By Raùl Castro Ruz, Granma International, January 30, 2012
The following is the closing speech by President Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba at the 1st National Conference of the Party, in the International Conference Center, January 29, 2012. The translation is by Granma International.
Compañeras and compañeros:
THE 1st National Conference of the Party which concludes its sessions today has been dedicated, in accordance with the call made by the 6th Congress, to objectively and critically evaluate the work of the Party, as well as to determine, in a spirit of renovation, the changes necessary for it to rise to the level demanded by current circumstances.
Let us not forget that only the Party, as an institution bringing together the revolutionary vanguard and a secure guarantor of the unity of Cubans in all times; only the Party, I repeat, can be the worthy inheritor of the confidence placed in the people by the only Comandante en Jefe of the Cuban Revolution, compañero Fidel Castro. (Applause)
I will not spend time outlining details of participants in the process of discussion of the proposed document or the many modifications which resulted from it, given the report presented by the Second Secretary of the Central Committee, compañero José Ramón Machado Ventura in the opining session of this event which, as everyone knows, did not start yesterday, but almost immediately after the closing session of the Party Congress.
After the initial draft of the document and its subsequent analysis in grassroots organizations of the Party and the Union of Young Communists (UJC) during October and November of last year, the results were discussed in the 3rd Central Committee Plenum on December 21, 2011.
Likewise, in the first weeks of this month, Conference delegates and other cadres studied and discussed the document at the provincial level. A total of nine versions of the documents were drafted.
As opposed to the draft Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, discussion of which included the entire population, the Conference proposed document, given its less encompassing scope and its focus more directed toward the internal functioning of the Party, was analyzed by all members, while our people were fully informed of its content by the media.
On the other hand, the Conference preparatory process included discussions of the role of members in the interest of improving the Party’s relations with the UJC, the Cuban Federation of Workers and other mass organizations so that they can increase their leadership and influence within society in the current conditions.
As was to be expected, the document’s publication produced criticism and appeals from those who, confusing their most personal aspirations with reality, had the illusion that the Conference would devote itself to initiating the dismantling of the political and social system attained by the Revolution during more than half a century, with the support of the majority of Cubans.
In this context, it was not by chance that the first objective of the document states, "The Communist Party of Cuba, the highest leading force of society and the state, is the legitimate fruit of the Revolution, while at the same time, its organized vanguard is the guarantor, together with the people, of its historical continuity." This concept, which we shall never renounce, is fully in accordance with Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic, approved in a referendum by 97.7% of electors, through a free, direct and secret vote.
Our adversaries and even some of our sympathizers, the history of constant aggression, economic blockade, intervention and abstracting themselves from the media siege expressed in incessant campaigns by the supposedly free press – in its majority subordinated to predominant imperial interests – all of which the Cuban Revolution has had to confront, are demanding – as if this were a country in normal conditions and not a besieged place – the restoration of the multi-party model which existed in Cuba under United States colonial rule.
Renouncing the principle of one sole party would simply be equivalent to legalizing the party or parties of imperialism in our homeland and sacrificing the strategic weapon of Cuban unity, which has made real the dreams of independence and social justice for which so many generations of patriots have fought, from Hatuey to Céspedes, Martí and Fidel.
Toward the end of organizing the struggle for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico, Martí conceived the creation of one sole political party, the Cuban Revolutionary Party, according to his own words, "To foment a revolution so that…all Cubans of goodwill can enter into it… all those who love Cuba, or respect her."
After 30 years of war, when the victory over Spain was already imminent, the U.S. intervention arrived, and one of its first measures was to dissolve this party, as well as the glorious Liberation Army, in order to make way for what came afterwards, the multi-party nature of the bourgeois republic and the creation of a new army with its repressive rural guards included, as a guarantee of the absolute domination of all the nation’s wealth, which was appropriated during the four years of the first military occupation.
That was the sad end of the two pillars of the pro-independence revolution, the Party and its Liberation Army, revived exactly 60 years later under Fidel’s leadership, inspired by the teachings of Martí. We will never allow that history to repeat itself.
It is not my intention in this speech to recall the historic evolution of the term "democracy," from its conception in Ancient Greece, as "the power of the people," although the enslaved majority did not count at all. Neither will I attempt to philosophize about the validity and utility of so-called representative democracy which, in real terms, has invariably become, as is all too well known – the concentration of political power in the class which holds the economic and financial hegemony of each nation, where the majority similarly do not count at all and when they protest, as is happening at this very moment in many countries, are brutally repressed and silenced with the complicity of the corporate press, also transnationalized, in its service.
