Central Report to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba

Full text of the presentation by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, April 16, 2021  

Author: Raúl Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu

April 22, 2021 09:04:39

Photo: Juvenal Balán

(Transcript: Presidency of the Republic/Translation: GI)

Compañeras and compañeros:

The opening of the Eighth Party Congress takes place on a transcendental date in the nation’s history: The 60th anniversary of the proclamation by Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz of the socialist character of the Revolution, on April 16, 1961, at the funeral farewell for those killed the previous day in the bombing of our air bases, prelude to the mercenary invasion at Playa Giron, organized and financed by the United States government as part of plans to crush the example of the Cuban Revolution and reimpose neocolonial rule on the island, with the complicity of the Organization of American States.

We plan to conclude the Congress next Monday, April 19, when we will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of our victory over the mercenary expedition, achieved in less than 72 hours by Rebel Army, police and militia forces who, under the personal leadership of compañero Fidel, did not give the invaders a moment's rest and shed, for the first time, their blood in defense of socialism. The decisive blows dealt by State Security to the counterrevolutionary groups, which acted as a fifth column inside the country, contributed to the defeat of the enemy's plans.

The Playa Girón invasion, launched during the term of a Democratic President, was part of the "program of covert action against the Castro regime," initiated by President Eisenhower, a Republican, which projected the creation of a unified opposition in Cuba, psychological warfare, plans to assassinate principal revolutionary leaders, Fidel in particular, sabotage of economic targets and terrorist attacks in the cities, the promotion of armed counterrevolutionary bands that massacred campesinos, workers and youth participating in the glorious literacy campaign.

We will never forget the 3,478 dead and 2,099 injured and disabled persons, victims of state terrorism against our country.

We are holding the Eighth Congress two years after the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic on April 10, 2019, a century and a half after the first Mambi Constitution in Guáimaro.

The approval of the Constitution required the updating of a good portion of our laws and other legal provisions that its precepts impact, thus the National Assembly of People's Power approved a corresponding legislative schedule, which is being fulfilled.

During the period since April of 2019, the Cuban legislature has approved eleven laws in the interest of guaranteeing the functioning and organization of principal state and government bodies. For its part, the Council of State issued 33 decree laws.

The leadership of the state and the government has adopted a series of decisions to strengthen legislative capacity with the participation of institutions, universities and various research centers.

The Central Report I am presenting before you today was previously approved by the Political Bureau.

On this occasion, considering the restrictions imposed by the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Congress delegates was limited to 300, proposed by locals and democratically elected in representation of the more than 700,000 Party members, in some 58,000 cells.

In these extraordinary circumstances, we are holding the Eighth Congress, in accordance with objective no.17, approved in the Party’s First National Conference, establishing that Party Congresses are to be held every five years, except in the case of a threat of war, a serious natural disaster or exceptional situation. We are not in normal times, far from it, but we came to the conclusion that it was not only possible, but necessary to hold our Congress on the scheduled date.

We reach this great event with an increase of 27,000 Party members, evidence that the decrease noted since 2006 has ended.

This encouraging result has been achieved despite the loss of members due to deaths, deactivations and the application of external sanctions. Equally promising is the average annual addition of more than 39,400 new militants, a third of these coming from the ranks of the Young Communist League.

Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the fact that, given the nation’s demographic trends, the average age of Party members is increasing, with 42.6% of the membership over 55 years of age.

At the same time a steady increase has been achieved in the number of Young Communist League members, coming from the mass of students and young workers, among whom priority has been given to small farmers, agricultural workers and in other important sectors of the economy, where untapped potential exists which could make a valuable contribution to future growth of the Party.

Deserving of special mention is the battle against the pandemic, guided by a national plan approved by the Political Bureau on January 30, 2020, which has been updated and enriched based on the experience gained during different stages.

This plan includes the coordinated intersectoral action of Central State Administration agencies, mass organizations and the active participation of the people, especially youth. Its main strength is the political will to ensure the population’s health.

The implementation of this plan has shown that it is possible to control the epidemic through the observance of established protocols, differentiated attention to vulnerable groups, active community surveying to identify cases, as well as the isolation of suspected cases and contacts, hospitalization, preventive and therapeutic treatment with innovative drugs produced by Cuba’s pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries, which emerged under the personal leadership of the Comandante en jefe.

The results achieved are possible only in a socialist society, with a universal health care system which is free, accessible and staffed by competent, committed professionals. Nonetheless, in recent months a worldwide resurgence has occurred, and Cuba has not been exempt, primarily as a consequence of relaxed compliance with established measures, among other reasons.

The country's response to COVID-19 has been characterized by the contributions of scientists and experts in the development of research and innovations, with the immediate introduction of their findings to support prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients. Intensive work is underway conducting the clinical trials of five candidate vaccines that could serve to immunize the entire Cuban population and contribute to the health of other nations. These results, by themselves, as I have expressed on other occasions, have served to increase my admiration of Fidel every day. (Applause)

The Eighth Congress will concentrate its work on analyzing the findings of the three commissions established by the Political Bureau.

The first, chaired by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, is addressing the economic and social results achieved since the Seventh Congress and projections to continue advancing in the country’s development; evaluation of the implementation process, underway since the Sixth Congress, of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, along with proposals for their updating and that of the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social model; as well as the status of implementation of the Economic-Social Strategy to boost the economy and confront the world crisis caused by COVID-19.

The second commission, headed by compañero José Ramón Machado Ventura, Central Committee second secretary, is evaluating fulfillment of the Resolution approved by the Seventh Congress on Work Objectives from the First National Conference, held in January of 2012, related to Party functioning, ideological activity and ties with the masses, as well as projections to perfect the work of the Party in current and future circumstances.

Finally, the third commission, led by President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is conducting an assessment of cadre policy in the Party, the Young Communists League, mass organizations, the state and government, as well as the role of the Party in achieving superior results.

The documents we are presenting for your consideration today, the result of the work of these three commissions, were previously discussed in provincial Party committees and government councils at that level, with the participation of Party first secretaries, leaders of mass organizations and municipal administrative cadres, in addition to leadership councils of Central State Administration agencies and the national leaderships of mass organizations and the Young Communists League.

As a result of these discussions, significant modifications were made, which enriched their content. More recently, the documents were submitted to Congress delegates’ consideration in meetings of their respective provincial delegations.

