussing the matter in earnest and looking at problems in depth entails discussing the embargo and ending both it and the policy of constantly stimulating terrorism. It implies settling the matter surrounding the famous Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which gives Cuba privileges not granted to anyone else regarding emigration and which legitimizes the illegal emigration of Cuban citizens.

Friday, 12 August. Despite all the things that had been happening, such as kidnappings, crimes, assassinations, throwing people overboard several miles from the coast, and despite the volume of illegal emigrants, White House spokesperson Dee Dee Myers -- I pronounce it in Spanish -- declares that the United States has not changed and does not intend to change its policy on Cuban illegal immigrants. That same day, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said: We will continue to enforce our present policy on illegal immigration from Cuba. He added that the United States has the plans and the means to prevent another Mariel boat lift. On the same day, State Department spokesman David Jones said the White House does not intend to either modify the preferential status accorded Cuban illegal immigrants or to repatriate them. Anyone leaving Cuba can acquire U.S. citizenship quickly, pleading either political or economic reasons.

May I repeat -- all this occurs after all that has been happening. Any type of boat is commandeered and any type of felony is perpetrated to reach the objectives.

On that same day, 12 August, Border Troops were specifically instructed to make operations on illegal departures more flexible.

Sunday, 14 August. Hundreds of people, with the complicity of the captain, boarded the tanker Hussara at the port of Mariel. The situation has already reached a level of impunity. The hijackers were already safe. The degree of stimulus given through all the actions and remarks is large. A ship carrying fuel, a dangerous ship, was seized by hundreds of people, approximately 700. The situation was complex and dangerous, forcing the police to act cautiously to prevent an accident with this ship carrying fuel. It was a dangerous situation. But the police calmly managed to resolve the problem and prevent further consequences. We would have been blamed for anything that happened there.

August 15. The Interior Ministry announced that all those who had boarded the Hussara ship had left voluntarily. No measures were taken against those people, even though an investigation is being conducted into the captain's and several crew members' responsibility for their participation in the action. But I am not familiar with the results of this investigation.

In other words an untenable situation had been created, which threatened transportation on the bay, threatened work, and was a risk to arriving and departing vessels. This was a big vessel -- if the stern were placed on home plate, the bow will reach past the scoreboard. The ship is 160 meters long. Nearly every Cuban knows what a ship that big is like. They take over the ship with the help of the captain, and he goes down the ladder and agrees with them. This all happens the same day that several thousand people gather in Mariel for the funeral of Navy lieutenant, now Navy Captain Roberto Aguilar. This is the same day. This gives some idea of how the hijackers were encouraged and how things had been happening for a long time and of the encouragement given to potential hijackers.

On Friday, 19 August, President Clinton gives a news conference. I have a copy somewhere. On Saturday 20 August, President Clinton issues a press release. I also have it somewhere. Finally, on Sunday, 21 August, White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta says that a naval blockade is a U.S. option. Further along I shall talk about the instructions that were given. I simply mention the border.

I believe that we should now mainly discuss what Clinton said on 19 August, the date of his news conference delivered on his birthday. I notice my birthday is pretty close to that, since it was on 13 August, while Clinton's is on 19 August. I try to avoid taking hasty and careless measures on my birthday. He should have waited and seen how events developed, and then he would have had much more to go on, much more calm, much more serenity to judge things.

Clinton said: Castro's regime has encouraged Cubans to take to the sea. Castro's regime has encouraged Cubans to take to the sea in unsafe craft in order to flee his country's domestic problems. With this action he has jeopardized the lives of thousands of Cubans. He has attempted to export to the United States the economic and political crisis he has created in Cuba, challenging the wave of democracy that today sweeps the area. As you can see, not even his birthday kept him from reading the harsh things he said during his news conference. Further along he said: I issued instructions today that Cuban illegal refugees should not be allowed to enter the United States. Those refugees who are rescued on the high seas will be taken to our naval base in Guantanamo.

Clinton was then asked several questions; I will not repeat them because they are well-known. Some of the questions are interesting, like the one where he is asked: Mr. President, we have maintained an embargo against Cuba for the past 35 years, which has increased economic problems in that country, and I understand this is why the refugees are arriving. What problem is there in taking small measures to negotiate treaties... [pauses] the negotiation... [pauses] What problem is there in taking some small measures regarding negotiation of a possible movement toward democracy with Cuba?

We have held negotiations with many communist nations during the past 35 years, and we continue to hold these. Clinton replies: I support the embargo and I support the law on democracy for Cuba, that is, the Torricelli bill that was approved in 1992. I do not think that in this we should change our policy. A reporter says: Nevertheless, there is North Korea and China; you deal with them all the time. This is a serious question; it is logical, ethical. Clinton responds: I believe that the circumstances are different and that our policy is correct.

Here is a reporter's question: Does this not force you to use multinational pressure to get Castro out in some way -- militarily, economically, or another way? He says, he says: The United States has done more than any other country to attempt to end Castro's government.

They call it Castro's government, Castro this and Castro that. They ignore the fact that there is a revolutionary process, that there is a revolution. These are things very different from personalities, individuals, or the name of any leader.

Nevertheless, he says they have done more than any other country to put an end to Castro's government. This is a right that he takes, that he takes for himself as President of the United States. We have done this through the law on democracy for Cuba, the embargo. We have worked hard, many times almost alone with that goal in mind, and we will continue doing so through the reasonable means we may have at our disposal. How very interesting.

Certainly here, for the first time, there is undoubtedly an attempt to discourage, to take some measure to discourage illegal departures. From our point of view, however, he adopts an absurd position that even further complicates the problem and violates international law, Cuba's sovereignty, and even the norms of that agreement -- unfair, arbitrary, and outdated -- by which they imposed upon us the Guantanamo Naval Base, maintained by force.

That was on the 19th, but this produced certain reactions of various sectors. Clinton was the target of very strong pressure by individuals on the far right, but particularly from the extreme right-wing Cuban fascist mafia in Miami. As we have said on other occasions, they have a great deal of resources, a great deal of money, a great deal of influence; they carry weight in Congress and at different levels. We mentioned this during our last appearance.

As a result, they demand measures, they pressure Clinton, and Clinton caves in to the extreme right's pressure and in general to the mafia. Therefore, he decided to adopt a number of drastic measures with regard to Cuba.

He issued a statement that in part says: During the past two weeks the Cuban Government has carried out actions, the Cuban Government has carried out actions to provoke a massive exodus toward the United States. These actions have placed in jeopardy thousands of Cuban citizens in small vessels and rafts and has a direct impact on our national interests. Yesterday I announced measures to counter Castro's efforts to export his problems by means of an exodus. Today I am announcing additional measures in accordance with the law for democracy in Cuba, the Torricelli law, to limit the Cuban Government's capacity to accumulate foreign exchange, and which will allow us to broaden the flow of information to the Cuban people. Specifically, sending money to Cuba will not be authorized. Family packages will be limited to medicines, food, and strictly humanitarian articles, and the transfer of money for humanitarian reasons will require specific authorization from the Treasury Department. Second, the only Havana-Miami charter flights that will be authorized are those that will carry legal immigrants and make flights in accordance with the purpose of the law for democracy in Cuba. Third, the United States will use all means necessary to increase and extend its international broadcasts to Cuba. The United States will continue presenting to the United Nations and other international organizations proof of human rights violations such as the sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat.

And there we go again with the sinking of the tugboat. Once again they resort to slander and to the incident that began this entire process.

For the time being we will undertake these efforts with vigor and determination.

So nothing that we have been saying will be taken into account: all that was said in the successive interviews, in the Cuban media, or by the Foreign Ministry; all the opinions that we have been voicing in a constructive manner, seeking solutions, willing to discuss and seek serious solutions for this problem, because we considered it a problem that had already been created.

We say that the blockade is the fundamental thing that encourages this, and the response is more blockade. We say that the subversive broadcasts have been continuously encouraging illegal departures, and the response is more subversive broadcasts. We say that the compulsion toward massive emigration is the fundamental factor, the economic compulsion, and they adopt more coercive measures.

In this case, truly, the U.S. Administration is destroying in one fell swoop the work that has taken years to accomplish, with the purpose of creating an atmosphere of harmony and family reunion between the Cubans in Cuba and those who are abroad: a policy that the U.S. Government has always claimed to defend. They always said that this was a necessary policy, and our country has truly made strenuous efforts in this regard.

