OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Photo: Estudio Revolución

Speech delivered by Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, during the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the founding of ALBA, held in Havana's International Conference Center, December 14, 2017, Year 59 of the Revolution

(Council of State Transcript / GI translation)

Dear compañeros;

Dear compañeras;

Good evening to all men and women:

Dear Army General President Raúl Castro Ruz;

Compañeros from the 14 governments present of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America's (ALBA) Political Council of Ministers;

Compañeros and compañeras in attendance:

We landed from Istanbul just an hour ago, after a flight of more or less 16 hours, so I apologize for any mental lapse (he laughs) produced by the hours in flight without sleep.

We are very happy to be in Havana and, above all, to commemorate the 23 years since that embrace, that encounter between two giants of history: Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and the Bolivarian Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías (Applause). One, having already traveled a long stretch of an intense story of combat, of battles, as he himself called them, battles of ideas, of values, since long before the assault on the Moncada Garrison, legendary hero of the Sierra Maestra and later the visible face of dignity of Our America during the entire 20th century, Fidel.

The other, a young Bolivarian revolutionary who was just out of prison, after the uprising, the anti-oligarchy insurrection, anti World Monetary Fund uprising, of February 4, 1992. After he was released from the Prison of Dignity, as he called it, on the first opportunity he had, that year, 1994, he came to see Cuba, to meet Fidel.

Today we commemorate 23 years since that meeting. Many of you had not been born, others were taking their first steps in life; but those of us who were still young and lived through the decades of the 80s and the 90s, bitterly recall what the times were like when Fidel and Chávez met, and embraced, and found their way and their lives. 1994. The decade later known as the lost decade, the neoliberal decade, was, as Walter Martínez says, in full development. The Consensus of Washington was being imposed with its full devastating power.

Years before, a catastrophe had occurred that only a prophet on Earth could foresee: the disintegration and disappearance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and all of the so-called camp of real socialism in Europe, impossible to imagine or believe before it happened. And Cuba resisted, on the basis of its own guts, of its own history, with a giant in the lead: Fidel. It was only the mid-point of a decade of imperialist offensive, of the Consensus of Washington's hegemonic thought, that for Our America was called the Trade Alliance of the Americas, the FTAA, the Free Trade Area, the FTAA, 1994.

Venezuela had experienced, practically at the same time of the disintegration, the fall, the disappearance of the Soviet Union, Venezuela experienced a process of waking up from a long period of lethargy, from a long process of bourgeois-democratic domination, when on February 27, 1989, the Venezuelan people broke their bonds and took to the streets, in what was known at that time as the Caracazo.
As the years went by, in 1992, amidst a social, economic, political crisis - a product of the model of domination imposed on our country - the brilliant generation of Bolivarian, revolutionary soldiers emerged, led by our Comandante Hugo Chávez.

Venezuela did not have time to be sad or discouraged by the collapse of the Soviet Union or by the general confusion that began to take hold in the left and the world's progressive and revolutionary camp. Two rebellions: one February 27, 1989, a popular rebellion against the International Monetary Fund and its so-called economic packages, and a second rebellion, a revolutionary military rebellion of a Bolivarian nature, February 4, 1992.

This is how our country bid farewell to the 80s, and this is how we welcomed the last decade, the 90s, that marked the end of the 20th century in Venezuela.

So that day, December 14, a day like today, a night like tonight, at this same time, when that airplane landed at José Marti International Airport, with the young

Comandante Hugo Chávez aboard, and he came down the stairs and received the surprise of his life, finding at the foot of the stairway, that giant of history, Fidel Castro Ruz. At that moment in history, two roads met: the road of resistance, dignity, struggle, of Fidel, and the road of the Bolivarian Revolution, just beginning, that would be led by our Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías.

A day in history, without a doubt, in that long ago decade of the 90s, that allowed two dreamers to meet; but two men who had the ability to bring dreams together and find paths to make their dreams come true, to break barriers, to break paradigms and create new paths, if they were necessary, to make a reality of the dreams of liberation, of the vindication of our peoples. Two men characterized by a deep love for the ideal of homeland, of the greater homeland, taken from Bolivar, from Martí; two men characterized by their rebellious spirit, courageously rebellious, that took us to anti-imperialism - stated, open, pedagogical, motivating, that awakened many consciousnesses, and is still alive in us - the anti-imperialist consciousness of Fidel and Chávez, as two brave anti-imperialists of the 21st century, that today is more relevant that ever in the face of the violations, the abuses, the outrages of the United States government, and the U.S. ruling class.

