Raúl Castro. Photo: Estudio RevoluciónSpeech presented by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, during the Second Extraordinary Session of the 8th legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, in Havana’s International Conference Center, June 1, 2017, Year 59 of the Revolution (Council of State transcript/ GI translation)

Dear compañeras and compañeros:

I will only present a few words, given the extraordinary nature of this Assembly, convoked by the Council of State to analyze far-reaching, complex documents, which as we stated in our principal report to the 7th Party Congress, set the course of the Cuban revolutionary process, that of the Party and society, toward the future in the construction of our socialism.

We refer, first of all, to the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development.

Also on this occasion, the National Assembly of People’s Power, as it did in July of last year, supported the spirit and letter of the updating of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution for the period 2016-2021, approved by the 7th Party Congress, which now include opinions expressed after that date.

The National Assembly also heard results of the process of discussion on the foundations for the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, on the basis of which this plan will be crafted, which we will submit for approval to this legislature in December of 2018.

The elaboration of these three documents was based on their antecedents, the resolutions approved by the 6th Party Congress in 2011. Since then several versions have been written which were submitted to the consideration of the Political Bureau for their presentation to the 7th Party Congress.

Previously, a consultation had taken place in every province with 971 Congress delegates and 3,617 guests, during which 1,345 proposals were generated, allowing some concepts to be clarified and foundations broadened.

The 7th Party Congress, given its positive reception of the documents presented, agreed to initiate a broad, democratic debate on the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development and the foundations for the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, with all members of the Party and the Young Communist League, representatives of mass organizations and diverse sectors of society, as well as taking into consideration results of the consultation conducted to adjust the Guidelines as needed.

In accordance with this agreement, 47,470 meetings were held in which more than 1.6 million Cubans participated, generating 208,161 proposals and leading to the modification of a significant part of the original content or wording of the documents.

This activity, which demonstrated the preparation of those participating in addition to allowing for the perfecting of the aforementioned documents, constituted an important opportunity for the exercise of popular participation in the debate and the decisions made. It also served as an effective means of communication and generalization of the fundamental changes proposed for the updating of our model, and showed support for the economic and social policies of the Party and the Revolution approved during the 6th Congress.

The new versions, products of this process, were debated by members of the Central Committee and deputies in their respective provinces, and their proposals were analyzed in the 3rd Central Committee Plenum, the body which approved, in accordance with the authority granted by the 7th Congress, the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development and the foundations for the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, as well as new modifications to the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution for the period 2016-2021, while agreeing to submit to the consideration of the National Assembly the documents we have analyzed during this extraordinary session.

This brief but necessary summary allows me to reaffirm today what I said this past May 18, during the 3rd Central Committee Plenum, that “These documents are the most studied, discussed, and re-discussed in the history of the Revolution,” and perhaps in the history of the Republic of Cuba.

These programmatic fundamentals, approved recently by the Party Central Committee and now backed by the National Assembly of People’s Power, reaffirm the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution and the role of the Communist Party as the paramount leading force of society and the state, as is established, with absolute clarity, in Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic.

This permits us to continue advancing in the updating of our social and economic model, which is the same as “changing everything that must be changed,” and we will do so at the pace which allows us to develop the consensus we are forging within our society, and the ability we show to do things well, to avoid serious mistakes which can compromise the successful accomplishment of this immense, honorable task.

In this very session, in representation of the genuine will of our people, the Cuban Parliament approved a declaration of support to the people and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

On this issue, I would like to emphasize that it is necessary to denounce and stop the aggression against this sister country. Imperialist economic and political interests are attempting to deny its people the right to exercise self-determination. Joining the unilateral, arbitrary and unjust sanctions of the United States, are intervention in internal affairs by the OAS and various governments, as well as defamation and crude manipulation of reality – all directed toward overthrowing the constitutional government elected by Venezuelans.

Many of those leading protests and seeking international recognition are the same individuals who were involved in the 2002 military coup, in the oil sabotage of 2003, and in the violent, seditious actions of 2014.

A hypocritical attempt is made to justify foreign intervention, claiming that they want to help the Venezuelan people, but the only way to do so is by demonstrating in action full respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela and encouraging constructive, respectful dialogue, as the only means to address disagreements.

If in reality there is concern for human rights and personal security, the pro-coup violence which has caused death and injury must be unequivocally condemned. Images of youth being hit, punched, and burned alive by violent oppositionists remind us of the worse acts of fascism.

I reiterate our solidarity with the Bolivarian Chavista Revolution, with the civic-military union of the Venezuelan people, and with the government led by constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We also note with concern the development of events in Brazil, a consequence of the methods with which compañera Dilma Rousseff was removed from the Presidency, and with which the Workers’ Party and its historic leader, compañero Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, are being persecuted.

We are convinced that only respect for the sovereign will and mandate of the people will return legitimacy to the political system in this sister country.

In this struggle, the Brazilian people have, and will have, Cuba’s full solidarity.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Before concluding, I would like to tell the deputies and our entire people that, as we traditionally do in every ordinary session of this Assembly, this coming month of July, we will address other questions of national and international relevance.

Thank you very much. (Applause).

Source: Granma / RedGlobe