Raul Castro’s Speech to Parliament

Raul Castro addresses the Cuban parliament. Foto: Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — President Raul Castro addressed the Cuban parliament on Sunday, demanding more order and discipline from society in complying with the economic guidelines set forth by the Communist Party and the government.  He also called for stepped up actions against “social indiscipline” and administrative corruption.

Criticizing what he called “the accelerated deterioration of moral and civic values,” he lamented that despite Cuba being an increasingly well educated people “that doesn´t necessarily mean more cultured.”

The following is an official translation of the entire speech by Raul Castro.

Speech by President Raul Castro Ruz to the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the Havana Convention Center on July 7, 2013

Compañeras y compañeros:

It is my responsibility to conclude this, the 1st Ordinary Session of the 8th Legislature of the National Assembly, in the framework of which, fulfilling what was agreed upon, our deputies received a broad explanation of the performance of the economy in the first six months, as well as progress made in implementing the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and Revolution. These subjects were previously discussed in the Council of Ministers meeting on June 28 and in the 7th Central Committee Plenum last Monday [July 1].

Taking into account the information given our people by the press, it is not necessary to go into these matters and I shall only note those aspects of major importance.

The national economy has continued demonstrating a positive performance in the midst of external tensions, the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy and our own shortcomings.

As has been made public, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.3% which, while not reaching the planned figure, is two-tenths above that of the first six months of last year. It is a fact that the growth of the GDP has not had a notable impact on the economy of the average Cuban family.

The tendency toward growth of productive activities is reaffirmed, while social services to the entire population have been preserved at similar levels.

Deputies also received a detailed overview of the progress of the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and Revolution approved by the 6th Congress, a process which constitutes the principal task of all, given that dependent on its success is the preservation and development of socialism in Cuba, a prosperous and sustainable socialism which – as compañero Murillo has explained – at the same time confirms social ownership of the basic means of production, recognizes the role of other forms of non-state management, and reaffirms planning as an indispensable instrument for guiding the economy, without denying the existence of the market.

I wish to reiterate the conviction that progress has continued on this front of strategic significance and the first encouraging results are beginning to be seen, while it is also true that a long and complex road lies ahead of us in terms of updating our economic and social model, while ensuring majority support of the population in this process, which excludes the shock therapies and abandonment of millions of persons, characteristic of the adjustment policies implemented in recent years in various nations of rich Europe.

The phenomenon of dual currency constitutes one of the most important obstacles in terms of national progress and, as Guideline 55 notes, there must be advances toward unification, taking into account labor productivity. This guideline recognizes the complexity of this proposition, which will demand rigorous preparation and execution, both on the objective and subjective planes.

On this aspect, I can inform you that studies have continued into the ending of this monetary duality in an orderly and comprehensive manner, which will allow us to undertake transformations of greater scope and depth in the context of wages and pensions, prices and tariffs, subsidies and contributions. In a few words, to reach the point that all able citizens feel motivated to work legally on the basis of the reestablished validity of the law of socialist distribution, “from each according to their capacity, to each according to their work.” This will propitiate ending the unjust ‘inverted pyramid’ or, which is the same thing, greater responsibility, less compensation.

At the same time, we must give maximum priority to perfecting the system of agricultural production, by ensuring that experiments approved to remove the obstacles holding back its development attain the objectives proposed.

At the same time, with the introduction next year of approved directives in their plans, state enterprises will achieve greater autonomy in their management and distribution of earnings – as was more fully explained this morning.

In the same way, we will decidedly support the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives which, in conjunction with the continued rise of self-employed work, will facilitate the state’s exit from non-basic productive activities and services, and its concentration on the long-term development program.

The implementation of the Guidelines implicitly requires the need for systematic evaluation of the effects of changes introduced and prompt correction of any missteps. It also demands the establishment of a consistent climate of order, discipline and rigor in Cuban society, an essential premise for consolidating the updating of the economic model and not allowing counterproductive retrogressions.

It is precisely to this issue that I shall dedicate the largest part of my speech, as I stated to all of you on February 24, during the constitution session of this current Parliamentary Legislature, an occasion when we had the presence of compañero Fidel who, referring to the issue, stated and I quote, “The great battle to be imposed is the need for an energetic struggle without respite against the bad habits and errors being committed daily by many citizens, including Party members, in the most diverse spheres.” End of quote.

This issue is not a pleasant one for anybody, but I am abiding by the conviction that the first step in effectively overcoming the problem is to recognize its existence, in all its dimensions, and investigate the causes and conditions which have propitiated this phenomenon over many years.

I can imagine the news in the next few days from the corporate international press specializing in degrading Cuba and subjecting it to frenetic scrutiny; we are already accustomed to living under siege and must not restrain ourselves from discussing the reality with due harshness, when what motivates us is the firmest intention to overcome the atmosphere of indiscipline which has become rooted in our society and is causing by no means insignificant moral and material damage.

