April 19, 2011
Central Report to the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba
Compañeras and compañeros,
THE opening of the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba this afternoon marks a date of extraordinary significance in our history, the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist nature of our Revolution by its Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, on April 16, 1961, as we paid our last respects to those killed the day before during the bombings of the airbases. This action, which was the prelude to the Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) mercenary invasion organized and funded by the United States government, was part of its plans to destroy the Revolution and restore its domination over Cuba with the agreement of the Organization of American States (OAS).
On that occasion, Fidel said to the people, already armed and inflamed with passion: "This is what they cannot forgive us…that we have made a socialist Revolution right under the nose of the United States…" "Comrades, workers and campesinos, this is the socialist and democratic Revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor. And for this Revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor, we are willing to give our lives."
The response to that appeal would be swift and in the confrontation to that aggression a few hours later, the combatants of the Rebel Army, the police and the militia shed their blood in defense of socialism for the first time and attained victory in less than 72 hours under the leadership of Fidel himself.
The Military Parade that we watched this morning, dedicated to the young generations and particularly the vibrant popular march that followed, are eloquent evidence of the forces possessed by the Revolution to follow the example of the heroic combatants of Playa Girón.
Next May 1st, on the occasion of International Workers Day, we will march once again, throughout the country, to demonstrate the unity of Cubans in defense of their independence and national sovereignty, which history has confirmed can only be conquered with socialism.
A TRULY EXTENSIVE DEMOCRATIC EXERCISE
This Congress, the supreme body of the Party, as established in Article 20 of its Statutes, brings together today 1,000 delegates representing close to 800,000 party members affiliated to over 61,000 party cells. But, this Congress really started on November 9 last year, with the release of the Draft Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, the subject which, as previously indicated, is the principal issue of the event, upon which great expectations on the part of our people are pinned.
From that moment, numerous seminars were organized to clarify and analyze the content of the Guidelines in order to adequately prepare the cadres and officials who, in their turn, would lead the discussion process with Party members, the mass organizations and the people in general.
The discussions extended for three months, from December 1, 2010 to February 28 of this year, with the participation of 8, 913,838 people in more than 163,000 meetings of the different organizations in which over three million people made their contributions. It is worth clarifying, although this has not yet been precisely determined, that the overall total of participants stands at thousands of members of the Party and the Young Communist League who attended the meetings in their respective cells, and also those convened in their work or study centers, in addition to those in their communities. This is also the case of non-party members who took part in the meetings organized at their work centers and subsequently in their neighborhoods.
The National Assembly of People’s Power itself devoted almost two complete sessions in its most recent Ordinary Meeting this past December to analyze the Draft Guidelines with the deputies.
This process has highlighted the Party’s capacity to conduct a serious and transparent dialogue with the people on any issue, however sensitive it might be, particularly so when it is about attempting to create a national consensus on the features that should characterize the country’s social and economic model.
At the same time, the results of the discussions constitute a formidable working tool for government and Party leadership at all levels, something resembling a popular referendum given the depth, scope and pace of the changes we must introduce.
In a truly extensive democratic exercise, the people freely stated their views, clarified their doubts, proposed amendments, expressed their dissatisfactions and discrepancies, and also suggested working toward the solution of other problems not included in the document.
Once again the unity and confidence of most Cubans in the Party and the Revolution were put to the test; a unity that does not deny differences of opinions but is strengthened and consolidated by them. Every opinion, without exception, was incorporated to the analysis, which helped to enrich the draft submitted to the consideration of the delegates to this Congress.
It would be fair to state that, in substance, this Congress already took place in that excellent debate with the people. Now, it is left to us as delegates to engage in the final discussion of the draft and the election of the higher bodies of party leadership.
The Economic Policy Commission of the 6th Party Congress first entrusted to draw up the Draft Guidelines and then with the organization of the discussions has focused on the following five issues:
1. Reformulation of the guidelines bearing in mind the opinions gathered.
2. Organization, orientation and control of their implementation.
3. The meticulous training of cadres and other participants in terms of the implementation of some of the measures already being carried out.
4. Systematic oversight of the bodies and entities responsible for putting into practice the decisions stemming from the guidelines and evaluating their results.
5. Organizing the dissemination of information to the people.
In fulfillment of the aforesaid, the Draft Guidelines were reformulated and submitted to analysis in meetings of both the Political Bureau and the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, on March 19 and 20, respectively, with the participation of the Central Committee Secretariat and the leadership of the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC), the Union of Young Communists (UJC) and the other mass organizations, approved at that level—also as a draft—and then distributed among yourselves for examination during three days in each of the provincial delegations to the Congress, will the active contributions of those invited, and which will be discussed in the five commissions of this Party event for its approval.
Next, I will offer some data to enlighten our people on the results of the discussions of the Draft Guidelines, although detailed information will be published later.
The original document contained 291 guidelines; 16 of them were integrated within others; 94 preserved their phrasing; 181 had their content modified; and, 36 new guidelines were incorporated for a grand total of 311 guidelines in the current draft.
A simple arithmetical exercise with these numbers attests to the quality of the consultation process, in which, to a greater or lesser degree, approximately two thirds of the guidelines –68% to be exact—were reformulated.
The principle that guided this process was that the validity of a proposal would not depend on the number of opinions expressed about it. One demonstration of that is that several guidelines were either modified or removed, on the basis of proposals by one person or a small number of people.
