Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-95-164 Daily Report 23 Aug 1995 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Castro Speaks at News Conference in Trinidad

PA2308205695 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish, 0035 GMT 23 Aug 95 PA2308205695 Havana Cuba Vision Network Spanish BFN [News conference by Cuban President Fidel Castro with unidentified Cuban reporters in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; date not given -- recorded]

[FBIS Translated Text] [Reporter] Has this meeting exceeded the expectations you had when you came here regarding the Caribbean integration and its possibilities?

[Castro] Well, I considered this to be an important meeting especially from the political standpoint, because Caribbean countries have displayed a very friendly behavior towards Cuba. They have always been on the front line in everything related to opposing Cuba's exclusion from conferences, events. They have maintained a very independent policy, and I recognize and feel gratitude towards Caribbean countries.

Therefore, any event of this nature has a political character. Paying the fullest attention to such event is a show of gratitude towards them. But aside from these so- called sentimental factors, I believe that Caribbean nations have been at the vanguard in the process of union and integration in Latin America. Eric Williams, Manley and others always fought for unity. Naturally, they look at the map and analyze the situation each of them has; they are small countries exposed to large risks. They see themselves in the need to create a market for their own production. Some of them are countries with 50,000 inhabitants, others with 100,000 inhabitants, others with 100,000 plus inhabitants, others with population exceeding one million people. This is the case of Jamaica which must have a little over three million people, not including the Jamaicans living abroad who have emigrated to Canada, the United States, and other places.

They have had a very deep integration awareness, and they have worked in that direction. And within this integration, they do not conceive of Cuba's absence. This has been the cause of confrontation with the United States more than once. We must not forget that four Caribbean countries led the battle for Cuba's reintegration into Latin America. They established relations with us together with Panama. Mexico had established relations with us earlier.

You must now assess the difference between then and now, when we practically maintain relations with nearly all Latin American and Caribbean countries. We still do not have relations with some Caribbean countries, but everything leads to the full reestablishment of ties with Caribbean countries. They have played a role in that. They resisted the pressure opposing Cuba's entry into the Caribbean States Association [ACS] and overcame resistance. Thanks to them we were able to join in just one year ago. And this was the first meeting. This organization was not even fully established, but 17 countries had already ratified their incorporation.

Now, this institution is sui generis. It has a headquarters; it has a secretary general; it has a series of documents that have been approved and are beginning to be applied. It is advancing well and rapidly. We must recognize that Caribbean nations have a great deal of experience in this. Life has taught them and forced them to work in this direction. And that is why it can be said that the ASC is advancing rapidly, and I am under the impression that it will be an important organization. It will play an important, very necessary role at this time for the interests of all.

You saw that a large number of countries were represented and the results, the agreements are visible. In addition, serious discussions were held. That is why, in response to your question, I believe that the results of the meeting have exceeded by far what any of us would have expected.

[Reporter] Commander, I have always wondered -- because we are talking about the greater Caribbean area or the Caribbean basin -- how can the interests of small nation-islands be conjugated with those of large Caribbean basin countries, which even have other commitments? Wouldn't this be a difficult problem?

[Castro] The Caribbean bathes many of us.

Of course, those small Caribbean islands are the ones that need integration the most. We all have that need, but they need it more than anyone. Precisely because they are small countries. Although there are big differences between them. I have already compared Jamaica with other small islands in the Caribbean.

Now, many people are interested in the Caribbean. The Mexicans are interested. The Central American nations are interested. Panamanians, of course, they are Central Americans, Colombians, and Guyanese are interested in the Caribbean. The United States is very interested in the Caribbean. You do not have to demonstrate that, right? Europe is also interested in the Caribbean nations.

