Fidel Castro Internet Archive

Fidel Castro’s Press Conference on Grenada

Delivered: October 26, 1983
Source: Havana Television Service, obtained from Latin American Network Information Center
Transcribed: David Adams
Markup: Zdravko Saveski, 2021

We want to clear up all events and circumstances with respect to the topic to which I will be referring. I do not know how the coordination of the translation into in English has been organized. Maybe I can speak in Spanish while the translator speaks in English. We do not want to make it lengthy.

Declaration of the Cuban Party and Government on the Imperialist Intervention in Grenada:

The painful internal events in Grenada that resulted in the death of Comrade Bishop and other Grenadian leaders are known by all the people.

In the 20 October declaration, the Government of Cuba explained in detail the evolution of events and expressed the fear and worthy principled position of our country with respect to the events, and warned that imperialism would try to obtain the maximum benefit possible from the tragedy that had occurred.

But above all, Cuba's strict policy to fully abstain in every way from interfering in the internal affairs of the party, government, and people of Grenada was specifically stressed. The merits of that principled policy can be appreciated now more than ever as it becomes obvious that the Cuban personnel in Grenada had the fighting capability with which they could have attempted to influence the course of the domestic events.

The weapons in the hands of the Cuban construction workers and collaborations in Grenada had been assigned to them by Bishop and the leadership of the party and Government of Grenada so that they could defend themselves in case of external aggression against Grenada, as has unfortunately been the case. They were mainly light infantry weapons. Those weapons were under the custody of our own personnel in the area of residence. They were not supposed to be used in any internal conflict, and they were neither used nor would they ever be used for it.

No fortifications were built because it was not logical to do so in times of peace in an area of an airport, one exclusively of a civilian nature. Something else, when the invasion of Grenada took place, the weapons in the hands of the Cubans only had less than one magazine of ammunition per rifle.

After Bishop's death and Cuba's declaration, relations between our party and the new Grenadian leadership were extremely cold and in a certain way tense. But, we were not willing, under any circumstances, to play the game of imperialism and abandon the people of Grenada by suspending the cooperation and work of our construction workers, physicians, teachers, and other specialists. Actually, we did not even suspend the services of the military security advisers.

Future relations with the new leadership would be determined by the behavior of the new leaders, and their domestic and foreign policies, in the hope that the revolutionary process could be saved, even though it seemed possible only through a miracle of wisdom and serenity on the part of the Grenadian people themselves and the international progressive movement.

Relations with the new government had to be decided. But aside from the aforementioned reasons concerning our cooperation with the Grenadian people, at the very moment when it was announced that powerful U.S. naval forces were advancing toward Grenada, it was morally impossible to consider the evacuation of the Cuban personnel from Grenada. On the other hand, the new Grenadian leadership, because of the imminent danger it was facing, in the name of the security of the fatherland was requesting our cooperation, to which it was not easy to accede after the events that had taken place in the country. Many messages were exchanged on these matters between Cuba and our representative in Grenada, who was in turn expressing the Grenadian request.

Now a very important matter. In the face of an imminent aggression, on 22 October, Saturday, in the afternoon, Comrade Fidel sent the following message to the Cuban representative in Grenada: I feel that organizing our personnel's immediate evacuation at a time when U.S. forces were approaching would be highly demoralizing and dishonorable for our country in the eyes of world public opinion.

A large-scale Yankee aggression against us could take place at any time in Grenada against our collaborators, in Nicaragua against our physicians, teachers, technicians, builders, and others, in Angola against our troops and civilian personnel, or right here in Cuba. We must always be ready and keep our morale high in the face of that painful possibility. I can well understand how difficult it is for you, as well as for us here, to risk compatriots in Grenada after the gross mistakes made on the Grenadian side and the tragic developments that followed.

But our position has been unequivocally and honorably clarified, so much so that it has been received with great respect everywhere. It is not of the new Government of Grenada we must think now, but of Cuba, its honor, its people, its fighting morale.

I believe that in the face of this new situation we must strengthen our defenses, keeping in mind the possibility of a surprise attack by the Yankees. This danger that has been created fully justifies our doing so. If the United States intervenes, we must vigorously defend ourselves as if we were in Cuba, in our campsites, in our closest workplaces, [but] only if we are directly attacked. I repeat, only if we are directly attacked. Thus we would just be defending ourselves, not the government or its leaders.

If the Yankees land on the runway areas, near the university, or in the surrounding areas to evacuate their citizens, fully refrain from interfering. Advisors from the Army and the Ministry of the Interior are to. stay at their posts awaiting new orders, so as to receive information and try to exert as much positive influence as possible on the behavior of the Army and the security forces toward the people.

The Vietnam Heroico vessel is to be kept there by all means. An effort should be made to put children and people who are not essential to indispensable services and work there on the first plane that lands on the island.