Twenty-three, just 23 years since the meeting of these two giants. Life allowed the two to find the times to open space for their dreams. Right here, in this hall. I was recalling with Miguel, in this same hall, seeing the videos of the beginning of this beautiful commemorative event for the 13th anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, in this same hall, the agreement to found the Alliance for the Peoples of Our America was signed, in 2004 when we were commemorating the first ten years of the meeting between two giants, Fidel and Chávez, right here in this room. Thirteen years have passed already and how many paths have been initiated, how much of an internal impact within our countries, has the creation of ALBA had, the creation of ALBA? How much of an impact on the framework of relations in our region, in the Caribbean, in Central America, in South America? ALBA has become, since its initial steps, a powerful moral, spiritual, political, social, economic alliance - a powerful hope achieved and a beautiful hope to be realized.

If we set about analyzing, as we did a year ago, precisely here, if we evaluate the distance traveled thus far, if we paid close attention to the words of the young student from Dominica, her conviction, her clarity, we would see the road traveled, surely we would feel pleased, happy, and we could say to Fidel and to Chávez: Taking the road of rebellion, of building an alternative, of an alliance, has been worth the effort, and that Bolívar's idea unites the dream, unites the love, unites the hope of the Caribbean people, of the people of Central America, of the people of South America. (Prolonged applause)

Clearly, it has been worth the effort that, for the first time, a mechanism of integration, of cooperation, has been formed, that would be about the humble, and have as its center the social wellbeing of the peoples, the happiness and liberation, the social vindication of the continent's peoples.

Here we have the face of our brothers and sisters of the Caribbean, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, from Dominica, Cuba, St. Kitts. But South America is also here: Ecuador, Bolivia, plus our brothers and sisters from Nicaragua, Grenada, our secretary general, this Aymara, who speaks Quechua, from Titicaca, our great friend, compañero, Secretary General David Choquehuanca.  I request a hand for this compañero, who has assumed the position of secretary general and carried forward the message of ALBA and the dream of two greats. (Applause).

I had the good fortune, and as a believer I thank God, when I see these videos that document the passage of the years, and I see Fidel, see Chávez walking together. I see them together in Managua, in Quito, in Bolivia, throughout the Caribbean, I thank God for having lived and having seen the journey of these two giants and their dreams. And perhaps this is one of the things that would be important to reclaim, to reclaim the power one human being has when he is able to hold on to a just idea, when he is capable of defending this just idea with his own life, and when he is capable of being consistent in his thinking, desires, words, and action; when he is able to go beyond himself as an individual, and having an idea of homeland, of society, when he does not remain drowning in his own misfortune - that we all have - not chewing over his own misfortune and pain, but rather is capable of seeing beyond that, be a social being, be a homeland. It is precisely the men and women who in our lands have endured over so many years, over these centuries of struggle, who have this trait that we recognize in Fidel and in Chávez. The two came together as soon as they met, but especially since the two of them, alone, founded ALBA 13 years ago. Why more? (Were more needed?) A friend of mine would say: The two were there, why more? (Applause). And the two were able to join forces, their energy, their capacity to dream, but above all, to do, and do and do, beyond the speeches. We demand more of ourselves this way, we always demand more in the doing, in the achieving, and the coherence between what we think, what we say, and what we are capable of building with our own hands. How many paths did they initiate alone?

When you see this young woman from Dominica, a student at the Latin American School of Medicine, you become aware that, yes, it is possible to do a great deal with a little, and that, yes, it is possible to construct great works, with Fidel's humanism, that of Chávez, and of Christianity, within our Latin Americanist humanism - if we take on the task.

How did Mission Miracle become a benefactor knocking on the doors of campesinos, of residents in poor neighborhoods? The Yo Sí Puedo (literacy) mission, or like we call it Mission Robinson - how did it bring light to whole armies of illiterates throughout Latin America and declare republics illiteracy-free territories, such as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Caribbean, or share a system of family, primary, preventative health care, to take their knowledge and love to millions of men and women? At times in silence, as Martí said, "in silence it needed to be." It has been in silence, but with much love across the fields - or share sports as a right for the physical life of peoples.

We must look at how we've grown; you see it in international competitions, in our own region, countries that never aspired to win a medal or for their athletes to make significant achievements. But with a hand from Cuban and ALBA physical education teachers, true stars have emerged from the fields and neighborhoods of ALBA countries, and beyond ALBA.

