None of us who had the privilege of participating in the July 26 actions, under the command of Fidel, could have dreamed then of being alive today, in a free, independent and sovereign country, with a socialist Revolution in power and a united people, ready to defend the work undertaken, the fruit of the sacrifice and spilled blood of various generations of Cubans.
Thus Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, began his central remarks to close the political-cultural act to mark the 65th anniversary of the Assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrions, held this morning in the heroic city of Santiago de Cuba.
We celebrate this 65th anniversary in Santiago de Cuba not only due to its history, but also in recognition of the work undertaken here to benefit the people, under the leadership of Lázaro Expósito Cantro, Party First Secretary in the Province, alongside Beatriz Jhonson Urrutia, a vice president of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and president of the government in the territory, Raúl noted.
In this regard, he mentioned the comprehensive efforts on various fronts of the economy, which have resulted in an increase in quality and affordable goods and services for the population.
The housing program is also advancing, with initiatives including the use of locally produced construction materials, while prioritized investments of national significance are advancing at a good pace, such as the Multi-Purpose Port Terminal and the San Luis Warehouse Complex.
Raúl reported that work is ongoing to increase exports of fruit, rum, lobster and agricultural produce, commercial activities are being reordered through local development projects that award greater autonomy to municipalities, making the best use of their own resources, which translates into greater contributions to the Budget and ensures the possibility of continuing to invest.
According to the Army General, the enthusiasm of Santiago residents is palpable, but there remains much to be done in the productive and services spheres to continue improving the quality of life of the people, with the aim of ensuring an increasingly beautiful, disciplines, clean and ordered city of Santiago, worthy of guarding the remains of our greatest children, among whom are the National Hero, the Father and Mother of the Homeland, and the Historic Leader of the Cuban Revolution.
He also recalled that the following months will see the commemoration of important events, such as the beginning of our independence struggles, and highlighted the recent approval by the National Assembly of the draft Constitution of the Republic, which will now be submitted to a broad popular consultation process, and the results of this democratic exercise will be submitted to the Cuban Parliament to be analyzed once again, in order to draft the final text that will be submitted to a referendum, through a direct and secret vote.
The Constitution, Raúl stressed, is the fundamental law on which the state is based, and thus is the most important legal and political document of any country, defining the foundations of the nation, the structure of its branches of power and their scope, as well as guaranteeing the rights and responsibilities of its citizens.
The current Constitution, he noted, approved in a different scenario to this, needs to be reformed with the aim of including the transformations that have been carried out through the implementation of the agreements of the Sixth and Seventh Party Congresses.
Thus, a transcendental democratic process will begin, the success of which will depend, in the first place, on the active and commitment participation of all Cubans, under the leadership of the Party and the UJC and mass organizations, in which each must be aware of the need and scope of the changes that we must introduce, to ensure the irreversibility of Cuban socialism and the Revolution.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SAVINGS
Raúl noted that a tense situation continues with regard to the country’s external finances, as a consequence of reduced income from exports of sugar, and tourism, due to heavy rains and the tightening of the U.S. blockade, which has impacted trade and international financial transactions.
However, he noted that the Cuban economy has seen modest growth, which is encouraging, but stressed that exports must increase and all unnecessary costs must be eliminated.
Raúl recalled that the greatest source of resources are savings, which more than a slogan must become a duty of all at all levels.
ADVANCING REGIONAL UNITY
Referring to the international context, the Army General recalled that at the beginning of this century, various progressive and leftist forces came to power in the region and promoted Latin American and Caribbean unity and integration.
Thus, he noted, the imperialist project of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) was defeated, and instead the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) created. In 15 years, 60 million people were lifted out of poverty and three million were taught to read and write, as illiteracy was eliminated in Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua. More than 20 thousand Latin American and Caribbean sectors also graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine, and 2,900,000 foreign patients saw their sight restored through Operation Miracle, as well as over a million Cubans.
Likewise, Raúl recalled the generous cooperation of Venezuela resulting in the Petrocaribe project, and emphasized the favorable conditions that emerged to create the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the UNASUR, which bring together countries with different politics, but with the same principle of unity within their diversity. He also pointed to the reactivation of MERCOSUR and the important actions of CARICOM.
He recalled that CELAC Heads of State and Government signed in Havana, 2014, the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, with the commitment to respect the right of each state to choose its own political system and the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of any country.
