Granma | 27 July, 2016
Photo: Estudio Revolución
Full text of speech by José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee, and a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, held in Sancti Spíritus, July 26, 2016, Year 58 of the Revolution26
(Council of State transcript/GI translation)
Compañero Army General Raúl Castro Ruz;
Combatants of the epic July 26 assaults and the Granma yacht expedition;
Families of the fallen;
Compatriots and friends from other latitudes here present;
Men and women of Sancti Spíritus:
Certain that I express the sentiments of our people and millions of friends of Cuba all over the world, I begin these words by conveying, on behalf of all, and on a date of such special significance, the warmest congratulations to compañero Fidel Castro Ruz, historic leader of the Revolution, for his approaching 90th birthday.
And something even more important: to reaffirm to him our commitment to remain faithful to the ideas for which he has fought throughout his life and to always keep alive the spirit of resistance, combativeness, dialectical thinking, and the confidence in victory he instilled in us, firstly, through his example. (Applause)
In preparing for this speech, I once again studied his speech in this city, on July 26, 1986.
As is logical, he devoted part of his words to the tasks that the country was immersed in at that time, in the midst of great dangers, including the threat of direct military aggression. They were extremely complex circumstances, although very different from today, above all in the international arena. However, the essential concepts expressed that day appear as if spoken today, the ideas and guidance on how to do things better. On that occasion he warned us, and I quote, “It is not worth advancing if what has been done is not consolidated.”
He immediately noted, “…we have not been capable of emphasizing and instilling that the first duty of a revolutionary is work (…) wealth will only come from work.” He concluded by stating, “A people who are able to overcome their own shortcomings, their own mistakes, a people who do not surrender to anything, are and will always be an invincible people.” (Applause)
The validity of these ideas is not a fortuitous event nor is it something extraordinary. It is the logical consequence of a Revolution that has consistently acted on the basis of principles, and that is carried forward by a people who since 1959 have struggled to achieve the same goals, under the guidance of their historic leaders.
As in any human endeavor, we have made mistakes in these more than 57 years, but our people have been able to rectify and overcome every obstacle, among other reasons, because they soon realized that a profound social transformation is not limited to enjoying the rights conquered, it implies duties that involve many efforts, sacrifices and dangers, not in search of pipe dreams, but with our feet on the ground and struggling daily to realize every advance as circumstances permit. It is no coincidence that the masterly definition of compañero Fidel begins by expressing, “Revolution means having a sense of the historical moment; it means changing everything that must be changed…”
With this clear consciousness we began updating our economic and social model, characterized from the beginning by the broadest, most democratic and real citizens’ participation, on a scale and depth unimaginable in countries that proclaim themselves to be paradigms of democracy.
As we recall, almost the entire people took an active part in the process conducted more than five years ago, and which today continues with the analysis by hundreds of thousands of members of the Party, the UJC and representatives of all sectors of society, of the documents which, due to their strategic importance and special significance for the future of the country, the Seventh Party Congress agreed to submit to public discussion prior to their final approval by the Central Committee next December.
In the 22,241 meetings held since mid-June, when the process began, which will run until September, 704,643 compatriots had participated, making 359,648 interventions, including 95,482 proposals directed toward, almost without exception, enriching and making these documents more precise. These are figures that demonstrate the understanding that exists regarding the importance of this debate.
As the First Secretary of our Party has reaffirmed, as many changes as are needed will be introduced, at the pace we choose. Without exception these are aimed at consolidating our socialism, to make it more prosperous and sustainable. Each will be the result of the sovereign decision of the Cuban people; none, even in the slightest, will conform to external pressures, many of which aim, underhandedly or openly, to dismantle our revolutionary work.
The speech made by compañero Fidel in this city 30 years ago, in simple words summed up what the life of the inhabitants of the territory that today forms the province was like before 1959, when here, as throughout the country, unemployment, poverty, a lack of schools and health care predominated.
I will mention just one figure: the infant mortality rate: over 60 per 1,000 live births, according to optimistic estimates, as there were no reliable statistics and it may actually be that this exceeded 100. Last year, in the province this indicator was 4.2, on a par with countries of high economic development. (Applause)
In addition, in the areas covered by the Turquino Plan, that is, in the mountains, the infant mortality rate is zero. (Applause). It is not difficult to imagine the terrifying figures that would have been reached in the fifties, when hundreds of children died from curable diseases due to lack of medicines, which may even have cost just a few pesos, but which were inaccessible to many campesinos.
These are figures and facts that call for reflection and allow us to assess how much our people have advanced since then. We can not forget that to make a reality the opportunities, rights and possibilities that are today seen as something normal, and that some even think simply fell from the sky, rivers of sweat, and even blood, had to be shed.
That day, Fidel recognized the significant progress of the then young province of Sancti Spíritus on the economic front, in education and health. As is known, a few years later came the most severe stage of the Special Period and many of those gains were temporarily lost. Today, almost all have been recovered, some corresponded to that historic moment and it would not be rational to restore them, however others – and they are plenty – are in a quantitative and qualitatively superior phase to that of those years. This demonstrates the fighting spirit that has always characterized the people of Sancti Spíritus, the children of a piece of Cuba with a particular leading role in the history of our homeland. (Applause)
Sancti Spíritus had special significance for Major General Máximo Gómez. Here he fought, between January 1897 and April 1898, the Reform Campaign, when in command of 4,000 mambises he managed to mire and inflict heavy casualties on a contingent of 50,000 Spanish soldiers. He chose as his main theater of operations the pastures he knew well from the Ten Years’ War and where in 1876 his son Panchito was born in the countryside, a symbol of the patriotism, fidelity and courage of Cuban youth.
