Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro Comments

[Editorial Report] Havana Television Service in Spanish at 0008 GMT on 29
June broadcasts live coverage of the farewell ceremony for U.S.
presidential candidate Jesse Jackson at Havana's Jose Marti International

As coverage begins, the camera pans the tarmac in front of the terminal
building where a large crow is assembled. Cuban President Fidel Castro and
Rev Jesse Jackson are seen walking toward the airliner. As they reach the
ramp, Jackson and Castro are seen walking back toward the crowd assembled
on the tarmac. Jackson waves to the people who shout his name and
unintelligible slogans. Castro bids farewell to Jackson and his entourage
and walks back to the terminal. Before entering the building, Castro chats
with reporters. As the camera and microphone approach, Castro is heard to
say: "Jackson's visit had a great impact on the population. Yesterday's
speech was impressive. Not only did I hear it at the auditorium [of the
University of Havana], I also heard it on television. Tomorrow it will be
published in its entirety, just as the press conference was published.

"We felt that the Marielitos affair should have been taken up at some point
in the future, but that was another matter raised by him which he felt very
strongly about. We did not want to discuss it because we did not want it to
become a political issue. Something like this in the midst of elections
could obstruct a serious discussion of the matter. But he brought it up and
I said: If you in the opposition agree to this, then we are willing to
discuss it. Our concern is that the elections should not interfere in
something as serious as this. We are serious about this and would like to
discuss matters dealing with immigration regulations and the Mariel issue.
We are willing to discuss it to seek solutions.

"But this was not the right time because it could become a controversial
election campaign issue. But if we can remove this danger, we can hold
discussions as it is also of interest to the United States. Jackson
strongly supports this, a solution to these problems. It was one of the
points on which he insisted.

"The visit to the Methodist church was delightful for me. It was very

A reporter asks if the group of prisoners includes those who have not been
granted visas since 1968.

Castro responds: "That problem was raised. Many were released by us
believing -- and there were talks about that at the time -- that visas were
going to be granted. Some of them have been unable to get visas."

A reporter asks about the moral offensive, to which Castro responds: "I
believe it is very strong, because Jackson's strength is moral. AS you
know, moral strength has won great battles throughout history. Christianity
was a moral force, and how many battles did it wage and win? I believe, and
I am sure now, that moral values have a tremendous weight, a growing
influence as well."

A reporter asks if any gestures can be expected from the U.S.
Administration. Castro responds: "So far indications are that they have
cooperated in the departure of the prisoners. They grant the visas, which
was the requisite we had demanded. We did not demand it but made the
request. We said we would release them -- they are very recalcitrant,
enemies of the revolution -- we said that if they granted the visas, we
would release them. We asked them for their cooperation by granting the
visas. The government agreed to grant the visas.

"There was a problem of transportation because not all of them could make
it -- there are some 50 individuals in addition. There was no room for all
on the plane. Jackson asked if we would give them a plane and we agreed.
The U.S. authorities also granted permission for our plane to land. So far
there has been cooperation. I did not know what the reaction will be. Some
people have insinuated -- logically Jackson's trip has been very
successful... [leaves thought unfinished]. His tour of Central America and
Cuba has been very successful because of his persuasive ability, his moral
strength, and peace policy. It has been a successful mission. Perhaps some
might feel uncomfortable with it. Some might have said it was a publicity
ploy. There was no publicity in this. That is absurd. There was no plan to
talk about counterrevolutionary prisoners, but he had an open agenda to
talk about anything.

"Many people approached hi, families approached him on this issue.

"Even during the final meeting, which lasted hours, everything was not
covered. When I mentioned this matter during the press conference, we were
still considering it. No decision had yet been reached."