Without attempting to address all matters included in the work of the aforementioned commissions, I will briefly review some issues.

It has already been said that development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological firmness, constitute the Party’s principal missions.

Over the last five years the Cuban economy has demonstrated its capacity for resistance in the face of obstacles created by the intensified United States economic, commercial and financial blockade, which has made it possible to preserve the main achievements of the Revolution in the areas of public health, education and social security, without renouncing planned development objectives or our support to and solidarity with other nations.

Negative effects persist associated with excessive bureaucracy, inadequate control of resources, cause and condition par excellence of the damaging existence of corruption and other illegalities that limit progress in increasing productivity and efficiency. Our economic model, which does not provide sufficient incentives for work or innovation, continues to present structural problems.

In order to irreversibly transform this panorama, the process of updating our economic-social model must become more dynamic, promoting an appropriate combination of centralized planning and decentralization, with the necessary autonomy at intermediate and basic levels of the enterprise system and local governments.

It is also necessary to consolidate the investment process, on the basis of a comprehensive approach, eliminating shoddy work and improvisation, to enhance productivity and efficiency in the state sector of the economy, in spheres that are decisive to the country's development, while making the framework for non-state forms of management more flexible and institutionalized.

Recently, the scope of self-employment activities was significantly expanded from 127 permitted activities to more than 2,000. This decision, enthusiastically welcomed by national and foreign public opinion, was, as expected, questioned a few days later and described as insufficient by those who dream of capitalist restoration in the country and the massive privatization of the people's ownership of the principal means of production.

Before implementation of this important decision even began, the private practice of some professions was demanded while others are not allowed. It would seem that self-interest, greed and eagerness for higher income provoke, in some, the desire to launch a privatization process that would sweep away the foundations and essence of a socialist society built over more than six decades. Taking this path, the national education and public health systems, both free and universally accessible to all Cubans, would also be dismantled on short order.

Others, in hopes of eliminating the socialist principle of maintaining a state monopoly of foreign trade, have demanded authorization of private commercial imports, with a view toward establishing a non-state system of foreign trade.

These are questions that cannot be the subject of confusion, much less naivety, on the part of leadership cadres and Party members. There are limits that we cannot exceed because the consequences would be irreversible and lead to strategic errors, the very destruction of socialism and therefore, our national sovereignty and independence.

When I speak of these matters, the words of the Cuban Revolution’s Comandante en jefe come to mind, those delivered during the closing of the Sixth Congress of the Young Communists League on April 4, 1992: "Without resolve, without decision, without a consistent spirit, the Revolution would never have triumphed, because those who make concessions, those who give up, those who go soft, those who betray, never get anywhere." (Applause)

It can never be forgotten that the ownership by the entire people of the fundamental means of production constitutes the foundation of workers’ real power.

The state enterprise system faces the challenge of demonstrating in practice, and consolidating, its position as the dominant form of management in the economy. This is not something that can be achieved by decree; it is an essential condition for the sustainability of socialist society. Thus it is imperative to provoke a shake-up of the enterprise system’s structure, from top to bottom and vice versa, to definitively banish inertia, conformist attitudes, lack of initiative, and comfortably waiting for instructions from above. Old bad habits must be changed and entrepreneurial, proactive practices developed in the management of our companies and establishments, which will operate with increasingly greater autonomy, pursuing a higher level of production with greater efficiency.

All this is easy to say, what is difficult, but not impossible, is concretizing and consolidating the change. The creation of a real turn-around in mentality is needed, to make progress on increasing domestic production, especially of food, to eliminate the harmful habit of importing and generate more diversified and competitive exports.

Without foregoing aspirations and work for a higher level of satisfaction of needs, we must get used to living with what we have and not presuming to spend more than what we are able to generate in income. To do otherwise is a mistake we have already made and should not repeat. We must not forget that saving is the fastest and safest way we have to gain income.

The international tourism sector, which was growing steadily until 2018, suffered a decline in 2019 as a result of measures adopted by the U.S. government, in addition to the devastating effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, we have taken advantage of the closure of most of our facilities to provide maintenance and improve hotel infrastructure, so that when tourist operations resume, we can offer higher quality service. We are optimistic and confident that this sector will not only recover, but will continue to develop for the benefit of our entire population.

The economic and social model of socialist development requires that we have the capacity to regulate the market, as harmoniously as possible, through the use of incresaingly less administrative, indirect methods. It is imperative to ensure that the population’s unsatisfied demand serves as an incentive for national producers, based on the efficient and rational use of material and financial resources. (Applause)

These are the objectives pursued by the Economic and Social Strategy to boost the economy and confront the world crisis caused by COVID-19, approved by the highest leadership of the Party and government.

It is worth reiterating that economic decisions can, in no case, generate violations of the Revolution’s ideals of justice and equality, and much less weaken the unity of the people around their Party, which will always defend the principle that, in Cuba, the implementation of shock therapies that hurt the most humble strata of the population will never be allowed; no one will be left unprotected.

Despite the aggravated tensions faced by the national economy, this is a timely opportunity to thank a good portion of our creditors for their willingness to restructure overdue debts, and at the same time, assure them of our intention to resume fulfillment of our international financial commitments as we begin the recovery of the economy. Likewise, we reaffirm our decision to guarantee bank deposits in freely convertible currency and Cuban pesos, as well as cash in the hands of the population, foreign and national legal entities.

The extreme situation of lack of liquidity obliged us to reintroduce sales in freely convertible currency in some retail outlets and later wholesale.

This necessary measure was initially intended to ensure the presence on the domestic market of a number of supplies that over the last five years had disappeared from state outlets, opening the door to the illegal practice of buying these items abroad to be resold here, at a very high rate of profit.

With the impact of COVID-19, sales in freely convertible currency were extended to other products, including foodstuffs, with the purpose of encouraging remittances that Cuban citizens abroad send to their relatives in the country. Additionally, the government has been able to allocate an appreciable amount of foreign currency to guarantee a sustainable supply of a small group of basic food items, cleaning and personal hygiene products, in Cuban pesos, and is working to reestablish the presence of domestic suppliers in this market.

