1:00 p.m. Raúl Castro: The next Constitution of the Republic of Cuba will not include changes in the strategic objective of the Party
Army General Raúl Castro began his closing speech of the Constituent Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power by recalling Cuba’s victory at Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) following the U.S.-backed mercenary invasion. He noted the significance of the event and the preceding days, especially Fidel’s declaration of the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution.
He also recognized the work carried out by the electoral and candidature commissions at all levels, as well as all the institutions that collaborated to ensure a smooth electoral process. He also congratulated those elected to head the National Assembly and as members of the Council of the State.
Regarding Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the new President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, highlighted his career as an engineer, and his work as an officer of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). He was later put forward as a professional cadre of the Young Communist League (UJC), from where he gradually worked his way up through the PCC ranks to be promoted as a professional Party cadre.
Raúl noted that during the Special Period and coinciding with the most severe stage, Díaz-Canel was a member of the Provincial Party Committee in Villa Clara, where he spent nine years. He then spent six years representing the Party in Holguín.
“He was born in Villa Clara, where he spent a good amount of time, as it was a territory he knew well; and it was after that that he was sent to one of the great eastern provinces, Holguín, as we did with more than a dozen young people, most of whom arrived to the Political Bureau, but we failed to materialize their training. He was the only survivor, I would say, exaggeratedly,” Raúl explained.
He also stressed that Díaz-Canel has been a member of the Party Central Committee since 1991, and was promoted to the Political Bureau 15 years ago. He fulfilled a mission in Nicaragua and graduated from the National Defense College. In 2009, he was appointed Minister of Education. Five years ago he was elected First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers; and since then “a group of members of the Political Bureau had the feeling that we had hit the nail on the head,” Raúl noted, referring to Díaz’s aptitude to assume the current position, as the basis of which he highlighted his work as in the ideological sphere of the Party Central Committee.
Raúl added: Talking with compañero Machado, I told him that we have to criticize ourselves, because we failed to guarantee the better training of other comrades so that they could occupy leadership positions in the Party and the government. I told him that, at 15 years old, [Díaz-Canel] could have spent 3 years in 5 provinces of the country, so that he would know each better. Thus, we must pay more attention to the training of our cadres.
Raúl immediately pointed out that the election of Díaz-Canel is no accident: “due to his preparation, he is the best, and we know that due to his dedication he will have absolute success in the task entrusted to him by our supreme People’s Power body.”
Comrade Díaz-Canel is not an improvised candidate; over the years he has demonstrated his work capacity, ideological solidity and commitment to the Revolution. His growth has not been the result of haste. His case has not been like others, where we made the mistake of accelerating the process, Raúl stressed.
THE NEW COUNCIL OF STATE
Referring to the composition of the newly elected Council of State, Raúl spoke about Salvador Valdés Mesa, of whom he highlighted his intense career serving the Revolution, and noted how the triumph of 1959 caught him by surprise, working on an agricultural farm. He was one of the young people who participated in the constitution of the Young Communist League, of which he became Secretary General; and he participated in the construction of the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution in several areas of Camagüey.
In 1995, he was appointed Minister of Labor and Social Security. He gradually rose to become Secretary General of the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC), a position he held until 2013, when he was elected a Vice President of the Council of State. He has been a member of the Party Central Committee since 1991 and the Political Bureau for the past 10 years.
Regarding Machado, who has seen more than 60 years of revolutionary struggle, Raúl simply noted that he is an example of modesty and unlimited dedication to his work. “Although he is a little cantankerous as many of you know,” he joked, and added that “in the future he will concentrate his efforts as Second Secretary of the Central Committee.”
Mercedes López Acea deserved a special mention, Raúl noted, who after a commendable 8 years’ work as a member of the Political Bureau and at the head of the PCC in Havana, announced that she would soon take up new functions.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF PEOPLE’S POWER
A total of 42% of deputies to the newly constituted National Assembly of People’s Power were re-elected. Women represent 48.4% of deputies. Both these details were highlighted by Raúl, who stressed that such achievements must be maintained and advanced, to ensure more women, young people and Black and mixed race Cubans occupy the country’s important decision-making positions.
“This Assembly is an example, we can review the résumé of each one of them, but it cost work. That’s why we can not retreat a single millimeter; and it is a subject that we can not leave to simple spontaneity.”
Raúl also highlighted that the Cuban parliament has been rejuvenated, with the average age of deputies having decreased. “Without realizing it, the years have passed. Three women were elected vice presidents of the Council of State, two of them Black, and not because of their skin color but because of their qualities; and this is part of what was adopted in the Party Congress on the cadre policy.”
“It is up to the Party, the state and the government to fulfill and enforce, with due intentionality, the promotion of young people, women and mixed race Cubans, to posts that guarantee the talent pool of the Revolution, without repeating the mistakes already experienced,” he explained.
