I do not come here to speak in a personal capacity; I do so in the name of the heroic sacrifices of our people, and of the thousands of fighters who gave their lives over more than 150 years of struggle.
It seems incredible that destiny has reserved us the privilege of being able to address our compatriots on a day like today, commemorating six decades of triumph, an occasion on which, under Fidel's command, the Cuban people attained political power for the first time, and the Mambises were able to enter Santiago de Cuba victorious, coincidentally 60 years after the establishment of absolute U.S. imperialist domination of Cuba.
A few months ago, in La Demajagua, we gathered to remember the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Cuba's independence wars, October 10, 1868; a date that marks the beginning of our Revolution, which survived moments of bitterness and disunity, like the Pact of Zanjón, and brilliant episodes like that carried out by Antonio Maceo in the Baraguá Protest.
The Revolution was revived, in 1895, thanks to the genius and ability of Martí to bring together the best and most experienced leaders of the Ten Years' War, and prepare the "Necessary War" against Spanish colonialism.
When the colonial army was practically defeated, with little combative morale, besieged by the Mambises across almost all of the island and depleted by tropical diseases which, in 1897, to mention just one example, caused 201,000 losses among its troops; the victory was usurped by the U.S. intervention and the military occupation of the country, which gave way to a long period of oppression and corrupt governments, subservient to its hegemonic designs.
Not even in these difficult circumstances was the redemptive fire of the Cuban people extinguished, manifested in figures of the stature of Baliño, Mella, Villena, Guiteras and Jesús Menéndez, among many others who did not resign themselves to living in dishonor and ignominy.
Nor was the Centenary Generation, which under the leadership of Fidel assaulted the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks on July 26, 1953, willing to tolerate, 100 years after Martí's birth, the crimes and abuses of a bloody tyranny, completely subordinated to the interests of the United States.
Moments of profound pain and sadness ensued, after the setback and the vile assassination of many of the revolutionary fighters participating in these actions, powerfully denounced by Fidel in his historic defence "History will absolve me," which became the program of the Revolution. A few meters from here lay the remains of the fallen on that July 26, and other martyrs of the insurrectional feat, including also the brave young Santiago people of the clandestine struggle, and the children of this city who fell in glorious internationalist missions.
In the hard years of imprisonment and ill-treatment, the fervor and commitment to recommence the struggle did not falter; the prestige and authority of the revolutionary leader grew to join new forces against the dictatorship.
There was no rest during exile in Mexico; it served to prepare the next and decisive stage of battle that brought us on the Granma yacht to Las Coloradas on December 2, 1956. The delay in arriving to Cuban coasts, due to the hazardous voyage, prevented the scheduled synchronization with the Uprising of Santiago de Cuba, on November 30, organized by the bold and courageous young leader of the July 26 Movement, Frank País García, who had not yet turned 22, his age when brutally murdered by the henchmen of the tyranny, July 30, 1957.
Neither could the disaster of Alegría de
Pío, which almost
annihilated the expeditionaries, extinguish Fidel's optimism and
faith in victory, convictions that led him to exclaim on December
18 when we were reunited, with just seven rifles: Now we have won
From Santiago de Cuba, as a result of the tireless efforts of the clandestine movement led by Frank País, we received in the Sierra Maestra the first reinforcement of young combatants, weapons and ammunition, which was a crucial contribution to the fighting capacity of the nascent Rebel Army.
Months of incessant fighting ensued, first in the Sierra Maestra, and then the struggle spread to other regions with the opening of new fronts and columns, and with the defeat of the great offensive of the Batista troops against the First Front led by Fidel, which marked the beginning of the strategic counter-offensive and the radical turning point of the war that led to the defeat of the regime and the seizure of revolutionary power.
Already on January 8, 1959, upon his arrival in Havana, the Commander of the Revolution expressed: "The tyranny has been overthrown, the joy is immense and yet there is still much to be done. We do not fool ourselves into believing that from now on everything will be easy, perhaps from now on everything will be more difficult."
It did not take long for Fidel's premonitory words to become a reality. A stage of struggle began that shook the foundations of Cuban society. On May 17, just four and a half months after the triumph, in the Comandancia de la Plata, in the heart of the Sierra Maestra, the first Agrarian Reform Law was promulgated in compliance with the Moncada Program, an event that upset the powerful economic interests of U.S. monopolies and the Creole bourgeoisie, which redoubled the conspiracies against the revolutionary process.
The nascent Revolution was subjected to all types of aggressions and threats, such as the actions of armed gangs financed by the U.S. government; assassination plans against Fidel and other leaders; the murder of young literacy teachers, many of them still adolescents; sabotage and terrorism throughout the country with the terrible toll of 3,478 dead and 2,099 disabled; the economic, commercial and financial blockade, and other political and diplomatic measures in order to isolate us; the campaigns of lies to defame the Revolution and its leaders; the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón in April 1961; the October Crisis in 1962, when the military invasion of Cuba was being prepared in the United States; and an endless list of hostile acts against our homeland.
No one can deny that the Revolution that was born that January 1st, has not had a minute's calm over 60 years. We have seen twelve U.S. administrations that have not ceased in the effort to force a regime change in Cuba, one way or another, with varying degrees of aggressiveness.
The heroic people of yesterday and today, proud of their national history and culture, committed to the ideals and the work of the Revolution, which four generations of Cubans have already joined, have managed to resist and win over the six decades of uninterrupted struggle in defense of socialism, always based on the closest unity around the Party and Fidel.
Only thus can we understand the feat of having withstood the tough years of the Special Period, when we were left alone in the middle of the West, 90 miles from the United States. Then, nobody in the world would have bet a penny on the survival of the Revolution. However, the challenge was endured and overcome without violating a single one of the ethical and humanist principles of the revolutionary process, and was worthy of the invaluable support of the solidarity movements that never stopped believing in Cuba.
Now once again, the U.S. government seems to be taking the course of confrontation with Cuba, and presenting our peaceful and solidary country as a threat to the region. It resorts to the sinister Monroe Doctrine to try to roll back history to the shameful era in which subjugated governments and military dictatorships joined it in isolating Cuba.
Increasingly, senior officials of the current administration, with the complicity of certain lackeys, disseminate new falsehoods and again try to blame Cuba for all the ills of the region, as if these were not the result of ruthless neo-liberal policies that cause poverty, hunger, inequality, organized crime, drug trafficking, political corruption, abuse and deprivation of workers' rights, displaced people, the eviction of campesinos, the repression of students, and precarious health, education and housing conditions for the vast majority.
They are the same who declare the intention to continue forcing the deterioration of bilateral relations, and promote new measures of economic, commercial and financial blockade to restrict the performance of the national economy, cause additional constraints on the consumption and welfare of the people, hinder even further foreign trade, and curb the flow of foreign investment. They say they are willing to challenge International Law, to contravene the rules of international trade and economic relations, and aggressively apply extraterritorial measures and laws against the sovereignty of other states.
I reiterate our willingness to coexist in a civilized manner, despite the differences, in a relationship of peace, respect and mutual benefit with the United States. We have also clearly indicated that Cubans are prepared to resist a confrontational scenario, which we do not want, and we hope that the levelest heads in the U.S. government can avoid.
Cuba is accused again, when it has been demonstrated that external debt, uncontrolled migratory flows, the plundering of natural resources, are the result of the domination of transnational corporations in the continent.
The force of truth has thwarted the lies, and history has put the events and protagonists in their places.
All that can be attributed to the Cuban Revolution and the epic written by this heroic people is the responsibility that emanates from their example, as a symbol of full independence, victorious resistance, social justice, altruismand internationalism.
As part of Our America, our respect and solidarity with sister nations has, and will be, invariable; in which more than 347,700 Cuban doctors and health workers have offered their services, many of them in remote and difficult places, and more than 27,200 young people have been professionally trained. This shows confidence in Cuba.
A few weeks ago, thousands of Cuban doctors who offered their services in Brazil returned, with dignity, with the recognition and affection of millions of patients, especially from rural areas and indigenous populations, whom the new President slandered and condemned, in order to destroy that social program and with it fulfill the directions of the extreme right in Florida, which has hijacked United States policy toward Cuba, to the pleasure of the most reactionary forces of the current U.S. government.
Sixty years after the triumph, we can affirm that we have seen it all before; we are not intimidated by the language of force or threats, they did not intimidate us when the revolutionary process was not yet consolidated, they will not even remotely achieve it now that the unity of the people is an indestructible reality; because if yesterday we were few, today we are an entire people defending their Revolution. (Applause)
On July 26, here in Santiago, I explained that an adverse scenario had formed, and again the euphoria of our enemies had resurfaced, and the haste to materialize their dreams of destroying the example of Cuba. I also pointed out the conviction that the imperialist blockade of Venezuela, Nicaragua and our country was tightening. Events have confirmed that assessment.
After almost a decade of practicing unconventional
prevent the continuity, or impede the return of progressive
governments, Washington power circles sponsored coups -- first a
military coup to overthrow President Zelaya in Honduras, and
later they resorted to parliamentary-judicial coups against Lugo
in Paraguay, and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
They promoted rigged and politically motivated judicial proceedings, as well as campaigns of manipulation and discredit against leftist leaders and organizations, making use of monopoly control over mass media.
In this way, they succeeded in imprisoning compañero Lula da Silva, and deprived him of the right to be the Workers' Party presidential candidate, to avoid his certain victory in the recent elections. I take this opportunity to appeal to all the honest political forces of the planet to demand his release, and an end to the attacks and judicial persecution against former presidents Dilma Rousseff, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Those who entertained the illusion of the restoration of imperialist domination in our region should understand that Latin America and the Caribbean have changed, and so has the world.
