President Raúl Castro’s speech on the 55th Anniversary of the 26 of July
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- Santiago de Cuba
- Health and Medicine
- Politics and Government
- 07 / 28 / 2008
Fifty five years is a short period of time in the life of a nation but enough to confirm that July 26 marked the beginning of a new era in Cuban history.
In his fundamental speech at the official ceremony on the 20th anniversary of the Moncada also held here in Santiago de Cuba, Fidel recalled the inflammatory poem written by the outstanding Communist leader and noble intellectual Ruben Martínez Villena:
“A charge is needed to kill the scoundrels,
To finish the work of revolutions,
To avenge the outraged dead,
To remove the tenacious scab of colonization,
So the humiliating fate, the efforts and hunger,
The wounds and death shall not be in vain;
So the Republic stays by itself
To fulfill Martí´s dream of marble,
So our children do not beg on their knees
The Nation our fathers won for us on their feet.”
And he concluded by saying:
“Ruben: the July 26 was the charge you asked for.”
Since that memorable ceremony in 1973, we Cubans have confronted many difficulties and hard times. Only our people´s deep convictions and determination to hold its ground and to win have made it possible to celebrate this new anniversary with pride and optimism.
The Granma newspaper had the fine initiative to start a few days ago reproducing that speech, dividing it into fifteen parts. It is thus unnecessary for us to recount the background, the causes, conditions and consequences of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks since the Chief of the Revolution explained them that day in an unrepeatable synthesis.
That speech offers not only a sound analysis of the past and of those days specifically, but also an accurate and precise appraisal of the harsh realities the future had in store and the way to tackle them.
In a day like this, in 1973, Fidel asserted that the only possibility the Latin American peoples had to save themselves was to join forces and to get rid of the imperialist domination, since only that would enable them to take their place in the large human communities.
And referring to our region, he added:
“Only that would make us strong enough to face up to the enormous economic, social, human and food problems with a population that will grow an additional 600 million in the next 25 years. Only that would make possible our participation in the scientific and technical revolution that will shape up life in the future. Only that will make us free.”
Later on, he admonished:
“...luxury and wastage in the developed capitalist societies are depleting the non-renewable natural resources such as oil whose price is threatening to increase extraordinarily.” End of quote.
If seems to have been said just today but he said it 35 years ago. That´s why Abdelazis Bouteflica, President of the sister nation of Algeria and a dear friend of Cuba, said on one occasion:
“We have had the immense privilege of being friends with comrade Fidel, who has never failed us. Fidel has the strange quality of traveling into the future, returning and then explaining it all.”
The 55 years that have passed since July 26, 1953 have more than justified the choice of Oriente, particularly Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo, to restart the then incomplete Cuban Revolution. In this indomitable land of mambises and rebels, like in all of Cuba, the glorious patriotic and revolutionary traditions of our people are kept alive.
From that very first year of 1959, the nation has been making great efforts to develop the eastern provinces where 35% of the country´s population lives today, however, compared with the rest of the nation they are still in a disadvantage. The Special Period and the natural disasters have hit this area with special force. These have also prevented us from advancing at a greater speed.
We are aware of the great amount of problems waiting to be solved, most of which weigh heavily and directly on the population. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that lately the limited resources the nation has been able to additionally deliver to the eastern region have been quickly put to good use.
An example of this is the renovation of numerous facilities that improve the people´s quality of life while contributing to education and leisure.
A wok of special significance for the people in Santiago, one which started last year, is advancing at a good pace: the reconstruction and expansion of the aqueduct. This old and serious problem should be definitely solved by 2010, when the entire city will have a daily supply of water guaranteed.
Then, by 2011 the renovation of the El Cobre and El Cristo aqueducts shall be completed --there, too, they will have a daily supply of water-- and the construction of the 15.6 miles of water pipeline from the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes reservoir up to the Gilbert´s. This will guarantee an additional source of this liquid in case of severe draughts.
So far, 231.2 miles of major water networks and 370.6 miles of secondary water networks have been completed. This is approximately one-third of what should be installed; however, it has already benefited over 26 thousand housing where some 111 thousand Santiagueros live.
Additionally, 15.3 miles of the major water pipeline has been completed, that is, 17% of the total. Likewise, the modernization of the Quintero Uno water purification plant will be soon completed. This will raise the quality of the water supply.
