Transcript for Barbara Walters on her unforgettable 1977 Fidel Castro interview
In this historic moment for Cuba and the United States who better to give it contacts and ABC's Barbara Walters thank you. 1970s. That you sit down the first American journalists to sit down with Fidel Castro. An interview that was endless I think. We finished at 1:30 in the morning. Castro by the way I don't know what he's done to us but he's allowed to talk at night you live just tea in the day. He did not speak English at least. We didn't think he's (%expletive) she had a beautiful. Female translator and now you want me to I was with him at all time. And he talked and talked and talked. For hours this interview hours act five hours. Something like and is out but this was not unusual for him. I remember by the way that he said that if they lifted the embargo if we lifted the embargo. He would shave my office he would win fifty happens. 1970 cents. This was that they get to vote gets right that among the most important figures on earth to talk to how to get. I had gone to Cuba. When I was working for another net play. And met him very briefly I went with a whole bunch of reporters. And said to him then. Would you do an interview. It took as many years. To actually get. From men who likes to talk he does that very few interviews when he finally sat down. It was. For me memorable and and to a large degree because we crossed the band pics together I was the first American to have crossed the bad thing. Since that we head count and paid attention. So at qwest has start and I remember the high points. Not every detail. Bullish or sensitive. Your feeling is today's much bigger than he actually yes that is a big bear a man. He was all continue to fund. I shouldn't say always. The last time my son whom he was not he was laying businesses do to me that he was almost unrecognizable. Because he loved walking around in his khaki. You from. He lies finally. Had had the true loved him. We travel throughout the country throughout this Leann Hester and locked rooms where he had been. A guerrilla when he was trying to take over from but he's just trying to. Get him into eastern who's addicted. And keep the word charismatic was made him. You would've liked him I would have liked them then you have to stop this thing just a minute this is a man who does not believe in freedom of the press you tell me. Does not believe in democracy is we know democracy. Had political truces. But when you are whipped him. He winds. Forceful. Chiming forthcoming. How did you balance that that notion that that certainly charming. But knowing what he was capable knowing this is a man as you note despise. Certainly by generations of Cuban Americans in this country despise quietly in corners of his own country. When I came home by the way I knew he was despise that I realized. When I got threatening letters from himself and for a very short time had bodies my family because it was such. And probably still news such anger into action you know when you do an interview you have to. Yet in that position and whether it's for job cast. I don't know Yasser Arafat. Might have food and and then not that when you're in a cannot that a judge you didn't get your questions and said and the way to do it for me. Is two. Counter attack may be but but not to challenge does this and this is not a why did you how continent I didn't do that. Now as we see there is its celebrations. In Havana across Cuba what was savanna like back then in 97 cents. Well remember that there was celebrations. When he got rid of Batiste. And I remember going down to Cuba. Out with my father at the time Batiste and so when Castro can mend. This was a great relief we did not know in this country that he was a Communist he hadn't sent so that. And Cuba and would the last time I was there was still very beautiful they mentions that was there and and that just is time that. Peach color and pale blue mansion just don't there I do remember that the toilets did not have toilet seats in. It's a wonderful country and it's a country of course that went on to have Americans. I would think now going in droves as as a great tourist attraction. Do you think in Sydney seven he could ever have imagined that we be Marie are now that this this this effort to that a relationship between the US and Cuba. I think it was not concerned with his own country. They do have a great health program he did do that he created he created it. He tried to abolish basis and you didn't feel discrimination. Against. Black. Eyes so distances that Newton. That was something that he. Make sure was not the case. And and didn't you know follow along while he existed. In great pot thing 'cause of him Bob now I mean had a relationship with the Russians. He had the sympathy of many people. Now it's wonderful but not will be one more a small country that we will visitors tourists and we won't buy their products and they went. But it was not going to have. The vehement sends the mystery that it had all engineers of them by about I thought the embargo was of certain as a general. What did you learn from him that you any old but that report that that Americans in 2004 team in grass about this I think the hard thing was to balance. And that this person man who was considered up and Joan you