F.M.- Do you follow the U.S.
electoral process closely?
F.C.- Of course, and not
just the presidential campaign. I also find it amusing to watch other
features of that great comedy. To offer an example: the fight for the
New York Senate seat. With regard to Hillary Clinton, I remember when
she appeared before Congress and so brilliantly defended a social
program for medical services, which are beyond the reach of millions of
poor people in America.
I also listened with
interest when she addressed the World Health Organization in Geneva. She
was candid, persuasive, and seemingly sincere. She conducted herself
with great dignity when her family was caught up in a difficult and
painful crisis. But sometimes her advisors do not give her very good
advice, as in the case of the Puerto Ricans freed by the Clinton
administration after a long, cruel and merciless imprisonment. She
publicly opposed the reduction of sentences. I could add that very
recently, in the case of the kidnapped Cuban boy Elián González, her
position was wrong and quite unethical when she said that the boy’s
father should defect. This was a grave and unwarranted insult to an
honorable patriot. At that point she coincided not only in content but
also in timing, almost exactly, with the Republican candidate for the
Actually, when seemingly
honest people are caught up in the turmoil of U.S. electoral politics,
they run the risk of losing prestige and recognition.
F.M.- How far can the
privatization process go in Cuba? As for the "dollarization"
of the economy, is it not an insult to both socialism and the
country’s monetary sovereignty?
F.C.- I have already said
that privatization should be carried out with much common sense and
wisdom, avoiding irrational actions. You need to make a clear
distinction between different kinds of work. Some tasks are highly
individual and often manual and craft-like; their large-scale production
and technology are not fundamental. However, there are investments that
require capital, technology and markets, in which associations with
foreign companies can be highly advisable. The potential oil deposits in
the 110,000 square kilometers of the Gulf of Mexico belonging to Cuba
could not be explored or exploited by our country without technology and
capital from abroad.
On the other hand, within
the country, when it comes to obtaining the highest quality and yield in
special crops like tobacco – the work of dedicated and almost
fanatical lovers of this type of farming, which should be manual and
carried out on small plots of land – no machine or big company could
replace the individual work. Those people with these special qualities
are given the land they need, free of charge, in order to farm it on
their own. But, it would be absurd to do the same with huge sugar cane
plantations that are highly mechanized.
In the Cuban farming sector,
there are different forms of ownership: individual property,
cooperatives and various forms of cooperated production. Also
procurement and marketing state enterprises have successfully developed.
At the same time, in a wide
range of economic sectors, there are production and marketing
associations with foreign companies that work perfectly well.
When it comes to
privatization, one should not be simplistic. The general principle in
Cuba is that nothing that is advisable and possible to preserve as the
property of all of the people or of a collective of workers will be
Our ideology and our
preference is socialist, which bears no relation whatsoever to the
selfishness, privileges and inequalities of capitalist society. In our
homeland, nothing will pass into the hands of a high-ranking official,
and nothing will be given away to accomplices and friends. Nothing that
can be efficiently exploited for the benefit of our society will pass
into the hands of either Cuban or foreign individuals. At the same time,
I can assure you that the safest investments in the world are those
authorized in Cuba, which are protected by law and by the country’s
As to the reference you made
to the dollarization of the economy, I should say two things. Firstly,
the world economy is currently dollarized. After Bretton Woods, the
United States acquired the privilege of issuing the reserve currency of
the world economy. Secondly, there is a national currency in Cuba that
is not ruled in any way by the International Monetary Fund. As I noted
earlier, that currency has experienced a sevenfold increase in value,
and in record time. There is no flight of capital.
At the same time, a
convertible peso has been established, on a par with the dollar, whose
free circulation was simply an unavoidable need, not the result of an
economic conception. I believe that in the future it will never be
necessary again to ban the possession of dollars or other foreign
currencies, but its free circulation for the payment of many goods and
services will only last for as long as the interests of the Revolution
make it advisable. Therefore, we are not concerned about the famous
phrase "the dollarization of the economy." We know very well
what we are doing.
F.M.- Fidel, you publicly
said to me in Havana in 1997: "Federico, today there is no need for
revolutions. As of now, the struggle will be for better sharing. Our
objective is no longer the class struggle but the rapprochement of the
classes within the framework of just and peaceful coexistence."
Three years later, do you still think the same way?
F.C.- I am not sure that I
ever made those exact comments. It might be a misunderstanding
associated with voice inflexion or interpretation, because some of those
points are quite distant from my ideas.
I recently attended an
international economists’ meeting in Havana. Among the participants
there were representatives of financially distressed countries where
debt servicing accounts for over 40% of budget spending. Previous and
acting governments acquired such debts "very democratically".
There is clearly a great sense of helplessness in the face of the
challenges posed by an inevitable globalization process marked so far by
the fatal sign of neoliberalism. At that meeting, the representatives of
the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank defended their
points of view with complete freedom, but for many of those present the
conclusions were very clear regarding the unsustainable nature of the
prevailing economic order.
It is not possible to
continue along the path that widens the gap between the poor and the
rich countries and produces increasingly serious social inequalities
within them all. At the moment, Latin American and Caribbean integration
is fundamental. It is only by joining together that we can negotiate our
role in this hemisphere and the same applies to the Third World
countries vis à vis the powerful and insatiable club of the wealthy. I
have often noted that such integration and joining of forces cannot wait
for profound social changes or social revolutions to take place within
these individual countries.
I have also said that
because the current world economic order is unsustainable, it faces the
very real danger of a catastrophic collapse, infinitely worse than the
disaster and prolonged crisis set off in 1929 by the crash of the U.S.
stock market, where stocks had been inflated beyond sustainable levels.
Not even the enthusiastic and highly experienced Allan Greenspan,
chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve – whose sleepless eyes do not
stray for a minute from the statistical data emanating from the
uncontrollable and unpredictable roulette wheel that is the speculative
system, in which 50% of U.S. families have placed their bets and
invested their savings – would dare to claim that this danger does not
exist. The remedy to prevent it has not been invented, nor can it be
invented within such a system.
I tirelessly insist on the
need for people to open their eyes to these realities. A collapse could
occur before the people are prepared for it. The changes will not spring
forth from anyone’s head, but the heads must be prepared for these
inevitable changes, which will take on a wide variety of forms and
follow a wide variety of paths. From my point of view, the changes will
fundamentally result from the action of the masses, which nothing would
succeed in holding back.
Nevertheless, nothing will
be easy. The blindness, superficiality and irresponsibility of the
so-called political class will make the road more difficult, but not