We have come to the end of this Congress after intensive working sessions where the Cuban communists have discussed and adopted the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, the Central Report and various resolutions on the main issues examined.
I think that the best and most productive way to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Victory over the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) mercenary invasion, on a day like this April 19, 1961, is precisely this excellent Party Congress. This meeting comes to an end more than five months after the onset of the Guidelines discussions. This was a profoundly democratic and transparent process whose indisputable protagonist was our people under the Party’s leadership.
On behalf of the nearly 800 thousand Party members, the one thousand delegates to the Congress, the new leadership of our organization and, particularly of comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, I wish to congratulate every Cuban for their decisive participation in the discussions and their unquestionable display of support for the Revolution. This is to us a source of great satisfaction, but most importantly it entails a greater responsibility and commitment to achieve, with everyone’s cooperation, the updating of the Economic Model in order to make Socialism in Cuba irreversible.
We said in the Central Report that we are not under the illusion that the Guidelines and the related measures can by themselves solve all of our problems. Our success in this strategic issue and every other will certainly require that we focus on the execution of the agreements reached at this Congress. To that end, our conduct must be guided by one common denominator: ORDER, DISCIPLINE and EXIGENCE.
The updating of the economic model is not a miracle that can happen overnight like some people believe. Its full development will only be attained gradually in the course of five years for it requires a conscientious work of planning and coordination both in legal terms and in the thorough training of all those involved in its implementation.
It will also be necessary to work intensively providing the people with adequate information on every measure adopted while, at the same time, keeping our feet and ears firmly on and attentively to the ground, to be able to overcome the obstacles we encounter, and to quickly rectify the mistakes we make in implementation.
We are convinced that the main enemy we are confronting and shall confront will be our own inefficiencies and that an endeavor of such a great significance to the future of our country cannot be tackled recklessly or hastily. We will make every change required, as Fidel indicated in his Reflections published yesterday, but we will do it at the adequate pace mindful of our objective conditions and always with our people’s support and understanding. We will never risk our most powerful weapon: the unity of our nation in support of the Revolution and its programs.
Chauvinism aside, I think that Cuba is one of the few countries in the world in which conditions exist to transform its economic model and leave the crisis behind while avoiding social trauma. First of all because our patriotic people know that their force stems from their monolithic unity, the justice of their cause and military training as well as from their high instruction and pride in their history and revolutionary roots.
We shall advance resolutely despite the US blockade and the adverse conditions prevailing in the international market, which among other things, limit Cuba’s access to financial sources and expose it to the oil prices spiral that impinges on the prices of the rest of the raw materials and food. Simply put, everything that we purchase abroad is more expensive.
Barely a few months into the year 2011 and the data already show that the additional cost of imports for this year amounts to over 800 millions USD. This is just on account of price increases and only to buy the same quantities planned; therefore, we will be forced to make adjustments to the plan adopted last December, as soon as this Congress is over.
At the moment, saving all kinds of resources is one of the main things that our country can do to preserve our income since there is still irrational spending and huge reserves of efficiency remain untapped. We should work on this with much common sense and political sensitivity.
Despite the existing acceptable situation to this date concerning the delivery of fallow lands in usufruct, in compliance with Legislative Decree No. 259 of 2008, there are still thousands and thousands of hectares of arable land waiting for those willing to produce what our people and the national economy keep demanding and that can be grown in our farmland to replace the increasingly expensive imports of a number of products that are today benefiting foreign suppliers instead of our farmers.
The first thing that we should do is to implement what we have just approved in this Congress. It is no accident that we have decided that the Central Committee should examine at its plenary meetings --at least twice a year—the execution of the agreements reached at the Congress, particularly, the updating of the economic model and the enforcement of the Economy Plan.
In this sense, I should emphasize the transcendence of the mission assigned to the Government Standing Commission for Implementation and Development, which will harmoniously lead the efforts and actions of the national organs and entities in charge of updating the economic model with the special support of the Ministry of Economics and Planning as the government’s General Staff for this activity.
On the other hand, our deputies have an arduous work to carry out since the Guidelines approved by this Congress will be submitted to analysis at the National Assembly of People’s Power for legislative ratification in the successive sessions as the elaboration of the corresponding legal regulations is completed.
