Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, at the central act to mark the 65th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes garrisons, at Ciudad Escolar 26 de Julio, Santiago de Cuba, July 26, 2018, Year 60 of the Revolution.
(Council of State transcript / GI translation)
Santiago women and men;
As I anticipated in December of last year, today I will offer the central remarks of the national act to mark the 65th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons.
None of us who had the privilege of participating in these actions, under the command of Fidel, could have dreamed then that we would be alive today, in a free, independent, sovereign country, with a socialist Revolution in power and a united people, ready to defend the work undertaken, the fruit of the sacrifice and bloodshed of various generations of Cubans.
We celebrate this 65th anniversary in Santiago de Cuba not only due to its history, but also in recognition of the work undertaken in the province to benefit the people.
Under the leadership of compañero Lázaro Expósito Cantro, first secretary of the Party Provincial Committee (applause), in close liaison with the government headed by Council of State Vice President Beatriz Johnson Urrutia (applause), comprehensive efforts have been deployed on several fronts of the economy, which have led to an increased supply of quality and affordable goods and services to the population.
Sustained progress is being made in the housing program with the use of different technologies and initiatives in the use of local construction materials; prioritized investments of national importance are advancing at a good pace, such as the multipurpose port terminal and San Luis warehouses.
Work is also ongoing on the creation of conditions to increase exports of fruit, rum, lobster, and aquaculture products.
Commercial activity is being reordered through local development projects, which grant greater autonomy to municipalities in the management and satisfaction of the population’s demands, taking advantage of their own resources, which translates into greater contributions to the budget and ensures sustaining what has been achieved and continuing to invest in development.
The enthusiasm of the people of Santiago and the entire province is palpable; however, much remains to be done in the production and services sphere to efficiently generate wealth and continue to raise the quality of life of the people, and make a reality the goal of an increasingly beautiful, clean, orderly and disciplined city of Santiago de Cuba, worthy of guarding the remains of many of the greatest children of the Cuban nation, among whom are our national hero, the Father and Mother of the Homeland, and the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution. (Applause)
In the coming months, we will commemorate important historic events, among them, the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the struggles for the homeland’s independence, on October 10, 1868, and the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, January 1, 1959, an occasion on which the Mambis did enter Santiago victorious, to definitively remain alongside the people.
Just four days ago, the National Assembly approved the draft Constitution of the Republic, which will be the subject of a broad popular consultation in the coming months and, with the opinions and proposals that emerge from that democratic process, will be analyzed again in Parliament to draft the final text that will be submitted to a referendum, through the direct and secret vote of each citizen, for its approval and subsequent proclamation.
The Constitution of the Republic is the fundamental law on which the state is based, and thus is the most important legal and political document of any country, since it defines the foundations of the nation, the structure of powers and their scope, as well as guaranteeing the rights and duties of citizens.
The current Constitution, approved 42 years ago in a national and international scenario that was very different from the current one, needs to be reformed, with the purpose of including the socioeconomic transformations implemented in accordance with the agreements adopted in the Sixth and Seventh Congresses of the Communist Party of Cuba.
A transcendental political and democratic exercise will begin, the success of which will depend, in the first place, on the active and committed participation of Cubans, under the leadership of the Communist Party and with the support of the Young Communist League and mass organizations, in which each citizen must understand the need for and scope of the changes that we must introduce in the Constitution, in order to guarantee the irrevocable nature of socialism and the continuity of the Revolution.
We do not ignore the complexities that characterize the current internal and external scenario.
As for the economy, as President Miguel Díaz-Canel stated when speaking at the close of the recent period of sessions of the National Assembly, a tense situation continues with regard to external finances, as a consequence of the impact on expected income from exports of sugar and tourism, caused by a prolonged drought, the devastating Hurricane Irma and unseasonal heavy rainfall, first, and then Subtropical Storm Alberto.
Added to this was the strengthening of the U.S. blockade and its extraterritorial effects that impacted trade and financial transactions.
Despite these adverse factors, as previously reported, a slight growth of the economy was achieved in the first semester, which is an encouraging result; however, it is necessary to ensure exports and reduce all non-essential expenses to allocate available funds to products and services that generate hard currency earnings.
Always keep in mind that the quickest and easiest source of resources is saving, and therefore we must ensure that this stops being a mere slogan to become a standard of conduct for cadres and workers at all levels.
Turning to the situation that is developing in our continent, I must point out that at the beginning of this century, as part of the resistance and struggle of the peoples against the terrible effects of neoliberal models, several progressive and leftist forces came to power that encouraged Latin American and Caribbean unity and integration. In this context, the imperialist project of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, known as the FTAA, was defeated and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) emerged.
In 15 years, 60 million people were lifted from poverty and more than three million were taught to read and write, as illiteracy was eliminated in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. More than 20,000 Latin American and Caribbean doctors also graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine. Sight was restored to 2,900,000 foreign patients through Operation Miracle, as well as over a million Cubans. With Venezuela’s generous contribution Petrocaribe emerged.
