Interview with Cuba's Acting President
Raúl Castro: 'No Enemy Can Defeat Us'
Havana, 18 August 2006
General of the Army Raúl Castro Ruz offered an interview to Granma daily. The conversation took place in his office at the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR) and focused on the principal events of recent days.
Lazaro Barredo Medina [LB]: Comrade Raúl, our people joyfully received the message and photographs of the Comandante en Jefe published in the press and the subsequent television report of the encounter with president Chávez. Nevertheless, taking advantage of this opportunity, it would be greatly appreciated by millions of people who have attentively followed information on the state of health of compañero Fidel, to hear your personal assessment, as someone always so united to him.
Raúl Castro: Without any doubt, what most interests all of us at this time is the Jefe’s health.
On behalf of all the people, I will begin by congratulating and thanking the doctors and the other compañeros and compañeras who have attended to him in an excellent manner, with an unsurpassable professionalism and, above all, with much love and dedication. This has been a very important factor in Fidel’s progressive recovery.
Moreover, I think that his exceptional physical and mental nature has also been essential to his satisfactory and gradual recovery.
LB: We Cubans, even when we don’t see you for a while on television or in the written press, know that you are there, at your combat post as always. But I think that these words of yours will also disarm the speculation and lies present in some of the foreign media.
Raúl Castro: If you are referring to those in other countries who entertain themselves by speculating about if I am going to appear on television or in the papers or not; well, I appeared with Fidel on Sunday (August 13) and when I received President Chávez, although really those comments don’t bother me in the slightest.
What does interest me greatly is what our people are thinking, although, fortunately, we live in this geographically small island, where everything that we are doing is known. I can confirm that when I talk with the population or other local leaders in my tours of the country.
As a point of fact, I am not used to making frequent appearances in public, except at times when it is required. Many tasks related to defense should not be made public and have to be handled with maximum care, and that has been one of my fundamental responsibilities as FAR [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias –Revolutionary Armed Forces] minister. Moreover, I have always been discreet, that is my way, and in passing I will clarify that I am thinking of continuing in that way. But that has not been the fundamental reason why I don’t appear very often in the mass media; simply, it has not been necessary.
LB: No essential orientation has been overlooked…
Raúl Castro: Effectively, the Comandante en Jefe’s Proclamation gave the information that could be given at that time and moreover, proposed specific tasks for everyone. The main thing is to dedicate oneself in body and soul to fulfilling them. That is what all the leaders at different levels have been doing, together with our people who have known how to maintain an exemplary discipline, vigilance and working spirit.
On behalf of the Comandante en Jefe and the Party leadership, I will take the opportunity of thanking everyone for the innumerable displays of support for the Revolution and for the content of his Proclamation, as well as the demonstrations of affection that have been expressed by figures from the cultural sector; professionals and workers in all sectors; campesinos, soldiers, housewives, students, pioneers; among them numerous believers, public figures and religious institutions from the overwhelming majority of denominations; finally, the people of Cuba. It has been a conclusive demonstration of their unbreakable unity and their revolutionary consciousness, essential pillars of the fortitude of our country.
LB:The breadth of support coming from all over the world has also been impressive.
Raúl Castro: Yes, really heartening. That is why I should also like to express thanks for the numerous messages of solidarity and respect from all over the world, from people of the most diverse social categories, from simple workers to intellectual and political figures, as well as a significant and representative number of religious institutions and figures. All of them have done so without any conditions whatsoever. Messages from the few who did not act in that way were not accepted or acknowledged.
Also, they have been joined to date (17 August) by some 12,000 signatories supporting the call made 10 days ago by prominent cultural personalities from more than 100 countries, among them various Nobel Prize winners, condemning the interfering and aggressive statements of the government of the United States, and which also exposes the openly interventionist nature of the Bush Plan, as we are calling that monster that would seem to be dusted off from the times when –as at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th– they frustrated the independence of Cuba and imposed their administrators on us.
Now they have also designed one for the supposed "transition." One McCarry, who recently stated that the United States does not accept the continuity of the Cuban Revolution, although he didn’t say how they are thinking of averting that.
LB:One gets the impression that the enemies of the Revolution have been left speechless by the conclusive reaction of the Cuban population, immune to their giant and disgraceful campaign of offenses and lies. They are talking with surprise at the calm reigning in Cuba, as if it was something unusual and not exactly normal, and which all of us here knew would happen in a situation such as this.
