World: An Interview with Fidel Castro

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A. Look, if most of the nonaligned countries believed that we assume the geopolitical interests of the Soviet Union or any other country, we wouldn't be supported. Ninety countries would not have supported Cuba for [a seat on the U.N.] Security Council. We have relations with the socialist camp because it supported us in the face of the U.S. embargo. How do you think we could have been able to survive without this support? We would have died here, like Numantia, in ancient times.* So we are grateful that we have had friendly relations with the Soviets, but we do not belong to the Warsaw Pact, we do not belong to any military pact. The criteria of nonalignment are that a country should not belong to any military bloc and should hold certain principles against imperialism and in favor of liberation movements.

Q. Nevertheless, it seems that you are so dependent economically on the U.S.S.R. that you could not afford to make a major international move opposed by Moscow.

A. Every country in the world today, in a lesser or a greater degree, depends on other countries. I tell you that never, never, has the Soviet government tried to tell Cuba what it should do in matters of domestic policy or international policy.

Q. Should OPEC countries show restraint in oil pricing?

A. I think so. Everybody has to sacrifice a little. The world's problems cannot be solved unless all countries—the industrialized and the socialist, the oil-producing and the developing—cooperate. People talk about the year 2000, but we do not know whether the world will even get to the year 2000.

Q. In recent speeches about Cuba's economic problems, you have mentioned lack of discipline among workers and management.

A. It is true that we have problems of labor discipline. We are to be blamed for that. For a long time we based all production efforts exclusively on moral incentives while disregarding the material ones. We used to pay everybody the same, whether they produced two or three times what they should. We were not encouraging production. We did not have a system for directing and planning the economy. Imagine: there was a time when we had no budget. People lost the concept of money, of administration, of management. It seemed as if enthusiasm could solve everything, but it's not enough.

Q. What of future relations between the U.S. and Cuba?

A. It is an indispensable requirement for the U.S. to lift the embargo. In addition, our two countries should cooperate in assistance to the Third World. We have a common cause there not a conflict. We are happy when the U.S. offers economic aid without conditions, of course.

Q. Why should the U.S. offer aid unconditionally to regimes that denounce our system and are generally hostile to us?

A. Take our example. We are willing to help any country, even when we are not in political sympathy with it. The Philippines, for example, is not a socialist country and does not sympathize with Cuba. However, we have good relations with it and we have economic and technical cooperation.

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