I believe that those countries to which you refer deserve special consideration. [words indistinct] to build a factory for national consumption, they almost have to build an artisan shop. However, if they are going to build a cement plant with a 300,000 ton capacity, they have to make a line for the minimum amount of cement that can be produced for these countries. On the other hand, in the energy sector, the electric power industry, you cannot build a plant which generates 10,000 kwh or 20,000 kwh. In order for a plant to be economic and efficient it has to have 100,000 or 200,000 kwh. They cannot communicate among themselves. The way for these countries to communicate electrically has not yet been found.

Marine and air transportation becomes a headache for these nations. Concern for the transportation issue surfaced many times during this meeting. In many cases to travel from one island to another neighboring island they have to travel to Miami and back. They have to sail for hours. Not sail, they have to fly many hours and return. Many times it is easier to travel to Europe than to go to a neighboring island. Those kinds of airlines exist, but they do not exist between them. Air and marine transportation, and economic development becomes complicated.

These countries understood that quickly. That is why the awareness of integration developed quickly among these countries, which were the last to gain their independence. They have advanced in that direction more than the Latin Americans who have wasted centuries. The Caribbean nations have advanced much with all these organizations. Each organization has it significance, has its task. They discuss jointly, they negotiate jointly, they support themselves mutually. They are states. They are small countries but they are independent states with voice and votes in the United Nations and other international organizations.

Of course, the Caribbean nations are the ones that need integration the most. They need it more than Venezuela, or Colombia. They need it more than those countries [word indistinct]. Central Americans also have their economic and trade agreements which are now subject to NAFTA, agreed on between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

One has to see how they are affected by this, because they had adhered to a U.S. initiative called the Caribbean Basin Initiative. They also have certain agreements with Europe. Also there are certain contradiction with Latin America. For example, the question of bananas. They have their quotas with the [word indistinct] agreement.

Actually, the land which Caribbean countries have to grow bananas is small. They cannot really do much harm to the Central American, or South American economies of the countries which grow bananas. The banana [words indistinct] the apple of discord. I believe that one must act in a generous, not egoistical manner on this issue. I have made estimates. How many bananas do these islands produce? I asked the representative of Dominica. I believe they have 2,000 hectares, and every time a hurricane goes by it knocks down the banana trees. In addition, they do not have much water resources. They have no possibility of growing large quantities of bananas.

However, the fact that they have certain preferences in Europe has been motive for complaints by the Latin American countries. I believe that it is fair that the Caribbean countries have some preference, and let us reason fairly.

These countries have to make a living and I believe that we must all, one way or the other, contribute and fight so they can have adequate conditions for making a living. Now the future of the world is uncertain, as I told industrialists yesterday, because we don't know what is going to happen. Even some issues in which preferences [pauses] and I believe the SELA [Latin American Economic System] representative warned that Latin American countries must get used to the idea that there will not be preferences in the future. But a world without any kind of preference is not necessarily a fair world.

We also -- we didn't call it preference but rational and fair exchange between countries -- for many years received better prices than world market prices for our sugar, nickel, and other products. Of course, sugar in the Soviet Union was produced at a very high cost. Consequently, the purchase of sugar in Cuba was not onerous for the Soviets.

In addition, unfair exchange has been present. This is a real phenomenon in today's world which adversely affects Third World countries. That is why in the past there were agreements to protect coffee, cocoa bean, and sugar prices, as well as many other products that later disappeared, because the trend the new world economic order seeks to impose is the disappearance of every price scheme that benefits Third World countries. And the agreements that protected basic products have been greatly affected.

Consequently, we must see what role Third World countries will play in this world of competition, global economy. We were able to ponder that when we visited the petrochemical complex Trinidadians have here, in an area of abundant gas fields. There are very modern plants here, very well-designed, very compact, with very advanced technology, with very little workers. One can hardly see people there. These are investments requiring a large amount of capital and very advanced technology.

I wonder how will Third World countries compete in that global economy, in the face of the monsters who control capital and technology? I am also concerned over competition among Third World countries for bringing in capitals, a competition that has translated into making more advantageous concessions; one day this enterprise, tomorrow another, in order to bring investments. But what is left for the countries?

