Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-155 Daily Report 7 Aug 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro on Downing Incident, U.S. `Hegemony'

PA0808230596 Havana Cubavision Network in Spanish, 0030 GMT 7 Aug 96 PA0808230596 Havana Cubavision Network Spanish BFN [Speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the closing session of the Cuban-U.S. Youth Conference in Havana on 5 August -- recorded]

[FBIS Summary] Castro begins his speech by saying he was glad he accepted the invitation to attend the meeting because otherwise, he would have missed something very valuable. He added: "While I listened to you, I was full of admiration. Not because of the way in which you expressed yourselves here in Cuba, being U.S. citizens, you showed great courage [word indistinct] as you know how things are. You know better than we do how things are over there. We imagine how they are from what we read in the newspapers and hear in the news, but you live there. I was marveled at your ability to express yourselves the way you did, with such accuracy, your deep thoughts, the ideas you presented [words indistinct] I said to myself: What a great school this is! [laughter] Some people probably believe you came here to be indoctrinated. In that case, it would really be the other way around. You have come here to indoctrinate us. What better school is there than the country where you live. Not exactly a school of capitalism, but a school of what capitalism is. As Vicky said, she was not here to persuade you, but to seek understanding and exchange ideas. Neither did I. Of course, there is nothing you need to be convinced of. You are so [words indistinct] inconceivable. That cannot be the world's destiny. You know that [words indistinct] I was really amazed by the way you said it. That is why I said that you are in the best school. I imagine that not only the 140 or 150 youths who are here, but many more, have reached the same conclusions you reached after thinking, and thinking, and thinking. You have constructed and developed noble, humane, healthy and beautiful ideas!"

Regarding the Olympics, Castro says that according to reports, there was some disorganization and notes various criticisms. Then he adds: "Today members of the delegation told me of the efforts they made to bribe Cuban athletes: messages, letters, notices, everything to [word indistinct] Cuban athletes. They offered anything."

Castro ends his criticism of the Olympics saying: "As I said to the athletes, there was a rumor that I would be going to Atlanta to watch the games. It would not have occurred to me, because in these cases one is exposed to not being granted a visa, to humiliations [words indistinct] although we are not too far, the flight lasts less than two hours. Someone in the State Department said... [pauses] well they were saying that if I had those plans I had to let them know in advance to make all the necessary paperwork. However, why should I go? To see them defeat the Cuban baseball team? There was a lot of propaganda about defeating our baseball team. In addition, during the Olympic period they bought four of our best pitchers. Hence, winning those games was almost a miracle. They won, they did not lose a single game. They bought athletes. They also wanted to humiliate us in boxing. They bought athletes, but only one member of the delegation defected. According to experts on the subject -- I have not investigated much -- it had to do with skirts. Well, that's fine, maybe [words indistinct] a mild sentence, but we could have married him here. What can we do? [words indistinct] Oh, well, apparently he fell in love with a girl, I do not know her nationality, but I assume she was a U.S. woman. Is that unusual? I believe that those who participated in this meeting, mostly women... [pauses] there is nothing strange in an athlete falling in love over there. That, however, was all they got. From what I have heard, it was not because of money. That is all I know about the case so far."

Later on in his speech, Castro says that the current political and social situation in the United States is worrisome. He refers to recently approved laws in which large budget cuts are made to social programs. He criticizes the growing xenophobia, and new measures against immigrants. He continues: "The antiterrorist measures that they are adopting pose a serious threat to individual rights and freedoms with various pretexts. U.S. Administrations over the last few years -- at least since the dawn of the Revolution -- have been champions of terrorist tactics."

Castro says the return to savage capitalism is worrisome and then discusses the serious consequences of the so-called neoliberalism. He says: "How can you prevent this in a unipolar world? U.S. hegemony is everywhere: economic, technological, military [words indistinct] political, and financial. The United States has only to lift a finger and suddenly there is no credit for anyone. It is the world's judge."

Criticizing large military budgets Castro says: "Increasingly sophisticated weapons are being manufactured, even though the Cold War has ended. Of course, it has not ended for us; it is worse; it is hotter than ever; it is not as cold as it is hot. We can talk about this and will address this. We have learned that they have built some intelligent (inteligente) planes. A report from an official organization speaks of intelligent planes, their size, everything. We could discuss this. The existence of these intelligent planes is strange. We find strange some things that have happened in our airspace lately [words indistinct] the small planes [words indistinct] you mentioned here and that led up to the incident that served as a pretext for Clinton to switch sides and support a law that he himself had described as cruel and [word indistinct]."

