Tag Archives: Cuban Revolution

El Che en Pakistán: entre lo real y el imaginario

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Sus botas aún guardaban el lodo de la Sierra Maestra cuando anduvo por estas tierras. Eso lo sabía. Sin embargo, nunca pensé que su nombre despertara tantas pasiones en el lejano Pakistán. Mucho menos creí encontrar a alguien que murmurara en un inglés que es casi urdú: “Él es de aquí” y que luego confesara desconocer dónde nació o cuándo llegó a la zona el joven que es su inspiración.

En Pakistán cohabitan dos CHE: uno que persiguen historiadores y periodistas, pues llegó aquí a solo siete meses del Triunfo de la Revolución Cubana y se marchó sin apenas dejar huellas, aparentemente; y otro, que no pocos suelen idealizar como un héroe nacional que naciera al sudoeste del país.

Esta es la única imagen que se conserva de la visita de Ernesto Guevara a Karachi en 1959, publicada por primera vez en el libro Pakistán Chronicle, en abril de 2010. En el centro, el General Ayub Khan y en el extremo derecho, Mr. Manzur Qadir, Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores. Foto: Archivo de Cubadebate
Esta es la única imagen que se conserva de la visita de Ernesto Guevara a Karachi en 1959, publicada por primera vez en el libro Pakistán Chronicle, en abril de 2010. En el centro, el General Ayub Khan y en el extremo derecho, Mr. Manzur Qadir, Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores. Foto: Archivo de Cubadebate

UN JOVEN GUAPO Y CASI DESCONOCIDO….
El Comandante en Jefe fue a despedirlo al Aeropuerto de Rancho Boyeros. El 12 de junio de 1959, diez días después de su boda con Aleida March, Ernesto Che Guevara partió de Cuba, al frente de una delegación oficial del gobierno revolucionario.

El viaje, que el mismo Che denominó “de buena voluntad”, tenía como fin el establecimiento de relaciones comerciales, políticas, culturales, técnicas… con varios países de África, Asia y Europa.

El 8 de agosto de 1959 “con los ojos pegados” como él mismo reconociera, debido a largas jornadas de trabajo y al desgaste físico del recorrido, llegó a Karachi, la entonces capital de Pakistán, “un joven guapo y casi desconocido, con uniforme de combate y botas del ejército, como si acabara de salir de la selva”, describió la prensa de la época.

La estancia fue breve. Durante aquellas horas de intenso verano, se reunió con los secretarios de Estado y de Comercio y Alimentación y con el jefe de Gobierno, General Mahomed Ayub Khan. Recorrió además varias industrias e institutos científicos.
Muy pocos testimonios de aquellos días sobrevivieron al paso del tiempo. El doctor M. Altaf Hussain escribió sobre su encuentro con el revolucionario de apenas 31 años: “Mi supervisor inmediato en ese momento era el Sr. M. Afzal, Comisionado de Agricultura, me pidió que guiara al Sr. Che en una visita por las granjas vecinas. Lo llevé a Malir, donde había una granja experimental que era dirigida por el Ministerio de Agricultura con la ayuda de Mian Shafi, un comerciante y en ese momento también Vicepresidente Honorario del Comité del Algodón de Pakistán, del cual yo fui Secretario.

“También me dijeron que a la hora del té, en la tarde, lo llevara a la residencia privada de la Comisaria de Agricultura para el té. Yo lo hice. Pasamos unos 40 minutos tomando el té y luego lo llevé al aeropuerto de Karachi para la salida”.

En febrero de 1965, Ernesto Guevara regresó a Pakistán. Iba rumbo a Beijing para mediar en las contradicciones sino-soviéticas e hizo una escala técnica en la capital pakistaní. De aquella visita no quedó ningún testimonio gráfico, solo un comentario que José Armando Guerra Menchero, Cónsul General de Cuba en Karachi en ese momento, le hiciera a miembros del Partido Nacional Awami (NAP): “Camaradas, me alegra decir que el Che Guevara estuvo en Karachi ayer. Se sentó en el sofá que ahora están sentados ustedes. Visitó brevemente la playa de Clifton y disfrutó de un paseo en camello. Ayer por la noche se fue a China”.

