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March 11, 1976

Minutes of the Meeting between Todor Zhivkov and Fidel Castro in Sofia

Minutes of the meeting between Politburo of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party and Comrade Fidel Castro – First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government of Republic of Cuba

11th March 1976, Boyana Residence

The meeting was attended by:

From the Bulgarian side – Stanko Todorov, Alexander Lilov, Boris Velchev, Grisha Filipov, Zhivko Zhivkov, Gen. Ivan Mihajlov, Ivan Popov, Pencho Kubadinsky, Tano Tcolov, Gen. Dobri Djurov, Krastju Stoichkov, Peko Takov, Petar Mladenov, Stoyan Karadjov, Ivan Pramov and Penju Kiratzov.

From the Cuban side – members of the CCP Politburo Ramiro Valduez, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and Ornaldo Milian; members of the CC CCP Joel Romenech, Jose Abrantez, Jose Naranjo and Jesus Montane; acting deputy Chief of Staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba Juan Escalona, and the CC CCP member and Cuban ambassador in Sofia Faustino Perez.


Dear Comrade Castro, dear Cuban Comrades, Friends,


I would like first of all to express our great pleasure with the fact that you, Comrade Castro, accepted our invitation and came to Bulgaria, as has already been announced, on a friendly visit. We regret your not being able to stay longer, but the future is in store for us. We do hope that you will find the time to come and stay in our country for a longer period.


Let me welcome you, Comrade Castro, on behalf of the Central Committee /CC/ of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Politburo and the CC Secretariat, on behalf of our people and wish you health, strength and more success in the development of fraternal Cuba. Everyone knows what Cuba means—an “Island of Freedom” and a troublemaker; instigator of conflict in many parts of the world, not only in Latin America.



/jokingly/ Comrade Zhivkov, you have obviously been listening to the Western news agencies.



This is true.


We have discussed many issues with you. Therefore, I will restrict myself to briefly informing you first of all on the development of the relations between Bulgaria and Cuba; then I will move on to our economic development.


We consider the relationship between Cuba and Bulgaria to be extremely good. We can say that next to those with the Soviet Union, our closest, warmest and most fraternal friendly relations are those with Cuba. And we highly appreciate that.




You are well acquainted with the situation in Bulgaria. You were in our country and I was in yours. As our delegations frequently visit your country, your delegations and comrades visit Bulgaria and have the opportunity to immediately get acquainted with our achievements, our weaknesses and faults. You can even notice some of our blatant mistakes, which regrettably exist and constantly accompany us. We are aware of these mistakes and weaknesses. We have internalized some of them and it is therefore really hard to notice them.




As for our relations with the other socialist countries, we can say that they are very good. We have close relations with the Soviet Union. Our relations with Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and Hungary are also good. Our relationships with Romania are good and develop on a bilateral basis. Although some difficulties do exist concerning the latter, on the whole our relationship is developing well. We argue, about a lot of issues concerning the international development and the international communist movement. We can say that it is with them that we most openly talk, although we are dependent on them, since a large part of our transport to the Soviet Union passes through Romania. The electric power lines and gas pipes from the Soviet Union to Bulgaria also go through Romania. Therefore, if only they wish to, they can cause us some trouble. But we can only openly speak our minds on some issues we disagree with them on.


Our relations with the Balkan countries have been developing well. We can say that never before has Bulgaria achieved such progress in the relations on the Balkan Peninsula as they generally are at present. We do have certain problems with Yugoslavia. One of them is the so-called Macedonian issue. But the main problem does not concern the latter. Being neighboring countries, we know each other quite well. Even if the Macedonian issue was not present, I don't think our relations would have been normal. Yugoslavia has adopted a policy of keeping the balance. Whenever they establish closer contacts with Cuba, they attack Bulgaria. When they get closer to the Soviet Union, they attack us again. Their goal is to prove to the Americans that they are independent. I am joking of course—your relations with them are now getting better. Whenever we step forward towards the Soviet Union, their press starts attacking us. We don't lose temper, though, and do not react to what they write against us, and they do write ridiculous things.