A reporter asks if Jackson's visit marks the beginning of a new phase.
Castro responds: I believe -- I do not know about the effect in Latin
America -- it will have some influence in Central America and, in general,
it will have an impact internationally. I believe this. For us, it has been
a very direct contact with the American people. Jackson brought with him a
very representative delegation. In my judgment they represent the best of
the American people. There were representatives of churches,
representatives of millions of U.S. church members. There were
representatives of U.S. minorities, and representatives of a significant
part of U.S. public opinion. We cannot forget that Jackson receive 20
percent of the ballots in these elections -- what do they call them,

"I can explain it now. I did not know him personally. I knew him though the
press. He is a great personality, a brilliant man with a great talent,
capable of communicating with people, very persuasive, reliable, honest.
Jackson's main characteristic is honesty, in my opinion. He is sincere and
courageous. There is not a single bit of demagoguery in his conversations.
He does not fool around. In addition, he treats everybody very nicely. I
was able to observe that. In all the hours he was here, there was not a
single instance when he forgot his comrades, introducing everyone, taking
care of all of them, speaking to all of them. He had an excellent manner in
dealing with all members of the delegation. He had the same approach will
all reporters, I mean with everyone. He greeted everyone he met. But his
main characteristic is honesty, sincerity. He is the most honest,
courageous politician I have ever met. He has a great personality, an
extraordinary personality. He is most unusual."

A reporter asks if Castro would return to the United States, that his last
trip was 3 years ago.

Castro responds: "Well, I said during the press conference that it all
depends on the circumstances. It is something that has to be examined
carefully. Such a decision cannot be made lightly when one considers the
tense relations existing between the United States and Cuba."

A reporter says that Jackson's visit demonstrates that anything can be
achieve with Cuba peacefully. Castro responds: "That is definitive. In
addition, it is the only way to attain anything with Cuba, with peace, not

A reporter asks what would be the impact of Jackson's visit on the American
people. Castro responds: "I cannot predict that. I have no idea what
coverage it has been given. I have seen in a newspaper, even a Miami daily
at that, that an objective report had been published. But I have not seen
any negative reactions. I believe they could surface. I believe there are
persons who are not interested in seeing success for Jackson's policy of
peace and friendship. Logically, I a trying to go over everything I have
seen. There have been some slanderous statements that claim it is a
publicity stunt.

"However, this is the most honest, sincere, authentic man anyone could ever
meet. He is courageous, he has tremendous courage. This can be measured by
the impact his remarks have had on the population. It had been impressive.
His speech at the university -- not only did I hear it there, I also heard
it on television must better. It will be published tomorrow in its
entirety. It had a great impact on our people. Our people have a very great
political culture, a great awareness. They are revolutionary people.

"In order for remarks to influence them -- our people know whether there is
a demagogy or not, because they are well educated in the reliability of
pronouncements, in their sincerity... [leaves thought unfinished]. Our
people can find a demagogue 1,000 miles away. They know when they have met
an authentic, honest man, a progressive man, they know when they have found
one. Jackson's message reached all the people. It was a great opportunity
to be able to listen to him. He is a brilliant orator who not only makes
profound statements, but makes them very beautifully, very directly."

A reporter refers to the candidates running for the U.S. presidency and
mentions Reagan, Mondale, and Jackson as candidates. Castro responds: "I
have already said I do not want to get involved in U.S. internal politics.
I do not want to get involved in that."

A reporter asks about the possible release of more counterrevolutionary
prisoners if there is an exchange of ambassadors. Castro responds: "In this
tense situation between the United States and Cuba, it is very difficult
for us to release the counterrevolutionary prisoners. They have a very
hostile attitude toward us. They [the prisoners] are encouraged by U.S.
aggressiveness. For us to reach a decision such as this one liberating 26
prisoners, who are bitter enemies of the revolution, can only be seen under
these circumstances as an exceptional gesture on the part of Cuba."

A reporter suggests that Jackson's political courage could be harmful to
him, that something could happen to him. Castro responds: "I believe that
when one has a strong moral attitude, a just attitude, and a great ability
to communicate with the people, the risks are minor, that it, in campaigns
against him. He has the ability to communicate directly with the American
people. We has a great persuasive ability and defends very just positions.
I do not believe it would do him any harm."

A reporter asks a question and Castro answers: "I do not know them. We have to w
I believe it will be so, because Jackson has made a great effort in support of t
Contadora Group. This visit was spontaneous, it was not planned. He said he want
to tour Central America and was willing to visit Cuba. When we learned about it,
extended the invitation, just a few days ago. This was not planned."f

As the plane's engines are heard Castro's chat with the reporter ends. The
aircraft take off at 0055 GMT. The announcer reports that Jackson's plane
is being followed to Washington by a Cuban Airline plane carrying former
Cuban prisoners.