First, it established the general principle that Cuban citizens have the right to emigrate. Later came the immigration agreement of 1984, followed by the permission to travel abroad. At the beginning, this permission was granted to women over 55 and men over 60; later, the age was progressively reduced until we established the general principle that all people over 20 have the right to travel to the United States and return here and all Cubans or people with Cuban roots have the right to travel to Cuba from the United States and return -- from the United States and anywhere else and return. They might be U.S. citizens, but if they have Cuban roots, they can travel here.

This achievement was not easy. Many people here had to be persuaded to accept this kind of policy. I already explained the risks we had to run; we had to convince the revolutionaries, and we had to convince public opinion before implementing these policies. The party and the government made a great effort to convince people and public opinion.

In April, we held a conference with Cuban emigrants. All of those willing to work constructively were invited. As a result of these discussions, a number of initiatives were agreed upon, including the creation of an office in the Foreign Relations Ministry to attend to the emigrants. We also discussed the possibility of some Cubans who live abroad that want to study in Cuba being able to study in Cuba, as long as they pay their tuition. Twenty years ago we could not have discussed the possibility of studying in Cuba.

We discussed visits to Cuba by those who left the country legally without having to wait five years. These kinds of visits were allowed, but there was a restriction. The emigrants asked us why we had this restriction on those who left the country legally. We suspended that restriction. We proposed reducing the age for leaving the country from 20 to 18 years. They asked why 20 and not 18 when the laws recognize an individual is of legal age. Right. We agreed to reduce the age limit from 20 to 18, although there are interests with 18-year-olds. This was the first time they were allowed to leave.

As for the right to travel abroad, we expanded the permission to stay abroad for personal reasons from six to 11 months. We accepted the possibility of repatriating those emigrants who meet certain requirements, such as not being involved in activities against the country, being over 60, being included in the annual quota for this type of case, being able to determine they will not be a burden on society, and proving they have their own resources or that their relatives are able to support them. These measures were discussed at that meeting, because the Cuban emigrants requested it.

They are favorable measures; some more so, others not as much, but altogether they are of great importance: to grant a number of Cubans permission to reside abroad that will allow them to travel to Cuba without a visa; to suppress all demands regarding staying at hotels, because before, when entry into Cuba had been authorized, part of those who came had to stay at the hotels. They presented this problem forcefully, and this requirement was lifted. They were granted facilities for staying wherever they pleased. All of these measures were agreed upon after April. They had not been announced yet because some details were being worked out. I believe that the official announcement was made recently -- yesterday, as a matter of fact.

What a difference in policies we have here: the policy that is being followed by Cuba and that which has been adopted by the United States. There was a notable advance in all that had been seen in the history of the revolution; this can be clearly seen. This is what all these measures represented. Another measure that was recently adopted was the decriminalization and the right to family remittances, something that had not been authorized for almost 35 years: the dollar was decriminalized and family remittances were authorized.

Many times this had been achieved in one way or another, but we legalized it, made it easier. Hundreds of thousands of people in this country, in one way or another, benefited from those family remittances to resolve specific problems. They no longer had to be looking for a tourist or paying the trip of a tourist -- they had the legal means to do this. There were certain conditions, as is the case in all countries of the world.

One of the measures adopted -- obviously with the support of the fascist mafia leaders.... [pauses] Just imagine, the meeting during which these decisions were adopted was attended by the leaders of this mafia, along with the U.S. Government. Mas Canosa among all those people, the Cuban Foundation, people like that discussing and analyzing things. The U.S. policy has reached this extreme. People of this sort determining U.S. policy. As a result of this, I repeat, hundreds of thousands of people who, in one way or another, benefited from those remittances and solved many problems have now been deprived of those remittances.

Tens of thousands of Cubans used to visit the United States each year. They started to reduce -- because this is part of an entire strategy, as I will explain later -- they started to reduce the visitor's visas, which used to number some 30,000 -- as I said, tens of thousands. When all of these people returned to Cuba they brought suitcases loaded mainly with medicines. They had the right to bring up to 10 kg of medicines without paying taxes of any kind. Ten kilograms is a considerable amount. There was not one single person who did not return with at least 10 kg of medicines, taking into account the current difficulty with medicines.

They solved the problems of many people, including relatives and friends. Some people could try and change this, as sometimes happens. But an untold number of people benefited from these medicines when they visited their relatives. Now these people have lost all chance of having these medicines. Many sick people got used to certain medicines, and now cannot receive them. But in addition each of those who came from there as visitors brought 10 kg of medicines. This is one of the things we had anticipated. Thus, 30,000 people who traveled there, plus another 30,000 who came back, that makes approximately 60,000 people who brought medicines. Many people must have used these medicines given the policy recently adopted to address the special period's shortage. This was a humane and fair action by the champions of humanism.

But all this, including the result of the revolution's constructive policy on family unification, was wiped out with the stroke of a pen. This measure hurt Cubans on the other side and this side. No efforts were spared to strangle the revolution even more. As I said, all of these measures force illegal, mass departures. They should not blame us for this situation. We have documents to prove who is to blame for the mass departures and how this situation was created, although I warned about it so many times.

I have said once, 10 times, 20 times, all the time, that it was necessary to end the illegal entry of Cubans into the United States. A frame of mind, an idea, a belief, a conviction, had been created in many people that they had the right to travel to the United States illegally, that they needed no permit from SINA [U.S. Interests Section], which it had refused to give them. They were convinced that they could leave by sea in commandeered ships or planes.

At the time, they did not mention the risk to the lives of people aboard boats or ships that had been commandeered. For instance, a leaking 110-year-old tugboat was commandeered for travel. Yet they did not say a single word. The tried to resolve the problem all of a sudden by creating a concentration camp on Guantanamo Naval Base. Without having to take drastic measures of this type or any other type, in the course of time they could have done the opposite of what they did.

They could have predicted what could happen. They did the opposite. We have all the information here. See? It is obvious. The U.S. policy has been mathematically proven.

As I already explained, there was a migration agreement signed in 1984. This agreement was signed with none other than Reagan, who was very anti-Cuban, very hostile toward Cuba. Nevertheless, long talks were held and an agreement was reached. The agreement stated that up to 20,000 people would receive visas every year.

In other words, that was the amount granted. Long talks were held. There was another category, aside from the 20,000 visas -- because our negotiators discussed this figure very well with regard to a minimum figure -- and the phrase read like that: up to 20,000. That was the intention, the purpose, the sense, the spirit. A smaller group corresponded to those who had been in prison -- the counterrevolutionaries and their families. They should legally receive 20,000 people per year, based on this agreement.

The agreement was signed in 1984 and took effect in 1985, and they granted 1,227 visas that year -- out of the 20,000 visas.

Year 1986-1987: Suspension of the agreement given the conflict provoked by the U.S. determination to establish the unjustly named Radio Marti. This in itself represented an offense to the people -- but it was not a Cuban invention or a Cuban initiative or a Cuban provocation. The provocation was theirs. This resulted in the agreement's suspension in 1986-1987. Nothing happened for two years. The agreement was resumed afterward. The largest number of visas was granted in 1988 -- they granted 3,472 visas; 1,631 were granted in 1989; 1,098 in 1990; 910 in 1992 -- see how the number goes down; 964 in 1993 -- this is Clinton's government, not Bush's government -- 544 in 1994, to date, up to 22 July, meaning over half of the year. See that. Those were the ones granted for family reunifications.

They should have granted 160,000 visas based on this chapter, but they only granted 11,222 -- 7.01 percent -- and, in recent years, less than 5 percent of the 20,000 visas. In other words, 160,000 people were unable to travel, and the number of people has grown in recent times. Of course, this was all part of a strategy. They denied the visas but deliberately sponsored... [pauses] The goal was to leave those people disappointed, bitter, displeased, waiting indefinitely for a visa. Nevertheless, they now invent reasons -- for example, that there were not enough qualified Cubans to go there. [chuckles] See how they welcome them there, how they are all qualified, and how, although the Cubans who want to migrate have many relatives living in the United States, only 5 percent of the visas has been granted in recent years -- and 7 percent overall.

