Speech of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee Raúl Castro Ruz, in the Convention Center, April 19, 2011, Year 53 of the Revolution

Dear Fidel, Dear Nemesia, Dear compañeras and compañeros:

We are approaching the close of the Congress, following intense days in which Cuban communists have discussed and approved the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, the Central Report and various resolutions concerning the main points under consideration.

I believe that the best and the perhaps the most productive way to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Victory over the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, a day like today, April 19, 1961, is precisely the way this magnificent Party Congress has been conducted, a meeting which is the culmination of a discussion begun a little more than five months ago, of the Guidelines, a profoundly democratic and transparent process, in which the people took the leading role under the direction of the Party.

I want, in the name of the almost 800,000 Communist militants, the 1,000 Congress delegates, our organization’s new leadership and particularly compañero Fidel Castro Ruz, to congratulate all Cuban women and men for your decisive participation in the debate and the undeniable demonstration of support for the Revolution, which gives us great satisfaction and more importantly the responsibility and greater commitment to achieve with the combined effort of all, the realization of the economic model to guarantee the irreversible nature of socialism in Cuba.

We have already expressed in the Central Report that we have no illusions that the Guidelines and the measures associated with them, by themselves, are the solution to our current problems. To succeed in this strategic endeavor and others, it is necessary that we immediately concentrate our efforts on implementing the agreements reached by this Congress, guided in our conduct by the common denominators: ORDER; DISCIPLINE and RESOLVE.

The updating of the economic model is not a miracle which can be performed from one day to the next, as some think; it will develop gradually in the process of the coming five years, as there is a lot of detailed work, planning and coordination, in writing appropriate rules and regulations, as well as the training of those who will be involved in carrying out their practical application.

It will also be necessary to carry out an intense campaign to disseminate information about each measure we implement and at the same time, maintain our feet on the ground and our ears attuned to the obstacles which will confront us in order to quickly correct mistakes we might make in the implementation process.

We are convinced that the main enemy which we are confronting now as well as in the future will be our own shortcomings and for this reason, a task of great importance to the nation’s future will not allow for improvised or hasty action. We will not renounce the responsibility to make the changes needed, as Fidel told us in his reflection yesterday, we will respond with the speed demanded by objective conditions and always with the support and understanding of the citizenry, without ever endangering our most powerful weapon, the unity of the nation around the Revolution and its programs.

Without the least chauvinism, I consider Cuba to be among a small number of countries in the world which has the ability to transform its economic model and emerge from the crisis without social trauma because, in the first place we have a patriotic people, who know that their strength lies in their iron-clad unity, the righteousness of their cause and military preparation, with a high level of education and pride in their history and revolutionary roots.

We will advance decisively despite the U.S. blockade and the adverse conditions prevailing in the world market, which have produced among other things restrictions on Cuba’s access to financial resources and the spiraling price of oil which puts pressure on prices of other raw materials and food; in short, it increases the price of everything we acquire from abroad.

Within the few months since the beginning of 2011 and according to recent data, the cost of imports had already increased by 800 million dollars, based on price increases alone, to acquire the same quantity of goods as planned, which will oblige us, as soon as the Congress is over, to make adjustments to the plan approved last December.

At this moment the more efficient use of all kinds of resources continues to be one of the main sources of income for the country, however there are still unreasonable expenses and areas in which efficiency can be improved which we need to address with common sense and political sensitivity.

Despite the progress made to date in distributing idle land in usufruct, as provided by Decree-Law 259 of 2008, there are still thousands upon thousands of hectares of arable land waiting for hands willing to harvest crops which are very much needed by the population and the national economy – crops which we can grow in our own fields to replace everyday more expensive imports, which today benefit foreign distributors instead of our campesinos.

The first thing that we have to do is carry out what we just approved during this event and for that reason it is not by chance that the decision was made that the Central Committee will analyze in its plenary sessions, at least two times a year, the implementation of the Congress’ resolutions, especially the progress of the updating of the economic model and the execution of the economic plan.

In this sense, I should highlight the excellent work assigned to the Permanent Government Commission for Implementation and Development, which will coordinate the efforts and actions of agencies and national offices involved in the implementation of the economic model with the support, particularly, of the Ministry of Economy and Planning which constitutes the government’s General Staff charged with carrying out this national task.