ALBA’s social work is immense. The political work of this organization, founded 13 years ago, has resulted in a process which has accelerated efforts to integrate and unify Latin America and the Caribbean. Without the creation of ALBA, without the consolidation of ALBA, the founding of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States would not have been possible. The creation of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, December 2-3, 2011, is the result of the encounters and processes of coming together achieved through the founding of ALBA by Fidel and Comandante Hugo Chávez.

Prior to this, the Caribbean was involved in its own integration process: Caricom. From South America many viewed the Caribbean as something strange, distant, and unrelated. It was ALBA that began to bring the regions together: the South American front, the Central American front, the Caribbean front, while the leading roles played by Cuba and Comandante Hugo Chávez were without doubt, fundamental to creating the necessary trust and closeness to establish the organization which is called upon to mark the future history of our continent: the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Therefore, if we consider what Latin America and the Caribbean were like in the 19th and 20th centuries; if we look at how we were subjected to all kinds of domination: colonial, neo-colonial; if we look at how we were divided, turning our backs on one another despite the fact that we are all human beings – as the song goes - regarding each other with fear, with bitterness, with mistrust, the our work and achievements to date appear all the more extraordinary.
The ideas of Bolívar, San Martín, José Gervasio Artigas, Francisco Morazán in the 19th century; of Martí; the ideas of Sandino, Emiliano Zapata, Farabundo Martí; the ideas of Ernesto Che Guevara of a conscious, united continent, standing tall, were far from being achieved in the 19th century, or the 20th.

However, it was with the creation of ALBA that progressive processes in Latin America and the Caribbean and the emergence, strengthening, and victory of new leaders on the continent began to gain momentum, and an irrevocable relationship was formed, making us witnesses to this new historic time marked by the beginning of the 21st century in Latin America and the Caribbean.
However, if we can recognize this and the role played by political processes of the countries here today, we must also recognize that there remains much to be done. It’s true that achievements have been made, dreams realized, but we must also be aware that the path toward social, political, cultural, and economic liberation, toward uniting our Latin American and Caribbean continent, is still being constructed, that that the dreams of these two giants (Fidel and Chávez) are still waiting to be fulfilled through the struggles we must now wage and lead.

We are the continuators, we men and women must be the continuators and builders of the world that was formed 13 years ago to create a powerful alliance of freedom, happiness, and unity between Latin America and the Caribbean.
There still remains much to do. After 13 years, we still need to generate much more awareness in order to consolidate these processes which are by no means linear, as our dear comrade and one of the founders of Alba, former Ambassador to Cuba, Alí Rodríguez Araque said 13 years ago; who was also a signatory of the ALBA Founding Agreement while serving as Foreign Minister under the government of Comandante Hugo Chávez.
Today, I have appointed this dear brother Honorary President for the restructuring and recovery of our oil company, PDVSA (Applause).

These processes have never been linear and require liberation processes, great effort, great dedication, wise management, great tenacity, great perseverance to be achieved. Nothing has just fallen out of the sky into our laps, but rather the phrase: blessings have rained down upon us from above would be more appropriate. Nor will anything just fall out of the sky, everything that happens in our America from here on out, in 2018, 2025, 2030, will depend on the ability of those of us responsible for leading our countries, and our revolutionary process, to keep us conscious, awake, to carry on and continue building a Latin American-Caribbean identity based on a powerful shared culture, on powerful collaboration, and a powerful process of integration in which we must have confidence.

I state, and I constantly repeat to the Bolivarian government’s work teams: that if we don’t have confidence n ourselves, if we don’t believe in this dream, if we don’t persist, like Bolívar did, like Martí did - which saw them become martyrs, like Che did; and if we don’t continue to seek out, like Fidel and Chávez did, our own path, who will? Who will build it? Is there another road?
There are other worlds that are emerging and with which we must become acquainted. We must direct our gaze, efforts, body and soul toward Asia where a great world led by China is emerging.
There is also another world that is rising and re-emerging; Russia and the important role it is playing in creating a multi-polar, multi-centric, balanced world, in the face of imperial powers. But what happens in our world, depends on us alone and no one else; it depends on working together, with dedication, love, passion - characteristics which define Latin Americans - to consolidate spaces such as ALBA and open the way to fulfilling the dreams left us by our founding Comandantes. This is one of the most important elements we must never forget.