The best argument is the one provided for us by U.S. democracy, designed to be imposed as a model on everyone, in which the Democratic and Republican parties alternate in power, defending, without major differences, the interests of that same big capital, to which both are subordinate.
To cite just a few examples, the Guantánamo Naval Base, illegally occupied by the United States against the will of the Cuban people and which has remained as such for more than 100 years, independent of whichever party is in power. The country which constantly proclaims its defense of human rights has concurrently maintained there, for more than 10 years, despite promises by the current President, a prison in which more than 170 foreign citizens are being subjected to torture and humiliation in a legal limbo.
The second example is the Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs] invasion, conceived and planned by a Republican President, Eisenhower, and undertaken by President Kennedy of the Democratic Party barely three months after being inaugurated; and finally, there is the economic blockade which has lasted for half a century, no matter whether a Republican or Democrat is occupying the White House.
Without the least disrespect for any other country with a multi-party system and in strict adherence to the principle of respect for free determination and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states consecrated in the United Nations Charter, in Cuba – on the basis of its experiences throughout the history of its struggles for independence and national sovereignty – we will defend the single party system in the face of demagogic games and the commercialization of politics.
Given that we have chosen, in a sovereign manner, with the participation and support of the people, the Martí option of one sole party, it is our responsibility to promote the greatest democracy in our society, starting with providing an example within the ranks of the Party, which also presupposes fostering a climate of maximum confidence and creating the conditions required at all levels for the broadest and most sincere exchange of opinions, both in the heart of the organization, as in its interactions with workers and the population, and working to promote differences being addressed naturally and respectfully. This includes the mass media, mentioned on a number of occasions in the objectives approved in this conference, which must involve itself in this undertaking responsibly and with the strictest veracity – not in the bourgeois style, full of sensationalism and lies – but with confirmed objectivity and without useless excessive secrecy.
To this end it is necessary to encourage more professionalism among press workers, a task in which we are sure we can count upon the support of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC), the mass media and the agencies and institutions which must provide them with reliable and appropriate information, so that, among all of them, with patience and coherent criteria, they can improve and increase the efficacy of messages and orientation provided to our compatriots.
At the same time, the formation of a more democratic society will also contribute to overcoming feigned and opportunistic attitudes which have emerged from an environment of false unanimity and formalism in dealing with different situations in the life of the nation.
We need to accustom ourselves to expressing truths face to face, looking each other straight in the eye, to disagree and argue, to even disagree with what leaders say, when we believe that we are in the right; logically, in the right place, at the right time and in the correct manner: that is, in meetings and not in corridors. We have to be prepared to confront problems by defending our ideas and resolutely facing what has been poorly done.
We have already said on a number of occasions, and the point was included in the central report to the 6th Party Congress, that the only thing which could lead to the defeat of the Revolution and socialism in Cuba is our inability to eradicate the errors committed during the 50-plus years which have passed since January 1, 1959, and new ones we could occur in the future.
A revolution without errors has never existed and never will, because they are the result of the actions of imperfect human beings and peoples, faced moreover with new and colossal challenges. For that reason, I believe that we need not be ashamed of errors; it is more serious and shameful not to have the valor to delve more profoundly into them and analyze them in order to extract the lessons from each one and correct them in time.
In this context, given their continuing relevance, it is opportune to recall the words of compañero Fidel on September 28, 1986, closing the 3rd Congress of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR): "The battle against negative tendencies and the battle against errors committed will inexorably continue, because we have the sacred duty to improve everything we do, to improve the Revolution; we have the sacred duty to never be satisfied, not even when we consider that we are doing things well, and much less should we be satisfied when we know that not everything is being done as well as it should be."
The generation which made the Revolution has had the historic privilege, not often seen, of being able to lead the rectification of errors they committed, an eloquent demonstration of the fact that these did not have strategic repercussions; otherwise we would not be here today. We are not thinking, despite the fact that we are no longer that young, of wasting this last opportunity.
Referring to this issue, I feel bound to warn that we should not fall into the illusion of believing that the decisions adopted in this National Conference or even the decisions of strategic scope adopted by the 6th Congress, constitute a magical solution to all our problems.
In order to prevent the directives of the Party from once again going down the drain, the Political Bureau decided – as was stated at the time in relation to the progress of updating the economic model and meeting annual plans and budgets – that Central Committee plenums should analyze twice-yearly the implementation of the Party working objectives approved at this conference. Likewise, provincial and municipal Party committees will proceed in the format and frequency established by the Central Committee.
