Speech given by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the Republic, at the closing of the second ordinary period of sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power in its tenth legislature, at the Palace of Conventions, on December 22, 2023, Year 65 of the Revolution.
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution;
Dear colleague Lazo, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power;
This last session of the 2023 Assembly may mark the beginning of a new trend in the behavior of the Cuban economy. Correcting profound distortions and structural deviations that hinder economic performance is the watchword to overcome the very complex situation that we face today due to the combined impacts of the North American siege, the crisis in international economic relations and our own mistakes. Once again, everything will depend on our ability to properly execute and implement the measures stated here.
We have called it war economy, because it must operate in a policy scenario of maximum asphyxiation, designed and applied against a small country by the most powerful empire in history.
We are, furthermore, a nation of the depleted Third World, a historically disadvantaged territory as a legacy of colonialism, where a long and multifaceted global crisis has the greatest impact that is aggravated by conflicts, wars and imbalances inherent to the inequality generated by neoliberal capitalism and which has deepened. the recent pandemic.
I draw the attention of those who prefer that we avoid the term blockade. I wish it were just as easy to remove it from our daily lives and erase its threats and its effects on Cuban society. Doing so would be equivalent to acting like those who today seek to deny the Israeli genocide in Gaza, while Zionist bombs fall on neighborhoods, schools and hospitals, with the criminal purpose of exterminating its people.
As I said at the VII Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Party, the economic asphyxiation measures of recent years are bombs aimed at demolishing the columns that support the Cuban resistance. It is important then that we find ways and means to prevent them from exploding.
It does not seem that the hostility of the neighboring empire will change in 2024. In its never-abandoned efforts to destroy the Revolution and achieve “regime change,” the United States allows and favors actions of destabilization, discredit and media war, which seek to encourage social unrest.
Even threats of terrorist acts that the authorities pretend they do not see or do not recognize are reactivated. As if it were possible to ignore that from North American territory, training is facilitated and financed, with logistical support, to armed groups that spread messages of violence through all the means at their disposal.
Today we want to reiterate here that the determination to confront them is firm and that the information we have disclosed in recent days is part of the alert.
The story includes numerous acts and crimes perpetrated by elements linked to the extreme right in Miami, in which the participation of North American agencies is not ruled out.
The encouragement and materialization of terrorist plans against Cuba are based on the feeling of impunity that prevails in these sectors. There are the cases of Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who, despite the public recognition of their crimes, which is recorded even in declassified documents and in interviews granted to important North American media, ended their lives peacefully in Miami, under the protection of the authorities of that country.
There is no correspondence, but incoherence in the discourse and commitment that the United States advocates in its fight against terrorism, and the permissive action it maintains towards people of Cuban origin who, from North American territory, encourage, plan, finance, organize and carry out violent plans against Cuba and its diplomatic offices, including our headquarters, located very close to the White House.
We demand that the North American authorities investigate and take measures, that they do justice against elements that profess terrorism and violent actions, who have not stopped applying these methods in the midst of strengthening the blockade.
The encouragement that United States policy represents for the commission of violent actions against Cuba is not absurd; on the contrary, it has been recurrent in the bilateral context and is a pattern of behavior proven by history.
As Fidel expressed in 1998, in a moving and unforgettable act of tribute to the victims of the attack on a Cubana plane off the coast of Barbados: “What those who commit great crimes against the people in the intoxication of their impunity can never imagine.” and in the ephemeral nature of its power, the truth always makes its way sooner or later.”
Three years of a Democratic administration that acts with total attachment to its Republican predecessor, confirm that the hostility against Cuba does not respond to a party, but is a policy based on the hegemonic pretension of an empire incapable of accepting the sovereignty of its small neighbor. .
If anyone has doubts, it is enough to read the provisions of Title II of the Helms-Burton Law which, among other aspects, establishes the permanence of the economic blockade until the revolutionary Government is overthrown, the Communist Party of Cuba, the political organizations and of masses and the properties are returned or everyone who ever owned property in Cuba has received compensation.
It also establishes that, during the period between the overthrow of the revolutionary power and the return of properties, there will be a transitional government in Cuba selected and imposed by the United States Government that will certify whether the provisions of that perverse law have been complied with. .
Despite this irrefutable evidence of absolute imperial arrogance, there is no shortage of those willing to demand or suggest that Cuba offer gestures or concessions to “help” the US Government to assume more benevolent and constructive behavior.