To inform Grenadian leaders Austin and Layne verbally of the following answers to their statements:

That our force which is mainly made up of civilian collaborators is too small to be taken as a factor of military importance in the face of a large-scale invasion. That sending of reinforcements is impossible and unthinkable. That the political situation created inside the country due to conflicts with the people, due to events, the death of Bishop and that of other leaders, external isolation, and so forth, considerably weaken the defensive capacity of the country, a logical consequence of the grave errors committed by the Grenadian revolutionaries.

That because of this situation, the present military and political conditions are the worst to organize a solid and efficient resistance against the invaders which, without the participation of the people, is practically impossible. That they must think of some way of achieving a reconciliation with the people, maybe one of these could be clarifying Bishop's death and that of other leaders, clearly identifying those responsible.

That the Grenadian Government may try to avoid pretexts for intervention, offering and reiterating publicly basic guarantees and total facilities for evacuation of personnel from the United States, from England, and so forth. That nevertheless, should the invasion take place anyway, their duty is to die fighting, no matter how difficult and disadvantageous the conditions may be. That Cuban personnel have instructions to remain in their camps and continue the work on the airport. That they shall adopt defensive measures and shall fortify the place as much as possible in order to defend themselves effectively from a surprise attack from abroad.

That you are in constant communication with the leaders of our party and that if an imperialist attack takes place you will receive immediate instructions concerning what you should do [as heard]. That they must maintain maximum calmness and nerve under these circumstances if they wish to preserve the possibility of survival for the Grenadian revolutionary process. That Cuba shall try to launch, together with other progressive countries, a strong campaign against the threats of the United States against Grenada.

Something that is also very important: At 9 pm, on that very same Saturday, October 22, through the Interests Section, we sent the following message to the Government of the United States: That the U.S. side is aware of the developments in Grenada, that it is also aware of our position on these developments and of our determination of not interfering in the internal affairs of that country. That we are aware of their concern for the many U.S. residents there.

We are also concerned about the hundreds of Cuban collaborators who are working on various projects and about the reports that U.S. naval forces are approaching Grenada. According to our reports, no U.S. or foreign citizen has run into any problem, nor has our personnel met with problems.

It is convenient that we maintain contacts regarding this matter in order to cooperate if any type of difficulty arises and so that any measure regarding the security of these persons can be resolved favorably, without violence and without any type of interference in the country. This was the message that was sent to the U.S. Government at 2100 on Saturday 22 October.

As soon as the agreement of a group of Yankee satellite [countries] in the Caribbean region to send troops to Grenada was learned of, the new leadership of that country reiterated its request that Cuba send reinforcements.

Comrade Fidel on Sunday night, 23 October, sent the following message to Cuba's embassy in Grenada: Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Barbados do not have sufficient forces to invade Grenada. If this occurs, it is just a simple pretext of the Yankees so that they can interfere immediately afterward. In this case, you must strictly obey the instructions that you received yesterday.

You must verbally transmit the following answer to the Grenadian leadership: That Jamaica, St Lucia, and Barbados do not have sufficient forces to invade Grenada. If this occurs, they can defeat them with their own forces, without major difficulty. That, if this takes place, then it could be a pretext for the Yankees to act directly. If this is the case, then the Grenadian revolutionaries must try to win over the people in order to defend the country, they must be ready to fight to the last man, and they must create the conditions for a lengthy resistance against foreign invasion and occupation.

That, Cuba cannot send reinforcements, not only because it is materially impossible in face of the overwhelming superiority of U.S. air and naval forces in the region, but also because, politically, if it is a question of a struggle among Caribbeans, then it must not send reinforcements so as not to justify a U.S. intervention. That, on the other hand, the unfortunate events that have occurred in Grenada make it morally impossible before our people and the world the useless sacrifice of sending such reinforcements to fight against the United States.

That, in view of our country's honor, morality, and dignity, we are keeping Cuban personnel there at a time when powerful Yankee naval forces are approaching Grenada. That, if Grenada is invaded by the United States, Cuban personnel will defend its positions within its camps and work areas with all the energy and courage of which it is capable. That, due to the fact that it is a limited force, no other type of mission can be assigned to it.

That, the Grenadian revolutionaries have the exclusive responsibility for having created this difficult and unfavorable political and military situation for the revolutionary process in the political and military fields.

That, the Cuban personnel in Grenada, within the difficult conditions that have arisen, will know how to honorably obey the task that our revolution has assigned them under these circumstance. That, regarding the question of military advice, due to this situation, all possible cooperation will begiven the personnel in view of this situation.

That, it is necessary to continue with the adequate political and diplomatic efforts on their part to prevent intervention without the concession of principles on our part. That, we ourselves will make every possible effort in this respect.

