Speech by Miguel M. Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of Cuba, during the closing of the XXV Sao Paulo Forum, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 28, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution
Compañero Nicolás Maduro Moros, brother President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
Compañeras and compañeros of the Bolivarian Revolution’s leadership;
Compañera Mónica Valente;
Latin American and Caribbean leaders, and those from other parts of the world joining us;
Compañeras and compañeros:
Allow me to devote my first words to Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, Cuba´s great friend, son of the Americas who today turns 65 in eternity. (Applause)
Our Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, who loved him dearly and was one of the first to recognize his qualities as a leader, referring to the appearance of an extraordinary politician like Chávez in our suffering region, placed him next to Bolívar and Martí in the battle for the destiny of the Greater Homeland. Fidel said:
“For a long time now I have held […] the deepest conviction that, when the crisis comes, leaders emerge. This is how Bolivar emerged when the occupation of Spain by Napoleon occurred and a foreign king was imposed, creating the conditions conducive to the independence of the Spanish colonies in this hemisphere. This is how Martí emerged, when the auspicious hour arrived for the outbreak of the independence revolution in Cuba. This is how Chavez emerged, when the terrible social and human situation in Venezuela and Latin America determined that the time to fight for our second and true independence had arrived.”
Bolívar, Martí, Fidel, Chávez, what do these men have in common, who, whenever we are called upon to think, we feel obliged to quote and draw from their respective legacies? Our America, Martí would answer, who named it this way to clearly distinguish ours from imperial America that despised us and who despises us more now, as evidenced by the huge wall projected on the southern border, the atrocious mistreatment of migrants, the Helms -Burton, the Nica Act, financial persecution and the arbitrary imposition of tariffs on countries in the region, the suspension of development aid, the blockade and the dirty war against Cuba and Venezuela, among other malicious acts that know no limits.
But even this evil is dwarfed when our America meets, that is, the diverse, plural, contributing world of Latin American and Caribbean progressive party leaders and social activists, who in the dark years of the 1990s created this unitary space for the left, alive and taking action.
Thus, Bolivar’s dream seems closer when he said, “I wish more than anyone else to see the world’s largest nation formed in Latin America, less for its size and wealth, than for its freedom and glory.”
The Liberator left us another fundamental idea, and I again quote him, “Unity can do it all, and therefore, we must preserve this precious principle.”
José Martí, who had the Liberator as an inspiration and guide, was the great architect and constructor of the unity that was missing in the Cuban struggle for independence. Although he died without seeing the victory, in his last, unfinished letter, he passionately defended the idea of “stopping in time, with the independence of Cuba, that the United States extends itself through the Antilles, and falls with greater force upon our lands of America.”
Fidel and Chávez drew from both Bolivar and Martí the ideas of our revolutions: Unity and integration were their great obsessions and must also be ours. (Applause)
I know that these are also the obsessions of the Sao Paulo Forum, born of the need for unity and articulation of political parties and popular movements of the left in our region, to confront imperialism and the neoliberal right, very agile in coordinating action to destroy everything we might create in favor of real democracy and social justice, via anti-democratic methods, coups, criminalization of progressive leaders, fraud, and manipulation of the facts.
The Consensus of Our America, and all the documents that have emerged from the Sao Paulo Forum are evidence of these concerns. The evaluation of scenarios, criticism and self-criticism, key to progress, have impacted the greater dynamism of the Forum over the last few years, in the face of the expanding neoliberal offensive and major imperial attacks.
Compañeras and compañeros:
July includes singular historical coincidences that we share. Simón Bolívar, Liberator of America, was born this month (Applause) ; Venezuela’s declaration of independence was signed this month (Applause); this is the month in which the generation of José Martí’s centenary, led by Fidel Castro, assaulted garrisons in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo to re-initiate the Cuba Revolution. (Applause) It is the month in which the Sandanista Revolution triumphed, with its 40th anniversary just celebrated (Applause). And it is the month in which, on a day like today, Hugo Chávez was born. (Applause and shouts of, “Chávez lives, the struggle continues,” “Chávez did not die,” and “Chávez has become millions, Chávez is back!”