Esta es la historial real de la presencia del Ernesto Che Guevara en Pakistán hace más de medio siglo. Sin embargo, algunos pakistaníes nunca lo han dejado ir, hay un Che que perdura en las luchas y crónicas cotidianas de un pueblo que se aferra tanto a los héroes como a la fe.

Estudiantes de Balochistán pintaron al Che en un trozo de muro.. Foto: Dianet Doimeadiós/Cubadebate
Estudiantes de Balochistán pintaron al Che en un trozo de muro.. Foto: Dianet Doimeadiós/Cubadebate

¿CHE DE BALOCHISTÁN?
Al llegar a estas tierras de Asia sur jámas imaginé que los baluchis tuvieran un CHE y que “increíblemente” su guerrillero mostrara la misma imagen que el mío.

La provincia más extensa y menos poblada del país es Balochistán. Una región bastante distante geográficamente de Latinoamérica, pero donde las historias de Ernesto Guevara también forman parte del imaginario popular.

En tierra del pueblo baloch, a veces su rostro grita desde un muro, engalana una boina, anda en pechos de jóvenes que se jactan de estar a la moda o aparece entre las pinturas y adornos típicos de un camión de carga que recorre todo el país.
El Dr. Che, como suelen llamarlo, en ocasiones luce una fisonomía muy distinta, una expresión de furia que agrede e impresiona. Creo que hay quienes sacrifican la Historia en nombre de causas o las causas en nombre de la Historia.

He leído en las memorias y blogs de veteranos baluchis la expresión “en mis días como Che Guevara…” para referirse a una época de guerrilla o instantes donde parafrasearon las ideas del Argentino como acto de plena rebeldía. Otros transgreden circunstancias: “El Che Guevara de la lucha por la libertad Baloch puede estar muerto, pero hay miles de Che Guevara para mantener la lucha”.

Es impresionante cómo especulan sobre si el Che es de por esos lares: “El secreto finalmente ha sido descubierto: Che Guevara fue Baloch (The secret is finally out: Che Guevara was Baloch)”.

La imagen del Che Baloch recorre el país en la parte trasera de un camión de carga.
La imagen del Che Baloch recorre el país en la parte trasera de un camión de carga.
Los diseñadores pakistaníes emplean la imagen del Che en sus colecciones para atraer a los jóvenes.
Los diseñadores pakistaníes emplean la imagen del Che en sus colecciones para atraer a los jóvenes.

Entre lo real y lo ficticio, más allá de la razón o las causas, nadie dude que el Che Guevara anda por el sudoeste de Pakistán, despertando sueños en unos, siendo traicionado por otros, pero con una imagen de gigante que traspasa fronteras y realidades.

René González converses with Cuban university students

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Dalia González Delgado

“AS the Marxist I am, I accept the historical fact that I will not see what I want to see. I think it’s only natural that a revolutionary never sees all that he desires, because if he did, at some point he would cease to be a revolutionary.”

Thus began decorated Hero of the Republic René González’ comments to delegates attending the 8th Congress of Cuba’s Federation of University Students (FEU).

“You will see some of the things I would like to see, but you must construct them,” he continued, “Although you honor me with your applause and appreciation, the honor is mine. In any case, the admiration, the respect, the affection are mutual.”

The anti-terrorist fighter answered questions posed by students and insisted on the need to study history profoundly, to be able to confront the current, complex world situation.

“Isolating ourselves from the world is not how we are going to do it. With current technologies, it is impossible to isolate oneself,” he said, “We know what happened in the socialist camp. To consolidate our victory, to make it sure, we must go deeper, seek the truth, the errors, look history in the face, because the construction of socialism is the work of imperfect people, the result of many disagreements amongst ourselves, of struggles between points of view, in a context in which capital holds sway.”

“We must understand why it is necessary that capitalism disappear as a system,” he added, “When you see abundance in a country, you need to understand where it comes from and why we are resisting.”