Experience has taught us that what is not effectively supervised is not fulfilled or is executed superficially.
It is imperative to work and persevere with order, discipline and resolve to concretize the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, as well as the objectives approved at this event, so as to leave behind the burden of the old mentality and to forge, with transformational intent and much political sensitivity, the vision of the present and future of the homeland, without for one second abandoning Marti's legacy and the doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, which constitute the principal ideological basis of our revolutionary process.
In order to succeed in this endeavor, it is essential, as expressed in Objective No 37 of the Party Guidelines, "to strengthen national unity around the Party and the Revolution, to strengthen the constant link with the masses and to consolidate the conviction of preserving the Cuban nation and socioeconomic achievements, on the basis of the idea that homeland, revolution and socialism are indissolubly fused."
Now, the crux of the matter does not lie in having appropriately formulated this objective or any other one, but in determining the ways and means in which we put them into practice, with maximum resolve, so that we can comprehensively assess how much and how we are advancing, detect negative tendencies in time and be capable of mobilizing members and the people in securing the objective. This is also applicable to the resolutions adopted on cadre development policy, an area which, as reflected in the central report to the 6th Party Congress, also suffered the effects of improvisation, lack of foresight and not being systematic, with the consequence that we still do not have a reserve of experienced and mature replacements, with sufficient training to assume complex leadership responsibilities in the Party, state and government, a task which, for obvious reasons that you will all understand, is of strategic importance for the Revolution and on which we are working without haste, but without hesitation, in order to fulfill Congress agreements.
I will take advantage of this occasion to reiterate that, as we advance in the definition of all the necessary adjustments to be made to the Constitution of the Republic and the complementary legislative framework, among other issues, we will implement the decision to limit tenure in principal political and state positions to two consecutive five-year terms. In this regard, I believe that once the relevant authorities have defined and agreed upon the policies, we can initiate their gradual implementation without waiting for the constitutional reform, a resource which we do not need to resort to; in other words, to move toward modifying some parts of the Constitution, even if that is through Parliament, without the need for a referendum. Likewise, Party statutes and other relevant documents should be modified in this context.
In referring to these issues, we must state the importance of ensuring that the moral authority of the Party, its members and, in particular, of its leaders at all levels, is based on personal example, starting with proven ethical, political and ideological qualities and constant contact with the masses.
The Revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble, which has cost so much bloodshed among our valiant people, would cease to exist without the enemy firing a single shot, if its leadership should one day fall into the hands of corrupt individuals and cowards.
It is highly worthwhile always bearing in mind these concepts, which are not new, because of the real and potential damage corruption poses for the present and future of the nation.
In recent weeks, National Assembly deputies and many cadres and officials from all over the country have been given abundant information about certain corruption investigations being undertaken by specialized agencies within the Ministry of the Interior, in close cooperation with the Attorney General's Office and the Comptroller General of the Republic. In due time, after decisions are made by the relevant courts, our population will be fully informed of these acts.
Not long ago, when I spoke during the closing session of the National Assembly this past December, I referred to my conviction that, at this stage, corruption is one of the principal enemies of the Revolution, much more prejudicial than the multi-million dollar subversive, interventionist campaign of the United States and its allies within the country and without. I also said that, from now on, we would not allow measures taken to confront crime to be short-lived efforts, which has surely happened on other occasions.
Fortunately, without any desire whatsoever to discount the seriousness of this problem, fairly common around the world, I believe our country can win the battle against corruption. First put a brake on it; then eliminate it without hesitation of any kind. We have already announced that, within the boundaries of the law, we will be implacable in confronting the phenomenon of corruption.
On many occasions, those implicated in cases detected thus far are members of the Party, who clearly harbored double standards and used their status within the Party to secure positions in leadership bodies, flagrantly violating their responsibilities as Communists set forth in the Party’s statutes.
Thus, without waiting for the revision and updating of guiding Party documents which is underway, the 3rd Central Committee Plenum held last December determined that the sanction to be applied to those participating in acts of corruption could be none other than expulsion from the ranks of the Party, regardless of the administrative or penal sanctions imposed. Until recently, this measure – expulsion – was exceptional and reserved for cases of treason and very serious crimes.
There is not the slightest doubt that the vast majority of citizens and leadership cadre are honest people, but we know that this is not enough, it is not enough to be honorable and appear so. One must fight and confront problems, move from words to action.
It is true that, for some years now, the Party has been waging a battle against this affliction; however, the Party was going one way and the government another. To ensure success, it is imperative that the Party definitively assume the leadership of this process, which in no way means that it will supplant the responsibilities of any other institution.
