Full text of speech by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic of Cuba during the 8th Party Congress, April 19, 2021, Year 63 of the Revolution
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution;
Dear compañeros of the historic generation of the revolutionary process and founders of the Communist Party of Cuba;
Members of the Political Bureau and Secretariat of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee;
Members of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee;
Compañeras and compañeros:
The Eighth Congress concludes and I have no hesitation in describing it as historic. This is a fact.
Apart from our emotions and feelings involved in living history and the undefeated leadership of those who today pass on responsibilities and tasks to our generation, there is a transcendence that is impossible to ignore:
The Apostle’s Centennial Generation, guided by Fidel and Raúl over more than six intense decades, can declare today, with dignity and pride, that the socialist revolution they made only 90 miles from the powerful empire, is alive, firm, and taking action amidst the gale shaking an ever more unequal and unjust world, following the collapse of the world socialist system.
And this generation can say much more. This generation can affirm that the Revolution does not end with theirs, because they managed to shape new generations equally committed to the ideals of social justice that have cost the blood of the best sons and daughters of the Cuban nation.
What we receive today are not positions or tasks. This is not only the leadership of a country. What we have before us, continually challenging us, is a heroic, immense work.
It is the daring uprising of Céspedes, the unwavering honor of Agramonte, the dignified intransigence of Maceo, the impressive acumen of Gómez, the Maroons’ quest for liberty, the passion of war poets, the ferocity of Mariana in the scrub and the inspiring light of Martí.
It is the foundational youth of Mella, the tremendous verses of Villena, the radical anti-imperialism of Guiteras, the absolute dedication of the Centennial Generation, Haydee and Melba behind bars, Vilma defying the repressors, Celia organizing the command post in the Sierra, Cuban mothers confronting the dictatorship that murdered their children; the female platoon in the Sierra, Camilo’s boundless fidelity, Che’s universal legacy, Fidel’s profound, creative leadership, the continuity upheld by Raul.
It is the Great Rebellion, the underground, the guerrilla fronts, the strategic counteroffensive, the invasion of the West, the decisive battles, the triumphal entry into Havana, the Agrarian Reform, the literacy campaign, the fight against counterrevolutionary bandits, the militias, the Girón victory, the October Crisis, internationalist collaboration in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Che’s guerrilla war, to the blood for Vietnam, for Angola, for Ethiopia, for Nicaragua, the medical brigades, Elián González, The Five, ELAM, Operation Miracle, ALBA, the Henry Reeve contingent, science, medicine, culture, high performance sports, universities, and human solidarity re-founded in this land.
What unites us is so much that the list will always be incomplete, but this can some idea of the great monument that the Cuban people have erected over more than 150 years of struggle.
This history can be summarized in two words: the people and unity, which is to say, the Party. Because the Communist Party of Cuba, which has never been an electoral party, was not born of a split. It was born from the unity of all political forces with profoundly humanist ideals that had been shaped in the struggle to transform an unequal, unjust country, dependent on a foreign power and under the yoke of a bloody military dictatorship.
Today we say: We are Cuba! Cuba Viva! and it sounds simple, easy, but how difficult it has been to achieve and maintain our sovereignty and independence in the midst of the most ferocious siege.
The historic generation, aware of its role in this heroic creation – that is every day of the Cuban Revolution – in the face of a multidimensional, permanent war waged by its closest neighbor, has always worked on the development of new generations and facilitated the gradual transfer of principal leadership responsibilities.
Thanks to this patient work over years, a milestone in our political history is confirmed here today, defining the Eighth Congress as the Congress of Continuity. And the central standard-bearer of this process has been compañero Army General Raúl Castro Ruz. (Applause)
When I took office as President of the Councils of State and Ministers in 2018, I wanted to express in my remarks the sentiments of many of us and recognize Raúl’s work at the head of the Revolution and the Party.
With his proverbial modesty, he asked me to forego some of the words about him that I wished to state at that time. Today, abusing the responsibility that I assume leading the Party and with more knowledge of cause, due to the intimate rapport we established in addressing the issues and strategic tasks of the country, experiencing firsthand the way he has led our preparation, I would like to do historic justice and relate what I wrote at that time and, as a matter of discipline, left unsaid.
Compañero Raúl, who has prepared, conducted and led this process of generational continuity with tenacity, with no attachment to positions or responsibilities, a heightened sense of duty and of the historic moment, with serenity, maturity, confidence, revolutionary firmness, with altruism and modesty, on the basis of his own merits, authority and because Cuba needs him, will be consulted regarding the most important strategic decisions impacting the nation’s destiny. (Applause) He will always be present, well informed of everything, fighting with energy, contributing ideas and arguments to the revolutionary cause, through his advice, his guidance and alertness to any error or deficiency, ready to confront imperialism as the first with his rifle in hand on the front lines of combat.
The Army General will continue to be present because he is a reference for every Cuban communist and revolutionary. Raúl, as our people affectionately call him, is Fidel’s best disciple, but he has also contributed a great deal to revolutionary ethics, the work of the Party and to improvement of government.
The work done under his leadership at the head of the country over the last decade is colossal. His legacy of resistance in the face of threats and aggression and in efforts to perfect our society is paradigmatic.