They are often unaware or simply do not want to hear about the impact of the blockade. Some do not even mention it as the central aspect of the conflict between the two countries and the impediments it imposes on our development.
More than thirty consecutive times, the majority of the world’s governments have supported, by vote before the United Nations General Assembly, the Cuban Resolution against the blockade.
The imperial arrogance despises this global support, turns its face in the face of the global demand and maintains its criminal policy, which it justifies from a discursive construction of double standards, lying and slanderous that, after a false concern and commitment to the problems of the Cuban people, hides its real intentions to destroy the Revolution at any cost.
With the solidarity and understanding of a significant part of the international community, Cuba faces the impacts of the blockade.
Today it is up to us to face the concurrence of these problems with the consequences of the pandemic and the global crisis. We will do it with determination and firmness, with intelligence and integrity, with optimism and confidence, sharing efforts and contributions among all, in the midst of an adverse context, but sure that we will overcome the challenges with work, with talent and creativity, that is , with creative resistance (Applause).
Like the Monterroso dinosaur, the blockade will remain there, now intensified a thousand times, stopping our dreams, creating obstacles, preventing development and deserved prosperity, because the United States Government continues to be burdened by the lack of political will to move forward. towards a relationship with Cuba that is respectful and adheres to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law. The effort is to cut off access to capital and financing, suffocate the economy and thus mutilate the Government’s ability to respond to the fundamental needs of the population.
The effect of this policy is visible in the depression of several essential services, including electricity, health, education, water supply, communal services, public transportation, food and medicine production, all of which They require the importation of equipment, pieces, parts, fuels or raw materials, for which the scarce financial resources we can count on are not enough.
Even if the State’s economic management were the most efficient and effective in the world, which no government can boast of, many of our problems would persist due to the blockade, as expressed in the contraction of supplies for consumption. of the population, the level of inflation and the insufficient purchasing power of the majority of the people. That is the objective of the economic war, and the results are clearly materialized, although they do not reach the goal that imperialism set for itself since the triumph of the Revolution.
Along with the constant actions of subversion and disinformation against Cuba, the goal is to bankrupt the country, cause social decomposition and generate ungovernability, a goal in which they have failed completely.
During the debates of these days we have spoken critically and self-critically of the errors committed. These errors are also part of the complexity of decision-making in a context of extreme tensions.
In a kind of perfect storm, the desire to overcome the adverse situation, the correlation between economic variables, the commitment to preserve social achievements and the very little and sometimes non-existent availability of foreign currency come together very frequently. All of this has been a breeding ground for making non-comprehensive decisions, which cause logical misunderstandings and negative impacts due to their application in unfavorable conditions, which many consider to be the cause of all the problems, without really being the only ones or even the most decisive. .
During these days we have talked about efforts that have not yet translated into solutions, about measures that did not bear fruit, about forecasts that were not fulfilled.
Just as we recognize errors in the design of the Ordering Task and its inadequate implementation, we have questioned the approval of new economic actors without the precision of the rules of action, which could have avoided numerous deviations.
It is also important to note that the lack of control and defense of the regulations that are approved and the inadequate functioning of state entities responsible for executing them have reinforced the errors. It is now time to move forward with gradual rectification.
The coincidence of these problems and their accumulation over time have facilitated the presence of negative phenomena and manifestations in Cuban society that we do not want.
Once again it is time to rectify. Rectification is a process inherent to the Revolution.
From the ideology and actions of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and Army General Raúl Castro Ruz we learned the importance of timely correction in any situation that could compromise the future of socialist construction.
This is a thought consolidated for several years. In 1986, the Commander in Chief had promoted a profound process of rectification of errors and negative trends, which could not be concluded due to the beginning of the Special Period, when the country had to focus on facing that difficult stage to save the conquests of the Revolution and socialism. .
In the year 2000, Fidel himself urged us to change everything that should be changed, with a sense of the historical moment, and five years later, in 2005, from the University of Havana, he warned that we could destroy the Revolution ourselves if we did not We corrected errors and deviations.
For his part, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz has also made important calls for attention about distortions that have manifested themselves in our process. His references to the fight against corruption, botched work and social indiscipline become absolutely valid in the current circumstances.
We are being protagonists and witnesses of crucial decisions. Here the most relevant issues for the present and future of the nation have been addressed.
The debates of this session of the National Assembly have delved into the depths of the country’s problems, considering possible solutions and solutions to the current situation.