I believe it should be pointed out that due to an inadequate social communication policy and the publication of incorrect approaches in several of our press media, some confusion was generated among management cadres, leading them to oppose alleged inequality emanating from these sales and demand that all domestic trade in the country return to distribution through the basic family basket booklet. As the months passed and the public explanations by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and other government officials, it became clear that sales in freely convertible currency are necessary and will last as long as it takes to recover and strengthen the economy and thus ensure real convertibility of the national currency.

Amidst these complex circumstances, we have continued adopting measures in the interest of encouraging foreign investment, eliminating delays, hold-ups and obstacles in this arena, which compromise its decisive contribution to the national economy’s performance.

It is time to eliminate from our minds out-dated prejudices associated with foreign investment and ensure the proper preparation and design of new businesses with the participation of foreign capital.

Evidence of this can be seen in results achieved in the Mariel Special Development Zone, which has become an important pole of attraction for foreign and domestic investors who appreciate the impressive infrastructure, construction of which continues, despite measures taken by the United States to tighten the blockade.

Regarding implementation of the the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, it is only fair to point out that in a general sense, a positive trend in progress made is being consolidated. Nonetheless, certain insufficiencies persist in the planning, organization, supervision and follow-up of the process, and in some cases, slow, tardy reactions to correct deviations, as well as a lack of comprehensiveness and vision regarding the level of risk and shortcomings. Training and social communication have lacked needed timeliness, quality and scope.

Resistance to change and a lack of innovative capacity persist, expressed in attitudes of inertia and paralysis in implementing measures adopted, fear of exercising authorities granted and prejudice against non-state forms of ownership and management.

The Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development failed to adequately organize the participation of different actors involved in the implementation of the Guidelines and assumed functions that exceeded the mandate granted by the Congress, limiting the roles that were rightly the responsibility of other bodies, organizations and entities.

At the same time, political and mass organizations were not sufficiently encouraged to play a more active role in the process.

All this led the Political Bureau to adopt the decision to distribute responsibilities for implementation of the Guidelines to the Commission, Central State Administration agencies and national entities, allowing greater progress to be achieved.

As a result of the updating approved at the Seventh Congress, it is proposed to maintain 17 Guidelines, modify 165, delete 92 and add 18, for a total of 200.

As is well known, the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, that is, the theoretical and conceptual guide for the construction of socialism in Cuba, was approved in principle at the Seventh Congress, with the mandate to discuss the draft in Party and Young Communists League organizations, and with broad sectors of society, and then submit it for approval to a plenary session of the Party Central Committee.

Within the framework of the work assigned to Commission No.1, created by the Political Bureau to evaluate the updating of the content of this programmatic document, its proncipal postulates were ratified and modifications introduced, to adhere to the Constitution and achieve greater precision on some issues, which will be discussed by delegates in their respective commissions.

On January 1 this year, after more than a decade of study and work, we began implementation of the Reordering Task, which, as has been reiterated, is not a magic solution to the problems of our economy, but will allow us, as its name indicates, to order and make transparent the performance of different economic actors and encourage love for work as a means of earning a living and giving meaning to life for citizens. The harmful notion, which arose under the auspices of paternalism and egalitarianism, that Cuba is the only country where it is possible to live without working, must be banished. Cubans' standard of living and consumption should be determined by the legal income they earn and not by excessive subsidies and undue gratuities.

The few months that have passed thus far have confirmed the complexity and scope of this process, which touches all components of Cuban society with a broad set of decisions and actions that are unprecedented in the recent history of the Revolution.

It is no accident that the conceptualization and design stage took so long, with the participation and input of highly qualified specialists and researchers from the country's productive and academic worlds and the valuable contributions of institutions in other nations, as well as the experience of similar processes undertaken in China and Vietnam, all differences apart.

As has been widely explained, along with unobjectionable achievements in the establishment of monetary and exchange rate unification, the general reform of salaries, pensions and social assistance, as well as the reduction of subsidies and gratuities, and attention provided vulnerable persons, the implementation has also revealed deficiencies caused by poor preparation and training; negligence; lack of rigor, supervision, and political sensitivity; as well as insufficient institutional communication on the part of cadres and officials in charge of its practical execution, leading to the establishment of excessively high prices and disagreement with the rates of utilities, that is, electricity, water, gas, workers' canteens, etc. There were also errors and delays related to the salary reform and payment systems.

All this has demanded an intense effort on the part of Party, state and government leadership in the interest of quickly correcting the mistakes identified and modifying actions taken that deviated from the planned design.

The Reordering Task must continue its implementation as established in the approved schedule until measures have been fully applied, and most importantly, its postulates consolidated, with the intended economic and productive results achieved that will contribute to the construction of prosperous, sustainable socialism in Cuba.

The content of the Constitution of the Republic’s Article 5 of, the complete wording of which is the personal work of Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, was maintained in the current Constitution, with the same number and content it had in the first, promulgated in 1976, which establishes the Communist Party of Cuba as the superior leading force of society and the state, which organizes and guides common efforts in the construction of socialism.

Thus, the constitutional text implies an enormous responsibility for all members, since the moral authority of the only party that guarantees and represents the unity of the nation, emanates precisely from the exemplary fulfillment of our duty and adherence to Constitutional postulates, as well as our high ethical, political and ideological standards and close ties with the masses.

The Party, as the organization that groups the revolutionary vanguard, has the honorable mission of being the worthy heir of the confidence placed by the people in the Revolution’s founding leader, Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. This is not new, I said it almost 15 years ago to avoid any kind of confusion, and I repeat it today because I feel it is a concept that maintains all its validity for the present and future of the nation. (Applause)

Fidel himself, as early as March 14, 1974, stated: "The Party is the vanguard of the people, the people's security, the people's guarantee. The vanguard organization is fundamental. Do you know what gives security to the Revolution? The Party. Do you know what gives permanance to the Revolution? Do you know what gives future to the Revolution, what gives life to the Revolution, what gives future to the Revolution? The Party. Without the Party the Revolution could not exist." (Applause)

In the period since the Seventh Congress, held in 2016, progress has continued in meeting objectives established during the First National Conference in terms of modifications to the Party’s methods and workstyle in attention provided to local organizations and central problems in the nation’s political, economic and social life, with the goal of overcoming the practice of supplanting and interferring in work and decisions that are the reseponsibility of the state, government and administrative institutions. We have been repeating this for more than 60 years and, really, it must be said that very little has been accomplished. Every one doing their job, and the Party doing ours, without ceasing to lead, in conjuction with these authorities, work to address situations that affect the population.