Many times there has been talk about 15- or 20-year tax concessions, or 5- or 10-year tax concessions. Even we, in our agreements for some investments, have been forced to make some small concessions, but we have had to do it at one time. However, we made some estimations. First, we fight so that the country can maintain a significant share of property. We do what we can to maintain a significant share of property so that part of that property is in part a national property. We also discuss other things in depth, such as the tax and fiscal system, because the country needs revenues. Revenue cannot only come from the workforce. And those revenues must be partly obtained in our capacity as owner of a percentage of that enterprise, and also through taxes.

Obviously, we must do all we can, we must do everthing we can with our resources so that these enterprises can be state property. We have already said that. But I see in this Third World the great struggle among multinational corporations.

However, there is more competition among countries than among multinational corporations in a desperate effort to attract investments. This forces some countries to make too many concessions. And at the end, they don't get much. Obviously, the situation is not the same in every country. There are countries which have many natural resources; others don't have natural resources. There are countries where investments flow more easily, given that abundance of natural resources.

But going back to the fundamental idea, what will be left for Third World countries in this global economy that has been designed and is being designed for all?

[Reporter] Does it fit you to have a little of the generosity you mentioned because the profitability...

[Castro, interrupting] Generosity (?forgets).

[Reporter] ...of the large countries which may have a preferential or generous treatment no longer exist.

[Castro] Nor of the large countries or the large multinational corporations.

[Reporter] For this reason.

[Castro] There could be multinational corporations. We are there. Many multinational corporations... We have discussed with them and with serious businessmen, but I know well and I know it well because of a law, a principle, which is earnings, profitability. And I must know and I must be patient enough to discuss it.

The reality is that our countries cannot do without foreign investment. If they lack capital, they lack technology, they lack markets, many times do not even have the experience in organization, production, and export of products. We are learning a lot about this from what we have read in the books when we faced today's reality.

We are satisfied with what we are doing because we feel we are doing so with a lot of sense of national interest, the people's interest, and without any despair. It is better to wait than to despair because if you despair, you may fall into the mistake of making too many concessions. These are today's problems, today's problems because in the near future, a tremendous competition will explode among the large economic blocs and... [pause] Everybody wants to become slaves, everybody wants to export. We must wonder where the buyers will be because we must have buyers in order to export.

Obviously trade has greatly evolved amongst industrialized countries, more so than amongst developing countries. We must yet see what will happen next, how the WTO will operate, what the outcome will be for the world when all preferences end. For the Caribbean nations this is very important, because they now risk losing certain advantages they had.

Therefore, they need more union and integration, although the effect may be different. Venezuela does not need that integration, but it will benefit from and is interested in it. Mexico does not need that integration, but it will benefit from and is interested in it. Cuba needs that integration more; it will benefit more and has more interest in it.

[Reporter] Regarding what you just said about Cuba, could you state how can Cuba contribute to the ASC and how will it benefit from this incipient Caribbean integration?

[Castro] What?

[Reporter] You said Cuba is interested in this association, and I would like to know what can Cuba contribute to this incipient ASC and how will it benefit from this membership?

[Castro] Well, I may try to answer your question but I think that [Foreign Trade Minister Ricardo] Cabrisas, who is here, is more familiarized with this and may offer a more precise answer than I.

[Cabrisas] I understand, in the first place, that Cuba will benefit from a relationship with a market that has certain potential, not only from the standpoint of trade but also from what was discussed regarding tourism and other services. On the other hand, these countries are really interested in Cuba's experience regarding its industrial development. They have expressed this interest in the different meetings we have maintained.

On the other hand, as has been stated, the Caribbean market, not the Caribbean basin but the Caribbean islands, has a great potential considering the fact most of its commercial exchange is made with countries outside of the region, both with countries from the North and Europe. And one of the trends that has been observed was precisely how that demand of the Caribbean market can be met from within [words indistinct].