The effectiveness of the measures that we must implement in 2024 to advance more quickly in economic recovery depends on how much we do to generate more wealth, with incentives to work and a more adequate distribution of resources. Progress in eliminating the main distortions that today compromise the possibilities of economic growth and development of the country in the short, medium and long term will also depend on the success of its implementation.
No measure alone solves all the challenges; even all of them taken together can, at first, increase certain problems.
The challenge is to apply them in an organized manner, evaluating their impacts, systematically adjusting the process and taking care of differentiated treatment for those who may be most affected, that is, people and families in vulnerable situations, children, adolescents and young people, women and the elderly, along with pensioners and retirees.
These and other decisions that will surely derive from the current ones, must organize, in the medium term, the macroeconomic indicators and place the country in a more favorable situation so that we can advance in the year 2024, opening doors to the hope and prosperity that must.
I have heard and read all kinds of opinions on social networks about measures that have barely been outlined. It’s understandable. These are complex decisions, as complex is the moment. In the coming days, more extensive and detailed explanations will be given in this regard in our media and platforms. But I emphatically affirm that there is no neoliberal package against the people or a crusade against MSMEs [micro, small, or medium enterprises] or the elimination of the basic basket, as the counterrevolution is already putting the matrixes on social networks (applause).
There is no shortage of those who think that the end of the year is only for good news. Nothing would make us happier than to announce that salaries are going up and that we will have enough foreign currency and fuel to end the burden caused by shortages. Unfortunately, we all know that is not possible.
This revolution began by telling the people, in the hour of greatest celebration and joy, the following: “The joy is immense. And yet, there is still much to do. We do not fool ourselves into believing that from now on everything will be easy; Maybe from now on everything will be more difficult.”
Those are Fidel’s words in the first hours of the revolutionary triumph in 1959. This is how it has acted in the 65 years that have passed. And this is how we who continue the Revolution will act! (Applause).
We are aware of the seriousness of the economic situation and that to resolve it it is necessary to act. Bad, very bad news would be to remain paralyzed or insist on following a route that has proven to be impractical because it is unsustainable.
Félix Martínez did well to remember here a warning from the Army General in a session of the National Assembly of People’s Power in December 2010 when he expressed: “Although we have had the Marxist-Leninist theoretical legacy, where the feasibility of the socialism and the practical experience of the attempts to construct it in other countries, the construction of the new society in the economic order is, in my modest opinion, also a journey towards the unknown – towards the unknown – for which each step must meditate deeply and be planned before the next one, where errors are corrected promptly and quickly so as not to leave the solution to time, which will increase them and in the end the bill will be even more expensive.”
The leadership of the Party and the Government, from the municipalities to the nation, have addressed the issue with sincerity, transparency and a clear sense of the responsibility that falls to each one. Here we hear the Prime Minister expressing dissatisfaction because what was planned was not achieved and measures and decisions that were taken before have not given positive results.
We can attest to the expressed will of the Government to preserve the highest degree of social justice possible and our commitment to the Cuban people always and forever (Applause).
Certainly, some things could have been done sooner. But in a socialist system, in a country like ours with a tightened blockade, in a planned economy and in a democracy with people’s participation, decisions require a level of consensus and maturity to be implemented.
The country has a State with a high responsibility that it does not deny. This Government proposes, informs, consults and expects its deputies and all the people to support it in the implementation of the decisions that can lead us to the quickest solutions to the current complex situation.
Directors and officials of the Party and the Government have participated in the conception and design of these decisions, supported by scholars, academics, experts, university professors, and popular opinion has also been taken into account regarding everything that should be changed.
The gradual elimination of some subsidies and changes in fiscal policy, among others, are aimed at correcting unsustainable deviations and distortions in the current conditions of the economy. They are adjustments that will allow a necessary and better use of the meager financial resources available.
Based on personal and collective effort, looking inward and developing as a result of work, growth in activity levels is projected for the year 2024 that is decisive for the country, although still insufficient to cover demand.
The demand will be essential to comply with the functions of state institutions in all areas and organized work from communities and municipalities.
Food production requires special attention, to territorially resolve the needs of each locality, recover tourism, stop the decline in the sugar industry, take control of currencies and the exchange market by the State and reorganize the financial system, guaranteeing levels of self-financing and management of foreign currency to those who generate it.
As for the socialist state enterprise, progress must be made more quickly in essential transformations aimed at gradually modifying the resource allocation mechanisms and the institutional scheme in which they operate, with the objective of advancing their real autonomy, recovering the levels of efficiency of the main economic activities and achieve their sustainable development, as well as their effective linkage with the non-state sector.