He assumed the leadership of the country in a difficult economic and social situation. In his dimension as a statesmanship, forging consensus, he has led, pushed for and encouraged profound, necessary structural and conceptual changes as part of the process of perfecting and updating the Cuban economic and social model.
Raúl was able to achieve the renegotiation of an enormous debt, honestly and respectfully abiding by the word given and the principle that the nation would honor its commitments to creditors, thus strengthening confidence in Cuba.
He led, with wisdom, the debate that culminated in a transcendental update of our Migratory Law; insisted on transformations in the agricultural sector; promoted without prejudice the expansion of non-state forms of economic management, the approval of a new Foreign Investment Law, the creation of the Mariel Special Development Zone, the elimination of obstacles to the strengthening of Cuban state enterprises, investments in the tourism sector, the program for the computerization of society, and the maintenance and improvement, to the degree possible, of our social conquests.
With patience and intelligence, Raúl achieved the release of our Five Heroes, thus fulfilling Fidel’s promise that they would return.
His trademark style was evident in wide-ranging, dynamic activity in the country’s foreign relations. With firmness, dignity and mettle, he personally led the process of talks and negotiations directed toward the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States.
Raúl’s unquestionable qualities as a statesman, as a defender of Latin American integration, distinguished in a special way Cuba’s period as pro tempore president of CELAC. His most important legacy, the defense of unity within diversity, led to the declaration of the region as a Zone of Peace and contributed decisively to the peace talks in Colombia.
Raúl has defended the rights of Caribbean countries and particularly those of Haiti in international forums like no one else. With deep pride, Cubans listened to his emotional voice and precise language at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where he recalled the true history of Our America.
He achieved these accomplishments while facing the illness and death of his beloved companion in life and struggles, our extraordinary Vilma (Applause), with whom he shared his passion for the Revolution and with whom he founded a beautiful family. During this period, he also suffered the illness and death of his principle reference in revolutionary life, who was also his boss and brother, compañero Fidel, to whom he has been uncompromisingly loyal. (Applause)
He put revolutionary courage and sense of duty before his human pain. He kissed the urn that held Vilma’s ashes and offered a military salute before the boulder bearing Fidel’s name, and led the country without rest, with success, energy and dedication. His contributions to the Revolution are transcendental.
Photo: Estudio RevoluciónThe Raul we know, admire, respect and love, made his political debut as the leader of a group of young university students who in April of 1952 symbolically buried the 1940 Constitution, trampled by the March 10 coup; in January of 1953, he was one of the founders of the March of the Torches and in March of the same year he attended the International Conference on the Rights of Youth and preparatory meetings for the Fourth World Festival of Youth and Students. Upon his return, he became one of the Moncada assailants, becoming a leader in combat. He was then imprisoned on the Isle of Pines, participated in preparation of the struggle against the Batista’s dictatorship during his exile in Mexico, set sail on the Granma, was reunited with Fidel in Cinco Palmas, embarked on the struggle in the Sierra Maestra, and given his merits and courage, was promoted to Comandante and founded the Frank País Second Eastern Front, in an exemplary manner.
He is also the political leader who promoted debate on improving Party work, always demanding a strong connection with the people, with his ear to the ground. To him we owe decisive phrases and decisions at crucial moments for the country, such as that warning that “beans are as important as cannons” and the emblematic “Yes, we can!” which raised national spirits in the darkest moment of the Special Period.
The military chief of the Second Eastern Front who, amidst the war of liberation, undertook organizational and governmental experiences for the benefit of the population, which would later be extended across the country after the revolutionary victory. He directed for almost half a century the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, making a decisive contribution to the independence of Angola, Namibia and the end of apartheid. At the same time, he was instrumental in achieving important results in the preparation of the country’s defense and in developing the strategic concept of the War of the Entire People. Under his command, the Revolutionary Armed Forces became the government’s most disciplined and efficient body, in which experiences
were organized that later served the country, including enterprise improvement, with its valuable concepts of administration, sustainability, efficiency and control, from which the FAR Enterprise System was born, going on to achieve remarkable results that contribute to the country’s economy.
Raúl, the guerrilla, in permanent contact and alliance with nature, acquired a special sensitivity to environmental issues, which would later mark his efforts to promote the water diversion program and Tarea Vida (climate change).
The Comanadante en jefe of the Cuban Revolution, who placed on the Army General’s chest the highest decorations, dedicated precise words to his work as a leader during the closing of the Fifth Party Congress. Speaking of his brother in blood and ideas, Fidel stated: “Life has brought us much satisfaction and many emotions, much luck, and I can truly say that it has been a stroke of luck for our Party, our Revolution and for me, that we have had a compañero like Raúl, of whose merits I do not need to speak, of whose experience, capacity and contributions to the Revolution it is not necessary to speak. He is known for his tireless activity, his constant and methodical work in the armed forces, in the Party. How fortunate that we have had this.” (Applause) This luck, described by Fidel, is called Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz. (Applause).
Compañeras y compañeros:
This Congress, with its broad, critical debate, defending a comprehensive vision of continuity, has contributed ideas, concepts and directives that chart the course to move forward resisting. But it is essential to face this challenge with the greatest possible knowledge of the complex national and international context, conscious that the world has changed dramatically and that there are too many closed doors for nations with few resources and even more for those of us who are intent on being sovereign.