Is the Yugoslav press controlled?



If they write against Tito , they will definitely go to jail. They say that the press is not controlled, that it is free, but this is not true and cannot be true.



Are there a lot of things that are not being controlled?



There are. There are both spontaneous and nationalist activities. But they cannot gain control of everything. The malicious campaign against Bulgaria however is directed. It starts in Skopje and is spilling over to Belgrade. Yet despite this situation, we are taking pains to live in peace and understanding. Our trade has been on the rise, links between our parties have been established, cultural relations are developing etc.



They have been attacking us too. But there must be some kind of control, since lately the attacks have lessened. Some time ago we spoke a lot of other things about them, but now the relations have improved.



There was a time when we reacted to these malicious attacks. Yet now we have declared that no matter what they write about us, we will not retaliate. They know it that their propaganda has no impact on in Bulgaria. They seem to be monotonously repeating themselves, as if in a song or as if they are singing the Lord's Prayer in a church.


Our relations with the other Balkan countries are good. I already mentioned Romania. On the whole Bulgaria's prestige on the Balkans has increased. Why? Because our policy is high-principled, not opportunistic. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows that we are related to the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. No common Balkan initiative can be carried out without Bulgaria.


Our relations with Turkey and Greece are improving. Those with Albania are frozen. With Cyprus our relations are good.


As you well know, we actively participate in the international communist movement.


This is all what I wanted to say. Thank you for your attention.





When you invited me, I accepted this short visit to Bulgaria. Furthermore, I decided to have a 72-hour rest during my visit; I have been intensively working, not having even a day's rest, for many months now, both before the Congress and after it. I told comrade Zhivkov I would come for at least two days. These two days have actually turned four. I had decided to stay one or two days, but I had one extra day. Taking advantage of my extra day, my visit has practically become a four-day trip. Next I am leaving for Algeria where I will stay for two days, and then – to Conakry, also for two days. I will also visit [Ahmed] Sekou Toure but I would above all like to meet Neto there. He is going to Conakry where we will meet. Initially I was thinking of going to Angola as well, but later on I gave it a second thought and decided that it was not the most appropriate moment. Moreover, the situation there has more or less changed for the better. That is why I finally decided to come back from Conakry to Havana and there to meet Neto. I might invite some other African leaders. I will try to invite Machel , Nguabi and Cabral . I might have a short talk with some of these leaders.


Nevertheless, considering how busy you are, I would feel uncomfortable taking up all your time. That is why I suggested that we do not observe diplomatic protocol. I did not want an overblown reception; I wanted a trip as simple as possible. Nevertheless I took up some of Todor Zhivkov's time and that of the other comrades that are present now.




As for our foreign policy, it is much like yours. We essentially share the same problems; we have adopted a similar stance regarding China and Romania. Our relations with Yugoslavia have traditionally been bad, ever since the very beginning of the revolution. However, they have recently improved. They took a correct stand on the problem with Angola, supporting and helping Cuba's position. We highly appreciate this support. This has been the most important step forward they have made so far.


Our relations with the USA continue to be bad. We have the impression that it will take a long time before our relations with the USA begin to improve. These relations will be hard to improve, since there are many debatable issues, many spots of conflict not only in Latin America but elsewhere too. Moreover, we have to be cautious not to yield to Kissinger's statements. He declared a couple of times that the relations with Cuba must improve. Yet we know that it is objectively hard to make progress because there are numerous problems.




Now the Angola issue has arisen. And it has been added to the previous issues. Due to our participation there they cannot improve their relations with us.


