Cuba’s President Extolls the Cuban People, Discusses Problems

Addressing Cuba’s recently-convened National Assembly on April 19, President Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed confidence that the Cuban People would overcome warlike measures imposed by the United States.

“Congratulations to everyone on the Day of Victory!” he proclaimed. “On April 19 in 1961 on the sands of Playa Girón (Girón Beach) Cuba won the right to celebrate this day in providing for the first great defeat of imperialism in America. It was the triumph of the just against the unjust, of little David against the giant Goliath, of a socialist Revolution under the nose of the empire.”

“Thanks to this victory we today, on the tenth such occasion, install the People’s Assembly.” He declared that each of the 470 deputies “defends the interests of the majority,” that none of them won their seat through money or from the backing of an electoral party.

Referring to the Cuban Revolutionary Party founded by José Martíhe extolled “the single party that is the guarantee of unity” and through which, “the forces of a little nation do not disintegrate or fight each other.”

Díaz-Canel catalogued manifestations of U.S. all-but-war: invaders “working out of their caves on social networks,” and the “perennial cruelty of a blockade reinforced during the pandemic,” and “millions of dollars offered to those preparing to subvert Cuba’s internal order,” and “inclusion of Cuba on a list of supposed sponsors of terrorism that blocks access to financing.”

He stated that, “someday, earlier than later, the politics of hegemony will have to cease; multilateralism will take its place, and Cuba will be able to show how far a noble creative and talented people can go if they are united around clear objectives and if they are freed from pressures and blockades.”

Offering praise, Díaz-Canel maintained that “elections to the National Assembly are aimed at choosing the best people. That’s difficult … [because] there are many more good Cubans than there are seats in parliament.”

He expressed “certainty that no simulation of artificial intelligence could match the Cuban people’s achievements in recent years and their creative resistance. Their resilience exceeds the limits of any simulation or prediction. There is no algorithm capable of reflecting what we have lived through.”

Díaz-Canel highlighted the transparency of recent election campaigns, noting that voter participation was ample enough to waylay “hate-inspired” foreign-media expectations of low voter turnout indicative of a failed Cuban state. The recent elections included the Family Code referendum on September 25, 2022, elections for delegates to municipal assemblies on November 27, 2022, and voting for National Assembly deputies on March 27.

The Cuban president noted that the 75.8% of Cubans who voted on the last occasion was “above average for the other models of democracy in the world and [represented] “a show of citizenship, … patriotism, and above all, of political consciousness.”

The recently elected National Assembly overwhelmingly approved new terms for the Council of Ministers, the Council of State, and for Díaz-Canel, who will be serving his second and last five-year presidential term, as prescribed by recent constitutional changes.

Díaz-Canel outlined difficulties and unfinished tasks, observing that:

The world economy, uncertain and unstable in all latitudes, poses the first and greatest challenge for the new Council of Ministers … Leadership should focus on food production, the use of idle productive capacities, increased reliance on foreign-currency income, transformations required by the socialist state enterprise, enhanced efficiency of the investment process, and synergy of our economic actions and foreign investment. We do all this to increase the supply of goods and services and control inflation, which is the main priority in the economic battle.

Even as he acknowledged “obstacles external to our economy that present profound difficulties,” the President “condemned bureaucratism, indifference, and corruption” in Cuba. He expressed confidence in the deputies’ “commitment and dedication,” while insisting that, “we will overcome the blockade without waiting for them to lift it.”

Díaz-Canel extolled Cuban youth “as the best revolutionaries because, dealing with every-day difficulties, they confront, try to fix, and achieve much. Despite adversity, they keep on smiling, loving, and believing in the possibility of a better country.” In fact, “socialism is closest to youth because it too is unfinished work.”

A persisting undertone of Díaz-Canel’s presentation was that of values, particularly those of solidarity and revolutionary service.Coinciding with the April 20 presentation of Díaz-Canel’s speech on were two news reports that exhibited diverse Cuban and U.S. purposes as regards Ukraine and expressed values.

report from Argentina announced a public television showing on April 23 of the Cuban film “Sacha, a child of Chernobyl,” first viewed in 2021. Living in Ukraine, Sacha was one year old and living in Ukraine on April 28, 1986 when the Chernobyl nuclear power installation exploded and radioactivity and radiation-caused diseases spread far and wide.

He was one of 26,000 children in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia who received sophisticated medical care and rehabilitation in Cuba for their illnesses between 1990 and 2011, at no cost to families or governments. In the 1990s, Cuba was suffering the economic disaster of its “Special Period.” The film may be viewed here; Spanish language subtitles are provided.

Also on that day, a report appeared indicating that “The United States announced … the sending of another package of military aid worth $325 million for the fight against Russian forces. The U.S. Defense Department highlighted through a communique that this aid ‘will allow Ukraine to continue bravely defending itself in a brutal war against Russia, unprovoked and unjustified.’”

During another April, 200 years ago, an early warning sign cropped of a reality that would from then on plague Cuba, provoke revolution and bolster counter-revolution.  In his speech, Díaz-Canel recalled that John Quincy Adams, as secretary of state,stated on April 28,1823 that, “if an apple severed by the tempest from its native tree cannot choose but to fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only to the North American Union.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.