It also needs to be explained that some opinions were not included at this stage, either because the issue deserves a more exhaustive analysis for which the necessary conditions did not exist or because they openly contradict the essence of socialism; for example, 45 proposals advocating the concentration of property.
With this I want to state that, although the prevailing tendency was a general understanding of and support for the content of the Guidelines, there was no unanimity, far from it; and that was precisely what was needed, if we were genuinely proposing a democratic and serious consultation with the people.
For this reason, we can definitively describe the Guidelines as an expression of the will of the people, contained in the policy of the Party, the government and the state, in updating the Economic and Social Model with the objective of securing the continuity and irreversibility of socialism as well as the country’s economic development and an improved standard of living for our people, in conjunction with the indispensable formation of ethical and political values.
As expected, most of the proposals made during the discussion of the Draft Guidelines were focused on Chapter VI, "Social Policy" and Chapter II, "Macroeconomic Policies"; these two accounted for 50.9% of the total, followed, in descending order, by Chapter XI, "Construction, Housing and Water Resources Policy"; Chapter X, "Transportation Policy"; and, Chapter I, "Economic Management Model." In fact, 75% of the opinions expressed focused on these five chapters out of a total of 12.
On the other hand, 67% of the proposals referred to 33 guidelines, that is, 11% of the total. In fact, the highest number of proposals pertaining to guidelines No. 162 on the elimination of the ration book; 61 and 62, on the pricing policy; 262, on passenger transportation; 133, on education; 54, related to the establishment of a single currency; and, 143, on the quality of healthcare services.
IN CUBA, UNDER SOCIALISM, THERE WILL NEVER BE "SHOCK THERAPIES"
Undoubtedly, the ration book and its eliminated prompted most of the contributions of participants in the debates, and that is only natural. Two generations of Cubans have spent their lives under this rationing system which, despite its harmful egalitarian quality, has for four decades ensured all citizens access to basic foodstuffs at highly subsidized and derisory prices.
This distribution mechanism, while it was introduced in the 60s with an egalitarian purpose in times of shortage in order to protect our people from speculation and hoarding on the part of a few individuals, over the years it has become an intolerable burden for the economy and a disincentive in relation to work, in addition to generating various illegalities in society.
Given that the ration book is designed to provide equal coverage for 11 million Cubans, there are more than a few examples of absurdities such as allocating a coffee quota to the newborn. The same thing happened with cigarettes through September 2010, which were supplied to smokers and non-smokers alike, thus propitiating the growth of that damaging habit in the population.
Regarding this sensitive issue, the range of opinions is very broad, from those who suggest eliminating it immediately, to others who are categorically opposed to its elimination and propose the rationing of everything, including industrial items. Others are of the view that in order to successfully prevent hoarding and ensure everyone’s access to basic foods, it is necessary, in a first stage, to maintain rationed products even if their prices are no longer subsidized. Quite a few recommended depriving people who are neither studying nor working of the ration book or advising that people with higher incomes should voluntarily relinquish this system.
Certainly, the use of the family ration book, justified under concrete historic circumstances, by having been maintained for so long, contradicts in its essence the principle of distribution which should characterize socialism; in other words, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work," and this situation should be resolved.
In this context, I consider it appropriate to recall what compañero Fidel stated in his Central Report to the 1st Party Congress, on December 17, 1975: "In the organization of our economy we have, without any doubt, suffered from errors of idealism and, on occasions, have ignored the reality of objective economic laws with which we have to comply."
The problem we are confronting is not about concepts, it lies in how, when and to what degree we do it. The elimination of the ration book is not an end in itself, nor can it be perceived as an isolated decision, but as one of the principal measures which it is essential to implement in order to eradicate the profound distortions affecting the functioning of the economy and society as a whole.
No one in their right mind within the country’s leadership would think of eliminating that system by decree, all at once, before creating the proper conditions to do so, which translates into the other transformations of the Economic Model with a view to increasing labor efficiency and productivity in order to guarantee stable levels of production and supplies of basic goods and services accessible to all citizens but no longer subsidized.
Of course, this issue is closely related to prices and monetary unification; wages and the "inverted pyramid" phenomenon which, as was clarified at in Parliament last December 18, is expressed in the lack of relationship between salaries and the hierarchy or importance of the work performed, problems reflected to a high degree in the contributions made by citizens.
In Cuba, under socialism, there will never be space for "shock therapies" against the most needy, who have traditionally been the staunchest supporters of the Revolution; as opposed to the packages of measures frequently implemented on the orders of the International Monetary Fund and other international economic organizations to the detriment of Third World peoples and recently, even in the highly developed nations, where students’ and workers’ demonstrations are being violently repressed.
The Revolution will not leave any Cuban unprotected. The social welfare system is being reorganized to ensure a differentiated and rational support for those who really need it. Instead of massively subsidizing products as we do now, this will progressively move toward providing for those people lacking any other support.
This principle retains absolute validity within the restructuring of the work force—already underway—by reducing inflated rosters in the state sector, on the basis of a strict assessment of workers’ demonstrated capacity. This process will continue slowly but uninterruptedly, its pace determined by our capacity to create the necessary conditions for its full implementation.
Other elements will have an impact on this process, including the expansion and increased flexibility of labor in the non-public sector. This form of employment, adopted by more than 200,000 Cubans from October last year through today –doubling the total of self-employed workers—constitutes an alternative endorsed by current legislation and thus, must be able to count on the support, assistance and protection of authorities at all levels while demanding strict adherence to the ensuing obligations, including tax contributions.
