Havana.  September 3, 2010

Interview with Fidel Castro (Part 2)
"The world of the future has to be shared by everyone"
(Taken from the Mexican La Jornada newspaper)
. Fidel answers questions from the editor, Carmen Lira Saade

HAVANA.-Although there is nothing to indicate any unease on his part, I think 
that Fidel is not going to like what I'm going to say to him:

"Comandante, the whole charm of the Cuban Revolution, the recognition, the 
solidarity from a large part of the world's intelligentsia, the people's 
tremendous achievements in the face of the blockade; in short, everything, 
everything went down the tubes as a result of the persecution of homosexuals in 

Fidel did not shy away from the subject. He neither denied nor rejected the 
statement. He only asked for time to recall, he said, how and when that 
prejudice broke out among the revolutionary ranks. 

Five decades ago, and as a result of homophobia, homosexuals were marginalized 
in Cuba and many of them were sent to military-agricultural work camps, accused 
of being "counterrevolutionaries."

"Yes," he recalled, "those were times of tremendous injustice, tremendous 
injustice!" he repeated emphatically, "whoever was responsible for it. If we 
did it ourselves, ourselves.I'm trying to delimit my responsibility in all of 
that because, of course, on a personal level, I do not have that kind of 

It is known that some of his best and oldest friends are homosexuals. 

"But then, how did that hatred of the "different" come about? " 

Fidel believes that it was all generated as a spontaneous reaction within the 
revolutionary ranks, which stemmed from old customs. In pre-revolutionary Cuba, 
there was not only discrimination against blacks, but also against women and, 
of course, homosexuals. 

"Yes, yes. But not in the Cuba of the 'new' morality, of which revolutionaries 
both within and outside the country were so proud."

"And so, who was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for not putting a 
stop to what was happening in Cuban society? The Party? Because this occurred 
during a time when the statutes of the Communist Party of Cuba did not 
explicitly state the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation."

"No," said Fidel. "If anyone was responsible, then it was me.

"It is true that, at that time, I did not concern myself with that issue.I was 
mainly immersed in the October (Missile) Crisis, in the war, in political 

"But that became a serious and grave political problem, Comandante."

"I understand, I understand.We didn't know how to assess it.systematic acts of 
sabotage, armed attacks, were happening all the time; we had so many terrible 
problems, problems of life or death, you know, that we didn't pay sufficient 
attention to it."

"After all of that, it became very difficult to defend the Revolution outside 
the country.Its image had been irretrievably damaged among certain sectors, 
particularly in Europe."

"I understand, I understand," he repeated. "That was fair."

"The persecution of homosexuals could have been taking place with greater or 
lesser protest in any part of the world. But not in revolutionary Cuba," I said 
to him.

"I understand: it's like when the saint sins, right? It's not the same as the 
sinner sinning, eh?"

Fidel gave a hint of a smile but then became serious again:

"Look, think about how our days were during those first months of the 
Revolution: the war with the yankis, the missile situation and, almost 
simultaneously, the assassination attempts against my person."

Fidel revealed the tremendous influence on him of the assassination threats and 
the actual attempts of which he was victim, and which changed his life:

"I couldn't be anywhere; I didn't even have anywhere to live..." Betrayal was 
the order of the day and he was forced to move around in a haphazard way.

"Eluding the CIA, which was buying so many traitors, including one's own 
people, was no simple matter; but, in short, in any case, if someone has to 
assume responsibility, then I will. I am not going to place the blame on other 
people..." affirmed the revolutionary leader. 

He only regrets not having corrected the situation at the time. 

Nowadays, however, the problem is being confronted. Under the slogan 
"Homosexuality is not a danger; but homophobia is," many cities throughout the 
country recently celebrated the 3rd Cuban Event for the International Day 
against Homophobia. Gerardo Arreola, La Jornada correspondent in Cuba, wrote a 
detailed report on the debate and the struggle underway on the island for 
respect for the rights of sexual minorities. 

Arreola comments that it is Mariela Castro - a 47-year-old sociologist and 
daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro - who directs the National Center for 
Sexual Education (CENESEX), an institution that, she says, has succeeded in 
improving Cuba's image following the marginalization of the 1960s. 

"Here we stand, Cuban women and men, in order to continue fighting for 
inclusion, so that this is the fight of all women and men, for the good of all 
women and men," stated Mariela Castro at the inauguration event, surrounded by 
transsexuals holding the Cuban flag and another rainbow one representing the 
gay pride movement. 

Today in Cuba, efforts for homosexuals include initiatives such as the identity 
change for transsexuals and civil unions between same-sex couples. 

Homosexuality on the island was decriminalized in the 1990s, although it did 
not immediately result in the end of police harassment. And since 2008, sex 
change operations have been offered free of charge. 


In 1962, the United States decreed the blockade of Cuba. That was "a ferocious 
attempt at genocide," as Gabriel García Márquez, the writer who has best 
chronicled the period, described it. 

