He thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity, enabling Cuba to participate equally in this hemispheric forum, as well as the President of the Republic of Panama for the invitation to attend. He also expressed thanks for the extended time he had been given, given that Cuba’s “many years of absence” justified that he speak a little longer than the usual eight minutes allotted.
Raúl noted that with the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on December 2 and 3, 2011, in Caracas, a new era in the history of Our America began, clearly establishing the hard earned right of its peoples’ to live in peace and freely develop as they decide fit as well as mapping a path for future development and integration based on cooperation, solidarity and the common will to preserve their independence, sovereignty and identity.
In 1800, the U.S. had considered adding Cuba to the Union, marking the southern boundary of the vast empire. In the nineteenth century, the doctrine of Manifest Destiny emerged with the aim of dominating the Americas and the world, together with the theory of the “Ripe Fruit” regarding the inevitable gravitation of Cuba toward the Union, which rejected the development of emancipatory thinking.
Raúl stated that later, through wars, conquests and interventions, this expansionist and hegemonic force stripped Our America of its territories extending down to the Rio Grande.
Following long and frustrated struggles, José Martí organized the “necessary war” and created the Cuban Revolutionary Party to lead it and to found a Republic “with all and for the good of all,” which set out to achieve “the full dignity of man.”
Accurately defining and anticipating the characteristics of his time, Martí devoted himself to the duty “of preventing the United States from spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”
Our America for him was that of the Creoles, the indigenous, the blacks and mulattos, the mestizo and hardworking America that had to make common cause with the oppressed. Today, beyond geography, this is an ideal that is starting to become reality, Raúl explained.
He added that 117 years ago, on April 11, 1898, the then President of the United States requested authorization from Congress to militarily intervene in the independence war, already won with rivers of Cuban blood, and that this body passed a deceptive Joint Resolution, which recognized the independence of the island “in fact and law.” They came as allies and seized the country as occupiers.
An appendix to its Constitution was imposed on Cuba, the Platt Amendment, which stripped the island of its sovereignty, authorizing the powerful neighbor to intervene in its internal affairs and led to the establishment of the Guantanamo Naval Base, which still usurps part of our territory. During this period, the invasion of northern capital increased, there were two military interventions and the U.S. supported cruel dictatorships.
On January 1st, 1959, 60 years after American soldiers entered Havana, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro Ruz arrived in the capital.
On April 6, 1960, just a year after the victory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, wrote in a perverse memorandum, declassified decades later, that “the majority of Cubans support Castro…There is no effective political opposition…The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… to weaken the economic life of Cuba… denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government,” the Army General quoted.
He also spoke further of the great hardship that Cubans have endured. 77% of the Cuban population was born under the rigors imposed by the blockade. “But our patriotic convictions prevailed. The aggression increased the resistance and accelerated the revolutionary process. Here we are with our heads held high and our dignity intact,” he emphasized.
Once we had already proclaimed socialism and the people had fought to defend the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy was assassinated precisely at the moment when the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, had received a message from him looking to initiate a dialogue, he continued.
At another point in his speech, the Army General stated that he had expressed to President Barack Obama and was now willingness to engage in respectful dialogue and a civilized coexistence between the two states despite our profound differences.
He described President Obama as an honest man and said that he believed that this nature arose from his humble origins. But he stressed that normalizing relations is one thing and the blockade is another.
He considered Obama’s recent statement indicating that a decision regarding Cuba’s presence on the list of state sponsors of terrorism would be reached shortly as a positive step, noting that the island should never have appeared on the list.
To date, the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which continues to be applied in full force against the island, has caused damages and shortages for the Cuban people and is the key obstacle to the development of our economy. It constitutes a violation of international law and its extraterritorial scope affects the interests of all States, he underlined.
For our part, we will continue to be deeply immersed in the process of updating the Cuban economic model with the aim of perfecting our socialism, moving towards further development and consolidating the achievements of a Revolution that has resolved to “conquer all justice.”
He also stated that Venezuela is not and can not be a threat to the national security of a superpower like the United States and described the fact that the U.S. President has acknowledged this as positive.
“Cuba will continue to defend the ideas for which our people have assumed the greatest sacrifices and risks and fought for, alongside the poor, the sick lacking medical care, the unemployed, children abandoned or forced to work or prostitute themselves, the hungry, the discriminated against, the oppressed and the exploited that constitute the vast majority of the world population,” he highlighted.
The Cuban President also noted that financial speculation, the privileges of Bretton Woods and the unilateral suspension of the convertibility of the dollar into gold are increasingly asphyxiating. “We need a transparent and equitable financial system.”
He said that it is unacceptable that less than a dozen emporiums, mainly American, determine what is read, seen or heard across the planet.
Raúl added that the Internet must have an international, democratic and participatory governance, especially in regards to the generation of content. He also paraphrased one of Aesop’s Fables and said the Internet serves for the best but also the worst.
Furthermore, he considered the militarization of cyberspace and the covert and illegal employment of computer systems to attack other States as unacceptable. “We will not allow them to dazzle or colonize us again.”
Raúl argued that hemispheric relations must change profoundly, particularly in the political, economic and cultural spheres; in order that, based on international law and the exercise of self-determination and sovereign equality, they focus on the development of mutually beneficial links and cooperation to serve the interests of all our nations and the goals they set themselves.
He recalled that the adoption in January 2014, at the Second CELAC Summit, in Havana, of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, was an important contribution to this end, marked by Latin American and Caribbean unity in diversity.
The Cuban President stressed that “the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition to guarantee peaceful coexistence among nations,” must be respected, as stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
He concluded that thanks to Fidel and the heroic Cuban people, we have come to this Summit, to fulfill the mandate of Martí with the freedom won by our own hands, “proud of our America, to serve and honor her…with the determination and capacity to help ensure that she is valued for her merits, and respected for her sacrifices.”