Our statutes define the Party as the continuation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, created by Martí to lead the struggle for independence, of the First Communist Party founded by Carlos Baliño and Julio Antonio Mella, and the party that emerged from the voluntary integration of the three revolutionary organizations that led the struggle against the Batista dictatorship.

The existence in Cuba of a single party has been, and will always be, at the center of the enemy's campaigns, determined to fragment and disunite Cubans with the siren song of sacrosanct bourgeois democracy, based on the ancient tactic of "divide and conquer."

The unity of the immense majority of Cubans around the Party, and the work and ideals of the Revolution, has been our fundamental strategic weapon in successfully confronting all kinds of threats and aggression. This is why our unity must be zealously protected and division among revolutionaries under false pretexts of greater democracy never accepted, because that would be the first step in destroying, from within, the Revolution, socialism and consequently our national independence, and falling once again under the domination of U.S. imperialism.

Now, if we have only one party, we must promote, internally and within our society in general, the broadest democracy and the permanent, sincere and profound exchange of opinions, not always agreeing; strengthening ties with the working masses and the population, and ensure the growing participation of citizens in making fundamental decisions.

The Party's attention to the Young Communists League, student organizations and youth movements has been strengthened, in order to promote their protagonism and strengthen political-ideological work, while preserving their organizational independence.

In order to continue consolidating the unity of Cubans, we have continued to confront prejudice and all types of discrimination that persist.

Likewise, our policy of attention to religious institutions and fraternal associations, which are increasingly involved in different spheres of national activity, has been updated.

As regards mass organizations, we have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to revitalize their activity in all spheres of society and update their functioning in accordance with the times we are living, which are very different from those of the Revolution’s first years, when these groups were founded. Recovering work at the grassroots level is imperative, in factories, in farms, blocks and neighborhoods, in defense of the Revolution and in the struggle against criminal acts and social indiscipline. Incresaing revolutionary combativity and intransigence is needed, strengthening these orgnaizarions’ contributions to ideological work, in confronting the enemy's subversive plans, developing and consolidating values.

The Party continues to support the work of the Federation of Cuban Women and other institutions in the defense of women's rights and condemnation of gender violence. Confronting prejudices associated with sexual orientation and gender identity will be deepened.

In compliance with Constitutional mandates, the Council of State approved a commission to draft a preliminary version of the Family Code, for its analysis in the National Assembly and subsequent discussion by the population, an activity on which work is already underway.

The creation of a government program, and a commission headed by President Díaz-Canel, to address the issue of racial discrimination will allow for a more effective confrontation against such backwardness from the past and greater coherence in the presentation and conducting of public debate on the subject.

On the other hand, in spite of the fact that ideological work constitutes a central focus of the Party's work, I must confess that I am not satisfied with the progress achieved.

While it is true that our press media are characterized by their adherence to the truth and rejection of lies, it is also true that there remain manifestations of triumphalism, stridency and superficiality in addressing the country’s reality. On occasions, journalistic works are presented that, rather than clarifying, tend to confuse. These approaches damage the credibility of our approved information and social communication policy. The need for immediacy in covering national affairs should not be at odds with objectivity, professionalism or, above all, political intentionality.

It is not enough to do more of the same in our political-ideological work; we need creativity, to adjust our efforts effectively to the times in which live, to promote study of the country's history, convey to every Cuban a message of optimism and confidence that together we will can face and overcome any obstacle. In short, we need a profound transformation directed toward strengthening the essence and values that emanate from the Revolution’s work.

Programs of subversion and ideological/cultural influence, meant to discredit the socialist model of development and present the restotation of capitalism as the only alternative, have been intensified.

The subversive component of U.S. policy toward Cuba is focused on undermining national unity. In this sense, priority is given to actions targeting young people, women and academia, the artistic and intellectual sector, journalists, athletes, persons of diverse sexuality and religion. Issues of interest to specific groups linked to the protection of animals, the environment, or artistic and cultural expression are manipulated, with all efforts disregarding existing institutions.

Acts of aggression continue to be financed with the use of radio and television stations based in the United States, while monetary support is growing for the development of latest-generation platforms with ideological content openly advocating the defeat of the Revolution, calling for demonstrations in public spaces, inciting sabotage and terrorist acts, including the assassination of agents of public order and representatives of the Revolutionary power. They shamlessly announce the amounts paid from the United States to those who execute these criminal actions.

Let us not forget that the U.S. government created the "Internet Working Group for Cuba" charged with turning social networks into channels of subversion, the creation of wireless networks beyond state control and perpetuation of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.

We have talked about the benefits and dangers of using the Internet and social networks, for dozens of years, in the National Assembly that meets here, even citing Aesop's fable of tongues, which can be used for the best and also the worse purposes. There is no place for naivety at this stage or unbridled enthusiasm for new technologies, without first ensuring information technology security.

Lies, manipulation and fake news no longer know any limits. Through them, a virtual image of Cuba as a dying society with no future, on the verge of collapse, giving way to a longed-for social explosion, is being shaped and disseminated to the four winds. The truth, however, is different, the internal counterrevolution, which lacks a social base, leadership and capacity to mobilize, continues to decrease in numbers of sympathizers and actions of social impact, concentrating its activism on social networks and the Internet.

We are firmly convinced that the streets, parks and plazas belong, and will belong to revolutionaries, and that we will never deny our heroic people the right to defend their Revolution. (Applause)

These circumstances in themselves demand the urgent transformation in the ideological field, of which I spoke.

In terms of the cadre policy, we have continued working on fulfilling agreements reached at the last Party Congresses and the First National Conference.  Progress has been made in the organizational conception and implementation of the policy of gradual renewal in decision-making positions. Likewise, a progressive and sustained increase has been achieved in the promotion of young, female, black and mixed race persons on the basis of their merits and personal qualifications, although what has been acomplished is absolutely insufficient, with regard to the main responsibilities in the Party, state and government. The promotion of cadres from the Young Communist League to professional work in the Party continues.

At the same time, weaknesses persist in the application of our cadre policy, reflected in a tendency toward formalism and superficiality on the part of many cadres who consider themselves indispensable, and do not attend to the training of the replacements. Limited ties with the people, a lack of sensibility and incapacity to mobilize collectives in the solution of problems and poor work in relations with subordinates are all evident.