The equipment required for this work is available. Now, to maximize its use a double shift shall be arranged wherever it is advisable trying to reduce to the minimum the inconveniences for the population since a large part of this work is to be done inside the city. The idea is to open up the trench and immediately lay down the pipes, and to reestablish the way as soon as the work has been tested.
We shall be checking the timetable for the execution of this work on a monthly basis with those responsible who signed the contract on behalf of the entities involved. That is, Fidel Figueroa, minister of Construction; Rene Mesa, director of the National Institute of Water Resources; and Rolando Yero, president of People´s Power in this province.
This kind of work is not only being done here but also with the 27 brigades created for this purpose in the aqueducts of Holguín, Baracoa and Tunas, and other eastern provinces; in the capital of the country; in Camaguey and other places in the center and west of the island. This major work also includes tens of small towns and small communities.
A piece of advise: the more water that is distributed, the greater the need to save it. Water is a very valuable resource which is indispensable for everything; therefore, it should be used rationally.
Also, it is necessary to work hard and urgently on the recovery of roadworks as a good part of them was destroyed at the end of last year by tropical storm Noel. There is much to be done, but despite the limited resources about 2218.7 miles of dirt roads and paved roads were rebuilt in the eastern and Camaguey provinces, the same as the 75 miles of railways affected, including most of the bridges and other major pieces of work associated with them.
Likewise work is being done on several water transfer systems throughout the country which will allow us to take water from one province to another. Given their significance, our media has been reporting on them.
I will only mention the so-called east-west water transfer system in Holguín whose construction is advancing at good speed. The first stage of this project will soon be ready for opening. This will make possible a steady water supply to the provincial capital and to other areas, as construction proceeds and concludes with the reestablishment of the water pipeline.
The brigades involved in these works have the necessary equipment. Besides, the production capacity of heavy polyethylene pipes has been largely increased with the construction of factories in Holguín and Havana City, which come to add to that of Ciego de Avila which has been in operation for years.
This is an enormous investment that we are carrying out looking not only into the present but especially into the future. This work is of paramount importance in a long and narrow island such as ours where the rainfalls run fast into the sea and where we regularly sustain periods of severe draughts which can be alleviated by transferring water resources, including those from the mountains, through large tunnels.
Such precaution will be appreciated by all, especially by the future generations, those that will be living in a world where drinking water will be an ever more scarce and expensive resource.
That´s why many are predicting that future wars will be fought over the reserves of this irreplaceable natural resource. Presently, wars are being fought over oil.
A special place among the new investments undertaken in cooperation with Venezuela is taken by petrochemicals: the increase of oil refining, the production of fertilizers and the manufacturing of synthetic resins like the so-called PVC. This is used, among many other things, for the manufacturing of petrohouses. Actually, 100 of these houses are being built at the La Risueña community in this city. They are similar to those built in Cienfuegos as part of an effort to test their possibilities in our environmental conditions.
At the same time, a major expansion has been undertaken --in some cases with our own resources and in others with foreign companies-- in the area of nickel, cement and mining. Many of these works will be carried out here in Santiago de Cuba and other eastern provinces, albeit they are spread all over the country. For example, the expansion of the ´Hermanos Diaz´ oil refinery has been planned to exceed twice its capacity; at that point it will be in a position to supply oil to the entire eastern part of the country.
As we said last July 11th at the Parliament, an extraordinary effort is made to invest the existing resources in those areas that can generate a profit on a short term basis. We should try for the best possible coordination to exist among investors, designers and construction workers in order to achieve the greatest efficiency and to complete every work according to the agreed timetable.
We must bear in mind that we are living in the midst of a true world crisis which is not only economic but also associated to climate change, the irrational use of energy and a great number of other problems.
This situation impacts on every nation but it has a particularly dramatic effect on the Third World peoples. International agencies have been issuing strong alerts. Such is the case of FAO, whose director general, who has just visited with us, has made brave denunciations and offered sound arguments on the seriousness of this crisis of unpredictable consequences.
Meanwhile, in the light of this crisis the leaders of the wealthy nations and the big transnational corporations behave passively, an attitude that is not only selfish and irresponsible but also suicidal, since we all live on this planet whether they like it or not.
A few days back, even the President of the World Bank, an organization nobody would say is opposed to capitalism, brought pressure on the industrial nations for these to take part in the solution of the problem. However, his words fell on deaf ears despite the fact that he invited them to contribute to the UN Food Program with the ridiculous sum of 500 million dollars. Both, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have stated that the already serious situation with food is aggravated by the U.S. policy that promotes the use of agrofuels.
