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From Fidel and Raúl we learned to discard useless laments and concentrate on seeking solutions, turning challenges into opportunities and setbacks into victory

Canel AsambleaSpeech delivered during the closing of the National Assembly of People’s Power Ninth Legislature’s Third Period of Ordinary Sessions, July 13, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution

(Council of State transcript – GI translation)

Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Party Central Committee;

Compañero Esteban Lazo Hernández, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power;

Deputies and guests:

Today we close an intense, productive cycle of work.

During this period, the Parliament has not only drafted and approved three new laws – as we proposed for ourselves – but also, through its committees, has evaluated the country’s fundamental activities, identifying with precision, seriousness, and responsibility what is being done, and not done, and how much is possible and necessary to solve our principal problems.

Extensive summaries of the debates in the standing committees have been disseminated through the media. All of these reflect deeper knowledge and a better understanding of the times in which we live. And most importantly, there is a clear identification of the most pressing issues.

The 38 activities that were reviewed by committees are precisely those which have engendered the most complaints from the public and those toward which the government has decided to direct its main actions and solutions.

I know, given the magnitude of the obstacles generated by bureaucracy, insensitivity, indolence, and other ills, that some believe it will not be possible to get ahead and with a certain dose of fatalism, which paralyzes and curbs enthusiasm, they affirm, “There isn’t anyone who can fix this.”

I am also aware of the sincere concern of some who believe that we demand too much of ourselves, or that all the value is in our personal action, and even that we take on tasks that “are not those of a President”.

I ask myself what task is not the President’s in a nation like Cuba, in a Revolution like our own, when we are preceded by the examples of Fidel and Raúl. (Applause)

José Martí said it, you have proven it: “Moving a country, no matter how small it may be, is the work of giants. And no one who doesn’t feel like a giant of love, of courage, of thought, and patience should try.”

In our case, as I have said more than once, we work not only with the guidance and support of the Army General and the historic generation, but also believe deeply in collective work.

And our Council of Ministers is acting, generally speaking, with the intensity and urgency that life dictates, based on constant interaction with the people, with our ears to the ground, as Raúl demands of us.

“Within a century we will be that school story that bores children because it’s over, over … You are not seeing me, you are seeing yourselves,” says Silvio in one of his songs, which helps me to answer those who personalize results.

The satisfaction with which we close this session stems from the level of the debates we have attended these days. And the leap forward evident in projections made by this supreme body of state power is noteworthy.

We are coming to understand that every minute is crucial to sustaining the future, and we have heard supportive, well-informed commentaries, reflecting deep ties with the community and the purposeful orientation of our efforts.

It is likewise satisfying to note that the government and Assembly are working together harmoniously. Together, we are dedicating ourselves today to finding solutions that allow us to face the complex economic situation marked by the resurgence of the blockade, financial persecution, and the criminal policy of the current U.S. administration, which with its return to the Monroe Doctrine persists in the malicious effort to erase from the map what they aggressively describe as the “axis of evil,” that is, the Bolivarian, Sandinista, and Cuban Revolutions.

What our adversaries ignore is that 60 years of sanctions, threats, and aggression of all kinds have only strengthened our resolve. The historic experience of the Revolution is an irreplaceable lesson book, the first of these lessons being direct, living interaction with the people, a permanent source of creativity and encouragement.

From the historical generation, from Fidel and Raúl, we learned to discard useless laments and concentrate on seeking solutions, turning challenges into opportunities and setbacks into victory.

In this school, we are inspired today to promote comprehensive, critical analysis of what is not working right, or not working, to break the internal blockade and to ask of everyone a proactive, intelligent, committed, and collective attitude, all of which has been expressed in this Assembly, in which we have approved three laws, beginning the intense legislative work required for the Constitution to become effective.

After an extensive process of consultation among deputies and non-deputies in another democratic exercise that contributed to the improvement of the texts of each law, and the legal norms that will support its implementation, we now have a new Electoral Law, which legally guarantees the election processes at different levels in the country, complying with the Transitory Provisions of the new Constitution. In addition, we have elected the members of the National Electoral Council, who we congratulate.

