It was a historic day of deep symbolism and extraordinary significance for those at the Havana theater where the principal state and political leaders of the country gathered that October 3rd, 1965.
Assigning the name of the Communist Party of Cuba to the leading organization in the Revolution and the election of its first Central Committee, headed by Fidel Castro, its first secretary, was a landmark that signaled maturity in the process of radical transformations of a society that for the first time in the Western Hemisphere was moving towards socialism, towards dignity, independence and the irrevocable principles of solidarity as it struggled to attain all possible justice.
The event, which would have huge national repercussion within hours, closed a stage of consolidation of the political vanguard in its exercise of the revolutionary power.
Four years earlier, in April 1961, when an armed mercenary brigade, backed and financed by the US government, invaded the island with the aim of reinstating neocolonial dependence and the exploitative regime that had prevailed until the very last day of 1958, Cubans stood up to and repelled the enemy aggression, defeating it in less than 72 hours; they had done so under the banners of socialism. At the burial of the victims of the air strikes that preceded the invasion, Fidel had proclaimed the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution and people had solidly supported that definition.
That same year, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) were founded, blending the 26th of July Revolutionary Movement, founded and led by Commander-in-chief Fidel Castro; the Popular Socialist Party, whose general secretary was Blas Roca; and the March 13 Revolutionary Directory, headed by Commander Faure ChomÃ"n. It was an important step toward unity of the forces that had overthrown the tyranny and undertaken a path of revolutionary transformations unprecedented in the history of the Cuban nation.
The role and the character of the political vanguard that was emerging were defined when in March 1962 the national leadership of the ORI was established, with Fidel and Raul as first and second secretaries, respectively. The document adopted then declared: "The ORI, the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary vanguard, an expression of the political power of the working class and of the whole hard-working people of Cuba, reflect in their principal leadership the close union that exists between the revolutionary forces and leaders, which made it possible to defeat imperialism, overthrow the tyranny, and expel the exploiters and which enabled the victory of the great socialist revolution in our homeland. This represents a step of great significance toward the creation of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC), which rallies the best men and women in the Cuban nation."
In May 1963, the ORI became the PURSC, which undertook a structuring of the political vanguard, based on the principles of democratic centralism, a rigorous selection of candidates and the need for them to meet a set of key requirements in order to become members. The party would grow thereafter based on the strictest observance of the will of the masses and the application of a homegrown, fully democratic method that has proven highly effective.
That process, which had begun in the work places, the factories and other working-class settings, and had later been extended to farmers and the armed forces, was so successful that a qualitative leap forward became necessary in the vanguard organization. On September 30, 1965, the national leadership of the PURSC convened a meeting of party leaders from the provinces and regions and people in leadership positions with the state and administrative apparatus at different levels. That day they focused on issues related to the structures and operation of government administration, devoting the following days to the internal organization of the party, the constitution of the Central Committee, the election of a Political Bureau, a Secretariat, working commissions, and the role of the party newspaper, that emerged from the blending of the dailies Hoy and Revolucion to become the Party’s official organ: the daily Granma. On October 3, at the Chaplin Theater (today Karl Marx Theater), those decisions were made public.
A prolonged ovation greeted the reaffirmation of the historical leadership of Commander-in-chief Fidel Castro as he was elected first secretary of the Central Committee, with Raul as second secretary. Presenting the new party leadership, Fidel noted that "there is no single heroic episode in the history of our homeland in the last few years that is not represented here; there is no sacrifice, no combat, no prowess, be it military or civilian, heroic or creative, that is not represented here; there is no revolutionary, social sector that is not represented."
A truly moving moment came when Fidel referred to the name that the political organization was to have from then on: "… we have arrived at the fortunate point in the history of our revolutionary process when we can say that there is only one type of revolutionary, and since the name of our party needs to express not only what we were yesterday but also what we are today and what we will be tomorrow, which, in your opinion, is the name that our party must have? The Communist Party of Cuba!" Before he finished the phrase, the word `communist’, chanted by those present, resounded in the theater. It was the feeling of the masses, a deeply ingrained conviction then that continues to be so today and will always be.
The official organ of the Central Committee, Granma, also became public, in the words of Fidel, as "a symbol of our revolutionary conception and of our path." Its first edition appeared October 4.
Cubans felt deeply moved that day when Fidel read the farewell letter of Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, whom Fidel said possessed all the necessary merits and virtues, in the highest degree, to belong to the Central Committee.
Forty years from that day, the Communist Party of Cuba has remained faithful to its essence and its commitment toward the people. It has kept alive the patriotic and anti-imperialist legacy of Jose Marti, our sacred fighting and revolutionary traditions, and the principles set forth by Marx, Engels and Lenin. It has defended the gains of socialism guided by the Cubans’ spirit of never yielding to the enemy, as symbolized by Antonio Maceo in his Protest of Baragua. It is the party that led us to victories. It is the party of national unity. It is the party of the homeland. It is the party of our future.