US embassy cable - 89HAVANA6412

CASTRO PROJECTING IMAGE OF OPTIMISM

Identifier: 89HAVANA6412
Wikileaks: View 89HAVANA6412 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: US Interests Section Havana
Created: 1989-10-06 12:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL CU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 061202Z OCT 89
FM USINT HAVANA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4230
INFO USIA WASHDC 3658
USCINCLANT NORFOLK VA
USLO CARIBBEAN
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 06412 
 
CINCLANT FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, CU 
SUBJECT:  CASTRO PROJECTING IMAGE OF OPTIMISM 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
- 
2.  SUMMARY:  A RECURRING THEME IN FIDEL CASTRO'S 
SPEECHES SINCE THE END OF THE OCHOA/ABRANTES 
SCANDALS LAST SUMMER HAS BEEN THAT THE 
TRAUMA HAS STRENGTHENED THE GOC RATHER THAN 
WEAKENED IT.  KEEPING A HEAVY SCHEDULE OF VISITS 
TO CONSTRUCTION AND INDUSTRIAL SITES IN HAVANA 
AND CENTRAL CUBA, HE HAS CLAIMED THAT CUBA 
IS MAKING GREAT STRIDES TOWARD "DOING MORE WITH 
LESS" AND REMEDYING ITS ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.  HE 
AND THE PARTY-CONTROLLED PRESS HAVE ALSO 
ENDEAVORED TO PORTRAY CUBA AS MUCH BETTER OFF 
THAN THOSE SOCIALIST COUNTRIES EXPERIMENTING 
WITH "UNWISE" POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC REFORMS. 
COUNTERING AN IMPRESSION OF ISOLATION IN THE 
SOCIALIST WORLD, OFFICIAL MEDIA HAVE ALSO 
BEEN STRESSING CUBA'S CLOSE TIES TO GDR AND 
CHINA.  THE JAWBONING WILL PROBABLY HAVE LIMITED 
EFFECT ON PUBLIC ATTITUDES.  END SUMMARY. 
 
- 
3.  FIDEL CASTRO HAS MADE, EVEN FOR HIM, A 
LARGE NUMBER OF PUBLIC APPEARANCES AND SPEECHES 
SINCE THE COMMUNIST PARTY DAILY, GRANMA, ON 
SEPTEMBER 2 DECLARED THE OCHOA/ABRANTES CASES 
CLOSED AND URGED THE NATION TO MOVE FORWARD 
WITH THE LESSONS LEARNED OVER THE SUMMER. 
CASTRO HAS TRAVELED AROUND HAVANA, MATANZAS 
(AT THE VARADERO AIRPORT OPENING), AND THE 
CENTRAL CUBAN PROVINCE OF VILLA CLARA TO SPEAK 
MOSTLY TO CROWDS OF CONSTRUCTION AND INDUSTRIAL 
WORKERS.  MOST OF THE SPEECHES HAVE BEEN BROADCAST 
OVER PRIME-TIME TV AND CARRIED IN GRANMA. 
 
- 
4.  AT EACH STOP, CASTRO HAS BEEN PREACHING 
BASICALLY THE SAME LINE:  CUBA HAS EMERGED FROM 
THE SCANDALS STRONGER THAN EVER AND IS MAKING 
IMPORTANT PROGRESS TOWARD RESOLVING THE VARIOUS 
PROBLEMS IT FACES.  SPEAKING AT AN IMPROMPTU 
PRESS CONVERENCE AFTER A PEP TALK TO THE BLAS 
ROCA CONSTRUCTION CONTINGENT ON SEPTEMBER 30, 
CASTRO DECLARED THAT "THE SETBACKS WE HAD 
WERE TURNED INTO VICTORIES."  HE WAS PARTICULARLY 
INTENT ON PORTRAYING THE "TRAUMATIC PROCESS" OF 
CLEANING UP THE INTERIOR MINISTRY (MININT) 
AS MAKING THE ORGANIZATION STRONGER, MORE 
DEDICATED AND MORE EFFICIENT.  MININT IS NOW 
"DOING A GREAT JOB ...AND WILL BE A VERY IMPORTANT 
INSTRUMENT OF THE REVOLUTION." 
 
- 
5.  CASTRO ALSO HAS STATED THAT CUBA "HAS FEWER 
PROBLEMS" THAN ANY OTHER SOCIALIST COUNTRY EXCEPT 
PERHAPS NORTH KOREA.  HE HAS REPEATEDLY EXPRESSED 
DISDAIN FOR THE REFORMS OF THE "BEGINNER CAPITALISTS" 
AND "BOURGEOUIS DEMOCRATS" IN EASTERN EUROPE 
(I.E., PRO-REFORM SOVIETS, POLES AND HUNGARIANS). 
THE CUBAN MEDIA, TAKING CASTRO'S CUE, HAVE 
PUBLISHED ARTICLES ALMOST DAILY DEPICTING THE 
CHAOS CAUSED BY THE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC 
REFORMS IN THOSE COUNTRIES.  ON A TYPICAL DAY, 
GRANMA REPORTS ON THE SOVIET UNION'S NATIONALIST 
AND LABOR STRIFE, POLAND'S SERIOUS ECONOMIC 
PLIGHT, AND HUNGARY'S DESTABILIZING SHIFT TOWARD 
A MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM. 
 
