A Conversation With Fidel
Marvin R. Shanken travels to Havana for an extensive interview with Fidel Castro.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Fidel Castro, Summer 94
(continued from page 8)
Shanken: If you and President Clinton ever get together, would you smoke a cigar with him, symbolic of peace at last between our two countries?
Castro: Now that would be an interesting thing. As I told you, when I was in the Sierra Maestras [mountains of Eastern Cuba] during the Revolution, and I had good moments, I would smoke my last cigars. Perhaps something like that would bring back my old habit from the days of the Sierra Maestras, but I would have to ask for permission from the World Health Organization. I wouldn't want to lose my medal.
Shanken: I know the issues are great and complex, but do you see the day soon when America and Cuba will work together as neighbors and friends as they did many years ago?
Castro: I hope that day will come sometime, but no one will be able to say when that will happen. It is not an easy thing to happen. As for our side, we do not have any particular objections, nor do we lack the will.
Shanken: Have there been any private negotiations to try to come to a mutual understanding that will result in the elimination of the trade embargo?
Castro: No. No, not at this time.
Shanken: The American trade embargo against Vietnam is ending. Russian and U.S. relations have been turned around. Even Israel and Palestine are trying to get together. Why is it, in your opinion, that Cuba continues to be embargoed? It is a question that we all ask. What do you think?
Castro: It is difficult to answer. It doesn't stand up to logic. Perhaps it is because we are too close geographically to the United States. Perhaps [because] we have resisted the blockade for over 30 years. Perhaps it is a matter of national pride for the U.S. government that has turned us into an exception and has given us the honor to be its only long-standing adversary. I think it is not logical. I don't know what history will say though.
Shanken: There would be many benefits to both sides, if you were willing to take the first step.
Castro: How can we take the first step? We are the ones whom the blockade is imposed against. If we had a mutual blockade, then we could take the first step. But how can we? The first step should be taken by the U.S.
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