April 28, 2018 - No. 16
Party Will Resolutely
Support and Back the New President
Raúl Castro Ruz reaffirmed the leading role of the Communist
Party of Cuba
in the country's development.
TML Weekly is reproducing the speech delivered by
General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central
Committee of the Communist
Party of Cuba, at the close of the Constituent
Session of the 9th Legislature of the National Assembly of
People's Power, at Havana's International Conference Centre, on
April 19, 2018. See TML
April 21, 2018 for a report on the Legislative Session.
* * *
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for
entrusted to offer the closing remarks of this emotive
Constituent Session of the 9th Legislature of the National
Assembly of People's Power, which takes place today,
which marks precisely the 57th anniversary of the victory achieved at
Girón, under the command of Comandante en Jefe Fidel
Castro Ruz, against the mercenary invasion organized, financed,
and landed by the United States.
This historic event is even
more relevant because it was the
first time that the combatants of the Rebel Army, police, and
militia fought to defend the banner of socialism, proclaimed by
Fidel on April 16, 1961, during the memorial service for the
victims of the air base bombings.
As is known, in the last Ordinary Session of the 8th
Legislature, the National Assembly approved the extension of the
mandate of deputies to the Cuban Parliament and delegates to
Provincial Assemblies, due to the severe damage caused by
Hurricane Irma, whose direct impact on almost the entire national
territory determined the need to adjust the timetable of the
electoral process, which we concluded today, and that has seen
massive citizen participation, in another show of support for the
Revolution and our socialist democracy.
It is opportune to recognize the work undertaken by the
electoral and candidature commissions at all levels, as well as
the group of institutions that collaborated for the smooth
running of the elections.
The 6th Party Congress, held in April 2011, approved
proposal to limit to a maximum of two consecutive five year periods the
holding of fundamental political and state positions.
The 7th Congress stated the same two years ago. And although this
limit has not yet been introduced in the Constitution, a question
that we hope will be established within the framework of its
reform, since I assumed my second term as President of the
Councils of State and Ministers on February 24, 2013, I
expressed that this would be my last, which I reiterated last
December when, from this same spot, I affirmed that beginning
today Cuba would have a new President.
It was not necessary to wait to undertake a
reform to keep my word and act accordingly; more important was to
set the example.
The National Assembly of People's Power elected
compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez as
President of the Councils of State and Ministers. At the same
time, also elected was compañero Salvador Valdés
Mesa as First Vice President of the Council of State and later
the National Assembly approved his appointment as First Vice
President of the Council of Ministers.
Compañero Díaz-Canel has a work career of
almost 35 years. After obtaining his Electronic Engineering
degree at the Central University of Las Villas, he worked in that
profession. He completed military service in anti-aircraft
missile units of the [Revolutionary Armed Forces], after which he was a
professor at the
School of Electrical Engineering of the same university, where he
was put forward as a professional cadre of the Young Communist
League, gradually being promoted in leadership positions of this
organization, until his promotion to professional work within the
Raúl recalled the political career of Díaz-Canel, new
President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba (third from
From July 1994, to the third or fourth year of the
Period -- when the most severe stage of the Special Period was at
its peak -- he was First Secretary of the Provincial Committee of
Villa Clara for nine years, and held the same responsibility in
the province of Holguín for a further six [years], in both
cases with satisfactory results.
It was not by chance that after nine years in Villa
which were sufficient, as he was born there and knew his old
province, including in this case Cienfuegos and Sancti
Spíritus -- that in a planned fashion he was sent to
Holguín, one of the largest provinces in terms of
inhabitants and land area, as part of his training, just as we
attempted to do with about a dozen young people, the majority of
whom reached the Political Bureau. But we failed to consolidate
their training, and he was the only survivor -- I would say
a little exaggeratedly -- of that group (Applause), whose
shortcomings I do not criticize. But rather speaking with
compañero Machado, I told him that we have to criticize
ourselves for not having better organized the training and
maturation of those other compañeros, so that they could
occupy high responsibilities within the Party and the
If in 15 years he [Díaz-Canel] was only in two
provinces as leader of the Party, without counting the years he
led the youth in his own province, I also told compañero
Machado that in 15 years he could have, on about a three year
basis, passed through at least five provinces of the country, so
that he would know them more fully. I'm not criticizing Machado,
I already criticize him too much (Applause).
he better get ready! (Laughter).
But what I
want to say with this is that even more attention needs to be
paid to the training of cadres, so that when they come to occupy
other higher positions they have greater knowledge. But his
[Díaz-Canel] election now is no accident, it was
preconceived, within a group, that the best, according to our
modest opinion and that of the Party, has been compañero
And we do not doubt that, due to
his virtues, his experience, and dedication to the work he has
undertaken, he will have absolute success in the task entrusted
to him by our supreme body of state power (Applause).
He has been a member of the Party Central Committee
1991 and was promoted to the Political Bureau 15 years ago. He
fulfilled an internationalist mission in the Republic of
Nicaragua and graduated from the National Defense College.
