[Marxism] India's THE HINDU, interviews Cuban FM Perez-Roque (excerpts)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 14 20:54:22 MDT 2007

Volume 24 - Issue 08 :: Apr. 21-May. 04, 2007
from the publishers of THE HINDU

`We share the idea of a peaceful world'

CUBAN Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque who was in New Delhi on a
three-day visit in the second week of April, signed key agreements
with the Indian government. Importantly, India has agreed to waive
accumulated Cuban commercial debt worth $62 million. A significant
part of this debt is owed to private Indian companies. The Indian
government, by this gesture, has shown its solidarity with the Cuban
people, who have been victims of a merciless economic blockade by the
United States for more than four decades. The youthful Felipe Perez
Roque was, therefore, justified in describing his visit, the first by
a Cuban Foreign Minister in more than a decade, as a great success.

How would you describe the state of the relations between India and

Our bilateral ties are very good. Our relations have been lasting
relations - relations between two brotherly cultures. Our political
ties have been based on commonly held viewpoints. We share the idea
of a peaceful world benefiting all people. Both countries defend
multilateralism and profound reforms in international relations. Both
countries want to preserve the environment from further degradation.
Both countries want the South to have a united front to face up to
the increasingly protected markets of the North.That the countries of
the South should have access to technologies and to international
financial flows. Both countries are also non-aligned. India is among
the most-respected NAM [Non-Aligned Movement] countries. It has a
rich history. It was led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. We remember the
chairmanship of NAM under Indira Gandhi. We have many common
viewpoints. I have brought a letter from [Cuban President] Fidel
Castro to the Indian Prime Minister [Manmohan Singh]. Fidel in his
letter has underscored all these ideas. Fidel has thanked India for
its unwavering support for Cuba's chairmanship of NAM.

How do the bilateral economic relations fare?

On the economic front, there is a lot of untapped potential. [As] a
matter of fact there is a lot of cooperation in the biotechnology
sector. We have already started joint operations in Bangalore. Indian
companies will soon start operating from Cuba. In the joint
commission meeting of both countries held in Havana in February, the
Indian government offered a generous solution for the Cuban debt to
India. This will pave the way for increasing trade between the two
countries. You should remember that our relations go back a long way.
Che Guevara was in India in 1960 and he met Nehru. Nehru, who was in
New York for the U.N. [United Nations] General Assembly meeting, went
to Hotel Teresa in Harlem to meet Fidel soon after the revolution.
Fidel's picture with Indira Gandhi at the 1983 NAM summit after he
handed over the Chairmanship to India is etched in the collective
memory of all Cubans. Your magazine carried the picture of Fidel and
Manmohan Singh at the Havana Summit on its cover.
Fidel Castro's recent article on the ethics of producing bio-fuels
for the market of the North was widely appreciated in India. The
Hindu reproduced the article.

We are very much concerned about the idea of the South growing food
to produce bio-fuel for the North. Corn and other grains, which could
alleviate the hunger of 1.7 billion people of the South, would be
used for this purpose. To set aside land for the production of
bio-fuels to satisfy the needs of gas-guzzling countries is a danger
to the planet and its environment. It will have other bad effects.
For instance, there will be a reduction in the area allocated for the
cultivation of soyabean. The area set aside for the cultivation of
soyabean will be used to grow corn for bio-fuels. This is already
happening in the United States. It will also lead to an increase in
grain prices in the world market. If bio-fuels are encouraged, Third
World countries will have to import more food.

The Left has been making impressive political gains in your region.

[George W.] Bush is isolated in Latin America and the Caribbean. A
new reality is emerging on our continent. The so-called Washington
Consensus that emerged 20 years ago under the tutelage of the IMF
[International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank was a blueprint for
neo-liberalisation and the aggrandisement of our national wealth. The
large-scale privatisation along with the opening up of national
markets which followed resulted in more than half the population of
Latin America living below the poverty line. The social sector was
mainly ignored during this period and there was a decrease in the
role of the state in general.


What are your views on Chavez's concept of a new socialism for the
21st century?

We share his ideas. Socialism is the most humane and just system. It
takes into consideration the new conditions prevalent in a globalised
world and attaches the theories and practice of socialism to these
realities. The threat to our species has to disappear. The financial
resources of our world are not endless and there are limits to their
exploitation. Development has to happen according to the national
realities of each country. There is no single model of socialism. We
have to be creative and we have to be bold. Chavez has been
courageous to defend his ideas and has faced serious dangers because
of his beliefs. He is compelled to deal with many dangerous enemies.
He is a committed revolutionary and a fighter.


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