After this message, the Grenadians continued to insist on plans that in our judgment were, in some aspects, unreal and not politically feasible. They also wanted to sign a formal agreement regarding what each involved party had to carry out in the military field and they also wanted to subordinate the Cuban construction workers and collaborators to the Grenadian Army.

During the course of the afternoon of 24 October the following essential points were transmitted to the Grenadian leadership: That, Cuban personnel will defend the positions in which they currently find themselves. In other words, the runway up to the fill-in of (Harvey) Bay and the area between Salines Point and Mount Rose if there is a largescale U.S. invasion.

That our personnel have neither the means nor the strength to fulfill any other mission; nor the moral and international justification under present circumstances to do so in any other location which is not their area of work.

That, it is clear to us that if it is a case of just the evacuation of foreign personnel, we would not be facing an invasion and, under those circumstances, we suppose they would find the solution with those involved.

That because of that, the American University and the surrounding area should be under the custody of Grenadians themselves, if they feel it is necessary and convenient. The American University is located near one of the ends of the runway the Cubans are building. Perhaps it would be better if that area were free of military personnel so it would not be regarded as a war zone, thereby justifying armed actions by imperialism under the pretext of evacuating its citizens.

That, there is no need for informal agreement between us.

That, the orders regarding what the Cuban personnel can do in case of war can only be given by the Government of Cuba. This message, which should have been delivered by 0800, 25 October, Tuesday, did not even reach the addresses. U.S. intervention in Grenada took place in early dawn.

The Cuban representative and personnel strictly abided by the orders of the party and Government of Cuba, which was to fight if they were attacked at their camp and working area. In the early hours of the day, while the U.S. troops were landing with helicopters in the area of the university, there was no combat with the Cubans who had taken a defensive position in the area referred to previously.

Around 0800, Grenadian time, 0700 Cuban time, U.S. troops started to advance from different directions toward the Cuban positions, and the combat started. At 0830, Cuban time, 25 October, the U.S. Government responded to the Cuban message sent on the evening of Saturday, 22 October -- that is, nearly 3 days later. The note read: "The United States of America Interest Section of the Embassy of Switzerland presents its compliments to the minister of foreign relations of the Republic of Cuba and has the honor to inform the minister that the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, acting out of great concern of its members for the anarchy, bloodshed, and callous disregard for human life of the island of Grenada, has asked the United States Government to assist the armed forces of its member states to restore security in Grenada. In response to this request, and taking into consideration the need to safeguard the lives of hundreds of U.S. citizens now in Grenada, the U.S. Government has agreed to the request.

"Consequently, armed forces from the member states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, supported by those of the United States, Barbados, and Jamaica, have entered Grenada for the purpose of restoring order and public safety. The U.S. Government is aware that military and civilian personnel of the Republic of Cuba are present in Grenada. It has taken into full account the message on this subject which was delivered on the night of 22 October from the Ministry of Foreign Relations to the acting chief of U.S. Interest Section in Havana.

"It wishes to assure the Government of the Republic of Cuba that all efforts are being and will continue to be made to ensure the safety of each person while order is being restored. This personnel will be granted safe passage from Grenada as soon as conditions permit. The Government of the United States accepts the Cuban proposal of 22 October to maintain due respect concerning the safety of the personnel of each side.

"The appropriate civilian representative with the United States Armed Forces present in Grenada has been instructed to be in contact with the Cuban ambassador in Grenada to ensure that every consideration is given to the safety of Cuban personnel on the island and to facilitate the necessary steps with Grenadian authorities for their prompt evacuation.

"The U.S. Armed Forces will be prepared to assure this evacuation at the earliest possible moment on ships of third countries.

"On the other hand, should there be a vessel of the Cuban Merchant Marine, not a warship, in Grenadian waters at this time, that vessel may be authorized to conduct the evacuation of Cuban personnel. In addition, any Cuban views communicated to the U.S. Department of State through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington or through the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, will be given immediate attention.

"The Government of the United States calls upon the Government of the Republic of Cuba, in the interests of the personal safety of all concerned, to advise its citizens and forces in Grenada to remain calm and to cooperate fully with forces of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and with those of the United States, Jamaica, and Barbados. It asks that they be instructed to avoid any steps which might exacerbate the delicate situation in Grenada.

"Above all, the Government of the United States cautions the Government of the Republic of Cuba to refrain from sending any new military units or personnel to Grenada. The United States of America Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Cuba the assurances of its highest and most distinguished considerations."

