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FBIS-LAT-95-028-S Daily Report 31 Jan 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Mexican Newspaper Interviews Fidel Castro

Part VI Examines Missile Crisis

PA0202165095 Mexico City EL SOL DE MEXICO in Spanish 31 Jan 95 Section A, pp 1, 20 PA0202165095 Mexico City EL SOL DE MEXICO Spanish BFN [Part VI of nine-part "exclusive" interview with President Fidel Castro by EL SOL DE MEXICO Director General Mario Vazquez Rana in Havana; date not given -- first two paragraphs are EL SOL DE MEXICO introduction]

[FBIS Translated Text] Havana, Cuba -- At the end of all these years and disputes in which Cuba was the eye of the storm of the so-called missile crisis in 1962, President Fidel Castro confessed the Cuban revolution never conceived of developing nuclear weapons or any other kind of weapons of mass destruction, but was simply reacting in defense against the U.S. threat to its national security.

Cuba did not agree with the final solution of the crisis because, as President Castro says, in the end the Soviets took their missiles and their warheads and left Cuba with the blockade. This caused Cuba to change its attitude toward the Tlatelolco Treaty, which proposed the denuclearization of Latin America. Decades later, Cuba realized its accession to the treaty would be one more step in its reintegration with Latin America.

[Vazquez] A few years ago, most American countries signed the Tlatelolco Treaty. The last to do so were Argentina and Brazil, who signed it not too long ago. Why did Cuba take so long to sign this treaty?

[Castro] "Look, Mario, we never planned to make an atomic bomb. On the other hand, there was a time during the early years of the revolution when there were nuclear weapons here. There was a crisis, the resolution of which we were not in agreement, because the Soviets took their missiles and warheads and left us the blockade, the hostility of the United States, the threats, and all the other things.

"We have always criticized this, not just now, but during the time that the USSR existed, and we had magnificent relations. We were critical of the handling and outcome of the October 1962 crisis.

"We were involved in that crisis, and, since we were being threatened by the United States, we were reluctant to renounce our moral right to have nuclear weapons, just as the United States had them.

"The United States had nuclear weapons in Guantanamo. Almost none of the Latin American countries has a foreign naval base on its territory, and we had a U.S. naval base where nuclear weapons were being kept.

"Then it became, I repeat, a moral issue. If we were involved in a nuclear missile crisis, it was because we attempted to seek a nuclear umbrella. If there was a nuclear war, we could be attacked or be involved in that war. The situation was actually worse than that, however, because if there was a nuclear war, we would be affected. And if there was no nuclear war, we might be invaded with powerful and sophisticated conventional weapons. We have been under a constant threat. The U.S. threat had a decisive influence on our position.

"In principle, we oppose all nuclear weapons because they create tremendous inequality between countries.

"The nuclear club was born. The famous nuclear club has atomic weapons but does not want the rest of the world to have them. I believe the moral basis for really demanding nonproliferation of nuclear weapons is to renounce to nuclear weapons.

"But they got together and formed a club, principally the former USSR and the United States, to prevent others from having them.

"We did not agree with that idea. We favored total elimination of nuclear weapons. Since we did not have the capability to manufacture them, neither the resources nor the technology, for strictly moral reasons we were opposed to signing the treaty. We maintained: "This is a unilateral renouncement, in exchange for which we receive nothing but the threat of intervention by the United States.

"That was a difficult thing to understand. Why was Latin America unilaterally renouncing nuclear weapons, while its very powerful neighbor, which was frequently intervening and threatening it with all kinds of military, economic, and political actions, was manufacturing more nuclear weapons?

"We had another problem: Some Latin American countries did not accept this, and a new situation arose. The USSR disappeared; we were left alone. The widespread blockade against Cuba by Latin American countries, the widespread hostility, also ended. Diplomatic or consular relations with the immense majority of Ibero-American countries were developed. The topic of Latin American integration, Latin American unity, began to come to the fore. True rapprochement between Cuba and the rest of Latin America began to occur. Also, within this atmosphere, Brazil and Argentina decided to accede the Tlatelolco Treaty.