In 2009 he was appointed Minister of Higher Education,
2012 Vice President of the Council of Ministers for the handling
of organizations linked to education, science, sports, and
Five years ago he was elected First Vice President of
Councils of State and Ministers -- and from that moment, a
group of compañeros on the Political Bureau already had
the absolute certainty that we had hit the nail on the head and
that this was the solution, which today is materializing in this
very important meeting -- positions, these last ones I
mentioned and, above all, that of First Vice President of the
Councils of State and Ministers, that he has held alongside his
handling of the ideological sphere of the Party Central
Nor is it by chance, an issue as important as that had
pass through the hands of today's President of the Councils of
State and Ministers, and when I am absent -- to which I will
refer later, as I continue as First Secretary until the year 2021 --
that he will assume that position of President of the
Councils of State and Ministers and First Secretary of the
Communist Party (Applause).
And it has been planned as such, to
be maintained in the next proposal of the Assembly, which will
also be discussed with the Council of Ministers, in the July
session, where also proposed will be the commission of deputies
that will be responsible for drafting and presenting to this
Assembly the proposed new Constitution, which it will then be
necessary to discuss with the population and submit to a
I anticipate that in the next Constitution, in which
will be no change in our strategic objective, in the work of the
Party, this will be maintained and the people will undoubtedly
support it, as they did dozens of years ago, in 1976, with an
enormous number of votes, 98 per cent. And on that occasion, these two
positions will be able to come together again, which as I said
are fundamental, so that the First Secretary of the Party and the
President of the Councils of State and Ministers will have in his
hands all the power and influence to be exercised, even if there
is, should there be, a Prime Minister who attends to the
government. With which I demonstrate that we have already been
discussing for quite some time the formulation that will be
presented through this Commission of which I spoke, that will be
proposed to you in the month of July.
He should complete his two terms, which we will
the Constitution, of five years each. The Party Congress will
maintain its dates. I was elected in the 7th Party Congress until
the year 2021. I am now 87 years old, I will be on June 3 --
I'm not saying this so you send me a gift, I know it is difficult
to get a gift here, albeit modest (Applause).
one, is more difficult than finding oil (Laughter), that
is to say, don't send me anything.
When he fulfills his two terms, if he works well, and
is approved by the Central Committee of our Party and the supreme
body of state power, which is this Assembly of which we are a
part, he should remain. The same thing we are doing now, he has
to maintain with his replacement. On finishing his 10 years as
President of the Councils of State and Ministers, for the three
that remain, until the Congress, he will remain as First (Party)
Secretary to enable a secure transition, and sparing us the
apprenticeship of the replacement, until he retires to care for
the grandchildren that he will by then have – if he doesn't
already – do you already have grandchildren? Well then, the
great-grandchildren, like me, I have three and one is on the way (Laughter).
That's what we think.
Naturally, the highest bodies of the Party and the
be those who will decide, they will make the final decision in
these activities I have mentioned.
We live in a place, and in times, where we cannot make
mistakes. I'm one of those who read and study, when time permits,
everything I can get hold of regarding very adverse historic
events that have occurred in recent international history, in
different countries, and we cannot afford to make mistakes, not
only due to the geographical location in which we find ourselves,
nor for any other reason. There are mistakes that we cannot make,
like those that put an end to very important processes for
humanity and whose consequences have been paid by many countries;
the consequences of the international imbalance that was created,
that many countries have paid, including ours, that we continue
to pay. Am I making myself understood? (Responses of: "Yes!")
Compañero Díaz-Canel is not an
over the years he has demonstrated maturity, work capacity,
ideological soundness, political awareness, commitment, and
loyalty to the Revolution.
His rise to the highest state and governmental
of the nation has not been the result of chance or haste. In his
gradual promotion to higher positions, unlike what happened in
the past with other cases of young leaders, as I mentioned
before, we did not make the mistake of accelerating the process,
but rather ensured the transition through different party and
governmental responsibilities with intentionality and foresight,
so that he would acquire a level of comprehensive training that,
together with personal qualities, would allow him to
successfully assume the leadership of our state and government,
and later the highest responsibility in the Party.
Meanwhile, compañero Valdés Mesa has an
extensive career serving the Revolution, whose triumph took him
by surprise as an agricultural worker on a farm in the Amancio
Rodríguez region, which belonged then to the province of
Camagüey. In 1961, he joined the National Revolutionary
Militias, participated in the Literacy Campaign, and was active
in the Association of Young Rebels, becoming its Secretary
General in the aforementioned region. When the Young Communist
League was constituted, he was elected its Secretary General at
that level, and attended as a delegate the First Congress of this
Raúl also highlighted the work of First
Vice President Salvador
Valdés Mesa (front centre) as a trade union leader.
Later he participated in the construction of the United
of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba in various regions of
Camagüey, and held leadership positions at the municipal
level and in the Party Provincial Committee, from where he became
a professional trade union cadre, gradually rising, among others,
through the posts of Second Secretary of the Cuban Workers'
Federation, CTC, and Secretary General of the National Union of
Agricultural and Forestry Workers.
In 1995, he was appointed Minister of Labor and Social
Security, until he was promoted four years later to First
Secretary of the Party Provincial Committee in Camagüey.
In the 19th CTC Congress, held in 2006, he was elected
Secretary General, a post he held until 2013, when he was elected
as a Vice President of the Council of State.
Without ceasing to work, he graduated in 1983 as an
agricultural engineer from the Higher Institute of Agricultural
Sciences of Ciego de Ávila.