There is no clearer example of this than the U-turn taken by the political power located only 90 miles from here, and even more so when one looks at what has been happening recently with the acts of aggression, the blockade, the obsessive perverse persecution of Venezuela, a perverse persecution of the Bolivarian people.
Little is known about what they do every day to try to asphyxiate us economically and financially. But I state with absolute faith and confidence that imperialism has not been, and will ever be, able to suffocate the Bolivarian Revolution in any of the ways it intends. (Applause).

The tightening of the so called blockade, although I always prefer to use the word persecution, because it’s not a blockade, a blockade is saying I’m going to stand here and I’m not letting you pass; it’s not a blockade where I simply stand there and don’t let anyone pass, its active persecution of our trade, bank accounts, and financial dealings.

This is what we are experiencing first hand, and what Cuba has experienced for over 55 consecutive years. Cuba has won global support in spaces such as the United Nations General Assembly, but the arrogance, sense of supremacy, and contemptible attitude of the circles of power in the United States mean that they don’t care that the world, speaking as one in the United Nations General Assembly, has said: No to the blockade of Cuba! No to economic, commercial and financial persecution of Cuba!

Then there is the upsurge in actions by the extreme right wing on the continent; like in Honduras for example, where we see a centrist-democratic alliance, which we can’t even call center-left, although there are highly valuable and brave leaders who we know well, such as former president “Mel” Zelaya, dear president “Mel” Zelaya, to who I must take this opportunity, speaking here from ALBA, to send a committed and fraternal embrace, and to his spouse Xiomara and their family, as well as to all our close compañeros of the Honduran resistance (Applause).

What is going on in Honduras, if you allow me to explain, is a clear message: those that staged the coup in Honduras on that June 28 of 2009, are saying: We will not allow this, although reports from different bodies, even those in which we do not believe or like, such as the infamous Organization of American States (OAS) led by that “trash” Almagro – no offense to the trash (laughter) – “Little Mr. Trash” Almagro and the right, and even the right wing in Miami, are coming out and saying that what is happening in Honduras is an unprecedented case of electoral fraud.
Or what is going on in Brazil, with the persecution of Lula, who is leading all the polls. If elections were held in Brazil today, Lula da Silva, this great South American leader, this great big brother, this great compañero, would undoubtedly be elected the country’s new President (Applause).

Or what is happening in Argentina, the persecution of an honest woman, without a doubt, very brave, very determined, very combative, the former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and all Kirchnerist Peronism; judicial persecution, a policy to try to end alternatives to neoliberalism that have already demonstrated their ability to succeed in the 12 years that they governed Argentina.

Or what happened to compañera Dilma, the coup d’état in the eyes of all of us. This means that there is an escalation of the methods of the extreme right that today has taken on a very particular strength with the arrival, the installation of extremist sectors in the main decision-making bodies and in the main government bodies of the United States. We have been victims of that this year. You all suffered, you certainly shared your anguish and suffering in the first half of this year, when Venezuela was subjected to a form of violent struggle to generate the conditions for a civil war or a coup d’état and a breakdown of Venezuelan democracy .

During the months of April, May, June, and July, 120 continuous days, we were submitted to a form of violence that is already popularly known as the guarimbas, which had the objective of throwing Venezuelan society into disarray, filling the main cities with violence, justifying a coup d’état, but above all creating the conditions for a military, political, diplomatic, international intervention that would turn our country into a kind of protectorate.

We had to fight hard, it was complex. I’m telling you, it is not easy to face circumstances like those and overcome them, control public order with a vision of democratic authority and break up the nuclei financed with dollars and from groups of the international right; we were presented with the dilemma and the question of what to do and, fortunately, from the depth of the legacy that our Comandante Chávez left us, we had an answer, an answer that had its relevance, its fairness and has been a victorious response: the call to the Popular Constituent Power, the convocation to a National Constituent Assembly, which was elected by our people on July 30 of this year and marked the arrival of the National Constituent Assembly with more than 8,300,000 voters, it marked the onset of political peace and the defeat of the extremist groups of violence that had been installed in our country (Applause).

It was perhaps the call for a popular process of a constituent nature that implied the election of a National Constituent Assembly and handing the constituent power to our people, what served as the formula to stop extremist factors and violent elements and gain the will, the awareness of the immense majorities of our country to resume the political transition through peace, to have a huge political, moral triumph, channeling the desire for peace of the vast majority through the National Constituent Assembly.