The growth of the non-public sector of the economy, far from the alleged privatization of social property that some theoreticians would have us believe, is called to become an active element facilitating the construction of socialism in Cuba, since it will allow the state to focus on raising the efficiency of the basic means of production, the property of all the people, while relieving itself from those management of activities that are not strategic for the country.
On the other hand, that will make it easier for the state to continue ensuring healthcare and education services free of charge and equally to all the people and their adequate protection through the social security and assistance systems; the promotion of physical education and sports; the defense of the national identity; and the preservation of the cultural heritage and the artistic, scientific and historic wealth of the nation.
The socialist state will then have more possibilities to make a reality of the idea expressed by Martí that presides over our Constitution: "I want the first law of our Republic to be Cubans’ tribute to the full dignity of humanity."
It is the role of the state to defend sovereignty and national independence, values of which Cubans are proud, and to continue guaranteeing the public order and security that make Cuba one of the safest and most peaceful nations in the world, without drug trafficking or organized crime; without beggars or child labor; without mounted police charging workers, students and other sectors of the population; without extrajudicial executions, clandestine jails or acts of torture, in spite of the unfounded and constantly orchestrated campaigns against us, markedly ignoring the fact that all those realities are, in the first place, basic human rights to which the majority of the inhabitants of the planet cannot even aspire.
Now, in order to be able to guarantee all of these conquests of socialism, without moving backwards in terms of their quality and reach, the social programs must be characterized by greater rationality, in a way that better and sustainable results can be obtained in the future which, moreover, can guarantee an adequate correlation with the country’s general economic situation.
THIS MENTALITY OF INERTIA HAS TO BE DEFINITIVELY ERADICATED IN ORDER TO RELEASE THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRODUCTIVE FORCES
As can be appreciated in the Guidelines, these ideas do not contradict the significance we attach to the precise separation of the role to be played by state institutions on the one hand, and the enterprises on the other, within the economy, an issue that for decades has been fraught with confusion and improvisations and that we are obliged to resolve in the medium term in the framework of improving and strengthening institutionalization.
A full understanding of these concepts will allow us to advance solidly and without setbacks in the gradual decentralization of powers from central to local government, and from ministries and other national entities in favor of the increasing autonomy of socialist state enterprises.
The excessively centralized model which currently characterizes our economy must move in an orderly fashion, with discipline and the participation of all workers, toward a decentralized system where planning is paramount, as a socialist aspect of management, albeit without ignoring current market trends, which will contribute to the flexibility and constant updating of the plan.
Practical experience has taught us that excessive centralization inhibits the development of initiatives in society and in the entire productive chain, where the cadres became accustomed to everything being decided "above" and consequently stopped feeling responsible for the outcome of the entities they headed.
Our enterprise administrators, with some exceptions, accommodated themselves to the tranquility and safety of "waiting" and developed an allergy to the risks involved in making decisions, that is, in being correct or mistaken. This mentality of inertia has to be definitively eradicated in order to release the development of the productive forces. This is a task of strategic significance, and it is not by chance that it has been reflected one way or another in the 24 guidelines contained in Chapter I, "Economic Management Model."
In terms of this issue, we cannot allow improvisations or act hastily. In order to decentralize and change that mentality, it is indispensable to draw up a framework of regulations which clearly define the authorities and functions of each link from the national to the local level, invariably accompanied by the corresponding accounting, financial and management oversight.
Progress is already being made in this direction. Studies to improve the functioning, as well as the structure and makeup of government, at the different levels began almost two years ago, leading to the implementation of the Council of Ministers Regulation, the reorganization of the system of working with state and government cadres, the introduction of planning procedures for the most important activities, the establishment of organizational bases to provide an effective and timely government information system supported by its own info-communications infrastructure, and the creation of the provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque, on an experimental basis and under a new structural and functional concept.
In order to begin decentralizing authority, the state and enterprise cadres will need to rescue the famous role of contracts within the economy, as expressed in Guideline No. 10. This will also help to reestablish order and discipline in payments and receipts, a subject in which a good part of our economy has been getting poor grades.
As a no less important byproduct, the appropriate use of contracts as regulatory instruments of relations among the various economic actors will become an effective antidote against the extended habit of reunionismo in other words, calling an excessive number of meetings, reviews and other collective activities, often presided by senior officials and with the non-productive attendance of many participants, only to enforce what the two parties to a contract have signed as responsibilities and rights, and whose fulfillment they have never demanded of those required to do so.
In this respect, it is worth emphasizing that 19 opinions, registered in 9 provinces, called for the need to reduce the number of meetings and their duration to the indispensable minimum. We will take up this issue again later, when dealing with the functioning of the Party.
We are convinced that the mission ahead of us in this and other issues related to the updating of the Economic Model is full of complexities and interrelations that, one way or another, touch on every aspect of society as a whole. For that reason, we are aware that it is not something that can be solved overnight, or even in 12 months, and that it will take at least five years to implement with the necessary comprehensiveness and harmony. And, when that is achieved, it will be necessary to never stop and for us to continue working for its improvement in order to successfully face the new challenges dictated by development.
Metaphorically speaking, it could be said that every now and then, as the scenario changes, the country has to tailor a new suit.