Raúl Castro: Yes, it would seem that they have come to believe their own lies. The most probable is that their "think tanks" and many of their analysts are now drawing other conclusions.
As you were saying, absolute tranquility is reigning in the country. And something even more important, the serene, disciplined and decisive attitude that can be felt in every workplace, in every city, in every neighborhood. The same one that our people always assume in moments of difficulty. If we were to be guided solely by the internal situation, I am not exaggerating in affirming that it would not have been necessary to mobilize even one pioneer from among those who guard the ballot boxes in the elections.
But we have never ignored a threat from the enemy. It would be irresponsible to do so when faced with a government like that of the United States, which has is declaring with the greatest audacity that it does not accept what is established in the Cuban Constitution. From over there, as if they were the rulers of the planet, they are saying that there must be a transition to a social regime of their liking and that they "would take note of those who oppose that." Although it seems incredible, this boorish and at the same time stupid attitude was assumed by President Bush a few days ago.
LB: They’ll have to waste a lot of paper and ink...
Raúl Castro: A lot. For that reason I would advise them to do the opposite. To "take note," as they say, of the annexationists on the payroll of the U.S. Interest Section here in Havana, those who are going to receive the crumbs of the announced $80 million earmarked for subversion, because the bulk of it will be distributed in Miami, as is usually the case.
On the contrary, the list is going to be interminable. They would have to list the names of millions and millions of Cuban men and women, the same ones who are ready to receive their designated administrator with rifles in hand.
At this juncture, they should be very clear that it is not possible to achieve anything in Cuba with impositions and threats. On the contrary, we have always been disposed to normalize relations on an equal plane. What we do not accept is the arrogant and interventionist policy frequently assumed by the current administration of that country.
Recently re-reading Party Congress documents, I found ideas that seemed to have been written today. For example, this excerpt from the Central Report presented by Fidel to the Third Congress in February 1986:
"As we have demonstrated many times, Cuba is not remiss to discussing its prolonged differences with the United States and to go out in search of peace and better relations between our people."
And he continued:
"But that would have to be on the basis of the most unrestricted respect for our condition as a country that does not tolerate shadows on its independence, for whose dignity and sovereignty entire generations of Cubans have fought and sacrificed themselves. This would be possible only when the United States decides to negotiate with seriousness and is willing to treat us with a spirit of equality, reciprocity and the fullest mutual respect."
Similar formulations are contained in the documents from the other Party Congresses and have also been reaffirmed by its first secretary on diverse occasions.
LB: Nevertheless they are continuing with the same aggressive and arrogant policy as always.
Raúl Castro: That is the reality. More than 20 years have passed since Fidel pronounced the words that I have just cited; they have that 485-page interventionist plan that I already mentioned, approved in 2004, in which they detail how they propose to dismantle the achievements of the Revolution in health, education, social security; agrarian reform and urban reform; in other words, to kick the people off their land, out of their homes so as to hand them back to their former owners, etc. etc. etc.
To cap it all, just a few days ago, on July 10, President Bush officially approved a document complementing the former one, and which they had posted with a very low profile on the Internet in June. They have openly stated that it includes a secret appendix that is not being published "for reasons of national security" and "to ensure its effective implementation;" those are literally the terms that they used, and which constitute a flagrant violation of international law.
For a while now we have been adopting measures to confront those plans. These were reinforced particularly when the current U.S. government initiated the unbridled warmongering policy that it has maintained to date, including the announced intention to attack without previous warning any of those places that they call the "sixty or more dark corners of the world."
LB: A notable escalation of aggression…
Raúl Castro: Effectively, and in 2003 the plans became more explicit. On December 5th of that year, Mr. Roger Noriega, then assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, declared –I don’t know if it was intentional or a slip– that "the transition in Cuba – in other words – the death of Fidel – could happen at any moment and we have to be prepared to be agile and decisive." That "the United States wanted to be sure that the regime’s cronies have no hope of holding onto power" and, so as to leave no doubt, he added that they were working "to ensure that there was no succession to the Castro regime." Subsequently he and other senior U.S. officials have returned to the theme insistently.
What other form exists for obtaining these goals that is not military aggression? Thus, the country adopted the pertinent measures for counteracting that real danger.
Faced with similar situations, Martí taught us what to do: "Plan against plan. Without a plan of resistance, a plan of attack cannot be defeated," he wrote in the newspaper Patria on June 11, 1892.
