Excerpt from the keynote address given by General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the ceremony celebrating the 56th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks, at Major General Calixto García Square, Holguín, July 26, 2009, "Year of the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution"
Combatants of July 26th of 1953 (Applause), of the Rebel Army, the clandestine struggle and the glorious internationalist missions (Applause);
Families of the fallen;
Men and women of Holguín (Applause); Compatriots:
We might well begin by asking a question, purely as a matter of personal curiosity. You all know that I come from these parts (Applause and exclamations), and so I have the right to wonder, to want to know, if it is possible, which fellow citizen of this province had the idea of having us standing with the sun right behind us (Laughter), it doesn’t bother me, but I’m sure that none of you can see me; if anything, a shadow: that’s me (Applause).
For such reasons, during this commemoration of the 56th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks, my speech will by very short, keeping in mind the high temperatures that have been a feature of our summer this year, even though we are starting earlier than usual –at 7:00 a.m. – and being aware of the fact that all of you have been here from six in the morning, that most of you walked here from your homes (Applause), and that last night, as I saw briefly on TV, you were celebrating exactly this anniversary. Besides, that sun over there, we don’t know who it was that placed in front of you.
Again, for such reasons, I shall be brief. Very soon, in the next few days, we shall be having important meetings that will serve as more fitting scenarios to delve into complex matters.
The first of these will be the Council of Ministers, the day after tomorrow, dedicated to the analysis of the second adjustment to the planned outlays for this year, as a result of the effects of the world economic crisis on our economy, especially the significant reduction of income from exports and the additional restrictions to gain access to foreign funding sources.
As you know, for 11 days I have been on a tour of friendly countries in Africa. Also, until just recently, I chaired the Non-Aligned Movement. I have handed over that responsibility to the president of Egypt.
I have very little available time for I am bound by these meetings and the important subjects about which I am informing you.
The day after that Council of Ministers’ meeting, on July 29th, we shall be holding the seventh Plenary of the Party Central Committee, during which, for an entire day, according to the agenda, we shall be making a deep analysis of some crucial issues related to the national and international situation.
Furthermore, the ordinary session of the National Assembly of the Peoples’ Power has been called for August 1st. There we shall debate, among other issues, the draft legislation on the Comptroller General of the Republic. That entity will contribute to raise the demands on compliance with legislation in effect and on matters of control by all the leadership structures in the nation.
AWARD FOR EFFORT AND WORK ACCOMPLISHED
This year the choice of the location for the central ceremony for July 26th did not strictly follow the established indicators. It would have been illogical to base ourselves only on the level of fulfillment of those indicators when, since September, after the devastation caused by the hurricanes, it became clear that in much of the country it would simply be impossible to attain them.
Don’t forget that the damages, as we then informed in our parliament --without saying that they are all perfectly settled or accounted for-- reached the figure of approximately 10 billion dollars, the equivalent of 20% of the Gross Domestic Product; in other words, the value of everything we did in terms of work and production during that past year.
Therefore, when the Politburo determined that Holguín would be the venue and awarded the position of “outstanding” to Villa Clara, Granma and Ciudad de La Habana, it considered all that was achieved during the first months of the year in more or less normal conditions, and above all the efforts made by the provinces to face up to the meteorological phenomena with the least possible number of lives and material resources lost and particularly in the work of recovery.
Holguín played a major role in all of that. It is a large province, with more than one million inhabitants and a remarkable share of the national economy because of the nickel industry, the third tourism development area in the country and other important productions located there. It is an award for effort and for work accomplished.
Therefore, we congratulate the men and women of Holguín (Applause); comrade Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (Applause), first party secretary in the province at that difficult time and in previous years, which were also years of intense work. We extend our congratulations to comrade Jorge Cuevas Ramos (Applause), coming from Las Tunas, a province that was also heavily battered by Hurricane Ike and who, since his election to lead the Party in Holguín, has displayed an enthusiastic and active work.