René called on the young people in attendance to read Karl Marx and Martí, who he described as, “Thinkers who profoundly understood the essence of these phenomena.”

He emphasized the importance of listening to all youth, without exception, saying, “You are the vanguard of youth, but there are many who must be approached. Go beyond the classroom and walk along G Street.”

“Some will never reach the university, but they are part of society. We cannot forget that many young people are not in school, but they produce wealth with their hands.”

“If you rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of the times in which you live, you will be doing the best you can for my imprisoned compañeros,” he concluded.

The gathering, which relatives of the Five also attended, additionally featured a tribute to Dr. Armando Hart Dávalos, director of the Martí Program Office and president of the José Martí Cultural Society, on the occasion of his birthday.

 

 

René González converses with Cuban university students

René González has been given permission to remain in Cuba!

Originally posted by National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

René with his family in Cuba on a previous visit.
René with his family in Cuba on a previous visit.

In a huge development in the case of the Cuban Five, the court has finally granted a motion, first made last June, to allow René González to serve the remaining portion of his three-year parole in Cuba, after which he will of course be able to remain in Cuba, outside the jurisdiction of the court. Until this time, the court has required him to spend that parole at an undisclosed location in Florida, requiring him to remain in virtual seclusion because of the danger to his life from the very terrorists whose plots he and the other members of the Five came to the U.S. to expose.

René has been in Cuba for two weeks to attend a memorial service for his father Cándido, who died recently.

Phil Horowitz, Rene’s attorney, said: “Rene and I are happy that he will be able to be permanently reunited with his family. Rene’s exemplary conduct shows that these are not individuals that the government has made them out to be. We are just so happy and will take all the steps pursuant to the court order.”

The 7-page court order by Judge Joan Lenard (click to download), describes the requirements for his right to remain in Cuba. The principal requirement is that he renounce his citizenship, which he willingly offered to do previously (René held dual U.S.-Cuban citizenship). To renounce a U.S. citizenship, it must be done outside of the United States, as per U.S. federal code, Section 1481 a(5).

We are extremely happy for René, who has, along with his Cuban Five brothers, been unduly punished for being a proud defender of his people, his homeland and the Cuban Revolution.

This development must give all the Cuban Five supporters great inspiration to continue the fight so that Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando can return home immediately!

60th Anniversary

New addition to program!
Renowned Puerto Rican artists
Thelma Ithier-Sterling and
Nelson González to perform

Acclaimed soprano Thelma Ithier-Sterling has shared the stage with Cuban pianist Dayramir González and cuatro master Yomo Toro. Nelson González, a Grammy-winning guitarist, has performed with Danny Rivera and Tito Puente.

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Address: 310 W 43rd St, New York, NY

Speakers:

Oscar Leon – Deputy Ambassador of Cuba to the United Nations
Rafael Cancel Miranda – Historic Puerto Rican Independence Fighter
Ramsey Clark– Former US Attorney General
Leslie Cagan – Peace and Justice Movement
Rosemari Mealy – Educator, Author “Fidel and Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting.”

Musical Performers by:
Neri Olivares, The Bolivarian Brigade, DJ Mellow G

This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the mass struggle that led to the victory of the Cuban Revolution. On July 26, 1953, some 160 men and women, led by Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, launched attacks on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba and the nearby Bayamo garrison. The attacks failed and dozens of the rebels were murdered after capture and horrible torture, or were jailed. But the action paved the way for a revolutionary war led by the July 26 Movement, culminating in a popular insurrection that toppled the US-supported Batista dictatorship on January 1, 1959.

Cuban workers and farmers took power out of the hands of the wealthy elite and its US imperialist backers, established a government of their own, and began to transform society for the benefit of the vast majority. For more than five decades, the Cuban people have defended their socialist revolution against the economic and political war, and other attacks, by eleven successive US Administrations.

Join us to celebrate and to hear what the Cuban Revolution means today and why it remains an example for working people – and all oppressed and exploited humanity – around the world, including here in the United States.