On the other hand our deputies have important work ahead, as the Guidelines which the Congress approved will be analyzed by the National Assembly of People’s Power, for their legislative ratification in subsequent sessions, as we complete the drafting of relevant legal documents.
As you have heard, the Congress agreed to convoke a National Conference on January 28 of next year, the date which represents the 159th anniversary of the birth of José Martí. The Conference, which in effect will be a continuation of the 6th Congress, will be dedicated to critically and realistically evaluating the Party’s work, as well as defining the changes needed in order for the Party to play its role as the preeminent leading force in society and the state, as it should according to Article Five of the Constitution of the Republic. Similarly, we agreed to authorize this Conference to update methods and patterns of work, structures and cadre policy, including broadening and renovating the Central Committee.

As it was expressed in the call, the National Conference will be guided by the determination to "change everything which needs changing" contained in the brilliant definition of the concept of Revolution by compañero Fidel.

To succeed, the first thing that we are obliged to change in the life of the party is our mentality, which as a psychological barrier, in my opinion, will require the most effort to overcome, having been tied for so many years to the same dogma and obsolete points of view. Also it will be essential to correct errors, and create, on the basis of reason and a commitment to principles, a comprehensive vision of the future, to allow for the preservation and development of socialism under current conditions.

Concerning cadre policy, with the election of the new Central Committee, its Secretariat, and the Political Bureau, presented this morning, we have taken the first step in fulfilling what was agreed to in the Congress, especially in what was referred to as the beginning of a gradual process of renovating and rejuvenating the full gamut of political and state positions, while substantially improving its racial and gender composition.

The Central Committee is composed of 115 members, of which 48 are women (41.7%), which is a tripling of the proportion reached in the previous congress which was 13.3 %. There are 36 Blacks and people of mixed race, a 10% increase in their representation which now comes to 31.3 %

This result, which I repeat is a first step, is not the product of any improvisation. The Party, for several months now, has been working in depth on this task, with the objective of creating a list of candidates, taking into consideration the need to achieve a more just representative proportion in gender and race in the membership of the Central Committee.

They were selected from the immense pool of university graduates and qualified specialists, which the Revolution lost no time in educating. They are children of the working class, who have risen from the most humble homes, with active participation in student organizations, UJC, and the Party; youth who have for the most part worked for more than 10, 15 or 20 years at the grassroots level, while continuing to work in the professions which they studied and almost all were nominated by the basic cells they belong to, as part of the process of preparing for the Congress.

It is our responsibility to offer them continuing attention and assure their training to prepare them to progressively, through their work, occupy positions of greater responsibility.

In the formation of the leadership bodies of the Party, despite 59 compañeros leaving the Central Committee, representing half of its members, most of whom with a long history of service to the Revolution, we retained several veterans from the historic generation and it makes sense that this be so, as one of the consequences of errors committed in this area, criticized in the Central Report, which has prevented us from developing a reserve of mature replacements with sufficient experience to assume important positions of responsibility in the country.

As a result, we will continue to adopt measure similar to this decisive direction during the next Party National Conference and in the daily life of our party, government, and state tasks

Compañero Fidel Castro Ruz, founder and Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, gave us the first example of commitment in this area, when he expressly requested not being placed on the list of Central Committee nominees.

Fidel is Fidel and he does require any formal position whatsoever to occupy a monumental position in history, now and in the future of the Cuban nation. As long as he has the strength to do so, and fortunately he is at the height of his powers of political thought, from the modest position of Party member and soldier of ideas, he will continue contributing to the revolutionary struggle and to the noblest aspirations of humanity.

And as for me, I assume my last task with the firm conviction, and my word of honor, that the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party has as his principal mission and purpose for being: to defend, preserve and continue perfecting socialism, and to never allow the return of the capitalist system.

The Political Bureau as you can see reflects, in an appropriate proportion, leading officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). This is to be expected, which I will substantiate citing compañero Fidel in the Central Report to the First Party Congress,

"The Rebel Army was the soul of the Revolution. From its victorious arms, the new nation emerged free, beautiful, strong and invincible… When the Party was founded…our army, inheriting both the heroism and patriotic purity of the Liberation Army and victorious continuator of its struggles, took into its hands the banners of the Revolution and was from that moment, and forever, its most faithful, disciplined, humble and steadfast follower".