For our part, we will continue to actively contribute to the processes of consensus and integration in the region, based on the concept of unity in diversity.
We have contributed to the peace process in Colombia, at the express request of its government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and the National Liberation Army, and we will continue to do so, above all risks, grievances and difficulties.
The political and moral authority of Cuba is based on the history, conduct and united, conscious and organized support of the people.
Therefore, no threat will make us withdraw our solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The aggressive actions against this sister nation must cease. As we warned some time ago, the repeated declaration of Venezuela as a threat to the national security of the United States, the open calls for a military coup against its constitutional government, the military training exercises undertaken in the vicinity of Venezuelan borders, as well as tensions and incidents in the area, can only lead to serious instability and unpredictable consequences.
The region resembles a large prairie in times of drought. A single spark could cause an uncontrollable fire that would damage the national interests of all.
It is equally dangerous and unacceptable that the United States government unilaterally sanctions and also proclaims the Republic of Nicaragua a threat to its national security. We reject the attempts of the discredited OAS, Organization of American States, to interfere in the affairs of this sister nation.
Faced with the Monroe Doctrine, the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana by Heads of State and Government, which some allies of the United States now seek to disregard, must be applied and defended, for the good of all.
The greatest lesson that revolutionaries and progressive movements can draw from the situation that has shaped is that of never neglecting unity with the people, and not desisting in the struggle in defense of the interests of the oppressed, however difficult the circumstances.
For us, in the complex international situation, the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution remain entirely valid, on presenting his central report to the First Party Congress, in 1975, when he said: "As long as there is imperialism, the Party, the State and the people, will pay maximum attention to defense services. The revolutionary guard will never be neglected. History teaches all too eloquently that those who forget this principle do not survive the mistake."
Correspondingly, we will continue to prioritize defense training tasks, at all levels, in the interests of safeguarding independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and peace, based on the strategic concept of the War of the Entire People, as is reflected in the recently approved Constitution of the Republic.
It is our duty to meticulously prepare ourselves for all scenarios in advance, including the worst, not only on the military level; so that we leave no room for the bewilderment and improvisation that flourishes in those with scarce will when the time to act arrives, but with the optimism and confidence in victory that Fidel bequeathed to us, and in close contact with the people, we can find the best solution to any challenge that may arise.
Specifically, one challenge that we will face in the year that begins today is the economic situation, hard-pressed by the external finance strains, due to the losses of export revenues, and the tightening of the U.S. blockade and its extraterritorial effects.
As expressed by our Minister of Economy and Planning at the last session of the National Assembly, the cost to Cuba of this arbitrary measure, calculated according to internationally approved methodology, amounted to 4.321 billion dollars last year, equivalent to almost 12 million in damages every day, a fact that is overlooked by analysts who tend to question national economic performance.
Regardless of the blockade and its reinforcement, we Cubans have enormous internal reserves to exploit, without increasing the external debt. For this it is necessary, in the first place, to reduce all non-essential expenses and save more; increase and diversify exports; raise the efficiency of the investment process and enhance the participation of foreign investment, which, as stated in the guiding Party documents, is not a complement, but a fundamental element for development.
In that same scenario, in the National Assembly on December 22, the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, took stock of the state of the economy during 2018, and the plan for this year, where he stressed that the economic battle remains the fundamental and the most complex task, and added that it is that which today demands the most from all of us, because it is the task most anticipated by our people.
With this purpose, he explained that a more proactive, intelligent and concrete attitude is required of leaders, promoting -- not hindering or delaying -- reliable and specific solutions to problems, with the continuous and intense search for flexible and efficient responses. At the same time, he called for more coherence with the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, and to be more systematic and precise in the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.
It is opportune to state that the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba firmly supports the pronouncements and actions undertaken by compañero Díaz-Canel since he took office at the helm of the state and the government, including his work system, based on visits to territories and communities; the link with collectives and direct exchanges with the people; the promotion of the accountability of leaders through the press and on social media; as well as the systematic control of the main development programs and the promotion of a collective leadership and management style in state and government bodies.
Without wishing to make a hasty assessment, I can say that the process of transferring the main responsibilities to new generations is going well. I'd go further -- it's going very well, without setbacks or surprises, and we are confident that thus we will continue. (Applause)
Those of us young people who then had the privilege of fighting under Fidel's command, more than 65 years ago, from the Moncada, the Granma, the Rebel Army, the clandestine struggle, Girón, the confrontation with counterrevolutionary gangs, the internationalist missions and up to the present, together with the heroic Cuban people, are deeply satisfied, happy and confident to see, with our own eyes, how the new generations assume the mission of continuing the construction of socialism, the only guarantee of national independence and sovereignty.
It is 60 years since January 1, 1959. However, the Revolution has not aged, it is still young, and this is not merely rhetoric, it is historic confirmation, since from the very first moments its protagonists were young people, and this has been the case throughout these first six decades.
The revolutionary process is not circumscribed to the biological lifetime of those who initiated it, but to the will and commitment of the young people who ensure its continuity. The new generations have the duty to ensure that the Cuban Revolution is forever a Revolution of young people, and at the same time, a Socialist Revolution of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble. (Applause)
On this significant date, the fitting tribute to Cuban women can not be absent, from Mariana to today, always present in our struggles for the emancipation of the homeland and in the construction of the society we are building today. (Applause)
Compañeras and compañeros:
The Second Ordinary Session of the current legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power approved the new Constitution of the Republic, which will be submitted to a referendum February 24.
Previously, for a period of almost three months, a broad popular consultation process was undertaken, in which citizens freely expressed their opinions on the content of the draft, leading to the modification of 60 per cent of the articles, in a clear demonstration of the profoundly democratic nature of the Revolution, where the major decisions that define the life of the nation are devised with the contribution of all Cubans. Our media provided detailed coverage of the process, which frees me from elaborating on the subject. In a few days, a tabloid of the definitive text of the new Constitution will begin to be distributed.
I only wish to add the confidence that once again our noble and courageous people will demonstrate at the polls on February 24, the majority support for their Revolution and Socialism, ratifying the Constitution in the year in which we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Magna Carta of Cuba, approved in Guáimaro by the initiators of the war for independence.
After 60 years of struggle, sacrifices, efforts and victories, we see a free, independent country, the master of its own destiny. On imagining tomorrow, the work done allows us to glimpse a dignified and prosperous future for the Homeland.
Bearing in mind Cubans' heroic history of struggle, on behalf of our people, with total optimism and confidence in the future, I can exclaim:
May the Cuban Revolution Live on Forever!
(Photos: Photo: Estudios Revolución)
We Will Move Forward. And We Will
Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Councils of State and Ministers.
Our first words on Educator's Day are to congratulate and recognize Cuban teachers who, more than their time, dedicate their life's purpose to us.
The year 2018 is almost at an end, and we gather again for the traditional embrace and evaluation of a crucial period in the history of the Cuban Revolution.
The year we bid farewell to today will remain in our national memory as the year in which a new generation, gradually and progressively, in a clear expression of continuity, began to assume the principal leadership tasks, with the good fortune of maintaining the guidance of the Historic Generation, in particular, of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba.
During the months since the Assembly sessions of April, we have relied on that guide in the face of the most difficult and unexpected challenges, and found in his confidence and collective leadership the fundamental resources to come here today to render accounts, committed to the solution of the problems that most concern the people, which are those that absorb every minute of our days, and every element of our energies.
On taking stock of efforts and results, I must firstly speak of our deep satisfaction with the popular discussion of the new Constitution approved today.
With that debate, we have not only enriched our political culture, the sense of belonging to a nation and the future of the country. We have come closer to the concerns and demands of our people, a fundamental objective of the Revolution, which our opponents have always tried to distract us from, intent on fracturing and dividing Cuban society, aware that unity is its most valuable strength.
I would like to say that it has been a boom year for electronic government and greater efficiency in economic governance, but this is only the first step in a task of infinite demands that by 2019 should begin to bear its first fruits.
And it must also be said that we faced really hard tests, such as the floods that devastated the central provinces and the fall of an airplane that left a painful toll of 112 deaths and a single survivor, who in recent days has sent a beautiful message of thanks to her compatriots, and especially to the medical team that kept her alive.
After the sad task of revisiting the worst news of this year for Cuba, I return to the most stimulating.
This session of the National Assembly concludes with a transcendent decision for the life of the nation: the approval of the new Constitution of the Republic, that in February will be submitted to a Referendum.
We arrive at this point after an extensive process of popular consultation where citizens, residents inside or outside the country, had the opportunity to freely express their considerations on the content of the draft text, which included, among other relevant aspects, political and economic foundations, rights and duties, and the structure of the State.
Each and every one of the contributions were duly evaluated and resulted in changes to about 60 per cent of the articles of the draft, which enriched its content.
The popular analysis showed the will to improve the Constitution, but it went much further because it provided important elements to take into account in the broad legislative exercise that we must undertake to support, with the necessary laws, compliance with constitutional precepts.
This is a good opportunity, on behalf of the National Assembly, to congratulate those who participated in the guaranteeing and organization of the popular consultation process, including the two-person teams that led the more than 133,000 assemblies held throughout the country, the officials responsible for the collection and analysis of the proposals; the Party Central Committee's Center for Socio-political Studies and, in particular, the Commission responsible for drafting the proposed Constitution and, as it has been heartfelt and rightly expressed here, its president, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz. (Applause)
The Fundamental Law that we have just approved reaffirms the socialist path of the Revolution, and allows us to steer the work of the State, government, organizations and the entire people in the continuous perfection of society; it reinforces institutionality; the prevalence of the Constitution establishes greater inclusion, justice and social equality in our work, and reinforcement of the empowerment of the people in the governing of the nation.