The new progressive governments broke with decades of limited sovereignty and subordination to imperialist power, and created favorable conditions to advance regional integration, on establishing organizations without the aegis of the United States, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), where governments of different political tendencies came together under the principle of “unity within diversity”; and Mercosur was revived.
The successful path of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the participation of all its member states in CELAC, and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), as well as the membership of some in ALBA, contributed to the advance of this regional unity.
Heads of state and government of Latin America and the Caribbean signed in Havana, in January 2014, the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which committed them to fully respect the inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, not to intervene in the internal affairs of any state, and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equality of rights and self-determination of the peoples, as well as the peaceful solution of differences, while it proscribed the threat and use of force.
This situation was not to the liking of Washington power circles, which implemented unconventional warfare methods to prevent the continuity or hinder the return of progressive governments, orchestrated coups, first a military coup to overthrow President Zelaya in Honduras, and then parliamentary/judicial coups against Lugo in Paraguay and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. They deployed the monopoly control of the media in the interest of promoting rigged and politically motivated judicial processes, as well as misrepresentation and smear campaigns against figures and organizations of the left.
The right also managed to recover political power in some countries through electoral triumphs, some of them fraudulent and others on the basis of political and technological manipulation, the falsification of economic figures and intimidation campaigns with the support of the hegemonic media.
As was to be expected, they didn’t hesitate to dismantle the social policies of broad popular benefit; to use the judicial branch, under the pretext of confronting corruption, for the criminalization of left forces and the imprisonment of progressive leaders.
A few months ago, the United States government declared, without the slightest restraint, the full validity of the Monroe Doctrine, which is summarized in the phrase “America for the Americans” – naturally, those of the North – which reserves for Latin American and Caribbean nations a status of dependency and submission to imperialist interests. This is demonstrated by its aggressive and interventionist actions, the deployment of military forces and the constant search for new bases in the region.
One of its intentions is to reverse the gains made in integration and the exercise of sovereignty over natural resources to impose its racist, supremacist agenda against the peoples, through a neoliberal offensive aimed at destroying a decade of development and widening the gaps in this, the most unequal region on the planet.
On the other hand, the United States, with the complicity of certain governments, has attempted to reinvigorate the OAS, turning it into the setting for the onslaught against Venezuela. When, due to the dignified attitude of a large group of nations, they did not achieve their aims, they formed officious groupings of countries, to arrange unilateral coercive measures and other interventionist actions, undermine regional unity, contain CELAC, and paralyze UNASUR.
These events demonstrate once again that the path is never to neglect the unity of revolutionaries and to always maintain the struggle, keeping in mind that our adversaries never give up in the effort to restore models of exclusion and exploitation, and that when the supposed values and rules of the sacrosanct representative democracy do not serve them to reach power, they do not hesitate to resort to coup d’états, violence, or even war.
The recently concluded 24th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum in Havana, with the attendance of representatives from all continents, was an essential space for political coordination faced with the need to redirect the struggles of leftist political forces and social movements. It’s Final Declaration “Our America ready to fight” is a truly united program of action in the face of the dangers to peace and the threats and opportunities for the political forces of the left and popular and social movements in the region.
I take this opportunity to reiterate our solidarity with the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution, led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
To Nicaragua, to the Sandinista National Liberation Front and to President Daniel Ortega, we express the unwavering solidarity of our people, Party and government.
We demand the release of compañero Lula da Silva and his right to be the presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party (applause), as constantly demanded by thousands of Brazilians and numerous organizations around the world.
If tomorrow elections were held in Brazil, there is no doubt that Lula would win the elections in the first round. (Applause) That’s why he is in prison.
We congratulate the beloved Mexican people and President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador for this historic result.
I will now refer to relations with the United States, a country with which formal diplomatic ties are maintained, official communication channels, several bilateral agreements, and mutually beneficial cooperation within a limited group of areas.
A few days after the announcement of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, on December 17, 2014, we noted from our Parliament, a few days later, that there were profound differences between the governments of Cuba and the United States regarding the exercise of national sovereignty and conceptions of democracy, political models, and international relations. However, we reiterated our readiness for respectful and reciprocal dialogue on disagreements, and warned that Cuba should not be expected to renounce the ideas for which it had fought for over a century, in order to improve relations with the United States.
Since August last year, under the pretext of health complaints of its diplomats, in what some call sonic attacks, that is, noises that affect diplomats — they now also accuse China of the same — whose origin no one has been able to explain or prove, although they periodically repeat it, bilateral ties have deteriorated and 17 officials of our embassy in Washington were unjustly expelled and the majority of the staff of the diplomatic headquarters in Havana withdrawn, with the consequent paralysis of a large part of the visa processing procedures, to the detriment of travel to the United States by Cuban citizens.
Likewise, the extraterritorial application of the U.S. blockade has intensified, particularly the persecution of our financial transactions.
The occasion is propitious to recall the content of a Memorandum by a deputy assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs — what would be here a deputy minister of foreign affairs to attend to issues of the Latin American region — named Lester Mallory, dated April 6, 1960, more than 58 years ago now, but it is an event that we Cubans must never forget, and for that reason I want to recall and quote verbatim some paragraphs or phrases:
“The majority of Cubans support Castro (...) There is no effective political opposition (…) The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship (…) every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba (…) denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” There were more recommendations to his central government.