Insufficient communicational culture exists, limiting the capacity to motivate, understand, participate and debate issues that concern the mass of workers. There are still cases of comrades who are promoted to management positions without having proven their capacity and preparation to do the job, while weak intentionality and plans to improve the composition of cadres, in terms of women, blacks and mixed race persons, have been noted

The practice persists of maintaining as deputy directors and substitutes individuals everyone knows do not have the qualifications to be promoted, damaging the authority of those in charge, instead of preserving it, and halting the normal development and promotion of new leaders.

I consider it appropriate to refer to the content of Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic, which states: "The defense of the socialist homeland is the greatest honor and the supreme duty of every Cuban."

This important Constitutional postulate must be taken into account in the work of all communist militants, including the cadre policy. We cannot allow the promotion to higher positions of comrades who, for unjustified reasons, have failed to complete their active military service, which is the principal route to military preparation that all citizens, first and foremost cadres, must follow. This issue becomes more important as time goes by. The trend toward lower birth rates will be a serious problem in many respects by 2030, making clear the need to find solutions in this area.

In this arena, we have the valuable example of the decision adopted at the request of the Foreign Ministry, 19 years ago, in 2002, that all students in the Advanced Institute of International Relations, of both sexes, prior to their admission must perform military service for one year in the Border Brigade, outside the illegal naval base at Guantanamo. This has been accomplished over all these years, without problem.

In light of the aging of the Cuban population - as I was saying - which, among many other negative effects, limits the number of citizens who reach the regulatory age to join the military, the experience of the Advanced Institute of International Relations should be studied with the purpose of gradually generalizing the practice that all higher education students fulfill this duty beforehand.

The President of the Republic himself, Díaz-Canel, upon a call from the Comandante en jefe, voluntarily completed his military service in an anti-aircraft defense unit to assimilate the new technique, after graduating as an electronic engineer from the Central University of Las Villas, and, according to what he himself has told me, that period, in his case, of three years, was very useful in his training as a revolutionary cadre.

I would like to applaud the President for the example he set. (Applause)

Due to its strategic nature, the cadre policy requires constant improvement and updating, to ensure the selection, training and promotion of cadres characterized by a commitment to the Revolution, humility, modesty, personal example, leadership and firm convictionsn as opposed to any vestige of elitism, vanity, arrogance or ambition.

The Communist Party of Cuba’s cadre policy should ensure that the pool of tomorrow's leaders, in close connection with the masses, has the capacity to mobilize, dialogue, argue and be decisive, increase political and human sensitivity, responsibility, discipline, rigor and control, making use of collective leadership as the only way to find the best solutions to problems.

I will now address foreign policy issues.

The international panorama we face today is markedly different from that of April 2016, when we held the Seventh Congress. These five years have been characterized by an unprecedented escalation of the U.S. government’s aggressiveness.

Historically, U.S. imperialist hegemony has posed a threat to the fate and survival of the Cuban nation. This is not a new phenomenon. It has accompanied Cubans since the origins of the homeland when the first yearnings for sovereignty and independence emerged within our people.

It was a challenge for the heroes who undertook the struggle against Spanish colonialism in the 19th century. The generations of Cubans who continued the struggle in the 20th century faced it and it is faced by the people who today, tightly united, defend the freedom and justice achieved.

This hegemony was concretizeded with particular crudeness during the military occupation of our country between 1898 and 1902, and the subsequent imposition of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Constitution.

It was consolidated with the 1934 Treaty of Relations - a subject that I have noted to be little mastered in conversations with different citizens - which the northern neighbor imposed on the national government of the time, with the threatening presence of U.S. Navy units in Havana Bay. Thus the Platt Amendment was replaced, in an apparent, hypocritical friendly gesture, allowing its most humiliating provisions to remain in the new instrument, along with political and economic commitments that consolidated Cuba's subordination and dependence on the United States, until January 1959.

U.S. hegemony is a challenge intimately associated with the imperialist conception of Manifest Destiny, the brutal Monroe Doctrine and the vision of Pan-Americanism with which they have sought to subjugate our region since the times of Simon Bolivar.

Over the last four years, impunity was added to the immense, unequal U.S. display of power and the escalation of aggression against Cuba. The U.S. government seemed convinced that it enjoyed the freedom to act as it pleased and the right to impose its will on the world, simply on the basis of the use of force, and sought to cast into political, legal and moral crisis the foundation on which international relations had rested for decades.

The international community seemed incapable of curbing the most flagrant outrages and abuses on the part of the leading economic, military and technological power, whose irresponsible actions are the greatest threat to peace, stability, ecological balance and the survival of life on Earth.

This context explains in part the particularly harmful effect of the economic blockade with which the United States is attacking our country. It is also explained by the conditions of an international economy that is increasingly interconnected, interdependent and subject to the dictates of the financial centers of power controlled by Washington.

In spite of repeated, overwhelming rejection by the international community, the blockade damages Cuba's economic relations with practically every nation on the planet, regardless of a country's political position or its relationship with us.

In many cases, governments do not even have the capacity to enforce their sovereign prerogatives over the actions of national entities based in their own territories, as these are often docilely subordinated to Washington, as if we were living in a world subjugated by the unipolar power of the United States.

This is a phenomenon that is expressed with particular impact in the financial sector, with national banks of several countries giving a U.S. administration’s stipulations priority over the political decisions of their own governments. These realities have been reaffirmed as neo-liberal globalization has been extended.

The blockade, which our people have faced for more than 60 years with effort, sacrifice and creativity, would have devastated the economy and social stability of any other country, even those that are richer and more powerful than Cuba. It is the most comprehensive, unequal and prolonged economic war ever unleashed against any nation.

Only under the conditions of a socialist system, based on social justice, the people’s unity around the Party, and common united efforts to defend the country, can an underdeveloped and relatively small nation like ours, with scarce natural resources, avoid collapse and advance its development. 

The anti-Cuba policy unleashed by the previous U.S. government was reinforced precisely under the harsh conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruthless nature of imperialism was clearly revealed.

Sometimes objective data describing the damage the United States has caused the Cuban economy and the real impact of the more than 240 coercive measures adopted since 2017 are not sufficiently understood, or not carefully assessed. It should be understood that these are not simple actions tightening the blockade, but new methods, some unprecedented, taking the magnitude of the economic war to a qualitatively more aggressive level, which is reflected in the material shortages that accompany the daily life of every Cuban.