Suggested Donation $10.00 (No One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds)

For More Information and Flyers (917) 887-8710

March 29th Event 2013 Free the Cuban Five


Part One – Intro by student leader, Michael Tariff Warren, Ike Nahem, Danny Glover Video, Martin Garbus


Part Two – Ambassadors from Cuba and Venezuela, freed Puerto Rican political prisoner Luis Rosa Perez, student leaders David Luna and Geraldo Roma of the Columbia University Chicano Caucus and first 6 minutes of Bolivarian Revolution rappers

FREE THE CUBAN FIVE Columbia University 2013

Dear Friends of Cuba and Supporters of the Cuban Five

Sisters and Brothers,

The July 26 coalition want to apologize to all that were not let into the Cuban Five event on Friday March 29th. We don’t blame each and everyone one of you for being disappointed and it is impossible that anyone would be more disappointed than the entire July 26 coalition group. We were originally informed that, based on Columbia’s very restrictive and rigid bureaucratic rules and procedures, which are especially enforced for “controversial” “political” (read left-wing) events organized by student groups like the one’s that initiated this event, that we would be allowed 200-250 non-Columbia-Barnard students to attend and that a formal list of attendees would have to be provided 72 hours before the event. This was after the original flyer and card had been printed without indicating that a formal RSVP was required. We immediately sent out to all the groups and individuals and listserves of friends and supporters of the Cuban Five invitations formally asking for an RSVP, because this was required by University rules. RSVPs started coming in and were confirmed and put on a master list. Three days before the event the Columbia cops, called “Public Safety,” which would not do so acting on their own, argued at an “Events Review Board’ meeting with the students that the students were “in breach” of Columbia rules because of outside “advertising” for the event, citing ridiculous “safety” considerations and threats of “disruption.” They threatened that they could shut it down altogether, but were, nice guys that they are, instead restricting the non-student participation to “15 or 20.”

The students immediately went on a big campaign, enlisting faculty and other student support, and succeeded on Thursday to get the original numbers restored. We were given a 7:00 PM Thursday deadline to submit a “final” list. We worked frantically to supplement the existing list and get people to submit their names. The process had been on hold while the meeting was under direct attack and we were discussing other options with the students. Unfortunately, a good number of names were submitted after 7:00 PM. There were also at least 40 names that were submitted right before 7 which the Administration claimed they didn’t get, even though we showed them the timeline on one of our comrade’s Iphone documenting the fact. But they were very rigid at the door. Many more people RSVPs on Thursday night and Friday all day past the “deadline.” Our phone and emails were ringing and pinging off the wall; we emailed and spoke on the phone to as many people as humanly possible giving the objective facts, which were that it was very unlikely that they would get in and that the students and we would fight to get everyone in that we could and the choice of whether to risk it by coming was a decision individuals would have to make. We did manage to get in quite a few but, many were turned away despite our and the students efforts. In addition to the 100 or so turned away, many of whom had been confirmed at the last minute before the arbitrary deadline (the injustice of which was further underlined by the last-minute attempt to minimize the event) there were many, many more who wanted to come and had submitted their names, until they heard of the bureaucratic labyrinth they faced and stayed home.

Nevertheless, 200 people or more were finally in attendance, and by all accounts it was an excellent program and event. But we are very certain it would have been perhaps the largest event ever in the US for the Cuban Five. The entire event was videoed and we will post it on our website july26coalition.org; we will send an email once the video has been posted on the site.

Again we are very upset and aggravated by the inconvenience and really insulting treatment given to people honestly and sincerely attempting to attend a free-speech forum. We hope with this minor problem that occurred on Friday, March 29th will not affect our movement to continue to DEMAND the release of the CUBAN FIVE.

Sincerely and in solidarity,
July 26 Coalition

Cuban Federation of Women

DON’T FORGET THIS WEEK…

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FMC_logo

On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, you will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and open dialogue with Maritzel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC), North America Region, and others from the delegation of Cuban women participating in this year’s event at the United Nations for Women’s History Month.