When this note from the Government of the United States reached us, 1 and 1/2 hours had passed since U.S. troops had attacked Cuban personnel and 3 hours had passed since the landings had begun. Throughout today, Tuesday, 25 October, the people of Cuba have been kept informed as thoroughly as possible on the details of the fighting and of the resolute and heroic resistance put up by the Cuban construction workers and collaborators who had had practically no time to even dig trenches or fortify their positions on rocky terrain in the face of a naval, air, and ground attack from U.S. elite troops.

The people know of the message exchanged between the commander in chief and Colonel Tortolo, the man in charge of Cuban personnel. This man, who had barely been in the country 24 hours on a working visit, with deeds and words has written in our modern history page worthy of Antonio Maceo.

At 5 PM, while intense fighting prevailed, the Government of the United States, through Mr. Ferch, head of the U.S. Interests Section, sent the following message to Cuba:

"Cuban personnel stationed in Grenada are not the target of U.S. troop action there. The United States is ready to cooperate with Cuban authorities in evacuation of its personnel to Cuba. The United States is aware that the armed Cuban personnel have neither the armament nor the ammunition reserves required for a protracted action. Therefore, to maintain a belligerent position would only provoke a senseless loss of human life. The United States does not want to portray the withdrawal Cuban armed personnel as a surrender. Finally, it regrets the armed clashes between armed men from both countries and considers that they have occurred due confusion and accidents brought about by the fact that the Cubans were near the operational sites of the multinational troops."

At 8:30 pm, the following response to the Government of the United States was turned over to Mr. Ferch:

1. That we did everything possible to prevent the intervention. That in our note on Saturday we explained that no U.S. citizen or foreign national, according to our reports, was in any danger while at the same time expressed our willingness to cooperate in order to resolve problems without recourse to violence or intervention.

2. That the intervention is absolutely unjustifiable. That we had absolutely refrained from meddling in the country's internal affairs despite our friendship with and sympathy for Bishop.

3. That the response to our constructive note, delivered Saturday, 22 October at 9 pm, arrived on Tuesday, 25 October at 8:30 am, at the time when our personnel and installations at the airport had already been under attack by U.S. troops for 1 and 1/2 hours.

4. That we had no soldiers in Grenada but construction workers and civilian advisers, with the exception of a few tens of military advisers who were working with the Army security forces prior to Bishop's death. Our men had been instructed to fight back only if attacked, and they were not the first to fire. Furthermore, they had been given instructions not to obstruct any action aimed at the evacuation of U.S. citizens in the area of the runway near the U.S. University. It was clear that if any attempt to occupy Cuban installations was made clashes would occur.

5. That our personnel have suffered an as yet undetermined number of dead and wounded in today's fighting.

6. That the attack by U.S. troops cane as a surprise and there was no type of prior warning.

7. That although the Cuban personnel that are still in a position to resist are at a numerical, technical, and military disadvantage, their moral remains high and they are firmly prepared to continue to defend themselves if the attacks continue.

8. That, if there is a real intention to forestall further bloodshed, attacks against Grenadian and Cuban personnel who are still fighting should stop and an honorable way should be sought to put an end to a battle which far from honors the United States, a battle against small forces which, although unable to resist the overwhelming military superiority of U.S. forces -- even when losing the battle and sacrificing themselves – could still inflict a costly moral defeat on the United States, the most powerful country in the world engaged in a war against one of the smallest nations on earth.

9. That the Cuban commander in Grenada has instructions to receive anyone who approaches to parley, listen to his views and transmit those views to Cuba.

10. It must be taken into account that some Grenadian units are fighting and they must receive the same treatment that the Cubans receive.

This was the answer that we addressed to the United States today.

The Cuban constructors and collaborators were still entrenched in several of their positions this evening in an unequal and difficult fight, but their morale and strength is at a very high level.

Very few reports were being received this evening from Grenada and communication was very difficult. The courageous and heroic Cuban constructors and collaborators have written an indelible page in the history of international solidarity. They have also undertaken the battle in Grenada in the name of the world's small nations and in the name of all the nations of the Third World in the face of the brutal aggression of imperialism. They have also fought for America and for their own fatherland as though they were defending the first trench for the sovereignty and integrity of Cuba there in Grenada. For the Yankee imperialists, Grenada can become in Latin America and the Caribbean what the Moncada was for the Batista tyranny in Cuba.

Eternal glory for the fallen Cubans and for those who have fought and continue to fight, defending their honor, principles, their tasks for internationalism, the fatherland, and their own personal integrity threatened by the unjustified, treacherous, and criminal imperialist attack.

Fatherland or death, we shall win.

[At this point the announcer indicates that the question and answer session begins]

Question -- in English: What is the estimate of Cuban dead and wounded, and do you know whether prisoners have been taken?

Answer: We still do not have sufficient information to be able to determine the number of dead, because the Cubans were defending themselves from several positions. We did not have direct communication with the individual positions. We were in communication with the embassy, and the diplomats at times were in communication with the command post, but it was not possible to obtain information about each isolated position due to the intensive fighting that went on during the day.