We are not under the illusion that the Guidelines and the measures conducive to the implementation of the Economic Model will by themselves provide a universal remedy to all our evils. It is simultaneously necessary to build greater political awareness and commonsense, greater intransigency toward violations, and to achieve the discipline of everyone, but primarily, on the part of the leading cadres.
This was clearly evidenced in recent months by the shortcomings observed during the implementation of certain specific measures—neither complex nor of great magnitude—due to bureaucratic obstacles and the lack of foresight on the part of local governments in terms of the expansion of self-employment.
It is worthwhile reiterating that our cadres will have to get used to working with the guiding documents issued by bodies authorized to do so and abandon the irresponsible vice of putting them on ice. Life has shown us that it is not enough to pass a good legal regulation, independently of whether it is a law or simply a resolution. It is necessary to also train those responsible for implementing, monitoring and confirming the practical command of what has been established. Let us not forget that there is no law worse than one which is not complied with or enforced.
The system of Party schools at the provincial and national level, parallel with the essential reorientation of their syllabus, will play a leading role in the preparation and ongoing retraining in these subjects of Party, administrative and executive cadres with the aid of educational institutions specialized in this area of knowledge and the valuable input of members of the National Association of Economists and Accountants, as was the case with the discussion of the Guidelines.
At the same time, and with the purpose of effectively arranging in order of importance the introduction of the required changes, the Political Bureau agreed to bring to the Congress the proposal to establish a Government Implementation and Development Standing Committee, subordinated to the president of the Councils of State and Ministers which, without affecting in any way the authority invested in the corresponding central government bodies, will be responsible for monitoring, checking and coordinating the actions of everyone involved in this activity, as well as proposing the incorporation of new guidelines, something that will be indispensable in the future.
In this context, we have considered it appropriate to recall the orientation which compañero Fidel included in his Central Report to the 1st Party Congress, nearly 36 years ago, concerning the economic direction system that we intended to introduce back then and which failed due to our lack of systematization, control and discipline. I quote, "…Party leaders and above all those of state should make its implementation a personal undertaking and a matter of honor, become aware of its crucial importance and of the need to fight with all they have to apply it consistently, always under the leadership of the National Commission created to that end […] " and he concluded: "…to widely disseminate information about the system, its principles and mechanisms through a literature which is within the reach of the masses, so that it is a subject that the workers can fully understand. The success of the system will depend to a decisive extent on workers’ knowledge of the issue."
I will not tire of repeating that, in this Revolution, everything has been said and the finest demonstration of this truth are Fidel’s ideas that Granma, the official organ of the Party, has been publishing over the past few years.
We are convinced that the only thing that can lead to the failure of the Revolution and socialism in Cuba, risking the future of our nation, is our inability to overcome the mistakes we have made over more than five decades…
What we approve in this Congress cannot suffer the same fate as previous agreements, most of them forgotten and unfulfilled. Whatever we agree upon in this or future meetings must guide the behavior and action of Party members and leaders alike and its implementation must be ensured through related legal instruments developed by the National Assembly of People’s Power, the State Council or the Government, in accordance with their legislative powers and the Constitution.
It’s only fair to say very clearly, in order to avoid misinterpretations, that the agreements reached by congresses and other leading Party organs do not in themselves become law. They are orientations of a political and moral nature, and it is incumbent on the Government, the body charged with administration, to organize their implementation.
This is why the Standing Commission for Implementation and Development will include a Judicial Subgroup composed of highly qualified specialists who will coordinate with the respective bodies - with full respect for the authority of institutions - the legal amendments required to accompany the updating of the Economic and Social Model, simplifying and harmonizing the content of hundreds of ministerial resolutions, legislative decrees and legislations, and subsequently proposing, in due course, the introduction of the relevant adjustments to the Constitution of the Republic.
Without waiting to have everything fully developed, progress has been made in the legal regulations associated with the purchase and sale of housing and motor vehicles, the modification of Legislative Decree No. 259 expanding limitations on the amount of land to be awarded in usufruct to agricultural producers with outstanding results and the granting of credit to the self-employed and the population at large.
Likewise, we consider it advisable to propose to this Congress that the first point of the agenda of every plenary meeting of the next Central Committee, to be held no less than twice a year, is a report on the status of the implementation of the agreements adopted by this Congress on the updating of the Economic Model, and that the second point is an analysis of the fulfillment of the economic plan, be it through the first semester or the current year.
We also recommend that the National Assembly of People’s Power proceed in the same way during its ordinary sessions in order to strengthen its leading role as the supreme organ of the State power.
Given the profound conviction that nothing that we do is perfect and that, even if it seems so today, it will not be tomorrow under new circumstances, the higher organs of the Party and the State and Government Powers should maintain systematic and close oversight over this process and be ready to introduce any adjustments needed to correct negative effects in a timely fashion.
Compañeras and compañeros, it is a question of staying alert, with our feet and ears to the ground, and when a practical problem arises, wherever, cadres at different levels must act swiftly and deliberately avoiding the old approach of leaving a solution to time, since we have learned from experience that problems only grow more complicated with time.
By the same token, we should cultivate and preserve a fluid relationship with the masses, devoid of formality, which can provide us effective feed-back, their concerns and dissatisfactions, so that it is precisely the masses who establish the pace of change.