Nevertheless, when it involved counterrevolutionaries, people who had been arrested, who had been in prison, and who had had problems -- encouraged by U.S. policy, practically directed by them for 30 years... [pauses] They were given an opportunity precisely based on decisions we adopted and at a given time demanded because those people here were displeased. Those people had been in prison -- the United States was essentially responsible for this -- so they were given an opportunity. Since they were in a different category from that of relatives, they were given a larger number of visas -- 3,000 a year. Well, they gave 2,800 visas in one year, 3,015 the next, and so on, until there were no more left in that category.

They gave 11,222 of the 160,000 visas which corresponded to family reunifications, yet they granted 17,210 visas for that category, meaning counterrevolutionary prisoners and relatives. Just imagine, a political distinction between one category of citizen and another. They felt more committed to the former. Thus, out of the 184,000 possible visas they granted 15,000 -- no, not 15,000; it was 15.45 percent. But for family reunifications, I repeat, they granted 7.01 percent and less than 5 percent in recent years. I emphasize the figure because this is what proves it is all the result of a policy. There was no problem for those who departed illegally.

Nevertheless, here is the migration agreement... [pauses] the communique issued when the agreement was signed in 1984. It said: The United States will resume issuing preferential immigrant visas to Cuban citizens living in Cuba, up to 20,000 a year -- just imagine, they did not say only the family. The communique said: The United States will will resume issuing preferential immigrant visas to Cuban citizens living in Cuba, up to 20,000 a year, particularly next of kin of U.S. citizens and Cubans who are permanent residents of the United States. It did not just cover those in the category of people with relatives in the United States.

The agreement also said: The U.S. side stated its willingness to implement, with the Cuban authorities' cooperation, all the necessary measures to guarantee that Cuban citizens residing in Cuba who wish to migrate to the United States, and qualify according to the U.S. laws for immigrant visas, may enter the United States taking the fullest advantage, taking the fullest advantage of the 20,000 immigrant visas a year.

This did not include the category of former counterrevolutionary prisoners and relatives. What happened to the agreement? What happened to the communique? What happened to these intentions?

Moreover, Cuba will accept the return of those Cuban citizens who arrived at the United States in 1980, coming from the port of Mariel, and who have been declared ineligible to legally enter the United States. That was not an easy thing but the state of mind prevailed. That was the counterpart -- accept that they could choose who they would consider ineligible to receive in the United States -- and a complete list of all the people was prepared. We have faithfully abided by our commitments. Some of the people who came had AIDS. Obviously, we did not like that, but they were accepted. We have not rejected one single case.

None, every time airplanes were sent to pick up these people. Every time they said the word these people were brought, every one of them. Some could not be brought due to legal problems -- because a riot occurred at a given time in one of the places where they were kept. Negotiations were held with them, and there were some obstacles, but we created no obstacles so they could be here, meaning the 2,800 we had agreed upon.

Cuba has strictly complied with its commitments, and they complied in the manner I explained before.

Notice this: the fewer visas they granted for legal travel, the more illegal entries occurred. This happened between 1990 and 1994. In 1990, Cuba prevented 1,593 people from traveling illegally; nevertheless, the United States received 467 illegal immigrants who arrived on its coasts. In 1991, 6,596 people who were prevented from traveling illegally, while 1,997 people who traveled illegally were received during this same period. In 1992, 7,073 people were prevented from traveling illegally, while the United States received 2,511 illegal travelers. In 1993, Cuba managed to prevent the illegal departure of 11,564 people, and during the same period there were 4,208 people who arrived illegally in the United States and were received. In 1994, so far up to now, up to a few days ago, 10,975 people were prevented from illegally traveling, but the United States received 4,092 people. The rate was nearly 10,000.

Cuba's efforts prevented the arrival of 37,801 people in four and one-half years, while thanks to the U.S. policy they received 13,275 people during the same four and one-half year period. No exceptions whatsoever were made as to their category, what crimes they may have committed, what ships they hijacked, whether they travelled by ship, or whether they travelled by raft. Many of these went by raft.

Every day for years radio stations encouraged and called on people to steal a boat and depart illegally by whatever means that could take them to the United States. Can we really be blamed for this? Can a policy, a strategy be clearly seen here? Fewer and fewer legal visas are being granted, as little as 5 percent of the 20,000. Every day there are more and more illegal entries into the United States.

More people entered the United States illegally in four and one- half years than legally in eight years! There were 11,222 legal entries, compared to 13,275 illegal entries. Well, many more entered -- imagine, in 1993 there were 4,208 illegal entries, compared to 964 legal entries. Isn't this encouragement of illegal emigration? There is a clear and proven mathematical relationship between illegal entries and mass departures.

Here one can see how these two mechanisms worked: the tougher Cuba's economic situation became, the fewer people they received legally and the more they received illegally. One can see the strategy here; one can also see the effect this has had. In 1990, 1,593 people tried to leave and were stopped, but 467 did make it. Year after year the number increases in step with harsher economic conditions, in step with the increased effects of the blockade, compelled by the blockade. Studies have been made, and the work of some university people on reasons why these people emigrated has been published. It was for economic reasons. The thesis we advance is that the fundamental factor is really the economic blockade which compelled increasing numbers of departures.

They had all that data. What efforts have they made? What measures have they taken? They could have done something 10 years ago, when that immigration agreement was signed.

That immigration agreement was beginning to weaken. For political and political chicanery reasons, that agreement did not differentiate between the person who was traveling legally and the person who was traveling illegally. That agreement did not differentiate; therefore, what was the use of a legal agreement? Anyone, a person who fell into no category, a person who had committed a crime, could travel and was greeted in the same manner as a person who met all their requirements. They should have adopted stronger measures. That is why Clinton's measures, and the measures adopted by the previous governments -- but Clinton's in particular since he has been in government for almost 20 months -- should have foreseen the consequences all this would entail. They are also responsible. Because in 1993, they picked up 964 -- that is the number without legal permits.

Would it not have been better to broaden and fulfill the agreement? If they had acted in good faith, and they had started to take measures, warning first and taking measures later, telling them that they were going to return them, that they are going to take measures, that they will have to go to jail to serve a sentence.

Or, they could have done as other nations do, return them to their country and talk this over with us. They could have said: We are willing to discuss with the nation the issue of those who arrive illegally.

We were not going to do anything to them for leaving illegally; this is not problem. This could have been discussed with the nation. Nevertheless, the demagoguery, political campaigns, the lies: How could they return someone to hell? If there is a naval base, yes. This logically does not resolve the problem of the urge. I will talk about the naval base later. I will talk about the effect that the decision that was made to send them to the naval base has not had.

Now, did we fail to warn about this? Did we fail to foresee this? Did we fail to say? We have lots of evidence about this. Another related diabolical mechanism -- we are the ones who guard the U.S. borders -- 37,000 in four and one-half years. Now, if any incident came up, this was the end of the world. We were blamed for the whole incident, all the campaigns were against us.

There are several examples. For example in July 1993, when the Cojimar incident took place, we reported this to the North Americans. There was a North American involved. Everyone knows what happened in Cojimar. We reported to them that at approximately 2200 on Thursday, 1 July 1993, troops that guard the nation's border captured a speedboat called Midnight, Midnight Express. There are more details. During the capture a crew member was wounded in both legs. He was a U.S. citizen whose name was (?Richard Roberts) [words indistinct] resident of Key West, Florida. He was also a fisherman who received certain amounts of money for each person he took to U.S. territory. During the capture of the Midnight Express vessel, three citizens lost their lives while others were wounded, according to information. In addition, we explained what Cuba's chances for preventing these actions were, the consequences that these have, the serious consequences that arise again due to policies that encourage illegal departures from the country.

Besides, the Government of Cuba reiterates once again the serious consequences that once again arise from the policy that encourages illegal departures from the country, as well as with regard to the profits that unscrupulous individuals who reside in the United States make from people who live in Cuba. These people try to travel to the United States, but they are prevented from doing so legally because of the immigration policy imposed by the U.S. authorities. Cuba's chances for completely preventing these actions are limited, despite its willingness to cooperate and despite the great efforts it makes in this regard.

We need more cooperation from the United States. They responded to the accident that took place there with an insult. They said: We urge the Cuban Government to refrain from using excessive force under circumstances where there are no obvious threats to national security or the Cuban people. What do we understand to be excessive force? What force? Where is the manual?