This puts us in a position to elect the state’s fundamental leadership positions, in October, within the National Assembly of People’s Power, and later, before the end of the year, to appoint Council of Ministers members.

The Law of National Symbols, for its part, updates all current legal regulations on the subject, specifies, and gives greater precision to the contents.

As has been reiterated, the use of national symbols is now more flexible, within a context of order and respect for the law, and promotes greater use of these emblems as an expression of patriotism and of veneration for what they represent: our long history of struggle for the country’s freedom, independence, and sovereignty, which is constantly attacked in a perverse symbolic war of a colonial and imperialist nature.

No less important is the Fisheries Law, as it provides the necessary regulation, administration, and control of the fishing industry, directed toward conservation and the rational use of hydrobiological resources in the maritime, fluvial, and lacustrine waters of the Republic of Cuba, in order to contribute to the nation’s food sovereignty.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Scholars are expressing caution about the performance of the world economy. Current estimates put average growth at 3.3%, lower than the 3.7% projected in December of last year.

As we know and have experienced in the first half of the year, the Cuban economy is functioning in a context of limitations, mainly in terms of hard currency and fuel, due to the resurgence of the blockade, financial persecution, the application of Title III of the Helms-Burton Law, the prohibition of cruise ship travel, and other measures, fundamentally intended to affect tourism and foreign investment, to asphyxiate us economically, causing greater hardships that irritate and demobilize our people.

In this complex scenario, during the first six months of the year, expected revenue from exports was not achieved, with the main impact seen in tourism, nickel sales – in which prices fell – and sugar. Nonetheless, production levels that are essential to the country have been reached.

Once calculations of activity levels and balancing of accounts that determine the economy’s performance in 2018 were concluded, it was determined that gross domestic product growth of 2.2% was achieved, higher than the 1.2% we reported as an estimate in the month of December.

This implies that, in order to reach planned growth in 2019, the economy must grow more than initially planned.

In the present year, even in the eye of the hurricane of adversity that the enemy has conceived to strangle us, the Cuban economy can grow modestly, thanks to the fact that we have the potential to resist and continue advancing in our development.

But in terms of challenges, we are not yet over the top. The scenario which Cuban tourism will face in the second half of the year will be more difficult. The greatest decrease will be in maritime arrivals, due to the cancellation of cruise operations, which mainly impacts the U.S. market.

In this period, the hard currency balance will be maintained as planned. Likewise, the directive that debt payments must exceed the assumption of new credits is being implemented – another fundamental measures taken to avoid increasing external debt.

The result achieved is due to the supervision that is being exercised in keeping with the plan, in terms of the country’s indebtedness, based on the premise of not taking on more debt than we can pay.

There has been a deficit in fuel imports, which has forced us to establish internal restrictions on consumption, avoiding as far as possible effects on the population, and the economy’s main producers and service providers. In this context, savings and control become more important, to send every liter where it is most needed.

Despite fuel tensions, the generation of electric power has been supported, and as has been reported to our people, work is being done to guarantee this throughout the summer.

Logistical difficulties during the first months of the year caused extensive defaults in ship deliveries and arrivals, a situation that has been stabilized.

Over the course of the year, the need to recover production of pork has been emphasized, and its use in the elaboration of cold cuts is prioritized in the industry, in order to increase yields and the supply of meat products to the population.

Total production of fresh milk is surpassing projections.

A series of investment projects have been completed to increase the operative capacity of fuel distribution and storage, passenger transportation, tourism, production in the chemical industry, and to support water services and electric power generation through the use of renewable energy resources.

During the first half of 2019, 10 new businesses with foreign capital were approved, for total committed investment of 1.395 billion dollars.

The completion of 15,748 homes was projected by the end of the first half of the year.
Retail commerce plans were 95.1% met. In analyzes conducted, it is evident that actual sales do not reflect supplies available, confirming that the potential and conditions exist to reach anticipated levels.

The unemployment rate is 1.6%, similar to the previous period, with the expected 2% growth in the number of workers in the non-state sector, fundamentally self-employed.

The 2018 state budget’s closing balance showed that the fiscal deficit was lower than projected.

