Excerpts from Castro's speech that touch on imperialism, the blockade, the pandemic, the party, Cuba's medical brigades, international solidarity and neo-liberalism.
Castro delivers his report -- Image via Twitter
This past weekend the Communist Party of Cuba held its 8th Congress in Havana (April 16-19). At it Raúl Castro delivered the Central Report at the end of which he confirmed he was stepping down as the party's First Secretary.
Here we have compiled some excerpts, translated from the Spanish, that touch on imperialism, the blockade, the pandemic, the party, Cuba's medical brigades, international solidarity and neo-liberalism.
(Full text of the report: Informe Central al 8vo. Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba (+PDF) | Partido Comunista de Cuba (pcc.cu))
The opening of the Eighth Congress of the Party takes place on a momentous date in the history of the nation: the 60th anniversary of commander-in-chief Fidel Castro Ruz's proclamation of the socialist character of the Revolution, on April 16, 1961, in his farewell to the fallen the day before in the bombings of the air bases, prelude to the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón, organized and financed by the United States Government as part of its plans to crush the example of the Cuban Revolution and reimpose neocolonial dominance over the island, with the complicity of the Organization of American States (OAS).
We plan to conclude the Congress next Monday, April 19, when we will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the victory over the mercenary expedition, reached in less than 72 hours by Rebel Army fighters, policemen and militiamen who, under the personal direction of their partner Fidel, did not give a moment of peace to the invaders and shed, for the first time, their blood in defense of Socialism. The hard-hitting strikes by State Security on counter-revolutionary groups, acting as a fifth column within the country, aided the triumph over the enemy's plans.
Separate mention is deserved for the fight against the pandemic according to the national plan approved by the Political Bureau on January 30, 2020, which has been updated and enriched with the experience accumulated in the different stages.
This plan includes cross-sectoral actions with the integration of Central State Administration agencies, mass organizations and the active participation of the people, especially young people. Its main strength is the political will to care for the health of the population.
Compliance with this plan has shown that it is possible to control the epidemic by observing established protocols, differentiated care for vulnerable groups, active case search, as well as isolation of suspected cases and contacts, hospital admission and preventive and therapeutic treatments with novel medicines produced by the Cuban pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, arising under the personal direction of the Commander-in-Chief.
The results achieved are possible only in a socialist society, a free, accessible universal health system with competent and committed professionals; however, in recent months there has been a global resurgence, from which Cuba is not excluded, as a result, among other reasons, of having relaxed compliance with the measures established.
The country's response to COVID-19 has been characterized by the contribution of scientists and experts in the development of research and innovations, with the immediate introduction of its results aimed at the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients. Intensive work is being carried out in clinical trials of five vaccine candidates that could serve to immunize the entire Cuban population and contribute to the health of other nations. These results, by themselves, as I have already expressed on other occasions, make my admiration for Fidel grow every day. (Applause)
The Communist Party:
The content of Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic -- the full wording of which is the personal work of Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, remained in the current one, with the same number and content as in the one promulgated in 1976 -- enshrines the Communist Party of Cuba as the superior leading force of society and the State, which organizes and guides common efforts towards the construction of socialism.
Therefore, the constitutional text is a huge responsibility for all militants, since the moral authority of the single party that guarantees and represents the unity of the nation emanates precisely from exemplariness in the fulfillment of duty and constitutional postulates, as well as in high ethical, political and ideological qualities, in close bond with the masses.
It falls to the Party, as an organization that brings together the revolutionary avant-garde, the honourable mission of being the worthy heir to the trust placed by the people in the founding leader of the Revolution, Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz. It's not something new, I said it almost 15 years ago to avoid confusion of any kind, and I repeat it today because I feel it's a concept that remains fully valid for the present and future of the nation (Applause).
Fidel himself, as early as March 14, 1974, said: "The Party is the vanguard of the people, the safety of the people, the guarantee of the people. [...] Cutting-edge organization is critical. Do you know what gives security to the Revolution? The Party. Do you know what gives permanence to the Revolution? The Party. Do you know what gives the Revolution a future, what brings the Revolution to life, which gives the Revolution a future? The Party. Without the Party there could be no Revolution" (Applause)...
The unity of the vast majority of Cubans around the Party and the work and ideals of the Revolution has been our fundamental strategic weapon to successfully face all kinds of threats and aggressions. That is why this unity must be zealously cared for and can never accept the division between revolutionaries under false pretexts of greater democracy, for this would be the first step in destroying from within the Revolution itself, socialism and therefore national independence and falling back under the rule of American imperialism.
However, if we have only one party we must promote, in its functioning and in general in our society, the broadest democracy and a permanent sincere and profound exchange of opinions.
The programme of subversion and ideological and cultural influence aimed at discrediting the socialist model of development has been redoubled and capitalist restoration presented as an alternative...
In the last four years, the immense and unequal American might has escalated the aggression against Cuba with added impunity. 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 through the use of force and sought to put into political, legal and moral crisis the pillars on which international relations had rested for decades.
The international community seemed unable to curb the most blatant abuses and abuses by the main economic, military and technological power, whose irresponsible actions have been the greatest threat to peace, stability, ecological balance and the survival of life on Earth.
This context partly explains the particularly harmful effect of the economic blockade with which the United States assaults our country. This is also set out by the conditions of an increasingly interconnected, interdependent international economy increasingly dictated from the financial centers of power controlled from Washington.