Sometimes a fast boat approaches our coast and opens fire. Then they say the U.S. Government rejects the allegations that it is somehow promoting illegal departures from Cuba. Then we had to send another note explaining that the Cuban Government is the first one to regret the loss of lives. As we explained to the U.S. Government in the note we sent on 3 July, we have proven said accidents are possible given the time and circumstances in which the pirate boats coming from the United States violate our territorial waters and even reach our shores, often to perpetrate armed attacks, smuggle human beings, or both.

The 3 July note reads: For pity's sake, it is inadmissible for Cuba to allow measures to be implemented to prevent such types of violations against both U.S. and Cuban laws to imply a loss of Cuban citizens' lives. Cuba's capability to fully prevent the smuggling of people by these boats is limited despite its willingness to cooperate -- that is what the diplomatic note states -- and the huge efforts it is making in that direction. I will say it again: We need more cooperation from the United States.

We sent a note on 5 July 1993 clearly stating that, convinced that the United States could not be interested in allowing its laws and borders to be violated in such a way, the fact that all those who commit these types of violations are welcome in that country and that most Cubans are not authorized to travel there legally is questionable. Sometimes people who have committed crimes in our country are welcomed there. Their arrivals are widely publicized and they are treated like heroes. We cannot deny that this policy triggers such violations; therefore, it is erroneous to say that our accusations are unfounded.

Cuban authorities have no reason to become U.S. border guards. We did not say this in August: We said it a year and a half ago, more than a year ago, thirteen months ago. I repeat: Cuban authorities have no reason to become U.S. border guards. The U.S. attitude does not equal the enormous sacrifices our personnel are making to prevent said violations, which affect the United States more than they affect Cuba.

We are telling them, if you will, we are explaining to them it is impossible to predict the individual reactions of isolated men whose mission is to guard and protect the coasts from the presence of hostile vessels that operate at night or before dawn. These vessels constitute a true and potential danger to our personnel. It is not easy to guarantee a more rational use of force and weapons under such conditions. There will always be risks to run. The U.S. Government is perfectly aware of this. Now if they really want to solve the problem, it would be necessary for both parties to act honestly and efficiently to prevent such incidents and to reach a consensus on the pertinent measures to be taken to prevent or at least attenuate unpleasant and painful incidents. This is how the Cuban Government is addressing the problem. The United States cannot pretend, under any pretext, that these efforts and the risks inherent in obeying the laws and protecting the two countries' coasts be made and run by Cuba only. This is their diplomatic note.

There were other similar cases. Cuba is making an effort to prevent these incidents from being blamed on Cuba -- incidents like resorting to cruel methods and using excessive force.

Then came the incident that took place on a base. They sent us a weird, strange, and incomprehensible note. The note was sent to address several acts of extreme cruelty committed recently by troops on board patrol boats belonging to the Cuban Border Guards against people who were attempting to enter the U.S. naval base by swimming through the northern waters of Guantanamo Bay.

The note lists several alleged incidents: On 19 June at approximately 0800, troops on board Cuban Border Guard patrol boats threw several grenades into the bay's waters to try and stop several individuals from swimming toward the naval base. Several shots were heard. On 20 June at 0730, troops on board patrol boats again threw several grenades into the waters, followed by a burst of machine-gun fire, in an attempt to stop two swimmers. On 26 June at 0500, three patrol boats -- this is the most dreadful and most horrifying report -- surrounded some swimmers, shot them with automatic rifles, and detonated four grenades in the waters, killing at least three swimmers -- they even said three swimmers were killed. Later, the troops used a large harpoon -- what an imagination -- of the type used to catch large fish to recover three bodies. On 27 June at 0529, Border Guard troops threw grenades on the waters, causing two explosions. Also on 27 June at 0848 GMT, troops on board a patrol boat opened several bursts of automatic rifle fire on one or more swimmers. Later, the patrol boat recovered one body from the waters. This was the fourth body recovered.

The use of lethal force by the Cuban Government against those who are attempting to reach Guantanamo Navy Base is unacceptable. The United States believes the use of hand grenades to stop individuals supposedly unarmed and performing actions that fail to threaten anyone else is an atrocity and a tremendous cruelty. The use of harpoons is equally cruel. In addition, the use of automatic weapons in an area near a border region could be interpreted as a provocative act. The United States insists that the Cuban Government desist immediately from these barbaric practices and that the Cuban Government inform the U.S. Government of its plans as soon as possible.

What language! What a note! A terrifying and threatening note! We had to reply. We had to respond to what their note was saying.

We had to investigate to find out what happened. Cuban authorities have conducted a thorough investigation of the unusual, incredible, and insulting charges in the note. We did not want to reject it out of hand because we were absolutely convinced that it was not and could not be true. The investigations revealed that the U.S. note includes repugnantly slanderous charges. It is an unfair, gross distortion of the minimum measures and procedures that Cuban authorities have been forced to take to fulfill basic duties, not only toward our own country but toward the military base installed against our people's will.

To publicize this note -- and they spread the harpoon story throughout the world -- was an infamy, a provocation, and indicative of a shameful lack of seriousness. The idea of using harpoons to recover alleged bodies is not only ridiculous, feverish, and a lie; it gives us the right to think that such a fabrication conceals a base, cowardly purposes that goes beyond gross propaganda against Cuba. We would rather believe, however, that the U.S. Government has been the victim of grotesquely false and cynical reports. Even so, we are terribly offended by the credibility given the note. The irresponsible, cavalier way in which this note was handled seems incredible to us.

It has been fully confirmed that from 19 to 27 June, a period of time mentioned by the U.S. note, Cuban citizens who wanted to emigrate to the United States attempted to enter the base several times. Several of them succeeded, and 34 others were arrested by Cuban authorities. Not one of those people were killed or injured during their arrest. No one was injured, yet the U.S. concocted the harpoon theory. Maybe they got confused with some equipment, a sort of stick used by fishermen to help people out of the water. This is the only thing that could have been there. The idea of harpoons is an absurd thing, a crazy idea.

We continued to say that if the United States sincerely and honestly wished to avoid incidents related to illegal immigration through Guantanamo Naval Base on Cuban territory, the United States could easily coordinate the proper measures with Cuban authorities with no risk to anyone. For example, it would be sufficient for U.S. authorities to establish, according to their own laws, that this is not the legal and appropriate way to travel to the United States. When an individual arrives at the base, instead of arresting him, he is put aboard a plane bound for the States, thus encouraging entry into the Guantanamo base, a dangerous place where there are armed forces.

We demanded that they tell the truth. We caught them lying and they never mentioned the matter again. But they had already spread the harpoon story throughout the world. In the end we said this: We think the U.S. note is insolent and threatening. It should be noted that this language is inadmissible and that every threat and attempt at intimidation will crash against our people's dignity and determination. Our border patrols have experienced many problems in their dedicated efforts to prevent illegal departures.

Were these the only notes? No, those were not the only notes. There are several more. For example, on 10 July 1993... [pauses] On 1 November 1993, we sent note Number 1,035, requesting information on the grand jury's decision not to press charges against those responsible for the detour of an Air Caribbean plane on 29 December 1992. The note expresses concern that the lack of action against the perpetrators of those violations might encourage similar hijackings.

On 3 November 1993, we send note Number 1,052. Therein the Foreign Ministry manifests its concern over the lack of cooperation shown by U.S. immigration authorities in not telling their Cuban counterparts that there were Cuban citizens, forced to enter the United States when their ships were hijacked, who wanted to return to Cuba. We could not even get them to return the people who had been kidnapped. [Castro knocks on the table] The note demands that U.S. authorities report those cases to our Interests Office expeditiously and that our citizens be allowed to get in touch with the Interests Office.

The note of 12 November 1993 was presented simultaneously in Havana and Washington. It is note Number 1,121 and concerns the unacceptable nature of U.S. policy on immigration matters in general and illegal immigration in particular. This note expresses the Cuban Government's strong displeasure with the negligent attitude and lack of action by U.S. authorities on illegal immigration from Cuba. It textually states that the attitude assumed by the United States in admitting and allowing Cubans, who arrive via illegal routes, to enter its territory -- even if in many cases they were people with criminal records and proven criminal conduct who would never have been admitted through legal and regular channels -- is a direct incentive for illegal immigration. It also says: Cuba cannot continue to guard the U.S. border -- you see, we have been stating this -- and exert intense efforts and incur expenses to do so. Cuba cannot continue to bear the risk of incidents which, despite the many measures we have implemented, can result in loss of life, as has occurred of late, especially when such incidents, as well as the illegal departures, are perfidiously and cynically used to generate propaganda against our country. In conclusion, the note points out that as a constructive gesture the Cuban Government will not make this problem public, preferring to use diplomatic channels.

