[News] Cuba - We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 19 10:57:06 EDT 2017


https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/19/we-will-continue-to-advance-along-the-path-freely-chosen-by-our-people/ 



  We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People

by Raul Castro <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/raul-castro/>
------------------------------------------------------------------------

/Full text of speech by President Raúl Castro Ruz during the closing 
session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, July 14./

As is customary this time of year, we have had a fair amount of 
activity. June 28, we held a Council of Ministers meeting, during which 
we reviewed, among other items, the issues which would be presented to 
this ordinary session of the National Assembly of People’s Power.

Since Monday, deputies have been working in their respective commissions 
analyzing the principal questions of national affairs, and received 
extensive information on the implementation of the economic plan during 
the first half of the year, and the settlement of the 2016 state budget.

Our Parliament was likewise updated on the Cuban state plan to address 
climate change, identified as “Tarea Vida” (Task Life), an issue of 
special strategic significance for the present and future of our 
country, given our condition as an island, to which the nation’s 
scientific and technical strength has contributed over more than 25 years.

Very closely linked to “Tarea Vida,” today we approved the Terrestrial 
Waters Act, on which we have been working since 2013 with the 
participation of bodies and institutions of greatest incidence in the 
integrated, sustainable management of water, a vital natural resource 
that must be protected in the interest of society, the economy, health, 
and the environment, especially in the situations of prolonged, and 
increasingly frequent drought we face, about which much information has 
been provided to our people, and this must continue.

Since the plan and budget for the current year were being prepared, we 
have warned of persistent financial tensions and challenges that could 
complicate the national economy’s performance. We likewise foresaw 
periodic difficulties in the delivery of fuel from Venezuela, despite 
the unwavering commitment of President Nicolás Maduro and his 
administration.

Amidst these difficult circumstances, encouraging, modest results have 
been achieved. The Gross Domestic Product grew by 1.1% in the first half 
of the year, which indicates a change in the economy’s direction as 
compared to last year. Contributing to this result were agriculture, 
tourism, and other exports of services, construction, sugar production, 
and the transportation and communications sectors.

Progress has been made on prioritized investments that are laying the 
foundation for the nation’s development.

Free social services have been assured for all Cubans, including 
education and public health.

The internal monetary balance has improved, as reflected in a smaller 
increase in retail prices in a better supplied market. The budget 
deficit is currently below what was foreseen.

On another issue, pains were taken to maintain strict fulfillment of 
payment commitments to our principal creditors, which resulted from the 
restructuring of Cuba’s foreign debt. However, despite many attempts, we 
have not been able to stay current on running accounts with providers, 
to whom I reiterate our gratitude for their confidence in Cuba and our 
intention to honor each and every one of these overdue obligations.

The situation described obliges us to continue adopting the measures 
required to fully protect income from exports, the production of food, 
and the provision of services for the population, while at the same time 
we avoid all unnecessary expenses, and guarantee the most rational and 
efficient use of the resources available to support established priorities.

Moving to another topic, in accordance with agreements reached at the 
6th and 7th Party Congresses, the expansion of self-employment and the 
experiment with non-agricultural cooperatives was authorized, with the 
purpose of gradually freeing the state from responsibility for 
activities that are not strategic, creating jobs, supporting initiative, 
and contributing to the national economy’s efficiency in the interest of 
developing our socialism.

More recently, this past June, these forms of property management were 
recognized as among those operating within the Cuban economy, in an 
extraordinary session of Parliament dedicated to analyzing and approving 
programmatic documents for our Economic and Social Model, after the 
conclusion of a consultation process with members of the Party and 
youth, representatives of mass organizations, and broad sectors of society.

We currently have more than half a million self-employed workers and 
more than 400 non-agricultural cooperatives, which confirms their 
validity as a source of employment, while contributing to an increase 
and greater variety of goods and services available, with an acceptable 
level of quality.

Nonetheless, as we discussed in the Council of Ministers meeting this 
past June 26, deviations from the policy established on this subject 
have been noted, and violations of the legal regulations in effect, such 
as the utilization of raw materials and equipment of illicit origin, 
under-declaration of income to evade tax obligations, and insufficient 
state control at all levels.

