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Fidel Castro on Socialism, Economy, Clinton
ANNEX / Cuba

Report Type:         Daily report             AFS Number:     PM0912124092
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-92-243-A        Report Date:    17 Dec 92
Report Series:       Latin America            Start Page:     1
Report Division:     ANNEX                    End Page:       3

Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Italian
Document Date:       05 Dec 92
Report Volume:       Thursday Vol VI No 243-A

Dissemination:  FOUO 

City/Source of Document:   Milan CORRIERE DELLA SERA 

Report Name:   ANNEX 

Headline:   Fidel Castro on Socialism, Economy, Clinton 

Author(s):   Francesco Merlo in Havana; date not given] 

Source Line:   PM0912124092 Milan CORRIERE DELLA SERA in Italian 5 Dec 92

Subslug:   [Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by Francesco Merlo in
Havana; date not given] 


1.  [Interview with Cuban President Fidel Castro by Francesco Merlo in Havana;
date not given] 

2.  [Excerpt] Havana-[passage omitted] His voice is raucous and tired, his face
blotchy, his skin marked and hardened, and yet he is not as old as the other
symbols surrounding him, the flags, the statues, the socialist bureaucracy. On
the other side of the front, across the sea, Bill Clinton is 20 years younger:
46 versus 66. It is the first time that a president younger than him is to be
installed in the White House. Could that be an ill omen, Comandante? He
answers: ``When I began, when the revolution on, I was even younger than
Clinton; I was 32, but I hardly knew anything. There we are: I need to be 32
like I was then, but with the knowledge that I have today. It would be a
perfect combination: the daring intelligence of youth combined with

3.  [Merlo] Why has socialism failed and not capitalism? 

4.  [Castro] Who says so? That is not the way it is. There is a crisis on both
sides. It is true that by putting all its means and resources into the field,
capitalism has won a partial victory. However, the crisis also affects
capitalism.  Neoliberalism is in fashion today. Tell me: How do three-quarters
of humanity live? I suppose the Africans live like people in Belgium,
Luxembourg, France, Italy? Whose fault is the famine in Africa, socialism's or
capitalism's? What about the wretchedness, the poverty, the ignorance in which
Latin American countries live?  Who created colonialism? Who created
neocolonialism?  Who enslaved the peoples of the so-called Third World?  Who is
poisoning the environment and destroying the planet? In the capitalist
countries themselves is there a crisis or is there not? Why did they have to
fly troops in to Los Angeles, the same troops that invaded Panama and Grenada?
Why did the majority of the American people vote against Bush? Why are there so
many unemployed? Why does the United States have a $300,000 [as published]
budget deficit and a $4 trillion public debt? It is not only socialism that has
suffered a great defeat; capitalism is also in crisis, because the United
States is the quintessence of capitalism. [Castro ends] 

5.  Armando Cossutta and the other members of the [Italian] Communist
Renaissance, Manisco, Crucianelli, Graziella Mascia, offer him gifts. Fidel
kisses the flag of the partisans who shot Mussolini.... They all look at him
with passionate desire, as though he came from another world. 

6.  [Merlo] Is socialism still alive, Comandante? 

7.  [Castro] Here at least it is alive.. We guarantee that. 

8.  [Merlo] Yet Marx used to say that socialism cannot be realized only in one
country, an island.... 

9.  [Castro] That is true, but we must prove that it is possible. [Castro ends]

10.  He speaks slowly, always answering questions in English with ``Como?''
[``Sorry?'']. Fidel, did you not understand English too? ``I have been
subjected to so much aggression by the Americans that I have ended up
forgetting it.'' 

11.  There is an American TV journalist who lays 1,000 traps for him, catching
him in his net with skill and unscrupulousness. He sends a little girl, his
daughter, to run around his pants, filming him all the while.... Then he offers
him three bottles of eer and while Fidel examines the ``generous'' gift, he
films the scene, zooming in on the bottle's label and announcing to his
microphone: ``Here, Fidel, this is America's best beer, the best....,'' a real
TV advertisement. Fidel understands the trick too late, but he does not get
angry. He makes a softly ironic comment: ``With these bottles I feel rewarded
for the time I am making you waste.'' 

12.  This innocent attitude is not what you would expect from an old,
victorious warrior, fresh weaknesses which would probably suit the young
guerrilla fighter of 30 years ago. Yet today, that was probably the best moment
for Fidel, this huge legendary symbol of a man who normally stays distant even
if you touch him with your fingers. Whereas now the journalists' mischief
troubles him somewhat. Like when he interrupts questions thus: ``You want an
academic debate. Whereas I only came to say hello to you.'' ``Do you still go
fishing?'' ``I rarely find the time.'' ``And the violation of human rights?''
``We have a totally clean conscience. No one has been more careful over this
issue than us, despite the flood of calumnies.... They used to accuse all the
socialist countries, now they concentrate on Cuba.'' 

