Remarks by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Republic, at the closing of the Fifth Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power’s Ninth Legislature, at the Convention Center, May 16, 2022, Year 64 of the Revolution
(Transcript: Presidency of the Republic/Translation: GI)
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution;
Dear Assemblywomen and men:
The current times are intense and complex; we revolutionaries call them challenging, to scare away the impossible. But this does not relieve us of our sense of reality, a reality marked by inequalities and imbalances that were developed over centuries and dramatically accentuated under the reign of neoliberalism, in the so-called post-truth era.
Luck would have it that our longing for justice, natural in human beings, survives. As Martí said: “When there are many men without decorum, there are always others who bear the decorum of many men.”
If we needed one more test to determine the great values of our people, the deep mark that the heroes and heroines of our country’s history have left in their natural nobility, the response to the Saratoga Hotel tragedy will do: The scenes of everyday people who, risking their own lives, rushed to help the victims of the explosion in the first minutes.
These anonymous heroes have something inside of the barefoot Mambises, who made the most powerful army of their time tremble, machete in hand and shouting: Long live free Cuba!
The acts of solidarity and altruism of these people, of the hundreds of compatriots who donated blood, of our always heroic firefighters, our courageous rescuers, the agile drivers of ambulances and other vehicles who happened to pass by and transported the injured, of the consecrated hospital workers, the essential specialists in medicine and nursing, the honest and untiring reporters who reached the site, intent upon not missing a single detail, all those who brought water, coffee and food from their private businesses to the tired search and rescue brigades; of every citizen who wanted to do and did something, even if it was only tpost a message of condolence on the net. In all these attitudes – along with those of Party, government and People’s Power cadres and leaders, who have the social responsibility to resolve problems and work to move the country forward – the best of being a Cuban citizen, a natural Cuban, is evidenced, (values) we have also defended in the cultural laws that we have approved here today.
All that I have described contrasts sharply with the cruelty of the haters who, in these days of uncertainty and pain, have contaminated the networks with messages of contempt for authorities, but also citizens, apparently because they are capable of doing extraordinary things without waiting for something in return. A mercenary will never understand a patriot. Those who put a price on their ideas are unable to understand those who have the courage to protect and defend theirs.
Cuba mourned without fanfare; before the Decree with which we made our response official, and did not stopped mourning during the days that followed. As for those who hoped to profit from the pain, I can only say that we are not going to waste any more words or time on people who continue to bury their credibility in the dirt of lies. In the Cuba that saves lives and pays respectful tribute to its dead, those who hate do not count!
For the lives that were lost under the rubble of the Saratoga and for those who continue to fight for theirs in hospitals and at home, we are committed to redressing the hard blows of this unexpected incident, prioritizing the recovery of the injured, care for affected families and the rehabilitation of homes and other properties which were totally or partially destroyed.
Once again, heartfelt condolences to those who suffered the loss of loved ones and support to the families and friends of the victims.
I take this opportunity to reiterate our deep gratitude to political leaders and individuals who from various parts of the world have expressed to us their condolences, support and empathy in these hard times for Cuba. In the midst of pain, solidarity consoles!
Assemblywomen and men:
The U.S. embassy in Havana and other toxic platforms, devoted to attacks on Cuba, are attempting to revive the events of July 11, last year, and outrageous versions have been constructed of the trials in which perpetuators of the acts of violence were prosecuted. Displaying paramount cynicism, the country holding world records for incarceration and prison mistreatment of girls and boys, accuses us of having prosecuted and sentenced children under 16 years of age.
The Cubainformacion website has published brief data on prisons and children in the United States, indicating that 2,000 children are arrested every day and 44,000 are in prison. We only cite this data to demonstrate, once again, the hypocrisy and double standards of those who presume to judge what happens around the world.
Yes, we are interested in stating, before our people and the world, that in Cuba no one under 16 years of age is imprisoned! That those prosecuted for their acts during the events of July 11 and 12 enjoyed procedural guarantees established by Cuban law. Respecting these laws and our Constitution, those who attempt to undermine our sovereignty, independence and internal order must know that the law exists to be enforced. We are a socialist state of law that has the right to exist. Precisely what our adversaries refuse to accept.