He has been a member of the Party Central Committee
1991 and its Political Bureau for 10 years.
Similarly, I think it is fair to honour the selfless
of compañero José Ramón Machado Ventura, who
on his own initiative, once again -- and I say again because
he had done so before, precisely so that Díaz-Canel could
occupy the post he held as First Vice President of the Council of
State -- offered up his position as a Vice President of the
Councils of State and Ministers to make way for the new
Raúl spoke of the revolutionary example of José
Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Party
Machado, to whom I am linked by more than 60 years of
revolutionary struggle from the Sierra Maestra and the Frank
País Second Eastern Front, of which he was one of the
founders, is an example of modesty, honesty, and unlimited
dedication to work, even if he is a little cantankerous, as many
of you know. From now on, he will concentrate his efforts on the
work of the Party, as Second Secretary of the Central
Compañera Mercedes López Acea deserves a
special mention, a member of the Political Bureau who was
relieved of the post of Vice President of the Council of State
yesterday afternoon; who after more than eight years of
commendable and extremely difficult work as First Secretary of
the Party in this complicated capital, a task that is logically
made more complex precisely because it is the capital of the
country, will soon hold new responsibilities in the Party Central
The composition of the Council of State elected today
National Assembly reflects 42 per cent renewal. Likewise, women's
representation increases to 48.4 per cent. It's going up. Right,
But now we must continue, as you yourselves say, to
decision-making positions, not just numbers (Applause).
Well, that [representation] of women increases to 48.4
per cent, and
[representation] of Black and mixed race deputies reaches 45.2 per
And in both respects, we must not retreat even a millimetre,
because it has taken many years, since the triumph of the
Revolution, starting with Fidel, who was the one who started with
these ideas of women's equality. And against the will of many old
guerrillas in the Sierra Maestra -- when there was no
surplus of weapons, but quite the opposite -- he formed a
platoon named Mariana Grajales (Applause),
Teté Puebla Viltres, who was one of the
officers of that platoon.
This has cost a lot of work, it was not easy, and we
face the battle of proportionality not only in terms of numerical
aspects, as I said, but qualitative [aspects], in decision-making
Women and Blacks, above all, have been trained in the country,
this is a sample -- let's review the résumé of each
one of them -- but it cost work, that's why I insist: Not one step
back! And now what remains are the decision-making positions, not
for being this way or that, but due to their quality, due to
their training. I myself have been mistaken about some
appointments, to achieve the objective without the person
appointed meeting all the conditions, and I had, of course, to
rectify this later. But I draw your attention to this because it
is a subject that we cannot leave to free spontaneity. What do
you journalists think? Isn't that right? (Applause)
The average age of the Council of State decreased to 54
years, and 77.4 per cent were born after the triumph of the Revolution.
The years have passed, and without us realizing it, but they have
Three women were elected vice presidents of the Council
State, two of them Black, not only for being Black, but for their
virtues and qualities, which is a further demonstration of the
fulfillment of the agreements adopted by the Party Congresses and
its First National Conference in 2012 on cadre policy.
This is also demonstrated by the fact that more than
the deputies to the National Assembly, 53.22 per cent, are women and
representation of Black and mixed race Cubans reached 40.49 per cent,
this must continue.
You see that there are already some Black
and compañeros, still only a few, working as presenters,
both on television and on the radio, have you noticed that some
of them have already emerged? That was not easy, I myself gave
concrete instructions to those responsible for those radio and
television organizations, and I said: Do this without affecting
anyone, but go step by step resolving it. They have taken some
little steps, but not enough from my point of view. Continue as
you are, not as slowly, but continue to advance cautiously so
that no one can claim that they were affected because a mixed
race or Black Cuban was positioned alongside them. Fortunately,
there is already a tall Black man presenting the hydrological
section [on the national news broadcast], who holds his hands
like this (Demonstrates); I
don't know why they don't give him a
pointer to indicate there (Applause),
with his hands and he holds them like that (Demonstrates),
and he has a map there where the situation is
reflected, with a pointer he could indicate it. And there is one
[Black] woman in sports, thank goodness that she sometimes
appears on the main news; and no one has been removed. I mean,
with this I show you that things have to be thought about, not
just say them and just like that, they did or they didn't do it;
insisting, looking for new methods, avoiding making mistakes so
that they can't criticize us in such noble objectives. And we
must think once and think again about another solution when we
cannot solve the problems. Isn't that right? (Responses of
"Yes!") That is why I elaborate and go off the text carefully
crafted for such an important occasion, to reflect those
experiences, which are very useful, and they are years that one
has been seeing, analyzing.
And that detail I told you about the women and the
question, it's because we have been around for a while... I'm not
ashamed to recall, as I have sometimes stated in some private
discussions, I mean in unofficial meetings. I was born in the
countryside, in Birán, which is now part of Cueto,
although it was Mayarí, I am now from Cueto and
Holguín, but I was educated in Santiago, which influences
me a lot, of course. And I remember, when I was a student --
and before the triumph of the Revolution, just in case we are
already forgetting -- only three places, which were Havana -- I'm not
saying Havana, remember the original size that it
had before the current political/administrative division, I say
Havana -- Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo -- I
refer to the cities -- where before there was no television;
radio had already existed as long as I could remember, but not
television, and in small towns, in the different towns, sometimes
it was in the municipal capital, there was always the central
park, let's call it, it was the first thing that Spanish planners
did. Don't the older people here remember Sundays, in some of
those places, when the municipal marching band, where it existed,
played an open-air concert in the evening? And so you saw the
white couples of lovebirds, or falling in love, or friends
strolling through the park, and the Blacks and mixed race in the
park, but beyond the fence. Was it or wasn't it like that? I know
there are many young people here. Did you know that? That lasted
until Fidel delivered the first speech, in the month of January
or February of 1959 I think.