This process, which continues with the holding of the Referendum on February 24 of the coming year, is a genuine and exceptional demonstration of the people's exercise of power and, therefore, of the marked participatory and democratic nature of our political system.
Contrary to what the enemies of the Revolution state, Cuba has once again shown that fundamental decisions and consensus on the issues that define the life of the nation are built with the decisive contribution of all. We should tell our detractors to dare to carry out in their countries a process with similar characteristics to the one we are undertaking.
On a date as dear as February 24, 124 years after the resumption of the independence struggle led by National Hero José Martí, Cubans of today, faithful to the traditions of struggle, will go to the polls to approve the Constitution, as an expression of resolve, loyalty to the legacy of the Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, compañero Fidel Castro, and we will say with our vote: Yes to the Revolution, to the sovereignty and independence of the Homeland, to unity. Yes for socialism and for the commitment to heroes and martyrs in more than 150 years of struggles for freedom.
Dear compañeras and compañeros:
The debate in the ten standing committees of this Assembly has been intense and productive. In addition to the constitutional text, we have discussed two priority issues in plenary: fulfilment of the plan and budget for this year, and your proposals for 2019.
With discrete 1.2 per cent Gross Domestic Product growth -- which while limited, is no less encouraging, in the midst of so many adverse factors -- economic performance closes the year on a positive note.
So that it is not underestimated, I would like to review some decisions favoured by this discreet, but real growth:
In November of this year, the increase in the minimum pension for retirees was put into effect, rising from 200 to 242 pesos for almost 300,000 people.
In addition, all the monetary benefits received through social welfare were increased by 70 pesos, benefiting 99,000 households.
These increases, which have an annual cost to the State Budget of 224 million pesos, are aimed at modestly improving the income of people and households with lower purchasing power, and are a partial advance of the measures that will be adopted to put in order the situation of salaries, pensions, social welfare benefits, subsidies and free-of-charge services.
One of the sectors that contributes the most is communications, thanks to the growth of connectivity and internet access in state entities, as well as in the services demanded by the population, with the increase of 700,000 mobile phone lines, for a total of 5,300,000 in service.
Public access points via wi-fi have also grown by more than 300, and there are already 60,000 homes connected to the internet.
The major impacts on Gross Domestic Product were concentrated in the sugar industry and, more moderately, in the agriculture and livestock sector. However, it is right to highlight the increase in the production of rice and beans that allows us to substitute imports.
Despite the impact of Hurricane Irma, which severely affected the marketing of Cuba as a destination in the 2017-2018 high season, and the measures adopted by the U.S. government to deter travel to our country, tourism will end this year with growth and a new record number of international visitors.
No less relevant is the fact that in the midst of so many adverse factors, social services have been guaranteed to the population in Education, Health, Culture and Sports. It is expected that the year 2018 will close with an infant mortality rate of four [per 1,000 live births], similar to the previous year, which is the lowest in history.
A program that had a significant boost was that of housing, which allowed for the completion of more than 29,000 homes through the state plan, while those built through the efforts of the population will reach about 11,000. The housing policy that was recently approved by the Council of Ministers and of which deputies were informed in this session of the Parliament, will contribute to this effort.
Similar levels of economic growth are expected for the coming year: 1.5 per cent in the Gross Domestic Product, with a recovery of the sugar industry, and increases in activity in other sectors such as construction, transport and communications.
But this growth, while reflecting the country's progress in certain sectors, does not allow us to achieve the levels of development required to meet the ever-growing needs of the population. For this reason, within the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, a group of objectives has been defined toward which economic performance for the period 2019-2021 should be directed. Among these, the increase in export revenues and the capacity to increase national production will be vital, through an investment process that requires more efficiency.
Non-state forms of management contributed 12 per cent of total revenues to the State Budget in 2018, which should also grow slightly next year. Almost 600,000 self-employed workers contribute five per cent of the Budget income.
Compañeras and compañeros:
The country continues to suffer from a strained external finance situation, due to non-compliance with planned revenues from exports, tourism and sugar production, in addition to the damage caused by a prolonged drought, followed by the destruction of Hurricane Irma, and subsequently the occurrence of heavy rains, all of which has affected the arrival of raw materials, equipment and supplies.
Only thanks to additional control measures over the main financial resources allocated in the 2018 plan, aimed at working with greater precision in decisions regarding imports and other foreign currency expenditures in the second half of the year, was growth achieved, with a positive trade and current account balance.
We have stated that the economic battle remains the fundamental, and also the most complex task. This is the task that today demands the most from all of us, because it is what our people anticipate most.
The context we have described demands mobilizing planning, aimed at preventing bureaucracy from immobilizing the performance of the main economic actors.
It is necessary to strengthen our leadership and economic management structures and teams, with the contributions of Economic Sciences specialists and experts, in particular, and others in general. We cannot tire of hearing from those in the know, assessing their proposals and coordinating them with what we set out to achieve.
We need a more proactive, intelligent and precise attitude from leaders, promoting -- not holding back or delaying -- safe and specific solutions to problems, with the continuous and intense search for timely and efficient responses.
It is necessary to be more consistent with the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, and more systematic and precise in the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Revolution, approved by our Party.
It is time to act without dogmas and with realism, addressing the priorities, facilitating the real strengthening of state enterprise and its productive links with foreign investment, joint ventures and the non-state sector of the economy.
We must also put in order the activity of the private sector of the economy, but without impeding or slowing down its performance, stimulating best practices until ensuring that those working within it move away from illegalities. The challenge is to integrate all the actors, forms of property and management present in our social economic environment, into the battle for the economy that, I reiterate, is today the fundamental battle.
As the results of the year tell us, it is imperative to boost foreign investment, foster an environment of confidence and security for investors, export more, protect revenues, close export cycles with timely collections; comply with what was repeatedly noted by Army General Raúl Castro -- not to spend more than what we have as income, and not to assume commitments that we cannot honour. Also, to halt and solve the chain of defaults.
Investing efficiently and enforcing the provisions of feasibility studies after the launch of investments is as important as awarding all possible attention to their execution, guaranteeing supplies and the labour force in a timely manner, avoiding surprises and improvisation.
At the same time, we must be familiar with and manage all financing possibilities, use credits more efficiently, and be responsible with payments.
Making efficient use of the valuable human resources and the qualified and scientific workforce that we have attained with the great educational work of the Revolution; defending national production, mobilizing all our potential to produce more and efficiently, is the only thing that will allow us to grow, beyond climatic effects and financial stains.
We must also prevent superfluous spending on government activity, achieve real control over resources, and take advantage of the experiences of other socialist nations such as China, Vietnam and Laos.
Government management should be directed with greater impetus toward the demand for quality services, and to avoiding that shortcomings cause inconveniences and irritation among the population. Never forget that as public servants, our greatest objective is the people's well-being.
Addressing the current situation in a realistic and objective manner is what allows us to determine a sustainable economic plan for the year 2019, based on solid foundations that, despite the difficulties, favour development in the priority activities for growth, and contribute to the gradual restoration of the nation's financial credibility.
2019 will be a year of order. The plan will be based on the country's hard currency income and payments, paying more debts than outstanding credits, and complying with the maximum punctuality possible in the payment of commitments.
There is no other way to draw up the plan; otherwise, it would be to propose something that will not be fulfilled and that would become unmanageable.
I must emphasize that what is foreseen in this plan is the minimum to be achieved. We must generate wealth to have more. Its execution must be supported by an adequate administration of the budget, in which we must promote all income possibilities, the reduction of budgetary expenses in the enterprise sector, and the greatest possible reduction of the budget deficit.
Achieving the proposed objectives requires an in-depth process of discussing the plan, a high level of control, and involving everyone to defend it among all.
The sugar harvest, an important economic activity not only for the production of sugar, but for its ability to generate liquid income, its contribution to electricity generation from biomass, the production of animal feed and derivatives, has started by surpassing the main indicators. The important thing now is not to let problems accumulate that undermine a good performance in what remains of the campaign.
As part of the process of computerization of society, the digitalization of television advances, and mobile phone internet service was launched, a new possibility for citizens and a clear expression of the government's political will to carry out this program with our own efforts and talent, with no space for the interference that some disguise with perverse offers and colonizing plans.
Investments in solar parks and wind farms continue, while those related to power generation from biomass in bioelectric plants have begun, supporting the plans for change in the energy martrix, and the increase in the use of renewable energy sources.
In order to broadly discuss the country's development projections, we have considered it appropriate to convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly in the first quarter of next year, which we will devote to the analysis of the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, in its three stages, and the report on the state of implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.
Moreover, measures related to self-employment activity have recently come into force. The majority of the population accepts them and considers that they are necessary for the organization and control of this process.
In this regard, I want to specify our point of view on this activity.
Self-employed workers are not enemies of the Revolution, they are the result of the process of updating the economic model, they have solved problems that burdened the State and for which it was sometimes inefficient. They have rescued trades that life proved necessary.
We have recognized the non-state sector as a complement to the economy and there is no intention of preventing them from prospering, but its operations must be within the law.
We know that we can rely on most of them to boost and revitalize the economy. We must erase from some minds the prejudices toward their work, which do us as much damage as those inspectors who come to be corrupt, and generate distrust and insecurity.
For its proper exercise, we must create conditions that encourage compliance with the new regulations, and contribute to the real order of the activity. The officials responsible for ensuring the application of the rules must act with ethics, rigour and fairness, and erase the bad image caused by the corrupt behaviour of some.