Now, blind with frustration, the empire and its paid employees resort to the old practices of attack with modern techniques of Unconventional Warfare. They label us and return to the infamous path of hatred, with constant calls for acts of vandalism, and encourage terrorism.
In an effort to create a climate of public insecurity, as a prelude to a social explosion, they no longer even try to mask their calls, which they amplify using vulgar talking heads on a variety of Internet platforms. Since they can’t kill us, they scream during the attempt, to earn their check.
In an effort to demobilize our people, they tried everything this last May Day. Blind drunk with their own lies, they thought very few would respond to the call to celebrate International Workers’ Day made by the Federation of Cuban Workers and its unions.
They have yet to recover from the astonishment and are demanding data from their lackeys, in an effort to understand the tremendous, massive response of our people.
The rumor is that their media platforms, that lost all credibility after covering the events of July 11 with fake news and doctored photos, were ordered to downplay images of the massive crowds and joy.
Our people who criticize what we do wrong or what we don’t do, on a daily basis, who are outraged by shoddy work, insensitivity, indolence and bureaucracy, this same people marched, paraded in congas and raised banners in support of the Revolution and, once at home, exposed the lies by posting the truth in their publications on the net.
The people took it upon themselves to paint a landscape portrait of our creative resistance. Beautiful visual testimony of Cuba celebrating the triumph of talent, effort and solidarity in confronting the most colossal challenge we have faced: Two years of pandemic with a brutally tightened blockade.
We said it here, at the foot of the José Martí Memorial and in all the country’s plazas. With Raúl and the heroic Centennial Generation, we reiterated this May Day that it has been possible; it is possible and will always be possible! (Applause)
Of course this is not about repeating a slogan. A conviction is being expressed that must always be accompanied by a principle: everything by the people, with the people and for the people. (Applause)
Assemblywomen and men:
Since the second half of last year, we have been warning that the United States government is promoting a dangerous international schism, attempting to selectively divide the world between those who are willing to submit to the servitude imposed by Washington, on the one hand, and those who are convinced of their sovereign right to self-determination and determined to defend it, on the other.
The expressions of this senseless ambition were not long in coming and the consequences are taking their toll, especially in Europe. They are costing lives and suffering, and causing global economic damage, the outcome of which is difficult to predict. They are turning the European stage into the principal destination of their weapons of all kinds, with no real control or awareness of their subsequent use.
It should not be forgotten that existing nuclear weapons, concentrated today in the hands of a few countries, have the capacity to destroy the planet several times over and the possibility of a miscalculation cannot be underestimated.
The global scenario of the 1990s, when the United States enjoyed singular hegemonic supremacy after the collapse of the socialist camp in Europe, is not today’s, and it would be a dangerous mistake to attempt to impose it by force.
Conscious of these realities, we are developing international relations based on principles and in full adherence to international law, committed to peace, justice and the right to full independence, development and security of all countries, especially those of the Third World, which are the most threatened.
This is how we defend our positions in international organizations, with full independence, coherence and responsibility.
Cuban foreign policy will continue to have as a priority the incessant battle against the economic blockade of the United States, its condemnation at all times and in all corners of the planet.
The aggressive, criminal and genocidal nature of this policy, and its overwhelming impact on all of society and the life of the country, forces us to concentrate and redouble our efforts to combat it tirelessly.
In our region, the compass that guides us continues to be the development of amicable, cooperative relations with all Latin American and Caribbean countries, supporting regional integration, based on the precept of unity within diversity, observance of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, and the solidary commitment to social justice for all the peoples of Our America.
During the month of April we received official visits from the Prime Ministers of Dominica and Belize, Roosevelt Skerrit and John Briceño, respectively, with whom we made progress in bilateral relations, as befits the traditional ties of brotherhood shared by our nations.
More than 1,000 delegates from 60 countries and 219 organizations accompanied the Cuban people at the International Solidarity with Cuba Conference (May 1-2), which confirmed the support of millions of people around the world for the cause of the Cuban Revolution.