These are only part of the problems. A lot of problems will appear in the near future, for instance the one on Panama. The problem is that we live in a definite region of the world where the conflicts between the nations and the USA are constantly increasing. What are we to do in such a situation? Shall we remain neutral or shall we adopt a friendly attitude towards the Americans? The latter is practically impossible. The peculiar situation we have found ourselves in makes the normalization of our relations difficult to achieve. Obviously, we will be in this situation for quite some time. Hence our line is not to make any concessions and keep patient. Of course, it would be to our advantage to establish economic links with the US. Maybe trade would start going. But this is not the main issue. We will therefore leave it aside for some time and wait for better times.


Recently Ford made a sharp statement, threatening us to some extent. Yet, we will not give up.


As you know, our relations with the Lain American communist parties have improved greatly. We had a discussion with them last year where we prepared a very good statement. The Latin American communist parties are strongly united. Only the Mexicans manifested discord on a text containing severe criticism against China. However we did not consider this a basis for dispute. The Mexicans are to a certain extent in friendly relations with the Romanians. Whenever someone expresses disagreement with our China policy, the Romanians start brainwashing them trying to instigate conflicts; they take up rousing distrust toward the Soviet Union and breaking up the movement.


Our relations with the Chinese have gradually been deteriorating. We do not know the extent to which our economic links will worsen. We still have considerable trade with them, but we do not know how long it will continue. There still has not been any reaction on their part in this respect. We have now started a strong campaign against them due to their policy in Angola, since we managed to collect evidence of their cooperation with the counterrevolutionary movement. We discussed their stand, which was essentially in support of the Republic of South Africa. Their whole conduct made it easy for us to expose them. They have taken a lot of political action in Africa, a lot of demagogy. They have visited a lot of countries, organized rallies, demonstrations, etc. They have made investments. These things are obvious.




As for Angola, I will briefly tell you about it. It is not that we are there to “create conflicts”…



I actually used something worse – “instigate conflicts”. By the way, we, the Bulgarian communists, are very much in favor of such things.



I would like to explain briefly what actually happened. We established relations with MPLA . We trained a lot of the present MPLA leaders militarily—we organized them in Congo-Brazzaville over ten years ago. We cannot afford to provide direct assistance, though. On the one side there is Zaire, on the other – Namibia, on the third – Zambia. We spent a lot of efforts helping the [Communist] Party of Guinea-Bissau. We carried out training of a lot of people with the help of the Republic of Guinea. We sent instructors to take part in the battles, even against the Portuguese. Following the crisis in Portugal, an interesting process has been under way: Angola has undoubtedly become an attractive tidbit. Still earlier Zaire organized its own army – FNLA that intervened in Angola. Today Agostinho Neto and other African leaders admit that they have made a mistake agreeing to a coalition government with these people. This is what made them even more belligerent. The FNLA was set up by the CIA, while UNITA – by the Portuguese. When the coalition government was formed, the CIA and the imperialists immediately started working and intervening there. Furthermore, they had favorable opportunities to act, since it was through Zaire that they sent armaments, they could also enter the country. Both the Republic of South Africa and UNITA provided armaments. MPLA kept the capital and part of the territory that was still under control of the Portuguese, but it was not easy for us to send weapons. The Soviets helped with Congo-Brazaville. The Angolans, however, could not accept weapons from there because the Portuguese were in the country. After the coalition government was ousted, they asked for help. They had asked for help in February, but it was not until August that we realized they needed assistance, seeing the bad state they were in. In September we decided to send them a certain amount of weapons and instructors. At that time part of Northern Angola was controlled by FNLA. Parts of the South, particularly the Portuguese regions, were controlled by UNITA.