We have perceived with pain during the 20-plus years of Special Period the growing deterioration of moral and civic values, such as honesty, decency, modesty, decorum, honor and sensitivity to others’ problems.

Let us recall Fidel’s words in the University of Havana Aula Magna, on November 17, 2005, when he warned that this Revolution might not be destroyed by the enemy but could be destroyed by ourselves, through our own fault.

Thus, part of society has come to see theft from the state as normal. There has been a propagation of illegal constructions with relative impunity, moreover in inappropriate sites; non-authorized occupation of housing; illicit marketing of goods and services; non-fulfillment of working hours; illegal cattle rustling and slaughter; capture of marine species in danger of extinction and utilization of the art of over-fishing; felling of forestry resources – including in Havana’s magnificent Botanical Gardens; the hoarding of products in short supply and their resale at higher prices; participation in games outside the law; price violations; the accepting of bribes and privileges; preying on tourism; and the infraction of established regulations related to informatics security.

Conduct previously associated with marginality, such as shouting at the top of one’s voice in the street, the indiscriminate use of obscene language and vulgar talk, have become incorporated into the conduct of more than a few citizens, independently of their educational level or age.

Perceptions related to citizens’ duty in the face of misdeeds have been affected and it is tolerated as something natural to throw garbage onto the street; relieve ones physical needs in streets and parks; to deface walls of buildings or urban areas; to consume alcohol in inappropriate public places and to drive under the influence of alcohol; disrespect for neighbors’ rights is not confronted; loud music affecting people’s rest is rampant; raising hogs in the middle of cities with the consequent risk to public health is proliferating; we coexist with the maltreatment and destruction of parks, monuments, trees, gardens and green areas; public telephones, electricity and telephone cables, drains and other components of aqueducts, traffic signals and metal highway buffers are being vandalized.

Likewise, people are evading paying fares for state transport and these funds are appropriated by certain workers in the sector; gangs of kids are throwing stones at trains and motor vehicles, time and time again in the same places; the most elemental standards of chivalry and respect for the elderly, pregnant women, women with small children and people with disabilities are being ignored. All of this is happening under our noses, without arousing any aversion or confrontation by citizens.

The same thing is taking place at the different levels of education, where school uniforms have been transformed, no longer appearing to be uniforms, certain teachers conduct classes inappropriately dressed and there are cases of teachers and family members participating in acts of academic fraud.

It is known that home and school comprise the sacred binominal for the formation of individuals as part of society and these acts not only represent social damage, but serious cracks of a family and educational nature.

In our classrooms, such conduct is doubly incompatible because, in addition to indiscipline in itself, one must take into account that the family and school must instill respect for the rules of society, from early childhood.

The most sensitive aspect is the deterioration – real and in image – of Cubans’ rectitude and good manners. It is unacceptable to identify vulgarity with modernity, or vulgar talk and impudence with progress; in the first place, living in society involves assuming norms which preserve respect for others’ rights and decency. Of course, none of this enters into contradiction with the typical joyfulness of Cubans, which we must preserve and develop.

I have confined myself to presenting a list of the most representative negative phenomena, without any intention of recounting them one by one, as this would unnecessarily extend these words.

With the help of the Party and government entities, an initial survey revealed 191 manifestations of this kind – we are aware that they are not the only ones and that there are many more – separated into four distinct categories: social indiscipline, illegalities, infractions and crimes listed in the Penal Code.

Combating these harmful types of conduct and acts must be undertaken using diverse methods and means. The loss of ethical values and disrespect for good habits can be reversed through the combined action of all social actors, beginning with the family and school at an early age and the promotion of culture, seen in its all-embracing context, which will lead everyone to a conscious rectification of their conduct. This, however, is a complex process which will take quite some time.

Crime, illegalities and infractions are confronted in a simpler manner: by ensuring that what is established in law is fulfilled and for that, any state, regardless of its ideology, has the necessary instruments, whether these are ones of persuasion or, in the final instance, and if necessary, through the implementation of coercive measures.

It is a real fact that the nobility of the Revolution has been abused when the full force of the law has not been utilized, however justified that might be, giving priority to persuasion and political work, which we must recognize has not always been sufficient.

State and government entities, each acting in accordance with their responsibilities, and including the police force, the General Comptroller of the Republic, the District Attorney’s office and the courts must contribute to this undertaking, being the first to give an example of strict adherence to the law, thus reinforcing their authority before society and ensuring the population’s support, as has been recently demonstrated in shameful cases of administrative corruption involving public officials and those in enterprises.

It is time that workers and campesinos, students, young people, teachers and professors, religious institutions, authorities, leaders and officials at all levels; in summary, all honorable Cuban woman and men, undoubtedly constituting the majority, take on the duty of complying and ensuring others’ compliance with what is established in terms of civic norms and in laws, dispositions and regulations.