The status as a Central Committee member to date has indeed been, in part, a recognition of the history of struggle of those elected, which was fair. From this moment on, the concept should be, essentially, that assuming this position represents an enormous responsibility to the Party and the people, since between congresses, the Central Committee is the highest body of party leadership and according to the statutes, it has broad authority to regulate the application of the adopted policy, and the social and economic development programs of the country, as well as the policy for cadre and ideological work, among others.

In keeping with that, it is necessary to constantly improve the preparation and development of its members, as we propose to actively utilize the Central Committee in the implementation of Congress resolutions, as a forum to analyze in a collegial manner, without formal constraints, the principle issues of life for the Party and the nation.

We will do the same within the Political Bureau, since it functions as the highest leadership body between plenary meetings of the Central Committee.

The Political Bureau is made up of 15 members, a reduction from the previous 24 members, which proved excessive. Three new compañeros have been incorporated: Mercedes López Acea, First Secretary of the Provincial Committee of the Party in Havana; Marino Murillo Jorge, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Head of the Permanent Government Commission for Implementation and Development and Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez, who was recently named Minister of Economy and Planning.

These promotions did not happen by chance, the first case reflects the priority the Party’s places on its work in the capital with more than two million inhabitants, and the case of the other compañeros reflects the strategic significance of the updating of our economic model and the development of the national economy.

We will maintain the useful practice of having the Political Bureau Commission meet with the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers to evaluate the fundamental issues in the life of the nation, and at the same time, will include as guests in monthly sessions of the Council of Ministers, according to issues being debated, Political Bureau members and the Central Committee Secretariat, the Council of State and the President of the National Assembly; the central cadre of the Central Union of Cuban Workers (CTC), other mass organizations and the Young Communist League (UJC), as well as the first secretaries of the provincial committees of the Party and the presidents of the Provincial Administrative Councils.

This method has shown its effectiveness in communicating without intermediaries, to the principal leaders throughout the country, indispensable information and guidance for carrying out their responsibilities.

Finally, the historic importance to the destiny of the Revolution of the crushing defeat of the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs escapes none of us. It was achieved as a result of the firm, ceaseless, and decisive action of our combatants, who under the direct command of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, who remained on the battlefield the entire time, where they destroyed in less than 72 hours, the intention of the United States government to create a beach head in a remote corner of the homeland, to which they would later move from a military base in Florida, a puppet government which would request of the Organization of American States (OAS), the sadly infamous OAS, a military intervention by U.S. forces, located in very close waters, accompanying a mercenary contingent after its departure from Central American shores, as they did in Guatemala in 1954 seven years before, to overthrow the progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz.

This is an appropriate moment to repeat the words of Fidel on the 15th anniversary in 1976 of the April 19th victory, when he said, "After Girón, all the peoples of the Americas were a little freer." End of quote.

In the battle at Girón, weapons supplied by the Soviet Union only a few months earlier, were employed in the defense of the Socialism in Cuba for the first time. We had barely learned how to use them. It is appropriate on a day like today to remember that without the help of the peoples who made up that immense country, especially the Russian people, the Revolution would not have been able to survive in those initial years facing growing and continuous imperialist attacks and for this reason we are eternally grateful to them.

Our gratitude, on a day like today, to the present day socialist countries for their consistent cooperation and support during all of those years of hard fought battles and sacrifice.

The sister peoples of the Third World, especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean, who are struggling to transform the legacy of centuries of colonial domination, know that they can always count on our solidarity and support.

A warm fraternal greeting to the Communist parties and other progressive forces throughout the planet, which struggle ceaselessly, sharing the firm conviction that a better world is possible.

I also wish to express the Cuban people’s appreciation to those governments who year after year at the United Nations have with their votes and with their voices, called for the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

Finally, our thanks to all of those, who, in one way or another, participated in the successful organization and security of this Congress.

I believe that there is no better way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Victory of the Bay of Pigs, than to close this historic Party Congress with the symbolism embodied in the "Elegía de los Zapaticos Blancos" (Elegy to the Little White Shoes) by Indio Naborí, vibrantly performed by the actor Jorge Ryan, the emotional words of Nemesia, the little girl charcoal maker who watched her defenseless mother die, and saw her grandmother and two brothers wounded by the murderous operation of aircraft painted with Cuban national insignia and whose white shoes, shot up by enemy machine gun fire, are displayed in the Bay of Pigs Museum as material evidence that the Revolution remains victorious after 50 years, continuing to honor those who fell.

Thank you very much.


Granma International, Havana.

April 21, 2011