Added to this is the shameless campaign financed by Washington to promote the lie that the blockade is not real, that it does not really harm the Cuban economy, that it is not a significant problem for our development and our economic stability. This is a fallacy that is spread through the powerful information media at the service of imperialism and digital networks designed to influence the thinking of many, including some of our compatriots.

Among the first actions to reinforce the economic siege of Cuba was the November 2017 designation of a group of Cuban enterprises that would be subjected to additional restrictions, beyond those of the blockade already in place. That list, which was updated several times, today includes 231 entities, many with responsibility for the country's retail network, the system that meets the most important needs of the economy and the population, all the country's hotel facilities and several institutions in the financial sector.

The U.S. government justifies this action under the pretext of restricting the activity of companies affiliated with the defense and security sector, which it accuses of supporting the repression of human rights in Cuba and the Cuban intervention in Venezuela.

Our people are well aware that this illegitimate persecution is directed against successful entities whose social function is entirely economic and commercial, as is the case anywhere in the world, and which make a significant contribution to the national economy.

They are also know with clear certainty, on the basis of historical experience, that the objective of this measure is to extend the economic siege to sabotage the enterprise system, create obstacles to the process of updating the economy, disrupt state management and impose informality, the atomization of economic activity and chaos, with the express goal of asphyxiating the country and provoking a social explosion.

The extraordinary task of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic has obliged us to devote considerable resources to guarantee on short order the necessary equipment and materials for our hospitals and health care centers. The cost would have been less onerous if Cuba were not forced to resort to distant, often indirect markets to acquire technologies subject to the blockade’s prohibitions.

The financial persecution, on the other hand, has taken on the characteristics of a real witchhunt against Cuban transactions, which undermines our ability to pay for the products and services we import and collect payment for our exports, with a consequent increase in the cost of foreign trade as a whole.

To punish Cuba and Cubans living inside and outside the country, the United States first limited and then eliminated practically all means of sending remittances to Cuba.

These realities are made evident in the shortages of essential products for the population’s consumption. They are also the cause of many of the difficulties faced by national industry in acquiring the necessary inputs for production in a timely fashion, with the required quality and standards. This includes consumer goods as well as medicines and products from the food processing industry.

The tightening of the blockade complicates the fulfillment of our international financial commitments, in spite of the firm determination to honor them and the effort we are making to send payments which, although modest, entail a great sacrifice.

An escalating series of measures were implemented to restrict travel to Cuba, both by air and sea, delivering a brutal blow to a considerable portion of the non-state sector of the economy dedicated to providing services.

The damage caused by these measures to the standard of living of the population is neither fortuitous or the result of collateral effects; it is the consequence of the deliberate intention to punish the Cuban people, as a whole.

One of the most significant actions, given its level of cruelty, its inadmissibility according to international law, and the impunity with which the United States has behaved, is the effort, since April of 2019, to deprive Cuba of a fuel supply. To achieve this, measures typical of non-conventional warfare have been adopted, to prevent these supplies from reaching our national territory.

This is one of the actions that best illustrates the new dimensions acquired by the economic war against Cuba. In confronting this war, we have experienced periods of great tension and if the cost has not been devastating, as expected by the United States, it is due to the strength of the society we have built and defended, and our heroic people’s capacity to resist.

Another act that exposes the nature of imperialism and the escalation of its aggression against our nation is the immoral campaign unleashed against the international medical cooperation provided by Cuba.

Our record on this front has no equal in the world, and is congruent with the moral principles on which Cuban society is built. It rests on the notion that we share what we have, not what we have to spare. The success of having prepared, with perseverance and dedication, significant human resources, and a strong, effective and sustainable public health system, give us the opportunity to share with others.

This is a commitment to solidarity that will maintain regardless of the campaigns. Our cooperation has saved lives, confronted disease, alleviated suffering and improved the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, almost always the most vulnerable or disadvantaged populations, in the most remote areas, sometimes in conditions of extreme difficulty and even danger. It includes important and praiseworthy assistance to countries that have suffered natural disasters.

The U.S. attack is meant to discredit a noble, recognized work and deprive Cuba of the fair, honest and legitimate income that thousands of technically and ethically trained professionals in the country ensure with their efforts.

Access to health care is a universal human right and the government of the United States commits a crime when, in order to attack us, sabotages the only source of medical services to which millions of people in the world have access.

In addition to all of the above, in April 2019, attempting to intimidate foreign investors, companies and businesspeople interested in an economic or commercial relationship with Cuba, the United States decided, for the first time, to activate Title III of the infamous Helms-Burton Act, allowing lawsuits to be filed in U.S. courts by alleged claimants of properties that were justly and legitimately nationalized in the early years of the Revolution.

This is not a new law, it is an aberration dating back to 1996, which codifies the blockade as law and establishes as an obligation of the U.S. government to attack Cuba economically, on an international scale and in a comprehensive manner. It also provides a legal mandate to promote political subversion to destroy Cuba’s constitutional order, with the allocation every year of official, multimillion dollar funding from the federal budget.

This law went so far as to outline a program of political intervention in our country and the establishment of a tutelage plan that would subject the Cuban nation to the status of a territory subjugated and subordinated to the sovereignty of the United States, under an intervenor appointed by the United States.

It is a despicable political and legal instrument, conceived with great opportunism during the most difficult moments of the Special Period, when Washington was confident that the Revolution would not be able to survive or remain faithful to our commitment to uphold the banners of socialism and safeguard the cause defended by our martyrs.

That is why we say that it is a law that our people must understand well, one we cannot afford to forget, even if it were to be rescinded someday.

When, in December 2014, we decided jointly with the government of the United States, then headed by President Barack Obama, to move toward a better understanding between our respective countries, I expressed before the National Assembly of People's Power: "...an important step has been taken, but the essential remains to be resolved, which is the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, tightened in recent years, particularly in the area of financial transactions, with the levying of enormous, illegitimate fines on banks in several countries."

The aggressive conduct unleashed by the last U.S. administration reaffirms with clear evidence that any perspective of truly positive evolution in the relationship between the two countries, to be sustainable, must be associated with the elimination of the economic blockade and the legislative framework that sustains it.