Despite the repeated and overwhelming rejection of it by the international community, the blockade harms Cuba's economic relations with virtually 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 on the actions of national entities that reside in their own territories, as they are often docilely subordinated to Washington, as if we were living in a world subjugated by the unipolar power of the United States.
This blockade, which our people have faced for more than 60 years with effort, sacrifice and creativity, would have been able to devastate the economy and social stability of any country, even those that are richer and more powerful than Cuba. It is the most comprehensive, unequal and protracted economic war ever fought against any nation.
Only under the conditions of the socialist system, based on social justice, the unity of the people around the Party and the joint and supportive effort to defend the country, can an underdeveloped and relatively small nation like ours, with few natural riches, avoid collapse and even advance its development.
The policy against Cuba unleashed by the previous United States government was strengthened under the harsh conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruthless nature of imperialism was revealed.
Objective data on the damage the United States has caused to the Cuban economy and the targeted impact of the more than 240 coercive measures taken since 2017 are sometimes not sufficiently understood or not carefully valued. It should be understood that these are not mere actions to increase the blockade, but new methods, some unprecedented, that took the magnitude of economic warfare to a qualitatively more aggressive step, which is reflected in the material deficiencies that accompany the daily life of each Cuban.
Cuba's International Medical Cooperation:
Another act that best describes the nature of imperialism and the escalation of its aggression against the nation is the immoral campaign against Cuba's international medical cooperation.
Our trajectory on this front has no equal in the world. It is a substantial effort of the moral principles on which Cuban society is built. It rests on the notion that we share what we have, not what we have left over. The success of having formed, with perseverance and dedication, the human resources and a robust, effective and sustainable public health system gives us that opportunity to share with others.
It is a solidarity effort that will be maintained despite the campaigns. It has saved lives, fought disease, alleviated suffering and improved the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, almost always from the most vulnerable or disadvantaged populations, in the most remote areas, sometimes in conditions of extreme difficulty and even danger. It includes important and meritorious assistance to countries that have suffered natural disasters.
The American attack is aimed at discrediting such noble and recognized work and depriving Cuba of the fair, honest and legitimate income that with its efforts ensures thousands of technically and ethically trained professionals in the country.
Access to health is a universal human right, and the U.S. government commits a crime when, to assault us, it is dedicated to sabotaging the only source of medical services that millions of people in the world have access to.
In case there is any doubt, we must recognize that neoliberalism once again demonstrated the inability to respond to the region's social problems. Its role in dismantling social justice structures and the doctrinal attack on any notion of social justice left most countries powerless and helpless in the face of the scourge of COVID-19. Its legacy has been increased inequality, the deepening of social polarization and the worsening of the crisis of stagnation and instability suffered by many of the societies in Our America.
We Cubans reiterate our solidarity with Venezuela, with the civic-military union of its heroic people, and with its only and legitimate president, Partner Nicolás Maduro Moros.
We reiterate solidarity with Nicaragua Sandinista, with its people and with President Commander Daniel Ortega Saavedra.
We greet President Luis Arce of Bolivia's Plurinational State, a nation where the people staged a popular victory that slapped the United States and its instrument, the Organization of American States, which had organized the coup against partner Evo Morales Ayma.
We observe 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 harm to their nations.
We welcome and support the attempts of both governments to recover genuinely Latin American integration processes.
We reiterate the unchanging support for Argentina's efforts to regain sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich.
We confirmed our solidarity with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of Brazil's Workers' Party, against whom politicized legal proceedings were made. We insist on his innocence, full freedom and the restoration of all political rights.
We will continue to defend the legitimate interests of Caribbean nations and support their claim to receive compensation for the consequences of slavery and colonialism. The Caribbean will always be able to count on Cuba. In particular, we reaffirm our commitment to the brother people of Haiti, for which the international community should do much more.
We confirm full support for Puerto Rico's self-determination and independence.
Cuba's commitment to the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean is immovable, loyalty in defense of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of peoples is a principle of the Revolution, and the will to promote regional cooperation and integration is part of our cause. We will not give in for a moment in the task of helping to make Our America the common homeland of all your children...
In these five years, excellent relations 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, Asian Socialist countries to which we are joined by historic friendship and solidarity, were consolidated. Relevant are the economic projects we develop with China and Vietnam in various areas of our economy, which are taxed on the Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030...
We maintain our collaboration and solidarity with the countries of Africa, a continent to which strong ties of history, culture and brotherhood bind us. Thousands of health and other partners provide their services there in more than 30 countries. We welcome the unanimous position of the African Union in solidarity with Cuba and against the blockade during these years.
Our support for the causes of the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples will remain unchanging commitments.
As far as I am concerned, I conclude my task as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba with the satisfaction of a duty fulfilled and confidence in the future of the Fatherland, with the thoughtful conviction not to accept proposals to remain in the upper organs of the partisan organization, in whose ranks I will continue to fight as another revolutionary combatant willing to make my modest contribution until the end of my life (Prolonged Applause).
Nothing compels me to make this decision, but I fervently believe in the strength and value of the example and the understanding of my compatriots and that no one doubts that as long as I live I will be ready, with one foot in the stirrup, to defend the Fatherland, the Revolution and Socialism.
Stronger than ever we shout:
Long live Cuba Libre! (Exclamations of: "Long live!")
Long live Fidel! (Exclamations of: "Long live!")
Homeland or Death!