On 16 February 1994, the director of our North America office, gave Sullivan, the head of the Interests Office, note No. 184 of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in which we protest the broadcast of propaganda, on Guantanamo Naval Base Television Eight, that validates illegal departures and air piracy.

The 29 June 1994 note, Number 720, protests the impunity afforded to Cuban citizen Basilio Garcia who hijacked the An-24, the Havana-Nassau flight.

On 5 August 1994 we presented note Number 943, a strong protest over the continued [rephrases] for everything, up through these most recent notes.

That is why I say we have not stated the problem just once; we have stated it 10, 20 times. We have presented the problem. We have warned about it. We have [words indistinct] but how can a problem be resolved when the following three situations exist? A difficult economic situation. An intensified blockade. A blockade increased by the Torricelli law and that has been implemented vigorously. That is why Clinton said no other government had done as much, no other country had done as much to terminate the Cuban government. [Castro drops his hand on the table] Well, they have truly made enormous efforts to this end.

And what have we gotten from all this? The 37,000, our efforts, in addition to all the notes we have sent them. How can we resolve any problem this way? The damage has been done. The incentives and summoning, by using the radio stations, people to travel have come together. Add to this the legal and honorable reception given anyone who gets there by any means. At the time, they did mention those who might sink in the attempt.

They encouraged and created the procedure by using the Gulf stream. They created organizations such as the so-called Rescue Group or Rescue Brothers -- I am not sure what the name is -- and used airplanes, boats, and so forth to receive them as soon as possible. Is this not a powerful incentive to illegal emigration? These are the three basic factors. An agreement which they disregard in such an incredible way that they only grant visas to 5 percent of the people they were supposed to legally receive, while thousands -- I repeat -- thousands arrived illegally.

How can Clinton say now that we are encouraging people to leave? We are not encouraging, stimulating, or giving money to anyone to leave the country. Nothing could be easier to prove. I do not believe there could be a clearer or more extensive file on the things we have said, proposed, or discussed from that date to now.

What have the continued illegal departures meant? What good was an immigration agreement that was not observed? For every legal departure there were four or five illegal departures. What effect could that migration agreement have? This is what has been going on for years [coughs] for 10 years. [coughs] Now, of course, all three factors that I pointed out come together.

I do not have much more to go before I finish, then you can ask questions. Many topics have been discussed. I will list the specific internal instructions that were issued to the Border Guard Forces. On 12 August, all these barbaric things had already taken place despite all the warnings. They were unwilling to listen to our call to discuss and find serious and responsible solutions, to which they replied that they would maintain their policy toward those who entered that country clandestinely. What sense does all of this make? What moral right do they now have to accuse us?

For some time now we had been taking steps. For a long time we had boats follow other boats. If a boat was seen out at sea, even if it was stolen, we instructed that they not try and intercept them. These were the instructions issued to the Border Guard Forces. In fact, they had these instructions when the boat accident occurred. As I told you, this was a problem that originated with the workers, who attempted to keep the boat from being stolen. We had issued precise instructions: Avoid the use of weapons; do not intercept boats at sea. They were doing their best and the best proof is in the numbers. I have the paper here. In 1994 alone, they prevented the departure of 10,965 people. What thanks did the country receive for all this? Constant calls, constant encouragement for illegal departures, encouragement to steal boats, to commit crimes. Why then all the great effort? All we could do was continue to accept this situation.

So we simply issued instructions to make the policy more flexible, the Border Guards' activities more flexible. And so there won't be anything secret here, these are the instructions. There are 10 points, and here they are without adding or subtracting -- not even a comma.

1. To make as flexible as possible the activity of the Border Guards with regard to illegal departures from the country. We should not continue to be the most ardent defenders of the U.S. coasts, which allows them to blame us slanderously for any incident while they themselves continuously encourage violations of their own immigration laws.

2. To not fire one single shot unless it is in self-defense if our forces are attacked or if it arises from the need to defend economic or social centers.

3. To track with radar any movement of strange vessels that come close to our shores, to observe their possible purposes to discover if they have any offensive intentions toward Cuba, but not to send forces in pursuit unless there are indications of purposes of this kind. An attempt to pick up relatives or friends should not be considered an offensive action against our country.

4. If our patrol boats accidentally come across any strange vessel, to ask what their purpose is. If they say they are coming to pick up relatives, to treat them pleasantly and urge them to return empty. This is in the event they run across one of these vessels. To treat them pleasantly and urge them to return empty, since this is something on which discussion and resolution is pending with the United States, and no port has been prepared for this purpose.

If they need fuel, to supply it in exchange for cash payment in hard currency.

If the foreign vessel is returning -- if they run across one that had already been here and is returning from our coasts with relatives and friends, to not to try and intercept it. This is the principle applied to all those encountered at sea, and to not take any hostile action against them. If the vessel is coming from Cuba, that is, from our coasts, with personnel who are trying to emigrate -- be they private or state -- to not to try and intercept it either, avoiding any type of incident. These are principles that we have been applying at sea for a long time, to not to try and intercept anyone, be they public or private, while at sea.

7. [number as heard] This is the most important point. If it is a raft or a small vessel that is unsafe for the trip, to urge them not to continue the trip, to help them return if they so desire, and in any event, not to arrest them, and to allow them to continue their trip if this is their will after advice has been given. No force is to be used. To give them water and food if they are in a critical situation.

You can imagine this -- a patrol boat trying to keep a vessel there by force. I repeat: No force is to be used. To give them water and food if they are in a critical situation. That is to say, we have issued precise instructions on the cases of launches or small vessels that are unsafe for the trip.

8. The activities in the struggle against drug trafficking must continue with the same vigor with which they have been carried out up to now.

9. Any activities, concerted agreements, and attempts to try to leave the country by one's own means, and the conspiracies that are being plotted to achieve this end, should not be actively persecuted. There should be no attempt to persecute any group or people who are making any such plans, unless of course they are military personnel or individuals who through their desertion or treason would harm the country considerably. I refer to people in the planning stages, not individuals already at sea. I am talking about people who are making plans.

For its part, counterintelligence should try to learn as much as it can about plans to depart illegally and should keep the corresponding offices informed of them. It is especially important to keep vessels and aircraft that belong to the people from being stolen or hijacked, but this effort must be done on land -- on land. Weapons must be used only when it is inevitable, and every effort must be made to avoid unnecessary deaths. The effort must be primarily organizational and preventive: measures to find out about and to prevent. From that point on we tell the Border Guards: focus on protecting the vessels that belong to the people.

10. This is the last point. All necessary organizational measures must be adopted to act rapidly and efficiently in the event the enemy attempts to use the new circumstances to infiltrate counterrevolutionary elements for the purpose of carrying out sabotage, attacks, and terrorist actions inside the country. Naturally, these dangers have always existed. More so with the migration policy established in the past few years: a policy of allowing people in and out. The current situation demands special effort in this regard, so they have to be alert, they have to be vigilant.

We are not opening up a Mariel; they are just expecting that a Mariel will be opened up.

In reality, these instructions explain that if a vessel is intercepted they should try to persuade, to advise the occupants that they should go back empty, that no port has been set up for their arrival, no port has been set up for them to come here. We have not urged them to do this.

We have simply told the Border Guards what policy should be followed if any of these vessels came this way, toward our coasts -- many of them come sailing along the coast. In many cases they come to a place that is close to the sea, to a port. These are the instructions that were given on 12 August to our Border Guards.

This has been our policy and our attitude, and under no circumstances can it allow for the lies, falsehoods, and superficialities that are being said about the policy that we have followed.

The measures announced by the United States have not had the desired effect; they are not discouraging illegal departures. To the contrary, they are encouraging them. This is a reality. The numbers show this too. On 18 August, 745 of them arrived in the United States. Sorry, this was on 19 August. On 18 August, the day before Clinton spoke, 575 people arrived in the United States. These reports are theirs. One cannot know where a raft might depart at any given time, but they can cite exact figures because they pick them up.

On 19 August, the day Clinton spoke, 745 arrived. That very day. The following day, when the communique was issued and there was talk about the measures, that is to say, on 20 August, 1,189 arrived. On 21 August, 1,293. On 22 August, 2,548. On 23 August, 3,253. They did not pay him any mind! Measures were taken hastily, measures that were the opposite of what we had suggested to find a solution to the problem, because the exodus was already under way en masse.

