Speech by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba, during a solidarity with Cuba event in Argentina, December 9, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution
(Transcript from the Presidency of the Republic)
Long live Argentina! (Applause and exclamations of: Viva!)
Long live Cuba! (Applause and exclamations of: Viva!)
Long live Fidel! (Exclamations of: Viva!)
Long live Che! (Exclamations of: Viva!)
Argentinean brothers and sisters:
First of all, I want to thank the Argentine people. We are visiting this beautiful, sister land for the first time. We have been here a few hours that seem like a full day. In the meetings we had with representatives of the Argentine people – artists, writers, sociologists, intellectuals, business leaders and people on the street – I can tell you that we have learned a lot and that we have received a great deal of affection.
We would also like to thank the solidarity with Cuba movement in Argentina, authorities at the University of Buenos Aires and the Exact Sciences department for the opportunity to have this moving, also combative, event.
I would like to thank Eugenia for her words, with the sensitivity of a doctor trained in Cuba.
And Leonel’s musical performance with his bandoneon. I met Leonel at the home of an Argentine friend who has lived in Cuba for many years. In the patio of that house, one night, Leonel delighted us with his songs, with Argentine tango, with songs by Silvio and also by Fito. Leonel was on a tour of Cuba; he was on a backpack tour, and told us that he was going to walk across the country with such humility that we set about the task of calling Party comrades, everyday, in every one of the provinces Leonel passed through, so that, as we Cubans say, “They would throw him a line” and help him out. (Laughter and applause)
Thanks to Hugo for his words, representing Argentine workers.
Thanks to Paula for her guitar music and song. Paula was with us today in the meeting with artists. She had her guitar, but there wasn’t time for her to sing, so, good, she sang here.
Thanks to all of you.
One of the first impressions we had on this trip, in this meeting, is that we agree on many ideas that must be defended, and we must defend them whatever the consequences.
I would also like to express a personal sentiment about what is happening in this event, what is happening in this meeting: I am convinced that Fidel and Che are present here. (Applause)
I am very excited to finally be, for the first time, in Argentina and with Argentine friends, sisters and brothers. I think you know the reasons as well as I do: for Cubans this is a nation for we hold special affection, practically, since we were born. Perhaps that first feelings come from the sounds of tango, which has always had its place on almost every radio station in Cuba.
But there is a more profound reason: Che was born here. He was also declared Cuban by birth, an exceptional case that he shares in our history with only Generalísimo Máximo Gómez, an extraordinary Dominican soldier who became General in Chief of the Mambi troops in our wars of independence.
Additionally, the city where I was born, raised and trained as a revolutionary leader, is Santa Clara, which has proudly proclaimed itself the City of Che, because one of the decisive battles leading to the January 1, 1959 victory, was successfully fought there, under his command. Plus, his remains rest in this city.
Friends and emotions, already inseparable from our feelings, have been added to this history, from all the compañeros who Che brought with him to the construction of our dreams of social justice in the founding years, to the pain shared by the 30,000 disappeared in Argentina (applause), the struggles of the Grandmothers and Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (applause); the passion for soccer, Maradona and his personal friendship with Fidel (applause); the best of Latin American cinema and Argentine rock; to Néstor and Cristina (applause), whose legacy has now been crystallized in Alberto’s triumph. And tomorrow, when the dawn in Argentina is brighter, brighter in hope, Cuba will be with you. (Applause)
As León Gieco would say, everything is saved in memory, and what we share is immense and deep.
Other reasons for the emotion are a little more private, and I am going to share them today, publicly, for the first time.
In July 2006, having just arrived from his last trip abroad, precisely to Argentina, to attend a historic Mercosur Summit, the Comandante en jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, called Holguín, where I was then leading the Communist Party of Cuba, to tell me that, after the July 26 commemoration in the neighboring province of Granma, he would come to our province.
I still remember the enthusiasm with which Fidel arrived. Less than a month from his 80’s, he didn’t seem exhausted by the long flight or by the intensity of the emotions experienced here, and then in Bayamo, the capital of Granma.
