E. Howard





INTERVIEWER: This is tape number 10841 its Mr. Yuri Pavlov who was head of the Latin American division of the Soviet Foreign office. Perhaps we could start Mr. Pavlov with you telling us exactly your positions which you held in the Foreign Office and well your positions and where you went from there.

YURI PAVLOV: Well actually I started my diplomatic career in 54, I worked as interpreter, that was my first acquaintance with the Cuban Missile Crisis, when I happened to interpret for Nikita Khrushchev in October 62 his conversation with Mr. Max of Westinghouse Electric, when Nikita Khrushchev, orally warned the USA through an official channel using Mr. Nox visiting Moscow on his business, heard that Soviet submarines, nuclear submarines are not fishing for tuna, in the vicinity of the US coasts. If the US government, the US navy decides to intercept Soviet nation ships that will be an act of war.

INTERVIEWER: Right and then after that where did you go?

YURI PAVLOV: Well after that I worked for many years in second European department. I spent five years in Soviet Embassy in London and back to second European Department. Then I spent 4 years in Australia as Minister of Consul at the Soviet Embassy there, and after that working for some more years in the second European Department, I was switched to Latin America and sent as ambassador to Costa Rica in 82 and when I came back I headed the first, a first Latin American division. And then it emerged first and second Latin American division and so on, and so I became head of the Latin American Director to the Department of the Soviet Foreign Ministry. And this lasted until December 90 when I was appointed as ambassador to Chile.

INTERVIEWER: And when did you leave the Soviet diplomatic service?

YURI PAVLOV: Well I left it in November 90, just one month before disintegration of the Soviet Union.

INTERVIEWER: And you came to the United States.

YURI PAVLOV: Well I came to the United States and I worked initially for the university of Miami in north south center. And then moved to California and worked for the University of California, and now I am in Oregon.

INTERVIEWER: Right, well could you tell me, what were the Soviet objectives in their policy towards Latin America in general terms?

YURI PAVLOV: Well in general terms roughly it was Lenin's idea that what was later to be called 3rd world countries should be and will be the reservoir of revolutionary activities and support for the proletarians of Russia and other countries in Europe even when they opt for socialism and he was thinking in terms of the millions and millions of masses and colonialist and semi-colonial countries and Latin America in that sense was termed as a semi-colonial area under the domination of the US, would join in the struggle against imperialism. So that was the general direction of the policy and the Comintern, acting for the local communist parties was trying to foster revolutionary moments in Latin America. They were repeated at times by local revolutionaries with support of Moscow, its like the *** *** of Louis Carlos Bestos in Brazil in the 30s to destabilize existing regimes, but then Soviet policy makers came to understand that their resources were too limited and the left wing in Latin American countries was too weak to seriously challenge the US domination there, and therefore at that stage economic interests I would say at time became predominant of Latin America regard it as useful source of some raw materials and food products imported to the Soviet Union. And also a market for Soviet machinery and equipment because Latin Americans were not so demanding as to the quality of the product, what they were interested in was the longevity and the price, so that was one of the few places in the world where Soviet manufacturers could compete with western manufacturers. But then with the Cuban revolution again the situation changed radically in the sense that now as one socialist country, just on the doorstep of the United States and the Cubans tried to persuade us, Soviet leaders that the rest of Latin America will follow pursuit, that all of Latin America will become Cubans here, Maestro revolutionaries, taking power in country after country, and at that time Castro had some grounds to believe that this strategy will succeed because the Latin American military and right wing elements of the political spectrum were too hot-headed and too square headed to understand that it was their policy of suppressing any expression of discontent and depriving the opposition of any means of carrying on their political activities and that pushed the left wing into taking arms. Like it happened in Salvador and in other countries. But then in Venezuela the very moment *** with the people in power coming to understand that it was in their interests to do so. And then actually Castro's idea did not have any longer much support in Moscow. Moscow's emphasis was that the main stimulus and instrument for helping to force revolutions in other countries would be not through armed struggle and insurrections but through picking up Soviet economy and establishing kind of a model socialist country, which would proceed by showing an example the countries of the 3rd world, in the advantages of socialist way of development. And that's what was I think the, one of the main echoes of discord between Castro and Soviet leaders. That Castro was of the opinion now we should first, it's not moral to build socialism in one particular country while the 3rd world countries are going through starvation and hunger and deprivation. You should first help 3rd world countries and then devote your resources to building your own economy. And this debate was going on for years. And it was expressed in Moscow, not approving Castro adventures in Latin America, of course Castro was not a man to be told what to do, and so there were attempts by Soviet leaders in a very cautious form not to offend his feelings to give him advice on that but he rarely listened to that advice, if at all. Therefore it just went on until Castro himself and his lieutenant admitted that that was long after that was already in Gorbachev time here in Perestroika in the Soviet Union,