Raúl Castro Ruz speaks at the closing rally of the 7th Congress
Communist Party of Cuba,
April 19, 2016.
But the roots were still firm; a country that has to be
honoured for the ethnic composition of its people, who rose up in
the struggle, in the clamour, in the crucible of our wars of
independence, where in that of 1868 -- almost 150 years ago, it
will be commemorated in October -- you know who the main leaders
were? They were large landowners, even slave owners, who started
by giving their slaves their freedom. And when that war, with the
famous agreement of the Pact of Zanjón, which was
overshadowed -- just as well -- by Antonio Maceo and
his officers in the Baraguá Protest, the glorious
Baraguá Protest, when that pact was reached already the
vast majority of the leaders were Black, and at the beginning of
Martí's necessary war in 1895, it was they who led it,
Then came what we know from history, the U.S.
in the final days of the war, when Spain was already totally
defeated, with tens of thousands of Spanish soldiers hospitalized
even, tens of thousands! Some with battle wounds, most of them
due to tropical diseases, to which the Spanish soldiers were not
very accustomed, among whom was my father, and therefore he was
evacuated -- he spent the war on the trail from
Júcaro and Morón -- where he entered just as
the war ended, that is, through Cienfuegos. And he returned the
following year. I'm glad that he came, that he returned, and if
not him, another would have come, because he fell in love with
Cuba. And as I once told a Spanish politician, adding that I was
glad, because if not I would have been a Galleguito or an
old Galician, and member of such a party. But then when the
Americans disembarked east of Santiago de Cuba, without any
obstacle, because it was protected by the Liberation Army, the
more modern U.S. fleet, in a target practice, sunk the Spanish
fleet, which was gathered in Santiago de Cuba, in the Bay. They
dismantled the artillery to defend the city, but the order came
from Madrid to re-arm and go out to fight the U.S. fleet, without
knowing what they were ordering them to do from Madrid: to face a
more modern fleet and leave one by one, because of the
characteristics of the Bay of Santiago, which is a pocket bay,
like most Cuban bays, with the exception of Playa Girón
and that of Matanzas, to the north. And Admiral Cervera, head of
the Spanish Fleet of the Atlantic, ordered all his officers to
dress up, and one said: "Admiral, but we are going to fight." And
he told him: "Indeed, that's why, this is the final battle." And
so it was, a target one by one.
Two battles on land of some importance were fought in
Viso, where the Spanish General of the surname Vara del Rey, who
was defending it, died fighting and in the capture of the Loma de
San Juan, which has now been practically swallowed up by the
city. And then came what I call the original sin: the victorious
troops of both armies were about to enter Santiago de Cuba, but
the U.S. General who was leading his troops forbade the Cubans
from participating. It was Calixto García who was there,
They stopped him from entering under the pretext of
reprisals, when in fact the Liberation Army was only interested
in the guns of captured prisoners, some of whom even joined our
troops. But they committed an even greater error, which can be
said to be the original sin of what was to come, when they
arrived at government headquarters in the city, lowered the
Spanish flag and raised only the U.S. standard. This alone was an
indication of what was going to happen in the country until Fidel
Discussions were held between the Spanish and Americans
Paris, at the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of the French
capital, and of course "there was no need for the Cubans to
This equality was achieved in a beautiful crucible that
our Liberation Army at that time...
As for discrimination, all you had to do was go to a
mill, even the most modest, and there you'd find the club of U.S.
representatives and white collar Cubans, let's say, who worked in
some office or held some sort of responsibility, those were the
ones that went to that club, while everyone else went to the
Under their influence, the Platt Amendment lasted until
Revolution of 1933, but other agreements saw us subjugated once
more until January 1, 1959. It wasn't during the early stages but
only now that we are managing to reconstruct this beautiful
crucible that is our nation. Do you understand what I am saying,
what I'm talking about? (Replies of
"Yes") I ask you older
members, wasn't it so? I'm going to have to turn over here to
where some of the older folks are (Laughter).
none of that at El
Plátano, poverty united us all.
Forgive me from diverging from the text, but modesty
think that I'm enriching it (Applause),
if they like, but they can also talk about what I am
speaking of here, because of course, it's being broadcast.
That is to say, naturally I didn't intend to dwell on
point when this speech was being written, it only occurred to me
to do so after seeing the results and composition of this new
Back to the matter at hand, the members of the
the National Assembly of People's Power -- two of whom are
women -- led by our beloved compañero Esteban Lazo
Hernández, were reelected.
Likewise, at the proposal of President
Cuban Parliament approved, in accordance with what is established
in Article 75 of the Constitution, to postpone the announcement
of the Council of Ministers, in order to have sufficient time to
make a prudent assessment of the readjustment of cadres that must
be made, and a very wise decision -- in order to conduct the
process gradually and be able to speak with ministers
individually so that they can prepare their arguments and then
make the appropriate decisions -- to present them before the
Assembly in July, as we stated.