Raúl welcomed the ratification of the presidency of the National Assembly, and Díaz-Canel’s proposal, as allowed by the Constitution, to present the Council of Ministers during the next session of the Assembly, which will take place in July, to allow sufficient time for the movement of cadre.
“As far as I am concerned, I will continue to serve as Second Secretary of the PCC Central Committee, in what is my second and last mandate, which ends in 2021, when we will complete the transfer to the new generations. From then on, I will be one more soldier alongside the people defending this Revolution.”
“So that there is not the slightest doubt, I want to emphasize that the PCC, in the figure of its First Secretary, will continue supporting the president,” the Army General added.
“We feel with the people a deep satisfaction for the work of the Revolution, and we are overwhelmed by the happiness and confidence of seeing with our own eyes the transfer to the new generations of the mission to defend this work,” he stressed.
CUBAN YOUTH AT THE CENTER
Regarding the new generations, Raúl warned that one of the permanent aims of the enemy is to penetrate, confuse and alienate youth from the ideals of revolutionary work and culture, to lead them toward the commodification of sentiments and disengagement with ethics, solidarity and a sense of duty.
THE NEW CONSTITUTION
The updating of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was another subject of the Army General’s speech. He noted that the changes that will be introduced will be submitted to a public referendum.
“I can reveal,” he clarified, “that in the next Constitution there will be no changes to the strategic objective of the Party, which our people will support as in 1976.” That year Cubans voted in favor of the current Constitution with 98% support.
Raúl pointed out that in the Central Committee Plenary Session held in March of this year, the economic and social state of the nation was analyzed. The new Constitution has lagged behind us, he clarified, because the country’s main problems are not resolved, because the participation of different bodies from the grassroots was not achieved for the adequate implementation of the adopted policies.
We never had any illusions that it would be a short and easy process, because its dimensions reached all sectors of society, and we had to overcome negatives in the national economy, he added.
During the 5th Party Central Committee Plenum, the need to reform the Constitution according to what has happened in the political and social order was noted. For this reason, Raúl informed that, in its next session, the National Assembly will create a Commission of deputies that will present a draft text to be debated by deputies and the Cuban people.
THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC LIFE In the case of the socioeconomic context of the nation, Raúl assured that the experiment with non-agricultural cooperatives will continue, and with respect to the country’s dual currency system, he explained that it continues to be a serious headache, and needs to be resolved, while also noting the need for wage reform. Raúl also emphasized the need for a coherent communications policy.
He also recalled the difficult circumstances in which the country’s economy has had to develop, and the considerable damages caused by the intense drought of the last 3 years and the recent hurricanes that affected most of the country.
Regarding Cuba’s external debt, Raúl noted that work has been ongoing to renegotiate in this area, which has helped to free new generations of a sword of Damocles, and restored the country’s credit rating. The Army General congratulated Minister of Economy, Ricardo Cabrisas, on his work in this regard.
Raúl also called for financial savings, noting that better planning could assist in this respect.
“Defending unity, resisting and resisting, that is the duty of revolutionaries,” he stated.
8TH SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
Regarding foreign policy issues, the Army General referred to the recently concluded 8th Summit of the Americas, which was marked by the neo-hegemonic attitude of the United States, whose commitment to the Monroe Doctrine was reiterated, especially with the exclusion of Venezuela from the international event.
It was known that they would put on a show, and Cuba went to Lima in its own right and with its head high, which confirms the determination of Cubans to defend their principles and their values, Raúl stressed. The Cuban delegation, together with that of Bolivia and other countries, prevented the formation of a single front against Venezuela. While the speeches by our foreign minister, on behalf of the Cuban government and people, constituted a worthy response to the interventionist discourse of the Vice President of the United States, he added.
“The civil society members defended the voice of Cuba and the peoples of America with spirit. I take this opportunity to congratulate all the members of the Cuban delegation that participated in this event,” he said.
The Army General stressed Cuba’s commitment to ALBA, noting that this continues to be the world region with the greatest inequality in the distribution of wealth; the gap between rich and poor is huge and growing despite the efforts made in past decades, when progressive governments pushed for policies to mitigate this evil, he noted.
He also denounced the arbitrary and unjust incarceration of former Brazilian president Lula, whose freedom we demand, and rejected accusations of human rights violations in Cuba. He highlighted diplomatic relations with the European Union and the progress of ties with China.
“In just 11 days our people will march together united through our streets and squares commemorating May Day and demonstrating the majority support of Cubans to the Party and their Revolution. And although I had a commitment to be in another province, I decided, because of its importance, to accompany the President of the Councils of State and Ministers at that moment. I will later visit other provinces, because I’m supposed to have less work now,” Raúl concluded among smiles and applause.