I have never read anything more cynical than these words. This was, to remind you, on April 6, 1960, that is, one year and nine days before the bombings of April 15, 1961, a prelude to the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) invasion.
Thus emerged in 1959, the same year of the triumph, the long history of attacks against our country, which today continue to be renewed.
At the same time, the public pronouncements of the main United States government officials regarding Cuba at this time are characterized by disrespect, aggressiveness, interventionism, and the crude manipulation of historical truth. Tens of millions of dollars are allocated each year, approved in its budgets, to promote subversion in an effort to provoke political changes contrary to the constitutional order of our country.
This past June, a U.S. diplomatic official, speaking at a meeting of the Organization of American States, the discredited OAS, said: “The countries of the Americas have to accept that Cuba is the mother of all evils in terms of weakening democracy on the continent and human rights violations.” A few days ago, the aforementioned individual repeated the same aggressive approach toward our country.
These positions also remind us of the failed “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,” created by the then President George W. Bush who, drunk on the apparent victory in the second Iraq war, even went so far as to appoint a U.S. coordinator who would manage Cuba after being occupied, just as was the practice in the good old days of the Yankee gunboats across Latin America.
It is no coincidence that it is reiterated in the draft of our Constitution that the defense of the socialist homeland is the greatest honor and supreme duty of every Cuban, and incorporated is that the strategic conception of the defense of the nation is upheld by the doctrine of the war of the entire people.
We Cubans are a peaceful and friendly people; we do not threaten anyone, many times we have said that for us to avoid a war is tantamount to winning it, but to that end we must shed rivers of sweat preparing ourselves to fight to victory if anyone tries to take over Cuba.
Once again, an adverse situation has developed and again the euphoria resurfaces among our enemies and the rush to realize the dreams of destroying the example of Cuba. It will not be the first time, nor the last, that the Cuban Revolution will have to face challenges and threats. We have run all risks and resisted undefeated for 60 years. (Applause)
For us, just as for Venezuela and Nicaragua, it is very clear that the siege is tightening and our people must be alert and ready to respond to each challenge with unity, firmness, optimism, and unwavering confidence in victory.
Since July 26, 1953, Cuban revolutionaries have forged themselves in an incessant battle and we have come this far by rising above setbacks and overcoming attacks of all kinds.
How couldn’t we recall the young people that a day like today were savagely tortured and killed after the failure of the action to lay siege to heaven, so as not to let the Apostle die in the year of his centenary.
In this same spot, 45 years ago, Fidel stated: “Moncada taught us to turn setbacks into victories. It was not the only bitter test of adversity, but nothing could contain the victorious struggle of our people. Trenches of ideas were more powerful than trenches of stones. It showed us the value of a doctrine, the strength of ideas, and left us the permanent lesson of perseverance and tenacity in just aims.”
And the Comandante en Jefe added: “Our heroic dead did not fall in vain. They demonstrated the duty to press onward, they fuelled the inextinguishable spirit of our souls, they accompanied us in prisons and in exile, they fought together with us in the war. We see them reborn in the new generations…” (Applause)
In the same year of 1959, a few months after the triumph of the First of January, we had to confront armed gangs organized and financed by the CIA, sabotages, hundreds of plans of attempts against the main leaders, especially against the leader of the Revolution, the economic, commercial, financial blockade, media campaigns, the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) invasion, the October or missile crisis, the introduction of pests and diseases, multiple terrorist acts organized and financed by the United States government, resulting in thousands of fatalities and children of the homeland mutilated or incapacitated.
In the decade of the nineties, after the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp and faced with the implacable and opportunist onslaught of imperialism, enthusiastic about the longed-for collapse of the Revolution, we Cubans, amid enormous material scarcities, put to the test our unwavering capacity for resistance and the will to defend sovereignty, independence, and socialism.
That was possible thanks to the unequalled people we have and the unity forged by Fidel from the first years of struggle.
Today, 65 years after Moncada, with our independence already conquered and the permanent presence of Fidel among us, we can affirm that no matter how difficult the circumstances, no matter how great the challenges, our people will forever defend their Socialist Revolution. History has shown that we could, we can, and it will always be possible! (Applause)
Already 65 years have passed since Moncada, a large majority of the population was born after these events of which we are speaking. As you know, the Revolution triumphed five years, five months and five days after Moncada, therefore, there are five months and five days left to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the triumph of our Revolution (applause), and to celebrate or commemorate such an important date, that day we will meet again here in Santiago. (Applause)
Thank you very much.
Look at what a beautiful sunrise, with the mountains of the Sierra Maestra watching over us, it continues here to the front, goes on northeast to the Gran Piedra and concludes in the limits of the province of Guantánamo. And as the geographers establish, Santiago de Cuba is a completely mountainous city, surrounded by the Sierra Maestra, that is a pride of which we never speak.
Until next time! (Ovation)
1. Photo: ACN
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