The execution of this year’s budget, in the first half of the year, has been characterized by the meeting of revenue goals, and a deficit below that planned.

What does this data basically tell us? That the country is advancing and that no imperialist policy can defeat our will to go for more. The aspiring executioners of the Cuban people will not be able to achieve anything in the face of our determination to work to overcome and defeat genocidal, anti-Cuban policies, with the efforts of all.

As Fidel wrote: “No one should have any illusions that this noble, self-sacrificing country will renounce the glory and the rights – the spiritual richness – won with the development of education, science, and culture.

“I inform them, as well, that we are capable of producing the food and the material wealth that we need, with the efforts and intelligence of our own people.”

I have retaken this phrase of Fidel’s because it serves as a lesson, more than a prediction, the product of his legendary capacity to travel to the future and return to tell about it, as an Algerian friend noted.

During analyzes in the Assembly’s committees, more than once we discussed errors and deficiencies that caused the rash of shortages that affected us in recent months. First of all, because of the lack of liquidity, but also, and this is only our responsibility, because of an import mentality. Importing is accommodating and becomes a vice that kills initiative.

In Cuba we produce eggs, but we import almost all the chicken. And there were no foreign investment projects in this area. Today there are eight projects identified for state production of pork and chicken that include the manufacture of feed, not only with imported raw material, but also using nationally produced grains and incorporating the results of the Comandante en Jefe’s animal feed program.

This issue leads to others: poor export management and limited foreign investment; little linking of national production with foreign investment, or with activities such as tourism, called upon to become a locomotive of the national economy; lack of vision about the contributions that the computerization of society can make in absolutely all areas; or underestimation of the economy’s non-state sector in such productive chains.

Today we are carrying out periodic analyzes to evaluate the implementation of measures related to the economy, and provide information on new decisions regarding domestic commerce and others that must mobilize all the country’s productive reserves.

I do not want to bore you with these topics that have been reiterated so often. We just want you to be aware of how much the government tours of the country and collective thinking have contributed to the economic battle. And how much, and how, we are working to promote the enormous potential and reserves, we still have, to move forward.

I must additionally devote a few words to the international situation and the role and place of Cuba in this new “Hour of the Furnaces” that Washington’s policies have imposed on the world.

Our foreign policy, which with the Revolution celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, has continued to expand the nation’s ties in all regions of the planet. As a result of the sustained effort led by Fidel since the triumph of the Revolution, our foreign policy continues to be inspired by solidarity and internationalism, respect for international law, and the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.

Cuba today maintains relations of friendship, and in many cases of cooperation, with almost every country in the world. We enjoy respect and confidence, given our contribution to peace, our respect for commitments, and for our untarnished behavior.

We actively contribute to international efforts in favor of justice, the promotion of human rights, the protection of the environment, the promotion of security and, of course, in defense of the right of peoples to self-determination.

We enjoy the gratitude of peoples with whom we have shared efforts and sacrifices in a disinterested manner, not infrequently risking our lives.

Our international cooperation efforts currently involve some 33,000 professionals in 85 countries, who voluntarily provide health care services, education, construction, and sports, among other arenas. In Cuba, 12,699 young people from 133 nations are currently being trained as professionals. Our ties with most of these countries are a successful example of what the United Nations calls “South-South cooperation”, based on complementarity and self-sustainability among developing countries.

We are part of the international community that today faces the challenge of confronting the United States’ aggressive, arrogant behavior, a serious danger to peace, security, and the existence of resources on which life on the planet depends, associated with the use of nuclear weapons and progressive climate change.

Those who are now in charge of the political leadership of this influential nation have shown that they disregard commitments and legal instruments freely agreed upon by the great majority of states, ignoring the right to self-determination of peoples, and denying the principle of sovereign equality among nations.

They believe that their government’s desires can be imposed on others, including their own allies, through threat or punishment, with the imposition of punitive trade tariffs and other coercive, unilateral measures. In more serious cases, they resort to unconventional warfare or armed conflicts, regardless of the consequences, the coups, or the open, overt imposition of so-called “regime change” strategies.

