Telephone conversation between Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chávez Frías, on Alo Presidente radio program No. 269, aired on February 27th, 2007, “Year 49 of the Revolution”.


(Council of State Publications)


Hugo Chávez. – Hello, who’s on the line?

Fidel Castro. – Hello, can you hear me?

Hugo Chávez. – I can hear you.

Fidel Castro.- My dear, distinguished friend, how are you?

Hugo Chávez.- Good lord, it’s Fidel! (Applause and cries of “Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!”)

Fidel Castro.- Listen, I’ve been listening to you speak on your show and to all of the information you’ve gone over in the last few minutes. Your talk about the country’s growth, the GDP, the drop in unemployment was very good, you touched on many interesting things.

Hugo Chávez. – (In English) How are you, Fidel?

Fidel Castro.- (In English) Very well (Laughter).

Hugo Chávez.- Listen, you have no idea how happy we are to hear your voice and to know you are well.

Fidel Castro.- Thank you very much.

Hugo Chávez.- Warm wishes to you, we are very surprised, pleasantly surprised. We were talking about you a moment ago, like we do most of the time.

Fidel Castro.- I knew I’d end up on an Alo Presidente program.

Hugo Chávez.- Now it’s on every day.

Fidel Castro.- No, no, don’t get me involved in that, I have a lot of hard work to do here (Laughter). I’m doing a lot of studying, most of all. But I see you are buried in books lately. When do you sleep?

Hugo Chávez.- Well, I get a wink of sleep in the early morning.

Fidel Castro.- A wink.

Hugo Chávez.- I sleep a while, I’m studying a lot, it’s one of the things every revolutionary must do, and we follow your example.

Fidel Castro.- Yes, you have devoted a lot of time to reading and you have been privileged with the ability to retain everything, to remember everything you read. You do lose your count from time to time when you’re adding up numbers, though (Laughter).

Hugo Chávez.-Well, I lose my count, but not that often.

Fidel Castro.- You have everything written down to keep you on track, but doing the math at this end isn’t easy. 

Hugo Chávez.- Do you know how many hectares of corn are needed to produce one million barrels of ethanol?

Fidel Castro.- Ethanol…I believe the other day you spoke of 20 million hectares, something like that (Laughter), but refresh my memory.

Hugo Chávez.-Twenty million. I think you’re the one with the exceptional memory.

Fidel Castro.- Yes, 20 million. And, of course, the idea of using food products to produce fuel is tragic, startling. No one has any certainty about how high food prices are going to get when soy begins to be converted into fuel, when there is such a high demand of it around the world to produce eggs, to produce milk, to produce meat. This is one more tragedy among many today.

            I am very happy you have taken up the flag to save our species, because we have to work hard to save the species, because there are new, very pressing problems and you are acting as a teacher, a great teacher, really. You have become a defender of the cause, a defender of the survival of the species, and I congratulate you for this.

            I see how you work, in the Moral y Luces program, to educate people, to help them understand these issues. And there is no shortage of information on these issues, every day I read and go over and keep very much abreast of things: risks of war, climatic risks, food-related risks, because —as you mentioned—it is a fact that thousands of millions of people are starving.

            For the first time in history, governments have begun to reflect upon this. Governments that have the power, the moral authority to do so, and you represent one of those rare examples.

            Not long ago, I read that Australia claimed it was the first country in the world to undertake an energy revolution. It turns out it is a project to be carried out over two or three years. It makes you laugh, because, in two months, you have already installed 34 million light bulbs and, in four months’ time, you will have reached the goal of taking those light bulbs, which have many advantages, to all homes. So, there’s another contender out there, but some of us are already competing with Australia for the first place.

            No country, in Europe or any other part of the world, isn’t concerned about this problem today.

            I apologize for speaking so much and stealing half the time of your program.

Hugo Chávez.- You haven’t spoken much at all, it’s only 7:49 at night.

            We were talking about you just now, because, as you know, today is the 27th of February, and here, some 18 years ago, we were told that one of the causes of the Caracazo was that you, when you came back then, had left 200 agitators behind who made all hell break lose, as people say. And today we were analyzing the causes behind the foreign debt, Black Friday, the way the country was bled dry, capital flight, privatizations, inflation and the terrible recession, unemployment, the collapse of the middle class, even.