Regarding prisoners, we know, as I have already explained, that Cuban personnel had light infantry weapons. Regrettably, no one believed that this would happen. Apparently there was a situation of peace.

No one had expected these events, first the domestic events, and then the external events. The rifles had ammunition quantities of 0.9 canisters [modulos]. Supposedly, three canisters are necessary for combat, in addition to several reserves. The Cubans had less than one canister; in other words, they had less than 300 rounds per rifle. After many hours of combat, they began to run out of ammunition. There might be a number of prisoners, but we are not certain; we don't know if there were 100 to 150. There were also women, non-military personnel, and almost the entire staff of the Cuban Embassy in Grenada. We don't have the exact figures at this time.

[Unidentified reporter] It is a follow-up question about a report. I believe it was AP, that there were Soviet advisers, and that some of them had been (captured?)?

Answer: I have no knowledge, not even the slightest knowledge, about the presence of Soviet military advisers or Soviet technical advisers. I really have no knowledge about this. I believe that there were no Soviet advisers; I know that there were no military advisers. As for civilians, I think that there was a Soviet diplomatic representation, a small group of Soviet diplomats, but it is not true that there were Soviet advisers there; at least I don't have such information.

[Unidentified reporter] Has the U.S. Government replied to the response given by Cuba yesterday, or does the Cuban Government expect it for January?

Answer: Well, a period of time always elapses between the arrival of a note, its translation into Spanish, and the preparation of a reply and its delivery. We received the note at approximately 1800. It was quickly translated, and we promptly sent our reply, which was delivered to the U.S. Government at 2030. I imagine that there was enough time to deliver it to the U.S. Government. It was very clear, concrete, and precise, and they have had enough time to analyze it. Now, what will they decide? Will they try to find a solution; will they stop fighting and attacking; will they try to arrive at an honorable solution there; will they try to eliminate all those who are resisting? This we don't know, but we have received news that they are mobilizing the 82nd Airborne Division, to launch it against Grenada tomorrow. What will their final decision be? We don't know, but the U.S. Government has had time to receive our reply. It will decide whether the fighting will continue tomorrow, or whether it will try to obtain a military victory, which would be a Pyrrhic victory and a disastrous defeat in terms of morale.

Gus Monroe of TIME magazine: You said that you had indirect communication with the Cuban workers in Grenada. When did you lost direct communication with the Cuban workers today?

Answer: A very strange thing happened. We had telephone communication with our representatives almost all the time at the embassy. At certain times, we also had communication with the command of the military personnel. However, when the fighting increased, they destroyed the means of communication, and we then had to use other methods of communication --with the embassy, with the Cuban cargo ship that is currently in Grenada, and through other methods, in order to maintain conventional means of communication. Sometimes the embassy could communicate with the personnel command. This is how we received various reports. It was in this way, for example, that we learned from the head of the Cuban personnel there that the U.S. troops had, after many hours of fighting, sent a construction worker who had been arrested to explain that they didn't want any problems with the Cubans.

That coincided with the official message that we received afterward. Also, it was reported at the same time that a group of hostages, that is, the personnel that had run out of ammunition, had been sent in front of jeeps armed with cannon and machineguns toward our positions.

We thought that perhaps they were trying to parley, to establish communication. The Cuban military commander, responding to the sentiment of all his comrades, stated that they would not surrender under any circumstances. The emissary had said they were to propose surrender, but the commander had his instructions. He was ordered not to surrender under any... [changes thought] first, he was congratulated, and then he was ordered, if the adversary sent an emissary, to listen to that emissary and report the information immediately to Cuba. I believe their reply was very courageous and responsible. They replied that they had received their instructions, and would never surrender, under any circumstances. That is what the commander of the Cuban military personnel reported.

Afterward, military actions continued. The Air Force and helicopters were used. They have used a lot of sophisticated military equipment.

By nightfall, the combat had become intense. There is relative calm now. Airplanes fly overhead, helicopters fly overhead, shots are heard, but the latest news is that no intense fighting is going on.

[Unidentified reporter] Exactly how many Cubans are in Grenada? How many personnel and military advisers are there?

Answer: Look, I can tell you this -- there is no secret about it. I am sorry I do not have here the exact figures, but there are more than 700 Cubans. A vast majority -- more than 550 -- are construction workers. There is a large group of doctors, as well as some teachers, agricultural technicians, and some 40 military advisers. I did not reveal this information earlier because the statement would have been too lengthy. There is absolutely no secret about this. Besides, it is easy to prove that these are not military personnel, that they are actually civilian workers. Of course, all the Cuban workers receive military training. Evidence of the fact that they are workers and construction personnel can be seen in the excellent landing strip that they have built in such a short time; dozens of U.S. airplanes have been able to land on the air strip even though the airport is unfinished. We were planning to finish it in March.