At the Mercosur meeting he had presented, and proposed to share with the governments of the bloc, Cuba’s experiences in the Energy Efficiency Program. Then he and Chavez visited Che’s museum-house in Altagracia, where they told the press about the dreams of integration they both held.
You can find some video, on the Internet, of the multitudinous reception that our leaders received on that visit to Che’s home, and the enthusiasm of both of them to give, to share, to integrate human resources, and all kinds. They spoke of a joint project to restore the vision of millions of people: Mission Miracle, which later would have its own missionaries, precisely in Cordoba.
At that province’s historic university, which conducted a reform that impacted the whole of America, Fidel and Chávez delivered speeches that are still moving. There, the Comandante en jefe described as incredible the fact that there were still 50 million illiterates in the hemisphere and more than 200 million semi-literates or functional illiterates, and he therefore promoted the literacy program “Yo sí puedo,” which had already arrived in Bolivia with the collaboration of Cuba and Venezuela, and which is now also present in Argentina.
Later, in Holguín, he told me with energy and passion that I will never forget: “ALBA is here.” He was referring to a electrical generation project to distribute energy that we were inaugurating, but also to the Latin Americans who at that time were studying medicine and other specialties in the province: 1,000 of them Bolivians who lived in the homes of Holguin families, and thousands of Venezuelans who were being trained as social workers, all of them participated in that memorable event.
In fact, within a few days we will be celebrating, in Havana, the 15th anniversary of the ideas of Fidel and Chávez that crystallized in ALBA-TCP, an alliance of solidarity including several countries, which began one of the most promising and hopeful periods in the history of Our America. So promising and hopeful that the enemies of regional integration have insisted on breaking it up, attacking progressive governments and their solidarity projects mercilessly, with the most barbaric methods.
From Honduras to Paraguay, from Ecuador to Brazil, from Nicaragua to Bolivia, from Venezuela to Cuba, they have put into practice, to the best of their ability, all the possible varieties of coups and have reactivated the worse practices of the OAS to carry them out.
It is impossible to forget that it was precisely in Córdoba, in 2006, at the Peoples’ Summit, where Hugo Chávez announced that Venezuelan oil had as its priority the countries of the regional bloc.
He also warned of the dangers of U.S. hegemony that “must end, because it threatens the world,” after Fidel had commented, “This integration has centuries-old enemies and they are not pleased with the news of this meeting.” Subsequent events are proving both leaders right every day in Our America.
I have recalled with emotion the unforgettable days of Fidel’s visit to Argentina in 2006, but I cannot fail to cite the one he made three years earlier, in 2003, with the same purpose we have today, that of participating in a historic inauguration, on that occasion, that of Nestor.
The Law School stairway at the University of Buenos Aires, overflowing with students, professors, people, more than 50,000 people attentive to a speech of more than two hours – mine won’t be that long (laughter) – on a cold Buenos Aires night, is part of our most intimate perception of what it means to be and to feel Latin American and of the emotional connection between our peoples. Fidel’s words that night had extraordinary repercussions given their content, denouncing the neoliberal model that was being imposed in the region with a high social cost, particularly here, where it generated great political instability due to the hardship and suffering it caused the Argentine people. Some friends who organized that meeting are participating here today, as well.
The context was very similar to what we are facing today. The Argentine people welcomed Néstor’s arrival to the Presidency with joy and hope. The country was still enormously indebted and immersed in a deep crisis, while Cuba was threatened by the warmongering government of then-President George W. Bush, determined to attack what he defined as “dark corners of the world,” among which he included us, at the same time as the blockade was tightened. Just change the names and we are living in the same times.
Let this reminder serve to reiterate here that the Cuban people will not be intimidated by the current U.S. administration either! (Applause)
The panorama is also one of struggle for the peoples’ rights, for unity and peace in our region, against neoliberal dictatorships and their military, police, judicial and media tools, and for the preservation of the planet and its increasingly threatened natural resources.