The business system must be willing to do everything possible to stimulate the production of goods and services that allow the supply to be expanded, taking appropriate advantage of the powers that have been granted to it. The people expect Cuban businessmen to bet everything on their country.
The development of state MSMEs is also important, conceived as more flexible and dynamic structures with greater capacity to adapt to current challenges.
In relation to non-state forms of management, I want to remember that they are part of the business sector of the economic and social model endorsed in the Constitution of the Republic. In this sense, it must be ensured that they have the conditions to contribute, in the intended manner, to the economic and social development of the country.
We ratify once again that the public policies of the State and Government are mandatory for all sectors, and that we will decisively confront the enemy’s attempt to fracture unity and turn the non-state sector of the economy against the Revolution.
To successfully confront these claims, clear, coherent rules adjusted to the objectives of all economic actors are required, to avoid deformations and negative trends.
I am not going to expand further on these issues, because the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Economy have already developed them extensively. It is now up to us to create the conditions for the implementation of the decisions, explaining, arguing and above all ensuring that each one serves the higher purpose of overcoming the country’s economic difficulties.
I now want to point to progress in the legislative exercise. In that sense, the agenda of this Session of the Assembly has been fruitful. We have approved three important laws in compliance with the schedule and to implement constitutional content.
I especially highlight the new Public Health Law, which ratifies the principle of One Health, and the responsibility of the State to guarantee its access, as well as the free care, protection and recovery services provided.
This regulatory provision updates the operation of the Cuban Health System, supported by the advances of science and innovation in this strategic social sector.
The Law broadly develops the content of the rights provided for in the constitutional text, recognizing human dignity as a supreme value, as well as the right to life, physical and moral integrity, freedom, justice, among others. . At the same time, it recognizes the responsibility of society and families in the enjoyment of these fundamental rights.
The Law of the System for Attention to Complaints and Petitions of People has also been approved, and for the first time in the Cuban legal system. This regulation also develops constitutional postulates. And although by itself it will not solve the problems and dissatisfactions of the population, it undoubtedly streamlines, perfects and institutionalizes this activity with better guarantees for citizens.
Regarding the Law of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, it complements what has already been established in the organization of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, tempers the organization, structure and operation of the Military Prosecutor’s Office to constitutional requirements and strengthens its role in armed institutions. .
This Law completes an institutional cycle of the justice system of State bodies, particularly those linked to the investigation, control and exercise of criminal action.
Also in this Session, the readjustment of the Legislative Schedule for 2024 was approved.
In the past year, important laws have been approved for the nation, which ratifies the State’s will to continue developing and perfecting legislative activity, in accordance with the Constitution and the institutional strengthening of the country.
It is worth highlighting on the agenda of this Assembly the analysis of the implementation of two regulations approved by this Parliament, the Family Code and the Criminal Procedure Law.
In the analysis of the Family Code, the work of social justice that this regulation contains was confirmed, in a matter as relevant as the rights of all people and for all types of families.
The work carried out by the institutions in charge of its application is significant; However, it is necessary that these continue to be prepared in pursuit of their greater effectiveness and that they contribute to greater knowledge and understanding of it in society.
In the case of the Law of Criminal Procedure, the evaluations carried out indicate the need to continue its study for the sake of future improvement, based on the experiences derived from its application.
This norm has contributed to providing better guarantees to the criminal process and has forced its operators to act accordingly, which requires permanent preparation for its effective materialization.
The presidency of the Group of 77 and China, which Cuba assumed since January, has demanded a great effort from our institutions and the country in general. It reflects our commitment to defending the causes of the countries of the Global South and our willingness to mobilize energy in the effort to guarantee the most effective representation of the interests of developing nations in the international arena.
It has demonstrated the authority and leadership of Cuban diplomacy, its adherence to principles, the promotion of dialogue and cooperation and its ability to build consensus and defend the unity of developing countries in the multiple multilateral events that occurred during the year.
We will continue to denounce very firmly the massacre that Israel, the occupying power, is committing today against the Palestinian people (Applause). I reiterate today that Cuba will never be among those who are indifferent; we will always defend the right to self-determination of that heroic people and to have an independent and sovereign State, with the borders prior to 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
To achieve this, the impunity that the United States guarantees to Israel must end! The genocide must stop! For free Palestine, Cuba’s voice will always be raised (Applause.)