We also congratulate the “outstanding” provinces, without forgetting to recognize the effort made by all others, that is, by the compatriots in the western part of Cuba, in Pinar del Rio and on the Isle of Youth (Applause), who faced up to extremely serious damages, as well as the people of Camagüey and Las Tunas provinces, especially the people of Santa Cruz del Sur and Guayabal. These towns were severely affected and in some cases sustained almost total destruction (Applause).
A PEOPLE EDUCATED IN GENUINE SOLIDARITY
I have only mentioned a few of the places that suffered the greatest destruction. These have really been difficult months of hard labor from one end of the country to the other. In the entire country we have seen our people’s capacity to resist, organize and show solidarity. The examples abound of how we should work in such times.
That was the conduct of the vast majority of the compatriots in this province as they were hit by Hurricane Ike and in the following months. Everywhere else, people followed suit.
Many comrades stayed mobilized far from their families, even when more than a few of them were also suffering from limitations, very often put up in shelters because they had totally or partially lost their homes.
They trusted the Revolution and carried out the assigned task, aware of its importance and confident that their loved ones would not be left helpless.
Likewise, the massive willingness to give shelter in their homes to neighbors whose homes were unsafe, an attitude that has become a daily occurrence before different kinds of adversities, speaks volumes of our people’s humane quality.
Our people are educated with those values, in a genuine sense of solidarity; they share what they have with their brothers and sisters, be they Cubans or from other lands; they share not what they have aplenty, because here there is nothing aplenty but problems. (Applause)
By that same measure, the Cuban people are thankful for the help, the generous gestures and the support received from many corners of the globe. I take advantage of the occasion to acknowledge the noble and honorable work of the Interreligious Foundation Pastors for Peace (Applause), and its leader, the Reverend Lucius Walker (Applause) and the members of the 20th US-Cuba Friendship Caravan (Applause), along with the “Venceremos” Brigade --which has reached its 40th anniversary-- some of whose members are here with us today (Applause).
DAMAGES TO HOMES ARE A VERY SERIOUS MATTER
Damages to homes are a very serious matter. Just in the province of Holguín almost 125,000 were affected; about one-half of them have been restored.
On a national level, if one adds to those damaged by these three hurricanes, those still awaiting solutions from previous years, especially at the beginning of the century for similar reasons of hurricane damage, by the end of 2008 the total came to more than 600,000; that was the reason I warned that it would need time to radically change that situation.
The state entities, labor collectives and even the neighbors have made efforts worthy of recognition. It is significant that up to July 20th, 43% of the problems had been solved, that is, more than 260,000 homes.
Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done. Moreover, it is necessary to avoid accumulation of such enormous figures again in the future, bearing in mind that because of the climate change many scientists are forecasting that hurricanes could be more intense and frequent.
OUR PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF TRIUMPH OVER ALL DIFFICULTIES
Although still insufficient, the progress made despite the deficit in material and financial resources confirms the enormous potential that we still have to exploit in agriculture and in every area of the economy.
The modest results confirm, once again, our optimism and confidence that “Yes, we can!”, and that our heroic people are capable of triumph over all difficulties, no matter how great (Applause).
This is a undoubtedly a huge challenge, in the midst of the economic blockade and many other aggressions conceived precisely to prevent the development of the nation.
Our people have never faltered when the Homeland has called on them. They have always said “Present!” from the days of the Mambi troops of Calixto Garcia, the general of the three wars; the one with the star on his forehead who chose to take his own life rather than falling prisoner; the son of a heroic mother; the man who fought many thousands of much better armed soldiers on these lands; and much more than that, the man who fought the best army ever sent by the Spanish metropolis to the Americas.
And along with the Liberation Army the population endured, stoically and without letting up in the struggle, the countless hardships caused by the war and the cruel repression by the colonial authorities. That is our lineage and we shall continue being faithful to its legacy (Applause).
With the monolithic unity of our people, its most powerful weapon forged in the crucible of struggle under the leadership of the Chief of the Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz (Applause), no matter how great the difficulties and the dangers: We shall carry on! (Applause)
Glory to the martyrs of the Homeland! (Exclamations of “Glory!”)
Viva Fidel! (Exclamations of “Viva!”)
Viva Cuba Libre! (Exclamations of “Viva!”)
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