The level of concentration, diversity and complexity of today’s media, of the technological tools that support digital networks and the resources employed in the generation of contents, allow powerful groups – fundamentally in highly developed countries – to convert into universal patterns ideas, tastes, emotions and ideological currents which are often completely alien to the context they impact. For these wizards of communication, truth is not only negotiable but even worse: superfluous. Via the dissemination of false premises, distortions and infamous lies of all kinds, they contribute to promoting political instability in an attempt to overthrow governments, wherever the will of a free and independent nation has not been broken. No people is safe from lies and slander in the era of “post-truth.” This is a reality that Cuba faces every day, as we persist in our intention to build a more just, sovereign socialist society, in peace with the rest of the world and without foreign interference or tutelage. The Central Report clearly exposed several of the specific challenges facing our country, particularly those associated with attempts to dominate and impose the hegemony of U.S. imperialism and the brutal blockade, with its extraterritorial impact which batters us on almost all fronts and, over the last four years, was escalated to a qualitatively more aggressive level.
No one with a minimum of honesty and economic data available in the public domain can ignore the fact that this siege constitutes the principal obstacle to our country’s development to progress in our search for prosperity and well-being. By reaffirming this truth, we are not attempting to hide the inadequacies of our own reality, about which a great deal has been said. This is about responding to those who cynically disseminate the idea that the blockade does not exist.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba for more than 60 years – opportunistically and maliciously tightened during periods of greatest crisis over the last three decades, in an attempt to create hunger and misery that would provoke a social outbreak and undermine the legitimacy of the Revolution – is the longest violation, sustained over time, against the human rights of a people and constitutes, given its impact, a crime against humanity.
This historical offense will remain indelible in the conscience and hearts of Cuban men and women who have felt in the flesh the disproportionate cruelty of an enemy many times superior, which cannot accept the construction, under its nose, of an alternative, more just and equitable society, founded on solid principles and ideals of social justice and human solidarity, with independence and sovereignty as the compass and fundamental premise of our decisions.
Let no one dare deny the blockade even the slightest responsibility for our principal problems. To do so is to deny the empire’s unjustifiable powers: its almost absolute domination of global markets and finances and its decisive influence on the politics of other governments, some of which, believing themselves to be partners, act as henchmen.
It must be said again and again, without fear of repeating ourselves. They must be the first to tire of a crime that is as useless as it is long. Our demand to put an end to the blockade is and will be without respite, a relentless struggle as long as this ruthless and genocidal policy remains in effect. We know we have the support of the international community, reaffirmed on countless occasions, and of a large portion of Cubans abroad.
To this day, the 242 hostile measures adopted by the Donald Trump administration remain in force, in addition to actions resulting from the re-inclusion of Cuba on the State Department’s spurious, arbitrary list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism. No U.S. official, no politician of this or any other country can state that Cuba sponsors terrorism, without ignoring the truth. We are a country that is the victim of terrorism, organized, financed and executed, in most cases, by the United States.
The campaigns of subversion and ideological poisoning promoted by United States agencies and entities continue, with the intention of discrediting Cuba, slandering the Revolution, attempting to confuse the people, encouraging despair, apathy, and recalcitrance, exacerbating internal contradictions.
They are designed to take advantage of the obvious material scarcity and difficulties faced by our population, as a consequence of the combined effect of the global economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the tightening of the economic blockade.
It is said that Cuba is not a priority for the United States, and as a sovereign nation has no need to be so. It is worth asking: Why does specific legislation exist, such as the Torricelli Act or the Helms-Burton Act – just to mention two examples – with the sole purpose of attacking and attempting to control Cuba’s destiny by coercing third parties that establish or intend to establish trade or cooperation relations with us? Why does the United States devote hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts to subvert the Cuban constitutional order? Why do they spend so much time and money trying to undermine the national conscience of Cuban women and men? What justifies a cruel and relentless economic war for more than 60 years? Why do they pay the price of international isolation, as evidenced in the United Nations and other international forums, by maintaining a morally and legally unsustainable policy?
Our aspiration is to live in peace and interact with our northern neighbor as we do with the rest of the international community, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, without interference of any kind. This is the position of the Party and the state. It is the will of our people.
It is striking that the U.S. government declares as its foreign policy priorities the fight against climate change; confronting health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic; the promotion of human rights; and migration issues. This contrasts sharply with the actual conduct of the country and its historical record, both in domestic and foreign policy. The examples are well known.
Paradoxically, these four issues are areas in which the interest of both peoples and the mutual benefit would justify exploring the possibilities of bilateral cooperation, if a solution to such complex problems is truly sought, with honesty and a desire to achieve results.
In these times of world uncertainty, of enormous environmental challenge, facing the blows of a pandemic that has reconfigured the world’s behavior and aggravated the global crisis that was on the horizon, the Party’s work will be focused on defense of the Revolution. The Party leads the Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy, which rests on the notion that a better world is possible and that to struggle for it requires the cooperation of many and the mobilization of the peoples.
This has been a consistent guiding principle of our international efforts and is reconfirmed by this Congress.