In fact, had there been no intervention by the imperialists, MPLA would have alone regained control, since it had experience in battles, was better-armed and with clearer political principles. But they did not have the strength to oppose Zaire and the Republic of South Africa. In the beginning we decided to provide a definite number of instructors and weaponry which we dislocated right on the Angolan coast. We sent staff to establish three military schools. We sent 60 officers for each school plus one more group in the commanding staff of our mission. We offered to organize a school in Cabinda because the situation there was very dangerous. Cabinda is a center with great oil reserves. If the published data proved true, then the oil in Cabinda would amount to about 100 billion dollars. They say they have the capacity to produce about 50 million tons annually, whereas at present they are producing 8 million tons. We knew the imperialist countries had spotted Cabinda above all; therefore we sent officers to organize a school as well as a certain amount of heavy armament – two 120-mm batteries and personnel for them. That happened around 15 – 20 October. There were no fights then, but we were nevertheless worried, since the Portuguese had left Cabinda on October 10th whereas independence was to be declared on November 11th. MPLA had a couple of troops employed to defend Cabinda. Yet, if the enemy had attacked Cabinda after October 10th, it would have taken it. Once having conquered it, we wouldn't have managed to regain control of it, since they had made up a government that was to declare the independence of Cabinda. That government was going to be the government of “Cabinda Gulf Oil Corporation”. Therefore we sent there both our officers and some heavy weaponry, since we ourselves had no idea what would happen after October 10th. Fortunately, they did not attack Cabinda immediately after the Portuguese left, but waited for November 11th to approach. On October 25th we established the military school in Cabinda. There were maybe about 300-400 Cubans there. We had instructed them how to protect themselves in the region of the school in case of military action. Their task was to organize and instruct MPLA soldiers. The Soviet Union had sent arms earlier – “Kalashnikov” submachine guns, 72-mm cannons, bazookas etc. There had been difficulties to have these arms transferred. We sent there enough arms for MPLA to equip 14-15 thousand people. These were Czech semi automated guns. We provided recoilless guns and bazookas. The military action took place in a setting where neither of the two parties could advance. But at the beginning of November the situation became very difficult, since Zaire's regular units had invaded and were advancing southwards. They came as near as some 25 km away from the capital Luanda. They came by armored personnel carriers and artillery. The situation demanded that one of our schools set up a defense line together with an artillery battery with a caliber of 120 mm. On October 23rd regular South African units invaded the country by armored vehicles and personnel carriers, artillery and motorized infantry. They were advancing quickly—60 to 70 km daily—because they did not meet any resistance. On November 3rd the cadets that had passed a 10 to 12-day instruction course with the Cubans, were sent against these columns. That was the first resistance provided there. They managed to keep them back for a couple of hours. The South Africans had invaded 500 km inland. The cadets destroyed a couple of their armored vehicles, and inflicted certain damage. In these battles we suffered our first losses – 5-6 officers were killed, some disappeared, some were wounded etc. The situation changed for the worse. The Zaire army had advanced from the north and was some 25 km away from Luanda. South African units were entering from the south. Cabinda was awaiting an attack. The situation was really desperate. We relied on being able to stop the armies from the north, since there were natural obstacles there. Moreover, Zaire's forces are not among the best equipped units in the world. Thus we expected to be able to defend the capital from the north. Yet if the South African units kept advancing at the same rate, they would reach Luanda in a couple of days from the south. On November 5th when we heard about the collision between our cadets and the South African units, we had to make a decision. We either had to sit and wait to lose Luanda, Angola, MPLA and about 400 Cubans, who couldn't retreat because there was no way back, or we had to take some action against the South African columns in order to keep at least a part of Angola's territory. So we decided to send a battalion of special units with anti-tank weapons by air. We covered the 12,000 km distance with the same airplanes we have been using for over 20 years. On the 6th I met with the staff of this battalion. They left on the 7th, and on the 8th the first unit arrived in Luanda.


