Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Administration of Ronald Reagan, April 16,1982. Vol. 18, No. 16

Cuba and International Drug Trafficking.

Q. Mr. President, the U.S. State Department has--(inaudible)--Cuba's intervention in the drug, international drug trafficking. Do you think it's possible, Mr. President, to deal with a country, with a government that is dealing in drugs and sending guerrillas to other countries and violating human rights in Cuba?

The President. Well, I don't think we are helping someone who's--or dealing with someone who's sending guerrillas to other countries and the violation of human rights. I think if that is aimed at the El Salvador thing, I think there are countries there that we're not dealing with who are sending aid and personnel into El Salvador to help that movement. I think the election kind of straightened the record out on E1 Salvador and what the people there want, and we want to help them get that.

On the drug traffic, this is much more difficult. We are working in cooperation with many governments, countries where we know they are the source of the drug. And they are cooperating with us in trying to stop that traffic. There we have to recognize that our own country does not have completely clean hands. There is a great deal of marijuana produced in the United States. So unless we could be 100 percent able to find and apprehend or do away with that, we would be as much of an offender as some country that is trying as hard as it can to eliminate the drug traffic from its country.

Q. But Cuba, sir, is helping--according to the United States State Department--Cuba is helping the drug traffic--(inaudible).

The President. Well in Cuba, we don't have any dealings with Cuba. If they'd ever like to rejoin the civilized world, we'd be very happy to help them. But not under the present circumstances. And let me also say this about the drug traffic. We're launching a program here, and have got it started, more than we've ever done before. But I am still of a belief that, while you do your utmost to intercept the drugs, we're not going to lick that problem in our country until we take the customer away from the drugs. The most effective answer is if we can get our young people, particularly, and be successful in convincing them they don't want to go down that road. Instead of trying just to take the drug away from the customer, let's turn the customers off so they don't want the drug.