As for myself, I will continue to serve as First
the Party Central Committee, in my second and last term in
office, which ends in 2021 when the Eighth Party Congress will be
held and the gradual and systematic process of transferring the
principal responsibilities to the new generations, is
At that point, my health permitting, I will be just
soldier, beside the people, defending this Revolution (Applause).
Just to be clear, I wish to stress that the Communist
of Cuba, starting with the First Secretary of its Central
Committee, will resolutely support the new President of the
Councils of State and Ministers as he exercises his
constitutional powers, contributing to protecting our most
important weapon: the unity of all revolutionaries and the
This is the only way. Those of us who had the privilege
fighting against tyranny under the leadership of Fidel, from
Moncada, Granma, the Rebel Army, and clandestine
struggle, through today, feel, just like the heroic people of
Cuba, a deep satisfaction in the consolidated work of the
Revolution, our most beautiful work which imbues us with a
genuine sense of happiness and calm confidence as we witness with
our own eyes the transfer of the mission to continue building
socialism, and in so doing guarantee independence and national
sovereignty, to the new generations.
As early as April 4, 1962, during the closing ceremony
First Congress of the Association of Young Rebels,
compañero Fidel stated: "To believe in the youth, is to
see in them, enthusiasm as well as ability; energy as well as
responsibility; youth as well as purity, heroism, character,
will, love for the homeland, faith in the homeland! love for the
Revolution, faith in the Revolution, confidence in themselves; it
is the deep conviction that youth can, that youth are capable,
the deep conviction that the greatest tasks can be placed on the
shoulders of the youth."
What a broad vision of the youth and their ability to
It is for good reason then that one of the continual
the enemies of the Revolution, has been and will continue to be,
to confuse, divide, and separate our combative youth from the
ideals, history, culture, and work of the Revolution, to sow
individualism, greed, the commodification of feelings and
stimulate pessimism, a disregard for ethics, human values,
solidarity, and the sense of duty, in the new generations.
These plans are doomed to failure, because throughout
history, Cuban youth have been, are, and will continue to be the
protagonists in the defence of their Socialist Revolution. The
fact that 87.8 per cent of deputies in this Assembly were born after
January 1, 1959, is evidence of this.
Cuban youth have proved how right Fidel was when he
them in 1962. Today, we reaffirm this trust, sure that the new
generations will be the zealous guardians of the precepts
contained in the Comandante en Jefe's outstanding definition of
the concept of Revolution.
It is up to the Party, state, and government to fulfill
enforce the policy of purposely promoting in due measure, youth,
women, Black and mixed race persons to decision-making positions,
in order to create -- well in advance -- a future
reserve of the principle leaders of the nation, without repeating
the costly mistakes which we have made in this strategic
During the fifth Central Committee Plenum held last
23-24, we reviewed progress made in the updating of the country's
socio-economic model, a process which began in 2011, in
fulfillment of the agreements stemming from the Sixth Party
Congress. This issue had also been addressed on two previous
occasions by the Party Political Bureau.
Despite all the work that has been done, which is by no
little, we thought that by this point -- after we approved or
made initial decisions in the Sixth Party Congress and subsequent
meetings -- we would have advanced more than we have, if not
resolved, all the problems, have everything well organized,
planned and underway at different stages of development.
We would already have a new Constitution, which has
delayed for the same reasons, because these key problems have not
been solved; nor have we been able to ensure the participation of
organizations, bodies, and entities so that working at a grass
roots level, they were able to guide, train, and control the
appropriate implementation of the approved policies.
When I saw the initial problems we were facing, I
right here, in a summary of a Parliamentary session I think, that
we would work "without haste, but without pause," because haste
also led us to commit serious mistakes.
We never led ourselves to believe that it would be a
and easy road. We knew that we were initiating a hugely complex
process, given its scope, encompassing all elements of society
and requiring us to overcome the colossal obstacle of mentalities
founded on decades of paternalism and egalitarianism, with
significant consequences for the functioning of the national
Add to this the desire to advance faster than our
do things properly would allow, which gave way to improvisations
and ingenuity stemming from insufficient comprehensiveness, an
incomplete assessment of the costs and benefits and a limited
view of the risks associated with applying certain measures
which, moreover, lacked the necessary management, control, and
monitoring, leading to delays and slow reactions to correcting
anomalies in a timely fashion.
I believe that we have learned important lessons from
mistakes made over this period, and that the experience we have
gained will allow us to continue to take surer and more
deliberate steps, with our feet and ears to the ground, thus
avoiding inconvenient setbacks.
We will continue to expand self-employed work -- as I
have mentioned in different speeches before this Parliament -- which
represents an alternative source of employment
within the framework of current law, and far from signifying a
process of neo-liberal privatization of social property, will
allow the state to free itself of managing activities of a
non-strategic nature to the country's development. The experiment
with non-agricultural cooperatives will also continue.