Our battalion was instructed to keep the South African columns back, even to destroy one of them. We decided to send by sea an artillery regiment with 120 and 80 mm guns, with artillery and armored vehicles. But while the battalion was on the way, the South Africans kept advancing. There were already two companies of the ones we had sent. Angolan and Cuban troops that were sent to the school resisted for a couple of hours, but on the following day the enemy resumed its attack. That took place on November 11th. But before that, on November 8th, white mercenaries, regular tank units from Zaire and some counterrevolutionaries—about 1500 people altogether—attacked Cabinda. Cabinda is 40-50 km long. They advanced 25 km. But the people who defended Cabinda performed extremely well. They brought out all cadets from the school and mined all vulnerable places. Later they counter-attacked and in three days put an end to the crisis. That was achieved by 260 Cubans and two battalions of Angolans. Yet the success was attributable to the 120 mm artillery. There were over 300 enemy troops killed. That happened on November 8th, 9th and 10th. We were lucky not to have been attacked earlier, since our arms arrived on October 25th. The school was set up on the 25th. They had time for intensive training between October 25th - November14th. If the enemy had attacked on October 11th, [Cabinda] would have been lost. On the 6th and 7th they attacked Luanda, the school, the Cuban staff and some of MPLA's units. Our personnel managed to defend their position thanks to the artillery and withstood the attack. On the 10th the enemy came back with greater force—a South African-operated 140-mm artillery, light tanks and infantry artillery. But between the 9th and 10th a lot of the Soviet arms had arrived in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo – [particularly] the artillery BM 21 type Katyusha. They actually waited for the 11th of November to come, so that they could attack, but our column went to Congo, took the Katyusha and unloaded them at Luanda. This happened between the 8th and 9th, and on the 10th they were already in battle.



Can they operate with these Katyushas?



We had sent there our staff. On the 10th of November they took part in the fights for Luanda. When we fired the reactive artillery, the enemy was terrified and Luanda was saved. On the 10th Luanda was saved, but the south Africans continued their offensive from the south until our battalion arrived. We deployed at a river, the bridges of which had been blown up, and organized a defensive line. The eastern side of the river was held by UNITA and the South Africans crossed there. On November 23rd our soldiers defeated for the first time a South African column. They managed not only to keep it back, but also launch counter-attack. A unit of 120mm cannons and three “Katyushas” accomplished this. Our soldiers were actually able to stop any attempts whatsoever for the enemy to cross the river. The artillery regiment arrived on November 30th by sea and was off for the front right away.


We were determined to make all efforts to save at least a part of Angola. We asked the Soviet Union for military equipment. We told our comrades that we needed about 90 tanks and 30mm cannons to fight effectively the South African army. We asked for such help at the beginning of December. It was actually the Soviet Union that had helped them until then, on the one hand, and we were helping them, on the other. They informed us of what weapons they were going to send and we informed them of our shipments. We knew that the Soviets were sending “Katyushas”, therefore we sent personnel, since the Angolan were not capable of operating them. Every time arms were sent, we took control of it. There was some silent coordination between us. The South Africans also received support. We suffered certain losses. They continued increasing their arsenal. They brought armored cars into battles. One time they even managed to break through our defense line. Although it is true that our comrades made some serious mistakes, [little could be done because] the enemy attacked with armored personnel carriers and managed to break through one of our lines. The line was set up again further inward, and it was there that the enemy was stopped.


Thus by employing the greater part of our armed forces we managed to keep the South African divisions back and attack with smaller forces form the North so as to destroy them, for the enemy was weaker there. We strengthened Cabinda, since were had already been informed that it would be attacked again. We sent additional support via Congo.


At the end of December the situation was unpredictable. During the first days of January severe battles with the South Africans were fought. They actually tried to weaken our defensive capability. The battle fought was fierce indeed. Even then, however, they were not able to capture any position of ours and started suffering heavy losses. They fought a secret and silent war. Although they were not there officially, they were actually 700 km inland. At the end of December the Soviets sent us tanks and Katyushas. Yet we could not conduct flights at that moment. The Americans had gradually closed all airports on the Azore Islands where our airplanes stopped for refueling. Then the Soviets secured ten flights by Il-62 and 5 additional flights. This was we started getting in Angola our tanks and artillery.


