“I could not pass through here without saying something to you. Three or four words. I am leaving confident and hopeful that Santiago will always continue to be Santiago,” said Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, as the commemoration of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons in Santiago concluded.
The event’s central remarks were presented by José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Party Central Committee, who recalled that on another July 26, our first thoughts are directed toward the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, whose life and work are closely tied to the heroic city of Santiago, which is celebrating its glorious 500 year history.
Machado Ventura recalled that the city has been the scene of many significant events which call for celebration, as well as reflection.
He evoked the memory of the original inhabitants of the island who confronted Spanish conquerors, and that of Africans who led slave rebellions at nearby copper mines. It is no accident, he recalled, that the province is also known by the name Guamá and that a monument to the rebel slave was erected in Cobre.
He added that the city is full of stories of the independence and revolutionary armies’ actions, and is considered the cradle of the Revolution, where the remains of Mariana Grajales, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Frank País rest, with those of many others who gave their lives to win independence, defend the country’s sovereignty, and contribute to the liberation of sister peoples around the world.
Machado insisted that historical memory must be preserved, since therein, as Fidel once said, reside the roots of our values, our ideology and our independence.
He noted that those who saw Santiago after Hurricane Sandy, and see the city today, are repeating Raúl’s words that nothing is impossible for a united people such as ours.
Machado Ventura insisted that the willpower, energy, disposition and skill, with which Santiago’s men and women faced the devastation, emerged through the Revolution, with the help of friends around the world, like Venezuela and Ecuador, and many other countries. He reiterated the people’s gratitude for this solidarity, and congratulated the population, along with provincial Party leader Lázaro Expósito, for the great efforts which ensured the city’s recovery.
He emphasized that Santiago has shown, without losing its hospitality, that it remains rebellious and heroic, adding that the people will continue to work for an increasingly more beautiful, hygienic, ordered and disciplined city.
He noted that the recently concluded session of the National Assembly likewise demonstrated the country’s commitment to identifying problems and finding ways to resolve them, also recalling the significance of the process underway to normalize relations with the United States, which Raúl discussed at the National Assembly, emphasizing that will be a long and complicated one, requiring a definitive end to the blockade and the return of the illegally occupied Guantánamo Naval Base.
Machado Ventura concluded his remarks saying that the July 26 commemoration is held not only to honor the past, but to reaffirm that the heroic 1953 actions were not in vain, that the seeds sown have borne fruit, “May this 500th anniversary and this July 26 serve as a reaffirmation of the spirit which lead the compañeros to assault the Moncada, and as a ratification of the emancipatory will which has accompanied Cubans all these years.
“Eternal glory to the martyrs of Moncada! Long live the Revolution! Long live Fidel! Long live Raúl! Long live free Cuba! ¡Venceremos!”