During the Question & Answer part of our program, you will also be able to raise your interests and concerns about the current economic, social, and political situation in Cuba. Literature will be available on Cuba and the Cuban 5.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
WHERE: Casa de las américas
182 E. 111th St. (btwn. Lexington Ave. and 3rd Ave.)
Take the 6 train to E. 110th St.
RECEPTION: 6:00 PM – Program Begins 7:00 PM

Suggested donation: $5-10 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds)
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Sponsored By:Casa de las Americas and the July 26th Coalition, an ongoing initiative by the orgnizations and individuals in solidarity with the People of Cuba, in the NYC/Tri-State Area.

Falleció el presidente Hugo Chávez

CUBADEBATE 5 marzo 2013
hugo-chavez
El presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, falleció hoy a las 4:25 de la tarde en el Hospital Militar Doctor Carlos Arvelo, de esta capital.

En cadena nacional de radio y televisión, el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo, Nicolás Maduro, informó sobre el deceso del mandatario, acompañado del gabinete ejecutivo.

Maduro indicó que en el momento en que se encontraban recibiendo el parte sobre el estado de salud de Chávez, nos dieron “la información mas trágica que podemos transmitir” al pueblo.

Y agregó: “Este es un dolor inmenso y una tragedia histórica que hoy toca a esta patria. Comandante, donde esté usted: gracias, mil veces gracias, de parte de este pueblo que usted protegió, al que nunca le falló. Sólo cabe la comprensión y el respeto a los ideales más grandes de paz que perseguía Hugo Chávez”

El Vicepresidente Ejecutivo señaló que se instruyó un despliegue especial de los órganos de seguridad y la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, con vistas a garantizar la paz y el respeto al pueblo de Venezuela.

“En esta tragedia histórica llamamos a los hombres y mujeres a ser los vigilantes de la paz y del respeto de esta patria”, expresó.

Nosotros los civiles y militares “asumimos su herencia, sus retos, su proyecto, junto al acompañamiento y apoyo de todo el pueblo sus banderas serán levantadas con dignidad. Gracias, mil veces gracias”, añadió Maduro.

Unido a ello, llamó a evitar el odio y en su lugar promover el amor, la paz, unidad y disciplina.

Maduro convocó además al pueblo a las plazas Bolívar de todo el país, con el propósito de llevar cantos de homenaje en honor al Comandante Chávez.

“Vamos a crecernos, vamos a ser dignos herederos e hijos de un hombre gigante como fue y como siempre será en el recuerdo el comandante Hugo Chávez”, añadió.

(Con información de Prensa Latina)

Raul Castro speech at the National Assembly 2013

GRANMA INTERNATIONAL
Havana. February 26, 2013

Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and calm confidence we feel handing over the responsibility of continuing to build socialism to new generations

• Speech given by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, closing the Constitutional Session of the 8th Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Havana’s International Convention Center, February 24, 2013

Raul Castro

COMPAÑERAS and compañeros:

On a day like today, February 24, 1895, the struggle for independence was reinitiated with the fusion of the experienced Mambises of the first war and the nuevos pinos (new guard), under the leadership of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and [José] Martí.

It is once again incumbent upon me to assume before you and all our people the honor of presiding over the Council of State and the government.

In this context, I think it is worth reiterating what I have affirmed twice in this Parliament, and I quote, “I was not elected President to restore capitalism in Cuba, not to surrender the Revolution. I was elected to defend, maintain and continue perfecting socialism, not to destroy it.”

In accordance with the agreements of the 6th Congress it will be necessary to reconcile the postulates of the Constitution of the Republic with the changes associated with the gradual implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution.

Included in modifications we propose to introduce into the Constitution is one limiting to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms the principal positions of state and government, and to establish maximum ages for occupying these positions.
At the same time, it is not healthy to be continually reformulating the nation’s Magna Carta and, given that effecting a constitutional reform necessarily takes a reasonable time since, while some questions can be modified by the Parliament itself, more important ones require ratification through the favorable vote of the majority of citizens in a referendum; I wish to clarify that, in my case, independently of the date of improving the Constitution, this will be my last mandate.