            Well, we were reading Einstein a moment ago, I don’t know if you were listening, and Einstein reflects upon the reason behind socialism and concludes that what capitalism creates is chaos.

            So, looking back on the Caracazo, Fidel, we were remembering you and I was invoking those days, when I saw you from afar, here, and wanted to go up to you and greet you, but couldn’t. But we were already involved in a revolutionary movement here. And I want to tell our listeners here, on Aló Presidente, who are listening to you and talking to you, what a great honour it is for me that, on that day, a people rose up against neo-liberalism.

            The Caracazo, as you know, Fidel, was the world’s first response, an enormously powerful response, to the neoliberal plan, at a time when the Soviet Union and Berlin Wall were falling and there was already talk that the end of history and the single-idea system had arrived.

            And the 4th of February was the result of the Caracazo. You know that you couldn’t understand one without the other. Then came this path, this revolution of ours, for which Cuba is always, has been and will always be a beacon, Cuba, with you at its vanguard. There are so many things to be grateful for, especially this energy revolution which, without Cuba’s aid, would have been impossible.

            We will continue working with you. Today, a session of the 7th High Level Joint Commission is underway in Havana, as you know, and the results I have been informed of till now, regarding what progress has been made under the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and the state of bilateral relations, are extraordinary indeed.

            I should inform you, you’ve probably been informed of this, I should tell you, so that everyone knows, that, yesterday, I authorized Minister Rafael Ramírez to establish a joint venture with Vietnam, and I asked him to mention this project there in Havana, because the three of us, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, could open a joint company based here in Venezuela, or in Cuba, or in the two countries, a light-bulb factory with which we could continue to expand the revolution. Energy-saving light-bulbs and other articles needed to take the energy revolution further, solar panels, wind-power systems. I want to set up those factories here, Fidel, to bring over the technology.

            What do you think about this?

Fidel Castro.- I think these are marvellous ideas. About three days ago, we began to operate a wind power farm in Isla de la Juventud. Though still relatively small, equipped with 275-kilowatt wind-power generators, it serves as a pilot project for what we are planning to do there. There is an area with great potential in the country’s eastern region, where we are taking all of the measurements needed to set up other wind power parks which will produce electricity at lower investment costs.

            You have an advantage over us: your country isn’t lashed by hurricanes. Hurricanes are constantly passing through Cuba and we have to take different types of measures to protect the generators. Sometimes, we have to use cranes, sometimes we have to remove the blades, find some kind of solution. There’s the solar energy alternative. In Caracas, you’ve set up facilities that use reliable technologies and you have made good use of them. Though the initial investment is considerable, later, if you manufacture the technology domestically, this alternative becomes far more economical.

            You are working to set up a stainless steel factory that will rely on the economic sources of energy today available to you, energy, most importantly, that you can save.

            Venezuela has a surface area of nearly one million square kilometers. We’re a bit of driftwood that the gulf currents have left on the shores of our northern friend.

Hugo Chávez.- (In English) Our friends.

Fidel Castro.-You say I once knew English, but I knew how to speak it a long time ago.

Hugo Chávez.- Have you forgotten how to speak it?

Fidel Castro.- The later trauma caused by them erased it from my mind, that’s why I am not blessed with as good a memory as you, with your ability to synthesize, with your musical ear, your ability to remember any song. Because, I don’t believe you’ve partied so much that you remember all of the songs you croon in Aló Presidente. I envy you for that.

Hugo Chávez.- No, it’s me who hasn’t partied as much as you have, I haven’t gone to as many parties as you, I haven’t sung nearly as much as you.

Fidel Castro.-Far from it! I remember more or less the essence of ideas, but you find the exact word, I see you look for it, you repeat it, you look for the exact word.

            When all is said and done, you will be included among the great writers of this hemisphere. And don’t you be sorry for this, for writers are becoming more and more influential.

