(This is the first in a series of articles on Venezuela, drawn from interviews with two members of the group of Venezuelan journalists who visited the University last week. Subsequent articles will deal with industrialization, social reform, the Alliance for Progress, and the place of the university student in Venezuela's political and intellectual life.)
"The main danger of Cuba is not the presence of a few thousand Russian soldiers, but the sponsoring of subversive activities in Latin America," Demitrio Boersner said Friday. The Venezuelan journalist for La Republica said in a CRIMSON interview that economic sanctions against the Castro regime are the best policy as long as Castro continues his hostile course.
Boersner said that the United States should assume a pragmatic policy toward Havana "capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Castro should be closely watched for Titoist tendencies." If Cuba turned toward a neutralist position, the United States, Boersner felt, should reopen diplomatic relations with the island. But he cautioned that at present Castro was showing "Stalinist" rather than "Titoist" deviations.
Tracing the course of Venezuelan-Cuban relations, Boersner noted that until the end of 1960, Venezuela favored a policy "of going easy on Cuba." When the subversive activities of Fidelistas within Venezuela became obvious early in 1961, Venezuela began to take a much tougher line within the Organization of American States. Its good relations with the Castro government deteriorated rapidly, rupturing toward the end of 1961.
"At the time I was opposed to breaking relations," Boersner, a member of Romulo Betancourt's governing Accion Democratica party, said. "Now I think it was inevitable. The Cuban government was giving material support to subversive groups with Venezuela. And the hostile speeches being made against the Venezuelan government were really the talk Communist Stalinists have used against social democrats everywhere."
"I still don't fully understand the Cuban phenomenon," Boersner said. "The Castro regime is the only revolutionary government in the world which has voluntarily submitted to the discipline of the Communist bloc."
Boersner stressed that Venezuela did not condemn the radical social-reform measures that the Cuban government has undertaken, "but only its totalitarian political deviations."
He pointed out that Venezuela's President Betancourt had suggested at the time of Castro's massive expropriations of United States property that the other Latin American countries raise the funds to pay for the expropriated property.