We express our willingness to develop friendly, cooperative relations with any country in the world; we are pleased to practice international solidarity even in countries with government ideologies we do not share. We reiterate the determination to expose the truth with clarity, no matter how much this may bother some, to defend principles, join just causes, confront atrocities, as we have confronted foreign aggression, colonialism, racism and apartheid.
This is the foundation of our aspirations for the full independence of Our America and of our commitment to help achieve an economically and socially integrated region, capable of defending the commitment of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
This is the foreign policy described in the Congress Central Report, which we reaffirm today.
Compañeras y compañeros:
It has been very difficult to resist and face the current situation, which has slowed our advance toward the prosperity we desire. Attention to meeting the demands and needs of the people has not ceased; we have explained every decision, convening and undertaking processes, with complex actions and measures, but the truth is that understanding and success have not always been achieved.
I say this without complaint. In an authentic Revolution, victory lies in learning. We are not taking a proven route. We are challenged to constantly innovate, changing everything that needs to be changed, without renouncing our dearest principles. Without ever departing from the concept of Revolution bequeathed to us by the undefeated leader of this epic feat, but free from rigid ideas and aware of the possible mistakes involved in clearing the path as we go.
In presenting the Central Report, Army General cited the helpful experiences of China and Vietnam, where undeniable progress in the economy and their populations’ standard of living has been made. Both processes, which confirm the great potential of socialist planning, have undergone more than one correction along the way, although the blockade imposed on their economies lasted less time and was less aggressive.
The work of the Party in present circumstances has been and will continue to be fundamental. It is impossible to imagine this moment without the work of the political vanguard, but our organization is urgently in need of changes in its workstyle, which must become better suited to this era and its challenges.
The Communist Party of Cuba will continue in the recognition and defense of our essences: independence, sovereignty, socialist democracy, peace, economic efficiency, security and the conquests of social justice: Socialism! To these we add the struggle for a prosperity that ranges from food to recreation; includes scientific development, superior spiritual wealth and wellbeing; and empowers the design of the functional and the beautiful.
Socialism is worth defending because it is the answer to the need for a more just, equitable, balanced and inclusive world; it is the real possibility of designing with intelligence and sensitivity a space where everyone belongs, not only those who have the resources. It is directed, like no other system, to concretizing Marti’s call to conquer all justice.
The principal strength needed to achieve this goal is unity, everything that unites us: dreams, concerns, but also fears in the face of common dangers. We will defend this unity, without discrimination, with no room allowed for prejudices, dogmas or stereotypes that unjustly divide persons.
An element indispensable to maintaining the Party’s forging of this unity is the exemplarity of its members, which demands from all militants a public attitude that, based on their capacity, dedication, and accomplishments, is one of admiration and respect, among an acutely perceptive people, capable of recognizing at a distance any fake commitment or double standards.
Generational continuity is a fundamental part of this unity. It is necessary to speak and share achievements with our young people as the most important people they are; distinguish them as protagonists of the transformations underway. In them lies the strength, the disposition and decision, the sincerity needed in any undertaking or revolutionary contribution that the situation demands. During the pandemic’s worse moments, they have demonstrated this with courage and responsibility.
Today it is the Party’s duty to consolidate the authority gained by the historic generation on the basis of their merits, and preserve the leadership and moral authority of our organization.
To achieve these objectives, it is essential to strengthen the dynamics of the Party’s functioning and the proactivity of our membership in addressing society’s most pressing problems, under the premise that, given our nature as a single party, will always have the challenge of being increasingly more democratic, more attractive, closer to the people as a whole and not only in our immediate environments.
Although the subject was extensively debated before and during the Congress, I would like to offer some comments on the need to strengthen the internal life of the Party in order to have more external life, that is to say, to really function as a vanguard with leadership capacity, able to project itself in its environment with genuine concerns for the functioning of society, and with the power to convoke and mobilize, to defeat any plan of the enemies of the Cuban nation attempting to provoke a social explosion.
Today we need more consensually established forums and better prepared documentation to promote honest, constructive debate within our cells, and to stimulate popular debate, promoting regular meetings with students and young people in different professions and trades.
These are not times of printed bulletins or waiting for long processes of coordination and analysis to promote debate in our cells. The dynamics of these times force us to look for more flexible, brief and innovative ways of communicating orientations. In the Internet era, which has already allowed millions of Cubans to develop a certain perception of the world on a cell phone, our messages to the membership cannot follow the slow route of the old printing press.
The basic premise, also a legacy of the Comandante en jefe, is to never lie or violate ethical principles. The solid authority of the Party rests on these values, and our militants will always be called upon to tell and consider the truth, no matter how hard it may be or appear to be. We, the cadres of the Revolution, have been educated in this principle. And all members are always called upon to wield the truth as our first combat weapon. This is the mission of the vanguard to which we belong.
The truth, clearly and opportunely expressed, is inseparable from the permanent duty to be and to set an example. Our ability to lead depends on how we assume leadership. A people like ours, which has always identified with the bravest of the troops, will only accept and recognize as the vanguard those who are capable of acting like the leaders who shaped us.
The most revolutionary within the Revolution is and must always be the Party, just as the Party must be the force that revolutionizes the Revolution. (Applause)
We see and hear our intellectuals and artists, educators, doctors, journalists, the scientists, creators, athletes, also professionals and technicians, students, workers, workers and campesinos, combatants of the FAR and the Minint, who are members of the Party and its Youth, as the motor force that constantly revolutionizes the Revolution.