In this session the National Assembly elected Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez First Vice President of the Council of State and subsequently approved his appointment as First Vice President of the Council of Ministers.

We consider, given the circumstances being experienced by the country, circumstances we have been obliged to live with over the last 50 years of Revolution, that executive unity in the face of any contingency resulting from the loss of the maximum leader must be guaranteed in such a way that the continuity and stability of the nation is preserved without interruptions of any kind.

This decision is of particular historical significance because it represents a definitive step in the configuration of the country’s future leadership, via the gradual and orderly transfer of the principal positions to the new generations, a process that must be implemented over the next five years, acting from now on in a deliberate and farsighted manner, in order to avoid repeating the situation of not having sufficient reserves of cadres prepared to occupy higher positions in the country, and to ensure that the relief of the leaders proceeds in a natural and systematic process.

Compañero Díaz Canel is not a newcomer or an impromptu. He has a work record of almost 30 years, beginning at the base, in the profession which he studied. After completing his military service in the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces) anti-aircraft missile units, he taught in the Central University of Las Villas Faculty of Electrical Engineering, where he was proposed as a professional cadre of the Union of Communist Youth. Later, taking into consideration his results, he was promoted to the Party, gradually taking on greater responsibilities, among them first secretary of the Villa Clara Provincial Committee for close to 10 years, and then in Holguín for six years.

He has been a member of the Party Central Committee since 1991 and of the Political Bureau since 2003. He completed an internationalist mission in Nicaragua. He is a graduate of the National Defense College.

In 2009, he moved on to undertake governmental functions, first as Minister of Higher Education and, from 2012, as Vice President of the Council of Ministers responsible for attending to various bodies linked to education, science, sports and culture. On the other hand, he participates on a weekly basis in the government’s Financial Economic Commission, and in the Political Bureau Commission supervising the implementation of 6th Congress agreements.

The conduct of compañeros Machado Ventura and Colomé Ibarra, who took the initiative of offering their positions within the Council of State to promote younger generations, merits special mention.

In the case of Machado Ventura, a man with exceptional qualities as a leader and human being, modesty and dedication to his work, and an outstanding revolutionary for close to 60 years, a combatant in the Sierra Maestra and a founder member of the Frank País Eastern Second Front, from which he created and developed 20 field hospitals and 11 dispensaries distributed across mountainous areas throughout Guantánamo province and in parts of Santiago de Cuba and Holguín, the area covered by this guerrilla front. He took part in multiple combat actions, being wounded in one of them. On the basis of these qualities, and the prestige, training, experience and vitality which he has conserved, as well as his genuine capacity to continue contributing to the direction of decisive activities, the National Assembly has elected him to occupy one of the vice presidencies of the Council of State.

Similarly remaining a member of the Council of State is compañero Abelardo Colomé Ibarra who, from an early age, joined the revolutionary struggle in his native Santiago de Cuba, taking part in the November 30, 1956 uprising under the orders of Frank País, who selected him to enter the first reinforcement of the nascent Rebel Army in the Sierra Maestra.

Like Machado Ventura, he is a founding member of the Frank País Eastern Second Front, wounded on two occasions in combat against the dictatorship troops, and outstanding for his courage, for which he was promoted from the rank of solider to that of Comandante.

Since the triumph of the Revolution he has undertaken – with success, humility and loyalty – the tasks assigned to him, among which I must highlight the fulfillment of delicate internationalist missions. He undertook the development of the always-competent Military Intelligence; made a decisive contribution to the first victory over the invading forces in Angola, at the head of the Cuban Military Mission, from 1975-1977; and has served as First Deputy Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and Minister of the Interior, among other positions.

The attitude of Machado Ventura and Colomé Ibarra is not fortuitous, nor should it surprise anybody, it is a concrete demonstration of their genuine revolutionary fiber, with no room for vanity or personal interest, and far less for clinging to any position. This is the essence of the founding generation of this Revolution. That is how Fidel acted five years ago, providing a praiseworthy example.