Nor do we ignore that private workers of some modalities have expressed disagreement with these regulations, but not from a perspective of cooperation with the population, but because they are against an order that puts an end to illicit enrichment, which will not be allowed.
We know that there are still attempts to turn the non-state sector into an enemy of the revolutionary process, but they will not succeed in dividing us. For this we count on the commitment of our self-employed workers and of state institutions.
It is also necessary to clarify that there are those who try to distort the scope and objectives of Decree 349, associating it with an instrument to exercise artistic censorship. I speak of entities external to our Culture, who have never been concerned with and have remained silent in the face of the proliferation of banality, vulgarity, violence, rudeness, the discrimination against women, sexism and racism present in the most varied expressions that, undermining the cultural policy of the Revolution, are exhibited in state and private public spaces, some of which are not even legally recognized.
We know very well where the instructions come from, with the aim of confusing, dividing, discouraging and demobilizing.
It is evident that the aforementioned Decree, due to its importance, should have been more discussed and better explained. This is evident in the opinions of the greats of our Culture, who have a proven and committed work.
I call on them to accompany us in the task of doing now what we should have done before.
In these essential lessons, based on sincere dialogue, we can discover together how to implement this norm, because it was driven by a need and a demand of artists themselves, to prevent the proliferation of disrespect for cultural policy with pseudo-artistic productions that give an image of a country that we are not, nor have ever been, nor should we ever be.
I can assure you that this Decree has only one objective: to protect national culture from false artists, unqualified practice of a profession, and of the pseudo-culture generating anti-values, issues denounced in multiple spaces by our creators, writers and artists.
Artistic creation in Cuba is free and will continue to be so, as postulated in the Constitution, and cultural institutions have the responsibility to apply this norm with total adherence to these purposes.
Compañeras and compañeros:
The issues debated in this Assembly require priority attention from the Council of Ministers. In this regard, we are developing a work system based on exchanges with the people, visits to territories and communities, links with the collectives that are the protagonists of economic and social development programs.
We approach them to listen, argue, clarify, untangle and solve problems; address complaints, misunderstandings and mistakes.
We are interested in promoting the accountability of those we oversee, favouring direct communication with the people, through the media and on social networks, systematically.
We want to open paths for scientific research to have space in each process and provide innovation, and we need to promote the computerization of society.
We systematized the monitoring and assurance of development programs, promoting a collective direction and leadership style, and defending with discipline and commitment the guidance of our Party.
We have convened and continue an ethical battle against corruption, illegalities, addictions and social indiscipline, manifestations that are antagonistic and incompatible with our present and future.
What has been done is still insufficient, and what has been achieved is nothing with respect to our purposes as the Government of the Revolution, but we want to express thanks for the support and understanding of the Cuban women and men who inhabit our geography. We owe ourselves to them.
There are many questions to address and answer. We will provide answers to as many as possible, and for those to which we do not have answers at the moment, we will not cease in the effort to find them.
Cuban women and men:
The year 2018 has been intense, in the midst of a complex international context due to the increase in imperialist hegemony that mutilates multilateralism in international relations.
Latin America and the Caribbean, our Great Homeland, is no stranger to these influences.
Cuba is accused by the empire of being the source of what they consider "the great evils of the region." The blockade tightens and financial persecution escalates to hinder the development of the country.
The result obtained on November 1, in ten successive votes of the United Nations General Assembly, demonstrated the overwhelming support that Cuba enjoys in its fight against the blockade -- an aggressive, anachronistic, failed policy that causes enormous damages to the Cuban people, constitutes the main obstacle to our development, and is a violation of human rights. We are greatly appreciative to all the governments that contributed to the demand for its end.
That same day, the United States National Security Adviser, with extremely aggressive and disrespectful language, announced in Miami new measures that reinforce the blockade, which together with other events and threats, foretell that his government is moving toward a course of confrontation with Cuba.
U.S. imperialism has reiterated the validity of the Monroe Doctrine and attacks progressive governments and processes, attempts to reverse the progress made in terms of integration and social justice in the region; carries out a systematic and enormous communications and cultural manipulation operation; and persecutes and criminalizes leftist political forces and leaders, popular movements and social organizations, with the aim of imposing neo-liberalism. It also tries to destroy the genuinely Latin American and Caribbean cooperation and collaboration mechanisms, such as CELAC and UNASUR.
But the peoples do not bow down or abandon the struggle, as demonstrated in the broad and united XXIV Meeting of the São Paulo Forum, held in this city this past July.
I express our deep gratitude to the Commonwealth Caribbean for its encouraging Statement of Solidarity of December 8, 2018, in honour of the celebration of CARICOM-Cuba Day.
The Declaration of the XVI Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA-TCP, held in Havana on December 14, addressed these issues, committed to act decisively in the mobilization and indispensable unity of revolutionary, progressive and popular forces, and expressed full support and solidarity to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Nicaragua in the face of imperialist and oligarchic hostility.
In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won a historic victory that arouses great sympathy. To him and to the fraternal Mexican people, I thank you for the warm hospitality with which we were received during his inauguration.
In Brazil, the unacceptable conditions and repeated slander by the President-elect of that country to destroy the More Doctors Program, violating the respective agreements with the Pan American Health Organization, have forced us, in defence of the dignity, altruism and recognized professionalism of our health workers, to put an end to Cuban participation, as has been reported in detail to our people and to Brazilian and international public opinion.
Every day, from the remotest corners of the South American giant, messages of gratitude to our doctors arrive, and rejection of the new President's policy that uprooted them from those places where only they went to save lives.
As Lula expressed in a message to our people: "I regret that the prejudice of the new Government against Cubans has been more important than the health of Brazilians living in the most distant and needy communities."
History will document the before and after of our cooperation. In the fortieth edition of the Havana International Festival of the New Latin American Cinema, a Brazilian documentary maker brought the entire audience to their feet just by mentioning our doctors. Media from all over the world have turned their eyes to our medical collaboration for the first time, as a result of the inappropriate remarks of the far-right Brazilian government.
Our health professionals are the paradigm that contraposes the egotism and commercialization of medical services. They are Cuba, and are the most beautiful monument to Fidel's internationalist, humanist work in defence of human rights on a universal scale.
In recent months, we have had intense and fruitful bilateral exchanges, in particular during our official visits to the Russian Federation, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic, whose warm hospitality we are grateful for, and from which stemmed important agreements, the fulfilment of which we dedicate all our efforts.
The exchanges sustained during our presence in the French Republic and the United Kingdom were also significant. The visit to Havana of the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, was also beneficial.
The commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and the thirtieth anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale against the apartheid regime was particularly moving.
What a tremendous year we are seeing off!
If we were to look to symbols alone, it would be enough to consider the 150 years of intense struggle for our independence that marks 2018, and the 60 years of combat, resistance and creativity of the final triumph, at the first minute of 2019.
We move from one to the other driven by the stunning feat of those who threw themselves into the scrubland, sometimes with no more weapons than their sense of shame, and who faced limitless hunger and scarcity to make us free.
Men and women of inherited properties and wealth, who renounced them to create a new nation.
This year, a local museum of the former mother country has lent us a chair that belonged to Maceo. The throne of the bravest of our Generals was made from a palm trunk. He did not take an elegant and soft chair from those who then subjected his country. That is why those who, even on killing him, could never overcome our vocation for liberty, kept it as a war trophy.
Exactly 60 years after the death of Maceo, in December of 1956, Fidel, Raúl and their compañeros of the Granma, took up again the spirit of that warrior and set up camp in the mountains. The rebel Command would be as Creole and sovereign as the Bronze Titan's chair.
Also made of palm boards and a palm leaf roof is Fidel's house in La Plata, the site never conquered by the army of the dictatorship, guarded as it was and will always be, by the humble inhabitants of those lands, where the brook of the Sierra Maestra flows sonorous and free.
We are a nation marked by such great independence endeavours, that also saved us from egoistic dependencies on material possessions, when the price of obtaining them was freedom.
The symbols to which I referred, those signs and essences that History leaves us, speak to us of a country with character, that always knew that "poverty passes, what does not pass is dishonour," as the Apostle of the worn frock coat said, who gathered money and wills for the Necessary War, without ever taking a penny.
That character, that comes to us from grandparents and parents, that for the Homeland even brings tears to our eyes, but above all, launches us at full gallop against anyone who wants to harm it; is not, as some believe, the History book that the young generation cannot read.
To feel passion and pride for what we are, at the same time as impatience and anguish for what we do not achieve, rather than distress, makes the transition between these two years a triumphal arch, crowned by everything we have devoted, and the certainty that to fight is victory. (Applause)
We always go for more. And with all the living generations together, in tribute to those who sacrificed everything, because the road toward the conquest of that more, always pending, was guarded by the peace and unity of all Cubans.
On behalf of a generation proud of being, not a substitute, but continuity, I want to express to you the deep commitment that moves us to struggle relentlessly to measure up to history, to our heroes and the people, inseparable in sentiment and fidelity.
Today we have come to render an account of our work and to commit ourselves to more: to promote everything that allows us to move forward and overcome, along with our own limitations and in the face of an economic war, financial persecution and the tightened blockade.
The greatest motivation is provided by the 60th anniversary of the Revolution, with its indelible lessons that it is possible to overcome all obstacles if the people accompany us.
It will be, without doubt, another year of challenges. But, as Martí said on speaking of the soul of the Revolution, and the duty of Cuba: "The Cuban people expect nothing from the revolution that the revolution cannot provide."