As you heard, the Congress agreed to convene the National Conference for next January 28, the day we shall commemorate the 159th Anniversary of José Martí’s birth. That meeting, actually a continuation of the 6th Party Congress, will essentially assess the Party’s work with realism and with a critical spirit. Also, it will make the necessary adjustments to the transformations required for playing the role of senior leading force of the society and the State as provided in Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic. We have also agreed to empower that Conference to bring up to date the Party’s work methods and style, its structure and cadre policy, and even the renovation and expansion of its Central Committee.
As reflected in its announcement, the National Conference will be guided by the determination “to change everything that must be changed” contained in the brilliant definition of the concept of Revolution offered by comrade Fidel.
In order to succeed, the first thing we need to change in the life of the Party is its mentality, which as a psychological barrier will, in my opinion, be more difficult to overcome for it is tied to many years of repeated dogmas and obsolete criteria. It will also be indispensible to correct mistakes and to shape, with rationality and firm principles, a comprehensive vision of the future that will guarantee the preservation and development of Socialism under the present circumstances.
In terms of the cadre policy, the election of the new Central Committee, its Secretariat and Political Bureau, and their presentation this morning, constitute a first step towards compliance with the agreements reached at this Congress, particularly with respect to the beginning of a gradual process of renovation and rejuvenation of the cadre in different governmental and political positions. At the same time, the gender and racial composition of these organs has been considerably improved.
The Central Committee is now made up by 115 members; 48 of them are women, for a 41.7%. This is more than three times the 13.3% proportion obtained in the previous Congress. The number of black and mixed blood people is 36, which accounts for 31.3% of the total, and 10% higher than before.
This outcome, which I insist is only a first step, is not the result of improvisation. The Party has been working for months toward this end with the objective of submitting a list of candidates that takes into account the necessity to have a fair representation of gender and race in the Central Committee membership.
These were chosen from the huge number of university graduates and certified specialists that the Revolution did not waste time to train. These are the children of the working class; they belong to the most humble segments of the population and have had a politically active life in students’ organizations, the Young Communist League and the Party. Most of these youths accumulate 10, 15 or 20 years of experience working at the grassroots level without abandoning their jobs in the professions they studied, and the majority were proposed by their respective Party cells during the process leading up to the Congress.
It is our duty now to monitor and assist their training to enable the progressive improvement of their work and future access to higher responsibilities.
In the makeup of the senior Party organs, --despite the exit of 59 comrades from the Central Committee, half its full members, most of them with a positive record of services to the Revolution— some veterans of the historic generation remain, and it is only natural, for it is one of the consequences of the mistakes made in this area and criticized in the Central Report, the same that prevent us today from having a reserve of mature and sufficiently experienced replacements to take over the main positions in the country.
Therefore, we shall continue working along these lines during the forthcoming National Conference and in our daily Party, Government and State responsibilities.
Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, founder and Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, set the first example of a consistent behavior in this matter, when he expressly asked not to be included in the Central Committee list of candidates.
Fidel is Fidel, and he does not need to hold any position to forever occupy a topmost place in the present and future of the Cuban nation. While he is strong enough to do it, and fortunately he is at the peak of his political thoughts, in his modest capacity as Party member and soldier of ideas, he will continue making contributions to the revolutionary struggle and the noblest purposes of Mankind.
As for me, I assume this last assignment with firm conviction and I pledge my honor that the chief mission of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba that gives meaning to his life is to defend, preserve and continue to improve Socialism, and to never allow the return of the capitalist regime.
As you can see, we have in the Political Bureau a proper representation of leading chiefs of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. This is only logical and to explain it I will quote some lines included by comrade Fidel in his Central Report to the First Party Congress: “The Ejercito Rebelde was the soul of the Revolution. The new homeland emerged free, beautiful, strong and invincible from its victorious weapons…When the Party was founded…our Army, the heir to the bravery and patriotic purity of the Ejército Libertador whose struggles it had carried on victoriously, placed in its hands the banners of the Revolution and became from then on and forever its most loyal, disciplined, humble and staunch follower.”
I have plenty of reasons to assert that the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which I am proud to have served as a minister for nearly 49 years, will never renounce that role and will carry on defending the people, the Party, the Revolution and Socialism.
Membership in the Central Committee, which until now had been partly a recognition to the life of struggle of those elected, --and fairly so—will from now on be based on the concept of the great responsibility of these comrades to the Party and the people, since the Central Committee acts, between Congresses, as the top leading Party organ and, according to the Statutes, it is empowered to check the implementation of the adopted policies, the economic and social development of the country, and the cadre policy and ideological work, among other tasks.