We have no illusions that this is something easy or simple; on the contrary, it will require sensible and respectful political will on the part of whoever governs in the United States. Cuba has maintained and continues to maintain that we do not identify the U.S. people as an enemy, that political and ideological differences are no impediment to a respectful, civilized relationship with our neighbor.

We have stated, as well, that we can develop a realtionship involving cooperation on many issues that would benefit both countries and the region.

We will never forget the content of Article 16, paragraph a) of the Constitution, which reaffirms that our economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other state are not negotiated under the threat of aggression or coercion.

I reaffirm before this Party Congress the will to develop a respectful dialogue and build a new type of relation with the United States, without presuming that to achieve this Cuba renounce the principles of the Revolution and socialism; make concessions regarding our sovereignty or independence; yield in the defense of our ideals or the exercise of our foreign policy, committed to just causes, the defense of peoples’ self-determination and our historic support to sister countries.

At the same time, we have the duty to remain alert, to assume with responsibility the lessons of history and protect our country and the sovereign right to exist for which so many generations of Cubans have sacrificed.

We must do so without neglecting defense and with constant, committed efforts to build the economic foundations that will allow us to successfully face an incessant, asymmetrical economic war, waged by a power willing to take advantage of its size and economic influence to attack our homeland.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Exactly five years ago today, we warned that the Latin American and Caribbean region was experiencing the effects of a strong, articulated counter-offensive promoted by imperialism and regional oligarchies against revolutionary and progressive governments, which had come to power as a result of their peoples’ resistance and struggle against the nefarious effects of neoliberal policies.

That counter-offensive was strengthened when the leadership of U.S. foreign policy fell into the hands of sinister characters, linked to episodes of interference and interventionism in our region, and associated with elements of the Cuban-American ultra-right, several with known terrorist, corrupt backgrounds.

They never disguised their commitment to the validity of the Monroe Doctrine. They combined anti-socialist fanaticism with desperate attempts to achieve short-term objectives. They resorted to unconventional warfare methods and destabiliziation operations that proved extremely dangerous for the entire region.

They demonstrated contempt for our peoples and institutions. They disregarded the sovereign rights of all nations in the hemisphere and dangerously threatened regional peace and security. Several governments of the region presumed to ignore the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana by Latin American and Caribbean heads of state and government, in January of 2014.

That transcendental political instrument rests on the essential principles of full independence and the real enjoyment of sovereign rights, as well as aspirations for unity and the integration of our region.

Among these are respect for the principles and norms of international law and the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples; the commitment of countries of the region to foster friendly and cooperative relations among ourselves and with other nations, regardless of differences existing between their political, economic and social systems or their levels of development; to practice tolerance and live in peace as good neighbors; and the commitment to fully respect the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system, as a condition essential to ensuring peaceful coexistence among nations.

The frequent use of lies to justify actions was combined with cruel unilateral coercive measures and constant threats, with a high cost for the peoples of Our America. At the end of 2018, the U.S. government decided to launch an aggressive offensive specifically against Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, with the ostensible purpose of overthrowing, on short order, the governments of the three countries.

Although this project failed, the pretense is a stark reminder that imperialism's ambitions for domination in the region are not threats from a dark, distant past that have been overcome, but an active threat, alive within certain circles of political power in the United States.

As part of this offensive, the recovery of a discredited OAS as an instrument of neocolonial domination and aggression was promoted, as well as its armed wing, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, the TIAR, always at the service of the hegemonic interests of the United States. Likewise, an attempt was made to sabotage CELAC, and UNASUR was destroyed.

As if there is any doubt, we must recognize that neoliberalism has once again demonstrated its inability to respond to the region's social problems. Its role in the dismantling of social justice organizations, and the doctrinaire attack on any notion of social justice, left most countries powerless and defenseless when it came to confronting the scourge of COVID-19. The legacy of neoliberalism is an increase in inequality, the deepening of social polarization and the aggravation of the crisis of stagnation and instability suffered by many societies in Our America.

As a consequence, seen were the accelerated exhaustion of governments promoting neoliberal policies, indications of social instability, the eruption of popular protest and the mobilization of youth, alongwith the activation of the left and progressive forces, as demonstrated by the Sao Paulo Forum, a political coordination group of left political forces and social movements.

Also observed was how these progressive forces were subjected to politically motivated judicial processes, as well as slander and defamation campaigns with the support of the corporate mass media, meant to weaken these forces and prevent their participation in or access to governments.

Cubans reiterate our solidarity with Venezuela, with the civil-military union of its heroic people, and with its only legitimate President, compañero Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We reiterate our solidarity with Sandinista Nicaragua, with its people and with President Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra.

We salute President Luis Arce of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, a nation where the people achieved a popular victory that constituted a slap in the face of the United States and its instrument, the Organization of American States, which organized a coup against compañero Evo Morales Ayma.

We follow with hope, respect and solidarity the political processes led by Presidents Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and Alberto Fernández in Argentina, in their efforts to reverse the consequences of the implementation of neoliberal policies that caused so much damage to their nations.

We celebrate and support the attempts of both governments to recover genuinely Latin American integration processes.

We reiterate our unwavering support for the efforts of the Argentine Republic to recover sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

We reconfirm our solidarity with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers' Party of Brazil, against whom politicized legal proceedings have been launched. We insist that the restitution of his innocence, full freedom and all political rights must be demanded.

We will continue to defend the legitimate interests of Caribbean nations and support their demand for reparations for the consequences of slavery and colonialism.  The Caribbean can always count on Cuba.  In particular, we reaffirm our commitment to the sister people of Haiti, for whom the international community should do much more.

We reconfirm our full support to the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico.

Cuba's commitment to the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean is unwavering. Loyalty to the defense of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of the peoples is a principle of the Revolution, and the will to promote regional cooperation and integration is part of our cause. We will not cease for an instant in our work contributing to make Our America the common homeland of all its children.

Compañeras and compañeros:

During these five years, excellent relations have been consolidated with the parties and governments of the People's Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, socialist countries in Asia to which we are united by historic friendship and solidarity. The economic projects that we are undertaking with China and Vietnam in various spheres of our economy are signifcant, contributing to the Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030.