When we were given a positive response to our request from the Soviets, we realized that everything was certain. Then we sent what was lacking to finally solve the problem - three infantry regiments, tanks and artillery. This happened at the beginning of January. Yet the offensive in the North was unfolding fast. The major cities were seized with two mechanized squadrons, an infantry regiment, three tanks, a 120-mm battery, a 75-mm battery and three Katyushas. They carried out a blitzkrieg offensive with several of MPLA's squadrons involved. Nobody could even imagine the small number of these troops. They managed to take thousands of prisoners and confiscate thousands of weapons. Taking advantage of their initial success, they started invading all cities one after the other. The weapons the Soviets were going to send and those that we were sending would have caused a 2-month delay of our attack—to January or February. We had planned to carry out the attack against the South Africans in the period March 10 - March 11. We had to decide how to cross the river. Yet, the outcome of the battles with the South Africans on January 1, where their suffered a defeat, not being able to break through our defensive line, made them think that an attack against them was to begin later.


What were the factors that played a crucial role?


1. The internal problems that developed as a result of the secret war they were involved in. The growing number of troops they were facing. They were about 700 km away from their border and decided to withdraw so as to get closer to their supply bases.


2. Dodging an [embarrassing] defeat they would have suffered at the river.


3. They thought that as we advanced, our supply line would be overextended and units of UNITA would be able to operate in our rear.


Such military and political factors made them withdraw. It was then that we decided to attack fast. Therefore, the offensive was carried out a month earlier with only a third of the units planned in advance. All the resources needed for the attack were already on the road. Only a third of them was enough to make a rapid advancement and cross the river. Our people had to overcome serious hardships. Then they took over the railroad and reached the region at about 200 km away from the border with Namibia. In February and March we concentrated our troops in this direction. They advanced by about 80 -100 km. Our troops were now located at about 150 km away from the border of Namibia. New troops kept arriving. At the beginning of April all will be ready, including a large amount of anti-aircraft guns to provide the protection for our tanks. We had the impression however that we might not fight at the very border with Namibia. We think that they will withdraw from this strip of land they have occupied.


Of course our goal is to reach a political agreement, to avoid a collision, since they outnumber us in terms of aircraft and are also much closer to their supply bases.


What do we do now? We have to rebuild communications, prepare the airports and organize the anti-aircraft defense. The Soviets gave us two squadrons MIG -21 and MIG-17 with Cuban pilots. In other words, we were creating the necessary conditions to set up a defensive line in case they attack before the Angolan army is organized. We will have to think what to do if they do not withdraw. Whether we resolve the problem with all African countries exercising some [political] pressure or through military action, we are yet to see. In any case, there is no cease-fire yet.


We are taking all measures necessary to protect our units: we have fortified strongly to be able to withstand any attack and preserve the military viability of our troops. We are also monitoring closely the military actions and the characteristics of the terrain. We need at least two more months to achieve that. But we do believe that they will ultimately withdraw without putting up a fight for this strip of land. We have powerful troops dislocated there in addition to the Soviet and our weapons. With our 200 tanks, today we have about 300 tanks, 3 divisions and 7 regiments up against the South Africans. This equals two infantry divisions and a tank division. We have actually sent much more than the Americans said we did. They speak of some 12,000 people.


That is the situation. When we first made the decision to send troops to Angola our goal was not only to liberate Angola, but also to save our own officers that worked there. It turned out that we had to save Cabinda and a part of the territory of Angola. Some even thought Angola would become a second Korea, since there were four fronts—Cabinda, Luanda, the northern and the southern front lines. We may claim that we saved Angola with the minimum number of troops we sent and with the troops that are now there.


Our goals are:


1. To win.


2. To keep our victory.


3. To gain maximum benefits from it, since all Africans are now in favor of the independence of Namibia and Rhodesia.


4. To avoid any war in the future. This is actually our main goal. The war has been won so far.


I do not think that the South Africans will be able to defend the strip of land they have occupied. We hope to achieve this without any military action—otherwise we will suffer heavy losses. However, there is Namibia in the middle of it all. To conquer it, we will need to advance further inland and surround it. However such action involves our troops invading Namibia and thus bringing negative consequences on the international stage. We must carefully consider the situation. Our units should temporarily stay put at least until an Angolan army capable of defending its country is set up. Some are demanding that our people withdraw. Yet, we are not willing to do this.