"If we had not acceded it was not because we ever intended to manufacture nuclear weapons or had the ability to make them. We have never wanted to manufacture weapons of mass destruction of any kind: chemical weapons -- it has never crossed our minds -- biological weapons -- it has never crossed our minds. I cannot imagine a Cuban scientist working on something other than saving people's lives or on the well-being of the people. I cannot imagine him manufacturing weapons for destruction or mass death. We have never had that idea. So ours was a moral stance, as I told you, and when these new circumstances arose, when the need for integration came to the fore, better relations with all Latin American countries and the need to act together determined the circumstances that prompted us to decide to sign the Treaty.

"We had last spoken about it when Mexicans asked us about it there in Guadalajara. We said that when the rest accepted it, we would also accept the Tlatelolco Treaty.

"A kind of public commitment existed, and we deemed it more important than abstaining from signing because of our conflict with the United States. We decided to sign it, although we will have establish some reservations in signing it. We are studying that. There will always be some reservations, but we are in fact going to sign that treaty, and all Latin Americans will be on equal footing.

"In two words, we will have done this for Latin America, that is the truth, and for Latin American unity, identity, and integration.

"That is the cause, the fundamental motivation, why after spending so many years of defending a right, an idea, we have felt there is something that, in our opinion, is a greater issue, namely our ties with Latin America.

"Under current circumstances in the world it would make no sense for us to insist on our previous stance. That is why we changed it."

[Vazquez] Mr. President, some months ago Mr. Jose Ayala Lazo, the UN high commissioner for human rights, was in Havana.

What was his opinion of Cuba, and why did he and not the rapporteur come?

[Castro] "Look, Mario, the United States has greatly manipulated, distorted, and slandered Cuba on the topic of human rights, and it is logical that we should react to that.

"When the socialist bloc existed, that country, despite its allies, could not obtain a majority for their ploys against Cuba. When the socialist bloc collapsed, and some of those countries sold their bodies and souls to the United States, it obtained a majority within the Human Rights Commission and imposed its slander and imposed a rapporteur.

"We felt this was profoundly unfair, because we begin from the premise that no country has done more for man than Cuba has in all respects, from a political standpoint, from the standpoint of injustice, of equality among men, and of their participation in the destiny of their country, to the point that the immense majority of our countrymen are ready to die even for the country to defend what they have, the revolution, integrity, and sovereignty.

"That is no coincidence. It speaks to our people's support for the revolution, their true participation in the destiny of their fatherland, things that do not exist in other countries.

"From the standpoint of the well-being of the individual, no violation has ever been committed here, since no prisoner has been beaten or tortured. There have been no crimes of any kind, no people who have disappeared for political reasons, no death squads.

"Have you ever heard talk of a disappeared person in Cuba? There has been no disappeared person in Cuba, Mario.

"No prisoner has been tortured in Cuba. If we had done that, our security would not have been efficient.

"Our people would never have tolerated that. Our people were in fact educated to reject all that. Regardless of what has been written, I am going by historical, real, and objective facts.

"Stacks of books financed by CIA have been written, and CIA collaborators have written all kinds of outrageous things against us. They have done all that throughout the years.

"But I say no country has had greater respect for human rights than our nation. I am not going to tell you that in terms of the people's social rights. I am talking from all the angles that may be considered within the concept of human rights.

"This is how we think. This has been our conduct. And I tell you we have never had cases of events that occur in many countries.

"You have never seen the police disbanding a demonstration, horses, tear gas, water hoses used against the people. Not even in our most difficult times, because when we had some of those problems I told the comrades: `Let's go over there. Let's go to the place where the problems are occurring. Let's see how the people react.'

"It was the people, not tanks or soldiers, who confronted the individuals who were rioting and other such things. I recall because I went there. I told my people: `These are strict orders. Don't use weapons regardless of what they do.' This is what I categorically warned the comrade bodyguards.

"I went there to the streets where they were throwing rocks and creating disorder. The people solved everything without weapons.

