Raul Castro: New Generations Will Take over Cuba’s Leadership “Peacefully”

By Isaac Risco

Cuban President Raul Castro speaks at the July 26 commemoration of the assault on the Moncada barracks back in 1953, which sparked the Cuban revolution. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES —  At a highly symbolic ceremony commemorating the event considered to have begun the Cuban revolution 60 years ago, Cuban President Raul Castro ratified today that new generations continue to replace the old in the country’s leadership “peacefully and with confidence”, DPA reported.

Today, the current leadership of the Castro government celebrated what will most probably become the last, round year anniversary of the assault on Santiago de Cuba’s Moncada Barracks – led by Fidel Castro in 1953- that it will host.

“It’s hard to believe that, sixty years after that 26th of July, several of us who participated in the attack are still alive,” Raul declared before some 10,000 people, who gathered for the festivities at the former headquarters of the Moncada Barracks, a little over 500 miles east of Havana.

“The process of handing over the country’s leadership to the new generations in a gradual and orderly manner is underway,” the 82-year-old president also affirmed at the close of the ceremony, attended to by 8 heads of State and government from the region, including presidents Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Jose Mujica (Uruguay).

“The revolutionary generation has begun to step down so that the ‘young lads’ can take their place, peacefully and with confidence,” he added, invoking the words of intellectual and Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

As expected, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, today 86 and in a delicate state of health, did not attend the ceremony in Santiago de Cuba. The historical leader of the Cuban revolution has appeared in public only rarely in recent years.

In February, Raul Castro’s government appointed an official born after the revolution to the number two post, a first since 1959. Fifty-three-year-old First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel is considered to be the successor of Raul Castro, 82, the younger of the Castro brothers.

On entering office in February for a second, consecutive five-year term, Raul Castro announced he would step down in 2018. The president had initially assumed the position for a provisional two-year term in 2006, after Fidel Castro was forced to leave office owing to a serious intestinal condition.

“The years have gone by, but ours continues to be a revolution of young people,” said the Cuban president, who attended the ceremony dressed in his traditional olive-green military uniform and a typical Cuban peasant hat, worn to shield himself from Santiago de Cuba’s merciless sun.

All presidents in attendance were invited to take the podium briefly before Raul Castro’s address. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was notably absent in the group of left-leaning countries that comprise the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of the Americas). His foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, spoke on Ecuador’s behalf.

With a familiar “anti-imperialist” rhetoric, the Latin American leaders strongly criticized the United States and applauded the Cuban revolution, voicing the old slogans of “Homeland or Death” and “We Shall Overcome”.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica also offered a heart-felt defense of the Cuban revolution.

“The dreams of those Cubans (…) inspired us throughout Latin America,” said Mujica, a former member of Uruguay’s Tupac Amaru guerrilla movement who was elected president in 2010.

Unlike many intellectuals and Latin American leaders who distanced themselves from the Cuban revolution following a brief period of sympathies in the 1960s, Mujica has continued to show his support for Fidel Castro’s project throughout the years.

In the 1960s, inspired by the triumph of Fidel Castro’s revolution, many young people around Latin America joined guerrilla movements to try and topple authoritarian regimes in the region through armed insurrection.

Like his wife, senator Lucia Topolonsky, the 78-year-old Mujica joined the armed struggle in the 60s. The current Uruguayan president spent several years in prison for his activities at the time.

“Social change isn’t waiting around the corner,” Mujica also stated, in defense of Cuba’s revolutionary process.

Dissidents, both at home and abroad, accuse Fidel Castro of having established an authoritarian regime that has led the island to economic catastrophe.

The failed assault led by 26-year-old Fidel Castro in 1953 is commemorated every year at a different Cuban city and is referred to as the “Day of National Rebelliousness.” For the sixtieth anniversary of the event, the celebration was held at the location of the events themselves, in Santiago de Cuba.

Presidents Maduro, Morales and Ortega, as well as four heads of government from the Caribbean, arrived in the city on Thursday and Friday to participate in the festivities.

Mujica arrived on Wednesday as part of an official visit, the first since he entered office in 2010. The Uruguayan leader met with both Fidel Castro and Raul Castro on Wednesday.

The prime ministers of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, Ralph Gonsalves and Roosevelt Skerrit, respectively, as well as the heads of government of Antigua and Barbuda and Santa Lucia, Baldwin Spencer and Kenny Anthony, were also in attendance.


3 thoughts on “Raul Castro: New Generations Will Take over Cuba’s Leadership “Peacefully”

  • July 31, 2013 at 8:34 am
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    No matter how despicable the Castros are, they are undeniably powerful men. At this stage in their lives, they are undoubtedly mostly concerned about their legacy and how history will record their efforts. But before their very eyes, they are witnessing the erosion of the pillars of the revolution they wrought and it must disturb them. Having read the translated version of Raul’s speech, it is clear he is out to explain why the Castros vision for Cuba and likely the world has failed so miserably. This is why he is playing the “blame game”. At this point, the oligarchy at best hopes to secure a comfortable life for the next couple of generations of the Castros and their elite with the spoilage they have accumulated.

  • July 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm
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    What has happened in Cuba is perfectly rational from the point of view of maintaining a monopoly on power. That has been the guiding principle for 53 years. The other ALBA leaders recognize and admire that legacy and all hope to emulate it.

  • July 27, 2013 at 7:14 am
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    I read an
    interesting interview with President Mujica in Spain’s El Pais
    newspaper

    http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2013/06/01/actualidad/1370104466_845823.html
    and he comes across as not an unsympathetic figure, He certainly
    chose a lifestyle rather different from those socialist heroes who
    have lived or still live by the premise of ‘do as I say, not as I
    do’.

    In the interview
    Mujica expressed the need to help Venezuela onto rationality, a
    system whereby government and opposition learn to live with each
    other.

    Now, as with so
    many others who keep making excuses for the Castro boys, it would
    have been nice of him to have said something similar in Santiago
    (Carter was allowed to speak critically on Cuban television, why did
    Mujica not ask for the same?).

    From the Soviet
    nonsense of claiming every dissident is mentally ill, to the Castro
    nonsense of every dissident is a paid agent, it is Cuba that could do
    with a dose of rationality.

    I am not concerned
    about president Mujica in hisown country. In Uruguay he lives by his
    principles and has done a lot of good. He has also shown his human
    frailty by making undiplomatic remarks about the president of
    Argentina I am certainly not a fan of Christian Fernandez – except
    that on Hilda Molina she made the right call . It is just noteworthy
    that while the leftist leaders can make remarks about each other,
    they seem to have made a vow of silence about the irrationality of
    the Castro legacy and by their actions and inactions prolong it.

    So my point is, the
    left in Latin America cannot advance unless it is prepared to
    question publicly the irrationality of what is happening in Cuba,

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