With the purpose of eradicating the negative phenomena detected, and 
assuring the development of these forms of management within a legal 
framework, the Council of Ministers made a series of decisions which 
will be broadly disseminated as the updated regulations are published.

I believe it is appropriate to emphasize that we have not renounced the 
expansion and development of self-employment, or the continuation of the 
experiment with non-agricultural cooperatives. We are not going to draw 
back or stop, nor will we allow the non-state sector to be stigmatized 
or face prejudice, but it is imperative that laws be respected, progress 
consolidated, positive aspects – which are more than a few – 
generalized, and illegalities and other deviations from established 
policy resolutely confronted .

I am sure that in this effort we can count on the support of the 
majority of citizens who are working in this sector in an honest fashion.

Let us not forget that the pace and scope of the changes we need to make 
to our model must be conditioned by the capacity we have to do things 
well and rectify any misstep in a timely manner. This will only be 
possible if adequate prior preparation is ensured – which we haven’t 
done – training and comprehension of established regulations at every 
level, follow-up and guidance of the process – aspects marked by a fair 
dose of superficiality, and an excess of enthusiasm and desire to move 
more rapidly than we are truly capable of managing.

I believe this issue I have just mentioned is perfectly well understood. 
It is necessary that what we have decided be implemented. The country, 
and the Revolution as well, need it. The desire to do things quickly 
without adequate preparation, of those who must implement the measures 
in the first place, leads to all these errors, and later we criticize 
those we shouldn’t criticize.

Criminal acts have been committed; information exists on cases when the 
same person has two, three, four, even five restaurants. Not in one 
province, but in several. A person who has traveled more than 30 times 
to different countries. Where did they get the money? How did they do 
this? All these problems exist, but we should not use them as a pretext 
to criticize a decision that is correct.

What is a state, especially a socialist state, doing administering a 
barbershop with one chair, or two or three, and with one administrator 
for a certain number of small barbershops – not many. I mention this 
example because it was one of the first steps we took.

We decided to establish cooperatives; we tried some, and immediately 
threw ourselves into creating dozens of construction cooperatives. Has 
no one analyzed the consequences this brought and the problems that this 
haste created? To mention just one case. And like this one, there are 
quite a few. This is what I want to say in simple, modest language. 
Whose errors are these? Mainly, ours, we leaders who developed this 
policy, although in consultation with the people, with the approval of 
Parliament, of the last Congress, of the last meeting we held here this 
past month, to approve all the documents I mentioned at the beginning of 
my remarks. This is the reality. Let’s not try to block the sun with a 
finger. Mistakes are mistakes. And they are our mistakes, and if we are 
going to consider hierarchies among us, in the first place, they are 
mine, because I was part of this decision. This is the reality.

Regarding our foreign policy, I would like to say the following:

This past June 16, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, 
announced his administration’s policy toward Cuba, nothing novel for 
sure, since he retook a discourse and elements from the confrontational 
past, which showed their absolute failure for over 55 years.

It is evident that the U.S. President has not been well informed on the 
history of Cuba and its relations with the United States, or on the 
patriotism and dignity of the Cuban people.

History cannot be forgotten, as they have at times suggested we do. For 
more than 200 years, the ties between Cuba and the United States have 
been marked, on the one hand, by the pretensions of the northern 
neighbor to dominate our country, and on the other, by the determination 
of Cubans to be free, independent, and sovereign.

Throughout the entire 19th century, invoking the doctrines and policies 
of Manifest Destiny, of Monroe, and the “ripe fruit,” different U.S. 
administrations tried to take possession of Cuba, and despite the heroic 
struggle of the mambises, they did so in 1898, with a deceitful 
intervention at the end of the war which for 30 years Cubans had waged 
for their independence, and which the U.S. troops entered as allies and 
then became occupiers. Negotiating with Spain behind Cuba’s back, they 
militarily occupied the country for four years, demobilizing the 
Liberation Army, dissolving the Revolutionary Cuban Party – organized, 
founded, and led by Martí – and imposed an appendix to the Constitution 
of the nascent republic, the Platt Amendment, which gave them the right 
to intervene in our internal affairs and establish, among others, the 
naval base in Guantánamo, which still today usurps part of the national 
territory, the return of which we will continue to demand.