The attention paid to a recent misunderstanding on the reorganization of some basic services shows that when the Party and the Government, each in its own role, with different methods and styles, act promptly and harmoniously on the concerns of the people, providing clear and simple explanations, the people support the measures and their confidence in their leaders grows.
The Cuban media in its various formats is called upon to play a decisive role in clarification and providing objective, continuous and critical reporting on the progress of the updating of the economic model, in order that, with astute and concrete articles and reports written in language accessible to all, a culture about these topics can be developed within the country.
In this area of work it is also necessary to definitively banish the habit of describing the national reality in pretentious, strident language or with excessive formality. Instead, written materials and television and radio programs should be produced that capture the attention of the audience with their content and style while encouraging public debate, which demands greater knowledge and a higher level of professionalism on the part of our journalists. Although, it is true, despite the Party’s approval of resolutions on information policy, they often do not have timely access to the information or frequent contact with the cadres or experts responsible for the issues in question. The combination of these elements explains the all too common dissemination of boring, improvised or superficial reports.
Our media has an important contribution to make to the promotion of the national culture and the revival of the civic values of our society.
Moving on to another vital issue very closely related to the updating of the Economic and Social Model of the country and that should help in its implementation is the celebration of a National Party Conference. This will reach agreement on the modification of the Party’s working methods and style with a view to ensure, for today and for the future, the consistent application of article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic setting forth that the Party is the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation and the leading force of the society and State.
Initially, we had planned on holding the Conference in December, 2011; however, given the complications inherent to the last month of the year and the advisability of having an adequate amount of time to adjust details, we are planning to hold that meeting at the end of January, 2012.
Last December 18, I explained to the Parliament that due to the inefficiency of government bodies in carrying out their duties, the Party had spent years involved in tasks which were not its responsibility, compromising and limiting its role.
We are convinced that the only thing that can lead to the failure of the Revolution and Socialism in Cuba, risking the future of our nation, is our inability to overcome the mistakes we have made over more than five decades and the new ones we could make.
The first thing we must do in order to correct a mistake is to consciously recognize it, in all its dimensions. The fact is, however, that although from the early years of the Revolution Fidel made a clear distinction between the roles of the Party and the State, we were inconsistent in our response to his instructions and allowed ourselves to react under pressure and improvise.
There can be no better example than what the leader of the Revolution said as early as March 26, 1962, on radio and television, explaining to the people the methods and functioning of the Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI), which preceded the Party. He said: "…the Party leads, it leads through the entire Party and it leads through public administration. An official must have authority. A minister must have authority; a manager must have authority and discuss as much as necessary with the Advising Technical Council (today, the Board of Directors), discuss with the working masses, discuss with the Party cell, but it is the manager who makes the decision, because it is his responsibility…" This orientation dates back 49 years.
There are very well defined concepts that, in substance, remain completely valid regardless of the time which has passed since Lenin formulated them, almost 100 years ago, and they should be reclaimed, bearing in mind the characteristics and experiences of our country.
In 1973, during the preparations for the First Party Congress, it was defined that the Party must lead and oversee using its own ways and means, which are different from the ways, means and resources available to the State for exercising its authority. The Party’s guidelines, resolutions and provisions are not legally binding for all citizens; it is the Party members who should abide by them as their conscience dictates since there is no apparatus to force or coerce them into complying. This is a major difference about the role and methods of the Party and the State.
The fortitude of the Party basically lies in its moral authority, its influence on the masses and the confidence of its people. The action of the Party is based, above all, on the honesty of its motives and the justice of its political line.
The fortitude of the State lies in its material authority, which consists of the strength of the institutions responsible for demanding that everyone comply with the legal regulations it enacts.
The damage caused by the confusion of these two concepts is manifested, firstly, in the deterioration of the Party’s political work and, secondly, in the decline of the authority of the State and the Government as officials have ceased feeling responsible for their decisions.
Compañeras and compañeros, the idea is to forever relieve the Party of activities completely alien to its nature as a political organization; in short, to forego administrative activities and have each entity do what it is meant to do.
We have reached the conclusion that it is advisable to recommend limiting tenure in fundamental political and state positions to a maximum of two five-year terms.
These misconceptions are closely linked to flaws in the Party’s policy with the cadres, which will also be analyzed by the abovementioned National Conference. More than a few bitter lessons are the legacy of the mistakes made in this area due to the lack of rigorous criteria and vision which opened the way to the hasty promotion of inexperienced and immature cadres, based on false pretense and opportunism, attitudes fostered by the erroneous idea that an unspoken requirement to occupy a leading position was to be a member of the Party or the Young Communist League.
We must decidedly abandon such practice, except in the case of responsibilities within political organizations. Membership in a political organization should not be a precondition for holding a leading position with the State or the Government. What the cadres need are adequate training and the willingness to recognize as their own the Party policy and program.
True leaders do not simply crop up in schools or from favoritism; they are forged at the grassroots level, working in the profession they studied in contact with the workers and rising gradually to leadership by setting an example in terms of sacrifice and results.
In this regard, I think that the Party leadership, at all levels, should be self-critical and adopt the necessary measures to prevent the reemergence of such tendencies. This is also applicable to the lack of systematic work and political will to secure the promotion of women, Blacks and people of mixed race, and youth to decision-making positions on the basis of their merits and personal qualifications.