Hugo Chávez.- I meant to ask you something. What do you think about these breaking news we have just received? 67 % of Americans disapprove of Bush’s policy towards Iraq. You know we are preparing to welcome Bush in South America.

Fidel Castro.- Ah, you’re going to give him a warm welcome. Yes, I heard something about that, I believe grassroots organizations are going to be there, it will be a peaceful and respectful demonstration. But I bet you haven’t heard two bits of news from today.

Hugo Chávez.- Let’s see, share, give us the scoop here at Aló Presidente.

Fidel Castro.- One is that the Shanghai stock exchange index dropped 9 %, and at the New York stock exchange, the king of all stock exchanges, there was a 4 % drop. It is the biggest drop they’ve had in recent years and it serves as confirmation of what we were thinking.

Hugo Chávez.- Well, I hadn’t received these news…

Fidel Castro.-Today, they lost 800 billion dollars there, and that’s the king of stock exchanges, and it dropped even more than when South East Asia experienced that crisis.

            So, I don’t know what’s worrying US leaders more —well, those govern the United States motu proprio—the news about what happened there or Bush’s visit to South America. What do you think?

Hugo Chávez.- I was saying  I hadn’t received the news, about the drop in the Shanghai and New York stock exchange indexes.

            You already know, because you’re on top of everything, that the International Monetary Fund is in crisis. I was saying yesterday, and today, that they may have to ask for a loan from the South Bank. The International Monetary Fund doesn’t have the money to pay wages, they’re selling their gold bars.

Fidel Castro.- Yes, it’s selling its gold, which is the only thing of value today. What it should sell is the paper currency, the paper currency with which the United States pays. Selling the gold is a crazy idea. But, in any event, the South Bank is a respectable bank; it aspires to be a respectable bank.

Hugo Chávez.- It’s going to be a respectable bank.

Fidel Castro.- The International Monetary Fund never was such a thing, the crisis proves it, the crisis proves it. Notice how this occurs two or three days before the drop in the stock indexes.

Hugo Chávez.- It’s the one and only crisis —as you well know—the world economic crisis, but it’s the crisis of one alternative. At the national level, well, everyone has their own model: we have socialism, there in Cuba, here in Venezuela, each with its specific characteristics, and, at the international level, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which we are pushing forward, Fidel, as you well know, pushing forward at top speed.

            Everyone’s asking how you are doing. We were in Martinica, in Dominica and Saint Vincent, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, a friend of ours, and the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines sent you warm greetings. We were shown the work being done to expand the airport in Saint Vincent. There, I met with the Cuban and Venezuelan workers, the team of engineers of the Venezuelan army. We opened the first oil deposit in Dominica and the gas bottling plant in Saint Vincent, with Ralph Gonsalves.

            Everyone asks about you and I tell them what I know, about your recovery, your new Sierra Maestra, that great battle you wage and continue to wage, in which we will accompany you every day, asking God, who, as you said, “helps Chávez and his friends”, to help you along as you recover completely. All of us, millions of us, you know it, Fidel, around the world, want to see you fully recovered soon, something I am sure we will soon see.

            Well, Daniel Ortega was here three days ago and we spoke for several hours. We have a meeting of the Joint Commission in Managua next week.

            As you know, Kirchner came and visited the Orinoco belt. He invited me to Argentina. Let me take advantage of the occasion, as you’ve called, to make the news public, which we hadn’t done. We’re going to hold a meeting in Buenos Aires next week, we’re going to continue making progress in Argentinean-Venezuelan bilateral relations. We have another meeting in Bolivia, we’re going to visit Evo this coming week, on the strategic alliance, the Caracas-Buenos Aires axis which cuts across Brasilia, the axis with La Paz and with Correa now.

            The first ship has arrived in Quito, you probably know this already, I want to take advantage of your call to go over these topics again, how we have made and continue to make progress.

            You, Fidel, are to be held up as an example of resistance and struggle. I don’t want to let the opportunity of your call —which encourages us so much and fills us with joy—pass, to continue reminding our peoples of the courage of revolutionary Cuba and of your courage, your courage, your profound awareness.