"That is to say, we have a clean record because we have never used the public force against civilians.

"And the students mobilize. Have you ever seen a country where the students back the political process as they do in Cuba? Have you ever seen the relations that exist between the revolutionary government and the students, between the revolutionary government and the workers, the peasants, the women, and the neighbors? This type of relations is what has maintained the revolution, what has allowed it to be defended, and what has allowed us to resist the might of the United States. This is a country that managed to liquidate the USSR and other things but has not been able to liquidate Cuba, which shows the moral strength of our revolution.

"But this could not have been done with violations, injustices, crimes, and all this kind of thing.

"Our position is total rejection of any interference on this issue. We reject all the manipulation and the political jobbery carried out by the United States before the Human Rights Commission, where it has the majority after the USSR and the socialist bloc rotted, fell, and disintegrated. That is why we refuse to receive any rapporteur here.

"A commissioner is something else. A UN commissioner is an honorable, serious person. And, to show that we have nothing to fear, we said: `Come, visit, and talk to whoever you want, visit the places you like, and get direct information about whatever you see.'

"That is, we are not afraid. I spoke with him at length. We would, of course, need a 100-page SOL DE MEXICO edition to explain all this to him.

"I related the history of all this that I am now telling you briefly. I told him about the reality of this entire problem and of all those human rights situations. We have irrefutable explanations. They are not only based on what we have done for our people but based on all the rest; for example, we have thousands of physicians who have been rendering their services in other countries.

"We have sent more physicians to work abroad for free than the World Health Organization. We have sent many other technicians who are specialists in other fields. We were the country with more scholarship students in proportion to its population; we had 25,000 foreign scholarship students.

"That is to say, we have made history wherever we have been, and the line is always the same as the one we followed during the revolution.

"And, who was beaten during the Giron incident? Is there anyone in Miami, in that whole ship filled with `heroes' that we sent back to that place, who can say he was tortured or beaten?

"Not even in the hours after the battle, where we had dozens of dead and injured, was a single man mistreated. What Army has such a clean slate? Ours, because it has been educated with those principles. I was a personal witness to this.

"I myself captured several prisoners. By the way, I passed a squadron of armed invaders who were in a thicket, and they did not shoot. But, well, they were already demoralized by that time.

"But who can say that a single one of those prisoners was beaten? Take into account that more than 1,000 invaders were captured.

"Can you name one single person who has disappeared in this country? Can you talk about death squads? Can you say a child has been shot to death in the street?

"We don't have such things here. There is no sale of organs, drugs, gambling, and all those vices that abound in so many places.

"You don't see children without schools or begging for alms. Well, now with tourism, one will sometimes show up and probably his parents sent him to do this. But it is not because he is needy. That child has one liter of milk guaranteed every day, despite the special period.

"This has been the policy and history of the revolution. We have a lot to say about all this, Mario, to whoever wants to listen to us.

"We had an excellent talk with this man, and we explained all our thoughts, our points of view, our things, and the truth about all this story.

"That is the difference. The commissioner was able to visit us, and we received him with respect and friendship."

[Vazquez] What was Mr. Lasso's opinion?

[Castro] "I shouldn't speak for him, Mario. It would not be right for me to tell you that his opinion is such and such. I have the impression that he is a receptive man.

"I have the impression that he knows the realities of the world.

"We have nothing similar to that Proposition 187 in California. None of that! It is horrible! We don't have the U.S. situation where the death penalty is only for blacks and Hispanics.

"There are a lot of things that happen in the United States that do not happen here. Here, we don't have a man abandoned in the street, dying of cold when there is a cold wave. We don't have a single abandoned citizen here.

"Despite its wealth, you find all those things in the United States. When we appraise things, I believe we have a much better record. We have not been in a war like the one in Vietnam, killing Vietnamese, shooting a prisoner in the head, doing all those horrible things the North Americans do everywhere, invading countries and things of that nature, such as its crimes against Grenada, Panama, and other places.

"So, although we have a better record than the United States, it wants to make us sit in the dock.

"We refuse to be unjustly forced to sit in the dock.