They intend to quickly destroy the system of international relations built around the norms and principles of the United Nations Charter.

In the Western Hemisphere, the United States government has openly declared the validity and implementation of the infamous Monroe Doctrine, an old instrument of colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, which denies the right to self-determination, threatens the sovereignty of all nations in the Americas, without exception, and seeks to intimidate the entire world.

The United States has launched numerous types of aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, all banned by the United Nations. They have not been held accountable for the promotion of violence in that country; economic sabotage; assassination plots; the application of economic measures aimed at causing the population suffering and hardship; the financing and organization of coups; the theft of sovereign assets; and the opportunistic use of humanitarian aid for the purpose of political destabilization.

I reiterate, once again, Cuba´s firm solidarity and support to the Bolivarian, Chavista Revolution, the civic-military union of its people, the constitutional government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros, and the efforts of this noble people to defend their sovereignty and resist foreign interference.


The conduct of the United States toward Cuba continues to cling to the objective of economic strangulation, through the tightening of the blockade, the promotion of political subversion, to which tens of millions of dollars are dedicated every year with the intention of dividing, confusing, and weakening the unity of our people, and a fierce propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting the Revolution, its leaders, its glorious historical legacy; denigrating our economic and social policies in favor of development and justice; and liquidating political forces of the left and popular movements, resorting to McCarthyism to attempt to destroy the ideas of socialism.

As Raúl pointed out last April 10 before this Assembly, “Despite its immense power, imperialism does not possess the capacity to break the dignity of a united people, proud of its history and of the freedom conquered with so much sacrifice.”

Compañeras and compañeros:

Within a few days, we will celebrate another anniversary, the 66th, of the assaults on Santiago de Cuba’s Moncada garrison and the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in Bayamo, which will serve as the site of this year’s festivities, given the accomplishments of a province that honors, with its name, the generation that brought Cuba its definitive freedom, 60 years ago at Las Coloradas.

On behalf of the generations that are giving continuity to the independence process initiated in that land almost 151 years ago, we will speak at the commemoration and there will surely be new assessments to be made about progress and challenges that await us during the second half of the year.

But today it is urgent to call upon the people of Cuba, and especially their representatives in the highest body of state power, to defend, each and every one of us, all that we have done and may do, with the certainty that only in this way can we defend ourselves.

Our people, wise as they are, have understood the importance of the most recent economic measures and have reacted intelligently, insisting on the need to respond to salary increases in the budgeted sector with results and controls that protect us from inflation and others dangers. Economists are especially called upon to contribute to the search for untapped reserves of efficiency.

It is also necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities that open up for the national economy, be it in the enterprise sector, the budgeted sector, or even the private, and untie the knots that bind it – on the basis of work, innovation, science, and production.

In this new stage, the key is territorial, in the municipality, in local development, aware that everything that is generated and advanced at this level benefits the people more directly.

We must continue searching our material and human reserves for what savings can contribute, as a source of income, and our spirituality as a source of creative energy.

And we must also review the Comandante en Jefe’s directives for the Special Period. Without fear of the terms. The strategy of confronting the double blockade generated many initiatives that we shelved as soon as the situation improved, and that was a mistake. In order to avoid returning to the Special Period, we must draw on the lessons and contributions that he left us.

Dear compañeras and compañeros:

The National Assembly will always be a space to reflect and above all to share and decide collectively how to mobilize, more fully and better, our potential for prosperity.

We must lose the bad habit of believing that all solutions come from above. If we understand the need for a change in mentality, we will all cooperate in proposing solutions to our problems, some for now and others for later, but always with the goal of improving our people’s quality of life.

E-government, for example, is not a Cuban invention. It is a pressing need for the functioning of any society today.

And as for the fundamental task of connecting with the needs and demands of the people, this electronic government cannot be exercised Monday through Friday. It is a permanent task. We must learn, once and for all, that public servants owe it to the people and this entails permanent vigilance and the use of all the tools that can warn us in time when something is missing or failing.

That does not mean, of course, giving credit to the rumors or fake news that our enemies fabricate, and that, with some frequency, naive or irresponsible individuals spread on social media.