[Castro] [Words indistinct] must not only be viewed from the material standpoint. From the material standpoint, for instance, we are producers of cement. We are producers of iron and we can export iron. We have developed the metalworking industry and, as a result, Cuba can export to those countries. Additionally, there are many more areas that we were able to develop for export, even mineral water.

They have a market for mineral water and we have excellent mineral water. And all these hotels and these million of tourists who come to the Caribbean need that mineral water. I don't know where they are getting it from nowadays, but there are real possibilities for Cuba. And there are possibilities for exporting fruits and other things.

Then we have technological and scientific exchange that can be useful. There are many possibilities in the agricultural sector. The Caribbean may be a market for our food products as we develop our agriculture. For some of those countries it is best to export sugar at a preferential price and to purchase sugar at a reduced price. The Caribbean may be a sugar market for Cuba; it may be a market for beverages, liquors, for the industry of bathroom fixtures, construction industry in general, not just cement. In other words, there are many real possibilities in the Caribbean, selling a bit here and there, in smaller or bigger markets.

For instance, we export iron to the Caribbean in small amounts for their construction needs. But also from here we import urea for agriculture purposes. They are the second largest world exporter of ammonium, and we need ammonia for direct application to the land or for producing some fertilizers in our country. In other words, there are real possibilities to develop trade with some countries more than others. [Words indistinct] the cultural aspect. There are little regions of the world with such cultural richness as the one the Caribbean has.

But I also think... [pauses] in the scientific area we may collaborate and also receive some benefits and breakthroughs they may have. For instance, the Barbados 4362, which was a very famous sugarcane in Cuba that was unfortunately lost later to the rust disease, emerged from a sugarcane station in Barbados. We may exchange some varieties of crops.

And then you must also consider the political aspect. The Caribbean is made up by a numerous group of serious countries, with an independent spirit, which play an important role in the United Nations and many more international organizations. Man does not live by bread alone. Not only the economic-commercial aspect is important. They are also interested in Cuba's support, because it will be fair and objective.

I already mentioned some contradictions that emerged, in the face of which, with an objective and fair judgement, we must adopt a specific position. And they may need Cuba's support in different international forums. And I am under the impression that they are very satisfied with Cuba. I am under the impression that they appreciate Cuba very much.

All these countries were very sensitive to the issue of apartheid, that abominable institution that existed in South Africa. One of the things for which they evidently admire Cuba most is for its struggle against the apartheid and its contribution to the defeat of apartheid. In other words, there are many factors that create these conditions. I believe the degree of friendship they have shown for us is growing and is already considerable.

In the past, they did not express themselves like that. In our struggle against the blockade, when a vote comes along in the United Nations, in the struggle against the blockade, when one must discuss in Miami if they go to Miami, the position of Caribbean countries was very good. Or if they must state their views in other international forum, the position of Caribbean countries towards Cuba has been very good. That has a tremendous value.

Is the struggle against the blockade only political, or is it also an economic struggle? There are many aspects in which both, we and they, may benefit.

[Reporter] Commander, you described a few moments ago as a reality that Caribbean countries trade more with third parties than among themselves. The United States is, by far, the main market for these Caribbean nations, not only in terms of goods but also in terms of the exchange of services. The United States has the largest number of tourists going to the region; it is the largest exporter and importer to and from the Caribbean. And the Miami port and airport are the central points for the transportation and [words indistinct] This must evidently change so we can join that association...

[Castro, interrupting] It will not change like that. Most tourists are going to continue to come from the United States. And they will come to the Caribbean. It is good that there is a country... [pauses] tourists also come from Europe and Japan. I recently said that the day tourists come from China, they will not fit in the Caribbean or anywhere else.

And tourists come from Latin America; tourists come from Mexico. With the sinking of the blockade -- it must disappear -- we will also benefit from the arrival of U.S. tourists. We currently receive Canadians, Mexicans, Venezuelans, Argentines and Europeans, so this will continue to happen. As a rich country with a high per capita income, tourists from the United States will try to enjoy this area. This is not a negative thing. There will always continue to be important communication between U.S. and Caribbean cities.