Significant results have been achieved in both areas,
also revealed are mistakes in management, control and monitoring,
which have led to the emergence of various forms of indiscipline
such as tax evasion, in a country where, before these measures
were applied, hardly anyone paid taxes; criminal acts and
regulatory violations, with the aim of getting rich quick, a
problem which was not addressed in a timely manner and resulted
in the need to modify various regulations linked to this
Meanwhile, the commitment to ensuring that no citizen
be abandoned to their fate and that, unlike in many other
countries, the process of changes to the Cuban Social and
Economic Model would under no circumstances mean the application
of shock therapies against those most in need who, generally
speaking, are the strongest supporters of the Socialist
Revolution, largely influenced the pace of change on important
matters such as solving the dual currency and exchange rate,
which continues to cause us serious head aches and gives rise to
We could also cite as an example, reforms to wages and
pensions, as well as eliminating unnecessary gratuities and
excessive subsidies for certain products and services, instead of
for individual people with no other means of support.
We have also lacked an adequate systematic public
communications policy regarding the changes made, to reach every
citizen in a timely fashion with information and clear
understandable explanations, because these questions are somewhat
difficult to understand in all their aspects, regarding such
complex issues, to prevent misunderstandings or information vacuums.
Added to this are the difficult conditions in which we
been obliged to steer the national economy over all these years,
during which the U.S. economic blockade has been tightened, with
the incessant persecution of the country's financial
transactions, limiting access to sources of financial credit for
development, as well as the obstacles created to much-needed foreign
I cannot forego noting the extensive damage caused by
persistent periods of drought, like that of the last three years,
or the increasingly destructive and frequent hurricanes that have
battered the entire nation.
On the other hand, undeniably positive are the results
obtained in the patient, laborious process of restructuring our
foreign debt to our principal creditors, which frees present and,
above all, future generations from a huge burden of obligations
that hung over the future of the nation like a sword of Damocles,
although not the only one. Playing an outstanding role in this
activity is a current vice president of the Council of Ministers
and Minister of the Economy, compañero Cabrisas (Applause), and
not only in this, the principal effort, but in
other kinds of work related to debts.
Nevertheless, we need to advance carefully, because we
know how to ask and know very little about rationalizing, and I
am the one who authorizes the use of reserves and loans from the
reserves -- and I know very well what I'm saying. There was a
time when available reserves were depleted because of violations,
out of ignorance, and we have now restored them. I'm referring to
fuel, that was used without authorization, because of mistaken
conceptions stemming from not looking at original documents
containing current stipulations.
Many times, when asking for some reserve of any
about considering very simple questions: "Is that much fuel
needed on that day? Why?" And they give me a reason that is
obviously incorrect -- not real, although it could have some
relevance: "If it isn't given..." The response: "This quantity
cannot be allocated, because everyday needs appear everywhere."
"Well, hospitals are going to be affected." And then I give an
even stronger answer, in terms that I shouldn't repeat here, but
with a severe warning, "Don't try to deceive me with nonsense of
this kind." Affecting hospitals would oblige us to take... but
anyway we advanced half of the fuel, that would be returned
within the periods we established.
I only cite this example of realities that especially
Council of Ministers knows well.
With constant, prolonged effort, we managed to
all these debts, some reductions with more convenient terms were
achieved, to be able to meet obligations and above all maintain
the government's credit standing, and as soon as this huge task
was completed, step by step, at times unnoticed, we go back to
making commitments with the result that we are again in debt --
not as much as before -- and with the difficulties this creates
for planning. And talking about planning, better planning is
imperative, knowing how to use what we have and seeing how to
resolve the rest. But not inventing along the way: bread today,
hunger tomorrow. This is not our path, ours is realism. We speak
of the sword of Damocles. Revolutionaries have always lived with
a sword of Damocles hanging over our necks, of different
I recall the Special Period, that was when
-- as I said -- was on the rise, when he assumed leadership of the
Party in Santa Clara. In that era, you had to put on an oxygen
mask, a snorkel like the fish divers use, at times you had to put
it on because the water was over your moustache, and at other
times over your nose, and sometimes it covered our eyes, and you
had to put the snorkel on, but resist -- that is why we are here
today (Applause) -- and break
through the pessimism that emerges
when problems appear, in those with little resolve.
This is not the first time. During the Special Period,
in 1993, 1994 -- it had practically begun in 1990 -- and that
slogan appeared, that was said over there on the Isle of Youth, I
think, on a July 26, Sí se
puede (Yes, it can be done).
But in order to do so, every problem, every step taken, must be
analyzed with all objectivity, without illusions or fooling
Now with the current situation, with the neighbour we
who has returned to the Monroe Doctrine. You already saw what
Bruno said the other day to the Vice President of the United
States, who couldn't take it and left. I'll talk about this
It cannot be allowed that we again fall into a spiral
debt and, to avoid this, we must respect the principle of not
making any new commitments that we are not able to honour on time,
within the period established.
Current tensions in our external finances are a warning
in this sense, in terms of what I have been explaining. There is
no other alternative beyond better planning, on the basis of a
sound foundation, saving, and avoiding any unnecessary expenses,
of which there are enough already, to ensure that expected income
is obtained, which allow agreed-upon obligations to be met, and
at the same time, guarantee resources to invest in the
development of prioritized sectors of the national economy.