The United States government is not revealing the contents of that appendix because it is illegal. Its publication must be demanded, above all now that they have spoken about its existence in order to threaten Cuba.
On the contrary, our defense plans are transparent and legal, simply because they do not threaten anybody; their sole objective is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of the homeland; they do not violate any national or international law whatsoever.
The country’s media has informed about the seriousness and reach of the measures that we have been adopting recently to steadily strengthen our defense. Just over a month ago, on July 1, the issue was analyzed extensively by the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party.
LB: Some of the empire’s war hawks thought that the moment had come to destroy the Revolution this past July 31.
Raúl Castro: We could not rule out the risk of somebody going crazy, or even crazier, within the U.S. government.
Consequently, at 3 a.m. on August 1st, in fulfillment of the plans approved and signed on January 13, 2005 by compañero Fidel, and after having made the established consultations, I decided to substantially raise our combative capacity and readiness via the implementation of the projected measures, including the mobilization of several tens of thousands of reservists and militia members, and the proposal to our principal units of regular troops, including the Special Troops, of missions demanded by the political/military situation that has been created.
All of the mobilized personnel has completed or is currently completing an important cycle of combat training and cohesion, part of that under campaign conditions.
These troops will rotate, in approximately equal numbers, as the proposed objectives are attained. All of the reservists and militia members who are to participate in these activities will be informed, with the necessary anticipation, of the date of incorporation into their units and the time that they will remain in these to fulfill their guard duty to the homeland.
To date, the mobilization that we began on August 1 has developed satisfactorily, thanks to the magnificent response by our reservists and militia members, as well as the commendable labor undertaken by the military commands and especially by the Defense Councils, under the leadership of the Party, at every level.
It is not my intention to exaggerate the danger. I never have done so. Up until now, the attacks during these days have not gone further than rhetorical ones, except for the substantial increase in subversive anti-Cuba broadcasts over radio and television.
LB: They have announced the use of a new airplane...
Raúl Castro: Previously, they were using, at varying intervals, a military airplane known as Comando Solo. From this past August 5th, they began using another type of aircraft that has effected daily transmissions. On August 11th, it did so in conjunction with the aforementioned Comando Solo.
In fact, on the 5th and 6th, our radars detected that transmissions were being made from international waters, in outright violation of the agreements of the International Telecommunications Union, to which the United States is a signatory, which once again we are condemning via the corresponding channels and agencies, given that moreover these transmissions are affecting broadcasting in our country.
In reality, we are totally unconcerned at the hypothetical influence of this crude and abysmally-made propaganda, very much below the cultural and political levels of the Cuban population and which moreover our people reject, just as they reject the little signs on the U.S. Interests Section. That is not what this is about; it is above all a matter of sovereignty and of dignity. We would never passively allow the consummation of that aggressive act, and that is why we interfere with it.
All things considered, they are spending millions in U.S. taxpayers’ money to achieve the same result as ever: a TV that is not seen.
I add to these reflections on the country’s defense an idea expressed by Fidel in 1975, in his Central Report to the First Party Congress, which I have quoted so much that I know it by heart:
"As long as imperialism exists, the Party, the State and the people will give their utmost attention to the services of defense. The revolutionary guard will never be neglected. History shows with too much eloquence that those who forget this principle do not survive the error."
That has been our guide throughout many years, and continues to be today for more than enough reasons.
LB: I think that we Cubans have shown during these days that we all share that conviction.
Raúl Castro: I agree with you, and that is why I conclude by ratifying my congratulations to the Cuban people for their overwhelming demonstration of confidence in themselves; a demonstration of maturity, serenity, monolithic unity, discipline, revolutionary consciousness and — put this in capital letters — FIRMNESS, which reminded me of the conduct of the Cuban people during the heroic days of the so-called Missile Crisis in October 1962.
They are the fruits of a Revolution whose concept Fidel summed up in his speech of May 1, 2000, in 20 basic ideas that constitute the quintessence of ideological political work. They are the results of many years of combat that, under his leadership, we have waged. Let nobody doubt, as long as we remain like that, no enemy will be able to defeat us.
Revolution is a sense of the historic moment; it is changing everything that should be changed; it is complete equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is emancipating ourselves through ourselves, and through our own efforts; it is defying powerful dominating forces inside and outside of the social and national sphere; it is defending values that are believed in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the strength of truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams for justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.
Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz
1 May 2000