The Party, in the first place, will demand that all authorities fulfill their obligations, without interfering in administration, but, yes, exposing, alerting and struggling, at the grassroots level, the municipal level, investigating, thinking, and thinking again, about how to mobilize all forces in this endeavor. Every time we do this, we are going to confirm that the relationship of forces, in all sense, favors us in this effort to defeat corruption. Priority must be given to the organization, and the consistency, of this struggle.
Moreover, this is not the exclusive responsibility of Party members, but also that of every citizen, Party member or not, who is concerned about his or her country.
Given their current relevance, it is worthwhile reconsidering concepts which were defined in 1973, almost 40 years ago, in the process leading up to the 1st Party Congress.
The Party must be capable of leading the state and the government, supervising their functioning and the fulfillment of policies established, encouraging, pushing and supporting the best efforts of government bodies, but under no circumstances supplanting them. It provides leadership by supervising and this term must be understood as confirming, examining, reviewing, never intervening or giving orders.
Although, it is not in my text, it’s in everyone’s thoughts, among all of the rank and file members, that the Party has to put an end to ’bossiness’ – its strength is moral not legal, that’s why moral authority is required to lead the Party and take this spirit to the members. It’s moral strength!
The Party leads by ensuring that its directives, along with those of the state and government, are carried out appropriately by those designated to do so.
The Party supervises through its structures and all of its members, from the top down and vice versa, which does not negate the supervisory role which the government must play in relation to any administrative activity within its authority.
This supervision is simultaneous, but does not imply interference. In a production or service enterprise, supervision is carried out by the administration of the entity, by its higher echelons and by state or governmental bodies, as appropriate, such as the Comptroller’s Office, the Attorney General, a bank or a tax administration office, etc.
The Party’s grassroots organizations ensure that the administration is strictly complying with relevant legal norms – through the actions of their members, be they simply workers or managers, who lead by example, from which authority is gained – and by transmitting relevant information to higher political bodies. The Party supervises economic plans and ensures that budgets are developed correctly. Once they are approved by the government and Parliament, the Party ensures that they are rigorously implemented.
These concepts have been very clear for some time, since the 1st Congress, but then we forgot about those resolutions, those agreements from that magnificent Congress and we filed them away. Thus, almost half a century later, we have to wipe the dust off papers we drafted 40 years ago, because we devoted ourselves to other things, for one reason or another. That’s why we are defending institutionality, that each institution should take care of its responsibility, not interfering with others, but rather supporting each other. These concepts have been updated, making it imperative that at the grassroots level, within the Party’s nuclei and the Union of Young Communists local groups, members are educated about these principles and how this work is done, each individual within the framework of his or her own activities; how to implement what has been approved in different Congresses or this Conference, that is, how, in this case, to educate the membership about these agreements in order to incorporate them into their daily activity. You don’t have to become a philosopher; you don’t have to become a philosopher!
This is what we have to teach, simply, little by little educating ourselves in the respective meetings, in brief courses or whatever, so that the members know their function, their role, but to play this role we must have moral authority, in every sense of the word. And I would say, in my humble opinion – and this was an issue discussed in several commissions yesterday – that this is the essential element of our so-called ideological work, not empty slogans or prefabricated phrases.
Before concluding these comments, I consider it necessary to denounce, one more time, the brutal anti-Cuba campaigns undertaken by the United States government and others traditionally committed to subversion in our country, with the help of the Western mass media and the collaboration of their salaried employees within the country, in an effort to discredit the Revolution, justify their hostility and the blockade directed against the Cuban people, to create a fifth column which could facilitate their aspiration of denying Cuba its independence and national sovereignty.
As an editorial in Granma this past Monday, the 23rd, said, actions speak louder than words. Anti-Cuba campaigns do not affect the Revolution or the people who will continue to perfect our socialism. It will again be demonstrated that a lie, no matter how many times it is repeated, will not necessarily be transformed into a truth, because "a just principle, from the bottom of a cave, can do more than an army."
Compañeras and compañeros:
In less than a year we have held two Party events, this 1st National Conference and, above all, the 6th Congress, with agreements of great importance for the present and the future of the Revolution and socialism in Cuba. The path forward has been defined; let us advance with the same decisiveness, with the same firm ideological strength, with the courage and serenity shown for over 13 years by our five Cuban heroes, for whose liberty we will never cease struggling and to whom we send fraternal greetings from Cuban communists and the entire Cuban people.
Thank you very much. (Applause)