And it is our duty as Party cadres to understand that this political force is not monochromatic, nor are all members identical, much less unanimous when expressing themselves. We must be capable of appreciating the strength of the forest, of its trees in a row and in tight ranks when the Revolution needs it. Unity must prevail without ever forgetting that we must see the forest as well as the trees. The collective and the individuals are not the same, even if although when united they are perceived as such. Preserving the legitimacy needed to ensure that the project continues to advance is based on the deep knowledge of its singularities.
We cannot allow ourselves to be overcome by the weight of difficulties. New vitality must be given to popular mobilizations, initiatives that strengthen us.
Routine has undermined many of our processes and today it is urgent to shake off inertia to promote honest, constructive discussion on priority issues, defining actions in each location, with the participation of cadres in the life of cells.
Making growth in the Party ranks a process that arouses genuine interest, with social impact, generating more attractive work methods, on the basis of members’ accountability and the daily dynamics of political work in municipalities and provinces.
To the extent that we approach the battles to raise the quality of life of Cubans with clarity and transparency, and encourage youth to participate with their natural enthusiasm in all the tasks that are critical to the country, we will be reactivating the essence of the Party.
It is our obligation to be standard bearers in the fight against corruption, dishonest ways of acting, abuse of power, favoritism and double standards.
Our conduct at work, before society, in the family and our circles of friends must be coherent with the values we defend.
Party discipline, collective leadership, theoretical studies and the promotion of events on the viability of socialism, the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, the traditions of Cuban thought, particularly those of Martí and Fidel, are subjects that cannot be postponed in our Party schools, along with necessary theoretical and administrative training, with modern management techniques and a broad cultural and historical foundation.
I am convinced that we must incorporate as pillars of our work the computerization of all the organization’s internal processes; the support of science and innovation in approaching and resolving the most complex issues; as well as the creative development of social communication.
The Party’s work in the constant search for emancipatory alternatives also needs a good bath of science and technology, which must be part of this process.
Marxism has left us an invaluable legacy: the certainty that science and technology are an indissoluble part of social processes and that the key to the perspective and prospective development of any project lies in the relationship of science-technology-society. This is the way to build a socialist economy based on knowledge, a society increasingly built on knowledge – A promising horizon for new generations.
There are many tasks ahead that require the active and proactive participation of our membership, in order to mobilize the country’s energy to make progress on our objectives for development, particularly food security and sovereignty, industrial development and the energy problem. But also, and first of all, in the preparation for defense, the strengthening of our institutional order and the socialist state of law.
We will continue to work on laws required by the new Constitution and on the strengthening of socialist democracy, linked to social justice and equity; the full exercise of human rights; effective representation and participation of society in economic and social processes underway, directed toward a prosperous, democratic and sustainable socialism. All this in an environment increasingly free of the burdens of bureaucracy, excessive centralism and inefficiency.
Success in these efforts depends on our ability to dialogue with the population, to enthuse and involve all citizens and to rebuild values that give greater meaning and importance to social commitment. Conscious that democracy is more socialist to the extent that it is more participatory, it is up to us to stimulate popular participation, creating spaces and procedures to address, evaluate and implement the demands and proposals that make it effective.
This essential connection with the demands and needs of the people through participation is linked to one of the fundamental tasks of the Party in these times: social communication, still insufficiently understood, with the erroneous idea that it is a secondary matter given the urgency of economic and political issues. As if these urgencies were not, in some cases, the result of underestimating the specific importance of social communication.
The role of locals, cells and other party structures, internally and in their relationships with state and government bodies, mass organizations and civil society, must be that of a convener, a facilitator of exchange and revolutionary debate, stripped of formalism, impositions and superfluous directives. Revolutionary, because it springs from the concerns of those committed to improving and strengthening the process, ensuring that it is not detained or stuck.
We, members and non-members committed to Cuba’s well-being, must advance the search for effective solutions, which in daily practice contribute, at the grassroots level, to a thorough understanding of our reality. Every person, every work collective, every mass organization counts. The battle is ours, it belongs to all of us and this is where we must concentrate our efforts. It is a matter of survival, of dignity, of decorum and of preserving the conquests we have won.
The Revolution has given meaning to terms which we must not abandon in our desire to confront and transform the context: let us defend elegance, prestige, joy, decency, rights, efficiency, quality, culture of detail, beauty, virtue, honor, dignity and truth in everything we propose and do. On the basis of this Party practice, we must devote ourselves to advancing the re-ordering, the recovery, the consideration and strengthening of the ethical and moral values that have brought us this far, undoubtedly hard hit over the last decades by the adversities and successive periods of difficult circumstances.
In the face of the unjust international economic order imposed by bankrupt, discredited neoliberalism, Cuba maintains a line of action that inspires admiration, amazement and all manner of positive sentiments among those who yearn for a better global reality. Our conduct also increases the frustration, desperation and impotence of the northern neighbor and its acolytes, of the sellouts and annexationists, of the submissive and undignified who bow to the designs of the empire, all sworn enemies who are determined to devise the most perverse plans to attack the Revolution, create distrust and fracture our unity.