We will move forward. And we will continue to be victorious. That's what the forefathers of the nation taught us. To this the dignified and heroic people of Céspedes, Mariana, Maceo, Gómez, Martí, Mella, Villena, Haydeé, Abel, Celia, Frank, Vilma, Camilo, Che, Almeida, Fidel, Raúl and their comrades in the struggle summon us everyday, who by accompanying us, honour us.
On February 24, in the Referendum to ratify the Constitution, Cuba will be reaching a high point of the 150 years we have celebrated, and the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, the Revolution of Fidel and Raúl, which we will celebrate on January 1.
We will say yes and we will triumph again. Because We Are Cuba.
Congratulations to all our people for the New Year.
(Council of State transcript, Granma International translation.)
Proposed Constitution of the Republic of Cuba
On December 21, 2018, Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, presented a detailed report to the National Assembly of People's Power on the results of the popular consultation process on the draft Constitution, including the most debated issues and significant changes to the text
The proposed Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was described as a text that has gained in quality in terms of its wording and content, enriched by the proposals emanating from the people, in the report presented December 21,  by Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State, during the Second Ordinary Period of Sessions of the National Assembly of the People's Power's Ninth Legislature, on the results of the popular consultation process.
The resulting document is a genuine expression of the democratic and participatory nature of our socialist system. The broad popular participation in the process reflected the high degree of cultural and political education of the Cuban people and their commitment and majority identification with the perfecting of the country's political, economic and social system.
It also highlights the transparency, organization, responsibility and rigour with which the preparation and realization of the consultation assemblies on the draft Constitution were carried out, as well as the collection, processing and analysis of the population's proposals at all levels.
As agreed by the National Assembly of People's Power in its ordinary session of July 21 and 22 this year , the draft Constitution of the Republic was submitted to a popular consultation process August 13 through November 15, 2018.
Prior to the consultation, working infrastructure was established to collect and process all the information derived from it, and those responsible for chairing the assemblies were trained to ensure the smoothest process.
The popular consultation process saw:
133,681 meetings, of which:
79,947 were of the general population
45,452 were held among groups of workers
3,441 among campesinos
1,585 among university students
3,256 among high school students
8,945,521 people attended these meetings
1,706,872 comments were made, of which there were:
38,482 requests for clarification
This information was processed according to each of the paragraphs of the document submitted for consultation, and those that were very similar were grouped into 9,595 standard proposals (each composed of an average of 78 individual proposals).
Also evaluated were the 2,125 proposals submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), received from Cubans residing abroad. Of these, 1,150 were modifications, 350 additions, 406 deletions and 219 requests for clarification. A total of 978 standard proposals were derived from these.
In total, the web page enabled by MINREX received 4,751
visits from 123 countries, although proposals were only
registered from 58. The vast majority of these do not question
the essence of the Cuban system.
In the same way, opinions expressed through other channels, such as social networks, letters from the population, and others, were evaluated. Of special significance were those derived from analyses conducted in law schools, scientific centres, the Academy of Sciences of Cuba and societies of the National Union of Jurists.
Among the spontaneous opinions collected about the process, 62 per cent were favorable, 35 per cent related to expectations, suggestions and concerns, and only 3 per cent reflected criticisms.
The largest number of proposals made by the population focused on the following topics:
1. Marriage (Article 68 of the draft). A total of 192,408 proposals were made (24.57 per cent of the total) in 88,066 meetings. The most significant were those calling for the wording of the current Constitution to be maintained, those related to same-sex couples and children, as well as the elimination of the proposed article.
2. On the President of the Republic. Different opinions were expressed, the most significant regarding:
a) Term limits (Article 121 of the draft), in 88,039 proposals (11.24 per cent of the total) made in 65,803 meetings. The opinions, in a general sense, reject putting a limit on the number of terms of office an individual may serve as president (74,450), propose eliminating the paragraph, or substituting two terms for three.
b) The age limit of 60 years for presidential candidates (second paragraph of Article 122). There were 24,335 proposals (3.11 per cent of the total), collected in 20,135 meetings. Most propose eliminating the paragraph, that no age limit should be applied, or raising the age limit.
c) Election of the President of the Republic (Article 121 of the draft). There were 16,716 proposals (2.13 per cent of the total), in 12,804 meetings. The largest number proposed that the president be directly elected by voters (12,264 proposals).
d) The minimum age of 35 for presidential candidates (Article 122 of the draft). A total of 10,307 proposals were made (1.32 per cent of the total), in 8,990 meetings. The majority views are either to raise this minimum age or remove it.
3. Work (Article 31 of the draft), with 51,414 proposals (6.56 per cent of the total) in 40,420 meetings. Essentially, they demonstrate the interest in establishing its compulsory nature (46,968). Similarly, on Article 76 of the draft, regarding remuneration for work, 12,558 proposals (1.6 per cent of the total) were made in 9,767 meetings, mainly linked to the need for salaries to reflect current prices, as well as doubts regarding the way in which the principle of socialist distribution will be guaranteed.
4. The Provincial Government (Article 165 of the draft). There were 25,650 proposals (3.28 per cent of the total) in 18,455 meetings, mainly focused on changing the proposed title of Governor to that of President, Head or other. Also, on the means of appointing the Governor (Article 170 of the draft), 16,188 proposals were made (2.07 per cent of the total) in 12,847 meetings. Most proposed that the Governor be elected directly, by the people, or by the Municipal Assemblies of People's Power, or the Provincial Council.
5. The right to legal assistance in one's defense (subsection f) of Article 48 of the draft). There were 18,283 proposals made related to this topic (2.33 per cent of the total), in 15,132 meetings. In essence, it was requested that individuals have the right to legal assistance from the very moment of their arrest.
6. The right to decent housing (Article 82 of the draft). On this subject, there were 15,398 proposals (1.97 per cent of the total), made in 13,182 meetings. The main comments were to propose changing the term "decent" for "habitable" (5,835), and doubts as to what is considered decent housing.
In the case of Cubans residing abroad, the main
related to the request that they be guaranteed equality in the
enjoyment of their rights and duties, in particular their right
to vote, and recognition of their total working time in Cuba, or
another country, for the purposes of social security.
In order to analyze each of the proposals, on September 28, in the presence of Army General Raúl Castro, a Working Group was created composed of 30 compañeros, of whom nine were members of and two advisers to the Constitution Drafting Commission, while 19 represented other institutions.
The Group was structured into seven subgroups. The proposals according to each title of the draft text were distributed among six of these groups, while the other was in charge of information technology support. A central group was also organized, responsible for analyzing the proposals of the subgroups, preparing the final report and presenting it to the Constitution of the Republic Drafting Commission.
Based on rigorous scientific methods, which can be
the processing of the information resulting from the national
debate began as soon as the National Processing Team received the
first set of data, on October 5, 2018, and ended on November 15.
It was a principle of the Group's work to evaluate each of the
proposals presented, and to substantiate the decision proposed in
Of the 9,595 standard proposals received, the Group proposed that the Drafting Commission accept 4,809, representing 50.1 per cent, some with a direct reflection in the text, although not necessarily with the same wording or in the same article that was proposed; while others were already contemplated in some way within the draft; and a considerable number, due to their content, will be taken into account in subsequent legislative processes, which reflects the broad extent of this process.
It was proposed not to accept 4,786, or 49.9 per cent of these proposals, some of which are inadmissible from a legal point of view; but to a greater extent, because they do not contribute to the text or refer to specific aspects or wording that are irrelevant; while a significantly smaller number are incompatible with our principles.
Meanwhile, of the 978 standard proposals stemming from the consultation of Cubans residing abroad, it was suggested to accept 391, representing 40 per cent, many of them coinciding with the proposals considered to be included in the processing undertaken.
During the analysis, which studied each and every proposal, it was necessary to consult MINREX, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Office of Attention to Religious Affairs of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee, the Ministries of the Interior and Agriculture, as well as the University of Havana's Law School, and other specialists in different fields.
The result of the detailed analysis of the proposals was presented to the Constitution Drafting Commission, which, headed by its President, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, Party First Secretary, met between November 16 and 21 of the present year.
From the profound and extensive debates held by the Commission on each of the issues, a new version of the Draft Constitution was elaborated and analyzed in detail in the 8th Plenum of the Communist Party of Cuba's Central Committee, December 11 and 12.
The proposed new project includes approximately 760 changes, including additions and deletions of articles, phrases, words, and others.
It maintains the 11 titles of the original draft, although the order of some has varied:
Title I Political
Title II Economic Foundations
Title III Principles of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Policy (formerly Title V)
Title IV Citizenship (formerly Title III)
Title V Rights, Responsibilities, and Guarantees (formerly Title IV, with changes to the names of chapters II, III, IV and VI)
Title VI Structure of the State (Chapter V Laws, is now no. VIII, the last of this Title, with two new sections. Its name was also changed to Legal Provisions)
Title VII Territorial Organization of the State
Title VIII Local People's Power Bodies
Title IX Electoral System
Title X Defense and National Security
Title XI Constitutional Reform (Maintained are the 24 chapters, with 18 sections, two more than the original draft, on incorporating two sections into Chapter VIII of Title VI. Contains 229 articles, of which eight are new)
In the Preamble of the draft text approved by the National Assembly, eight paragraphs have been modified and four new ones included; and of the 224 articles it contains, it was suggested that there be changes to 134, or 59.8 per cent, and the elimination of three (Articles 4, 18 and 30, although the content of the first and the last are integrated in other precepts), representing 1.3 per cent; while 87, or 38.8 per cent, remain unchanged. All this data belies the claim of some that the opinions of the people would not be taken into account.
Some adjustments were made to its content, especially the inclusion of reference to the clandestine struggle, proletarian internationalism and a note that "Cuba will never return to capitalism as a regime based on the exploitation of man by man, and that only in socialism and communism do human beings attain their full dignity."