Speaking in this context, it is appropriate to recall what Fidel stated, exactly 15 years ago, addressing the National Assembly on February 24, 1998, in relation to the first rule or trait which must characterize a revolutionary cadre. I quote, “No ambitions to occupy any position, people should reach the positions they hold on the basis of their merits, their work, their virtues and their patriotism…”

The Council of State elected in this session of our Parliament is a reflection of how we are beginning to make real the agreements of the 6th Party Congress in relation to the cadre policy. Of its 31 members, 41.9% are women and 38.6% are Black or mixed race. The average age is 57 and 61.3% were born after the triumph of the Revolution.

We already have two women vice presidents of the Council of State and we will persevere with the will to continually increase the number of women representatives in this body and in all the country’s institutions.

Similarly, the National Assembly was renewed by 67.26%, women’s participation has risen to 48.86% and that of Black and mixed race Cubans to 37.9%. Of our deputies, 82.68% completed higher education and the average age is 48 years.

In the country’s 15 provinces, women were elected as presidents of the Provincial Assemblies of People’s Power in 10; the average age in these positions is 47 years and all are university graduates.

This data corroborates the quality of the Cuban electoral process and the potential of the People’s Power bodies and this Assembly as the highest body of state power, executing the important powers established in the Constitution.

Fruitful and intense legislative work on the strengthening of our institutionality is precisely the responsibility of this legislature, particularly in the face of the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Revolution and the Party, a process which has first priority and in which, as I explained in the last session of the National Assembly, we are beginning to advance toward questions of greater scope, complexity and profundity.

It fills us with healthy pride and satisfaction that the Cuban Parliament is headed, as of today, by compañero Esteban Lazo Hernández, member of the Political Bureau, a Black man of humble origins, from a very early age a cane cutter, worker in the mill and rice dryer in Jovellanos, where he was a member of the Municipal Committee of the Party. With enormous effort and without neglecting his Party responsibilities, he obtained a degree in Economics.

He subsequently occupied the position of first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in Matanzas and then in Santiago de Cuba and City of Havana.

The same can be said in the cases of the new vice presidents of the Council of State, Díaz-Canel; Mercedes López Acea, the efficient first secretary of the Party in the capital; and Salvador Valdés Mesa, direct representative of the working class who, as a member of the Political Bureau, will move on to attending to the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC), in addition to other functions to be assigned by the Party.

All of them came from the people and, like the rest of the members of the Council of State, they constitute an irrefutable example of the putting into practice of Fidel’s words on April 16, 1961, on the eve of the mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion, when he said, “This is the socialist and democratic Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble.” Today, we are demonstrating that this is how it will continue to be for ever.

At the same time, having youth who identify with the ethical values and principles of social justice, who are prepared in all senses, including militarily, to defend and maintain on high the flags of the Revolution and socialism, is a motive for legitimate joy.

It is a fact that those of us who had the honor of accompanying Fidel in the early stages of the revolutionary undertaking and in the insurrectional struggle against the dictatorship, have had the privilege, together with the heroic people, of seeing with our own eyes the consolidation of the Revolution; however, the greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and calm confidence we feel upon gradually handing over the responsibility of continuing to build socialism to younger generations and with that, ensuring independence and national sovereignty.

We do so having defined in the Party Congress the direction to be taken in updating the Cuban economic model and attaining a prosperous and sustainable socialist society, a less egalitarian society, but a more just one, these being principles which will serve as a foundation for drafting the development program through 2030, currently being prepared.

This will be possible because the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines are, in the first place, the fruit of wide-ranging and democratic discussion with the people, which made them theirs, reformulating 68% of the initial proposals as a result of popular consultation.

In the same way, these were supported by Parliament, in its twice yearly sessions, used to report on the progress of the economic plan and the implementation of the aforementioned guidelines.

A similar analysis is undertaken in the plenary sessions of the Central Committee and the provincial and municipal committees of the Party, with the participation of local administrative leaders.

These methods of direct consultation with the population, which have developed over more than 50 years of the revolutionary process and which will continue to be perfected before, during and after adopting more highly significant decisions for the country’s future, constitute an additional factor contributing to the tranquility and hopes for the future which we experienced as members of the historic leadership of the Revolution, given that, in addition to constantly strengthening the unity and support of the people, they will guarantee the timely rectification of errors which we might commit.