Here, a handful of mambises, led by Colonel Ramón Leocadio Bonachea, continued fighting for over a year after the Pact of Zanjón, and when it was impossible to continue the struggle, 22 kilometers from this city, at the railway station of Jarao, he left a written record that he had not accepted any pact.
That historic act was also signed by another great son of this land, Serafín Sánchez Valdivia, who participated in the three independence wars and reached the rank of Major General of the Liberation Army. His words on sensing that an enemy bullet had struck him, “They have killed me, it does not matter, the march continues!”, constitute the legacy and symbol of an unwavering attitude toward the enemies of the homeland. (Applause)
This is the glorious ancestry of our people, of the combatants of the Rebel Army and the clandestine struggle; of the militia of Girón and the fight against bandits; of the internationalist combatants and collaborators; of the millions of Cubans of all ages who face the challenges of the present.
Compañeras and compañeros:
Organized and sustained labor, without wasting time on fanfare, has made this province worthy of hosting this event. It is recognition of the efforts of its cadre, of its leadership structures, and firstly, of its people; the daily and conscious efforts of every working man and woman, irrefutable proof of their firm support for the Revolution. (Applause)
Sancti Spíritus in recent years has seen sustained progress in key economic and social indicators; it stands out, among others, for the gradual expansion, based on solid foundations, of agricultural production. For example, the growth of milk production is sustained, even above expected plans; the province was a bastion of this important sector and, fortunately, has reestablished its position. In other areas of production, as a rule, plans are met, although some, such as rice, with the adjustments imposed by the drought.
However, it is worth clarifying that fulfilling the plan is not synonymous with meeting the needs of the country or reaching the existing potential, from which, in many cases, we are still far removed. Achieving this will require working day after day with the dedication and intelligence demanded on this decisive front.
Sancti Spíritus also stands out for the repeated fulfillment of sugar production plans, something which unfortunately has not been matched across the country in recent years and less so in the last harvest, where only one other province, the neighboring Ciego de Ávila, achieved this result (Applause), although you are aware that in this area there are also efficiency reserves.
Something very important: in 2015 the plan for exportable goods was surpassed, reaching 277.9 million pesos, the highest level ever in the province.
In the budgeted sector, costs have been lowered and revenue surpassed, allowing for a surplus which in 2015 exceeded 127 million pesos.
Tourism, a sector of great importance, also shows progress, particularly in the municipality of Trinidad, thanks to the integrated contribution of all sectors. In addition, the city of Sancti Spíritus has potential which will need to be continually developed, given its beauty and heritage, as one of the first villas founded in Cuba 500 years ago. Other areas of the province also have potential, especially for nature tourism.
Urban recovery contributes to these purposes and especially to improving the quality of life of the people, along with advances in education, health, culture and in the social sphere generally, the consolidation and development of which will depend on the results achieved in the economy.
I convey, on behalf of the Party, the government and all Cubans, well-deserved congratulations to the people of Sancti Spíritus for this demonstration that any obstacle can be overcome when working with responsibility and devotion. (Applause). In particular, to compañero José Ramón Monteagudo Ruiz, for his dedication in fulfilling his duties and above all for having channeled the flow of creativity and energy of the people of Sancti Spíritus. (Applause)
It is fair and well-deserved to recognize the achievements, but much more important is to have clearly identified the problems and shortcomings to be resolved, especially in the field of the economy. Knowing where there is untapped potential, in which activities it is possible to make savings and increase efficiency, how much more can be produced or a service improved, especially if this means increased income for the country, either through exports or import substitution.
Concentrating efforts here, with the organization, order and discipline that should always exist, but even more so in complex circumstances such as the present, in which, in addition to the economic blockade – which remains intact, although some out there think otherwise – there are other difficulties arising from the international situation, which are beyond our control.
I will not expand on these issues. We all heard the words of the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, in closing, on July 8, theordinary session of the National Assembly of People’s Power. In them, the challenges ahead are summarized and the guidelines provided as to how to face and overcome these.
As compañero Raúl expressed, and I quote:
“In the face of difficulties and threats, there is no room for improvisation or, much less, defeatism. To victoriously overcome an economic situation like the one we are facing requires acting with much energy, equanimity, rationality and political sensitivity, continuing to tighten up coordination between the Party and the government, and above all, with much optimism and confidence in the present and future of the Revolution.” His words up to here. (Applause)
Let us demonstrate every day, in every workplace and with concrete action, that we will rise to the occasion to meet this new challenge,as the Centennial Generation did that July 26, 1953, and as have so many Cuban men and women throughout the exemplary history of struggles and victories of the homeland.
Eternal glory to our heroes and martyrs! (Shouts of “Glory!”)
¡Viva Fidel! (Shouts of: “¡Viva!”)
¡Viva Raúl! (Shouts of: “¡Viva!”)
¡Viva Cuba libre! (Shouts of: “¡Viva!”)
¡Venceremos! (Shouts of: “¡Venceremos!”)