11:40 -. President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, is currently a trending topic on Twitter.
11:00 -. President of Panamá, Juan Carlos Varela, congratulates the new President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.
10:40 -. Army General and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raúl Castro Ruz, takes to the podium.
10:35-. Miguel Díaz-Canel: I assume this responsibility with the conviction that all we revolutionaries will be faithful to Fidel and Raúl
On the morning of April 19, a historic date on which not only is the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in the Americas commemorated, but Cuba also sees the inauguration of a new government that makes evident the continuity of the new generations with the legacy of the historic generation that founded the Cuban Revolution in the highest leadership positions of the country, compañero Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, offered his first speech as President of the Councils of State and of Ministers of Cuba.
He began by recognizing the leadership of Army General Raúl Castro, the candidate for deputy to have received the most votes in the recent general elections; as well as the Comandantes of the Revolution, “who on being in this room offer us the opportunity to embrace history,” he noted.
He also referred to the “dark attempts to destroy us” of those who have not been able to destroy “our faith.”
With the inauguration of this new legislature, he emphasized, the electoral process comes to its conclusion. The Cuban people, who have massively participated throughout, are conscious of its historic importance. They have elected their representatives based on their capacity to represent their localities, without media campaigns, corruption or demagoguery. Citizens have elected humble, hard-working people as their genuine representatives, who will participate in the approval and implementation of the country’s policies.
In his opinion, “This process has contributed to the consolidation of unity in Cuba.”
On the people’s expectations about this government, he stressed that the new Council of State must continue “acting, creating and working tirelessly, in a permanent bond with its dignified people.”
He also added that if anyone wanted to see Cuba in all its composition, it would be enough to look to its National Assembly, with women occupying decisive positions in the state and the government. However, he warned, it does not matter how much we resemble the country we are, if the commitment the present and the future of Cuba is lacking. The raison d’être of the Councils of State and Ministers is the permanent link with the population.
THE FLAG OF THE REVOLUTION IS PASSED ON TO YOUNGER HANDS
Díaz-Canel pointed out that during the closing of the last Party Congress, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz made it clear that his generation would hand over the flags of the Revolution and Socialism to the younger generations. This emphasizes the importance of the crucial mandate given by the people to this legislature, and as such its work in all areas of the nation’s life must be perfected.
“I assume this responsibility with the conviction that all we revolutionaries, from any trench, will be faithful to Fidel and Raúl, the current leader of the revolutionary process,” the new President of Cuba stated.
He then stressed that the men and women who forged the revolution “give us the keys to a new fraternity that transforms us into compañeros and compañeras,” and highlighted, as another inherited achievement, the unity that has become indestructible within the Cuban Party, that was not born from the fragmentation of others, but from those who intended to build a better country.
For that reason, he said, “Raúl remains at the forefront of the political vanguard. He remains our First Secretary, as the reference that he is for the revolutionary cause, teaching and always ready to confront imperialism, like the first, with his rifle at the ready in the moment of combat.”
Regarding the revolutionary and political work of the Army General, he highlighted his legacy of resistance and in the search for the continued advancement of the nation. “He put his sense of duty ahead of human pain,” he said in reference to the loss of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016.
Likewise, he highlighted Raúl’s grandeur as a statesman, forming a national consensus, and the manner in which he led the implementation process of the country’s social and economic guidelines. He also highlighted how he had made the return of the Five Cuban Heroes a reality, so longed-for by Fidel.
Raúl has marked Cuba’s international relations with his own spirit: he directed diplomatic relations with the United States; he led the rotating presidency of CELAC; Cuba’s hosting of the Colombian peace talks; and he has been present in all regional and hemispheric summits, always defending Our America. That is the Raúl we know, Díaz-Canel stressed.
The new Cuban President also recalled how the Army General, still very young, participated in the Granma expedition, undertook the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, was promoted to Comandante, and developed government experiences that would be applied in the country after the revolutionary triumph.
REGARDING THE NEW MANDATE
I am aware of the concerns and expectations at a moment like this, but I know the strength and wisdom of the people, the leadership of the Party, the ideas of Fidel, the presence of Raúl and Machado, and knowing the popular sentiment, I state before this Assembly that compañero Raúl will head the decisions for the present and future of the nation, Díaz noted.
I confirm that Cuban foreign policy will remain unchanged. Cuba will not accept conditions. The changes that are necessary will continue to be made by the Cuban people, he added.
He also called for the support of all those who occupy leadership responsibilities at different levels in the nation, but, above all, of the people. “We will have to exercise an increasingly collective leadership. Strengthening the participation of the people,” he summarized.
I do not come to promise anything, as the Revolution never has in all these years. I come to fulfill the program that we have implemented with the guidelines of Socialism and the Revolution, the President underlined.