To talk of a blockade and all of that also promotes a mass exodus, for the same reasons that we already have explained. What has happened is that following the U.S. measures, the mass exodus has increased, it has multiplied.

This shows the mentality that was created in many people who believe that their stay in Guantanamo will only be temporary and that the North Americans will have to be responsible for them. They believe that the United States has a commitment to them and that after so many years of telling them to leave, of urging them to emigrate, it is inconceivable that this policy could be changed. They believe that the community has enough influence for all of this. For a number of reasons, they do not believe and will not pay any attention to the U.S. Government's warnings.

That is the reality. Anyone would think those warnings would have the opposite effect and would result in a reduction, but they are leaving anyway. Those who arrived on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday -- they all knew about the measures, all kinds of measures that had been adopted. They were not deterred; they were not afraid; they were not worried about the U.S. threat, and this phenomenon has occurred. Obviously, we know how many of them think. It is a mirage. In fact, many of the relatives....[pauses] Some were concerned, but they were told that the distance to travel is not far because the Coast Guard is there.

Our border guards strictly carried out their instructions. See if they did not. In recent days, our border guards -- in compliance with Point 7 -- managed to dissuade almost 1,500 persons who were boarding crafts considered dangerous. They managed to dissuade them, help them, rescue them, and help them return to land. The average is 200 people.

The border guards have adopted all possible measures within our 12-mile range to provide assistance in case an accident occurs with any craft. All the measures have been adopted. We consider this a moral duty. The figure is interesting -- approximately 1,500 persons in recent days. See how many people comply. This is entirely different from the action of encouraging people to travel by sea. They are actively working there, seriously trying to help. I believe they must continue to carry out their work. They must try to persuade people -- both on the land and at sea -- not to travel; and those who do travel by their own means should not use dangerous crafts.

But that is not all they are doing. Those are not the only things they are doing; that is, helping, rescuing, and persuading people. I am talking about people who were dissuaded when they were already in the water -- approximately 1,500 persons. I think they should continue their efforts in compliance with the instructions issued. I think it is appropriate that they continue to follow the instructions -- no matter how secret they may be -- which were issued to border guards and Interior Ministry troops.

In summary, this is what I wanted to explain to you, to make it known to our public and to the international public. Now you have the sacred privilege of asking your questions. Go ahead, Susana.

[Lee] Commander, as you have said so well: in any event, the exodus continues; it has not been halted. They are talking -- U.S. officials -- have been talking about discussing the immigration policy; they have been talking about speeding up, about simplifying immigration procedures. That is, they continue concentrating on immigration problems. Meanwhile, they introduce another factor that serves to encourage. On one hand, they tell them not to take to the sea while on the other, they tell them they are capable of receiving more people. The Coast Guard is capable of receiving, of handling a larger exodus. They have been falling into these contradictions...

[Castro, interrupting] They have been contradicting themselves. They have ignored an immigration agreement, affecting many people -- all those who arrived illegally. This is a contradiction created by this problem. Encouraging departures, the mentality that these people had created, those who attempted to immigrate in this fashion. All this encouragement, all these factors have caused the problem. Lately the problem has been growing. The instructions were already given to the Coast Guard who are relatively reasonable. A mass exodus was taking place. I reported this with all the data which we have analyzed here. Therefore, in this case, I believe that the Coast Guard's presence in that area is inevitable, and we cannot criticize it. We should not criticize it, since they already created this phenomena, since they created the insolence, defiance --and, let's say, the misbehavior. [chuckles] As this phenomena has affected many people, it is better for them to be as close as possible so they can try to help them. This could, however, drive people who think they will be safer -- which is one of the things that happens -- by knowing that a patrol boat passes nearby and that our boats are 11 miles away. Let us hope that all available boats are out there, not only those of the U.S. Government, but also private vessels inside that area that want to help. But the fact that this can become an encouragement must not deter us from doing something to lessen the effects of a phenomenon that was created a long time ago and cannot be resolved in 24 hours. The phenomenon is there, and we must make this our moral duty. It is true -- a contradiction exists here that comes from the other causes that existed prior to this phenomenon, that grew out of the stimulus, from the compulsion to immigrate because of economic difficulties.

[Lee] The question, Commander, was about the use of the base, the naval base -- how they have had to make one decision and then make another. Now they are talking about increasing the installation's capacity...

[Castro, interrupting] It seems absurd to me. All these things seem to be a violation and are illegal. They have enough room, enough territory in the United States itself so someone can violate their laws. They do not need to go to another country to use their territory to establish concentration camps. This is an illegal measure. They have enough resources and can make room.

This is true. I think that when they say they have enough room to receive immigrants it is logical. The phenomenon is working and a response must be given to those people who were undeniably led to believe and educated to do this. Many Cubans have been taught to violate U.S. law for a long time, and they have always been received with full honors. What was built over 36 years cannot come down in three days. That is the reality. No one knows the potential of all this which they themselves created.

They did not have to use Guantanamo Naval Base. I think this is a mistake because it creates complications. There are even rumors that it is easy to enter the base, but that is not true. Some people began to move as soon as they heard that they would be held in Guantanamo. Many of these people consider themselves to be under U.S. responsibility and that it is the U.S. authorities' duty to resolve their problem. This gives rise to certain forms of mobilization. But we have warned that there are close and strict measures there. We cannot take responsibility for any boat or small ship. In the area that is under our responsibility, however, we will not only enforce the measures taken but we have reinforced them to dispel those rumors, this idea of moving to Guantanamo base. So the situation, as far as we are concerned, is this: We have no concentration camp there. There is no problem. The situation there is completely normal.

[Hector Rodriguez] Luis Baez.

[Baez] Commander, how much are U.S. taxpayers paying for the maneuvers of all those naval forces in the area and to feed those tens of thousands of people in Guantanamo?

[Castro] Well, a lot of money. Everything is more expensive for them, although I cannot make an estimate. The most worrisome aspect of all this is the political consequences. Money they have in abundance. I do not think that is the fundamental aspect of the issue. It would be better to spend it on something else. It would have been better to have avoided all this. It would have been better to pay a little attention to our many warnings. Now this situation has been created that requires spending money. They spend money on everything to further their hegemony throughout the world. They have lots of military bases and embark on adventures of all types. I do not think money is what they are most concerned about.

[Hector Rodriguez] Rosalia Arnaez.

[Arnaez] Commander, you have specifically referred to the escalation of these stimuli. A sort of stampede has begun of certain social groups who are not deterred by the U.S. stations' blood-chilling stories of what happens to boat people and those who shipwreck in the Straits, as well as the images of Cubans who are on the naval base in a sort of concentration camp. What do you think could stop this situation, which is so dangerous for both Cuba and the United States?

[Castro] We will seek serious, true solutions. I want to resolve the problem. It will be necessary to study all the practical measures to correct it. It will be necessary to determine the causes and find serious solutions for all the factors that led to this situation. Honestly, I do not think there is any other solution. Will it be possible to achieve it? I do not know. I am not sure. But I am sure of one thing: No solution can be found if this aspect is not corrected; if there is not a true policy change; if certain concepts, ideas, purposes, and strategies are not abandoned.

This is a strategy against us, and it can be demonstrated by figures. Figures demonstrate two things. There is a strategy. First, let people arrive legally. Second, among those who arrive legally, grant privileges to a certain sector which the United States appreciates much more because it was made up of counterrevolutionaries. Third [as heard] and most importantly, the economic factor, the economic embargo is the essential, fundamental, overpowering factor in these mass emigrations, these mass illegal departures.

These problems are here and are already a reality. And now they need to be resolved; we have to see how they are resolved. I believe they need to be discussed. In order that these problems can be resolved by both them and us, these discussions have to take place on solid ground, because not even we can solve this problem unless it is on solid ground. It would be a waste of time. In order to seek solutions on solid ground it becomes necessary that both sides be willing. It cannot be this long story we are telling that spans 10 years at least, creating propaganda that encourages illegal departures. Many of these people you mention are now surprised, because after 10 years of hearing the same thing, they are now hearing the opposite. They have no power of persuasion over anybody. People are not persuaded, especially in matters of people's safety. The numbers are there to be seen. If they could have been persuaded we would have done so through the Border Guard patrol.