There were broad requests, although not reflected in the draft, for the mention of many heroes (Che, Camilo, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Mella, Villena...), and other passages of our history.
In the first chapter, Fundamental Principles, there were changes in the order of articles, mainly because the former Article 10 (on popular sovereignty) is now Article 3.
One issue debated in the Working Group was the question of replacing the name given to national symbols, in particular the national flag and anthem (Article 2, formerly 4), which it was proposed not to accept, in correspondence with the name recognized in the current constitutional text, and traditional.
In Article 5, referring to the Party, this was defined as the leading political force of society and the State, and mention of communism was included. In Articles 7 and 8, it is clear that the Party, like the rest of the mass organizations, is obliged to comply with the Constitution and the law.
Only 0.03 per cent of the opinions gathered questioned the role of this organization.
Article 18 of the draft text, regarding supranational entities, was eliminated, considering that such a process is not visible in the immediate term, and because part of its content could be included in subsection d) of Article 16, on Latin American integration.
Two new articles were incorporated, one on worker participation in the "processes of planning, regulation, management and control of the economy" (Article 20); and the other on the role of science, technology and innovation in the economic and social development of the country (Article 21).
Regarding the different forms of property, the wording on private ownership was improved to make explicit that this includes Cuban and foreign individuals and legal entities, playing a complementary role in the economy. Likewise, added among the forms of ownership relating to institutions and associative entities, is that of churches, foundations and other associations.
Regarding the socialist property of the entire people, it is specified that the Council of State has the power to transfer rights that do not imply ownership over property in the public domain (Article 23), and included among these are mineral deposits and beaches.
Within this form of property, also defined was the inclusion of other heritage assets, of a strategic nature for the economic and social development of the country, including "the main infrastructures, industries and economic and social facilities," ownership over which may be transferred only in exceptional cases, by the Council of Ministers, provided that they are destined for the economic and social development of the country.
Another modification is to the content of Article 22 (current Article 30), which in its new wording specifies the regulation by the State of the concentration of property by non-state legal entities and individuals, and includes that related to a fairer redistribution of wealth, an aspect on which many different opinions were expressed, and with which a large number of proposals are addressed.
In Article 31, despite the high number of proposals (46,968) to include the obligation to work, it was agreed to suggest not to accept this concept, as it is contrary to our international principles and commitments. However, the text recognizes work as a "social duty."
In turn, it was specified as part of this precept that paid employment should be the main source of income, in order to establish this in a more progressive way, and in line with the current reality.
Among the general elements recognized in the draft text are the socialist character of our economic system, the role of the State in the management, regulation and control of the economy, the socialist ownership by the people of the fundamental means of production, and recognition of the market, socialist planning, worker participation in economic processes, the role of socialist state enterprises, private property of a complementary character, and the role of foreign investment.
Principles of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Policy
It is noted that educational, scientific and cultural policy is also based on innovation; the concept that "creative and research activity in science is free," present in the current Constitution, was reinserted, as it corresponded with essential principles for the development of that activity; and in terms of artistic creation and forms of expression, the text specifies that artistic content must respect the principles of State cultural policy.
The most important addition to the text was the clarification that the acquisition of a further citizenship does not imply the loss of Cuban citizenship, in response to 1,309 proposals from the population in this regard (Article 36, formerly Article 35).
Rights, Responsibilities, and Guarantees
In the chapter on General Provisions, a new Article (40) was included to recognize human dignity as people's supreme value. In the precept referring to equality (Article 42, formerly Article 40), due to popular requests (1,266 proposals), the right of all "to enjoy the same public spaces and service establishments," was included, which resolves concerns regarding access to beaches, hotels or other sites.
The concept that people "receive equal pay for work of equal value," (former Article 76) was moved to Article 42, with the change that people "receive equal pay for equal work," and it was added "without any discrimination." Thus the phrase acquired true meaning and any doubts regarding its interpretation were addressed.
In Chapter II, with the new title of "Rights," all rights, whatever their nature (individual, civil, political, economic, social, etc.) are gathered, a change intended to avoid doubts as regards their classification.
With regard to freedom of the press (Article 55, formerly Article 60), in the second paragraph, it was specified that the fundamental means of communication are the socialist property of the entire people or "of political, social and mass organizations." In addition, that under no circumstances may they be the object of private property.
Added as a material guarantee of the right to work (Article 64, formerly Article 75) was the State's responsibility to organize "institutions and services that assist working families to carry out their responsibilities," an aspect that offers a response of a general nature to insistence that childcare centres or other facilities be explicitly mentioned.
Another aspect of the draft text that did not change was related to the principle of socialist distribution (Article 65, formerly Article 76), although there are differing opinions among academics, and a claim that this principle is not supported by the current economic reality and therefore should be deleted. However, as a principle that is intrinsic to socialist society, we must assume and defend it.
The right to social security (Article 68, formerly Article 79) was extended to recognize the protection not only of maternity and paternity but also of "grandparents or other relatives of the minor, according to his/her care and attention." This is in line with current regulations and responds to the opinions of the population.
The right to "decent" housing was modified (Article 71, formerly Article 82), regarding which there were many doubts and observations. Instead of the existing term, the concept of "adequate" housing was used, and the right to a "safe and healthy habitat" extended, which offers greater precision and entails not only a physical space and a roof over one's head, but the wider environment in which dwellings are located, and their main characteristics.
In the right to public health (Article 72, formerly Article 83), the responsibility of the State was made more explicit, adding that services should be of "quality," and incorporating as a guarantee the creation of a "health system at all levels, accessible to the entire population," and the development of "programs for health prevention and education, to which society and families contribute."
Regarding education (Article 73, formerly Article 84), it was added in terms of the responsibility of the State that services must be of quality, and its free nature extended from "early childhood to postgraduate university education," in response to 1,507 proposals from the population.
The guarantees to put this right into effect were also extended, among them the possibility offered by "the broad system of educational institutions and the possibility of studying at any stage of life."
A new chapter on Families (Chapter III), was inserted, similar to the current constitutional text and with the objective of visualizing the importance of this issue in society.
It is worth noting the new regulation that appears in Article 81 (formerly Article 67), which establishes the right of persons to establish a family, whatever its form of organization, and the definition that these are constituted "through legal or de facto ties."
According to data from the 2012 Census, 5,476,734 people (over 15 years old) are in stable relationships. Of these, 48 per cent are common-law unions, and 52 per cent are married.
In order to respond to the views regarding the content of Article 68, mention of the individuals that compose a marriage was eliminated. In its place, the new Article 82 establishes that marriage is a social and legal institution, and one of the forms of organization of families, thus leaving it to the law to establish its subsequent development.
Coupled with this, the Eleventh Transitional Provision establishes that within two years of the new Constitution's entry into force, the National Assembly will arrange to initiate a process of popular consultation and referendum on the draft Family Code, which should include the definition of marriage. The intention is not to include in the constitutional text the subjects of this institution, but to establish its definition in a referendum vote on the aforementioned Code.
A necessary balance has been sought, as the Constitution of the Republic must generate consensus in society.
Article 82 took into account both the views of people in favour of same-sex marriage, and those who do not support it. Here there are no winners or losers.
What was expressed in the draft is our general will, but this was not the time to establish it as there was no consensus. However, we maintain the intention to achieve this in the future. The Family Code will be put to the vote because it is the most democratic way of defining it.
At the same time, Article 82 itself recognizes de facto unions and provides for legislation to regulate the conditions and circumstances in which these are configured, as well as the rights and obligations deriving from them. These unions could be of heterosexual or same-sex couples, but their subjects are also omitted in the Constitution text.
Families are not only bound through marriage, some are constituted in legal acts such as marriage or adoption, but there are also de facto families based on consensual unions.
In this chapter dedicated to families (Article 86, former Article 72), the rights of children and adolescents are broadened, considering them full holders of rights as established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A new Article (87) also recognizes the role of young people in society.
The protection and exercise of rights by older persons (Article 88, formerly Article 73) and persons with disabilities (Article 89, formerly Article 74) is also underlined.
In Chapter IV of Title V, on Duties (Article 90, former Article 91), the fundamental change is the incorporation of respect for and protection of national symbols, as well as the duty to protect flora and fauna, responding to a widespread demand to regulate the protection of animals.
In a new Chapter VI on Guarantee of Rights, the entire system of guarantees that was dispersed across different articles of the draft text is grouped together. Two new articles are incorporated: Article 92, regarding judicial protection, and Article 93, recognizing alternative methods of conflict resolution (arbitration, mediation, etc.).
The principle of Due Process (former Article 48), saw an important modification, which involved dividing the general issues related to any matter (Article 94) from those related to the criminal procedure itself (Article 95).
Legal assistance in criminal proceedings from the moment of arrest was highly requested. This was a widely debated topic and consensus was reached that it would be provided from the beginning of the process, leaving the specifics to the law.
Incorporated into Article 99 (formerly Article 94) was the possibility of recourse to the courts in the event of the violation of constitutional rights, not only by the State or its representatives, but also by individuals and non-state entities. Likewise, it is left to the law to define these constitutional rights and the subsequent procedure.
Structure of the State
In general, the same wording was maintained, with some very specific changes. In this Title, there are four aspects related to the figure of the President of the Republic, on which people expressed the most opinions (term of office, minimum and maximum ages, as well as his/her popular election). These remain as they were in the draft text, in accordance with the decisions of the Party Congresses, and its First National Conference.
Territorial Organization of the State
There were no major changes to this Title. In Article 169 (formerly Article 164), the faculty of municipalities to dictate agreements and regulatory provisions for the exercise of their powers was specified, as one of the issues arising from municipal autonomy.