The arrival of the Constituent Assembly, without a doubt, has meant and meant at the time, in the month of August, the arrival of a climate of peace that allowed the resumption of the capacity for political initiative and a political offensive on the part of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Immediately after the Constituent Assembly was installed, one of the measures taken, among others, was to convene, under its mandate and protection, the elections of governors of the 23 states of the country, and with the same force with which the Constituent Assembly was established on July 30, as you know October 15 of this same year was set, just a few weeks ago, as the date to go to battle with the elements of the right in the electoral field, and our people responded as they have responded in the best moments to the call of the Bolivarian Revolution and we saw a great political and electoral victory of the revolutionary forces on October 15, in 18 of the 22 states that were then contested (Applause), very important states compañeros.

Here is Peter Davis, from Grenada. Peter Davis told me that in Grenada the information that arrives regarding Venezuela is from the BBC in London, and if you inform yourself through the BBC of London or CNN in Spanish or English it is a disaster, as you will never understand what happens in Venezuela, because they have a permanent, orchestrated campaign, well directed to smear our country in each event, in each circumstance, in each situation. I personally follow the way they manipulate, distort the real situation in Venezuela and the progression of the revolution and they work as a cartel, they are cartelized.

This is why it is very important to know firsthand the response of our revolution to leave behind the very, extremely complex, and difficult circumstances that we experienced in the first half of 2017.

The victory of October 15 of this year, undoubtedly, consolidated the very powerful grassroots regional leadership. States as important as the state of Miranda, which some of you who have offered your medical services will know, is the second largest state in the country, it surrounds the capital of the republic and had been governed for many years by the forces of the extreme right; that’s where the former presidential candidate Mr. Capriles Radonski came from. There we had a resounding victory, with a young leadership, compañero Héctor Rodríguez, with more than 57% of the votes.

A western state, also large, important from the population, economic and electoral points of view, the state of Lara, was won over by a new leadership - it was also in the hands of the opposition for many years - our chief Admiral, today governor Carmen Teresa Meléndez.

These are just two points of the Venezuelan geography that I could mention in this speech.

Immediately the National Constituent Assembly took charge of the holding of the other pending electoral event.

The Venezuelan opposition during the first half of the year did not tire of requesting: elections already, elections, elections. That is what we have given them. You want elections? Have elections then. Three elections in just one hundred and thirty-six days! And it was like the Constituent Assembly, barely had we finished the process of governors, the election to choose, forgive the repetition, the mayors of the 335 municipalities of the country was convened. The first authority: mayors of the 335 municipalities in the country. And that was what happened this past Sunday.

I say this because there is a global media silence: they manipulate, pose various issues, truths with half-truths and lies, to try to overshadow and keep selling the idea that Venezuela is an atrocious dictatorship, an authoritarian government that denies the political, social, economic rights of our people.

Last Sunday more than 9,300,000 compatriots went to vote, and of 335 mayoralties, the revolution secured victory in 305, 92% of the mayoralties that were elected last Sunday, December 10 (Applause), a victory that we had not seen on that scale for some time; with 70% of the votes at a national level for the Bolivarian revolutionary patriotic forces, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the allied parties.

So we can say, compañeros, in the face of the imperialist onslaught, of the extremist elements that have taken power in the United States and that directly, sometimes brutally and vulgarly, oversee the rightwing Venezuelan opposition, the Bolivarian Revolution has provided a lesson with the people, with participation, with votes, with more democracy.

That is the lesson we learned, faced with bullets, faced with the guarimba, faced with the burning of human beings, due to their skin color, their social condition, the suspicion of being Chavistas; a great voice of peace was raised, of humanity and, fortunately, we have managed to unite the great desires for peace and transformation of our people, and the Bolivarian Revolution in 140 days has obtained three resounding victories in three fundamental instances: the National Constituent Assembly, the state governorships and the municipalities of the country (Applause).

Each has his or her way, this is our path, opening space to new, better situations, without a doubt, and there is no better scenario than ALBA in this 13th anniversary for us to make this analysis, because we know that you suffered together with us, but we also know that you enjoy and take pleasure in the success of the Bolivarian people, of the revolutionary people of Venezuela, and we share with you those successes and also the delight (Applause).

Many things are yet to be done, we say, many things are yet to be done and we will do them; but, above all, it is necessary to summon the youth, we must summon the youth to believe, we must summon them to have faith in the path traveled. It is necessary to summon them to renew that faith and that hope, to rediscover themselves in their own ways, because the youth always have renewed ways to make and to do.