The problem, however, that has been created by all these things I have told you about, has no easy solution, either for them or for us. We cannot be asked to use weapons and violence to resolve this. All along we have tried to avoid this, like when there has been unrest in the streets. We have always let the masses resolve the problems. We have always tried to avoid the use of weapons. Why? Only to have them say after that we used harpoons or whatever. We have practically banned the use of weapons. Imagine a group defending a bus or a merchant vessel and a takeover takes place and the people decide it will not be taken over. These are circumstances where the use of weapons is justified. I hope this does not happen.

This is why it is ashore where we must prevent and resolve problems. Our main effort right now is aimed at protecting this equipment to prevent it from being stolen. As far as we know, there have not been any attempts to try and do any of these things, which happened every day in the past. To steal the boat to Regla, steal a tugboat, or try and take over a tanker -- a ship of that size -- these kinds of problems have not occurred in these last few days. But we cannot be asked to use weapons. Hey, it's a monster! Tie a rope around its neck! We are not willing to use violence. This phenomenon has already been created.

Both countries need to seriously study and discuss how this can be resolved. We, for our part, are willing. We maintain a position and have said so several times before. We do not maintain an irrational or inflexible position, or anything like that.

Some people believe we wanted to annoy Clinton. The last thing we wanted to do was to have these types of problems with the Clinton administration. Who will benefit? People who have traditionally opposed the Revolution, people who have been very aggressive toward the Revolution. This position is hurting us because we have done absolutely nothing to harm Clinton or the Republicans.

But those who look back at history can see this was not invented. Those who know all the information I have given you this evening will understand that this was a situation that had no other option; that we had no alternative but to do what we did. We issued instructions to become more flexible. I think we have done the least; we have really done the least in this problem because there are many other possible options. But we have limited ourselves. No port or facilities have been prepared especially for the people to use.

We had no choice but to do what we did. We had to do it. What was happening was unacceptable; we were guarding the U.S. borders. We prevented 37,000 illegal departures, as opposed to 13,000 people warmly welcomed in the United States. What could we do? No one can blame us; no one has the moral authority to blame us. There are no morals, arguments, or nothing to blame us. Therefore, Cuba's position is irrefutable; it is very clear, so clear that I already read to you the instructions the Border Guards received that day. All authorities proposed a policy to U.S. authorities on those who were arriving illegally in the United States. There were no ulterior motives. Others believe we did it to force them to negotiate with us, but we had no other intentions. Now we are facing a situation for which we cannot be blamed. We must solve it. We are willing to solve it based on real, solid, and fair foundations. They should not ask us to resort to force and violence to which we have always refused.

No country is persecuting those who are trying to emigrate anywhere. Mexico is not persecuting the millions of men who have tried to emigrate or the hundreds of thousands who are trying to enter the United States illegally. Mexico is not persecuting them. Santo Domingo is not persecuting the Dominicans who are trying to cross the La Mona Channel to reach Puerto Rico and emigrate to the United States. Colombia is not persecuting those Colombians who want to go to Venezuela; some 1 or 2 million Colombians live in Venezuela. No country is persecuting those who are trying to emigrate. This is a world where there are many people who want to emigrate mainly for economic reasons.

Why are they demanding that we implement another policy? They want us to be the ones who will prevent another 37,000 people from leaving. However, they keep welcoming another 13,000 people, welcoming all of those who get there illegally. They cannot ask us to even use the force to stop these departures. We cannot continue to resist this policy. This is what has happened. We have been very patient, and we have repeatedly said [words indistinct] with these materials. They cannot demand this from us. I repeat: no country is persecuting those who are trying to emigrate.

[Arleen Rodriguez] Commander, I hope that this program is being watched in other parts of the world and that our truth is being heard, because as we read international newspapers, we have the feeling there is a silent complicity or an exaltation of the most reactionary views against our reality. I am saying this because the world is currently talking about Cuba as though Cuba were only those Cubans abroad. The world is not talking about the millions of Cubans who are living a normal life and fighting to support the country under these circumstances. We are even making things and decisions and implementing a policy to change the country under these circumstances, setting aside all threats. However, there are indications the U.S. Government is supporting the position of the Cuban-American Foundation, because the latest decisions made have to do with the Foundation's policies against the Cuban people. There is even talk about the possibility of implementing a naval blockade. Not very few people feel our country is in great danger if these types of measures are taken.

[Castro] The mere announcement of this measure [words indistinct] encourages the departures. It creates a fear; it can create a fear. That would be sheer insanity because, based on our experience and the consequences that have resulted from certain measures, a naval blockade will increase the exodus of people. A naval blockade will also increase the number of people who want to leave the country because of the difficult conditions. In addition to being an act of war which no country has the right to wage and which the United States has no right to implement on Cuba, a naval blockade will create what we call a catastrophe.

Because after people have learned to use the currents in the Gulf and know they have a possibility of moving in certain areas... [pauses] Just imagine, this is an island of 11 million people, where I am sure the majority, the immense majority, will resist anything, but anything, including a naval blockade and much more than that. There are many people who, caught in such a situation, would do all they could, they would see no alternative but to try to leave the country. Can you imagine the island surrounded by ships? And the people suffering much more from the terrible consequences of a naval blockade? Would this resolve the problem? No, it would not. It would increase the problem.

If the naval blockade does not work out, what is left? The invasion of Cuba? That situation would be the same insanity but raised to the second or third power. There is no doubt that this would be an unprecedented insanity even in this unipolar world, because most people, the best people, would undoubtedly fight and resist. It could be a 100-year war, as (?Luisito Vargas) wrote in his GRANMA article. What would this war mean? A genocide. In the eyes of the world. It would be a genocide in the eyes of 400 million Latin Americans. This is not so easy. It is very difficult. But, of course, taking the wrong path or an erratic one could lead to such insanities. We have seen more than one insanity in this world. We know what would happen in this country with each one of those options. They are insane. That is why I believe there are enough intelligent people in the United States to understand such realities.

They have launched a tremendous propaganda campaign against us. They have always had a thousand times more massive media sources to broadcast their campaigns, quarrels, and lies about Cuba than we have. The lies of different sorts. We have read some of them. However, there are also several radio stations that report our situation. There are U.S. television stations that broadcast this program; several broadcast it in its entirety. They give as much information as they can. It is not the same, of course. It is not the same, but we too have our ways of broadcasting information. For one reason or another, a large part of the world understands the problem. We have to get our truth to all the international organizations, to the public through all available means, to the solidarity groups. All the embassies, the Foreign Ministry, the parliament, the government has to work so we can explain our situation. The explanation will have to be shorter, of course, but basically, the causes of this problem have to be described. Every one knows there is a blockade. This cannot be denied.

Everyone knows the most powerful and richest country in the world is exercising a strict blockade against our country, trying to strangle it, trying to defeat it through hunger and disease. Everyone knows this, but many people will also have to think about it. We must help them to think about it. We must supply the elements so they can form their own opinion. Obviously, all this is bad for Cuba, but it is also very bad for the United States. It is an adventure which, in my opinion, no judicious person would embark upon, especially when there is a possibility of solving the issue in a reasonable, dignified manner.

We do not want to harm anyone. We have no special antagonism or ill will toward this administration, as I said before. We have no desire to meddle in the United States' internal politics or to get involved in its problems. We have no reason to adopt biased positions in favor of someone or to meddle in anything. We would be happy if the problems could be solved. We should try to solve the problems, but based on realistic and honest positions. I believe a wise and sound assessment of the problem should be made. We have to do it, and I believe the U.S. leaders, the U.S. Government, should do the same.

[Hector Rodriguez] Susana Lee.

[Lee] Commander, regardless of what Arleen says, the articles and commentaries in major U.S. newspapers have recently increased and are making an appeal to the U.S. Administration to act wisely, stating that these hasty policies are having the opposite effect. Nevertheless, the foundation you spoke about -- I think Arleen also spoke about it -- is making an appeal to grant concessions. It is urging the Cuban-American community to grant concessions, to accept the measures, to grant concessions at this point. How do you evaluate this position, which is spreading within U.S. political and media circles?

[Castro] Who said this? Who has said this? I have not seen that.

[Lee] Mas Canosa.

[Castro] Concessions?

[Lee] Yes. He said the exile community had to make certain concessions, meaning to approve these measures....

[Castro] Ah! Make certain concessions.

[Lee] Approve the measures.