Just a few days ago, we had the special honor of welcoming the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and a delegation that accompanied him to Havana. It was an official visit, important in the mutual effort to strengthen and deepen bilateral ties, and to contribute to the progress in the region, its independence and integration. The visit coincided with the 120th anniversary of the establishment of relations between our two countries, a date of great significance for Cuba, which has always found in the land of Juárez the brotherhood and support that Martí and Fidel found in their Mexican contemporaries. In those hours we came to understand much better the depth of the ties that unite us, but also the political caliber, the deep sensitivity and the endearing commitment of López Obrador in his relationship with all peoples of Our America.
Esteemed Assemblywomen and men:
The old neo-colonial ambitions of the United States remain in place, directed toward fragmenting and weakening this part of the world, as a way to preserve the hegemonic power of imperialism or restore ithis hegemony where it has been lost.
Washington has called a meeting next month, which they are curiously calling the “Summit of the Americas,” even though several countries have been excluded.
They concealed until the last moment the selective and discriminatory nature of the announcement, with the clear purpose of avoiding as much as possible the natural discomfort of the region’s governments, which have long rejected capricious exclusions.
The extensive, desperate efforts which the United States has been obliged to make are well known, even deploying high-level special envoys, to avoid demands that the event be an inclusive one, a truly representative gathering of countries in the hemisphere.
Whoever makes a commitment to host a hemispheric meeting must have the ability and courage to listen to everyone, from the Arctic to Patagonia, to listen to differing opinions, willing to deliberate with solid arguments, not with impositions and evasions; facing the truth, no matter how harsh and unpleasant it may be.
A country incapable of accommodating everyone is disqualified from serving as host.
Beneath all this, of course, is an ideological factor. The Monroe Doctrine that, recognized or not, continues to be the guide and political focus of the United States for the region that José Martí called Our America.
It is well known that nothing about economic and social inequality will be discussed or approved at this meeting; nothing concerning growing marginalization in the region, including the United States itself. We know that the growing problem of using the courts as political tools to sabotage the popular will – and undermine governments elected with the support of the most humble sectors – will not be addressed, nor will corporate efforts by large transnationals to corrupt governments of the region.
The role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in orchestrating a coup in Bolivia will not be discussed, nor will any decision be adopted that truly promotes the aspirations for democracy, inclusion and respect that the peoples of the region deserve.
The reasons why both the United States and Latin America are among the regions most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will not be analyzed.
None of the documents proposed by the State Department are intended to advance practical action in the struggle against racism, to promote women’s rights, or address the precarious situation of immigrants.
There will be no discussion of manipulation by the U.S. government of the migratory issue, which is used to promote destabilization in Cuba, while an illegal policy is implemented based on unilateral, coercive measures meant to cause economic collapse, and encourage irregular, disorderly and insecure emigration, while the commitments and agreements in force in this arena are deliberately broken.
No discussion is projected of the disastrous impact on societies of organized crime or trafficking in weapons, produced mainly in the United States, or the cancer of drug running, fueled by the high level of consumption in U.S. society.
Terrorism, including state terrorism, and manipulation of the issue for political ends are not on the agenda. It is unlikely that the special, differential treatment which small Caribbean countries deserve will be recognized or that Argentina’s right to the Malvinas Islands will be confirmed.
There will be no statement condemning unilateral coercive economic measures and their use against countries of the region as a ruthless weapon of aggression.
Puerto Rico’s right to independence will not be recognized.
The President of the United States will enjoy a photograph and use the Summit in his internal political campaigns, especially in Florida, but hours later, few will remember what happened or the meaning of documents using U.S. language, based on U.S. conceptions, which they intend to have adopted.
The so-called Summit of the Americas seems to be identified with the OAS. It will bear the same discredit and moral disqualification which characterize this Pan-American institution. The organization has been condemned for a long time and it is time to finally recognize it for what it is, with total transparency. Its performance in recent years has only accelerated its moribund condition.
Compañeras and compañeros:
These sessions of the National Assembly confirm progress the country is making in a process to which we grant the highest priority: the deepening of socialist democracy and the promotion, protection and effectiveness of rights enshrined in the Constitution, in international treaties to which the Republic of Cuba id party and in laws under development.