In Cuba, nobody will ever be permitted to sidestep what is clearly expressed in Article No. 3 of the Constitution, and I quote, “Sovereignty resides in the people, from whom all state power is derived.”

To those within or outside of the country who, with good or bad intentions, are encouraging us to move faster, we say that we will continue without haste, but in a measured way, with our feet planted firmly on the ground, without shock therapies against the people and without leaving any citizen unprotected, overcoming the barrier of immobility and obsolete mentality in favor of untying the knots holding back the development of the productive forces; in other words, economic advances, as the essential cement for ensuring, among other spheres, the social gains of the Revolution in education, public health, culture and sports, which should be fundamental human rights and not private businesses.

At the same time, we propose to continue confronting indiscipline and illegalities of every kind, including combating manifestations of corruption which attack the very bases of our social system, on the principle that, without establishing an environment of order, discipline and rigor in society, any result will be ephemeral. In the meeting of this Parliament in the first half of July, we shall deal in depth with this shameful matter of indiscipline and illegalities.

Moving on to issues of an international nature, I cannot fail to mention that, on January 28, the 160th anniversary of the birth of José Martí, Cuba assumed the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and will have the responsibility of organizing its next summit in our country in 2014.

This is an event of particular relevance which vindicates the struggle of the Cuban people for their sovereignty and self-determination. It demonstrates how much Latin America and the Caribbean have advanced toward their definitive independence and exposes the isolation and failure of the policy of the United States’ economic and media blockade of our nation.

The Cuban presidency of CELAC will act with prudence and determination to promote what unites us on the shared road to peace, development, social justice, democracy with the genuine participation of the people, the guaranteed exercise of all human rights for all the people, sovereignty over natural resources and the reduction of social inequality and poverty.

We must nurture our unity within diversity and prevent attempts to divide us. We know that the consolidation of this organization will confront difficult obstacles derived from the unjust and unsustainable international order, the global economic crisis, aggressive NATO policies, the threats and consequences of its non-conventional wars and the attempt at a new division of the world; the existence of enormous nuclear arsenals and ingenious weapons, as well as climate change.

Inequality in the distribution of wealth on the continent is the principal weakness and, at the same time, the greatest challenge that we face. In a Latin America with more unity, integration and social justice, nothing will be able to hold us back.

I take advantage of this occasion to reiterate, in the name of this Assembly and the Cuban people, congratulations to President Rafael Correa and the Citizens’ Revolution which he leads on their resounding electoral victory last Sunday (Feb 17).

We send President Hugo Chávez Frías a fraternal embrace and best wishes for his recovery. We confirm the solidarity of this National Assembly and that of our compatriots with the Bolivarian Revolution, the Venezuelan people and their leaders.

More than a month after they went into effect, the new migratory and travel regulations have been fully implemented without setbacks, with a favorable reception on the part of the population and the overwhelming majority of the Cuban émigré community.

We shall continue demanding the liberation and return to the homeland of our Five Heroes, to whom we convey fraternal greetings, the recognition and commitment of this Parliament and all of the people.

To end my words, and above all thinking about the future of the homeland, I believe that the best way of doing so is with the brilliant definition of the concept of Revolution formulated by its Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on May 1, 2000, in Plaza de la Revolución. I quote:

Revolution is a sense of the historic moment;

it is changing everything that must be changed;

it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings;

it is attaining emancipation by ourselves and through our own efforts;

it is defying powerful dominant forces within and outside of the social and national sphere;

it is defending values in which we believe at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism;

it is fighting with courage, intelligence and realism; it is never lying or violating ethic principles;

it is a profound conviction that there is no force in the world able to crush the force of truth and ideas.

Revolution is unity; it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and for the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.” (End of quote) (Applause)

May this masterly definition forever serve as the guide for all generations of Cuban patriots and revolutionaries!

Thank you very much (Ovation)

 

 

Raul Castro speech at the National Assembly 2013