know practically to day a dictator. A man to be he had a man who had political prisoners a man who did not believe in our values. And I think about how would we can look objectively at what he did find his country. And the fact that we have relationships. I mean it makes so much sense doesn't use on of Wanda what a minute why didn't win but. And I thought he was a Communist we could vacuum that was amazing. We could be have relations with Communist China but not with our neighborhoods 100 miles away. In I understand that you have a note in Spanish when you wall at home from Fidel Castro from may twentieth 1977. And one between 9 AM in the morning. And incest from Barbara as a remembrance of the most difficult interview that handed all the days of my life I was us of the. I was unless. And because I was I want to ask them questions he did so few interviews. That effective people. I was able to ask them his feelings about democracy language. Does not see it as we do but I also asked some personal questions that she doesn't like and doesn't usually respond to. I don't know that much about him I asked if he was married I kept pushing it he kept saying why anyone and no on question people won enough. And he finally said. What we translated to be formally. No. We hear he has something like five children here and has triplets is grandchildren. But as a person we know very. I understand it and you did that day with him he went to several locations. While what we did not seamless travel through the minds of the city master and mountains with him. As he drove his own G I sat next to him web. His gun in my lap I was. Why is Aaron why Mira and that and hot candies because he would stop along the way to children. And he would give them high attendance. He did not like the personification. He's then no pictures. I'm of Castro as you go along the way you know it's not. They're not. The way it is for example when I went to Beijing and you saw pictures of my on this I'm going back treasure Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein you do not seem distant. And does not. He did he did not wanted to be one man but. Obviously everybody knew what is it is that modesty because they're the receptionist and is big ego. I think this part of a home business about this is for the country this is not the man but you know. You just I never sent to him how come there are no pictures but it was not and has personality. So you you you do this long interview with Fidel Castro and everywhere he wanted to be paid. Not this had run away finish this. And this thing he said okay you should pay mansion partially Palin said because doctor distance he negotiated with the Cuban television. To do this interview. At first they want and a great deal of money Castro himself. Brought them down to size and science education and we said we're not gonna pay him as a producer. This abomination pay me you know act as an interview I'm center not that good. I mean you couldn't do this with him in the and finally we said wow will pay you as a guide. We gave him five dollars and no sign. At a question strange trip because that wasn't. And good humor. And afterwards she took action side natives grilled cheese sandwiches. By the way the next time I saw him which is here in this country when he was visiting. He builds lobsters. Us. So I mean that there was so strange kind of you know good natured and that we have to say July sounds this was and then there was and may happen to own. You know this minute. And that that strange usually it's much room as you know much for a patent guy. As you pushed him and we know you pushed. Did you see some of that age some of the that the darker side. You do when you talk to him about freedom of the press. You do when you talk to him about democracy and his eyes and you sound mind and democracy tonight dealers. And then you can not and self socialism. You cannot take upon our system he sees the toughness of the man. We may not live to see political prisoners. And he would turn the tables and talk about our own. And discrimination. And then you've got to just cash you talk to mistaking you begin the second time in 2002. Nearly thirty years later holly change. Well first about a lessening unified. And I said to him and all these years I've gotten blonde and you've gotten Graham had. And Wesson as important an engineer I didn't think it was exciting in Japan because a lot of happened and we've learned to make Allen much that we hadn't known. So I mean I've been trying to do an interview with him since I live in. And for a man who likes to talk because castor would talk from. I mean the original interview that we did ran five hours and they ran all of it in Cuba I'm not happy if you wanna say it on their wise. But he's he's not a man who likes to do interviews have talked about himself. Certainly you spent more time with him. The American that's five of my track. Any sense of how you think he might view this month. I would assume with a sense of relief but also. There was something about the embargo. That air of mystery and that being believed to and this huge which was to his advantage. It's always good for people have a dog care I wouldn't. And now that net net dogs taken not a dog is lagging the scale.
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