But a different thing is the issue of communications among themselves. This depends on the airlines that may be established, the naval lines that may be established.

One of the aspects we discussed was how to improve air and sea transportation among the Caribbean islands, which would benefit all of us because participating in that undertaking is also advantageous for us. We have experience regarding the merchant navy and coasting vessels, and for years, Cuba has been somewhat trading with Caribbean ports in small vessels because we must use small vessels; we cannot use large vessels. Vessels must have the appropriate size to promote trade and air transportation.

We also have a tourism with multiple destinations, and we do our best to get people to stay two or three weeks. We have this tourism with Costa Rica and other countries, including Santo Domingo and other Caribbean countries. We also have this travel plan with Jamaica. What we must do is to try to get tourists to come for more than a week and to get them to spend one week in Mexico, another week in Costa Rica, another in Cuba, another in Jamaica, another in Barbados, and, in this manner, prolong the tourists' stay.

We also discussed the topic of the cruise ships. I have enormous misgivings about the cruise ships and we discussed this at the meeting. I asked some of them what are the advantages of cruises. They replied that it has advantages for cabdrivers and restaurant owners. They told me that these cruises somewhat promote tourism and spark an interest in tourism, allowing people to say that they have gone to a country or visited it for a second time. One of the participants said that the cruise industry had a capital of 50 billion [currency not specified] and that there were investment projects for 10 billion. One of these days they will make an island with beaches and everything. These crafts are not only floating hotels, but they are floating islands.

I believe that this industry's unbridled growth will unquestionably harm the interests of those countries whose tourism is based on shore, as was said at the conference. Cruises between this area and Europe are necessary and if we want European tourists, we need many cruise lines from Europe. If we want tourists from the United States, we need U.S. cruise lines, and the same applies to Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, and all those countries that are more developed -- some more than others -- and some people in those countries travel more than others. For instance, I heard that it was more affordable for the Argentines to travel to Havana and spend 15 days there than going to Bariloche or any other tourist area in Argentina. Because of the dollar's current exchange rate, tourism in some of these countries has become quite costly, and this is why they prefer to come to our countries.

The ties you mentioned will be maintained; however, they will not have the same weight they have now. As tourism becomes more diversified and ties among the Caribbean countries themselves increase, these aspects will have a less decisive influence, but they will always be important.

[Reporter] Commander, you said in Cartagena de Indias last year that Cuba's membership in the ACS was part of the struggle against the blockade. Can we consider the step taken here as a victory scored by Cuba in this battle?

[Castro] I would prefer not to talk about battles won; I would rather be humble. I would describe this step as part of Cuba's successful actions against the blockade. It is only a part of our actions because we are interested in seeking unity and integration with the Caribbean countries based on our principles and other reasons unrelated to the blockade.

[Reporter] During your long working visit, you have met several leaders, including President Rafael Caldera and President Ernesto Zedillo. Could you tell us something about these meetings?

[Castro] My meeting with President Caldera was very useful because there were certain misunderstandings and certain frictions between Venezuela and Cuba, which were not suitable for either country. We had already witnessed several circumstances that demonstrated the goodwill by both Venezuela and Cuba to maintain normal ties and promote good relations. To mention several past instances, the Venezuelans greatly appreciated my attendance at the ceremony held in Old Havana to commemorate the anniversary of Venezuela's Independence. They have also acted on their own: they established contacts with Robertico [Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina] and each side has done its share to bring about satisfactory and useful exchanges.

During this conference, in which both Cubans and Venezuelans have common interests, we held a meeting within the framework of a spirit of friendship, cordiality, and respect. We discussed different topics, not only those linked to relations between our two countries, but also others related to this conference, the international situation, and the world economy. I believe our meeting was a positive and constructive one for Venezuela-Cuba relations, and this pleases us very much.