INTERVIEWER: You were talking for a moment about the missile crisis. Did the outcome of the missile crisis in a sense change the Soviet attitude towards Cuba and Latin America in a big way do you think?

YURI PAVLOV: Yes certainly it did change well first it changed the whole Soviet strategy and attitude towards the United States.

INTERVIEWER: Could you actually start, the missile crisis, or the outcome of the missile crisis?

YURI PAVLOV: Well the outcome of the missile crisis, was two-fold. On the one thing, on the one hand it was a narrow escape from a nuclear holocaust for both parts, and this was taken very seriously both in Washington and in Moscow because before that it was kind of a not so serious, although there were moments of tension and near clashes in Berlin but no one was thinking in terms of nuclear confrontation in Europe. But with Cuba it was different, Soviet nuclear missiles were already there, they were targeted on US cities and other targets and another thing was that technical missiles were already there, and General Kliev, Commander in Chief of Soviet Troops stationed in Cuba, had the authority to use these technical missiles, if needed to repulse the US attack against Cuba and Soviet troops stationed there. Which would have led automatically to escalation of nuclear exchanges. Or the US would have responded in kind. So it was a very narrow escape, and the lesson which was learned by both sides that we should never allow this to happen again. this action later on led to agreements during Nixon administration in the early 70on means ways and means of to limit the danger of nuclear exchange happening through no fault of either side, but through accident or just kind of a logical chain of events.

That was one thing. Another thing was that at the same time it was a huge accumulation for the Soviet leaders as Khrushchev was bragging about Soviet missiles being able to fly in the sky and there being the first in the missile race, and in some ways we were, in terms of the loads propensity to fly nuclear bombs of megaton nuclear bombs and deliver it to the territory of the United States, where there were too few of them. And later on Khrushchev even reprimanded Soviet leaders for not telling him the truth, for now knowing the actual balance of nuclear forces between the two countries, which was I think one to seventeen in favor of the United States in terms of the number of nuclear warheads. And the nuclear, although both sides understood, what the real situation was, and the United States also knew the holes in the Soviet argument that they were more powerful than they, or less powerful than they wanted to make it appear, yet in this case the Soviet Union for the first time had to admit publicly that its no match for the United States in terms of nuclear strength. And Marshall Rudianov, Radio Malinowski Soviet Minister of Defense told the politburo members in explicit terms, when the question was put up, what shall we do? With Kennedy demanding Soviet missiles being withdrawn, whether we should accept this ultimatum or not. Submit to US pressures or not. And he said we're in no position to go into nuclear war with the United States and win it, so there is no other alternative but to get out. And that was the humiliation suffered by the Soviet Union publicly and of course as for our relations with Cuba, they could never be the same. Cubans never were such great friends of the Soviet Union since then as they had been before the crisis, when they were, had the illusion that the Soviet Union was prepared to sacrifice its own security and its very existence in order to save the Cuban revolution. So in that sense this was one of the major factors which helped Khrushchev's political enemies to remove Khrushchev or to outvote Khrushchev in the Central committee a year later.