We are conscious that the socialist state of law and social justice will become more democratic as as it maintains and deepens our protection of human dignity, as the supreme value that supports the recognition and exercise of rights and the fulfillment of duties in society.
The protection against violation or transgression of constitutional rights can now be demanded and redressed, through various channels and mechanisms, thus affording our political system solid legitimacy.
In this Legislature, several complementary laws have been approved to comply with Constitutional mandates. Public policies are promoted intended to provide comprehensive protection of children, adolescents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and women. Programs have been developed to ensure equality and non-discrimination for reasons of any individual condition or circumstance that implies a distinction that undermines human dignity.
The judicial function is strengthened so that the popular court system can serve as a guarantor of Constitutional rights.
Eight important laws have been approved for our country: Food Sovereignty & Food and Nutritional Security; one protecting Personal Data; the new Penal Code; the Criminal Procedures Law; the Protection of Constitutional Rights; one establishing a Natural Resources and Environment system; one to protect the rights of authors and performing artists, as well as a Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage law.
Each of these laws, as was reported in their presentations, is the result of a broad consultation process with the participation of specialists, experts, university professors and the population.
Their contents have been discussed and explained, in particular everything related to the new Penal Code, with which regulations on this matter have ben updated and the country’s legal-criminal system is unified in a single text, taking into account the treaties on this matter to which Cuba is a party. It also complements laws that have been approved by this Assembly in the criminal procedure system, and introduces important modifications in the field of crime prevention and law enforcement. Now it is time to disseminate its content, to encourage our citizens to respect socialist legality.
Those responsible for its implementation are called upon to act with the expected fairness. This is a tool that must be used with the appropriate rationality. It is an instrument to protect society, persons and the political, economic and social order established in the Constitution of the Republic.
As you recall, among the most innovative elements introduced by the current Constitution of the Republic is the wide range of rights recognized. Protecting them against any violation by state bodies, their directors, officials and employees, or citizens, is the objective of the Protection of Constitutional Rights Process Law, which we approved yesterday. It is a law that strengthens the country’s institutionality and concretizes the definition of Cuba as a socialist state of law and social justice.
Another of the approved laws, which represents a step forward, is the law on the Natural Resources and the Environment System. The text reinforces the ability to exercise of the right of people to enjoy a healthy, balanced environment, establishing the responsibility of all for the conservation, protection and rational use of resources, in order to make human life more rational and ensure the survival, well-being and security of our citizens.
For its part, the Copyright and Performing Artist Law aligns the legal framework with changes experienced in the processes of creation and dissemination in the literary, artistic, journalistic, scientific and educational spheres; reinforcing the state’s educational, scientific and cultural policy by conciliating the interests of society with the recognition of creators for their work.
The Law for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage approved by this Assembly also generated great interest among specialists and those knowledgeable of this topic. It concretizes the state’s obligation to protect the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the nation, and the duty to protect them. National and local identity, cultural sovereignty and the legitimate right of the people to the creation, enjoyment and protection of culture are strengthened.
Assemblymen and women:
The comprehensive protection of human rights is essential to socialism, since human beings and their dignity are the epicenter of society. The capitalist discourse and narrative regarding human rights promote forms of domination, sometimes hidden, sometimes open, which take refuge in apparent legitimacy.
Not submitting to the hegemony of imperialism, swimming against the current, has consequences. The blockade and its brutal tightening are among them. This cruel and inhumane system seeks to eliminate socialism as an alternative, seeking the restoration of capitalism, attempting to limit state action, hinder and undermine its policies, plans and programs to promote, protect and guarantee rights; exacerbating contradictions and internal errors in an effort to impose a colonializing vision of rights.
Despite this, we reaffirm the conviction that, even under difficult economic conditions, the Cuban state will maintain its essential objective of guaranteeing effective equality in the enjoyment and exercise of rights and the fulfillment of duties enshrined in the Constitution and by law; promote sustainable development that ensures individual and collective prosperity and seek increasingly higher levels of equity and social justice; preserve and multiply the achievements of the Revolution and guarantee the full dignity of persons and their comprehensive development.
