F.M.- In view of the vast
movement towards globalization taking place worldwide, would it not
perhaps be advisable to open up more the Cuban economy to the rest of
F.C.- We have opened up the
economy to the extent that it has been possible and necessary. We have
not gone for the same insanity and follies as in other places, where the
recommendations of European and American experts have been followed as
if they were Biblical prophets. We have not been driven by the insanity
of privatization, and much less by that of confiscating state property
to take it over ourselves or hand it out as gifts to relatives or
friends. This happened, as we all know, in both former socialist
countries and in others that never were socialists, under the pious,
tolerant, and complicit cover of the neoliberal philosophy that has
become a universal pandemic. The West is well aware of where the money
is deposited and what has happened to the embezzled or stolen funds, but
nobody has said a word about it.
We have not attempted to
commit the folly of adapting Cuba to the chaotic world of today and its
philosophy. What we have done is to adapt those realities to our own,
while fighting alongside many other countries of the so-called Third
World for our right to development and survival. This might perhaps be
the way for our former colonies to help the minority of very wealthy
countries, most of them former colonial powers, to save themselves as
F.M.- Nobody questions
Cuba’s social and cultural achievements. However, going back to my
previous question, would these achievements not be better served by an
increase in exchange with the outside world?
F.C.- It is true that, as
you say, we have achieved major social advances that can hardly be
denied. There is schooling for all of our children, and no illiteracy.
The development of our universities is considerable. We have numerous
research centers that carry out important high-quality work. Every child
is given 13 vaccines, almost all of them produced in our own country, as
is the case with most medicines used. At the same time, thousands of our
doctors are providing their services, free of charge, in remote and
impoverished areas of Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa as part of
comprehensive health care programs. This is possible because we have
plenty of human capital
We have invited the most
developed countries to cooperate by sending medications. We are also
granting thousands of scholarships to young Third World people to study
medicine and other specialties in our universities. In every African
country participating in the comprehensive health care programs, we are
helping to establish schools that can eventually train the hundreds of
thousands of doctors they need.
No one could imagine what a
small Third World country with extremely limited resources could achieve
when a true spirit of solidarity prevails. As to your question, there is
no doubt that the efforts undertaken by our country could be boosted by
an increase in the exchange with the outside world, to the benefit of
both our own homeland and other nations.
F.M.- The demise of the USSR
suddenly deprived Cuba of precious aid. In your opinion, what was the
United States’ purpose in maintaining the embargo despite the end of
the East-West confrontation? Did they hope to influence your form of
F.C.- They were not trying
to influence the Revolution but to destroy it. Just as the Senate in
ancient Rome proclaimed the destruction of Cartage in the times of
Hannibal, the U.S. administrations’ obsessively pursued motto has been:
Cuba must be destroyed.
The demise of the Soviet
Union and the collapse of the European socialist bloc did not take us
completely by surprise. We had even warned our people of this
possibility long before. The stupid mistakes and shameful concessions
constantly made to their longstanding enemy clearly pointed to what was
In economic terms, Cuba
sustained terrible damage. The price we were paid for our sugar was not
that prevailing in the unfair world market. We had obtained a
preferential price, like that applied by the United States and Europe to
imports of this commodity. Supplies of fuel, food, raw material and
parts for machinery and factories were abruptly and almost completely
cut off. The daily intake of calories dropped from 3000 to 1900, and
that of protein from 80 to 50 grams. Some people could not put up with
the difficulties but the immense majority confronted the hardships with
remarkable courage, honor and determination.
As I said earlier, we
managed to maintain important achievements, and some were even improved.
Infant mortality was reduced by 40% in this period, and 30,000 new
medical doctors with excellent training went to work in our communities.
In the field of sports, our athletes continued to occupy a place of
honor among the world’s best, with the highest number of gold medals
per capita in the Olympics, despite the tremendous pressure by the
United States and other wealthy countries in an attempt to entice Cuban
scientists, outstanding professionals and athletes.
F.M.- But, this does not
mean that the continuation of the embargo is another test that the Cuban
people can easily overcome.
F.C.- The blockade, of
course, is a painful burden for each and every Cuban. The Third World
nations, as well as most of the UN member countries, have repeatedly
demanded the lifting of the blockade. But the U.S. Congress, with the
cooperation of many members of the Republican majority, headed up in
this case by Mr. Helms and Mr. Burton, and even with the support of
several Democratic Party members, such as Mr. Torricelli and others, has
opposed the lifting of this blockade, which is by far the longest
lasting in history.
F.M.- The United States is
not the only country imposing all sorts of conditions on your country.
The European Union has also tried to introduce a "democracy clause"
in European-Cuban trade relations. What do you think of this action?
F.C.- It is significant that
the European Union shows much less "concern" about other
countries, doubtlessly because they are of a greater economic interest
than we ever could. In any case, all conditioning becomes unacceptable
when the inalienable principles of our homeland are involved. The
political organization adopted by a sovereign nation cannot be subjected
to conditions. Cuba will neither negotiate nor sell out its Revolution,
which has cost the blood and the sacrifice of many of its sons and
On the other hand, it all
depends on what is meant by "democracy clause." How many
so-called "democratic" states are up to their necks in debt?
How many of them allow up to 30% of the population to live in conditions
of extreme poverty? Why should countries with tens of thousands of
children wandering the streets and countless numbers of illiterate
people be treated better than we are? We do not see why this should be
so. Cuba will never accept political conditions from the European Union,
and much less from the United States. This should be definitely
We do not argue about
whether the countries in Europe are monarchies or republics, or whether
power is held by conservatives or social democrats, advocates or
adversaries of an idyllic third option; swings to the left, to the
center or to the right; supporters or detractors of the so-called "welfare
state" used as a palliative for the incurable disease of
unemployment. We do not feel the urge to express our views on the
actions of the skinheads and the upsurge of neo-Nazi tendencies,
although we have our own idea about these and many other issues; but we
do not introduce revolutionary clauses in our relations with Europe. We
rather hope the Europeans will work things out by themselves.
F.M.- Since the days of
McCarthyism, Washington has tended to consider that the only regimes
that are harmful and must be eliminated are the communist regimes. But
the White House has tolerated, without blinking, the likes of Somoza,
Trujillo, Duvalier and others. What are your thoughts on this
F.C.- It would be better not
to delve into the hypocrisy and indecency of that policy. It would take
many hours and lengthy historical references. The market will dry up
some day for the industry of lies; it is drying up already. If you
really delve into the truth, you will realize that the political
conception of imperialism, as well as the neoliberal economic order and
globalization process imposed on the world, is orphaned and defenseless
when it comes to ideas and ethics. It is in this field that the main
struggle of our times will be decided. And the final result of this
battle, with no possible alternative, will be on the side of truth, and
thus on the side of humanity.