National Geographic : 1977 Jan
(Continuedfrom page 61) automobile society. We could never afford it, and it would be undesirable anyway. Oil is too precious. It should be used in petrochemical industries." At the farm he showed me the many im ported plants and trees that are being tested to see whether they might be useful to Cuban agriculture. Fidel worries about Cuba's eco nomic dependence on a single crop, sugar, but, though still looking, sees no alternative. "We know it is wrong to be this dependent on sugar, but soil and climate are perfect for it. We have looked at many things and always come back to sugar. We ran tests on corn, rice, coffee, and other crops, and found we could get $400 a hectare from them. Sugar brings us $7,000 a hectare. So we will con tinue to sell sugar and to buy the other things we need on the world market." AS HE TALKED, the light suddenly fell and menacing rain clouds swirled in. We settled inside a metal-roofed building and watched through open doors as a thun derstorm obscured the nearby trees. The rain beat so strongly that we had to lean close to hear each other. Fidel lit his second cigar of the evening. I noted that it appeared that Cuba and the U. S. had been inching toward recognition when Cuba's Angola involvement stalled the talks. Fidel agreed and expanded: "Angola is a completely temporary situation. Angola asked for our help, and we will stay only until their army is equipped and trained. "The U. S. should take the first step toward friendship. After all, we do not have a block ade against you. We have no base on U. S. ter ritory. We are certainly interested in improv ing relations. Since the U. S. practices the cold war with only a few small countries Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Cuba-the moral seems to be, it is a problem of size." In addition to this long-standing external Palace of Matrimony, a former private club in Santiago de Cuba, offers free state wed dings to couples like Maria Rizo and Luis Ruiz, both seated. Family and friends look on as an official reads the Family Code. De spite its official atheism, the government tolerates church weddings but requires the civil ceremony in addition.