2023 will be a year of struggle and hopes
Granma, Cuba, December 21, 2022 — Speech delivered by Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, at the Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the founding of ALBA-TCP, at the Havana Convention Center, on December 14, 2022, “Year 64 of the Revolution”.(Shorthand Versions – Presidency of the Republic)
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution;
Dear Comrade Esteban Lazo Hernández, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power;
Dear brothers Nicolás Maduro Moros, Commander Daniel Ortega Saavedra and Luis Arce Catacora, leaders of the heroic resistance of Our America;
Dear Prime Ministers Ralph Gonsalves and Dickon Mitchell, I am very pleased that you are here just a few days after you gave us unforgettable stays in your countries;
Dear Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, our most sincere congratulations on your victory in the general elections held last December 6 (Applause);
Heads of Delegations to the 22nd ALBA-TCP Summit:
An embrace to all of you.
I believe I reflect the feelings of the deputies of our National Assembly of the People’s Power, who feel honored by your presence (Applause).
We appreciate your words of recognition to the legacy of Commanders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, and also the words dedicated to our Revolution and our people (Applause).
There is no doubt that Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz and Commander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías were visiting the future when agreed on creating ALBA.
Fidel and Chávez united us in ALBA. They united us in a true alliance of solidarity.
Eighteen years after its foundation, the Alliance not only proves its necessity, but also its value as an integration mechanism by uniting wills around solidarity, complementarity and cooperation.
Its projects of popular benefit, the historic Milagro and Yo sí puedo missions, works of profound human significance, unprecedented in the region, restored the eyesight and taught millions of inhabitants in Our America to read and write.
On several occasions and because I am convinced of it, I have always recognized that, of all the blocs that exist in the world, ALBA was the regional integration bloc that most quickly showed concrete results of benefits for its peoples.
This anniversary comes at a time when Latin America and the Caribbean are facing a new crossroads for their destinies, which cannot be faced without cooperation and unity.
The region most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the most unequal; it suffers the effects of the unjust international economic order and even the onslaught of the grave situation created in another continent.
Transnational corporations have not ceased to plunder the region’s resources and increase their profit margins, while energy and food prices have risen. Inflation has risen and in several countries reached the highest levels in recent years. Access to financial resources has become more difficult and costly. The strain on budgets has increased and the overwhelming pressure of external debt continues.
In this context, there has been an advance of political forces that intend to implement policies aimed at the social development and integration of our countries.
This advance is the result of social and popular struggles to satisfy citizens’ demands for deep and urgent transformations of the previous policies that led large masses of people to uncertainty.
Alarmed by this advance, imperialism and its allies have accelerated the harassment of leftist candidates, they lead and encourage politically motivated judicial processes against them, such as the one carried out against the Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez, to whom we send a strong embrace and all our support (Applause).
Imperialism and the oligarchies permanently resort to disinformation and manipulation of the Latin American and Caribbean reality through the traditional media and the digital networks under their control.
Without hiding, these oligarchies group together to support politicians and candidates with fascist-oriented programs and express their will to prevent the electoral triumph of the left at all costs. To this end, they also resort to the crude intimidation of sympathizers and voters of leftist and progressive parties.
While the region is returning to the paths of social justice and integration, the United States is reactivating the Monroe Doctrine, which is about to celebrate 200 years since its proclamation. Its postulates, which have served to justify invasions, coups d’état and economic pressures on countries during various periods, now seek to limit sovereignty and, as usual, impose dominion over our destinies.
These realities make it all the more necessary to promote integration and cooperation, an endeavor in which the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People’s Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) plays a key role by being a successful forum for concerted action. So, safeguarding and strengthening that legacy is our duty and must also be our vigilance.
Dear brothers and sisters:
This year, Cuba received the support of 185 countries in its struggle against the criminal blockade imposed on the Cuban people by the Government of the United States for more than 60 years. Likewise, the call for Cuba to be excluded from the arbitrary U.S. list of State sponsors of terrorism is growing. We deeply appreciate these positions.
We reiterate once again our most resolute support for President Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civil-military union he leads. We welcome with jubilation the progress made by the Bolivarian and Chavista government in favor of returning to Venezuela the financial and economic resources that have been usurped. The perseverance, dignity and courage of the Venezuelan people in the face of the continuous attacks against them will go down in history as another example that it is possible to overcome challenges and obstacles (Applause).
We strongly reject the attacks and unilateral coercive measures adopted against sister Nicaragua and we convey our support to Commander President Daniel Ortega Saavedra (Applause).
We reaffirm our solidarity and fraternal support to the Plurinational State of Bolivia and to brother President Luis Arce, who has had to face destabilizing attempts of the fascist opposition. Bolivia is not alone, brother Lucho! (Applause.)
Once again we reiterate our support to you, our Caribbean brothers, in your right to receive a fair, special and differentiated treatment, essential to face the growing challenges derived from natural disasters, the unjust prevailing international financial system and the new and difficult conditions generated as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not forget, because we also suffer from it, that the Caribbean suffers the effects of climate change like no other region.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We welcome the progress recorded by ALBA-TCP, for whose development we must do our utmost in 2023, to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in the economic, trade and in the promotion of collaboration in areas of strategic importance.
Our countries have much to share in the construction of a mutually beneficial economic and social path.
Let us continue to unite political wills to go beyond the declarative sphere and carry out projects with realism and determination, as the unforgettable leaders of our lands did before they were even named.
The year 2023 will be a year of struggle and hope. It is up to us to make it a year of progress and victories. We will be able to achieve it with the tenacity, perseverance and natural creativity of our unique and resilient peoples.
For these 18 years of alliance and integration in solidarity; for Fidel and Chávez; for the founding fathers of Latin America and the Caribbean, let us work for a more united ALBA! An ALBA of solidarity! An ALBA of dignity!
Onwards til victory! (Exclamations of: “Onwards!” and of: “Long live the Revolution!”, “Long live Raúl!”, “Long live Fidel”, “Long live Chávez!” and “Long live ALBA-TCP!”)