The leadership of the Party and the government have demonstrated commitment to timely and open information on whatever measure or step is taken based on public interests. And we will always defend this policy. Others may be more adept and effective in spreading lies, but the Cuban people know that the Revolution, as a matter of principle, only tells the truth (Applause).

I also call to attention those officials who consider that certain matters are not within the bounds of their position, but are the responsibility of lower levels of management.

Whoever has at hand the fastest and most efficient solution to a problem does not need to minimize or delegate its solution on the basis of hierarchical or sectoral considerations. We are all public servants.

Whoever is in a position to resolve something also has the duty to not leave it to others. Behind every problem there is a Cuban man or woman who needs attention. Recovering sensibility and making it customary is the order of the day.


Anyone who hinders, delays, or makes impossible the process of obtaining a subsidy, the title of a home, or land in usufruct to produce is ignoring the spirit of the Revolution. These are actions that, more often than not, rob time and energy from people who work, study, and contribute to society.

When we talk about recovering decency, we are also thinking about the honesty and desire to cooperate of public servants.

The vocation to serve cannot, and must not, be confused with servility. Giving good service kindly, humbly, and courteously makes us more professional and adds to our work a seal of quality and human warmth that others need today, and tomorrow, any of us may need. We must be serious and effective in providing answers.

As a society we must recover habits of courtesy that we have lost. Nothing is more alien to the Revolution than bad manners: the loss of values ​​harms us, from our personal relationships in the community to our export of services. And it is the primary cause of the unpleasantness we cause each other in everyday life.

I would like to call for subordinating personal interests to collective ones, without denying either one, but rather integrating them. It is clear to me that in a humanistic and solidary society like ours, we cannot be happy individually.

Putting away vanity and selfishness, practicing honesty, being industrious, decent, we will also be contributing to the Gross Domestic Product. The economy will grow, along with the spiritual strength of our people, this country that we have become and that sometimes is difficult to identify in each one of us.

Fernando Ortiz said: “… If not as serious as economic imperialism, which sucks the blood of the Cuban people, the ideological imperialism that follows it is also destructive. The first breaks economic independence; the second destroys moral life. One removes the support; the other the soul.”

Along with this anti-imperialism we have carried in our veins for more than a century, obliged to suffer a powerful neighbor that despises and attacks us, also to be nurtured is the socialist sentiment that the Revolution sowed in our people, in the struggle to conquer all the justice that José Martí bequeathed to us.

We would be nothing if we had abandoned the social system that this honorable Assembly reaffirmed as the immediate goal of the Cuban nation.

This is an exciting subject to which we will dedicate other moments, aware that all the happiness that we want to spread as a daily practice among our people is linked to the voluntary and conscious decision to make our socialism prosperous and sustainable.

I also share with you a personal conviction: the only way to solve all our problems is for each and every one of us who loves the Revolution to ask ourselves daily: What can I do? What can I contribute? What is my personal quota of devotion to collective growth?

If each of us does their part of the duty, nothing can defeat us, Martí said, and conscious of this, we have called for thinking as a country.

The journalist Leticia Martínez Hernández, answered with a tweet:

What does it mean to think as a country? Leticia says:

Let your problem be mine.

I am not indifferent to what is done poorly, to what damages Cuba, to what does not contribute.

Self-interest does not guide daily action, but rather solidarity.

Let the opinion of everyone be heard, with respect.

And Yoerkis Sánchez, editor of Juventud Rebelde, answered in verse:

What is thinking as a country?

It is to surrender to work;

Cut out vices with one slice, make others happy.

Protect our roots against cruel consumerism;

Do our part and humbly honor ‘We are continuity’ with Raúl and Fidel (Applause).

Indeed, to think as a country, to think Cuba is to all give ourselves in body and soul to the service of the nation, making the most of Revolution’s most formidable, powerful force: Unity.

This is our monument to the historic generation. A work under construction that consolidates the past, sustains the present, and guarantees the future of the Revolution – as infinite as the dreams of the men and women who initiated it.

We are Cuba! We are continuity!

Homeland or death!



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