"The rapporteur is not honest, or at least we are not sure of his honesty. The rapporteur compiles the information given to him by the enemies of the revolution.

"I cannot compare the rapporteur, the one that the United States imposed on Cuba, to the high commissioner, who is much more than the rapporteur."

[Vazquez] Mr. President, the United Nations' 50th anniversary is on October 1995. What has the United Nations accomplished, in your opinion?

[Castro] The United Nations has done what it could. In general, it has worked through many international agencies. It is very criticized because some say it is too bureaucratic. But undoubtedly, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization], to mention a few examples, and a number of UN institutions and agencies have worked and strived to solve the problems of the world. They have done a very important job.

"The United Nations' problem is the new situation that has arisen with a unipolar world that has placed them under the yoke of the United States with its veto power. Now that the USSR has disappeared -- it vetoed something every so often, but no one used the veto as much as the United States -- the United States has total hegemonism in the United Nations and imposes its policy.

"It cannot impose it totally in the General Assembly, but there are problems that the United Nations has to rectify. Alarcon is better than I on this topic because he is an expert on the United Nations.

"The Security Council has assumed functions that do not correspond to it. It has even taken on interventionist functions, in accordance to the prevailing policies of the United States.

"The United States is trying to do with the United Nations what it did with the OAS: It intervenes first and asks permission later. It is manipulating the United Nations too much. Of course, this has placed the United Nations in roles that are not always honorable.

"The Security Council is acting illegally and violating the UN Charter with its interventions. No one has authorized it to take such action.

"The Security Council has executive duties. The General Assembly has no duty; it only has moral stature. It has condemned the blockade, but even when an immense majority has condemned it over the opposition of one or two, the blockade continues. The United States has no obligations, and the General Assembly has no power.

"I think that the United Nations should be modified; after 50 years it should be changed. It is good to emphasize this.

"There was a Security Council made up of 12. Then it was slightly expanded. But when the United Nations was formed there were only 40 countries. But today there are as many countries in the United Nations as those that are in your association of National Olympic Committees.

"There are many countries. The Security Council is too small, too reduced. The various regions of the world are not represented. A country with nearly 1 billion inhabitants, like India, is not represented on the Security Council.

"A country like Indonesia is not represented; a country like Brazil is not; a country like Mexico is not. But other countries that have 50 million inhabitants are members of the Security Council.

"There is talk that the Security Council should be modified, changed, expanded, but we defend the criteria, which we have defended at Latin American summits and everywhere, that proportional representation by continent must be sought.

"The idea is not to have the richest and most powerful in the UN Security Council. Third World countries need to be represented in the UN Security Council, and I already named some of those countries.

"I think that Africa should have at least two representatives in the UN Security Council and Latin America must have at least two.

"Asia must be represented. The large countries, not those that remained as a consequence of World War II, the ones who participated in those wars.

"I do not disagree with the inclusion of others, but the UN Security Council must be expanded much more. It could be 20, 25, 30. The right to veto would have to be regulated.

"The nations of the world have the right to agree on something, and the fact that a country has the privilege to veto it -- that is an irritating privilege; it is not at all democratic.

"Now that there is so much talk about democracy, we must start by democratizing the United Nations, expanding the prerogatives of the General Assembly.

"I think that the veto power is an irritating privilege. It is not an egalitarian or fair action on the part of a reduced number of countries. But I understand that the current situation cannot be completely changed for the time being.

"I think that we must go through phases in order to create a United Nations that is truly representative of the entire world. One that is diverse and pluralist and not an instrument of hegemonism and of the unipolar world of U.S. hegemonism.

"This is the sad and harsh reality that we are living on a daily basis, and those are things that, as an elemental concept of equality and justice, cannot be accepted, and we cannot accept them.

"I will not deny the great role played by the United Nations, but more important than that is the role that the United Nations could play in the world of the future, and I do not object even to the establishment of a universal government one day, but not a hegemonic government, not a government of the United States, not the government of the United States through the United Nations. I would never agree to such an idea."

(To be continued)