The São Paulo Forum summons us during an extremely challenging July and here we are, to accompany the heroic Venezuelan resistance and demand an end to the brutal siege that has been imposed on the country. Venezuela is today the anti-imperialist struggle’s primary trench (Applause). The Forum summons us to condemn the blockade of Cuba and demand that it be lifted. (Applause)
The Forum calls us to support the rebellion the Puerto Rican people, which has not been buried after more than 100 years of Yankee colonialism. (Applause) It also unites us to reject the empire’s scandalous actions against the families of migrants and particularly boys and girls, mistreated, abused, practically caged, thus denying human beings their dignity and most elemental rights.
With these new provocations added to the accumulated indignation, the Sao Paulo Forum is called upon to play a greater leading role in the complex current political scenario. Even more so considering the attacks on progressive processes in countries where the left had conquered positions of power, through which changes and notable social advances were pushed forward.
The counter-offensive of Yankee imperialism and the oligarchy, with hawks having literally taken possession of U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean, is dangerously impacting the geographical area declared by CELAC as a Zone of Peace.
The peoples are ashamed of the sell-out politicians, of those the empire uses at its convenience, and later casts aside with disdain.
Also impacting this context are the setbacks suffered by progressive forces in some countries, and what s worse, the division that persists among them, fragmenting, weakening the stated will to act together. Lacking strategic political programs, and distanced from social movements, there are left formulas that have removed themselves as alternatives.
The experience of the Cuban Revolution is based on the early recognition of the strategic role of unity around the fundamental objectives of social justice, in tight alliance with the people, their needs and problems, to which its victorious resistance is due.
We believe that it is our responsibility to give and take experiences, without risking a repeat of carbon copy errors that have been so costly in previous historical periods.
Precisely to save hopes and dreams, following the collapse of the European socialist experience, this forum of articulation for progressive forces was created by Fidel and Lula, to base its action on what unites us, and not what separates us. (Applause)
The two leaders left us a valuable instrument for joint action and unity within diversity. Fidel is not physically present, but his extraordinary work has survived him and we can draw upon it limitlessly.
Lula, imprisoned on the basis of false charges and scandalous judicial trickery, is the example of how far the enemies of the left will go – the greatest expression of the fear imperialism and oligarchies have of the left in power. They’ll do anything to prevent the return of Lula to the Presidency of a country that only with the PT was able to redistribute the nation´s enormous wealth to the degree possible.
Today Lula´s freedom is also one of the great challenges of the left in the region. (Applause) The mobilizations cannot cease. One of our founders remains unjustly imprisoned and we must put an end to this abuse. (Applause and shouts of “Free Lula!”)
The Forum is the precious legacy of our leaders and a viable mechanism to resist the attacks of those who would like to implode our very valuable alliance.
Let us not forget for a moment that we are in besieged Caracas , in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, attacked and besieged a thousand times.
We walked the streets of Caracas yesterday, in defense of the heroic Bolivarian Revolution, leaders, and social activists from the five continents alongside the legitimate representatives of the Venezuelan people. (Applause) That march was not recorded or disseminated by the many cameras of corporate television broadcasters that have led the planet to believe that the Venezuelan state has no power or followers in this land.
Let us reaffirm before the world our support and solidarity with legitimate President Nicolás Maduro Moros and the military civic union that has defeated the worst plans of the enemy so many times. (Applause and shouts)
We must remember that ensuring peace in Venezuela is equivalent to defending peace for the entire region.
To support and defend Venezuela is to decisively confront the return of the Monroe Doctrine and the imperialist escalation against our peoples. Today it is wielded against Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua; tomorrow will be against others, and in the end they will go for everyone.