This is absolute proof that they are construction workers. Besides, the U.S. news media can talk freely with the prisoners or with the hostages who were used as a front. They will be able to ascertain if they are professional soldiers or construction workers -- that is, if the evidence of the airport is not enough.

[Unidentified reporter] When do you expect the Cuban personnel to return?

Answer: It is impossible to know what will happen because it does not depend on us alone. The ship, which was unarmed, was ordered to leave the bay. I understand that it is standing off by at least 12 miles. The ship has approximately a dozen crewmembers. The airplanes have been flying low over it all night -- perhaps this is psychological warfare. However, right now I could not attest to what will happen.

[Unidentified reporter] Have you considered the possibility [passage indistinct] an honorable solution to the dilemma? What would your solution be?

Answer: Well, as I explained in my message to the Grenadians, it was impossible to send reinforcements before the combat; besides, it was unthinkable. It was impossible because the U.S. squadrons and aircraft carriers were moving, and we had no means of transportation to send reinforcements. At any rate, no matter how many reinforcements we sent, they could not compare to the naval and air forces deployed by the United States. Thus, in practice this was impossible. But we also said that it was politically impossible, because, after the events which had taken place in Grenada and the mistakes committed by the revolutionaries themselves, there as no moral justification for sacrificing reinforcements that would never even have been able to reach their destination. For us, it would have, in essence, been a symbolic action, as it was absolutely impossible to send them from the practical point of view. From the political point of view, we did not consider it justifiable. While there exists an honorable solution, I would say that, first of all, the attacks on our forces must cease. I believe that the attacks on the Grenadian forces should also cease. Then we would be able to discuss some solution. However, while they are under fire, the only reply will be defense against attack if there is no other alternative. I have not pondered this, but there must be some kind of solution; the combat -- that is, the attacks -- must cease. Our forces have simply been defending themselves.

[Unidentified reporter] Is there a possibility that you will sacrifice the Cubans?

Answer: Well, it would not be us, but the United States who would be sacrificing the Cubans. They initiated the attack; they have maintained the attack. We, because of an elementary principle of honor and the legitimate right to self-defense, have been defending ourselves from these attacks. If our comrades must die under attack, they will be dying in an act of absolute and legitimate defense. What we cannot tell is to stop defending themselves if they are attacked.

[Unidentified reporter] What can you tell us about the present government in Grenada and the participation of Grenadian troops in the fighting?

Answer: Well, our opinion about the government... [changes thought] not really the government, because we have not wanted to pass judgment on the government. We have no right to pass judgment on the government. We based ourselves on the fact that there was a division within the revolution. It was painful and unpleasant. We foresaw that great damage would be done to the country because of this division. We even addressed the Grenadian leaders, the central committee, and asked them to try to solve these problems peacefully, without violence. We said that violence would greatly damage Grenada's image.

However, a popular uprising occurred in favor of Bishop. Passions flared and it ended in Bishop's dramatic death under circumstances about which we still have no exact knowledge. Sooner or later they will be known. However, we were strongly opposed to this division, we were aware of the damage it was causing, and we were deeply moved by Bishop's physical elimination. What was the other question?

[Unidentified journalist] [Question indistinct]

Answer: As far as we know, by late afternoon, the Grenada Government was still in office, the capital had not yet been taken, and the Grenadian people were resisting attacks at various points, although we had no information about what was happening with the Grenadian units.

[(Robert Hager), NBC] If the American motivation for this action was not its citizens, what do you believe the American motive was?

Answer: Well, that is difficult to understand. I will tell you why. First, neither U.S. citizens nor those of any other country were in any danger, because the Grenadian people took special measures to give them guarantees for the very purpose of avoiding any pretexts for intervention. For instance, there is a group of 500 or 600 U.S. medical students, and the director of the university spoke with the government, with the authorities. They gave him every guarantee. They were completely calm. Only some 14 or 15 actually wanted to leave. It is my understanding, according to the public media, that the director or rector of the university was strongly opposed to and had strongly criticized the intervention. There was no reason for it.

On the other hand, the situation affecting the Grenadian revolutionary process itself was very difficult. Domestic events caused isolation internationally and brought great economic difficulties. It was not easy for the new Grenadian Government to maintain itself. Why, therefore? It can be clearly seen that the United States wanted to eliminate a process that already could scarcely survive and that had great problems.

I believe that it wanted to undertake a show of force, to implement a philosophy of force, an opportunistic policy, to take advantage of all of those difficulties in order to smash a symbol, because Grenada is definitely a very small country. It cannot be said, from any point of view, that it has any strategic importance. Nor could it possibly represent the slightest danger for the United States. Therefore, what reason could there have been except a show of force?