It’s really shameful that we have not solved this problem in more than half a century. This shall weigh heavily on our consciences for many years because we have simply been inconsistent with the countless directives given by Fidel from the early days of the revolutionary victory and over the years, and also because the solution to this disparity was contained in the resolutions adopted by the transcendental First Party Congress and the four congresses that followed. Still, we have failed to ensure its realization.
The solution to such issues that define the future will never again be left to spontaneity but rather to foresight and to the unwavering political intention of preserving and perfecting socialism in Cuba.
Although we kept on trying to promote young people to senior positions, life proved that we did not always make the best choices. Today, we are faced with the consequences of not having a reserve of well-trained replacements with sufficient experience and maturity to undertake the new and complex leadership responsibilities in the Party, the State and the Government, a problem we should solve gradually, in the course of five years, avoiding hasty actions and improvisations but starting as soon as the Congress is over.
This will advance further with the strengthening of the democratic spirit and collective work of the leading Party, State and Government organs as we guarantee the systematic rejuvenation of the full gamut of Party and administrative positions, from the grassroots to the comrades with the greatest responsibilities, including the current President of the Council of State and Ministers and the First Secretary of the Central Committee elected in this Congress.
In this regard, we have reached the conclusion that it is advisable to recommend limiting tenure in fundamental political and state positions to a maximum of two five-year terms. This is possible and necessary under the current conditions, quite different from those prevailing in the first decades of the Revolution, not yet consolidated and moreover, already the target of constant threats and aggression.
The systematic strengthening of our institutions will be both a precondition and an indispensable guarantee that this cadre renovation policy will never jeopardize the continuation of socialism in Cuba.
The first step we are taking in this direction is the substantial reduction of the list of leading positions that require approval from the municipal, provincial and national levels of the Party while empowering senior leaders in the ministries and companies to appoint, replace and apply disciplinary measures to a large part of their subordinates with the assistance of the respective Cadres Commission, where the Party is represented and has a voice but which are led by the manager who makes the final decision. The view of the Party organization is taken into consideration but the decisive party is the manager, and we should preserve and enhance his or her authority, in harmony with the Party.
As to the internal functioning of the Party, which will also be examined at the National Conference, we think it is worthwhile reflecting on the self-defeating effects of old habits completely alien to the Party’s vanguard role in our society. These include the superficiality and excessive formality characterizing the political-ideological work; the use of obsolete methods and terminology that ignore the instructional level of the Party members; holding excessively long meetings and often during working hours - which should be sacred, especially for the communists - sometimes with inflexible agendas dictated by the higher level disregarding the context in which the Party members develop their activities; the frequent calls to formal commemorations where still more formal speeches are made; and, the organization of voluntary work on holidays without real content or adequate coordination that incur costs and have a distasteful and demoralizing effect on our comrades.
These criteria also apply to emulation, a movement that lost through the years its capacity to mobilize the workers’ collectives and became an alternative mechanism for distribution of moral and material incentives not always justified by concrete results, and on more than a few occasions gave rise to fraudulent information.
Additionally, the Conference will analyze the Party’s relations with the Young Communist League and the mass organizations to break with routine and inflexible approaches and allow each of them to recover their raison d’être under the present conditions.
To sum up, comrades, the National Conference will focus on enhancing the role of the Party as the main advocate of the interests of the Cuban people.
The realization of this objective definitely requires a change of mentality, avoiding formality and fanfare both in ideas and in action; that is, to do away with the resistance to change based on empty dogma and slogans to get to the core of things as the children of La Colmenita Theater Company brilliantly show in the play Abracadabra.
It’s the only way in which the Communist Party of Cuba can become, once and for all, the worthy heir to the authority and unlimited confidence of the people in their Revolution and their only Commander in Chief, comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, whose moral contribution and undisputable leadership do not depend on any position and that as a soldier of ideas has not ceased to struggle and contribute, with his enlightening Reflections and other actions, to the revolutionary cause and the defense of humanity facing grave dangers.
We shall continue advocating for International Law and supporting the principle of sovereign equality among the States as well as the right of the peoples to self-determination.
With respect to the international situation, we shall use a few minutes to assess the current international conjuncture.
There is no end in sight to the global economic crisis affecting every nation because it is a systemic crisis. The powerful have directed their remedies to protecting the institutions and procedures that created it and to depositing the terrible burden of its consequences on the workers of their own countries, and particularly of the underdeveloped countries. Meanwhile, the escalating prices of foods and oil are pushing hundreds of millions of people into extreme poverty.
The effects of climate change are already devastating and the lack of political will of the industrial nations prevents the adoption of urgent and necessary action to avoid the catastrophe.
We live in a convulsive world where natural disasters follow one another like the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Japan while the United States wages wars of conquest in Iraq and Afghanistan that have taken the lives of more than one million civilians.
Popular movements in Arab nations are rising up against corrupt and oppressive governments allied with the United States and the European Union. The unfortunate conflict in Libya, a nation subjected to a brutal military intervention by NATO, has given that organization a new pretext to go beyond its originally defensive limits and expand worldwide the threats and war actions undertaken to safeguard its geostrategic interests and access to petroleum. Likewise, imperialism and the domestic reactionary forces conspire to destabilize other countries while Israel oppresses and massacres the Palestinian people with complete impunity.
The United States and NATO include in their doctrines aggressive interventionism against the Third World countries aimed at plundering their resources. They also impose on the United Nations a double standard and use the media consortia in an increasingly coordinated way to conceal or distort the events, as it befits the world power centers, in a hypocritical mockery intended to deceive the public.
