Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-028 Daily Report 8 Feb 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

GRANMA Reports on Castro Interview With Vazquez Rana

PA0902173395 Havana PRENSA LATINA in Spanish 1100 GMT 8 Feb 95 PA0902173395 Havana PRENSA LATINA Spanish BFN

[FBIS Translated Text] Havana, 8 Feb (PL) -- In an extensive interview published today by the daily newspaper GRANMA, Cuban President Fidel Castro has advocated Latin American integration and a political solution to the armed conflicts in Latin America.

The principal leader of the Cuban revolution addressed a number of issues in an interview with Mario Vazquez Rana, president and director general of the Organization of Mexican Editors.

Fidel Castro revealed that he is a serious supporter of Latin American integration, after warning that countries in the area are a far cry from reaching stability.

Castro said the fundamental threat to peace in Latin America is precisely neglect -- neglect of the needs and the problems of the people.

Issues discussed during the interview, which was conducted on 19 January, include Cuba's economic situation, a panoramic view of the Latin American continent, U.S. policy toward Cuba, Mexico's financial crisis, the role of the United Nations, and Cuba's relations with the former socialist countries.

Referring to changes in Cuba in recent years, Castro said that Cuba is first trying to survive, while at the same time trying to safeguard the great social achievements of the Cuban Revolution.

Castro emphasized: I do not know if any country has ever endured such a test, which began over four years ago in 1990. We have been able to resist and to persevere in our goals.

One must not forget that we are a nation that for over 35 years has been blockaded by the United States. We are a nation whose tasks are made more difficult by this situation.

Castro spoke extensively about the opening up of the Cuban economy, investment, exports, tourism, and the creation of joint ventures. He made it clear that this was not a privatization process.

Regarding this, Castro said that Cuba is working on a program to activate its economy, companies, and closed factories, and to listen to any proposal which might benefit both investors and the country.

Among the international issues discussed, Castro said that the United Nations needs to be changed because it is confronted with a new situation in a non-polarized world, under the yoke of the United States, which now imposes its policies.

Moreover, Castro said he was a supporter of political solutions to armed conflicts. "I support the search for negotiations and solutions in any part of Latin America and efforts to analyze the causes of conflicts -- the whys and the wherefores -- and that serious work be done in that direction."

In reply to a question by Vazquez Rana on the Latin America- United States issue, Castro said that "it is very difficult to predict. The future of Latin America is uncertain. I would need a crystal ball to be able to predict what will happened in 2000. New generations of leaders will emerge, who I hope will be better prepared and be more aware of the issues."

Addressing the current situation in Mexico, Castro noted that the most difficult thing in today's world is making predictions. I think that life, that experience will teach us what each of these things will produce and what tendencies will arise in the near future.

"What we have to hope for and think about is how Mexico will overcome its current difficulties. I believe Mexico can overcome them. That is what we want most."