Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
FBIS-LAT-96-158 Daily Report 13 Aug 1996 CARIBBEAN Cuba

Cuba: Castro Interviewed on Birthday, Health

PA1308044796 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks in Spanish, 0000 GMT 13 Aug 96 PA1308044796 Havana Tele Rebelde and Cubavision Networks Spanish BFN [Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by Julio Acanda after inaugurating a photo exhibit called, 100 Pictures of the Cuban Revolution, at a museum in Havana; from the "NTV" newscast -- live or recorded]

[FBIS Translated Excerpt] [Acanda] Commander, have you been congratulated by many people on your birthday?

[Castro] No.

[Acanda] What do you mean, no?

[Castro] [laughs] He is asking a question.

[Acanda] Not many people have congratulated you?

[Castro] There has not been much time. The congratulations are coming in little by little. A few minutes ago I was congratulated and, besides, I am not a year older yet.

[Acanda] Few hours remain.

[Castro] [laughs]

[Acanda] You know that news agencies constantly report that you are not in good health. How do you feel at 70?

[Castro] Some of those agencies are older than I am.

[Acanda] That is true.

[Castro] They are somewhat [word indistinct] too. The same happens to me.

[Acanda] How do you feel?

[Castro] I am fine.

[Acanda] Are you in good health? Do you exercise? How do you feel?

[Castro] You want me to tell you that I am in serious condition, that I am coming from a hospital or what?

[Acanda] No, what I want to know is your overall health condition. How do you feel? The people want to know.

[Castro] I am doing fine. I always say I am fine and I always believe it.

[Acanda] Even if you were not in good health?

[Castro] I get a cold now and then. I am in especially good spirits, which is very important. The agencies are the ones that say I am sick.

[Acanda] What agency are you talking about? The CIA or the news agencies?

[Castro] The CIA did everything they could to undermine my health and in spite of everything, here we are. We have turned 70. I am also aware that I am not eternal. I am of flesh and bone like all the rest and I am subject to all the conditions facing everybody else, but that does not concern me at all. I do not know why people pay so much attention to our health. This revolution has been made. No one can destroy it. Our health was more important during the early days in which the man played a more important role, but now we have a full-fledged revolution with so many people, with so many cadres, with so many intelligent people, and with a people that have an awareness like the one we have. What danger can there be for the revolution? Everything is relative. What do I think? That one's life is relative at this stage of the game. Even health is relative. I do not see why they place so much importance on our health. Why are they so impatient?

[Acanda] Do you, let's say...

[Castro, interrupting] I do a little exercise. Yes, yes. I have done it all my life. Perhaps I cannot climb the Turquino with the same ability with which I climbed it before, but I always do a little exercise. It is my duty to do it. I feel better after doing it. I am disciplined with my food. I laugh at all the tables.

[Acanda] What tables?

[Castro] The nutrition tables. I experiment with them on myself. I place much importance on vegetables, for example. I know of their benefit for the body. I know about the benefits of minerals and vitamins. In this regard I am very disciplined. I have no problems.

[Acanda] Your energy?

[Castro] I still have some excess energy because I always have a small layer of fat. I would like to be like when I was on the mountain range, with a few less pounds than the ones I have now. I have a little fat. The time comes when the body gets used to it in such a way that even if I eat a little, my weight is maintained. If I get careless one day -- because sometimes I have to attend a dinner -- the weight increases. My body has adapted. There are people who eat a great deal and do not gain weight. There are others who eat a little, but gain weight. You just have to find a normal equilibrium.

[Acanda] Practically all your life is here in this exhibit. It is also the revolution's life.

[Castro] I have to look at it. I have not seen it completely. I see they have mixed the first part with the final part and the final part with the first part.

[Acanda] No.

[Castro] I see a picture of the Moncada Barracks and then I see a picture of me in Palma. There is no chronological order here.

[Acanda] Do you look at pictures often? Do you like to look at pictures?

[Castro] No. There are many pictures here. The owners of the pictures are here. There are a few tourists who buy pictures of me on the streets. We could sell the pictures to collect funds for our public health plan. I asked them what they are going to do with those books? They told me some funds for public health could be obtained from those books. I saw that the House of the Americas came up with a small brochure and I liked it. I saw a set of pictures and I liked it. I read in JUVENTUD REBELDE about an editorial or an article written by Abel Prieto. This is an exhibit that will be turned into a book. We could collect some funds from those books. What about the books that (Corda) and all those people have?

[Unidentified speaker] He is here.

[Castro] My goodness.

[(Corda)] Congratulations.

[Castro] These people have a treasure in pictures.

[Acanda] Even though you say you have not been congratulated that much. The entire people...

[Castro, interrupting] (Corda) has just congratulated me, even though it is not yet 13 August.

[(Corda)] We are celebrating today.

[Castro] The pioneers were congratulating me. They were many because there were about 1,000 pioneer delegates there.

[Acanda] Would you like to send a message to the Cuban people on your birthday? We know they have congratulated you so much.

[Castro] Invented, improvised like that? I want to tell them that I am thankful for their support of the revolution throughout the years. I am thankful for the spirit they gave us all and the encouragement they always gave us during difficult times. I am thankful for their confidence in each one of us and we have a duty with them. I am telling you, my birthday has no importance. That is why there has been no type of official activity or anything linked to my birthday. For me, it is a day just like all the rest. It is a day of work just like the rest. Sometimes, things are beyond our control because we cannot prevent people from doing certain things. I have always tried to discourage it, but I have not created that habit. They still went ahead and did it. Newspapers have published a few things on their own. I have not seen a single one of those articles.

[Acanda] You have not read them?

[Castro] I have read them, but I did not go over them previously. Certain mistakes could have been corrected. For example, in one of the articles published in JUVENTUD REBELDE I saw a piece of information on the front page, I believe, which confuses Ramon with Raul. The article says I was riding with Raul, but Raul was too little, he could not go with us. It was Ramon and I. I did not take a look at any of those pieces of work.

[Acanda] Why not?

[Castro] Because I did not want to be an accomplice to the tributes. If I start reviewing those pieces of work I would be cooperating. There are a few minor mistakes. They were not of major importance. It was a generous, well-done piece of work. I had no participation in anything of the things that have been published. I learned that there was a ceremony at the foot of one of the monuments. That was done by the revolution. I do not see it as one of my things. I see it as one of the things of the revolution, I do not see it as my own.

[Acanda] Thank you commander. [passage omitted]