Local People's Power Bodies
The most important change in this Title was regarding the election of Provincial Governors and Vice Governors (Article 175, formerly Article 170). The proposal that they be elected by delegates of the respective Municipal Assemblies of People's Power (AMPP) was accepted, at the proposal of the President of the Republic, with which a popular demand is also partly accepted.
The other important change lies in incorporating AMPP vice presidents as members of the Provincial Council (Article 182, formerly Article 177), as well as eliminating the mention of other members. Regarding this Title, some views questioned the titles of "Governor" and "Intendant." However, it was considered that there were no compelling reasons to change them.
Electoral System and Defense and National Security
There were no noteworthy changes.
In Article 227 (formerly Article 222), referring to reform initiative, the National Council of the Cuban Workers' Federation, and the national directorates of the other mass and social organizations were included as subjects, in correspondence to their legislative initiative and the role they play within the Cuban political system.
The inviolability clauses provided for in Article 229 (formerly Article 224) were maintained, with the irrevocability of the socialist system defined more generally, without specifying the components that constitute it.
In the supplementary provisions of the draft (Special, Transitional, and Final), a new provision was added, which is now the Fifth, relating to the President's proposal of Provincial Governor and Vice Governor candidates. The wording of the Tenth provision (now the Eleventh) was adjusted as already expressed, and the Twelfth was eliminated.
The Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, on concluding the presentation of the draft Constitution, acknowledged that "If we have come this far, it is because we have a helmsman who steered us to safe harbour. That helmsman is Raúl Castro, a modest man who knows how to listen."
Source: Report to the National Assembly of People's Power on the outcome of the popular consultation on the draft Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.
(Photos: Estudios Revolución)
New Mexican President Inaugurated
Posted below is the speech delivered by the Andrés Manuel López Obrador on December 1, 2018, at his inauguration as the new President of Mexico, highlighting the 100 commitments of his presidency.
Here in the Zócalo of Mexico City, the country's main public square, after receiving the command staff of the native peoples of our great nation, I reaffirm the commitment not to lie, not to steal and not to betray the people.
Today I spoke in Congress about the old regime and the new policy to carry out the Fourth Transformation of public life in Mexico; now I want to express what we have already done and are about to begin; what we could well call, a modernity forged from below and for everyone.
I reaffirm our commitments, on the following points:
1. In the first place, we are going to give special attention to the indigenous peoples of Mexico; it is an ignominy that our original peoples have lived for centuries under oppression and racism, with poverty and marginalization on their backs. All government programs will have as their preferred population the indigenous peoples of the country's diverse cultures.
2. All Mexicans will be served regardless of beliefs, class, organizations, sex, parties, economic or cultural sectors, but the principle will be applied that, for the good of all, the poor come first.
3. The children's rooms of the former Ministry of Social Development shall be maintained and the CENDIS promoted by the Labor Party shall be regularized; both programs shall have guaranteed resources in the budget and shall become part of the Welfare and Public Education Secretariats.
4. Primary and Secondary students from low-income families will receive educational scholarships.
5. All students from high schools, technical schools, vocational schools and public high schools will receive a scholarship of 800 pesos per month.
6. Three hundred thousand young people, in conditions of poverty, who enter or are studying at universities, will be entitled to a scholarship of 2,400 pesos per month.
7. In 2019, 100 public universities will be operating, with careers according to each region of the country to provide quality education without tuition fees to 64,000 students at the higher level.
8. Mexico's cultural heritage will be protected. Artistic training will be promoted from basic education and support will be given to creators and cultural promoters.
9. Scientific and technological research will be promoted; students and academics will be supported with scholarships and other stimuli for the good of knowledge. Conacyt will coordinate the National Plan for Innovation for the benefit of society and national development with the participation of universities, peoples, scientists and businesses.
10. The so-called Educational Reform will be cancelled, the right to free education at all levels of schooling will be established in Article 3 of the Constitution, and the government will never again aggravate teachers.
11. Today begins the plan to support the victims of the earthquakes with work, housing and public services. This includes a program of construction and reconstruction of schools, health centers, public buildings and temples that are part of the country's cultural heritage.
12. Also today begins a program of urban improvement in marginalized neighborhoods of the northern border: Tijuana, Mexicali, San Luis Rio Colorado, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Acuña, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros.
13. The right to health will become a reality. The purpose is to guarantee free medical attention and medicines to Mexicans; we will begin in the Social Security medical units located in the poorest areas of the country and little by little the program will be expanded until we manage, in the middle of the six-year period, to establish a first class health system, as in Canada or in the Nordic countries.
14. The salaries of high officials will be lowered and the salaries of grassroots and unionized workers who earn less than 20,000 pesos a month will be increased proportionally.
15. Pensions will be increased for older adults throughout the country; that is, 1,274 pesos per month will be given to each one.
16. This support will also be given to a million poor disabled people, especially children from marginalized towns and colonies.
17. Two million, three hundred thousand unemployed young people will be hired to work as apprentices in productive activities in the countryside and the city, and will earn a salary of 3,600 pesos per month.
18. This month we begin the construction of concrete roads in forgotten municipalities of Oaxaca, Guerrero and other states. These roads will be built with workers from the same communities to achieve a multiplier effect: the budget will remain there, the economy will be reactivated from below, jobs will be created with fair wages and works will be done for the benefit of the people.
19. Small farmers in the countryside, ejidatarios, communeros or small landowners will receive six-monthly economic support for the planting of food.
20. We will begin a program of delivery of fertilizers taking care that the soils are not damaged, to benefit agricultural producers; next year, this program will be applied free of charge in support to all the peasants of the state of Guerrero and thus we will be expanding it to the rest of the country. In addition, soon we will have enough raw material and will start operating the fertilizer plant in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.
21. The small producers of corn, beans, rice, wheat and milk will be paid guaranteed prices in warehouses of Diconsa and Liconsa.
22. Fishing activities will be encouraged to improve the lives of coastal and riparian communities. Tuna and sardine fishermen will receive a fair price for their products.
23. Preparations have already begun to plant one million hectares of fruit and timber trees over the next two years, with the goal of producing food, reforesting, improving the environment, creating 400,000 jobs, and rooting people in their communities of origin.
24. Diconsa and Liconsa will be united in a single company for the supply and distribution of food for popular consumption. It will be called Mexican Food Security (SEGALMEX). In the warehouses, stores and dairies of this new agency, a basket of basic foods will be distributed at low prices to combat malnutrition and hunger of the people.
25. Interest-free loans will be granted to parcel holders, communeros and small landowners for the acquisition of heifers, cows and stallions.
26. The artisans, owners of workshops, shops and small businesses, will also receive cheap credits by word of mouth, without so much paperwork and waste of time.
27. The tax charged to companies for mineral extraction will be transferred to the mining communities.
28. The price of gasoline, gas, diesel and electricity will not increase, only the inflation component will be applied; that is, there will be no gasoline usury.
29. The support granted by the government to the people will be delivered directly, without intermediaries, to avoid "moches", corruption and political manipulation. That is why a house by house census is being carried out to identify each beneficiary, to give them a card and for them to withdraw this support.
30. The Welfare Bank will be created so that poor people, even in the most remote villages, can receive government aid and in that same account can also receive remittances and other income, as well as maintain their savings with yields and security guarantees.
31. The increase in the budget to finance the welfare programs will be obtained from savings for not allowing corruption and governing with Republican austerity.
32. Taxes will not be increased beyond inflation and no new taxes will be created. Nor will we increase public debt. We will not spend more than what enters the public treasury.
33. We will be respectful of the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and its policies to avoid inflation or devaluations.
34. A strict policy of republican austerity will be applied. There will be no cronyism, nepotism and influence, none of those scourges of politics. The payroll and assets of public officials and their close relatives will be transparent; we will make few, very few trips abroad and only for justified reasons; new vehicles will not be purchased for officials; only officials responsible for security tasks will have escorts; there will only be three advisers per secretariat; there will be no private medical care, nor exclusive savings banks for officials.
35. No computer systems will be purchased in the first year of government.
36. Private secretaries will only be available to the staff members of the enlarged cabinet.
37. Trusts or any other mechanism used to hide public funds and evade legality and transparency will be cancelled.
38. All duplicate structures and programs (major official offices, press offices, publications, legal ombudsmen, procurement, internal comptroller's office and others) will be eliminated and these functions or programs will be centralised in a single unit or coordination, dependent on the secretariat related to the matters in question.
39. Government advertising expenditure will be reduced by 50 per cent.
40. Officials from the Treasury, Communications, Energy and other agencies will not be able to share parties, meals, sports games or travel with contractors, large taxpayers, suppliers or investors linked to the public function.
41. No public official may employ workers in the service of the State in their home if not permitted to do so or not authorized to do so.
42. No official, without cause of emergency, may order the closing of streets, the stopping of traffic or the passing of stops or parking in prohibited places.
43. No extra merchandise already existing in public warehouses in sufficient quantity shall be purchased.
44. Offices shall not be remodeled, nor shall luxury furniture be purchased.
45. Only secretaries and undersecretaries will have the support of drivers.
46. Unless fully justified, the police and military of the different corporations will not be at the service of civil servants or individuals.
47. Items for costumes or any protocol and ceremonial expenses dedicated to the President, his close collaborators and relatives shall be eliminated.
48. The assets of the offices at the disposal of public servants shall be taken care of in order to protect the collective patrimony.
49. Avoid unnecessary expenses abroad. The only government offices will be embassies and consulates. There will only be one federal government delegation in the states, and all offices will save electricity, water, telephone, internet, gasoline, and other supplies paid for by the treasury.