Cuba’s neocolonial condition, which allowed the United States to 
exercise total control over the economic and political life of the 
island, frustrated, but did not annihilate, the Cuban people’s longing 
for freedom and independence. Exactly 60 years later, January 1, 1959, 
with the triumph of the Revolution led by Comandante en Jefe Fidel 
Castro, we became definitively free and independent.

 From that moment on, the strategic goal of U.S. policy toward Cuba has 
been to overthrow the Revolution. To do so, over more than five decades, 
they resorted to dissimilar methods: economic war, breaking diplomatic 
relations, armed invasion, attempts to assassinate our principal 
leaders, sabotage, a naval blockade, the creation and support of armed 
bands, state terrorism, internal subversion, the economic, commercial, 
financial blockade, and international isolation.

Ten administrations held office until President Barack Obama, in his 
statement of December 17, 2014, without renouncing the strategic goal, 
had the good sense to recognize that isolation had not worked, and that 
it was time for a new focus toward Cuba.

No one could deny that the United States, in its attempts to isolate 
Cuba, in the end found itself profoundly isolated. The policy of 
hostility and blockade toward our country had become a serious obstacle 
to relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, and was rejected 
almost unanimously by the international community. Within U.S. society, 
growing majority opposition to this policy had developed, including 
among a good portion of the Cuban émigré community.

In the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in 
2012, Ecuador refused to participate if Cuba was not permitted to 
attend, and all Latin American and Caribbean countries expressed their 
rejection of the blockade and Cuba’s exclusion from these events. Many 
countries warned that another meeting would not take place without Cuba. 
As such, we arrived in April 2015 – three years later – to the Seventh 
Summit in Panama, invited for the very first time.

Over the last two years, and working on the basis of respect and 
equality, diplomatic relations have been reestablished and progress made 
toward resolving pending bilateral matters, as well as cooperation on 
issues of mutual interest and benefit; limited modifications were made 
to the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. The two countries 
established the bases from which to work toward building a new type of 
relationship, demonstrating that civil coexistence is possible despite 
profound differences.

At the end of President Obama’s term in office, the blockade, the Naval 
Base in Guantánamo, and the regime change policy, remained in place.

The announcements made by the current U.S. President, last July 16, 
represent a step back in bilateral relations. This is the opinion of 
many people and organizations in the United States and around the world, 
who have overwhelmingly expressed their outright rejection of the 
announced changes. This sentiment was also expressed by our youth and 
student organizations, Cuban women, workers, campesinos, Committees for 
the Defense of the Revolution, intellectuals, and religious groups, on 
behalf of the vast majority of the nation’s citizens.

The U.S. government has decided to tighten the blockade by imposing new 
obstacles on its businesspeople to trade and invest in Cuba, and 
additional restrictions on its citizens to travel to the country – 
justifying these measures with out-dated rhetoric regarding the Cuban 
people’s exercise and enjoyment of human rights and democracy.

President Trump’s decision disregards the support of broad sectors of 
U.S. society, including the majority of Cuban émigrés, for lifting of 
the blockade and normalization of relations, and only satisfies the 
interests of an increasingly isolated, minority group of Cuban origin in 
South Florida, who insist on harming Cuba and its people for having 
chosen to defend, at any cost, their right to be free, independent, and 
sovereign.

Today, we reiterate the Revolutionary Government’s condemnation of 
measures to tighten the blockade, and reaffirm that any attempt to 
destroy the Revolution, whether through coercion and pressure, or the 
use of subtle methods, will fail.

We likewise reject manipulation of the issue of human rights against 
Cuba, which has many reasons to be proud of its achievements, and does 
not need to receive lessons from the United States or anyone else 
(Applause).

I wish to repeat, as I did so in the CELAC Summit held in the Dominican 
Republic in January of this year, that Cuba is willing to continue 
discussing pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis 
of equality and respect for the sovereignty and independence of our 
country, and to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation in issues 
of common interest with the U.S. government.

Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist, respecting our 
differences and promoting everything that benefits both countries and 
peoples, but it should not be expected that, in order to do so, Cuba 
will make concessions essential to its sovereignty and independence. And 
today, I add, nor will it negotiate its principles or accept conditions 
of any kind, just as we have never done throughout the history of the 
Revolution.

Despite what the government of the United States does, or does not 
decide to do, we will continue advancing along the path sovereignly 
chosen by our people.

We are living in an international situation characterized by growing 
threats to peace and international security, interventionist wars, 
dangers to the survival of the human species, and an unjust and 
exclusionary international economic order.

As is known, since 2010, the United States has been implementing the 
concept of “unconventional warfare” conceived as a set of activities 
aimed at exploiting the psychological, economic, military and political 
vulnerabilities of an adversary nation in order to develop a resistance 
movement or insurgency to coerce, change, or overthrow its government.

The method was tested in North Africa, and even in Europe, and has 
caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, the destruction of states, has 
torn apart societies and caused their economies to collapse.

Our America, which proclaimed itself a Zone of Peace in 2014, is 
currently facing an adverse situation.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is suffering an unconventional war 
– which didn’t begin now, but a long time ago – imposed by imperialism 
and oligarchic coup sectors which have incited violence in the streets 
and fascist acts, such as the frightful scenes of youths being burned alive.

Foreign intervention in the Bolivarian and Chavista Republic must stop. 
Terrorist and coup violence must be unequivocally condemned. We must all 
unite in the call for dialogue and abstention from acts which 
contradict, through manipulation and demagogy, their stated intentions.

The Organization of American States (OAS) and its Secretary General must 
end their aggression and selective manipulation of reality against 
Venezuela.

It must respect Venezuela’s legitimate right to resolve its internal 
problems peacefully and without any foreign intervention. The exercise 
of self-determination and finding solutions by themselves, is up to the 
sovereign people of Venezuela alone.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and the country’s 
civic-military union led by Constitutional President, Nicolás Maduro Moros.

The aggression and coup violence against Venezuela harms all of Our 
America and only benefits the interests of those set on dividing us in 
order to exercise their control over our people, unconcerned about 
causing conflicts of incalculable consequences in this region, like 
those we are seeing in different parts of the world.

Today we warn that those attempting to overthrow the Bolivarian Chavista 
Revolution through unconstitutional, violent coup methods, will shoulder 
a serious responsibility before history.

To comrade Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a victim of political persecution 
and coup plotters, we express our solidarity in the face of an attempt 
to block his electoral candidacy with a legal disqualification.

Lula, Dilma Rousseff, the Workers Party and people of Brazil, will 
always have Cuba on their side.

***

This past July 14, the Council of State decided to call general 
elections, during which delegates to municipal and provincial 
assemblies, and deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power – 
who will chose the Council of State and President of the Parliament – 
will be chosen.

At the same time, the electoral commissions which will direct the 
process at different stages were constituted, and candidacy commissions 
established.

It is imperative to note the vital political importance of this 
electoral process, which must constitute an act of revolutionary 
reaffirmation by our people, and demands concerted efforts by all 
institutions and organizations.

We are certain, as the Cuban people have demonstrated on past occasions, 
that the elections will be an example of a genuinely democratic 
exercise, supported by broad popular participation, legality, and a 
transparent electoral process, which does not feature competing 
political parties or campaign fundraising, but in which nominating and 
choosing candidates is based on the individual’s merit, ability, and 
commitment to the people.

Meanwhile, and to conclude, compañeras and compañeros, only 12 days 
remain until we celebrate the 64th anniversary of the assaults on the 
Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons. This time the central 
act will be held in the province of Pinar del Río and the main speaker 
will be Second Secretary of the Central Committee, compañero José Ramón 
Machado Ventura (Applause).

In celebrating National Rebellion Day, for the first time without the 
physical presence of Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel 
Castro Ruz, let us propose to face the new challenges under the guidance 
of his example, his revolutionary intransigence, and eternal confidence 
in victory.

/*Raul Castro Ruz* is the president of Cuba./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20170719/04dc83aa/attachment.html>


More information about the News mailing list