We are not in an extreme, dramatic situation, like the
the Cuban people were able to endure and overcome, under the
leadership of the Party and of Fidel, in the early 1990s, a stage
known as the Special Period. The panorama is very different now;
we have a solid foundation to ensure that these circumstances are
not repeated. Our economy has been diversified somewhat and is
growing. But the duty of revolutionaries is to prepare for the
worst possibility with audacity and intelligence -- not for the
most convenient -- with permanent optimism and full confidence in
victory. Today and always, maintain the unyielding work of
defending unity, resist and resist! There is no other
As was reported some days ago, during the holding of
Plenum of the Party Central Committee, an explanation was
presented on studies being conducted about the need to reform the
Constitution, in accordance with the transformations occurring in
the political, economic, and social order.
To complete this process, this Assembly, in its next
session, must approve a commission of deputies who will be
charged with developing and presenting a proposal that will be
discussed in the legislature, to later be submitted to the people
for consultation, and finally, as established in the
Constitution, the final text is approved in a referendum.
This is the appropriate moment to clarify, once again,
we do not intend to modify the irrevocable nature of socialism in
our political and social system, or the leading role of the
Communist Party of Cuba, as the organized vanguard, and the
highest leadership force in society and the state, as established
in Article 5 of the current Constitution, and that we will
propose be maintained in the same Article.
Moving to foreign policy issues, I cannot overlook the
Summit of the Americas, recently held in Peru, that was marked,
beginning months ago, by the renovated neo-colonial, hegemonic
attitude of the United States government, which has ostensibly
reaffirmed its commitment to the Monroe Doctrine. The most
notorious expression of this was seen in the arbitrary, unjust
exclusion of Venezuela from the event.
It was known that the United States was intent upon
a propagandistic spectacle against the Cuban Revolution, making
use of the remnants of the mercenary counterrevolution.
Cuba went to Lima by right, with our heads held high.
demonstrated our willingness to dialogue and debate, in
conditions of equality and respect, in any venue whatsoever.
Likewise confirmed was the determination of Cubans to defend our
principles, values, and legitimate place.
The Cuban delegation, that of Bolivia and other
prevented the appearance of a united front against the Bolivarian
Revolution, and reiterated the demand for a new system of
relations between the two Americas.
The comments of our Foreign Minister, compañero
Rodríguez Parrilla, in the name of the Cuban government,
with frank language, clear ideas, and firmness, constituted a
resounding response to the insults and fallacies contained in the
outdated, interventionist speech of the U.S. Vice President
present there. Members of civil society from our country
unleashed a battle against the neo-colonial exclusion supported
by the [Organization of American States (OAS)], and forcefully defended
their recognition as the
genuine representatives of the Cuban people. They raised their
voices for Cuba and for the peoples of Our America. The
provocation was defeated.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno
Rodríguez Parrilla speaking at the 8th
Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, April 2018.
I take advantage of the occasion, in the name of this
people, to reiterate congratulations to all members of the Cuban
delegation who participated in the event.
The countries of Our America will not be able to
challenges without advancing toward unity within diversity to
exercise our rights, including that of adopting the political,
economic, social system chosen by our peoples, as stated in the
Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of
Peace, approved in our capital, as you know.
We also emphasize our commitment to the Bolivarian
for the Peoples of Our America.
We are the region with the greatest inequality in the
in the distribution of wealth; the gap between rich and poor is
enormous and growing; poverty is increasing, despite efforts over
the past decade by progressive and popular governments, which
made progress in terms of social justice.
Today, an attempt is being made to divide us and
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Being dusted
off is the instrument of U.S. policy that has always been the
discredited OAS, and groups of countries are being created under
the pretext of protecting democracy to contribute to the
perpetuation of imperialist domination.
Aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
currently the central element in the efforts of imperialism to
overturn popular governments on the continent, erase social gains
made and liquidate progressive models and alternatives to neo-liberal
capitalism that are being attempted.
We emphasize our full solidarity with Venezuela, its
legitimate government and the civic-military union led by
President Nicolás Maduro Moros, who is preserving the
legacy of President Hugo Chávez Frías.
We reaffirm our support for other peoples and
facing pressure from imperialism to reverse the gains made, as is
the case in Bolivia and Nicaragua.
After the parliamentary coup against President Dilma
in Brazil, now consummated there is the arbitrary, unjust
imprisonment of compañero Lula, whose freedom we demand,
now condemned to political prison to prevent his participation in
the coming Presidential elections, despite the fact that
according to polls conducted by different institutions in Brazil,
no one could defeat Lula, if the vote were held today.
That is why he is a prisoner; that is why he is being
slandered with the accusation they filed against him, that led to
We reiterate our support to the Puerto Rican people's
to self-determination and independence.
The nations of the Caribbean, especially Haiti, can
count, as they have to date, on the solidarity and collaboration
On December 17, 2014, we announced, simultaneously with
then-President Barack Obama, the re-establishment of diplomatic
relations with the United States.
With the strictest respect and sovereign equality,
began on the solution of bilateral problems and even cooperation
in various areas of mutual interest. It was demonstrated that
despite the deep differences between the two governments, a
civilized co-existence was possible and advantageous.
The strategic objective of overthrowing the Revolution
not change, but the political climate between the two countries
experienced unquestionable progress that produced benefits for
However, since the current President came to power, a
deliberate step back has been taken in relations between Cuba and
the United States, and an aggressive, threatening tone prevails
in this administration's statements.