Neoliberal oligarchies, supported by the United States government, are intent upon maintaining control of everything they have seized in recent years using deceitful, perverse methods.
Supported by corrupt judges and their monopoly control of the media in the fast-moving era of social networks, they promote and implement modern techniques of manipulation and politically motivated judicial processes, almost always focused on pursuing, imprisoning and destroying the image of progressive political and social leaders of the left.
The most recent episode in this confrontation is the coup against the constitutional president of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, to whom we reiterate, here, our unwavering solidarity and support for him, and his noble people, as well. (Applause)
In Bolivia, as in other South American countries, brutal repression and serious human rights violations, with dozens of deaths, hundreds of wounded and thousands of people detained in social protests against the coup, against neoliberal policies and laws and social violence, are occurring before the complicit gaze of the United States, oligarchic governments and the discredited OAS.
We have not read or heard a single statement from any of them, despite the breakdown of institutions and the flagrant, massive violation of the rights of thousands of protesting citizens, most of them, today in Latin America, are youth.
Presenting the protests as a threat to the allegedly democratic order is a cruel joke.
Latin Americans have realized that neoliberal politicians and mainstream politics are powerless to solve our problems or improve lives, and Latin America is tired of them.
Wage cuts, weakening of labor rights, privatization and cutbacks in public services do not appear in campaign speeches. They are applied later in a betrayal of the people to whom they lied. And as Abraham Lincoln said in his era: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Neoliberalism promoted by the United States in Latin America made citizens more unequal, poorer, less protected and led them to distrust politicians.
In Latin America, neoliberalism weakened social benefits, considering them “too generous” and reduced access to universal health care, education and pensions.
It is easy to understand that the peoples of Our America now reject the impact of neoliberalism, which increased inequality, poverty, violence and criminality. It is not true that the people are causing destabilization. They are only defending their fundamental rights.
Cuba calls for an end to attacks on young people and students who are killed, left blind, disabled or seriously wounded for telling their truths.
Cuba calls on all honest political forces on the planet to demand an end to the attacks and judicial persecution of Vice-President Cristina Fernández and former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. (Applause)
Cuba alerts, at the same time, that the battle against neoliberalism and imperialism will be tougher, insofar as they have managed to advance unjust free trade agreements with which they have set a dangerous trap as serious as the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which was defeated here, in Argentina, in the unforgettable Mar del Plata Summit in 2005, led by Néstor and Chávez.
A few days ago, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a strong statement denouncing the dirty war that imperialism and national oligarchies are waging against progressive processes in the region.
The document recounts destabilization efforts promoted from Washington, whose main gang leaders – it is not possible to call them anything else – no longer use euphemisms to define us as their “backyard,” to wield the Monroe Doctrine and extend the worst practices of McCarthyism, using more sophisticated formulas, like so-called lawfare, seeking to spread the idea that leaders of the left are corrupt.
At a time when years, months and days have been painfully instructive in Our America regarding so-called Fourth Generation War, Cristina’s recent confrontation with her executioners proves once again what Fidel said so many times: “There is no weapon more powerful than the truth.” Even the most hostile media have been obliged to recognize the obvious maneuver and the illegality of methods used in the attempt to get rid of the Frente de Todos candidates for the Presidency.
The electoral victory, amidst this fierce campaign, is the best expression of the hopes renewed by this inauguration, which we are honored to attend, to witness another historic moment in this admirable country, and to congratulate its protagonists. (Applause)
Congratulations Alberto and congratulations Cristina, for the courage and unity you have maintained in the face of attempts by your political adversaries to break you. Congratulations Argentina! (Applause)
As the song says: Whoever said that everything is lost, Cuba comes to offer its heart (Applause and shouts of: “Cuba, Cuba, Cuba, the people salute you!”)
Cuba has come to express its solidarity with the new government of this sister nation and to share with all of you, who have defended and supported the Cuban people in the darkest hours, an assessment of the current situation and the ways we are confronting it.
I know that you all closely follow the news about our country and I will not abuse the time you have taken from other tasks to be with us.
I would just like to confirm that, as we have denounced in the United Nations and in all forums and platforms possible, the blockade of Cuba has been criminally tightened, and not a week goes by without a new decision to impose sanctions on the Cuban economy and our finances, even affecting third parties, as a practice of real economic terrorism.
This persecution is accompanied by threats and accusations that are as false as they are ridiculous, whether in the message comes from Presidential spokespeople, Mr. Pompeo, or the President of the United States.
With utmost maliciousness, in an attempt to deny Cuba any means of access to financial resources, they have launched a cynical, criminal crusade against our international medical cooperation, accusing the country of modern slavery and trafficking in persons, referring to our health system professionals, for the purpose – they say – of exploitation or alleged interference by this personnel in the internal affairs of states with which cooperation is maintained. At the same time, they are trying to re-establish the so-called Parole Program for Cuban medical professionals, with the open objective of sabotaging our bilateral agreements, depriving beneficiary nations of these services and our country – blockaded for six decades – of highly qualified human resources.
A new ghost is sweeping the world: now Cuba and Venezuela are accused of promoting instability, into which neoliberalism – with its practices of unequal trade and disdain for solidarity – has plunged several countries.
As the experts state, an attempt is being made to spread a Goebelian world view, in the worst style of German Nazism, in the case of Cuba, to sustain the genocidal blockade policy, condemned by the vast majority on the planet.
What is Cuba doing to confront this illegal, immoral war, which contravenes all international agreements guiding relations between sovereign countries?
We have chosen to resist and defend ourselves by creating, with an emphasis on defense and the economy. When we affirm that ‘We Are Cuba’ and ‘We Are Continuity, we are not repeated just another slogan, we are expressing the will to maintain the conquests of the Revolution and the dignity that our leaders bequeathed to us, (applause) an intention shared by the absolute majority of the Cuban people.
José Martí said: “Neither peoples nor men respect those who do not demand respect … Men and peoples go through this world sticking their fingers into the flesh of others to see if it is soft or if it resists, and we must make our flesh hard, to fend off impudent fingers.” Che Guevara later warned that imperialism cannot be trusted “not even a tiny bit.” Our entire history has been built on firm pillars of resistance against annexationist zeal and imperial interference, not only in our own destiny, but in the destinies of all of Our America and of all peoples fighting for their sovereignty.
Fidel, who was Martí’s best disciple and a brilliant interpreter of the Latin American and universal revolutionary ideal, from Bolívar to the present day, educated us in solidarity and internationalism without borders. In many ways he taught us to understand and practice Martí’s principle that ‘Homeland is Humanity,’ from Africa’s lands to Our America and the rest of the world, including the most honorable of the U.S. people.
For Cuba, the challenge is colossal. The inordinate hostility of the current U.S. government violates international law and rules of navigation and commerce, and has obliged us to face severe difficulties in acquiring fuel.
The blockade is tightened with the activation of the Helms-Burton Act’s Title III, through which the United States government commits massive violations of the Cuban people’s human rights, while damaging international companies and sovereign third countries.
These threats, however, will not stop us or divert us from our course. We are prepared to face the consequences of the electoral campaign in that country, which could lead to the aggravation of confrontational policies toward Cuba and other sister countries.
We said so at the recent Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, in Azerbaijan, where widespread alarm was expressed given the crisis of multilateralism, which today puts the United Nations system at risk.
That is to say, we are not alone in this fight against threats to regional and planetary peace and stability. At the global level, there is great concern about setbacks in important areas such as self-determination and the sovereignty of nations, the environment and confronting climate change, human rights, social justice and the search for equity.
We could add the inter-American system to this list of setbacks, with the reactivation of mechanisms as painfully recalled as the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which the empire itself discredited here, in the Malvinas, by supporting extra-regional powers (applause), while renewing the aggressiveness of the disgraced OAS and its secretary general, increasingly used as instruments of political pressure by the United States against Our America.
That is why, for us, as for other leftwing and progressive governments, the task that Fidel repeated so many times continues to be of the first order: to disseminate ideas and values, to create awareness and popular mobilization, to unite forces. Above all, to be united – in all our diversity, but united! (Applause)
It is no coincidence that among the objectives of the imperial and oligarchic onslaught are Celac, Unasur, Mercosur and ALBA, and that, time and again, they insist that they will not stop until they defeat Cuba, Cuba’s example, Cuba’s audacity.
And it is legitimate to ask: Why Cuba? The Revolution, from its very beginning, has been nothing more than a permanent search for the best way to respond to the demands and hopes of the majority. Isn’t that true democracy?
Fidel, Raúl and their compañeros of the Centennial Generation, who are still with us, taught us the value of responsibility that is assumed before the people. With them we learned not to say: believe, but to say: read; to transform the old structures of abuse and inequality left by the non-governments of the pseudo-republic in which Yankee ambassadors held more power than those who occupied the Presidential Palace, and to place the people in the role of protagonist of the changes, from the radical Agrarian Reform to the exercise of People’s Power.
We are working on the basis of these principles, with our ears to the ground, as our Army General Raúl Castro Ruz says, who, from the Party, leads the generational transition process, that in Cuba takes into consideration the effort and results of cadres and leaders trained in the provinces, in municipalities and neighborhood organizations.
Government in Cuba functions within this intense, living relationship with the people, with their demands and needs. We are not a perfect society, because we are, in the first place, a human society and our archipelago is not protected by a glass jar from the effects of a globalized world, where totally opposite policies predominate, but we are trying to, at least, make our society as just and egalitarian as possible.
We could advance faster and achieve better results if the empire would lift the siege. But we will not renounce our social justice project because of their criminal blockade or their outrageous financial persecution that makes the arrival of a barrel of oil to Cuba practically impossible without punishment for those who dare to transport it.
With Fidel we also learned to turn setbacks into victory and obstacles into challenges.
If the empire tries to discredit socialism by stifling any development effort in Cuba, our nation is demonstrating just the opposite. Thanks to socialism, socialist planning, the socialist ideal, we have built a country where everyone’s fate is important to everyone (applause); a humane, educated, solidary and just society to the extent that a Third World nation, with few natural resources and surrounded by the most powerful empire in history, can be.
We are Cuba! We are continuity! We are the bone stuck in the throat of the empire that it has been trying to swallow for almost a century and a half, and cannot. And again, as before, as always: We will triumph! (Applause)
Sisters and brothers:
With lies as infamous and ridiculous as those that are being launched today against the new Argentine government, they once surrounded Cuba and for years separated us from our brothers in the region, among them Argentina. From Argentina no less – the favorite daughter of the Greater Homeland, which José Martí served as consul and defended at the Monetary Conference of the Americas. The beloved Argentina in which Che Guevara was born! The same Argentina that welcomed Fidel when the Revolution first triumphed and that has offered us so much solidarity over sixty years. Argentina, whose children we have lovingly welcomed in Cuba, and with whom we have shared efforts and achieved results in areas such as literacy, the training of doctors and other professionals, and the miraculous Operation Miracle, which has restored vision to millions in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Applause)
May the imperialists and the oligarchs beware: there is no force on earth that can divide our peoples. There is no force on earth that can separate Cuba and Argentina! (Chants and applause).
You embody the best spirit of a deep and true Argentina. You confirm the triumph of the popular and peasant movements, unions, political forces, student and women’s organizations, as well as intellectual groups. That is why you have lived a day of celebration and commitment to greater justice.
When we arrived here, we felt the spirit of joy in the air, the hope recovered, once again, from the bottom of the neoliberal well.
In the name of Cuba, we reaffirm that we will continue to be firm, loyal revolutionaries, worthy of our forefathers, and that we will not yield an inch in defense of independence, sovereignty and social justice, nor will we renounce solidarity with peoples who fight and resist.
Let us struggle together for a better world, one that is possible, just and necessary!
Always onward to victory!