Although they constitute important advances, the laws that we approved in these sessions are not enough. It is necessary to raise the levels of civic education, of legal culture, adopt all the necessary measures, in different orders and at levels that allow for the effective enjoyment of rights and ensure the circumstances to inhibit violatory behaviors. Recognize, promote, prevent, protect, guarantee are verbs that denote state action and for which joint work with different social actors, with popular participation, with People’s Power bodies, is essential.
If we examine the international context, there are few countries which, within such a short period of time, have submitted draft legal provisions to two mechanisms of democratic, popular participation: the popular consultation and the constitutional referendum in 2019 and, coming soon, the legislative referendum on the proposed Families Code. Why don’t those who insist on asserting that there is no democracy in Cuba talk about how deliberation is fostered in popular consultations and the binding decision-making process of our referendums in the process of creating legislation? Why don’t they refer to popular involvement in these participatory processes, the search for legitimacy and consensus?
Before moving on to another topic, I would like to return to a very important law that we approved: the Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Security Law.
We cannot separate the significance of this regulation from one of the greatest uncertainties plaguing the entire world today. The FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) recently stated that it fears serious food insecurity across the planet: “Over seven years, the FAO has noted a deterioration in the ability of countries to feed their populations. We are now in what we call a perfect storm. We were already in bad shape and the pandemic was a true atomic bomb in terms of hunger. With this new crisis between Russia and Ukraine, frankly, what we are talking about now is a global, generalized crisis… a situation of serious food insecurity throughout the planet.” These are the words of the representative of the United Nations organization in Mexico.
“In Latin America, the number of people living with hunger increased by 13.8 million during the first year of the pandemic and reached a total of 59.7 million… food insecurity… impacts 41% of the population, either severely or moderately.”
This dramatic reality is one of the most serious consequences of the economic and social imbalances generated by neoliberalism and about which Fidel warned so many times in his historic Reflections.
This is not, therefore, something that surprises us. There is awareness of the problem and projections made to confront it. And it is very important to strengthen our Plan for Food Sovereignty and Nutritional Education (SAN), which involves practically all organizations and our entire society.
We are called upon to train and mobilize government structures, at the municipal level, to ensure that they are in a position to lead the production process with popular participation on the local level and also promote an intense effort to reach all local producers – state, cooperative and private, from the state enterprise to the last farm, from the agro-industrial pole to every local development project, favoring agroecology as a necessary alternative for agricultural production in the current circumstances.
It is very gratifying and satisfying for me to confirm, before this Assembly, that the pandemic continues to be successfully controlled in our country.
As I have publicly acknowledged, more than once, healthcare and scientific workers saved the country. May absolutely everyone feel this recognition: from the most renowned doctor or researcher to the most modest operator. From the consecrated cadres who direct prestigious scientific and hospital institutions to the tireless leaders of the political and union organizations in the two sectors.
The alliances forged in the midst of the worst circumstances, enormous effort and limitless dedication have allowed us to return to a new normality and gradually revive economic activity and social life.
We are not done. Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute, creators of the Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus anti-COVID-19 vaccines, is today conducting two studies with the objective of protecting infants from SARS-CoV-2. According to the experts, after having vaccinated the country’s entire pediatric population above two years of age, with Soberana 02, moving to immunization of this (younger) age group involves very low risk, in terms of safety.
In another area of ideas, let’s talk about the economy, the world economy. After a period of gradual recovery in 2021, with growth of 5.9%, 2022 began in conditions of great uncertainty, with projections of around 3.6% growth.
Disruptions in supply chains plus higher food and energy prices have led to increased inflation, in addition to COVID-19 infections and, more recently, the European conflict.
Alongside this trend, the post-pandemic stage is projected globally as a period of weak, uneven recovery, marked by a slow recovery of international trade.
These pressures on prices are reflected in projected average inflation, in 2022, of 5.7% for advanced economies and 8.7% in emerging and developing economies.
For Cuba, subjected to a brutally tightened, criminal blockade, the scenario is additionally impacted by the increase in prices for imports, especially fuel and food.