Despite its complex economic situation, our country maintains its cooperation with 101 Third World nations. In Haiti, after 12 years of intensive work saving lives, the Cuban healthcare personnel have been working with admirable generosity, since January 2010, alongside collaborators from other countries confronting the situation created by the earthquake and the cholera epidemic that ensued.
To the Bolivarian Revolution, and to comrade Hugo Chávez Frías, we express our resolute solidarity and commitment, conscious of the significance of the process undertaken by the fraternal Venezuelan people for Our America, in the Bicentennial of its Independence.
We also share the hopes of the transformation movements in various Latin American countries, headed by prestigious leaders who represent the interests of the oppressed majorities.
We shall continue contributing to the integration processes of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the South Union (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CLACS) currently involved in arrangements for the celebration of its founding summit on July this year, in Caracas. The establishment of this entity was the most extraordinary institutional event in our hemisphere during the past century, since for the first time all of the countries south of the Rio Bravo were meeting on our own.
We are encouraged by this increasingly united and independent Latin America and Caribbean, whose solidarity we appreciate.
We shall continue advocating for International Law and supporting the principle of sovereign equality among the States as well as the right of the peoples to self-determination. We reject the use of force and aggression, wars of conquest, the plundering of the natural resources and the exploitation of human beings.
We condemn every form of terrorism, particularly State terrorism. We shall defend peace and development for all peoples and fight for the future of humanity.
The US Administration has not changed its traditional policy aimed at discrediting and overthrowing the Revolution. On the contrary, it has continued to fund projects designed to directly promote subversion, foster destabilization and interfere in our domestic affairs. The current administration has taken some positive but extremely limited actions.
The US economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba remains in force and was intensified by the current administration, particularly with respect to financial transactions. It ignores the almost unanimous condemnation of the blockade by the international community that for 19 consecutive years has advocated its removal.
Although apparently, as evidenced in the recent visit to the Palacio de La Moneda in Santiago de Chile, the United States leaders do not like to remember history when dealing with the present and the future, it is worth indicating that the Cuba blockade is not something of the past. Therefore, it is our obligation to recall the content of a secret memorandum, declassified in 1991, where Deputy Undersecretary of State for Inter American Affairs Lester D. Mallory wrote on April 6, 1960, "The majority of Cubans support Castro […] There is no effective political opposition […]. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support [of the government] is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship […]. Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life […] denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."1
Mark the date of the memorandum: April 6, 1960, almost an exact year to the day of the Playa Girón invasion.
This memorandum was not an initiative taken by that official. It was part of the policy aimed at overthrowing the Revolution, like the "Covert Action Program against the Castro Regime," approved by President Eisenhower on March 17, 1960, using all the available means, from the creation of a unified opposition, psychological warfare and covert intelligence operations to the training in third countries of paramilitary forces with the capacity to invade the Island.
The United States fostered terrorism in the cities, and that same year, before the Playa Girón attack, promoted the establishment of counterrevolutionary armed-gangs, supplied by air and sea, that robbed and murdered peasants, workers and young teachers, until they were finally annihilated in 1965.
In Cuba, we will never forget the 3,478 dead and 2,099 incapacitated by the policy of State terrorism.
Half a century of hardship and suffering has transpired during which our people have resisted and defended their Revolution, unwilling to surrender or to besmirch the memory of those who have fallen in the past 150 years, since the beginning of our struggles for independence.
The US government has not ceased to give sanctuary and protect notorious terrorists while continuing the suffering and unjust incarceration of the heroic Cuban Five antiterrorist fighters.
Its Cuba policy has no credibility and lacks any moral basis whatsoever. In order to justify it, baseless pretexts are used, which grow obsolete and then change depending on Washington’s interests.
The US government should have no doubt that the Cuban Revolution will emerge from this Congress stronger. If they chose to cling to their policy of hostility, blockade and subversion we are prepared to continue confronting it.
We reiterate our willingness to engage in dialogue and to take on the challenge of having normal relations with the United States as well as to coexist in a civilized manner, our differences notwithstanding, on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.
At the same time, we will permanently give a priority to defense, following Fidel’s instructions as expressed in his Central Report to the First Congress, when he said: "While imperialism exists, the Party, the State and the people will pay utmost attention to defense. The revolutionary guard will never be careless. History teaches with too much eloquence that those who forget this principle do not survive the mistake."
Under current conditions and in the foreseeable future, the strategic concept of "the people's war" remains absolutely valid, thus it is constantly enriched and improved. Its command and leadership system has been reinforced and its capacity to react to various exceptional situations has increased.
The defensive capacity of the country has reached a higher level, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Using our own available resources, we have improved the technical condition and maintenance as well as the preservation of the armament and carried on the production effort and especially the modernization of the military technology taking into account its prohibitive world market prices. In this area, the contribution of scores of military and civilian institutions, proof of the enormous scientific, technological and productive potential created by the Revolution must be acknowledged.
The degree of preparation of the national territory as the theater of military operations has been significantly improved; the fundamental armament is protected, as are a substantial part of the troops, the command and the people.
A communication infrastructure has been established to ensure the steady functioning of the command posts at all levels. All reserve material supplies have been increased with better distribution and protection.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces, or put another way, the people in uniform shall continue to constantly improve and preserve the authority and prestige earned with their discipline and order in the defense of the people and of Socialism.