50. Citizens will be treated with kindness in public offices and elsewhere, humbly accepting that they are the principals of us public servants.
51. Government purchases will be made in a consolidated manner; through convocation and with citizen observation and the UN transparency office.
52. Government work contracts will be carried out with the participation of citizens and UN observers.
53. The hiring of offices to prepare bills, development plans or any type of analysis, recommendations, reports and other documents that can be prepared with the work and professional capacity of public servants will not be authorized.
54. The federal government will be decentralized and the secretariats will be located in different states of the republic, because the whole country is Mexico. This process will be carried out on a voluntary basis, without affecting workers in the service of the State; on the contrary, they will have opportunities for the acquisition of housing, education for their children, medical care and social security.
55. There will be an authentic rule of law. No one shall be allowed to violate the Constitution and the laws, and there shall be no impunity, favours or privileges.
56. Impunity will end; Article 108 of the Constitution will be amended to try the incumbent President for any crime he commits, just like any other citizen.
57. Corruption, fuel theft, illegal carrying of firearms, falsification of invoices for tax evasion, electoral fraud, vote buying and the use of budget to favour candidates and parties shall be prohibited and shall become a serious crime, without the right to bail.
58. There will be no budget items available to deputies or senators. There will be no more shameful practice of so-called "moches."
59. No public official may receive gifts worth more than 5,000 pesos.
60. In commercial or financial relations with international companies, preference shall be given to those originating in countries whose governments are characterized by their honesty and punish without any tolerance the practices of bribery or kickbacks, or corruption.
61. As of today, the doors of Los Pinos are open, which has ceased to be the official residence of the President and has become a space dedicated to recreation, art and the culture of the people.
62. The Presidential General Staff is now part of the Secretariat of Defence; in the same way, the Cisen disappears. There will be no espionage of opponents or citizens, and the successor office will have as its sole task to do intelligence work to guarantee peace and preserve national security.
63. The presidential airplane and the entire fleet of airplanes and helicopters that were used for the transfer of senior public officials are for sale.
64. Former presidents will no longer receive a pension, nor will civil or military civil servants be in their service.
65. There will be no inspectors on public roads to supervise commercial, business or service establishments. We are going to trust the citizens and a surveillance program will be implemented by lottery. Bribery or "the cut" will be avoided, we will give confidence to citizens, who under protest of telling the truth will act with rectitude and fulfill their responsibilities.
66. We reiterate: we are not against those who invest and generate jobs and are committed to the development of Mexico, but against bad wealth.
67. Tourism will be fostered to boost development and create jobs; also, starting this month, an urban improvement program will begin in the marginalized neighborhoods of five tourist centers: Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Bahía de Banderas, Acapulco, and Solidaridad.
68. The Mayan Train will be built to communicate by this means of fast and modern transport to tourists and national passengers in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.
69. An economic and commercial corridor will be created in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec that will communicate Asia and the east coast of the United States. A container railroad will be built; the road will be widened; the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos will be rehabilitated; the region's oil, gas, water, wind and electricity will be harnessed; assembly and manufacturing plants will be installed; and there will be tax subsidies to promote investment and create jobs.
70. We will allocate more public investment to urgently produce more oil, gas and electricity and thus face the crisis left by neoliberal politicians and those responsible for the so-called energy reform. I call on the technicians and oil workers, active or retired, to act with patriotism as was done in the times of General Lázaro Cárdenas, and that we return to rescue the national oil industry.
71. The six existing refineries will be rehabilitated and, in a few days, the construction of a new refinery will begin in Dos Bocas, Paraíso, Tabasco, so that in three years all the gasoline we consume will be produced in Mexico.
72. The dismantling plan of the Federal Electricity Commission will be halted; not one more plant will be closed; on the contrary, the existing ones will be modernized and special attention will be given to the hydroelectric plants to produce more clean energy at a lower cost.
73. We will promote the development of alternative renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal and tidal.
74. We will protect Mexico's biological and cultural diversity. We will promote agroecological practices that increase productivity without damaging nature. The introduction and use of transgenic seeds will not be allowed.
75. We will not use methods of extraction of raw materials that affect nature and exhaust water sources such as fracking.
76. No economic, productive, commercial or tourist project that affects the environment will be permitted. Pollution of soil, water and air will be avoided and flora and fauna will be protected. Water will not be privatised.
77. There will be universal telecommunications coverage and the country will be connected to the Internet using the infrastructure and lines of the Federal Electricity Commission. This service will be free of charge in highways, plazas, schools, hospitals, etc. and public facilities.
78. In three years the problem of the saturation of the current airport in Mexico City will be definitively solved; by then the roads, two new runways and the passenger terminal at the Santa Lucía air base will be working, which will save Lake Texcoco and we will have saved 100 billion pesos.
79. From January 1, a free zone will be created in the 3,180 kilometers of border with the United States; that is, next year in that part of our country productive activities will be promoted, investment will be promoted, jobs will be created, VAT will be lowered from 16 to 8 percent and the Income Tax will be 20 percent. Fuels on this and that side of the border will cost the same, and the minimum wage will be doubled.
80. The minimum wage will never be set below inflation, as happened in the neoliberal period.
81. Article 35 of the Constitution will be amended to remove all obstacles and locks in the holding of citizen consultations, so that the people always have the right to participate in decisions of public interest.
82. On the first Sunday of July 2021, there will be a consultation to ask Mexicans if I continue in the presidency or if I resign, because as I believe and have said many times, the people put and the people take away, the people are sovereign.
83. There will be no divorce between power and the people, I will never lose communication with you, with the people; I will spend five days a week in municipalities and states of the country gathering the feelings of the people and solving problems and evaluating the progress of development and welfare programs.
84. Every day, starting next Monday at 6 a.m., I will lead the Security Cabinet meeting at the National Palace to guarantee peace and tranquility to Mexicans.
85. If approved by the people and the Congress, a National Guard will be created to guarantee public security in the country.
86. Two hundred and sixty-six public security coordinations will be set up throughout the country under the national guard to protect citizens who are victims of murders, kidnappings, robberies and other crimes.
87. The President of the Republic, in accordance with the law, is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and will never order the Army or Navy to massacre the people. The war will end; we will build peace and seek brotherhood among all Mexicans.
88. Today the amnesty process began to release political prisoners or victims of reprisals by caciques, officials or governors of the former authoritarian regime. The criminal accusations fabricated against activists and social fighters will be cancelled. The Ministry of the Interior is in charge of making this determination a reality.
89. The disappearance of the young people of Ayotzinapa will be thoroughly investigated; the truth will be known and those responsible will be punished.
90. Freedom of expression will be respected; the government will never apply censorship to any journalist or media.
91. The Attorney General's Office will, in fact, have absolute autonomy; it will not receive a slogan from the President of the Republic and its practices will adhere to the principle of liberal law, according to which, "outside the law, nothing and above the law, no one."
92. We will maintain respectful relations with the Legislative Power and with the Judicial Power and the Executive Power will cease to be the power of the powers.
93. Since last night the Civil Protection Plan came into effect; the ABC for floods, fires, earthquakes and other disasters.
94. Foreign policy will be based on diplomatic caution and the principles of self-determination of peoples, non-intervention, peaceful settlement of disputes, legal equality of states, cooperation for development, friendship, peace, defense of human rights, protection of the environment and respect for the rights of migrants; ours, Central Americans and those of all countries and continents.
95. The relationship with the U.S. government will be one of respect, mutual benefit and good neighborliness. It is time to shift the bilateral relationship toward development cooperation. Creating jobs in Mexico and Central America is the alternative to migration, not coercive measures.
96. As we promised, the 50 consulates that Mexico has in the United States are going to become ombudsmen for the defense of migrants. We are going to defend the human rights of our countrymen.
97. Mexico's rebirth will be achieved by making progress a reality with justice and a way of life based on love for family, neighbour, nature, homeland and humanity. We will promote material well-being and the well-being of the soul.
98. The free expression of ideas and religious beliefs and the freedom of the press shall be guaranteed. We stand for dialogue, tolerance, diversity and respect for human rights.
99. We will convene teachers, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, philosophers and professionals from other disciplines, as well as religious, freethinkers, respectable elders and citizens in general for the holding of a congress at which a Moral Constitution will be drafted, which will help to strengthen national, cultural and spiritual values.
100. We will also preserve our historical memory. We will promote the reading in general and particularly of history, civility and ethics; we will never forget where we come from; that is why our original cultures, historical transformations and the sacrifice of our heroes will be exalted; for example, next year, 100 years after the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, his name and his motto "Earth and Freedom" will be remembered in all the government's stationery.
Friends: I invite all of us to help make these commitments a reality and that each year, here in the Zócalo, we review them one by one including pending ones so we can make them a reality.
Let us discuss in all public squares of Mexico whether or not we move forward, with the aim of transparency and ending corruption and impunity.
Let's analyze in the houses, streets and squares whether the economic and social situation of our people improves or worsens and let's always take from among all the agreements those that best suit society and the nation.
Let's not stop meeting: let's always maintain communication. There will be no divorce between the people and the government. I need them because, as Juarez said, "with the people everything, without the people nothing." Don't leave me alone because without you I am worth nothing or almost nothing; without you, the conservatives would easily overwhelm me. I ask for your support, because I reiterate the commitment not to fail you; dead first than betraying you.
But above all, let us act with optimism and joy because we have the enormous joy of living in interesting times; we are before a stellar moment in history because together we begin to build the justice and happiness that our people deserve and a new life for our great nation.
Long Live Mexico! Long
Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!
(Pressenza, December 3, 2018. Translated from Spanish by Pressenza London.)
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