Also over these years, high-level political relations have deepened with the Russian Federation, a country with which we share broad agreement on diverse issues of the international agenda, and which has maintained a firm position in opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

We have made progress, despite existing political differences, in developing ties with the European Union, through the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity. Progress made in cooperative relations in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture and culture is noteworthy.

We maintain our collaboration and solidarity with the countries of Africa, a continent to which we are bound by strong ties of history, culture and brotherhood. Thousands of collaborators in healthcare and other sectors offer their services there in more than 30 countries. We are grateful for the unanimous position take by the African Union in solidarity with Cuba and against the blockade over these years.

Our support for the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples’ causes will continue to be unwavering commitments.

The panorama described and its probable evolution in the future demand, from all of us, to ensure that priority is always given our defense, in strict accordance with the accurate reflections of Fidel contained in the Central Report to the First Congress: "As long as imperialism exists, the Party, the state and the people, will pay maximum attention to our defense services. Our revolutionary guard will never be neglected. History demonstrates, with great eloquence, that those who forget this principle do not survive the mistake."

The strategic conception of the War of the Entire People remains in full force, as establsihed in Article 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, which translates into each citizen knowing and having the means, a place and a way to fight the enemy, under the leadership of the Party.

This doctrine supposes permanent attention to the strengthening of our combative capacity and readiness, the updating of the country’s defensive plans and training of directors, chiefs and leadership bodies at different levels to conduct planned actions. In this sense, we consider it necessary to reestablish, as soon as conditions in the COVID-19 battle permit, the realization of national defense days with the massive participation of our people, stripping them of any formalism or fanfare and thus ensure their effectiveness and usefulness to the population’s training. Let us not forget that military invulnerability is achieved through constant improvement.

During this period, the Revolutionary Armed Forces continued preparation of troops, production, modernization, maintenance and preservation of military technique and weaponry, the preparation of the Military OperationsTheater, along with participation in responses to exceptional situations and disasters of all kinds, among which COVID-19 is emphasized.

On the basis of scientific potential achieved, the Military Industry Union has ensured the preparation and modernization of a significant portion of our armament and military technology, and has increasingly assumed the production of spare parts and high-demand items for the population.

In his Central Report to the First Party Congress, compañero Fidel stated: "The Rebel Army was the soul of the Revolution and from its victorious weapons the new homeland emerged free, beautiful, thriving and invincible." This statement remains fully valid today, thus I reaffirm that the Revolutionary Armed Forces, born of the Rebel Army, have not renounced and will not renounce being, forever, the soul of the Revolution. (Prolonged applause)

Combatants of the Ministry of the Interior, in close collaboration with the people, the Party and mass organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces and other institutions of the state and government, continued to strengthen prevention and confrontation of enemy activity, subversive plans, crime, illegalities and corruption, as well as social indiscipline and negative behaviors.

Over the last five years, this ministry reached a higher level of organization and cohesion in its command structures and attention to units, a matter in which it is only fair to acknowledge the decisive contribution of Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla Bermejo, a member of the Party's Central Committee, a deputy to the National Assembly of People's Power and Minister of the Interior until his death at the end of last year. To his brilliant record of service to the Revolution, I must add today the correct, far-sighted selection and preparation of younger generations that guarantee continuity with a secure new leadership of the institution.

I consider it appropriate to recognize the contribution of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior in food production, which has allowed both institutions to be self-sufficient in most of the products required to feed their personnel. The level of needs met reached 83% and 72% for the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, respectively.

Precisely as we had planned, the Eighth Party Congress will mark the conclusion of the process of orderly transfer of major responsibilities from the historic generation to newer ones.

At the Sixth Party Congress, 10 years ago, I stated that although we had not failed to make several attempts to promote young people to the principal positions, the selections were not always correct, and consequently we did not have, at that time, a pool of adequately prepared replacements, with sufficient experience and maturity to assume the new, complex tasks of leadership in the Party, the state and government.

I also said that we needed to resolve this issue gradually, without precipitous decisions or improvisation, which would additionally require strengthening of the democratic spirit and collective nature of the functioning of leadership bodies in the Party, state and governmental authority, to ensure the systematic rejuvenation of the entire chain of administrative and Party positions in the country.

Although we cannot consider this strategic front of work completed, I am satisfied that we are handing over the leadership of the country to a group of prepared leaders, tempered by decades of experience in their transit from the grassroots to the highest responsibilities, committed to the ethics and principles of the Revolution and socialism, identifying with the roots and values of nation’s history and culture, imbued with great sensitivity toward the people, full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit, and aware that they represent the continuity of the work initiated by Céspedes on October 10, 1868, continued by Gómez, Maceo, Calixto García and Agramonte; begun anew by Martí at the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Party; by Baliño and Mella with the founding of the first Communist Party of Cuba; by Villena, Guiteras, Jesús Menéndez, Abel, José Antonio, Frank País, Camilo, Ché, Blas Roca, Celia, Haydée, Melba and Vilma, Almeida and our forever Comandante en jefe, Fidel. (Applause)

One of those youth, selected in time, since we began to notice a number of qualities in him, is compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Political Bureau member and President of the Republic for the last three years, a position which, according to the Party leadership’s assessment, he has performed with good results.

We have already stated that Díaz-Canel is not the product of improvisation, but rather of the thoughtful selection of a young revolutionary in condition to be promoted to positions of greater responsibility. He successfully advanced completing 15 years as first secretary of the Party in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguin, after which he was appointed successively Minister of Higher Education, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, positions he held while simultaneously attending the Party’s ideological front.

During these last three years Díaz-Canel has been able to form a team and fostered cohesion among leadership bodies of the Party, state and government.

As far as I am concerned, my work as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee comes to an end with the satisfaction of having fulfilled my duty and confidence in the future of the homeland, with the carefully considered conviction to not accept proposals to remain on higher bodies of the Party organization, in whose ranks I will continue to serve as one more revolutionary fighter, ready to make a modest contribution until the end of my life. (Prolonged applause)

Nothing obliges me make to this decision, but I strongly believe in the power and value of example and in the understanding of my compatriots. Let no one doubt, as long as I live I will be ready, with a foot in the stirrup, to defend the homeland, the Revolution and socialism.

With more strength than ever let us shout:

Viva Cuba Libre! (Exclamations of Viva!")

Long live Fidel! (Exclamations of Viva!)

Homeland or Death!

Venceremos!  

(Ovation)



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