The United States threatens and slanders Cuba and Venezuela, not recognizing their failure in attempting to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution and misrepresenting the altruistic cooperation that our country offers here and in more than 80 nations. There is no better platform than this Forum to reaffirm that Cuba will never renounce or betray its principles or Venezuela (Applause and shouts of “Cuba and Venezuela, a single flag”)
I reiterate here what I said this last July 26 in Bayamo, just a few days ago:
“The siege is being increasingly tightened around our country, around Venezuela, around Nicaragua, and any other nation that refuses to accept the imperial plan for its destiny.
“…the U.S. administration for beginning to act more aggressively to prevent the delivery of fuel to Cuba…
“They want to cut off the lights, the water, and even the air to extract political concessions from us. They don’t even attempt to hide it. They publicly announce funding for subversion in Cuba, invent false, hypocritical pretexts to add us to their spurious lists and justify the tightening of the blockade.
“In utter cynicism, they resort to blackmail.
“Ignorant of history and the Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy principles, they propose to negotiate a possible reconciliation with us, in exchange for abandoning the course chosen and defended by our people. They suggest betraying friends, throwing 60 years of dignity into the trash bin.
“No, imperialist gentlemen, we do not understand each other.”
(Applause and shouts of “Homeland or Death,” “Cuba yes, Yankees no!”)
Political parties and popular movements:
Less than a week ago, representatives of a small group of countries in this region insulted the Sao Paulo Forum, to them we say that the Forum is here, and will be, and has much to do because it is again “the Hour of the Furnaces in which nothing more than the light must be seen.” That light is unity, the great legacy left by our heroes, from Bolívar to Martí, Fidel and Chávez (Applause).
The reaction of that spineless right to the Sao Paulo Forum meeting is insulting and very cynical; they have invented all kinds of legends and insults. They, the kings of conspiracy, accuse Forum participants of what they practice every day against our peoples. It must pain them very much that these leaders of the left around the entire world – defamed, persecuted, gagged, with so many companions murdered and disappeared – dare to challenge the imperial mandate to stay quiet and be afraid.
There are no mysteries or conspiracies, no plans of aggression or intervention, nor have there ever been in the almost 30 years of the Sao Paulo Forum. Imperialism is the expert in that, as are national oligarchies, so fearful of their people, they invent false charges to imprison popular leaders through spurious legal processes.
No one hides coming to this event to promote peace, sovereignty and prosperity for our peoples, because there is no nobler work that demands more sacrifice than the battle for the ideals that have always moved the left of the world.
As those attending the Forum have documented and discussed, it is necessary to articulate resistance to neoliberalism and imperialism in our respective communication strategies: create and nurture networks of truth against the offensive of lies.
New generations interact in a natural and dynamic way in these arenas, which our adversaries today control and use to advance their perverse intentions.
On the 65th birthday of Chávez, that extraordinary communicator who emerged from the heart of Bolivar’s homeland to bring us back the words and dreams of the Liberator, there can be no better tribute to his living memory than a progressive movement of the left, democratic and diverse as the parties and social groups that compose it, unleashing the unlimited creativity of the people to write their own recounting of history, and make history itself in the common struggle for justice.
Happy birthday, Comandante! (Applause)
The peoples of Latin America and the world have come to celebrate your birth where your remains rest. Your powerful revolutionary ideal is more alive than ever in your beloved homeland and in every corner of the world reached by your passionate words. (Applause)
“For Peace, Sovereignty, and Prosperity of the peoples … Unity, Struggle, Battle and Victory,” are the slogans of this event, the 25th since the Forum was founded. The challenge is to finally make a reality of this beautiful alliance of forces.
Every time we advance a stretch, no matter small it may seem, in the conquest of our development projects in Cuba, we say: We’re going for more!
The same feeling encourages us to value the potential of this magnificent force that we are, acting united and articulated. Let us always march for more!
Always onward to victory! (Shouts of “Venceremos!”)