INTERVIEWER: Going from that to your relationship in a sense with Cuba and Guevara's, Che Guevara's efforts at armed revolution within Latin America, what was your policy towards Guevara and towards Cuba at this time?

YURI PAVLOV: Well lets put it this way, Castro never confided to us actually what Guevara was trying to do in Latin America, and we learned about it only later, and that he was in Bolivia. And as I said, we never gave any approval, actually Castro never asked for our approval for his policy in Latin America. We took it as one of the facts of Cuban policy, we knew that we could not change it, and that Castro was bent on it was one of his fixed ideas, so one hoped that this would not lead to any serious deterioration or conflict around Cuba, which was always a major fact in our relations with the United States and therefore we always brought Castro's ** to the fact that we never, and of course the United States government knew about our reprobation and they never lost any opportunity to press on us, to press on Castro, nothing that we did, had much less influence on Castro than they believed in Washington that we had. But in a way, there were strong hints here and there, but as I say, they never worked. Nothing worked that well given these hints of trying to persuade Castro to follow more modern policy. The Soviet Union willy nilly supplied Castro with all means necessary to pursue such a policy, in terms of pumping into the Cuban military machine more and more resources, actually the Cuban armed forces were not a burden on Cuban economy, because everything was supplied free, or free by the Soviet Union. All the military equipment including uniforms came from the Soviets. And then also helped to establish some Cuban defense industry, like plants producing Kalshinkorevs, sub machine guns and ammunition. So in some and although they still depended on us in the spare parts and technology we were able to produce many of but only needed particularly for the purposes of their policy in Latin America and in Cuba itself.

INTERVIEWER: So your support to Cuba was immense.

YURI PAVLOV: It was certainly ... well Cuba was number one in terms of support given in terms of money per head of population. Not so much money but you can never tell exactly how many billions of dollars it costs because its mostly given for free and then there was another form of assistance of paying for the Cuban sugar 3, 4, 5 times as much as the sugar price was on the world market and thus enabled Cubans to import in exchange for one ton sugar up to 7 or 8 tons of oil which they needed. Which was also one of the determining factors of the capacity of the community to survive in conditions of US economic blockade.

INTERVIEWER: Moving to Chile you didn't offer in any way the same support to Allende did you, why was that?

YURI PAVLOV: For several reasons I would hesitate to say what was the major reason, but probably the major reason was that while we welcomed Alllende's coming to power and actually used this event as a kind of a coup, that revolutions of communist parties or socialist parties should not necessarily come to power by force as Castro was saying, but there were possibilities to work through parliamentaries, so in that sense it was kind of a confirmation of the correctness of one of the amendments brought about by Khrushchev and his entourage into our international policy in terms of talking more and more in terms of the possibility of peaceful transition to socialism in many countries of the world, not only in Western Europe. But at the same time, all we knew well enough that Allende did not have the support of the majority of the population, I think only 36% of the population voted for him, so it was not a clear cut victory in terms of elections. For another he was pushed by the radicals, not so much from the communist point of view but from the Mir organization that when the radicals take steps which were unreasonable and made it much more difficult for Chile to survive economically, nationalizing every Chilean copper industries and introducing other policies and making or instilling the Chilean business section, the business communities with the fear that if this will go on, they will end up with losing their properties. So gradually this eroded support Allende had among the Chilean population and by the time he traveled to Moscow to ask for more assistance, he even had to ask the military to include some members into his government to prop his government. So he was the first to kind of appeal to military support and that's bringing the Chilean military into politics and this was a clear indication that he was losing support among population. And therefore it was felt in Moscow that it was not worth sacrificing these scarce resources that we had to try to bolster the Allende regime economically because in Moscow we're not convinced that would, this would change anything. That this would kind of help Allende to survive and hold out until the next elections. So some limited support was given but Allende of course came from Moscow disillusioned and that was it.