Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-028 Daily Report 9 Feb 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Interviewed at British Embassy

FL0902124995 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks in Spanish 0100 GMT 9 Feb 95 FL0902124995 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cuba Vision Networks Spanish BFN [Conversation between President Fidel Castro and unidentified Cuban and foreign reporters during reception for Baroness Janet Mary Young at the British Embassy in Havana on 7 February; from the "NTV" newscast -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] [Reporter] Commander, what can you tell us about the importance of the visit of the British delegation and prospects for British participation in the Cuban economic opening?

[Castro] We place great importance on two things; first, the growing economic involvement of the UK in diverse countries. In other words, we have seen that the UK is particularly active. For us, given their advanced technology and highly developed industries and technology, this is extremely important. This has been a growing thing in recent times and a reason for all of us to feel very pleased. This visit illustrates that interest. There is a mutual interest in developing an economic relationship with the UK.

I say United Kingdom because one must not use England, as you all know well, it is either UK or Great Britain.

We are very happy. They are very pleasant people, highly communicative, and talented. These ties are particularly special for us. We had an important visit by their minister [as heard]; and the baroness was here 18 months ago; she had had much to do with the boosting of relations Great Britain and Cuba are experiencing, as did the previous ambassador and the new one, therefore, we only have good things to say about the British visitors in Cuba.

[Reporter] What about the accord for the protection of investments?

[Castro] It has just been signed. We are truly interested. It is highly encouraging.

[Reporter] Commander, as you said, there are growing ties between Cuba and the UK, particularly during the last quarter. Obviously, this must deeply anger the U.S Government.

[Castro] We do not seek to anger them, we would rather have them become aware of the real fact that many industrialized countries have relations with Cuba. Yet, they absurdly choose to remain apart from the possibilities existing in Cuba, which are not as great as those of the PRC, but have relative importance. [Words indistinct] if your are a soccer, or basketball player, or an athlete you would not like being prohibited to play anywhere. As a matter of principle, many U.S. businessmen would like to participate in this competition. This is why many of the U.S. businessmen I know totally disagree with being prohibited from conducting business in Cuba. Thus, it is my hope this will not anger them but rather encourage them.

In general, I believe that the UK is making a great effort within the developing world, not with Cuba alone. In this new era being experienced by mankind, commerce is acquiring a vital importance; therefore, the movement of significant resources towards the PRC, Vietnam, and the Third World. These countries have, at least, the advantage of being very well organized. Just like in our case; Cuba is an organized country where it is feasible to do things, where commitments are fulfilled, with our countries with stable governments. This helps a lot for making investments and conducting business.

[Reporter] The baroness will give a news conference tomorrow and surely she will be inundated with numerous questions. We know that last night you talked at length with her. Could you tell us about it?

[Castro] We spoke about everything. These type of conversations broach general subjects. They have talked with numerous ministers. Specific issues are discussed with the ministers, with me, they talk about general issues, the commitment to work, etc. These talks are also partially a social encounter, we speak about everything under the sun, such as international affairs. I also asked her some questions. I guess the ministers told her plenty about Cuba. Yet, I wanted to know about the situation of the British economy, how much it is growing, about their interest and inflation rates, etc. In general, they told me many favorable things about the British economy. We also broached general issues of the global economy and the like. You should really ask her.

[Reporter] The baroness said that this morning she visited a farmer's market and was very pleased with the orange juice and a flower she was given, and that she cannot wait to see Cuban citrus products in London markets.

[Castro] I understand they also visited a citrus cooperative, a basic cooperative production unit.

Well, I have to go, or this will turn into a news conference.

[Reporter] You have time for a general question on the economy: There is talk about the need to reduce the state budget, this in turn means downsizing certain state enterprises. How will the workers in those enterprise be replaced?

[Castro] By diverse means, there are sectors in which we need to increase the labor force, agriculture needs a labor force, for example. Also, new activities are being created, sectors, and branches such as tourism, there is self-employment which continues to grow significantly, as well as new possibilities which we will study in order to fulfill our duty of providing jobs for all our citizens.

[Reporters] Thank you very much.