This complex context, which we must confront decidedly with audacious, innovative measures, aligned with our social development model and commitment to the greatest degree of equity possible, implies great challenges for management of the economy.
Toward this end, we have updated the Economic-Social Strategy, information on which deputies have received and which constitutes the roadmap for implementation of the principal measures needed to ensure that the objectives and goals of the National Economic Plan are met.
The extensive, well documented information that compañero Alejandro Gil presented here frees me from addressing more details that would unnecessarily lengthen my remarks. I will only comment briefly on what is at the center of everyone’s concerns right now: measures to contain inflation.
The Council of Ministers is working intensely with very clear objectives and tasks outlined to begin a secondary exchange scheme to later advance in the recovery of the exchange market, including, to the extent possible, the purchase and sale of foreign currency to the population.
We have not lost sight of the need to increase supply and steps are being taken in this direction, stimulating, above all, the contribution of national productions, but also through different channels of foreign trade.
Limits will be imposed on excessive income in state institutions and enterprises not working on increasing production and efficiency, and there will be a re-sizing of the state apparatus to reduce expenses and direct funds toward support for those in situations of vulnerability.
Also as part of the strategy, the process of expansion and diversification of economic actors will continue and development must be accelerated of proposals for new transformations in socialist state enterprises, the principal economic subject in our model, mainly in relation to autonomy, access to resources, the mission and role of government administrative councils and central state management (OSDE), the operations of micro, small and medium-sized state enterprises and affiliated companies, among other issues.
Another complex aspect is the level of macroeconomic imbalance, which is expressed in greater inflationary pressures and depreciation of the informal exchange rate. The different exchange environments in which state and non-state sectors operate creates obstacles to the expansion of productive chains between the two sectors.
Despite the positive aspects that have been seen thus far in the gradual recovery of the country’s economic and social activity, more rapid progress is needed in establishing macroeconomic stability, and in increasing national production and exports, as well as direct foreign investment, the substitution of imports with domestic products and efficiency in the investment process.
In the midst of the complex situation we are facing, the following have been reiterated as priorities: the gradual recovery of the Cuban peso as the center of the financial system; confronting inflation; ensuring the stability of the national electricity system; priority attention to persons, households and communities in situations of vulnerability; decentralization of authority based on greater autonomy in municipalities and the transformations of the state enterprise system.
As we work on urgent issues, we are not renouncing development. The country’s strategic planning continues to be perfected through macro-programs, programs, projects and a work system which has allowed progress to be made in the implementation of guidelines approved at the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba for the period 2021-2026.
The shock and loss of the last few days, once again, presented us with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Unity, solidarity and work have again proved to us that, together, all challenges can be overcome.
Not even the most recalcitrant adversaries of the Cuban Revolution, attacking it on all fronts, continuously for 63 years, have been able to bring Fidel’s invincible people to their knees. And for the record, they have not given up trying to erase “this bad example” of creative resistance from the map of America. This is why they haven’t invited us to the table they are obliged to set. We are an insubordinate voice. And not the only one! (Applause)
I was recently asked why we were returned, for example, to the list of countries that promote terrorism. There is no reason. There is no reason for punishment, for sanctions, for hatred of a noble, loving, gentle and happy people like the Cuban people. There are only unfounded arguments, perversity, a lack of ethics and great frustration, because they continue failing, from defeat to defeat for 63 years. (Applause)
We have defeated them in all arenas, not because there are more of us, because that is not the case. Not because we have more weapons, because we don’t have many. Not by grace or divine intervention, because we do not consider ourselves a chosen people. We have defeated them because we are sustained by just ideas, because we love love and hate hate.
Our strength lies in the human values inspired by Martí and Fidel; in the power of truth and in the transforming capacity of education and culture. These assets are not listed on the stock exchange; they do not depend on fluctuations in the market. They are sown with the learning of history and strengthened in the practice of solidarity.
Conquering all justice is our maxim and our horizon! Unity affirmed within diversity is the road forward. On it, we advance!
The times continue to be complex and challenging, but we are well trained!
With determination and conviction:
Onward always to victory!
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