Of course, he noted, this step was not to the liking of Washington, which has implemented the strategy of non-conventional warfare to hinder the advance of progressive governments of the region, and he highlighted the coups carried out in Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil.
Raúl also emphasized that the right has recovered power in some countries, some through fraudulent electoral processes, and others through manipulation. As was to be expected, they have not hesitated to roll-back the social policies that were of wide benefit to the population.
The U.S. government has declared the validity of the Monroe Doctrine, summarized as “America for the Americans” (read “the U.S.”), which means that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are subject to intervention, he stressed.
He underlined that one of the aims is to reverse the advances in integration and the exercise of sovereignty over natural resources, to impose its own agenda through a neoliberal offensive, aimed at destroying a decade of development.
He also said that the U.S., with the complicity of some governments, has attempted to reinvigorate the OAS as part of its attack against Venezuela, and undermine regional unity.
The recently concluded São Paulo Forum in Havana was essential as part of the political coordination of leftist forces of the region. The final declaration of the event is a program for the struggle of leftist parties and social and popular movements.
The Army General expressed the Cuban people, Party and government’s solidarity with the peoples and revolutionary governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua, and reiterated the call for freedom for Lula da Silva in Brazil. He also congratulated the Mexican people and their newly elected President López Obrador.
CUBA WILL NEVER RENOUNCE HER PRINCIPLES
Diplomatic relations with the United States are officially maintained, with cooperation continuing on a limited number of areas and bilateral agreements.
Since the reestablishment of diplomat relations was announced, clear differences between the governments of the two nations on various issues have been voiced, however, Cuba reiterates the will to dialogue with respect and work toward improved relations on the basis of equality. Nonetheless, Cuba will never renounce the ideas it has defended for over a century.
In August 2017, he reiterated, under the pretext of alleged “sonic attacks” which are as of yet to be proven, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. became increasingly strained, as 17 Cuban officials were expelled from the U.S., and the latter’s diplomatic personnel in Havana was reduced to a minimum.
Likewise, the application and extraterritorial nature of the U.S. blockade has been tightened, in particular the persecution of international financial transactions.
The Army General recalled the infamous memorandum of 1960, in which a U.S. official noted that the majority of Cubans supported the revolutionary government and that “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship (…) to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”
“I have never read anything more cynical than those words” Raúl stressed.
The public statements against Cuba, he said, are characterized by manipulation and millions are destined to revert the political order in our country. In June, a U.S. official said that the countries of America have to accept that Cuba is the mother of all evils in terms of weakening democracy and human rights on the continent, and this reminds us of the attitude of former President George W. Bush.
It is no coincidence, he said, that in the draft of our Constitution it is reaffirmed that the defense of our socialist homeland is the greatest honor and duty of Cubans.
Cubans, he stressed, are a peaceful and friendly people, we do not threaten anyone, and for us avoiding a war is tantamount to winning it.
In the words of Raúl, once again, an adverse scenario has been established, but it is not the first, nor will it be the last time that the Revolution faces challenges and threats. We have taken risks and we have resisted undefeated over 60 years. For us, like Venezuela and Nicaragua, it is clear that we have to be prepared to face the attacks with unwavering faith in victory.
Since July 26, 1953, we revolutionaries have continued to overcome setbacks. Fidel, with the Moncada Assault, taught us to turn the setbacks into victories, and that nothing could contain the advance of our people. He demonstrated the strength of ideas and left us the permanent lesson of perseverance in just aims.
Back then Fidel said: Our heroic dead did not fall in vain, they accompanied us in prisons, and they fought together with us in the war and we see them reborn in the new generations.
After the triumph of 1959, the Army General noted, Cubans faced armed gangs, sabotage, plans of attacks, especially against Fidel, the blockade, media campaigns, the invasion of Playa Girón, the October Crisis, the introduction of pests and diseases, terrorist acts.
And in the 1990s, he continued, we faced the demise of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp, and the onslaught of imperialism. Cubans, in the midst of enormous scarcities, put our unwavering capacity for resistance and the will to defend sovereignty and socialism to the test, and that was possible thanks to the unity forged by Fidel.
Today, Raúl stressed, 65 years after the Moncada Assault, with our independence already conquered and the permanent presence of Fidel among us, we can affirm that no matter how great the challenges, our people will defend their socialist Revolution. History has shown that we could, we can, and we will always be able to.
To commemorate the triumph of the Revolution, January 1, 2019, he promised, we will meet again in Santiago.