As extremely challenging, President Díaz-Canel described the current international situation, on March 18, during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (Minrex) annual review, during which the institution’s work in 2018 was fully analyzed.
Assuming the challenge with “firmness and intelligence to avoid isolation, without conceding in principle or in position,” was the appeal made by the Cuban leader. What we can do on the diplomatic, economic, and communicational fronts plays a fundamental role, he said.
Díaz-Canel shared reflections on aspects of international policy related to Our America, where the capitalists’ colonial, neoliberal strategy is evident, including the resurgence of the Monroe Doctrine, and the tightening of the blockade, especially in the financial arena.
Within this context, he said, a key role is played by Minrex, the protagonist of important battles in 2018, in which the Cuban people felt themselves well represented. “Every time there is diplomatic victory on the international level, the people feel it, as a victory for the country,” he said.
At the current time, he continued, when a return to a confrontational period is occurring, and new dangers emerge that must be faced, it is imperative that we are increasingly better prepared. In this context, he said this ministry has been able to add to the talent of more experienced functionaries a new generation of young diplomats - with a high level of revolutionary consciousness and commitment.
Amongst us all, we must defend the legacy in foreign relations which the Comandante en Jefe has left us, and what it means, the President emphasized, by implementing an independent, anti-imperialist, counter-hegemonic foreign policy, in which friendship and international solidarity, security and world peace prevail.
The generational change which the country is gradually making, under the leadership of the Communist Party and its First Secretary, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, should not give anyone illusions that there will be a change in Cuba’s foreign policy, “The foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution continues to be, and will be, the same, the one to which we must all contribute,” he stated.
Illustrious men in the nation’s history have been part of this Ministry, like Alejo Carpentier, Fernando Ortiz, and Raúl Roa. There are many men and much work to honor, he emphasized, and we can best do so precisely by assuming the challenges and overcoming them. This ministry has achieved results and recognized prestige in its 60 years of revolutionary diplomacy.
He highlighted the need to continue working with Cuban émigré communities abroad, not only in the United States. Our island was born of “immigration and
mestizaje, and we cannot ignore that many Cubans living abroad are proud of and miss their homeland.” In this context, he insisted that a migratory policy must be crafted to invite all to contribute to the development and defense of the homeland, to the extent that each individual can. “We do not have to agree on everything, but we can work together.”
The President noted the impact of the consular services Minrex provides, for Cuban residents here and abroad, emphasizing that quality must be continually improved, as well as reception and professionalism.
He insisted that the basic premises guiding government work apply to the Ministry as well, and be apparent in daily efforts.
The discussion, once again, addressed cardinal issues such as the need for more efficient pubic administration; the characteristics that the skilled workforce must develop within the arena in which they operate; the sensibility to eliminate obstacles and bureaucracy, in all entities where appropriate, to reduce paperwork and allow more timely responses to concerns.
Public communication must be one of the main lines of action, he said, citing as another challenge, “Constructing, amongst all, a social communication strategy that is more coherent and active.”
He stressed the importance of working with the press not only on the big issues, and continuing to expand a Minrex presence on social media, in reference to which, it is crucial to “evaluate what we are achieving and what is missing,” to increasingly perfect our messages. This virtual reality has an enormous impact that we cannot ignore,” the President said.
Likewise, he reiterated the importance of computerization in both internal and external processes, including those involving the population, in which national systems must play a leading role.
On another issue, he called for the use of scientific research as a fundamental tool to help facilitate unraveling the complexities of various questions linked to international relations, such as current issues like human rights, migration, labor legislation, and others.
The President emphasized the extensive legislative effort just beginning to adjust laws in accordance with the new Constitution, noting that different bodies will be called on to support the drafting of these new laws in their area of competence.
Recalling the important role of the Foreign Ministry in supporting the country’s priority economic efforts in the international sphere, Díaz-Canel noted areas such as seeking more efficiency in attracting foreign investment; the need to develop productive chains with foreign investment projects, tourism, and the non-state sector; becoming aware of and taking advantage of all opportunities for financing around the world; the defense of national products; and improving quality in the provision of services.
Finally, he described the analysis conducted as crucial, highlighting the concrete proposals made, connected to the reality we are living. We have “a mature, revolutionary diplomacy, heir to the ideas of Martí, Fidel, and Raúl, and have important challenges ahead that we will face from the front line of combat.”
INTERNATIONAL WORK MUST BE INTEGRATED
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla presented an evaluation of principal aspects of the country’s foreign policy work, focusing on the numerous challenges the Ministry will be facing this year, given the complex international situation.
During the review, also attended by Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, a Council of Ministers vice president; Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, minister of Foreign Trade and Investment; as well as other Party and government leaders, it was noted that, this past year, Cuba has conducted “a foreign policy of peace, cooperation, and solidarity, in defense of international law; balanced, sustainable development; and the promotion of more just economic relations for developing countries.”
Several participants in the discussion noted that bilateral relations with the United States in 2018 were challenging, agreeing that this issue is central to all of the Ministry’s diplomatic work. The historic victory in the United Nations General Assembly was highlighted as key to confronting the economic, commercial, and financial blockade, confirming the international community’s overwhelming support to Cuba’s resolution demanding an end to this hostile policy.
New challenges were noted as well, especially the worsening of the U.S. government’s persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions abroad.
Within the regional context, Cuba’s solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution was reaffirmed, and the commitment of our foreign policy to the unity of progressive forces and social movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Several participants agreed that no foreign policy action can be conceived without a communications plan. The current battle on social media must be waged with greater intensity, as a challenge not present in other eras, they noted.
During the exchange, also discussed was the Ministry’s commitment to training new generations of diplomats at the Raúl Roa García International Relations Higher Education Institute.
The idea that all must contribute to defending Cuba was emphasized in the meeting. Thus the need to carry out increasingly more comprehensive work in all environments in which Cuban foreign policy plays a role, interacting and creating ties with all sectors.