By tightening the economic siege, they seek to fabricate the image of a rigid, paralyzed, slow Revolution, which has no solutions or anything new to offer, incapable of promoting dialogue and defending participation, or providing happiness. They attempt to coopt our themes, words and phrases to paralyze wills, destroy sentiments and paradigms. Money flows in torrents to bury the Revolution.
We are not a closed society, nor is this revolutionary process weak, out-of-touch or stagnant. Over the course of 60 years we have consolidated an absolutely novel, challenging political project, in the midst of unimaginable pressure. And in order to perfect it, we have risen to the occasion, advanced and rectified errors many times.
In the ideological battle we must turn to Fidel, who taught us not only that culture is the first thing that must be saved, but that to save it we must maintain constant interaction with our intellectuals and artists.
He also taught us that this would not be a comfortable dialogue for the parties involved, but that it has been and must be a permanent, ongoing process, in which respect and willingness to work together are proven in practice.
The Revolution is not only unafraid of creative thought, but encourages it, cultivates it, opens fields for its growth and development, recognizes it and draws on its contributions. This is why a system of artistic education and cultural promotion was created, one which has served to protect and safeguard the most valuable of the tangible and intangible patrimony of Cuban creators, for all these years, even in the most difficult.
Learning in the arena of politics and ideology concerns all forces participating in a social process. What is unforgivable is not that mistakes were made previously or are being made right now. What is unforgivable is not correcting them.
In this sense we have been consistent; we have rectified errors and the will to continue doing so exists, because it is critical to development in the field of ideas, as well as the economic and others.
A beautiful song, a duet by Silvio Rodríguez and Santiago Feliú, warns: “How much doubt is cast every time the lie wins!” Big media and digital social networks serve as effective platforms for limitless distortions and lies. With every person who doubts or shares a piece of false news, they score a small, but harmful victory.
It would be naive to pretend that the exponents of certain acts of an artistic political, or other nature, ignore or are not interested in considering the context. There is a fine, fragile line between an opportune act and an opportunist one, between the liberal and the chaotic, between independentists and neoannexionists, between transcendence and irresponsibility.
Their unwillingness to even acknowledge that the most radical right is viciously conspiring to eliminate our experience without thinking twice – and that if we perish as a project we will never again have the option of self-determination – is ultimately an act of criminal irresponsibility toward their country and their time.
We are no longer talking about cultural colonization, we are talking about an all’out war by the most conservative ultra-right, today desperate, ready to use any means, anxious to eliminate any site of progress, obsessed with destroying any leftist project.
They are sociopaths with digital technology always available, always at the ready, waging an open war against reason and sentiment. They attack, not a political system alone, but the true, urgent needs of humans, what connects us as a species. That is the most dangerous war, but also the most cowardly.
We cannot ignore that the enemies of the Revolution employ concepts of unconventional warfare against Cuba, a war in which everything that is banal, vulgar, indecent and false is fair game, although they attempt to get a foothold appealing to sensitivity, culture and thought.
The paladins of freedom, who traffic in values, of which they have no understanding, are attempting to dismantle a Revolution that has emancipated millions.
They shamelessly incite the desecration of symbols and the country’s most sacred historical dates and places. They call for disobedience, disrespect, disorder and public indiscipline, accompanying these calls with the slanderous construction of pseudo-realities, bent on confusing, discouraging and promoting negativity.
The Cuban Revolution will not be betrayed or handed over to those who seek to live by playing with the fate of the homeland. (Applause) We will not allow the artivistas – as they call themselves, in quotation marks – of chaos, vulgarity, contempt, to defile the flag and insult authorities. We are not unaware that they desperately seek to be arrested, following the orders of those who pay them, who continue to find credible victims, taken in by their infamous reports from Cuba.
It’s good to warn the mercenary lumpen profiting from the destiny of all – those who demand “invasion now,” those who continually offend in word and deed those who do not rest – that the patience of this people has limits! (Prolonged applause)
Virtue will be in knowing how to close ranks in the defense of the homeland entrusted to us by those who have preceded us and brought us to the present.
Not even in the worst of situations can a Party member be a passive spectator of a provocation, or let a compañera or compañero in the ranks stand alone against provocateurs. The Revolution is defended by revolutionaries! (Applause) And among revolutionaries, we Communists go to the fore. (Applause) Never as an elite, but as a conscious, committed force. That means being and acting like a political vanguard. (Applause)
We must be proud to be part of the Party’s ranks and understand membership as an act of consecration to the ideals that the organization defends with passion, joy, and responsibility.
It is time to understand and use all the resources of social communication, particularly work on digital networks, to deal with the issues impacting society; to interact and provide timely responses from all institution to which citizens turn; to promote participation, transparency and accountability; to make visible the spirit that moves the country.
We must take advantage of all communication platforms to fight our battle as revolutionaries, making the weight of history felt, our patriotic motivations and convictions heard, and the keys of collective leadership understood. We have the challenge of telling with our own voice all the good that has been done, as well as what can and should be done, showing our light and our commitment.
We live in an ordered, organized country, where we work hard to resist the blows of a hostile, suffocating reality, but which is determined to move forward toward greater social wellbeing. This truth must be heard every day through a steady stream of informative, educational and illustrative reports, describing every project, every scene of resistance and construction to overcome adversity.