And as for the enemies of the revolutionary process, he said: Here there is no space for a transition that ignores or destroys the work of the Revolution. We will continue moving forward without fear and without retreat; without renouncing our sovereignty, independence, development programs, and independence.
“To those who through ignorance or bad faith doubt our commitment, we must tell them that the Revolution continues and will continue,” he clarified, adding: “The world has received the wrong message that the Revolution ends with its guerrillas.”
9:45 -. Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez offers his first speech as President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba.
9:33 -. Salvador Valdés Mesa is approved as First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba.
9:32 -. Deputies approve the proposal to constitute the Council of Ministers in the next session of the National Assembly.
9:30 -. Miguel Díaz-Canel expresses his thanks for the confidence placed in him by the Cuban people and explains that the next step of the electoral process is the presentation of the Council of Ministers, which he proposes should be constituted in the next session of the National Assembly of People’s Power.
He proposes Salvador Valdés Mesa, First Vice President of the Council of State, as First Vice President of the Council of Ministers, in order to maintain the Revolution’s historic unity, and given that comrade Salvador Valdés has sufficient merits to assume both responsibilities.
9:28 -. Raúl congratulates Díaz-Canel, the new President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba
9:22 a.m The new Council of State of the Republic of Cuba was elected, with each member securing more than 50% of the votes.
9:12 a.m. The session resumes:
Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, invites Alina Balseiro, president of the National Electoral Commission, to report the results of the vote that took place yesterday to elect the Council of State. All deputies present exercised their right to vote and their ballots were all valid, states Alina. The results were as follows:
Voting for all candidates on the slate: 602 ballot papers
Voting for selected candidates on the slate: 2 ballot papers
President: Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez: 603 votes (99.83%)
First Vice President: Salvador Valdés Mesa: 604 votes (100%)
Vice President: Ramiro Valdés Menéndez: 604 votes (100%)
Vice President: Roberto Tomás Morales Ojeda: 604 votes (100%)
Vice President: Gladys María Bejerano Portela: 604 votes (100%)
Vice President: Inés María Chapman: 604 votes (100%)
Vice President: Beatriz Jhonson: 603 votes (99.83%)
Members re-elected to the Council of State:
Leopoldo Cintra Frías: 604 votes (100%)
Teresa Maria Amarelle Boué: 603 votes (99.83%)
Ulises Guilarte de Nacimeinto: 604 votes (100%)
Mirian Nicado García: 604 votes (100%)
Guillermo García Frías: 604 votes (100%)
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla: 604 votes (100%)
Martha del Carmen Mesa Valenciana: 604 votes (100%)
Carlos Rafael Miranda Martínez: 604 votes (100%)
Susely Morfa González: 604 votes (100%)
Rafael Antonio Santiestebán: 604 votes (100%)
Miguel Ángel Barnet: 604 votes (100%)
Ileana Amparo Flores Morales: 604 votes (100%)
New members of the Council of State:
Raúl Alejandro Palmero Fernández: 603 votes (99.83%)
Jorge Amador Berlanga Acosta: 603 votes (99.83%)
Yipsy Moreno González: 603 votes (99.83%)
Elizabeth Peña: 604 votes (100%)
Yoerkys Sánchez Cuellar: 603 votes (99.83%)
Ivis Niuba Villa Milán: 604 votes (100%)
Barbara Alexis Terry: 603 votes (99.83%)
Reina Salermo Escalona: 603 votes (99.83%)
Rosalina Fournier Frómeta: 603 votes (99.83%)
Carlos Alberto Martínez Blanco: 603 votes (99.83%)
Felicia Martínez Suarez: 603 votes (99.83%)
Torres, will perform his song The Last Mambí, at the end of today’s session.
9:00-. You can follow the live broadcast of everything occurring on this historic day for Cuba below:
8:45-. The second day of the Constituent Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power in its 9th Legislature is about to commence:
8:30-. The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, on Wednesday expressed his support and congratulations on the nomination of Miguel Díaz-Canel as the new President of Cuba, to replace the current head of state, Raúl Castro.
“I’m going to visit compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel soon to shake his hand. All our support to Miguel Diaz-Canel, all the support to Cuba, all the gratitude to Raúl,” Maduro stated on a live broadcast on Facebook.
In this regard, he thanked Cuba and President Raúl Castro for their support in the face of the constant imperialist attacks against the South American nation.
“Greetings to compañero Raúl Castro Ruz, because he has led Cuba impeccably during all these years. Impeccable. My greetings and my gratitude Raúl,” Maduro stressed during the broadcast alongside Venezuelan Executive Vice President, Tareck El Aissami. (AVN)
8:15-.Cuba also commemorates the 57th anniversary of the victory of Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) today:
7:35-. In Photos: Some highlights of the activities of the Constitutive Session of the 9th Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, in Havana’s International Conference Center, this Wednesday: