Speech by Army General Raúl Castro, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the closure of the 7th Party Congress, in Havana’s Convention Center, April 19, 2016, Year 58 of the Revolution
(Council of State transcript – GI translation)
Dear compañero Fidel;
Compañeras and compañeros:
We have had intense days of work in this 7th Congress, drawing to a close, during which we have adopted agreements of strategic importance for the present and future of the nation.
The Congress approved the Central Report and several resolutions on the principal subjects analyzed, the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, and their updating was agreed upon, expressed in 274 guidelines.
Likewise, a report on the fulfillment of the First Party Conference Objectives
was discussed, and decisions were made to continue strengthening the Party’s role as the principal leading force in society and the state, as established in the Constitution of the Republic.
At the same time, the Congress favorably received the proposals presented on the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, and the foundations for the Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, and, considering their importance, approved was the initiation of a broad, democratic debate on these programmatic documents, with the membership of the Party, the UJC, representatives of mass organizations, and different sectors of society. We hope to conclude this process before the end of the current year, so that the Central Committee, in accordance with the authority granted by the Congress, can definitively approve them.
Given the great complexity of these proposals, it is imperative to adopt all of the required measures in the interest of assuring, in the first place, that they are understood, which implies carrying out rigorous training beforehand of those who will conduct the discussion.
On a subject of this nature, it is essential to achieve the conscious support of the great majority; it is therefore imperative to listen, to reason, and take into consideration the opinions of members and the people in general.
I believe it is appropriate to recall that the process of updating our economic model, which we initiated at the 6th Congress, is not a task of one or two five-year periods. The course has been charted. We will move forward with firm steps, without haste, but without pause, keeping in mind that the pace will depend on the consensus which we are capable of forging within our society, and the organizational capacity we achieve to introduce the necessary changes, without precipitation, or much less improvisation, which only lead to failure.
Progress toward the updating of our model, and the construction of a prosperous, sustainable, and irrevocable socialism in Cuba, demand that the principles of justice and equality, which have served as the Revolution’s foundation, be preserved and strengthened.
A Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble, as Fidel defined it, with undeniable social works constructed, will never find solutions to its problems behind the backs of the people, or with the restoration of capitalism, which would imply the application of shock therapies to layers of the population with the least resources, and destroy the unity and confidence of the majority of our citizens in the Revolution and the Party. In Cuba, I reiterate once again, no one will be left to their fate.
Nor will the agreements of this historic Congress be filed away. On the contrary, we must ensure their fulfillment with order, discipline and high expectations, with a vision of the future, and a great deal of intentionality. Contributing to this is the decision, reaffirmed here, that Central Committee plenums will verify progress being made in the updating of the economic model and the economic plan, at least twice a year, for the number of days, and also the number of times, that may be necessary.
We likewise propose proceeding with the analysis of these issues in sessions of the National Assembly, whose role in the approval of the legislative framework associated with this process continues to be decisive.
Today, this morning, presented were the new Central Committee, Secretariat and Political Bureau, making evident the continuation of the gradual process of renovation and rejuvenation begun at the 6th Congress.
Given the implacable laws of nature, this 7th Congress will be the last led by the historic generation, which will pass on the banners of the Revolution and Socialism to new leaders (Applause), without the slightest trace of sadness or pessimism, with the pride of having fulfilled one’s duty, convinced that they will be able to continue and magnify the Revolution’s work, to which great effort was devoted, and life itself for many generations of compatriots, as we said in the Central Report, since 1868.
The Central Committee is composed of 142 members, of which a bit more than two thirds were born after the triumph of the Revolution, and the average age was reduced to 54.5 years, younger than in 2011.
At the same time, the Congress agreed to maintain within the leadership of the Party a smaller group of veterans of advanced age from the historic generation, who enjoy authority with the people, given their long revolutionary careers.
As we explained in the Central Report, the next five years will be decisive to guaranteeing the gradual, well-ordered transfer of the principal responsibility for the country to younger generations, a process of special importance which we hope to carry out and conclude with the holding of the 8th Congress in 2021.
The fact that more than 98% of Central Committee members are university graduates is impressive.
The representation of women increased, and has now reached 44.37%, as well as that of Blacks and mixed race Cubans, with 35.92%. These figures are higher than those of the previous Congress, but we are not satisfied. It is imperative that all Party, state and government leaders work systematically on the creation of a reserve of mature and experienced replacements to assume the principal responsibilities for the nation, in a just relation to the composition of the Cuban population in terms of skin color and gender.
The 55 new members of the Central Committee are all under 60 years of age, meeting the maximum age limit established by this Congress for joining this Party leadership body, as we have said, always in the spirit of guaranteeing the ongoing rejuvenation of the leadership.
The maximum of 60 years of age implied the exclusion from the candidature of valuable cadres who occupy positions of great responsibility in the Party, state, and government with the proven records and ability to be members of this leadership body.
The norms setting age limits must be reasonably established in guiding documents of the Party, mass organizations, and, by decision of the National Assembly, also in state and government bodies, in such a way that the positions which should not be assumed by persons over the age of 70 are defined precisely.
The Congress, meanwhile, approved the use of more flexible regulations which will allow for the development of reserves for the subsequent renovation of the Central Committee during this period, without having to wait for the 8th Congress.
I also consider necessary that the functioning of the many associated bodies we have in the Party, state, and government, continues to be strengthened, so that important decisions are always the product of collective analysis, so that honest disagreements and different opinions are not excluded.
The Political Bureau is composed of 17 members. Five new members joined the body, compañeras Miriam Nicado García, Teresa Amarelle Boué and Marta Ayala Ávila; and compañeros Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento and Roberto Morales Ojeda.
These promotions are not fortuitous or improvised.
In the case of compañera Miriam Nicado, she is Mathematical Sciences PhD, and has for several years served as rector of the Computer Sciences University (UCI). Previously, at the Marta Abreu Central University in Las Villas, she was a professor and gradually assumed greater responsibilities, before becoming the deputy rector for teaching. She studied in the Soviet Union for five years, and later another year of specialization.
Compañera Teresa Amarelle has been the general secretary of the national leadership of the Federation of Cuban Women since 2012. She was a middle school teacher and went on to undertake professional duties in the UJC, where she served as second and first secretary of the municipal committee of the organization in Amancio Rodríguez. Later she was gradually promoted in the Party in the same municipality, and held the position of first secretary, after which she was elected to the same responsibility at the provincial level in Las Tunas.
The Doctor of Biological Sciences Marta Ayala – I think she is the youngest, although among women these things should not be mentioned (Laughter) – has had an ascending career at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, which has led her from the role of aspiring researcher, to head of laboratory, to deputy director, until being recently promoted to deputy general director of this important scientific center, where she has conducted research aimed at creating vaccines for the treatment of cancer. She is currently a member of the Party Provincial Committee in Havana.
Meanwhile, compañero Ulises Guilarte has been general secretary of the Cuban Workers’ Federation since 2013. He has held various responsibilities as a union leader in Cienfuegos and secretary general of the Construction Workers Union in Havana. He later went on to work as a Party professional, and was deputy head of the Central Committee Department of Industry and Construction, and was promoted to first secretary of the Provincial Committee in Havana, and later in the nascent, experimental province of Artemisa.
Finally, compañero Roberto Morales has been Public Health Minister for the past six years. Upon graduating, he worked as a polyclinic doctor in the municipality of Rodas, director of Public Health at that level and later in the province of Cienfuegos. In the Party he was a professional official at the municipal and provincial level and first secretary in Cienfuegos, until his appointment to join the Central Committee Secretariat.
The five new members of the Political Bureau are also under 60 years of age, a sign of what could be across our entire leadership, of humble backgrounds, who worked from the grassroots, were political leaders at different levels until reaching the top leadership of the Party with exquisite and profound experience (Applause). Naturally, these same conditions are present in much or the majority of the rest of the Political Bureau, although they have not had the same methodical transition as those noted above. Some of us develop without a university degree, but at full speed (Applause), and, as you can appreciate, they have accumulated a rich service record from the grassroots, exercising the professions they studied at university, not as has occurred many times, that on obtaining a university degree, we place it on the wall of our front room to display it, but we never work in the specialty.
We already corrected this at the past Congress, and I think there have been good results. Work should be done at the grassroots, there can be no preconceived leaders, everyone who graduates must work five years at least at the basic level in the specialty which they studied at the university, and gradually, according to their ability, be promoted, without ever ceasing to study, as Fidel always taught us, especially the military; a military man must study his entire life, just as a professional cadre of the Party, a leader of our state, for one reason or another, in one place or another, and not live off the title hanging on the wall of the front room of our homes.
In my own case, I thank you for the honor of being elected, for the second time, as first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in the knowledge that my main mission is to defend, preserve, and continue perfecting Cuban socialism and never allow for a return to capitalism (Applause).
Among the set of major tasks in my role, I will devote the necessary time to the process of reforming the Constitution of the Republic – on which, with a group of compañeros, we have advanced somewhat, or at the very least exchanged opinions – to introduce the relevant adjustments, after 40 years in effect, in line with the changes that have occurred on the international level, and the modifications resulting from the process of updating the economic and social model that, naturally, need to be defined before proposing to add them for the new Constitution.
The development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace, unity and our ideological resolve, constitute the principal missions of the Party.
This concept can not remain a simple phrase, it must be filled with concrete content in action and measures to enable us to make the vision of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation a reality (Applause).
Before concluding, on behalf of the participants in this Congress and of all Cubans, I wish to convey our support for the sister peoples of the Third World, especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean, which face the ambitions of the right wing and transnational capital to bury the social achievements reached over decades of struggle.
We reiterate Cuba’s solidarity with the Brazilian people and the constitutional President Dilma Rousseff, who faces a parliamentary coup organized by the oligarchic, neoliberal right wing, encouraged by imperialist forces, against the political and economic progress and the social gains achieved during the governments of the Workers’ Party.
We also send our fraternal greetings to the Communist parties and other forces and political parties, social movements and working classes of the planet, fighting against imperialist hegemony, determined to achieve inclusive social justice and convinced that a better world is possible.
I reaffirm our total support to the Ecuadoran people, President Rafael Correa and the government of the Citizens’ Revolution in these painful circumstances. Our team of rescuers and the medical personnel reinforcements, sent on Sunday itself, have already joined the more than 700 collaborators working in this sister nation to provide care to the affected population.
We will remain in communication with Ecuadoran authorities, willing to increase our support in every possible way.
Let us not forget that today, April 19, the 55th anniversary of the victory over the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón is celebrated, under the direct leadership in the theater of operations of the leader of the Cuban Revolution, compañero Fidel Castro Ruz (Prolonged applause), who has been kept abreast of all the developments of this event.
We pay tribute to those fallen in this historic feat, as well as to all those who gave their lives in defense of the Homeland, the Revolution and Socialism.
We are just a few days from May Day, International Workers’ Day, an occasion that will serve to show the world, with the enthusiastic and massive participation of compatriots throughout the entire country, the unity and support for the resolutions adopted by this Congress and the socialist and independent path of the Homeland.
Finally, we wish to wholeheartedly thank compañero Fidel for the efforts he has made and the satisfaction with which he read his brilliant words before us.
Many thanks to you all. (Ovation)