Let’s do this without being self-righteous, without boasting, offering contents based on the truth and virtue, on firmness and coherence, elegance and moderation, without tiresome speeches that provoke rejection, with arguments and sentiments, sensitivity and empathy. With the language of those who resist on a daily basis, in that most intimate dimension of the homeland which is the neighborhood, the small plot of land, the community, the factory, the school, the construction site, and the family, closing the gap between institutional discourse and public demands.
The Revolution is real dialogue that puts truth and ethics before indecency and perversity, that does not negotiate its existence, does not legitimize mercenaries and acts with security and firmness.
Let us approach with objectivity progress made in the struggle for the emancipation of women, against gender violence, racism and discrimination, in favor of the care and protection of the environment and animals. And recognize that we need to advance further, to give increasingly more just responses to the people’s concerns.
Let us practice a partisan and revolutionary militancy that actively confronts racist and discriminatory behavior and defends the rights of Cuban women.
Compañeras and compañeros:
Allow me now to say a few words about the crucial economic battle, without which all other battles can be futile.
The five-year period being evaluated by this Congress did not produce good economic results. This was also influenced by inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the performance of a significant portion of the enterprise system and the budgeted sector; structural problems exist that affect their development. Unresolved during the period were excessive, non-essential expenses and the lack of control of material and financial resources, as well as unnecessary obstacles and bureaucracy, among other evils that hinder our economic development, the solution of which depends on us.
Despite having faced difficulties of various kinds during this period, the economy has shown resilience, making it possible to preserve our social conquests, without renouncing the development goals set, or our solidarity and support to other peoples.
Cuba has given a magnificent lesson of how political will; the Revolution’s humanist vocation; government management; public policies that put human beings at the center; dialogue between our principal decision makers and scientists; and the people’s participation can, with relative success, confront a complex problem like the pandemic.
A small country without resources, besieged and cruelly blockaded, has achieved results indicative of a better performance than that of many countries in the world and the region. This work is sustained by the economy we criticize to improve it and make it more efficient, but that has made possible inclusive social gains that are clearly significant.
The Party reiterates that we are not satisfied with maintaining the country’s potential strength at a survival level. On the contrary, we aspire to resist creatively, without renouncing our development projects, perfecting them, updating their concepts, modernizing ways of doing and participating.
In the shortest possible time, on the basis of our own efforts, recognizing that the path lies within ourselves, with the least possible external dependence, we must meet the challenge of producing the food we need, make better use of renewable energy sources, develop our tourism potential with quality and sustainability, improve the efficiency in the investment process, direct national production to meet the demands of the domestic market, and provide better quality services to the population.
There are basic concepts in any type of economy, which we must definitively instate, like savings and the circular economy. Eliminating the import mentality is also imperative.
To overcome the crisis, it is necessary to dynamize the process of updating the economic and social model and implementation of the Strategy and the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, establishing a flexible relationship between necessary planning, decentralization and the autonomy essential for local development, with the participation of all economic actors, including state enterprises, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives.
That is, we will resist, creatively, with deep, objective analysis of each situation, summoning expert knowledge, promoting popular participation and innovation. Of course, without renouncing our internationalist principles of solidarity and cooperation with humanity.
The Ordering Task, not always well understood, even by those who have the responsibility of executing it, will immediately demand a great deal of political work, given the highly complex process it is.
Questions have been raised about whether this was the right time to launch the re-ordering, in the midst of the unexpected challenges imposed by the pandemic and the escalation of the blockade. There is only one answer: we could no longer postpone this transformation intended to stimulate development and the articulated participation of all economic actors.
It is only honest to acknowledge that the re-ordering has presented problems of implementation, due to insufficient preparation of some directors and inadequate interpretation of the regulations, but misunderstandings have also emerged based on the mistake of associating this process with problems that were present before its implementation. To this must be added dissatisfaction generated by argumentation that was not always timely or precise, plus some inadmissible demands, which are far removed from the principles guiding the task.
Our first response has been to provide follow up and immediate solutions -whenever possible – to the critical issues raised by the population, promoting an important exercise of citizen participation, which cannot be ignored, evident in adjustments, corrections and changes implemented. Rates, prices and the most recent measures to favor and stimulate the production and commercialization of foodstuffs are part of this strategy.
Once again we appeal to the necessary change of mentality that can facilitate these efforts. It is time to move from making the call to transformation.
We will win to the extent that the goal of everything we do is always the greatest possible happiness of Cubans, defended on the basis of the essence of our socialism.
The current situation and the objectives which emerged from our debates represent a very great challenge for Cuban leaders. Society and its institutions need cadres, with a profoundly ethical and professional preparation, distinguished by qualities including revolutionary dissatisfaction, sensitivity to the people’s problems, the disposition to devote oneself, and the ability to face adversity with creativity that inspires and motivates innovation.
In any situation, but especially in the most difficult and challenging, our cadres must stand out for their dedication to the task, their eagerness to improve, their modesty and sufficient sensitivity to put themselves in the place of others, putting the “we” before the “I.” They have the responsibility to dialogue sincerely, from the heart, and be quick to incorporate these perceptions in decision making.
The Congress has approved a strategy for the preparation of cadres that will include a scientific approach in their selection, training and promotion, and will take into account a gradual transition involving different responsibilities.