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 and China held here in Havana in September reinforced the voice of the Group as a key actor in international discussions. The meeting confirmed solidarity, admiration and respect towards Cuba.
The recently held Summit of Leaders of the Group of 77 and China within the framework of the COP28 Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, in Dubai, confirmed this leadership with its excellent results.
This event, unprecedented in the Group’s history, contributed to strengthening the bloc’s role in climate negotiations.
On behalf of the Group, Cuba attended at the highest level the Summit meeting held in Paris to analyze monetary-financial problems, the BRICS Summit, and various meetings held in the context of the High Level Segment of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
This constructive activism in foreign policy was also reflected with participation in the peace process between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, whose Roundtable of Dialogues held one of its cycles this year in the Cuban capital.
We have continued to strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation with people and governments from different latitudes.
Despite the effort of the United States to prevent it, which was joined by several anti-Cuban elements in Europe and the United States itself, Cuba was re-elected, with broad support, to join the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Organization.
The election of Cuba, with a very large vote, to the Executive Council of Unesco was also a source of great satisfaction.
The IV Conference on the Nation and Emigration was very profitable. He ratified the permanent commitment to move towards an increasingly closer, natural and comprehensive relationship with Cubans residing in other countries.
Before concluding, I ask for a loud applause of congratulations and recognition to the Cuban educators in their day (prolonged applause). For those who are here, who are not few, and for all those who exercised or practice the beautiful profession of teaching, aware that they have in their hands the most transcendental and important work of society: the formation of the generations of the future ( Applause).
First of all, let this congratulations on Educator’s Day reach the literacy teachers (applause), and along with them, the grateful applause for those who have resisted, with firm footing, the difficulties, shortcomings and even the insensitivities of those who forget that being master is to be a creator. Many thanks to you who support with your work and deliver one of the fundamental columns of the work of the Revolution! (Applause).
This is the Revolution! When we say that phrase, which summarizes 65 years of heroic creation, we think, first of all, of health and education. These are two arms of the immense, fundamental, basic work on which we build against all odds, the ideal of a nation that has the human being at the center of its concerns and efforts. And it will always have it, because the Revolution will always exist, which is why it was made! (Applause).
Because the nation admires and recognizes the role and place of health and education workers in its present and future, they will be the first to benefit from additional payments, something that the prime minister announced in his speech (Applause).
At the gates of a transcendent commemoration: the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, Cuba will say goodbye to the year with the joy that not even the worst gales of nature or the empire have been able to take from us.
Let’s celebrate our will to change what must be changed to maintain and overcome the social achievements that the Revolution converted into people’s rights! (Applause.)
Let’s celebrate our independence, our sovereignty and our freedom! (Applause.)
This is the Revolution of Fidel, of Raúl, of Ramiro, of Guillermo, of Machado, of the heroic Generation of the Centennial of the Apostle’s birth, whose ideas continue to inspire us, and it is the Revolution of all of us who are in this room to enforce the will of the heroic, dignified and rebellious people that we are honored to represent! (Prolonged applause.)
A few days ago, rereading a speech by the Commander in Chief with the university students, regarding the approaching anniversary of the FEU, I found some words that could explain the mystery of this revolution that has survived 65 years of sieges and threats of all kinds, without losing dreams and hopes for a better possible world.
Fidel said on December 20, 1982: “Revolutionaries have always been accused of wanting impossible things, of wanting utopian things. Martí was once accused of being a dreamer, and Martí responded that today’s dreams will be the laws of the future. It has generally been stated that these tasks were unrealizable, they were impossible; But in my life as a revolutionary I can say that what is achieved is many times above dreams.”
So, together let us make possible the dream of defeating the policy of persecution and siege of Cuba, and the ideal of prosperity for the people, which has moved Cuban revolutionaries of all times. Let’s make dreams possible and even the impossible! (Applause.)
Thank you, Army General, for being there and for always encouraging us to conquer the next goal. You, who 65 years ago entered the Moncada barracks and surrendered your soldiers without a single shot, with the undefeated morale of the new Rebel Army, have taught us many times that Yes, we can if we advance together! And so we will do it! (Prolonged applause.)
This is the Revolution, the indefeatable idea that all dreams are achievable!
This is the Revolution, that of its worthy Cuban people!
Then the will to work, the desire to advance, the willingness to perfect and the deep conviction that we are going to win, to prevail!
Patria o Muerte!
Overcome! (exclamations of “We will win!” and “Long live the Cuban Revolution!”)
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