Last year was the first anniversary we commemorated without Fidel physically present. Recently, the first anniversary of the farewell that the Cuban people and the peoples of the world offered Fidel was commemorated, and so time will pass, and pass, and I am sure, because I see and feel it on this anniversary, I am sure that as time goes by, there will be two unforgettable names, which will remain for posterity as the founders of this path that brought us together forever: Fidel and Chávez. There they will always be, with their smile, with their message, with their infinite love, with their truth shouted from the rooftops, whether one liked it or not (Applause). Let’s be like them, we can be like them! That there legacy is weighty? Who said it was going to be insubstantial? That the path is difficult? Who said it was going to be easy? Ah, it merits a lot of tenacity, a lot of perseverance. This is the path, the path of the encounter of our peoples, the path to spiritual, human, cultural integration.

In Venezuela we have had thousands of Cuban doctors, thousands, I don’t know how many they will total, 50,000? (He is told something), more than 50,000? And the most beautiful thing that the humble people of Venezuela recognize, besides their scientific knowledge, because the rightwing - when this plan began in 2003, June, July, August 2003, Barrio Adentro, from April, May, around that time, the first doctors began to arrive, with the idea of a doctor, a point in the neighborhood and primary family care began, an experience that Cuba had already developed since the eighties, the family doctor.

Fidel was behind this, and so Fidel, talking with Chávez, the two of them agreed to accelerate the arrival of the doctors, and as the days went by planes, planes, and planes of doctors began to arrive in the hundreds, in an operation that at first was done in silence, and they began to arrive to the cities, to the east, the south, the plains, the central cities, in the Andes, in Zulia - and the right began to say that they weren’t doctors, that they were Babalawos [Priests in the religion of Santería] (Laughter), disrespecting the Babalawos, who deserve all our respect and affection; and they were doctors, they were health scientists, but, above all, they were magicians of love. If our people recognize anything, it is love, that human quality, the sentiment of the doctor, of the doctor who has come from Cuba and of the Comprehensive Community Medicine, in which Venezuela did not have even one graduate. Today we have 40,000 doctors graduated in the concept of Comprehensive Community Medicine (Applause), and the goal is to reach 100,000, without the Cubans leaving Venezuela, sharing the doctor’s offices, the outpatients’ clinics, the CDIs (Comprehensive Diagnostic Centers), sharing.

The greatest integration that we have to seek is the spiritual, which is the real integration, to feel as one, as a single people, and to be able to share our ways of being, our tastes, our ideas; moral integration, political integration, and progress toward higher stages, which hopefully this youth will assume, of integration and common development in the economic field. The resolution of our problems in the economic field, in the end, at the end of the road, in this world of 21st century alliances, will come from a positive dynamic that is generated from the integration of the economic capacities of our countries, there is no other path. Each to their own, each as an individual will not lead to economic development.

I always remember - I think I recalled it here last year - what Lula said when he was President of Brazil, and we have to look at Brazil, right? Brazil is a gigantic country, a continent, 20 times the size of our countries, and Lula said; Not even Brazil can aspire to economic development on its own. It must do so within the framework of South America, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

This is a huge task, to continue moving, continue moving, continue falling in love with the idea of our union in a single homeland, in a greater homeland; of a union in the spiritual, cultural, political, social sense; continuing together learning the social path, that youth visualize, with their marvelous energy, of a future of sustainable development based on a new economic-productive model, truly diversified, that would make our region a pole respected for the rest of the century, and could be the foundation of the comprehensive development of our countries.

These are the dreams we have inherited; these are the dreams we defend; they are our dreams. Excuse me for this statement, but only we have these great dreams for the homeland, no one else has them. (Applause) What dreams could a dependent, lackey, sell-out right wing have in our countries? What dreams could they have - the dream of happiness, of integration, the dream of seeing our liberators there leading this century's struggle? No, they can't have these. Only we have these dreams, only we aspire to this world, and this is the power that moves us, here inside, that makes us invincible, indestructible, despite all the obstacles and problems we may face, and have faced.

This is the school, the school that right here, 13 years ago, Fidel signed. And it is the school of that young Comandante who he considered a son, and who assumed this as such, Comandante Hugo Chávez.

It was worth the effort, 13 years ago, to found this dream. They are no longer here physically, but we are, and their dreams will come true. Thus we swear, before the history of our peoples: The dreams of Fidel and of Chávez will come true; the dreams of a happy, integrated greater homeland! (Prolonged applause)

Thank you very much, dear comrades. Thank you very much, Raúl.

Long live the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America!

(Viva!)

Long live the legacy of Fidel and Chávez! (Viva!)

Long live the future of Latin America! (Viva!)

Onward to victory! (Siempre!)

Venceremos!

Thanks you, brothers and sisters (Ovation).