The blockade and the pandemic have come together in the last year to put our projections and dreams on hold. We have been struggling hard against the daily difficulties and, although at times it might seem that we will not be able to get by, in the midst of uncertainty, we are suddenly assaulted and dazzled by our own capacity for resistance and creation.
The fact that a country blockaded to a perverse limit has managed to sustain the vitality of its basic services, treat the entire population of infected and suspect cases, install more than twenty molecular biology laboratories in record time, design and develop national prototypes of pulmonary ventilators and diagnostic kits, and develop five candidate vaccines, planning to produce enough doses to immunize the entire population and contribute to other nations, in addition to providing meritorious, recognized medical collaboration to several peoples of the world, is much more than a light at the end of the tunnel. It is proof that we are on the right side of history and that our revolutionary socialist project has so much potential and reach that not even the greatest empire of all time has been able to demolish.
Our people have given this unquestionable feat a name: Fidel Castro Ruz! (Applause)
The Comandante en jefe, under Martí’s precept that to govern is to foresee, in very uncertain days for Cuba, promoted the development of biotechnology, the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and the training of doctors for the nation and the world. He, who saw earlier and farther, as far as humanity can project its dreams, is a continuous reference, at a time when, before the astonished eyes of many, Cuba emerges saving itself and contributing to saving the world from the worse pandemic in centuries.
At a time when women and men in white lab coats, members of the Henry Reeve brigade, descend the stairs of an airplane carrying the single starred flag out front, intent on saving lives without putting a price on their work, the lies and slanders attacking Cuba begin to dissolve like ice in hot water and our truth is multiplied by this redeeming action.
Compatriots from all of Cuba, everyday militants of the Revolution: members of the Political Bureau, the Secretariat and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba elected today assume the extraordinary commitment to give continuity to the Cuban Revolution. (Applause)
After several years of work and dedication to Party tasks, we bid farewell to several compañeras and compañeros who in their respective roles are part of all that the country has undertaken and achieved under challenging conditions in recent years. They all take with them the best of recognitions: to have worked at the highest levels of the Party founded and led by Fidel, Raúl and other compañeras and compañeros of the historic centenary generation, including Comandantes de la Revolución Ramiro Valdés and Guillermo García, who continue every day to give us lessons in devotion and dedication to the common work. (Applause)
To Rebel Army Comandante José Ramón Machado Ventura (applause), who for dozens of years carried on his shoulders difficult tasks of the organization, its functioning and internal life, the control of resources and administration, we offer our permanent gratitude for his dedication and example, for his discipline and loyalty. For his teachings, support and confidence in those of us who have moved, step by step, from grassroots student and youth organizations to leadership tasks. His straight-forwardness, his modesty and commitment will always accompany us as lessons of life (Applause).
As for the Army General, the Congress of Continuity wishes to place on record our enormous debt to a man who will never be able to separate himself from the Party of which he is a founder.
Summarizing his contributions to the Revolution, as I did at the beginning of my remarks, is not only the duty of comrades. It is a way of reminding ourselves of the principal qualities of a leader, of an authentic revolutionary, always unsatisfied with the work he leads and attentive to the social beat, sensitive to everything that serves or harms the people.
Intransigent and firm when it comes to confronting the adversary and defending the work. Sincere and affectionate when he encourages, recognizes, rewards, or even reprimands a comrade in battle.
Continuity is affirmed by example and within the teachings of the authentic leaders who have preceded us, always evident in the timely, heartfelt recognition of those who give their all for the collective good.
Compañero Army General, Minister or simply Raúl, as the people call him, on behalf of my compañeras and compañeros and the Cuban people: Thank you for your example, your drive, your strength and your confidence! (Applause) Thank you for being there and helping us believe in ourselves.
Important, very important, was your support and encouragement during these years of learning and training that today allow us to assume responsibilities in which you and Fidel made history. The challenge is tremendous, but we have the peace of mind that the school is close, that you are by our side. (Applause)
Compañeras and compañeros:
What is happening today places us once again before the thread of history. It is April 19, the day of the Girón victory, that first fight against the mercenaries of the empire which wanted to surprise the Revolution but was surprised. The declaration of the socialist character of the Revolution on the eve of those battles, Fidel’s courage and genius shining in the organization of the battle, ensuring that it lasted less than 72 hours and preventing the establishment of a beachhead, the image of our leader atop a tank in action, always in front of his troops, have returned, on the occasion of the date, to remind us who we are, where we come from and where we are going. (Applause)
The Communist Party of Cuba is indissolubly linked to that symbol of resistance and to the victory that awaits those who fight fair for the rights of their peoples and claim nothing more than a place in the vanguard.
Our generation understands the responsibility we assume in accepting this challenge and declares before the historic generation our honor and pride in giving continuity to the Revolution. (Applause) We do so guided by the principle immortalized by Maceo, “…Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba, will gather the dust of its soil, drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle.”
Paraphrasing Camilo in his well-known words to Fidel upon receiving the rank of Rebel Army Comandante in the Sierra Maestra, we would like to say to the historic generation, to our fellow Party members and our beloved people: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve this most worthy cause for which we will always be ready to give our lives… It would be easier to stop breathing than to stop being true to your confidence! (Applause).
We are Cuba!
Homeland or Death!