José Ramón Balaguer, head of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee’s International Relations Department, presents José Luis Centella, secretary general of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), with the Friendship Medal. Photo: Nuria Barbosa

“Solidarity is the most important weapon the people have to defend themselves,” stated José Luis Centella, secretary general of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), on receiving the Friendship Medal in Havana, awarded by Cuba’s Council of State for his continual support of the Revolution.

Expressing his gratitude for the distinction, presented to him at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples by José Ramón Balaguer, head of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee’s International Relations Department, the Spanish official noted that “This award must be used to assess the work to be done from this point onward. This is a moment in which imperialism is bearing its most criminal and cruel face, bringing death and destruction across the planet.”

In an exclusive interview with Granma International Centella stated that he felt part of the Cuban Revolution, which he described as global heritage, which represents an example of dignity for the rest of the world.

He noted that the PCE has shown its support for Cuba’s revolutionary process in various ways, above all by disseminating the truth about the island’s reality within Spain and throughout Europe, as well as fighting against defamatory media campaigns which conceal the country’s achievements and focus on its difficulties.

“Cuba has a human significance, a hospitable and welcoming people, who are an example of how to live and defend one’s most sacred principles,” stated José Luis Centella, who has also served as a member of the Spanish Parliament, where he has presented motions requesting support for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, and calling for the island’s sovereignty to be respected.

For this tireless defender of Cuba’s social process, solidarity is one of the special qualities revolutionaries possess. He called to unite forces to defend Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution against imperial aggression following the country’s attempts to create a non-capitalist society.

In this regard he noted that “Today, the dignity of the Venezuelan people is at risk, the future of a people which finally, with the government of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, has been able to enjoy the profits its own resources. Right now, attempts are being made to take control of Venezuela’s riches through some extremely subversive mechanisms. The empire needs to colonize in order to survive and is trying to destroy a free Latin America. They know that if they defeat the Bolivarian process it will be easier to crush other emancipatory projects. The battle for Venezuela is a battle for all humanity.”

Thus he noted: “It is our responsibility to denounce the media campaign against Venezuela. In Spain they lie, discredit and manipulate the information to try and convince people that there is a social crisis going on over there. This is not the case at all, what is happening is that the homeland of Bolívar is being attacked by terrorist groups. An attempted coup d'état is being staged there, and we must let people know,” stated the Communist official.

José Luis Centella has held various national level positions during his political career, firstly within the Provincial, Regional and Federal Directorates of the Izquierda Unida (United Left) coalition, and later as a deputy to its fifth, sixth and seventh legislatures. In 2002 he was elected Secretary General of the Communist Part of Andalucía and then the PCE in November 2009, during the organization’s 18th Congress, a position which he holds to date.

His solidarity work was particularly visible during the most difficult moments in Cuba’s relations with Spain under the José María Aznar government (1996-2004), as well as with the European Union after the bloc established their Common Position against the Revolution.

Regarding his solidarity efforts looking to the future, José Luis Centella stated without hesitation that “The next battles will be to work for unity within Latin America, the European Union, and achieve world peace. Leftist forces must unite against imperialism, as difficult and complex struggles are on their way.”