I think that several myths have been exposed:


• The myth of Zaire;


• The myth of the white mercenaries. When we launched our attack on the northern region the mercenary troops were completely destroyed;


• The myth of the Republic of South Africa. The latter is something like Israel in the southern Africa.


The Chinese suffered heavy defeat as well.


These are the four myths that are done away with. We suffered insignificant losses, yet they were less than our losses in Playa Giron . Many of our artillery units and armored personnel carriers are still dislocated there. And we follow this principle: the better armed our troops are, the smaller number of human losses we would suffer.


These are in general the events in Angola and this is how we assess the situation there. The problem still remains unresolved and the enemy will not be able to rest. They will have to withdraw and leave Namibia. This is upsetting the Americans a lot.



Thank you, comrade Castro. We were given an interesting and comprehensive account of the situation in Angola.



I would most kindly request that you do not share this information with others.



We must provide assistance in political terms as well.



If that could be done, it will be very welcome.



We have not discussed it in Politburo, but when I attended the Congress of the CPSU, I raised this question with our Soviet comrades. Africa is growing more important for us because the revolutionary movement has been gaining momentum, particularly after the victory in Angola. Progressive regimes have been well established in a number of African countries. All this raises the following two problems:


1. How to secure these regimes, since in certain countries there are elements capable of setting up relatively small armed groups that could overthrow the regime. Therefore, we should send there in the form of experts a tank task force; the latter should actually be headed by us. I am not talking about Angola. I am talking about the other African countries. In Mozambique, for example, a priest was about to overthrow the government.


2. On the food problem. I came upon a secret US report on how to tackle the problem with the starvation of these close to 450 million people. It was a detailed program. First, they consider that their own food production should be stimulated so that they could supply food [to the poor countries]. It is only then that they will help the developing world with local food production. They want to secure political influence by providing food. We have to take some action. Bulgaria cannot do much at present, but most of these countries have all the necessary conditions to grow their own crops. We should draw up a program of our own. Our research institutes, for example under COMECON, have to approach these issues. We would thus be able to solve the problem of food provision at least at the lowest possible level. There are countries the population of which is starving, Somalia and South Yemen, for instance. A lot of our experts working there say that the food stores are empty.



I think that if we achieve the necessary coordination between all socialist countries, we would achieve certain success.



Since we cannot provide food, we can help them produce it. Some of these countries can even reap two harvests in a single year. This cannot happen in Bulgaria.



I think that Bulgaria and Cuba can join their efforts in this respect. Angola is in need of economic assistance at the moment but in near future the country will not need much help. There are 70,000 people living in Cabinda, but they will be able to provide for themselves.



If we take over 5 million decares of agricultural land in these countries and harvest twice a year with our own equipment and people, this should solve the food problem.





We can also send an expert group of geologists to conduct the necessary research. We can send agricultural experts right away, as well as experts in geological research.



That's wonderful. They have a lot of warehouses. They have a lot of hospitals. They have more village hospitals than we have in Cuba.



We can start right away. Should Neto agree, we'll send experts immediately.


Thank you once again. Now let me invite you to the dinner table.

Conversation for the record between Zhivkov and Castro during a four-day-long state visit of the Cuban leader to Bulgaria. Among the main issues discussed was the state of economic development in both countries, their relations with Albania, China, Romania and Yugoslavia; the Cuban foreign policy in Africa and the Caribbean; the civil war in Angola; the battle for the Third World.

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Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 1-B, Record 60, File 194. Contributed by the Bulgarian Cold War Research Group, translated by Kalina Bratanov, and edited by Jordan Baev and Kalin Kanchev.


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