We did not have any such problems with Mexico. I had already met with President Zedillo in Mexico on the occasion of his inauguration. He was very kind. He invited me for dinner and we had a relaxing talk about very varied topics; we talked about politics in general and several topics linked to our own countries. I can assure you that I got quite a positive impression from my meeting with Zedillo. Zedillo is a serious man and a man of unquestionable chivalry. He exudes decency through his pores and all I can tell you is that we were quite pleased with this meeting. We should not be indiscreet, don't you agree?

[Reporter] A historic meeting has just concluded and it has prompted the need for reflection. What has been your greatest satisfaction, could it be perhaps being considered as part of the Caribbean area?

[Castro] We are so many things that no single aspect can be considered more important than the others. However, I am very proud of being from the Caribbean area. I also believe this meeting was a historic one, even though certain prominent leaders were not able to attend. Colombian President Ernesto Samper, whom we would have been quite delighted to see, was unable to come. Costa Rican President Jose Figueres was also unable to come and only a few Central American leaders were able to attend this conference. If more leaders would have attended, the meeting would have been more prominent.

In spite of this, the conference was a very serious one and the discussions took place within the framework of a novel style. This was not a conference of speeches, but it was one of exchanges of views. I had prepared a speech myself because I was expected to give two speeches: one -- as it is often done in this sort of event -- was a speech on behalf of a group of countries, while the other was on behalf of the Cuban delegation.

However, when it was my turn to give a speech, all the topics I was going to mention had already been discussed by experts and foreign ministers. They had amply discussed plans of action. All the topics that had already been discussed were also the ones I had outlined in my speech, although this was not as extensive.

Many of the things I was going to mention had already been discussed, agreed on, and the attendees had reached a consensus on them. When I realized this, I wondered: Why should I read a speech that had become stale in a few hours. There was a category described as general matters, and I decided to focus on that category to clarify several concerns that had emerged -- among both well-meaning people and others who had been instigated by our enemies -- that with the development of tourism, Cuba could become a monster that would harm the tourism industry on the other islands.

Consequently, I read the small portion -- two or three paragraphs -- I had written on this topic, but before doing this, I added an explanatory introduction saying that Cuba was not a competitor and should not be seen as one. I stressed a fact I believe you were later told: that the fact that France gets 60 million tourists does not imply that Spain gets one fewer tourist or vice versa. Rather, tourism is promoted and it grows everywhere, which should be the goal of all the participants to this conference.

We should seek quality tourism and cooperation among all of us, which far from cutting strength, could multiply strength and resources for our countries. By helping one another and by working together, we all reap benefits.

I referred to the sugar matter and what we did after they took all our sugar and distributed it everywhere. We continue increasing our sugar production until we reached 8 million [no unit of measure specified], and this did not harm any country's sugar production. I cited this as a case in point, as an example, and I was able to talk about this there.

In general, we held discussions in this conference and we exchanged views. Many people gave very good speeches, and these were not prepared speeches, but speeches that emerged in the heat of discussion. The other Caribbean leaders were well prepared; they spoke very well, with precision and definition. [Guyanese President] Cheddi Jagan delivered a very good speech, so did the prime minister of Jamaica and the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda spoke two or three times and emphasized the issue of the cruises. Many others also spoke; so many that it would be too long to enumerate.

President Zedillo also delivered a very good and precise speech. It was a pleasure to listen to people talking with so much impartiality, sobriety, without a tinge of demagoguery, and focusing their remarks on the objectives of the conference. Although this conference was not a long one, it was fruitful, and this approach -- I do not know whether it is typical of the Caribbean or if it is originally from Great Britain or who knows -- turned out to be a successful method to guide our discussion. Therefore, it was a productive meeting; one can feel pleased with it.

[Reporter] [Words indistinct] this may lead to other meetings in the area?