It seems even stranger because it coincides with the events in Lebanon, where more than 200 North Americans were just killed. What sense, what logic was there in diverting forces that were headed for Lebanon and sending them to Grenada instead? It seems absurd. I really feel that this was an enormous political error which will not benefit the United States in any way whatever.

The events of the Malvinas, which caused a commotion throughout Latin America, and in which the United States sided with England, are still fresh. It forgot the OAS and all of its agreements. Nevertheless, it has now invoked the agreements of a supposed group of Caribbean countries in order to intervene in Grenada. I feel that this deeply wounds the sensibilities of and causes considerable unrest in the countries of Latin America. I consider it an enormous, unnecessary, and unjustifiable error by the United States.

[Unidentified journalist] The United States has suggested that the Cubans now move out of Grenada. If the attacks cease, would the Cubans agree to leave Grenada?

Answer: But the Grenadian Government has not asked us to leave. On the contrary, it has asked us for more help. There is not even a new government in Grenada. I don't believe that the United States is the government of Grenada with the right to ask the Cubans to leave. We are there at the request of the government? It is not that we are interested in remaining there. We are even prepared to complete this airport independent of the domestic U.S. problems. Who is going to ask us to leave? It is unquestionable that we cannot remain in an invaded and occupied country. There is no need for anyone to ask us to leave an occupied and invaded country. We would have no need or reason to be there.

[Unidentified journalist] What is your opinion of the reaction voiced throughout the day by different countries and, particularly, by the European countries?

Answer: I have not had the opportunity to examine all of this in detail. However, I have noted that the British Government criticized the intervention in Grenada. I believe that this is a very significant fact which should be taken into consideration. The world's public will firmly and vigorously oppose the facts. It is my understanding that the majority of the Latin American countries have vigorously opposed the intervention because it involves an action by the world's most powerful country against one of the world's smallest countries. No one could sympathize with this.

[Unidentified reporter] If there are wounded Cubans on the island, what do you plan to do?

Answer: Well, there were Cuban doctors there. We have taken care of as many wounded as possible. We also have news that there were wounded prisoners. I believe that in response to a fundamental sense of humanity, the U.S. Government itself will be giving medical attention to those wounded.

In truth, according to the news we have -- and I must be quite honest -- the wounded we not being mistreated by the troops. In fact, I have even been informed by the Cubans of their impression that no one was being mistreated. They have had some contacts with a Cuban prisoner, who was allowed to talk with them. I have no reason to lie or to hide the trust. Besides, it would be illogical for the troops to turn against those wounded prisoners. We hope that they are taken care of properly, just as we would take care of any wounded U.S. soldier who might fall into our hands.

[Unidentified reporter] The voice of America reported that Cuba and the Soviet Union were behind Coard in Grenada. What do you say to that?

Answer: I don't think it is even worthwhile to reply to that. I believe that Cuba's attitude was clear in its relations with Bishop. In truth, Bishop was so decent and respectful that when he passed through Cuba he did not say a single word about his problems. Cuba's position afterward was made well known through its public statements. His death seemed meaningless, because it seemed that Bishop was an adequate leader for that country and had great international prestige. He was an intelligent person, and he was not an extremist; he was a revolutionary. Bishop understood the situation in his country very well and it seems to us that he was governing the country very well. He had brought about great achievements for Grenada, he was receiving great international collaboration. Grenada's GNP was growing and he seemed to be an exceptional person, the right one for Grenada's process. Besides, everything we said in our messages, the warnings we issued, proved that the division was tragic. Thus, there is absolutely no logic in the idea that his friendship with us could later he considered the reason for this absurd change.

[Unidentified reporter] Mr President, a while ago you were talking about strange coincidences in the events taking place in Grenada. It is even being said that all of this is part of a great provocation in Central America and the Caribbean. What would you say to this?

Answer: A great provocation in the area? I would say that it is the application of a philosophy and policy of force and gendarme in the area. It is an attempt to establish a precedent, but it is so absurd that I see no logic in it. A small country had a government that was experiencing problems, its survival. What was the point in interfering with it? Not a single U.S. citizen was wounded, their lives were not endangered, and there was no significant economic interest. It seems to me that this was an application of a philosophy and policy of force, and that attempts are being made to extend it to the entire world. However, this is absurd, and a great mistake. Instead, it looks like a provocation. We could not be provoked, because we have no means of going anywhere. We have no naval or air means of getting there. So, if this is a provocation aimed at us, what can it achieve if we do not intervene in the island's internal affairs? We scrupulously respected the decisions of the Grenada party and government. Even though we had combat capability and could have interfered, we upheld the principle of nonintervention. There was no pretext for attacking us. We were in our places of work. What will the United States gain internationally by attacking the Cuban workers who were there to help a small country, a Third World country? What would it gain by this? It can only turn a small country into a martyr, indeed, it can turn that small nation, and the Cuban workers there, into martyrs of the liberty and defense of Third World countries. Our attitude has been above reproach and beyond question. The message is there. I could not invent the message that, as I said here, was sent by the United States, because they also have it there. I could not invent the U.S. reply.

