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      Fidel and Che’s Legacy in Cuba Today
      Speech by Tania Lopez, Cuban Consul General, at 7th International Che Guevara Conference

      At the end of October, 2017, the 7th International Che Guevara Conference was held in Vancouver, British Columbia. The conference was an significant success, with over 350 people attending over three days of program organized by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) under the theme: “From the Russian Revolution to the Cuban Revolution: The Question of Leadership, Implementing the Socialist Project & Where We Are Today!”

      One of the honoured guests and speakers at the International Che Guevara Conference was Tania Lopez Larroque, Consul General of the Cuban Consulate in Toronto, who was in Vancouver for her first time. In her initial contribution to the conference, Tania gave a keynote address on “Fidel & Che’s Legacy in Cuba Today,” which made an important contribution to the debates and discussions to follow. Her words are below.

      For further photos, reports, and videos of the 7th International Che Guevara Conference: www.cheguevaraconference.ca
      Good morning. I am excited as well, being my first time here in Vancouver. I have been here in Canada for a year now and I have had the best references of people in Vancouver fighting for Cuba and defending Cuba. So, I am really excited, I am really honoured to be here in Vancouver with you today. Thank you all for the invitation.

      When Tamara told me that we were having this conference, and that this morning we will be talking about Fidel and Che’s legacy to Cuba, I said that it could be really easy, if I just say “well Fidel and Che’s legacy is everything,” and that’s it. And it would be quite difficult as well, because I have to go further then that and try to explain how we face this, how to cover the huge spectrum of Fidel and Che’s legacy on every day life in Cuba.

      I have some notes here, because with this topic I used to get really passionate, and I don’t want to get so passionate and I would like to cover the same course. That is why you will see me looking at the laptop from time to time.

      As I have seen in the program, during the next sections, I think you will be going through some detailed aspects about this legacy, not only to Cuba, but to the whole world. These remarks will only propose to make a presentation, maybe to open thoughts and debates of what I think. I am quite sure it will be a really successful event in two sessions.

      Che Guevara went through a long journey throughout Latin America, facing the suffering of most of the people in Latin America. Che felt that there are no boundaries among countries or nationalities that define limits to defend principles. Then, he meets Fidel, and found a tangible revolutionary movement that matches with his ideals. He joins him, and they fight together to make it possible. Then, when the Cuban Revolution shows definitive signs of strength, and the conviction not to go back, Che continues spreading its altruistic principles in other countries. Fidel supports him and later, Cuba itself, will continue Che’s path fighting for other countries.

      Having said this, this may be a very simple summary of a great chapter of a history that you all know. That leads us to the topic that we are trying to approach today, the common legacy of these two leaders to humanity.

      Concerning Cuba, I would say that their main legacy is Cuba itself. The Cuban Revolution and its people today. As we have all seen in the short documentary materials, since the very beginning, our parents, our grandparents trusted these leaders, when no one knew what was going to happen.

      When I was born, everything was a reality. It was easier to trust them. It was easier to know what to believe in; but, our parents, our grandparents, they were the ones that worked along with these two leaders, and they trust them absolutely. They joined them in the nationalization processes of industries, in the literacy campaign, in agricultural reforms, and all those radical changes that were necessary in a revolution aimed to reverse all social damages. And people were always part of the process, I think that is a huge achievement. As Che and Fidel were, and are, part of the people as well.

      Another legacy that I would stand for, definitely as one of the main legacies to our country today, is the principle of sovereignty and justice anywhere; solidarity principles as well; what for us means, not giving what you have an abundance of, but sharing what you have. That is something that makes our foreign policy, our everyday life particular and unique and I think that’s a legacy from Fidel and Che. You have seen recently how Cuba, after being hit, dramatically hit, by Hurricane Irma, we are standing up, we are moving forward, and at the same time we are offering our humble support to all those islands that have been hit, and to Mexico because of the earthquake. That is what we are trying to do. Because Cuba has always received as well, solidarity from many other countries and from many other peoples, like you are doing today.

      One of the most, and I think probably sometimes it’s not the most recognized legacy when we’re talking or reading of history, but I was trying to think of how to detail this. I think our criticism is something that we value as a legacy from Fidel and Che. It’s not possible to move forward if you don’t recognize what has been done wrong. And Fidel was always really serious on that, and so was Che. Always criticizing what we were supposed to do, what we were going to do, where we did well and where we did not. And with the Cuban people still we are like that. We have a strong criticism of our problems, we try to solve our problems, and that’s why we always have, mainly during the last years of these huge recent changes, we have stages in our revolutionary process as you know, and all of them have been characterized by mass consultations, parliamentary debates. That’s something that I always find is really important to say, because you will never find the media talking about Cuba and presenting our parliamentary debates as they are. Open, broadcast live, where our members discuss our most common problems. Since transportation, since political decisions or elections. And that’s it, that’s part of our process, and the population takes part in that.

      Another thing that I think is a huge achievement, is not to be conformist, and to try to make it better every time. Sometimes we fulfill, sometimes we don’t. But the importance is to keep trying.

      To conceive the revolution as a process. Not a final product. Look forward, and preserve continuity through generations. That’s why we have the presence of young leaders, parliament members, that are really young, debating as I told you before, every aspect of our economy and society, at all levels and sectors. The reform projects in our economy today, face really new characteristics, which we constantly evaluate on its application and affect on our people. No doubt, that economics and market mark the rhythm of today’s world. The challenge is not to let them rule above our human nature. We are urged to preserve our social achievements, and improve them.

      Defense of culture, I would say, is one of the most relevant legacies that Fidel and Che have left our country. To defend the culture, not as a slogan. Not only because it is what defines our nationality or any other aspects of someone’s singularity, but because culture determines people’s capacity to think. To evaluate what is good and what is not. That is why Fidel always said to the people, we say to the people, “read,” we don’t tell the people, “believe.”

      Never deny history, and in the recent years we have acknowledged, I think even more, the importance of this legacy. Never deny history. A few years ago, someone in Havana asked the Cuban people to forget the past. We were then, and we are now, quite sure that it is not possible to do that. It’s not possible to move to the future, forgetting about the past. We will continue moving forward, definitely, but we will never put away our history.

      Perseverance and resistance. I think these two values, which all over the world people recognize the Cuban people because of this, and they say you are so resistant and you persevere on every fight on every goal you aim for. I always think, if Fidel and Che had given up in front of all of the obstacles that they faced, we wouldn’t be here today. Likewise, if the Cuban people would have given up in front of the blockade we have been facing for more than 50 years, this conference today would not have a point of discussion.

      Definitely Fidel and Che have led us with the conviction that the only possible future for our country is to continue building a more sustainable and profitable socialism. We are convinced of that. Che and Fidel remain revolutionary leaders, they are not myths. It is challenge, it is a challenge for all revolutionaries here in Canada, all over the world, to avoid that these leaders become only an image on t-shirts or posters. I think that our commitment is showing the younger revolutionaries and the younger generations, that definitely a better future is possible.

      Having said this, I just would like to open this first session by sending our gratefulness and acknowledging your presence here. Thank you for your endless effort for many years and for devoting these spaces and these forums of debate for these topics that the media would never like to talk about, we would never find this on social networks or in the mass media. On behalf of the Cuban people and the Cuban government, thank you and we wish you all of the success in this event. Thank you.

      Follow Tania Lopez Larroque on Twitter:@CGCuba_Toronto

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