- 
6.  CUBA, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS DOING QUITE 
WELL, ACCORDING TO CASTRO.  WHILE REMAINING 
LOYAL TO SOCIALIST PRECEPTS, IT IS "DOING MORE 
WITH LESS."  HAVANA HAS FEWER RESOURCES THAN 
EVER BEFORE AND ONLY HALF THE FOREIGN RESERVES 
IT USED TO HAVE, CASTRO SAID, BUT THE NATION IS 
"COMPENSATING WITH THE SPIRIT OF WORK."  TO COUNTER 
THE IMPRESSION OF CUBA'S ISOLATION IN THE SOCIALIST 
WORLD, CASTRO AND THE MEDIA HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE 
COUNTRY'S RELATIONS WITH CLOSE AND HELPFUL 
ALLIES.  THE GOC HAS SENT DELEGATIONS TO EAST 
GERMANY, CZECHOSLOVAKIA, BULGARIA, LIBYA AND 
NORTH KOREA IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS TO FIRM UP 
BILATERAL TIES.  CUBA HAS INVESTED PARTICULAR ENERGY 
IN IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH THE PRC, HAILING 
EVERY DEVELOPMENT (INCLUDING CASTRO'S ATTENDANCE 
AT THE CHINESE NATIONAL DAY RECEPTION IN HAVANA) 
AS A SIGN OF CLOSER TIES. 
 
- 
7.  AT THE SAME TIME, CASTRO IS PROJECTING OPTIMISM 
IN HIS ABILITY TO COUNTER WHAT THE GOC IS 
BILLING AS A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN U.S. 
AGGRESSION AGAINST CUBA:  THE LAUNCHING OF TV 
MARTI.  IN RESPONSE TO A QUESTION AT THE 
SEPTEMBER 30 PRESS CONFERENCE, CASTRO SAID CUBA 
HAD A STRONG FIGHTING SPIRIT AND WAS READY TO 
"GIVE A GOOD CHUNK OF IT TO THOSE YANKIS." 
WHILE SAYING THIS, HE FORMED HIS HANDS INTO A 
SHAPE SUGGESTING A GUN AIMED AT AN IMAGINARY TARGET 
IN THE SKY. 
 
- 
8.  CASTRO HAS EVEN BOASTED ABOUT HIS HEALTH. 
HE ADMITTED THAT LAST SUMMER'S SCANDALS CAUSED 
HIM GREAT BITTERNESS, BUT HE SAID HE DID NOT 
LET IT OVERCOME HIM.  "I ACTED WITH EQUANIMITY," 
HE SAID, ADDING, "I AM VERY WELL.  I WORK A LOT 
BUT THIS IS COMPENSATED BY THE SATISFACTION I 
FEEL WHEN I SEE THE SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE 
EVERYWHERE." 
 
- 
9.  COMMENT:  GROUPS LIKE THE BLAS ROCA CONTINGENT, 
A MODEL WORK UNIT THAT ENJOYS PREFERENTIAL 
ACCESS TO HOUSING AND FOOD, ARE AMONG THE 
MOST LIKELY TO ACCEPT CASTRO'S OPTIMISTIC 
"MAKE-DO" ASSESSMENT, AS ARE OTHER WORKERS IN PRIORITY 
INDUSTRIES THAT THE COMANDANTE HAS BEEN VISITING. 
OVERALL, HOWEVER, THE JAWBONING WILL LIKELY 
HAVE LITTLE EFFECT.  THE MESSAGE IS THAT 
DOMESTIC POLICIES WILL REMAIN BASICALLY UNCHANGED 
AND THAT THE COUNTRY WILL SIMPLY TIGHTEN ITS 
BELT.  NEITHER THIS NOR THE NEWS THAT MININT 
WILL NOW BE EVEN MORE EFFECTIVE THAN IN THE 
PAST ARE LIKELY TO INSPIRE JOY.  STILL, CASTRO IS 
TRYING TO MAKE A VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT 
DESPITE SHORTAGES IN CUBA OF FLOUR, GASOLINE, 
MEDICINES, AND MANY OTHER ITEMS, THE PEOPLE 
REMAIN FED AND AT WORK AND THERE IS NO 
INFLATION NOR SOCIAL "DISINTEGRATION" AS IN THE 
"BEGINNING CAPITALIST" STATES. 
 
- 
10.  CASTRO'S PUBLIC PUSH ALSO SUGGESTS AN 
EAGERNESS TO REPAIR THE PRESTIGE -- THE 
"MAGIC HOLD" HE HAS ENJOYED OVER HIS PEOPLE -- 
THAT APPARENTLY WAS ERODED BY LAST SUMMER'S 
SCANDALS. 
 
 
TAYLOR 

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