            We were recalling that you were here in 1959, when the so called democratic period began, a period which yielded nothing but failures, and these failures led to the Caracazo, and the Caracazo to the 4th of February, and the 4th of February to the present day, to what is happening here today. But you, Cuba and the lesson it represents in terms of dignity, combativeness, courage and infinite solidarity, have always and will always be with us, Fidel.

Fidel Castro.- Listen, Hugo, I wanted to tell you that I met with the head of your delegation. We were talking when we got news from there, so I am very happy. I’ll try to talk —I am with him now—with some of the other personalities later on.

            They are working very hard here, with great enthusiasm, taking advantage of the little time we have left. We cannot neglect the time factor and, in my estimation, we have little time left, and they are apparently even more aware of this than I am.

            I thank you for all your warm wishes and regards. I made a point of reminding myself to pass the microphone over to you, otherwise I can get as carried away as you can. I wouldn’t be able to compete, but perhaps I could  emulate you a bit.

            I also want to thank Venezuelans for their warm greetings, that heroic people, so close to our hearts, who has entrusted you with the responsibilities you have today. History has once again been written. Two hundred years ago, things were very different. The world has changed immensely, especially in the last 60 years, and this is the time we have to take advantage of and on which we have to reflect at length. I devote time to this and feel encouraged, because I believe that there is nothing more important than this. And I am happy to see how your people are working —I already mentioned this to you—with enthusiasm, with commitment. And I thank everyone for their show of affection and the encouragement they give me, now that I am devoted to this task.

            I can’t promise I’ll be there soon to accompany you in one of those trips, but I am gaining ground, I feel I have more energy, more strength and more time to devote to study. I have become a student again, to say it in a few words.

Hugo Chávez- Moral and Lights.

Fidel Castro.- Moral and Lights! Those two words are stuck in my head now. It is the first time I see someone striving to win this moral battle by winning over people’s hearts and minds.

            I don’t know if you have much time left, but you were supposed to talk to Ramírez. You tell me what to do.

Hugo Chávez.-No, I can talk to Ramírez tomorrow. We are happy to be listening to you, very happy to hear from you and to know you are recovering well. Continue to get well. Don’t forget about the tsunami.

Fidel Castro.-No.

Hugo Chávez.-Continue to recover.

Fidel Castro.-I almost forgot one thing. Everyone here is grateful to you for relaying news about me. I speak once and then go into total silence, because I can’t make pronouncements every day, I can’t create the habit, the bad habit in people of having news about me on a daily basis. I beg everyone’s patience and calm. I am happy, because I see that everything is in order. The country marches along, that’s the important thing. And I also appeal to have peace of mind, so I can fulfil my new tasks today.

Hugo Chávez.-Yes, Fidel, I have become…well, you’ve made me into a kind of emissary, a source. Whoever wants to know how Fidel is doing, they come here or call me, they talk to me, and I always tell the truth about what’s happening: your recovery, your example, your perseverance.

            You said you won’t be able to accompany me here on a trip, not soon. It doesn’t matter, because you are always with us, and I hope to be able to return to Havana soon to that we can continue talking, working and gaining ground, as you said. This has been food for thought for all of us.

            The Vice-president, the People’s Power Commission, the Community Center here all send you greetings. We’re going to meet now, after the program: the whole gang, Teresita, Elena, the Venezolana de Televisión and Radio Nacional de Venezuela teams and, well, the millions and millions who are listening to us.

            Do you know how many people listen to the first hour of the program? Forty percent! As you know, the audience of Aló Presidente is huge.

            Let us continue making the most of our time, Fidel, and let us win the battle for life.

Fidel Castro.-Very well.

Hugo Chávez.-Thank you for this historical call.

Fidel Castro.-A million thanks to all of you.

Hugo Chávez.- Let’s give Fidel a round of applause (Applause). A big round of applause for you, brother. I salute you, comrade, friend. You know I have no qualms about this. I call you father before the entire world! Ever onward to victory!

Fidel Castro.-Ever onward to victory!

Hugo Chávez.- We shall triumph!

Fidel Castro.-We shall triumph!

Hugo Chávez.-Bravo! (Applause and cries of “Bravo!”)