[Castro] It represents a tremendous sacrifice for them because it deals with critical issues.

[Lee] Including the trips.

[Castro] He must feel very bitter about this type of thing. This man and this Foundation -- I was told today -- are sponsoring the naval blockade, the invasion of Cuba. I believe there was a debate with other politicians, and I think it was very difficult. I think it was quite difficult. It must be difficult to defend that position. Someone said another Vietnam -- or something worse than Vietnam -- could happen. I am not surprised by the things they say. I wonder what the families think. Perhaps they have not been able to help even though they usually help. We know a large number of people depended on this. We are talking about families here and there. Therefore, measures have been adopted.

The measures are really characterized....[pauses] Since the measures are erratic, I believe they are politically damaging for the U.S. Government. They are here, anyway, because they have been attacking people who have no special vocation against U.S. imperialism. They have been attacking people, including revolutionaries, because many revolutionaries have relatives abroad. However, based on the general principle that they are not activists, active members of the revolution, they have even felt identified with U.S. policy in a certain way. The measures have also been affecting, harming them.

I will not claim that all the people who travel are not revolutionaries. Many revolutionaries have traveled, along with the tens of thousands who travel there. In fact, I said the other day that there are many people with great qualities and courage in the United States. The myths tend to disappear. The idea that this community was uniform, and antipatriotic. Many of them have lived there, and we must not forget what Marti said: They have seen the things that happen there. The injustice that takes place. The other day I spoke of the terrors that they were trying to use the people who came for the dialogue, who advocate a suspension of the blockade, but they are obviously acting based on that viewpoint -- that the revolution must be destroyed, that the country must be blockaded, that the country must be invaded.

Nothing matters to them because their goal is to kill. They feel a fanatic hatred for everything that is progressive or revolutionary. What can you expect? They would like the Marines, the U.S. soldiers, to come and destroy the revolution so the country can be turned over to them. They are not the ones....[pauses] The ones who would have to die would be many people, many Cubans, but also many North Americans, many soldiers, many Marines. This is unavoidable because many cannot compare....[pauses] We do not want to brag. We do not want to appear arrogant, complacent, or proud, but we know what we have and we know our people. We know they are capable of struggling and resisting. We have tactics. Cuba has a concept of struggle that does not in any way resemble the places where U.S. troops have carried out their adventures. They do not resemble them in any way.

I do not want to appear boastful or anything, but many of us are quite aware of what we are and what we have, and about our capability to resist, struggle, and fight. Well, I do not want.... [pauses] I am not....[pauses] I do not want to talk in belligerent terms. If such a folly ever occurs, we are mentally and morally prepared. We want to be serene and calm, and we want to struggle for what is advisable for everyone. In this case, realistic and just solutions would be advisable both for us and for the North Americans. Obviously they are incomparably stronger, powerful, and bigger than we are; but the only reason the U.S. Administration has to do this is force, while our reasons are principles, morals, unity, honor, and truth above all.

We know what our people are capable of based on our truth, our reasons, and our dignity. We have reason for this. We have had reasons for this for a long time. We have suffered injustices for a long time. It is insolent and offensive for a person to say that the blockade is an option. It is also arrogant to say it mainly strived to destroy a revolution.

And what is our sin? Resisting. Not allowing ourselves to be destroyed. Being firm. Not doing what others have done; not surrendering or capitulating. That is our sin. That is the sin for which they want to punish us. They can try to do it, but it is going to be very costly, very difficult, and very unlikely that they can achieve this.

[Hector Rodriguez] Any other question?

[Reporter] He gave an ample explanation.

[Castro] That is true. You understand, of course. I could not cut this short, because this coverage is not only for you and our people but for foreign consumption. I could not divide it into several parts. All of these things are linked together: the events of the past few days with all the other things that you have heard about, with all these diplomatic notes, all the measures taken, all the statistics, with what occurred with the immigration agreement, the illegal departures, the efforts we made, and the things that have occurred. I felt that if I limited myself to a brief exposition then all of this would be left to the mercy of you asking enough questions to provide all of this material. And there are still many things left, mind you. In any event, please accept my apologies for making this a little bit longer.

[Reporter] I believe that it is the U.S. Government which has to answer a lot of questions now.

[Castro] Well, you can see how they respond. They say the circumstances are not the same and that what they are doing is the right thing, that they can talk to everyone except us, and that these are the measures that have to be applied, that more and more pressure has to be applied. That is the philosophy, and above all to yield to the pressures of these minority, mafiosi, and fascistoid groups. No one would ever have believed it, that there would be mafiosos of this type there in the White House discussing extremely important measures of an international nature. I believe that the U.S. cadres and leaders themselves must have realized that this is a mistake, that they have fallen into a trap; they do not realize what they have fallen into.

[Hector Rodriguez] Commander, you were not the only one to warn them because the most influential U.S. newspapers -- THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, and even conservative newspapers like THE WASHINGTON TIMES -- and some of the brightest analysts warned Clinton and recommended that he take another position. However, he chose to strengthen the blockade and decree all of the measures that were recently announced. Could there be an electoral interest behind all of this, as some people claim?

[Castro] Some information has been mentioned; there has been talk about conversations on migration. A State Department official, an under secretary proposed this. We have given this much thought. Our position is known. Simple talks on migration will not resolve the problems if one does not reach the root of the problems and hold serious discussions. We are willing to discuss all topics, and that is our position. If they wish, we can resolve it. The causes are this, and this, and this. If they want to talk we can advance and discuss migration problems with them. Because I think that all of these arguments presented here about all that has occurred, all of this information has to be analyzed. That is why we have not rejected the idea of migration talks. Several people have shown interest in this. Several prominent people in the political sphere, from Latin America as well as from the United States, have already shown an interest in this. I do not want to be indiscreet, but the possibility of talks on migration topics is advancing. [Words indistinct] migration topics are lengthy and prolonged. Many times they drag on and on, and I believe the problems need somewhat rapid solutions.

That is exactly what I was explaining. What should we do if there is a new migration agreement, for example? What should we do about illegal departures? It has been proven that there can be no agreement. This topic alone could be the subject of lengthy discussions.

This is our position, although we do not think this by itself will resolve the problem. There would always be those who do not want to get out, who would not be admitted for one reason or another, who would want to seek other ways. An immigration agreement could be worked on but would require time. But we are convinced this would not resolve the problem. We cannot accept solutions that are not true solutions. This is reality. Nevertheless, our position is not one of opposition to the possibility of talking about any one subject.

[Reporter] Yes, it was yesterday when it was said by an under secretary of state for political affairs.

[Castro] Yes, well if you let me go, I must attend another interview with [words indistinct]

[Hector Rodriguez] I had asked a question about whether Clinton's advisers or Clinton himself had anything to do with the November electoral phenomenon.

[Castro] We must take into consideration that there are many people. I understood there are many people with a broader and more modern mind. There is no doubt that there are inexperienced people, however, and that this blessed ghost of the Cuban revolution, this obsession with the Cuban revolution, is a pathological thing and leads people to make mistakes. This very same thing constitutes a problem. There are many thinking people. I am sure that among the higher spheres of the United States there are many people who think along more rational lines. But there is a lack of experience. Sometimes there is emotion and then, unfortunately, internal policy also interferes.

Then we have the elections, the November elections for deputies and senators. In 1996 for president again. [sentence as heard] I cannot understand why, but Clinton truly does not need a mafia to win the elections. The mafia fought him fiercely, gave the Bush people plenty of money, and did everything possible to defeat Clinton. The mafia has done Clinton no favors.

However unjustified and obsessive, U.S. foreign policy cannot be decided as a function of this type of problem. This is not the nature of true statesmen. What they have done cannot be described as statesmanship.

The most amazing thing is the presence of the mafia and their leader in the White House and discussing important and serious foreign policy matters. I think this is what harms Clinton. If Clinton adopts reasonable and just measures, he will be recognized, not only in the United States but by the international public. This has been demonstrated by several countries' positions in the United Nations.

[Hector Rodriguez] If there is nothing more, you have held a broad discussion. We all expected a lot from your participation, commander. Again, thanks for your visit.

[Castro] I am a habitual visitor. You people now have more who cooperate with you than before the crisis. But do not congratulate yourselves on that.

[Rodriguez] No, no. It is always an honor for us to have you here with us. Thanks to everyone, and Commander. This is the end of our broadcast for today. Good night.