Commenting on the downing of two lightplanes on 24 February, Castro says: "Cuba played no part in what led up to this incident. Why discuss this? We are not talking about events over the course of one day; it was not a matter of some lightplanes just appearing one day. These planes had been engaged in increasingly offensive and aggressive provocations to demoralize the people, the country [words indistinct] and they were increasingly daring [words indistinct] defense mechanisms. We repeatedly asked U.S. authorities to get them to stop doing that, warning that it could lead to [words indistinct] there is more: They promised that they would prevent those flights, so [words indistinct] ourselves because we trusted that the government would go through the proper channels to prevent all of this. We remained calm [words indistinct] then the planes returned, truly to our surprise. This is when the incident occurred. It was inevitable. I can assure you that we are not to blame in the least. We did not want anything like that to happen; we did not want to help the cause of the worst group of people; the worst group of people invent things like this and the Helms-Burton act; they made this happen; they promoted it. They must have done other little things; of course, it is always the case that these things are done and not officially reported until 20, 25, or 30 years later."

Bringing up the subject of drugs, Castro says: "We are also trying to find new ways to fight that traffic [words indistinct] that are dropped and then picked up in launches. This has killed people. Some people have confused cocaine with powdered milk [words indistinct] to fight with energy. That is why our country has succeeded [words indistinct] every time someone asks me to pose for a photograph -- you can imagine how many people come to visit our country -- I accept, and I will continue posing with anyone who asks me to [words indistinct]. I will not be intimidated by [words indistinct] I will not say that the government is responsible, but a State Department official said that nothing about Cuba would surprise him [words indistinct] the campaign launched [words indistinct] of course we have protested [words indistinct] yes, I believe Cuba has been the most slandered country in the world. In recent times, all the media used to fight the USSR and Socialist countries are now being used against one country: Cuba. Cuba endures thousands of hours of propaganda, of all kinds, per week. I must admit, however, that during the past years some media are reporting with more freedom and seriousness about the problems in Cuba and the blockade. We have had to endure all that, but we have struggled."

"Surely, you have been able to attest the fighting spirit of our people [words indistinct] we have had to use some of the mechanisms used by capitalism. This has become necessary as part of the actions to face the blockade and preserve the revolution, the fatherland, and socialism. I think Vicky mentioned a book, the intentions to take over Cuba that existed under other governments, in other times [words indistinct] what if they take over Cuba and we carried out a revolution? I mean, if they had taken over Cuba, perhaps we would become a revolutionary virus inside the United States. This is not necessary though. There are many individuals there who encourage rebellion and awareness among the people. It is not necessary in the United States to [word indistinct] progressive ideas, because progressive ideas are in the soul and heart and in the school of revolutionaries called United States." [applause]

Castro adds: "Why are we being blockaded? What do they want? To destroy a model. We are the country most concerned with humanity, and not just here but abroad. More than 500,000 Cubans have provided services abroad, as teachers [words indistinct] combatants fighting with the Namibian or Angolan people; in the struggle against apartheid, which today is regarded as a great victory, and it really is, but it seems like a [words indistinct] No, first of all it is a victory for the South African people; it is a victory for the Third World, a victory of combatants who shed their blood fighting against the fascists of apartheid! [applause] If the name of Cuba is not mentioned, we have fought for just causes, for all the causes we believe are just in this world. Now our internationalism is basically expressed in the defense of Cuba, of Cuba's independence and the Cuban revolution. We must concentrate [words indistinct] in relation to peoples, in relation to states. With the disappearance of the Socialist bloc, we understand that our main internationalist mission is what we are doing: defending our fatherland, the revolution and the achievements of socialism in our country. How do we defend socialism? With our ideas, our principles, our methods, which are as humane as whatever existed before in any other part of the world. There is not a single case of missing people here; not a single man killed in the streets, and this happens everyday in other places. There is violence against workers because they are defending their rights. We see this in Europe, the United States, and everywhere. We see tear gas, dogs, horses. In Great Britain, we often see large horses used to disperse a demonstration. You will not see anything like that here. You will not see death squads or paramilitary groups repressing [words indistinct], or trade in vital human organs, or child prostitution, or many other things that exist [words indistinct] they want to destroy this country. The world cannot be governed that way. U.S. leaders are making a mistake. They do not know how to direct the world. They were incapable of organizing the Atlanta Olympics well. [laughs] I do not think they can govern the world. They have established a sort of de facto government in the world, but the world is not governable. One day they will discover that the world is not governable, and that the world is increasingly more aware of realities, and people are more aware of their rights each day.

Castro then discusses U.S. attempts to penalize the world for doing business with Cuba, saying: "There is growing resistance to U.S. attempts to rule the world. More and more laws are forthcoming: Do not invest here, do not invest there. If they cannot govern the United States, how can they govern a world that four years from now will include 6 billion people?"

At the end of his speech, Castro refers to an upcoming socialist youth festival, and says: "We hope the U.S. delegation will be as large as possible, and if you are banned from traveling, do as Pastors for Peace, the [word indistinct] and the U.S. Constitution does not ban U.S. citizens from traveling Cuba."

The meeting ends with Castro making the traditional calls: Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win!