When I meditate upon these lamentable manifestations, I think that, in spite of the undeniable educational achievements attained by the Revolution and recognized throughout the world by specialized United Nations organizations, we have regressed in citizens’ culture and civics. I have the bitter feeling that we are a society constantly more instructed, but not necessarily more educated.

In this context, it is worth recalling a phrase attributed to distinct authors, among them the Spanish philosopher and writer Miguel de Unamuno who, in summing up his experiences of the norms of coexistence among some Castilian campesinos, affirmed, “How educated these illiterate people are!”

Nothing is farther removed from a revolutionary than resignation or, put another way, surrendering to difficulties. For that reason, what we need to do is raise our enthusiasm and spirit of battle and focus on the gigantic and patient task of reversing the situation created.

In my view, the common denominator of all this phenomenon has been and is lack of rigor on the part of those responsible for ensuring compliance with what is established; the absence of systematic work at the various levels of leadership; and disrespect, in the first place, on the part of existing state entities for institutionality, all of which, on the other hand, impairs their capacity and authority to demand that the population adhere to existing regulations.

Just to give one example: how many violations of Physical Planning regulations by the state have been detected in all parts of the country, some of them exposed in the press? We must reinforce, as we already are, order and discipline in all government entities.

At the same time, the country’s leaders, from national bodies to the base, must abandon passivity and inertia in their conduct; they must stop looking the other way, when the problem is right here, in order to not see it. Enough of being afraid of creating problems for ourselves in the fulfillment of our duties, and let us assume as our own a mentality of order, discipline and rigor, without being afraid of creating problems for ourselves in demanding compliance with what is established.

Confronting social indiscipline cannot become yet another campaign, but a constant movement, the evolution of which will depend on the capacity to mobilize the population and different actors in each community, without excluding anyone, with rigor and political intentionality.

Let us make a balance of the forces the Revolution can count upon and we will comprehend that they are more than sufficient to achieve success.

The initial actions undertaken by the Party, Youth [the Union of Young Communists] and the mass organizations to strengthen prevention and confrontation have evidenced, in barely four months, that as political, social and administrative institutions have worked more profoundly in this sphere, the population has made patent its support and is joining in by denouncing and combating acts and conduct in violation of legality.

If we wish to triumph in this task, we must incorporate the people, every citizen, not through harangues and empty slogans in heated meetings, but by sowing in everyone the motivation to be better and moving things forward through personal example.

This was the central issue of my comments, approved by the Political Bureau yesterday morning. One could be taking about his issue that I have just concluded for a number of hours, but what I have said is sufficient, the rest must be made public.

As is natural, it will be published in all of our press. I suggest to all of you, and those listening to me, that you read it with calm, and meditate individually, I only ask that you meditate individually.

Moving on to another subject, yesterday our deputies issued a call to all parliaments of the world and persons committed to justice to demand of United States authorities the liberation and immediate return of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando who, next September 12, will have served 15 years of unjust imprisonment.

We also applaud the moving words of René González, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, who has come to reinforce the struggle for this noble cause, which will not halt until they all return to the homeland.

Finally, I must state that the recent revelations of the U.S. citizen Edward Snowden have confirmed the existence of United States global espionage systems which violate the sovereignty of nations, including its allies, and human rights.

Cuba, one of the countries historically most attacked and also most spied upon on the planet, was already aware of the existence of these espionage systems.

What is new and unprecedented has been the way in which media control and censorship has been imposed in order to distract attention from the fundamental issue; in other words, the enormous power of the U.S. government in terms of the mass control of information technologies and those of the media, by focusing on the international persecution of the whistleblower.

Taking advantage if its international media power – already supranational because these media are above nations – they are now concentrating on the international persecution of the young denouncer of these activities.

The threats to implement economic measures against Ecuador and the concerted action of various European countries to prevent the overflying or landing of President Evo Morales, demonstrate that we are living in a world in which the powerful feel in a position to violate international law, the sovereignty of states and to trample the rights of citizens.

Faced with this philosophy of domination, we, all the countries of the South, are, and continue to be, in danger.

We support the legitimate demands and statements of the Presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Uruguay and other Latin American and Caribbean leaders.

We call for the mobilization of international public opinion, for an energetic rejection and firm condemnation of the threats against Ecuador and the outrage committed against the President of Bolivia, against all of Our America.

We support the sovereign right of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and all states in the region to grant asylum to those persecuted for their ideals or struggles for democratic rights, in accordance with our tradition.

We do not accept double standards, interference or pressure of any kind. As President Nicolás Maduro has noted, one cannot give refuge and deny the extradition to Venezuela of an international terrorist like Posada Carriles, the mastermind of the sabotage in full flight of a Cubana de Aviación aircraft with 73 people on board, among other crimes, and at the same time pretend that this sister nation is not exercising its legitimate right.

Today is July 7 and we are a few days away from commemorating the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons. We shall confront the new challenges with the same decisiveness and implacable faith in victory instilled in us by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

Thank you very much.