I could not invent the efforts carried out on 22 October to warn them that it was not necessary to stage an act of intervention, that they should not commit this grave mistake, that we were willing to cooperate in any way to safeguard the citizens' security, without resorting to violence or intervention. We might add that this was a most unusual action on our part, to directly address the United States about a real situation. I believe that we were doing the United States a service. We were trying to make then understand that this action was unnecessary, because we had information with which we were willing to cooperate in the search for a nonviolent solution, without resorting to intervention, thus guaranteeing the safety of the U.S. citizens in Grenada. So, I could not invent all of this, because it is fully documented. We are not in the habit of talking about messages; we are discreet. However, the United States said today that it sent us a message, warning us. And the secretary of state practically said that he had warned us about the events. The attack took place at 0630 Grenada time, 0530 Cuba time; and we received the U.S. reply at 0830 Cuba time, 0930 Grenada time. They had been fighting our personnel for 1 and ½ hours. In other words, there are unquestionable documents that prove this; I have not used arguments or adjectives or epithets. I have spoken with evidence that proves everything I have said. Absolutely no one can question my statements.

[Unidentified reporter] What has been the reply to Cuba's last message [words indistinct]?

Answer: Well, I really don't know. I hope that this message will have some influence. I have hopes that attacks will cease tomorrow, because the alternative would be trying to exterminate all those who are still resisting. Of course, I would not like this to happen, but if they demand our surrender, we will certainly resist, and they will have to exterminate us. Perhaps they will be tempted to use the 82nd Airborne Division. It would be a shame if they did, but no one knows what will happen, because we have seen so many mistakes; who knows what could happen tomorrow.

I wonder if there are many questions left. For my part, I have worked extensively today, but I am willing to continue. Two or three more – the moderators here can set a limit.

[Unidentified reporter] Commander, would you give your opinion on the Central American crisis. For example, if Nicaragua were invaded, to what extent would Cuba support Nicaragua?

Answer: We would try to do whatever we could for Nicaragua, but we would be facing the same problem as with Grenada. We have no naval or air means of sending direct aid to Grenada. We do not have an option here. However, this does not worry me. The Nicaraguan situation is quite different from that of Grenada. Grenada was 120,000 inhabitants; Nicaragua has 3.5 million inhabitants. Nicaragua has extensive fighting experience; it has tens of thousands of fighters. That is, the United States would have to face an armed people there. It would be an impossible struggle in which neither 1 nor 10 airborne divisions would be sufficient. This is a reality. People should not be underestimated. Nicaragua should not be underestimated.

I believe that it would be an error multiplied a hundred times to attempt invading Nicaragua, because the Nicaraguan people are courageous and combative. I believe that all the aggression sustained by Nicaragua has strengthened, rather than weakened, the revolution. It has given them experience. I believe that Nicaragua is a country that could not be occupied and could not be ruled by the United States. There is no technology or sophisticated weaponry that can solve the problems posed by an entire nation in arms.

This was not the situation in Grenada because, as a result of the domestic problems, the Army itself collected the weapons from the militias and could not muster an armed people for the resistance. This is not the case in Nicaragua. Let us hope that this great mistake will be helpful in preventing greater mistakes in Nicaragua.

[Unidentified reporter from L'HUMANlTE] I merely want an explanation about point 10 of the last message that was sent.

Answer: But which message? There were many.

[Unidentified reporter from L'HUMANITE] A message to the Cubans that the treatment should be the same for the Cuban workers who are fighting there as for the Grenadian people who are fighting.

Answer: I cannot answer for the Grenadian people. That is their concern. However, as a point of honor, we cannot accept a solution for the Cuban personnel unless it is also a solution for the Grenadian fighters. We do not want to be treated differently from the Grenadian people because, despite our differences we had as a result of the events in Grenada, the joint struggle in these past hours has made us brothers. We cannot aspire to a different solution and treatment for us. I believe that any treatment we are given, regardless of the solution, will be honorable and will have to be discussed. This would also have to be applied to the Grenadian fighters.

It is presumed that this battle will not be won against the North Americans, but it is a battle that is being won morally. If the United States does not want any more useless bloodshed, it should find a solution). If the people are forced to surrender, there will be more useless bloodshed caused by the United States. It will not be caused by those who are defending their lives and honor.