Fidel devoted his life to solidarity and led a socialist Revolution “of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble,” that became a symbol of struggle. Fidel taught us to always look to history, to be bold and at the same time realistic, and that what appears impossible can be achieved with firm resolve and consistent action..
He bequeathed to us his enduring example, unwavering optimism, and confidence in victory, even in the most difficult moments of the Revolution.
Fidel’s authority and his close relationship with the people were key to the country’s heroic resistance during the dramatic years of the Special Period, when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product fell 34.8% and the Cuban people’s food situation deteriorated significantly, we suffered blackouts lasting 16 to 20 hours a day, and a good part of our industry and public transport was paralyzed. Despite this however, we were able to safeguard public health and education for the entire population.
I recall the Party meetings in the different regions: east, in the city of Holguín; central, in the city of Santa Clara; and west in the capital of the Republic, Havana, held in July 1994 to analyze how to confront, with greater efficiency and cohesion, the challenges of the special period, the growing imperialist blockade and media campaigns meant to sow despair among citizens.
We all left theses meetings, including the one held in the western region, presided by Fidel, convinced that with the combined strength and intelligence of the masses under the leadership of the Party, it would, and was, possible to transform the special period into a new victorious battle in the country’s history.
At that time few in the world would have bet on our ability to resist and overcome in the face of adversity and the intensification of the enemy blockade. Our people, however, under the leadership of Fidel, provided an unforgettable lesson in resolve and loyalty to the principles of the Revolution.
Recalling these difficult moments, I think it right and fitting to return to what I said about Fidel on July 26, 1994, one of the most difficult years, on the Isle of Youth, over 22 years ago, I quote: “The most illustrious son of Cuba this century, he who showed us that the attempt to capture the Moncada Garrison was possible; that we were able to turn that loss into a victory,” which we achieved five years, five months, and five days later, on that glorious January 1 of 1959.
Those of us who had the privilege of fighting against the dictatorship under the leadership of Fidel, from Moncada, Granma, the Rebel Army, and the clandestine struggle, through today, feel, just like the heroic people of Cuba, a deep satisfaction in the consolidated work of the Revolution, our most beautiful work which imbues us with a genuine sense of happiness and calm confidence as we witness, with our own eyes, the transfer of the mission to continue building socialism, and in so doing guarantee independence and national sovereignty to new generations.
In those years, Fidel showed us it was possible to reach the coast of Cuba in the Granma; that yes, it was possible to resist the enemy, hunger, rain and cold, and organize a revolutionary army in the Sierra Maestra following the Alegría de Pío debacle; that yes, it was possible to open new guerilla fronts in the province of Oriente, with ours and Almeida’s columns; that yes, it was possible to defeat the great offensive of over 10,000 soldiers with only 300 rifles, after which Che wrote in his Campaign Diary, that with this victory the backbone of the army of the tyranny had been broken: That yes, it was possible to repeat the feats of Maceo and Gómez, extending with Che and Camilo’s columns the struggle from the east to the west of the island; that yes, it was possible to defeat, with the support of the entire people, the tyranny of Batista, backed by U.S. imperialism.
Fidel showed us that yes, it was possible to defeat in 72 hours, or even less, the mercenary invasion of Playa Girón and at the same time, continue the campaign to eradicate illiteracy in one year,” as was happened in 1961.
That yes, it was possible to proclaim the socialist character of the Revolution 90 miles from the empire, and when its warships advanced toward Cuba, following the brigade of mercenary troops; that yes, it was possible to resolutely uphold the inalienable principles of our sovereignty, without fear of the threat of nuclear aggression by the United States in those days of the October 1962 missile crisis.
That yes, it was possible to offer solidarity assistance to other sister peoples struggling against colonial oppression, external aggression and racism.
“That yes, it was possible to defeat the racist South Africans, saving Angola’s territorial integrity, forcing Namibia’s independence and delivering a harsh blow to the apartheid regime.
That yes, it was possible to turn Cuba into a medical power, reduce infant mortality first, to the lowest rate in the Third World, then as compared with other rich countries; because at least on this continent our rate of infant mortality of children under one year of age is lower than Canada’s and United States (Applause), and at the same time, significantly increase the life expectancy of our population.
That yes, it was possible to transform Cuba into a great scientific hub, advance in the modern and decisive felids of genetic engineering and biotechnology; insert ourselves within the fortress of international pharmaceuticals; develop tourism, despite the U.S. blockade; build causeways into the sea to make Cuba increasingly more attractive, obtaining greater hard curency income from our natural beauty.
That yes, it is possible to resist, survive, and develop without renouncing our principles or the achievements won by socialism in a unipolar world dominated by the transnationals which emerged after the fall of the socialist camp in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Fidel’s enduring lesson is that yes it is possible, that human beings are able to overcome the harshest conditions as long as our will to triumph does not falter, we accurately assess every situation, and do not renounce our just and noble principles.
After the disastrous first battle of Alegría de Pío, he never lost faith in victory, and 13 days later, once in the Sierra Maestra, with seven rifles and a fist full of combatants, he exclaimed: “Now we have won the war!”
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.
Today, 65 years since Moncada, with our independence 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!
The best monument to his ideas and work is to bring to life, every day, the postulates contained within his outstanding definition of the concept of Revolution, which he presented May 1, 2000, and which was signed by millions of Cubans in the context of activities organized to pay well-deserved tribute to a man who never betrayed his people, and just as he expressed in the visionary speech he delivered on January 8, 1959, upon reaching the capital, at the military camp formerly known as Columbia, now Ciudad Libertad, when the Caravan of Liberty triumphantly entered Havana: The feeling of joy is immense. And yet, there still remains much to be done. We won’t deceive ourselves by believing that everything will be much easier from now on; perhaps it will be much more difficult.
- Speech delivered at the posthumous tribute to Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, in Santiago de Cuba’s General Antonio Maceo Grajales Plaza, December 3, 2016.
- Speech delivered closing the Eighth Period of Ordinary Sessions of the National Assembly of People's Power VIII Legislature, in Havana's International Conference Center, December 27, 2016
- Speech presented during the 14th Extraordinary ALBA-TCP Summit, held in Caracas, Venezuela, March 5, 2017.
- Speech closing the Constituent Session of the 9th Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at Havana’s International Conference Center, April 19, 2018.
- Speech delivered during the central act marking 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.