[News] Cuba - We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 19 10:57:06 EDT 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
/*Raul Castro Ruz* is the president of Cuba./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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