Most of our people have shown to have sufficient knowledge and maturity to understand these simply inescapable realities. Others, however, try to stubbornly close theirs eyes to the world problems.
I repeat that the revolution has done and will continue to do anything within its power to continue to advance and to reduce to the minimum the unavoidable consequences of the present international crisis for our people. Yet, we should timely explain to our people the difficulties so that we can be better prepared to face them. We must get used to receiving not only good news.
Some opinions collected with regards to the preliminary draft of the Social Security Bill show that it is necessary to continue providing information on this strategically important issue.
The process of study and consultation with all of the workers will begin next September, prior to the adoption of the Bill by the National Assembly on December. That procedure will be useful to clarify every doubt and offer the opportunity to volunteer any criteria.
Everybody will be attentively listened to, whether their views coincide or not with those of the majority, the same as we have done with the views expressed during the process of reflection on the last July 26th speech. We do not aspire to unanimity which is usually fictitious, on this or any other subject.
Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that in 1953, the year we attacked this and Bayamo´s barracks, life expectancy in Cuba was 59 years, almost 20 years less than at this moment. This means that at present we are living 5 years more than the average Latin American and Caribbean, as I said at the National Assembly. Let´s not forget that in the past there were no jobs during the sugarcane off-season; that there were long lines of unemployed; that the peasants were evicted from the land they tilled and the workers from their housing when they could not pay the rent. Let´s not forget the terrible image of the hungry children begging for alms, without access to doctors or schools.
Thousands of compatriots, including the martyrs of Moncada and Bayamo, have given their lives to put an end to all those injustices that Fidel summed up in History Will Absolve Me. It is most appropriate to remember the situation of poverty and inequality inherited by the revolution almost have a century ago, especially when 71% of today´s Cubans were born after January 1st, 1959.
There are still many things we would like our people to enjoy, even though our reality today is very different from that found by the Revolution. I remember that in the toughest days of the Special Period, a Latin American trade union leader addressing his Cuban colleagues said: “You may have many problems, but I know my country and a good part of this continent, and I´ll give you a piece of advise: preserve what you have!”
Regardless of our great wishes to solve every problem we cannot spend in excess of what we have. And to make the best of what we have it is indispensable to save everything, foremost fuel.
I shall repeat what the Chief of the Revolution said from this same rostrum, in a day like this 35 years ago, because I think it is permanently valid. He said:
“As a poor country, with little natural resources that can be easily exploited, one that must work hard to earn its living in a world where a large part of the peoples live in dreadful poverty [...] the goals of our people in terms of material goods cannot be very ambitious.” And he added:
“It will be our duty in the following years to rise to the maximum the efficiency in the use of our economic and human resources; and to carefully take note of costs and spending. Also, we should have the courage to rectify the mistakes made on the side of idealism in the management of our economy.”
Recently, the Law Decrees were published on the distribution of idle land and the remuneration of teachers and professors that return to the classrooms. Both have received ample support from our people.
Likewise, an experience of which I spoke one year ago in Camaguey, that is, the direct distribution of milk by the producer to the grocery stores, keeps extending at a good pace.
Last June 30th, the consumers registered in 5,361 grocery stores, that is, 49% of those in the 154 municipalities that could implement this procedure, were receiving milk this way. Actually, 52 million liters of milk were sold in this way in the first six months of this year.
Additionally, 1,800 tons of fuel has been saved whose value exceeds 2,350,000 dollars. This fuel saving could increase every year with the expansion of this direct milk distribution procedure.
Efforts are also being made to improve the organization of cargo transportation since it is a fact that an adequate operation allows for a 20% fuel saving.
Besides, an experience is underway in 16 municipalities which consist in centralizing the transportation used for this purpose at that level, except in those cases where it is not logical due to the type of vehicles used or the nature of the work they do. The results are showing that the work can be done with 30% of the cargo transportation operated today. We shall continue to advance with this experience at a pace that can guarantee its rigorous application to avoid spoiling the idea, which, by the way, has had to face some people´s useless resistance.
Progress has also been made in crucial sectors of the economy. The oil production plan is being fulfilled, although as we all know it is far from meeting our needs. Also, a part of it is produced in joint ventures with foreign companies from which we need to purchase the amount required at the present high prices.