[Castro] Did you see all the different cultures that paraded around here? [laughter] First, we saw the Indians who inhabited the Caribbean, followed by the Spaniards, the French, and the British. When one thought the parade was about to end, one would see a new sign and more people coming. We also saw the Dutch, people from the East Indies, Java, China, Syria, and Lebanon. I saw approximately 10 different cultures parade by and all of them were truly different. All these cultures reflected a history and a mentality, what an extraordinary cultural wealth! [Words indistinct], and I did not mention the African peoples, who played a prominent role.

The same holds true for the various methods and political systems; each people have their own style. But I do not want to talk about politics anymore, I believe I have talked enough about that. Once in a while, one finds demagoguery; a marked interest in playing a leading role, as it is referred to nowadays; foolish actions; and so on. One hears about everything in this world, all sorts of problems, and unfortunately, the problems seem to continue growing.

This can be easily achieved. Although, it depends... [pauses] Who knows? I do not know since I did not attend the summit in Miami [laughter] and I have not the slightest idea how that summit was organized. It is about time we started holding meetings of this sort. I do not know how the Nonaligned Summit will be, but it is about time we held meetings with less speeches. I am extremely grateful to this meeting because I have learned to be brief, [laughter] and I do hold several records, including my speeches in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro.

I was the one who spoke the least and I discovered that the less you talk the better, and not only because people appreciate conciseness, but because the topics are condensed. Many times, one should deliver a telegram instead of a speech. Delivering speeches should be simply elaborating on a telegram. Having discussions and exchanging views on concrete points definitely constitute a positive practice as was exemplified in this meeting.

[Reporter] Commander, I believe, however, one matter we do not have the formula...

[Castro, interrupting] Young lady, you have a lot of beliefs...

[Reporter, interrupting] I believe in many things. I believe the information problem among the Caribbean nations and what is said about the Caribbean nations must be resolved, because we must consider what so many agencies say. Perhaps Frank [not further identified] knows more about this. I did see, however, what was broadcast by many powerful television stations, which are the ones that truly reach people worldwide, and they actually downplayed -- to the utmost -- the conference and mentioned the topics quite sparingly.

[Castro] That is a common practice. They despise us, underestimate us, and do not give us any importance. If this were the meeting of the seven richest countries in the world, then all the dispatches would be about it. If 100 poor countries hold a conference, no one in the world cares. The meeting is sabotaged. As a rule, the world barely pays a meeting of this sort any attention and certainly, it is necessary to develop more communication and information.

This is one of the greatest injustices in the world: that some countries not only monopolize information, but they also monopolize the movies, documentaries, and recreational programs. Let us simply weigh the influence the United States exerts to this effect. The United States has almost swept aside Europe and, needless to say, the Caribbean countries. One of these days, the Europeans will have to begin worrying about the same problems you say are plaguing the Caribbean countries because there is a monopoly [words indistinct].

These are problems similar to the technology problems I mentioned before, and the United States has a monopoly in communications technology. No one knows how many satellites are out there moving around the world, communicating things instantaneously. Which Caribbean country has this resource? The same problem is always referred to: information, which is not delivered straight but is distorted and manipulated. How can we change this situation? The only way is to fight, because we cannot resign ourselves to this. We must use all available means for communication, to make sure that despite everything there is communication. [Words indistinct] a photograph for an autograph, a manifesto, a document, and then one has to make a book, one has to write, to explain, one has to use absolutely all the means available. Is that thunder or is it a volcano? Who knows? [laughter; several people speak at the same time] Oh, so then it's thunder.

[Reporter] Commander, we are very pleased.

[Castro] This interview is taking place at a time when we have gone through three consecutive days of extensive work, little sleep, no rest, constant activity, and logically, it has not been the same as if it had been given under different circumstances. I have had the goodwill...

[Reporters, interrupting] We are very grateful.

[Castro continues] answer your questions. If I did not do it well, please let me know.

[Reporters] Many thanks.