The congruence between revolutionary doctrine and religious faith is rooted in the very foundations of the nation.
We shall now deal with another no less significant issue of our times.
The Party must be convinced that beyond material needs and cultural interests our people hold a diversity of concepts and ideas about their own spiritual necessities.
Our National Hero José Martí, a man who synthesized that convergence of spirituality and revolutionary sentiments, wrote many pages about this subject.
Fidel addressed this topic quite early, in 1954, when still in jail he evoked Renato Guitart, one of the martyrs of the Moncada: "Physical life is ephemeral; it inexorably passes; the same as many and many generations of men have passed, as our own lives will shortly pass. This truth should teach every human being that the immortal values of the spirit stand above them. What is the meaning of life without the spirit? What is life then? How can death take those that understand this and still generously sacrifice their lives to good and justice!"
These values have always been present in his ideas, and so he insisted on them in 1971, at a meeting with Catholic priests in Santiago de Chile: "I tell you that there are ten thousand times more coincidences of Christianity with Communism than there might be with Capitalism."
And, he returned to this idea as he addressed the members of the Christian churches in Jamaica in 1977. He said: "We must work together so that when the political idea succeeds the religious idea is not separate and does not appear as the enemy of changes. There are no contradictions between the purposes of religion and the purposes of socialism."
The congruence between revolutionary doctrine and ideas, and religious faith and its followers, is rooted in the very foundations of the nation, which while asserting its secular nature promoted as an unwavering principle the unity of spirituality with the homeland bequeathed by Father Felix Varela and the teachings of Luz y Caballero, who categorically said, "I would chose to see the fall of not only the institutions created by man -– kings and emperors - but even the stars from the firmament rather than see falling from the human breast the sentiment of justice; that sun of the moral world."
In 1991, the 4th Party Congress agreed to modify the interpretation of the statutes that limited the admission to our organization of revolutionaries with religious beliefs.
The justice of this decision has been confirmed by the role of leaders and representatives of various religious institutions in the different facets of national life, including the struggle for the return to our Homeland of the child Elián, in which the Cuba Council of Churches played a particularly outstanding role.
However, it is necessary to continue eradicating any prejudice that prevents bringing all Cubans together, like brothers and sisters, in virtue and in defense of our Revolution, be they believers or not, members of Christian churches; including the Catholic Church, the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, the evangelicals and Protestant churches; the same as the Cuban religions originated in Africa, the Spiritualist, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist communities, and fraternal associations, among others. The Revolution has had gestures of appreciation and concordance with each of them.
The unforgettable Cintio Vitier, that great poet and writer, who was a deputy to our National Assembly, used the force of his pen and of his Christian and deeply revolutionary ethic, so profoundly rooted in Martí’s, to leave us warnings for the present and the future that we should always remember.
Cintio wrote: "What is in danger, we know, is the nation itself. The nation is by now inseparable from the Revolution that has been a part of it since October 10, 1868, and it has no other alternative: it is either independent or it is no more.
"If the Revolution were defeated, we would fall into the historic vacuum that the enemy wants for us and prepares for us, and that even the most simple people perceive as an abyss.
"It is possible to arrive at defeat, we know, through the intervention of the blockade, of internal decay, and the temptations imposed by the new hegemonic situation in the world."
After stating that "We are at the most challenging time of our history," he admonished: "Forced to fight the irrationality of the world to which it fatally belongs; always threatened by the sequels of dark age-old blights; implacably harassed by the most powerful nation on Earth; and also a victim of imported or indigenous blunders that history shows have never gone unpunished, our small island constricts and dilates, systole and diastole, as a glimmering of hope to itself and to others."
Now, we should address the recently concluded process of releasing counterrevolutionary prisoners, those that in challenging and distressing times for our homeland have conspired against it at the service of a foreign power.
By sovereign decision of our government, they were released before fully serving their sentences. We could have done it directly and take credit for a decision that we made conscious of the fortitude of the Revolution. However, we did it in the framework of a dialogue based on mutual respect, loyalty and transparency with the senior leadership of the Catholic Church, which contributed with its humanitarian labors to the completion of this action in harmony; in any case, praise is due to that religious institution.
The representatives of the Catholic Church expressed their viewpoint, not always in agreement with ours, but certainly constructive. This is at least our perception after lengthy talks with Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the Chairman of the Episcopalian Conference Monsignor Dionisio García.
With this action, we have favored the consolidation of the most precious legacy of our history and the revolutionary process: the unity of our nation.
By the same token, we should mention the contribution of the former minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, Miguel Angel Moratinos, who facilitated the humanitarian efforts of the Church so that those who wished to travel abroad or accepted the idea could do so with their families. Others decided to remain in Cuba.
We have patiently endured the implacable disinformation campaigns about human rights, coordinated from the United States and some countries within the European Union that demand from us no less than unconditional surrender and the immediate dismantling of our socialist system while encouraging, directing and assisting domestic mercenaries in breaking the law.
In this regard, it is necessary to make clear that we will never deny our people the right to defend their Revolution. The defense of the independence, of the conquests of Socialism and of our streets and plazas will still be the first duty of every Cuban patriot.
Days and years of intensive work and great responsibility lie before us to preserve and develop, on a solid and sustainable foundation, the independent and socialist future of our homeland.
Thus far, the Central Report to the 6th Party Congress.
Thank you very much.