This was made evident with special emphasis on the
Presidential memorandum of June 2017, drafted and announced in
the confines of the worst elements of the anti-Cuban far right in
South Florida that profits from tension between our
The economic blockade has been tightened, financial
persecution reinforced, and the occupation continues of a portion
of Guantánamo's territory, with a military base and an
international detention and torture centre.
Programs of political subversion are funded with
dollars by the U.S. government. The recruitment and financing of
mercenaries, and illegal radio and television broadcasts
Using a crude pretext, the majority of diplomatic
functionaries at our embassy in Washington were expelled, and
U.S. diplomatic staff was reduced in Havana, including the
consul, with the consequent impact on bilateral migratory
agreements and problems for thousands of Cuban who require these
The majority of U.S. citizens and Cuban
are opposed to maintaining the blockade and favour improving
Paradoxically, individuals and groups who today appear
have greater influence on the U.S. President are proponents of
aggressive, hostile behaviour toward Cuba.
We will confront all attempts to manipulate the human
issue and slander our country. We do not need to take lessons
from anyone, much less the United States government.
We have struggled for almost 150 years for national
independence and have defended the Revolution at the price of
much bloodshed and have faced the greatest dangers. We reaffirm
today the conviction that any strategy meant to destroy the
Revolution, be it through confrontation or seduction, will be
faced with the categorical rejection of the Cuban people, and
We live under an unjust, exclusionary international
which the United States attempts to preserve, at all costs, its
absolute domination, despite the international tendency to move
toward a multi-polar system.
With this objective, it provokes new wars, including
non-conventional ones, accentuating the danger of a nuclear
conflagration, expanding the use of force and threats to do so,
and the indiscriminate application of unilateral sanctions
against those that do not bow down to their designs. It imposes
an arms race, the militarization of outer space and cyberspace,
and presents a growing threat to international peace and
The expansion of NATO to Russia's borders causes
dangers that are aggravated by the imposition of arbitrary
sanctions, which we denounce. The United States insists on
continuous threats and punitive measures, violations of
international trade norms directed against China and the European
Union, its ally, with which we recently signed a dialogue and
cooperation agreement. The consequences will be dire for all,
especially nations of the South.
U.S. imperialism creates conflicts that generate waves
refugees; implements racist, repressive, discriminatory policies
against immigrants; constructs walls; militarizes borders;
promotes even more wasteful and unsustainable patterns of
production and consumption; and creates obstacles to cooperation
in confronting climate change.
The U.S. uses its transnationals and hegemonic
platforms to impose one way of thinking, to manipulate human
conduct, invade our cultures, erase our historical memory and
national identity, as well as control and corrupt our political
and electoral systems.
This past April 13, in violation of the principles of
international law and the United Nations Charter, the United
States and some of its NATO allies militarily attacked Syria,
with no evidence of the use of chemical weapons on the part of
the government of this country. Unfortunately, these unilateral
actions have become an unacceptable practice, used in several
Middle Eastern countries and now, repeatedly, against Syria,
which merits condemnation from the international community. We
express our solidarity with the people and government of
It cannot be forgotten that in March 2003, only 15
ago, then-President W. Bush, launched an invasion of Iraq under
the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction,
which was revealed as false within a few years.
Cuba supports efforts to defend peace, convinced that
dialogue, negotiation and international cooperation will allow
us to find a solution to the serious problems of the world.
We are grateful for the solidarity of all countries,
without exception, in our struggle against the economic,
commercial, financial blockade.
Bilateral relations with the Russian Federation, based
mutual benefit, have substantially increased across all spheres.
We will always appreciate and remember the support we received
from the peoples which were part of the former Soviet Union, and
especially the people of Russia, in the difficult years following
the triumph of our revolutionary process.
Likewise, relations with the People's Republic of China
continue to advance in the spheres of trade, economy, politics,
and cooperation, representing important contribution to our
country's development. A few weeks ago we received a visit from
compañero Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the
Communist Party of Vietnam, in another expression of the
successful development of the ties which unite us and which
enabled us to identify new opportunities for collaboration.
Meanwhile, Cuba's historic ties with African countries,
African Union, and Asia continue to grow.
We shall continue to defend the legitimate demands of
countries of the South, their right to development, and the
democratization of international relations.
All the just causes, especially that of the Palestinian
Sahrawi peoples, and struggles for social justice, will also have
the support of the Cuban people.
The complex international context described reaffirms
absolute validity of that expressed by the Comandante en Jefe of
the Cuban Revolution in his Central Report to the First Party
Congress in 1975: "As long as imperialism exists, the Party,
state, and people will pay maximum attention to our defence
services. Revolutionary vigilance will never be neglected.
History teaches with great eloquence that those who forget this
principle do not survive the mistake."
Compañeras and compañeros:
In just 11 days our pioneros, students,
campesinos, artists and intellectuals, members of the glorious
Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior, the
entire people, will march together through our streets and
squares to commemorate International Workers' Day. Once again we
will show the world that the majority of Cubans support their
Revolution, Party and socialism, and although I was scheduled to
travel to another province in the interior of the country,
considering the importance of this moment, I have decided to
accompany the current President of the Councils of State and
Ministers in the May Day parade in Havana (Applause). I will
visit the other province and more, later, because supposedly I'll
have less work, too.
victoria siempre! (Onward to victory,
Shouts of: "¡Viva
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