"A period that has lasted up until today," Fidel informed me.

"The blockade is more than ever in force today, and with the aggravating factor 
at the present time, that it is constitutional law in the United States for the 
very fact that the president voted for it, the Senate did and the House of 

The number of votes and its implementation could - or not - considerably 
alleviate the situation. But there it is.

"Yes, there is the interfering and pro-annexationist Helms-Burton Act.and the 
Torricelli Act, duly passed by the Congress of the United States.

"I very well remember Senator Helms on that day in 1996 when his initiative was 
passed. He was elated and repeated the aim of his plan to journalists:

"Castro has to leave Cuba. I don't care how Castro leaves the country: whether 
he leaves in a vertical or horizontal position is up to them.but Castro has to 
leave Cuba."


"In 1962, when the United States decreed the blockade, Cuba soon found itself 
with the proof that it had nothing more than six million determined Cuban 
people on a luminous and undefended island.

Nobody, no country, could trade with Cuba; there couldn't be any buying or 
selling; heaven help that country or company which did not submit to the 
commercial harassment decreed by the United States. What always struck me was 
that CIA boat patrolling territorial waters until just a few years ago, there 
to intercept boats carrying merchandise to the island. 

The greatest problem, however, was always been that of medicines and food, 
which continues up until today. Even today, no food company is allowed to trade 
with Cuba, not even taking into account the importance of the volumes that the 
island would acquire or because Cuba is always obliged to pay cash in advance.

Condemned to death by starvation, the Cubans had to "invent life all over again 
from the beginning," as García Márquez said.

They developed a "technology of need" and an "economy of scarcity", he related: 
a whole "culture of solitude."

There is no sign of regret, far less of bitterness, when Fidel Castro admits 
that a large part of the world simply abandoned the island. On the contrary.

"The struggle, the battle that we had to fight led us to make greater efforts 
that perhaps we would have done without the blockade," said Fidel. 

He recalled with a touch of pride, for example, the immense mass operation 
undertaken by five million young people, grouped together in the Committees for 
the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs). In just one eight-hour day, they achieved 
a mass vaccination program throughout the country, eradicating illnesses such 
as polio and malaria. 

Or when more than 250,000 literacy teachers - 100,000 of whom were children - 
took on the responsibility of teaching the majority of the adult population, 
who were unable to read and write. 

But the "great leap" forward is, without any doubt, in medicine and 

"They say that Fidel himself sent a team of scientists and doctors for training 
in Finland, who would subsequently be responsible for the production of 

"The enemy used the bacteriological warfare against us. It brought the Dengue 
Virus 2 here. In pre-revolutionary Cuba, not even the Dengue Virus 1 was known 
here. The Virus 2 appeared here; it is much more dangerous because it produces 
a hemorrhagic dengue that attacks children above all.

"It came in via Boyeros. The counterrevolutionaries brought it, those same 
individuals who went around with Posada Carriles, the same ones who were 
pardoned by Bush, the same ones who planned the sabotage of the [Cubana] 
aircraft over Barbados.Those same people were given the task of introducing the 
virus," Fidel denounced. 

"They blamed Cuba because they said that there were lots of mosquitoes on the 
island," I told him.

"And how were we not going to have them if the only way to get rid of them was 
with Abate (Temefos, an insecticide) and we couldn't get Abate? Only the United 
States produced it," he revealed. 

The Comandante's face saddened:

"Our children began to die," he recalled. "We didn't have anything with which 
to attack the disease. Nobody wanted to sell us medicines or the equipment to 
eradicate the virus. One hundred and fifty people died from that disease. 
Almost all of them were children."

"We had to resort to buying contraband goods, even though they were very 
expensive. Everywhere they prohibited them from even being brought in. Once, on 
compassionate grounds, they were allowed a little to be brought in."

On "compassionate grounds," said the strong man of the Revolution. I confessed 
that I was confused.

Not exactly on compassionate grounds, rather in solidarity, some friends of 
Cuba resorted to doing precisely that. Fidel mentioned Mexico, the Echeverría 
family, Luis and María Esther who - although not in government at that time - 
were able to secure some equipment that allowed Cuba to alleviate the epidemic 
to a certain degree. 

"We will never forget them," he said, visibly moved. 

"You see," I told him, "Not all your relationships with figures from Mexico's 
power elite have been negative or difficult."

"Of course not," he said, before we drew the interview-conversation to a close 
and went to have lunch with his wife, Dalia Soto del Valle.

>From that terraced area where he sits to reflect and analyze the world and 
>life itself, Fidel raised a toast to "a world of the future with just one 

"What does it mean that some of us are Spanish, others English, others African? 
And that some have more than others?

"The world of the future has to be a shared one, and the rights of human beings 
have to be above individual rights.And it is going to be a rich world, where 
rights are going to be exactly equal for everybody."

"How is that going to be to achieved, Comandante?"

"By educating. educating and creating love and trust." 

Translated by Granma International 

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