In keeping with this, it is necessary to constantly raise the preparation and knowledge of its members as we intend to actively employ the Central Committee in the implementation of the Congress’ agreements, in the way of a forum where collectively, and devoid of formalities, we can analyze the main issues concerning life in the Party and the nation.
At the Political Bureau, we shall do likewise, as it befits this organ, which is the highest leading body between Central Committee plenary sessions.
The Political Bureau consists of fifteen members. This is a reduction with respect to the previous 24 members, which proved an excessive number. Three new comrades are now members: Mercedes López Acea, First Secretary of the Party Provincial Committee in La Habana; Marino Murillo Jorge, Vice-president of the Council of Ministers and head of the Government Standing Commission for Implementation and Development; and, Adel Yzquierdo Rodríguez, who was recently appointed Minister of Economics and Planning.
These promotions are no accident. In the first case, it is due to the priority attached by the Party to its work in the capital, with a population of over two million. Regarding the other comrades, the promotion responds to the strategic significance of updating the economic model and developing the national economy.
We shall keep the useful practice of holding joint weekly meetings of the Political Bureau Commission and the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers to evaluate the fundamental issues pertaining to national life. At the same time, we shall continue promoting the participation in the monthly meetings of the Council of Ministers --depending on the issues under discussion and as guests-- of members of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the Central Committee; the Council of State and the Speaker of the National Assembly; the leading cadres of the Workers Central Trade Union (CTC), the Young Communist League and other mass organizations; alongside the First Party Secretaries at the provinces and the chairpersons of the Provincial Management Councils.
This method has proved its efficiency to directly convey to the main leaders throughout the country the indispensible information and orientations to carry out their work.
Finally, none of us ignores the historical significance that the crushing defeat of the Playa Girón mercenary invasion had for the destiny of the Revolution. This was achieved thanks to the firm, constant and determined action of our combatants under direct orders from Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, who stayed all the time in the theater of operations where the battles were fought. In less than 72 hours, they shattered the US Government’s attempt to set up a beachhead in a distant corner of our homeland to which they planned to bring, from a military base in Florida, a puppet government that would appeal to the Organization of American States, the notorious OAS, for a military intervention by the US forces already deployed very close to Cuba, as they had accompanied the mercenary troops since their departure from Central America, the same way they had done in Guatemala seven years before, in 1954, when the progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown.
Let’s use the occasion to repeat Fidel’s remarks in the 5th Anniversary of the Victory, on April 19, 1976, when he said: “After Girón, all of the peoples of our America were a bit freer.”
It was in Girón that we used for the first time in defense of Socialism in Cuba the weapons supplied by the Soviet Union a few months before, and that we had barely learned how to use. It is only fair that on a day like this we recognize that without the assistance of the peoples that made up that immense country, particularly the Russian people, the Revolution would not have been able to survive those initial years in light of the constant and increasing imperialist aggressions; and for this we shall be forever grateful.
On a day like this, our gratitude goes to the current socialist countries for their continuous cooperation and support during these years of hard battles and sacrifices.
Our brothers and sister in the Third World, especially those from Latin America and the Caribbean, who are making great efforts to transform the legacy of centuries of colonial domination, should know that they can always count on our solidarity and support.
Our fraternal greetings also go to the communist parties and other progressive forces all over the planet fighting restlessly with the deep conviction that a better world is possible.
I also wish to express the recognition of the Cuban people to all those governments that every year claim, with their voices and votes at the United Nations, for the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States.
Finally, let us express our appreciation to all the comrades who took part in the successful organization of and support to this Congress.
I think there can be no better way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Victory of Playa Girón than closing this historic Party Congress, with the presence of Fidel here and the symbolism contained in the “Elegía de los Zapaticos Blancos” by Indio Naborí, vividly recited by actor Jorge Ryan, and the touching words of Nemesia, the daughter of a charcoal burner who looked on helplessly as her mother was killed and her grandmother and two brothers injured by the murdering action of planes disguised with the Cuban insignia; the same girl whose white shoes in holes from the enemy’s shrapnel are exhibited at the Playa Girón Museum as material evidence that 50 years later the Revolution remains victorious and paying respects to the fallen.
Thank you, very much.
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