13.  [Merlo] How is the international left? 

14.  [Castro] It is starting to breathe. It is starting to think again, to act.
I see this, I notice it everywhere. Even in Europe. We are at a new beginning. 

15.  [Merlo] Do you consider Gorbachev a traitor? 

16.  [Castro] History will pronounce the final judgment on him. I do not want
to be Gorbachev's judge. I can only say that during the time I knew him, he
behaved in a friendly manner toward me. He seemed to want to improve socialism,
even if the final result was different.  He wrote it in his book
``Perestroyka'' too, making it clear that he was not against socialism, indeed
he wanted more socialism. It seems to me, however, that now there is less
socialism than ever in the former USSR-and indeed the USSR does not even exist
any more. Someone once said that the road to hell is paved with good

17.  [Merlo] What did you say to each other when you met here in Cuba in 1989?
What did you foresee? Did you put him on his guard? 

18.  [Castro] It is difficult to recommend anything to the leader of such an
important country. Yes, I remember that I did give him one recommendation, an
idea, an opinion. I told him that the USSR had to broaden its relations with
all the political forces and to that end, I advised him to hold a meeting with
the revolutionary, progressive, and democratic forces, and I think he accepted
my suggestion. I also advised him to base the USSR's influence over other
countries on the quality of ideas rather than on tradition or, worse, on
hegemonic tendencies.... Gorbachev used to talk very frankly with me, he had a
talent for communication. At least at the beginning. It was an excellent
relationship. I believe he wanted to do good things. I never disputed his
intentions; what I can dispute is the results of his action: a tragedy. The
present single-pole world is not to anybody's liking, no one wants it. 

19.  [Merlo] It is especially a problem for Cuba. 

20.  [Castro] Our basic problems are the economic blockade and the
disappearance of the socialist camp. Some 85 percent of our trade was with
those countries and we had reasonable prices, let us say the right prices. The
value of our sugar in fact, balanced the cost of the petroleum we got from the
USSR. Our exports reached 80 billion [currency not stated] or just under. That
trade has almost disappeared with the disappearance of the socialist countries.
We have had to turn to new markets. We have lost imports, credit, and
technology, and sought fuel, raw materials, and drugs elsewhere. Our sugar is
no longer quoted at that price.... To this must be added the fact that we are
under a severe economic blockade from the United States. 

21.  [Merlo] Do you receive petroleum from the other former Soviet republics? 

22.  [Castro] We have an excellent relationship with Ukraine.  Even if you in
Italy and the world do not know it, here in Cuba we have treated more child
victims of Chernobyl than have been treated in the rest of the world. We have
done this and are continuing to do this free of charge, out of moral duty, even
during such a terrible period for us.  Unfortunately the Ukrainians do not have
petroleum.  Kazakhstan has it and our relations are normal. However, to receive
petroleum you need pipelines, ships, a trade structure. These are not simple

23.  [Merlo] What is your judgment of Moscow's current policy? There is talk
there of possible new adjustments.... 

24.  [Castro] I do not want to judge Moscow this time either.  I get different
and sometimes contradictory reports. It is true that there is a large number of
people who would like to put the brakes a little on the current policy, which
is having disastrous social consequences. However, one cannot see-it is not
clear what may happen. Over the next few days we will certainly get a clearer
idea. I do not wish to go on speaking of this because I do not want to
interfere in Moscow's internal matters. 

25.  [Merlo] What do you expect from Clinton? 

26.  [Castro] I do not want to go into this forecast. 

27.  [Merlo] Because for the time being you expect nothing? 

28.  [Castro] I cannot say. We must wait and see how things develop. I believe
Clinton is concerned above all, about his country's internal problems. So at
the beginning he will busy himself more with these, even though as head of a
hegemonic power in a single-pole world, he will have to end up concerning
himself with foreign countries.  First of all, however, he will try to keep the
promises he made to the unemployed, the poor.... who are the people who voted
for him. 

29.  [Merlo] Do you wish him success? 

30.  [Castro] He has been given a large amount of credit.  However, now he is
afraid to make programs for health, for schools, investments.... He is afraid
to increase taxes for the wealthy and he knows that that might not be
enough.... Anyhow, I wish him uccess, my most sincere wishes for success. No
one gains anything from anyone else's problems. 

31.  [Merlo] Do you really hope for an improvement in your relations? 

32.  [Castro] I think the first word should go not to us but to the White
House. I believe, however, that for the United States itself, and for the whole
world, there cannot be a worse administration than the Bush administration. 
However, I do not want to make too many judgments. It would not be right
without sufficient factors to judge from. 

33.  [Merlo] Would you wish Clinton a happy new year? 

34.  [Castro] Happy New Year, Mr. Clinton [sentence in English].