Advances have been experienced in the recovery of tourism. Until June 25th, close to 1,309,000 tourists had arrived in our country; this accounts for a 14.8% growth compared with the same period last year. And something very important: the cost has been reduced for every incoming dollar.
Likewise, we keep on our cooperation with other peoples. Next December, this city will be the venue of the Third Cuba-CARICOM Summit. There is a growing exchange with the Caribbean countries members of CARICOM. We are sure that the Santiagueros will be great hosts.
It has also been decided that here, in our Heroic City, we celebrate an extraordinary event: the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution. Yesterday, today and forever: Santiago is Santiago!
And together with production, we shall continue paying special attention to defense, regardless of the results of the next presidential elections in the United States.
The country is doing well in its defense preparation. On November 2007 we conducted with satisfactory results the Moncada military exercise in the west and center parts of the island. This was done in the eastern territory last June since the decision had been made to postpone it to avoid interfering with the work of recuperation after the intense rainfall at the end of last year.
On the other hand, Operation Caguairán continues to favorably develop; this has enabled us to significantly raise the preparation of our reservists, who complement the regular troops, and of our militia.
At the same time, we have continued the engineering fitting-out of the military theater of operations and the modernization of the weapons and other means as well as the training and upgrading of officers. This year over 2,000 officers graduated; the highest figure in the last ten years.
Simultaneously, conditions are being created to perform with excellence and rigor, in the month of November, the Bastion 2008 Strategic Military Exercise.
When we think 50 years into the future it seems something rather distant; however, as I look back at the past 55 years, I feel that they have gone by very quickly.
When we attacked the Moncada, none of us dreamed of being here today; we didn´t have such dreams even when following the Commander in Chief´s orders we entered this fortress victoriously on January 1st, 1959, exactly five year, five months and five days later. Most of us were twenty or thirty some years old, some were even younger, and half a century seemed to us an eternity. But if there is something we have learned well is that time flies, therefore, to waste it away out of inertia or hesitation is an unforgivable negligence. We must take advantage of every minute and learn fast from every experience, even from our mistakes since they always teach a lesson if they are seriously analyzed.
The main problems and tasks we shall continue to analyze with the people, particularly with the workers, with the same transparency and confidence we´ve always had. We shall seek for the best solutions mindless of those who abroad try to take advantage of such debates. Sooner or later the truth prevails.
We shall continue to care for, prepare and listen to our youths so that they can act with the firmness, the conviction and the loyalty of our Five Heroes. We are aware of the high responsibility and dedication demanded from the new generations, and we are certain that the same as those who unhesitatingly followed Céspedes in 1868, Martí in 1895 and Fidel in 1953, they will live up to their historical moment, equally difficult and glorious.
Let´s never forget that this is the socialist Revolution of the people, for the people and by the people. We will never betray the memory of those who fell in combat or who were murdered in Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo 55 years ago.
In the days following the attack, this barrack was wet with blood everywhere, from the dungeons to the cellar, even to the terrace roof of the building where I was taken one night for several hours, when they brought me here from San Luis where I was captured. I will never forget the horrific image of the already clotted blood of my comrades spread throughout that terrace roof.
That dreadful image, that stain on the glorious name of Guillermón Moncada, could only be watched away by the happiness and the smile of the tens of thousands of children who have studied in the classrooms of this School Center, one of the first barracks of the tyranny to be turned into a school. This is partly the fruit of the work of our entire people and of the sacrifices of all those who have given their lives for the same ideas, from the independence wars until the present, in Cuba and in the fulfillment of our internationalist duty.
Our battle today is the same that started on July 26, 1953. It is only taking place in new scenarios, at a higher scale and now in defense of the great conquests attained in half a century.
We are now facing an enemy which is much more powerful than the soldiers of the tyranny entrenched behind the walls of this barrack and in Bayamo. But the strength of our people has also grown tremendously thanks to its revolutionary unity, organization and conscience, and to its education. We also have very superior reasons to sacrifice our lives for, if need be.
Fifty-five years ago a bunch of revolutionaries attempted to take heaven by storm. We were then impelled by the decision to free our land from ignominy and to fulfill Martí´s purpose to conquer all the justice for the people.
On behalf of every patriot in this island, from the heroic Santiago de Cuba, birthplace of the Revolution, we dedicate this 55th Anniversary to you, Fidel, and we say to you:
We shall continue with the charge Rubén asked for and that you started on July 26!
Everlasting glory to our martyrs!
Long live the Revolution!
Long live free Cuba!