(Verbatim Versions – Presidency of the Republic)
Dear Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban Revolution;
My embrace also to Speaker Lazo, to whom I wish a speedy recovery;
The sessions of the current Legislature that we are closing today are of enormous importance. We have approved the Family Code here, an indispensable regulation for the Cuban society, which will be submitted to a referendum in September.
This fact alone makes these sessions momentous. But I would like to expand on the essence, supported by the reasoning of brilliant jurists and specialists in other fields, here with us today, who are part of the drafting committee of a legal regulation, now endowed with constitutional hierarchy due to the importance of its subject for Cuban society.
When on April 10, 2019, we approved the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, the foundations of our socialist state of law and social justice consolidated.
Among the matters largely reflected in the Constitution, family law stands out for its vital role in the formation of generations and thus in the transmission of values, customs, traditions and civic patterns, which has been generating a paradigm shift.
The Family Code is, undoubtedly, one of the legal norms that have had more social and political impact in the legal history of the country because it not only deals with the constitutional rights in family and other related matters, but also responds to the international commitments assumed by Cuba as signatory of human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979; the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, whose values and principles are included in the Code.
This is a law that has come a long way, seeking social and academic consensus. Its preparation has involved the coexistence of knowledge contributed from different sciences. Each drat used in this monumental legal work confirms the importance of building the country’s legal norms from a scientific, multidisciplinary and holistic approach, as required today by modern and scientific Marxist thought.
To shape this norm, it was necessary the chisel and hammer of the academia, who provided special advisory during the months of September and October of last year. The popular sap of the nation was also necessary, as it reflects the feelings of thousands of Cubans who, on the occasion of the popular consultation, expressed their support or simply stated their diverse opinions about each of the subjects included in its articles.
Cuban society, through students, workers, peasants, intellectuals, combatants, young people, women, the elderly and the disabled, has expressed the most dissimilar opinions on a law that has caught their attention because it focuses totally on the families.
We have all won with this consultation. The people, because they have been directly involved in the preparation of a legal norm that offers protection to every person, regardless of their age, sex, gender, sexual or gender orientation, disability situation, or possible situation of vulnerability in any of its manifestations. All this through a Code that bets in the present time to settle the debts of the past and educate the generations of the future.
We win as a society because as the main addressees of the legal norms, we become their most faithful architects.
The result of the popular consultation is not only an arsenal of knowledge put in function of drafting the Family Code, but it is also greatly useful to create public policies and to sustain the bases of other legal norms contained in the legislative schedule approved by this National Assembly and that will materialize in the remainder of this Legislature and in the next one.
This Code, which will go to referendum in September, something unprecedented so far in Cuba for this type of legal provision, has developed something extraordinarily novel: affection as a legal value. That is why it has been called the Code of Affection, which is not a slogan, but its essence. This norm has an undisputed ethical value, it teaches us to think and gives us the reins to educate future generations.
Positive parenting, of which so much has been said, is nothing more than educating our daughters and sons from closeness and accompaniment. It is not a matter of excluding the power of blood, of DNA, but of making it compatible with other ways of building maternity and paternity in which sometimes genetics is not involved, but there is plenty of love.
Affection is the continuous bet of this Code for the constitution of legal ties, essentially family ones. Accordingly, the law has had to turned a scenario of rigidity towards an openness to flexibility and interdisciplinarity.
Based on the protection of human dignity, family law today is based on a new constitutional and legislative order, which focuses on families as a union of persons linked by an affective, psychological, sentimental bond, who enter a community of life to support each other.
We can speak of a Code that recognizes the rights of all, that makes the elderly visible, not from the approach of weakness, pain, compassion, but as a protagonist of their destiny, a transmitter of values, customs and principles within the families; as a bearer of new energies and, consequently, protagonist of their family environment. The elderly are not only subjects of rights, but also of duties for the formation of the younger ones at home. We owe to them what we are today.
The Code also opens the doors of legal protection to people with disabilities and regulates their right to self-determination, to write their own biography based on their life history. It recognizes the right of all persons to exercise their legal capacity and to be part of their socio-family environment as a leading rather than a secondary actor; it is a norm that foresees the need to respond from the Law to the aging population, which is very significant in Cuban society. Hence the need to recognize affectionate care as a right of every person in the family environment.
Families are the main source of affection, care and education in the culture, respect and reciprocal nature of care for the youngest.
Like its 1975 predecessor, which was a milestone in Cuban legislative and social history at the time, the present Family Code also focuses on children and adolescents. The principle of best interest, which we have all learned about through the different media, is the cornerstone for interpreting and applying the Code.
José Martí said that children are the hope of the world, for them we build and will continue to build this nation. Every article of this Code is thinking about children, their rights, their duties, their education, their family inclusion, the value of their word, their civic education. The vision of children as subjects of rights is exalted.
The substitution of parental authority for the new vision of parental responsibility leaves aside a patriarchal and stereotyped view that does not fit with family pluralism today.
Children and adolescents should be accompanied in their moral and spiritual growth, in the development of their personality by their fathers and mothers in a harmonious relationship, in which reciprocal respect, loyalty, honesty and complicity of affection and love prevail, alien to any manifestation of violence in the domestic space, to which the Code is intolerant.
The Code we have just approved offers alternatives, opportunities, options like no other before it. The Code does not build a family model; it has not designed an institution in a legal laboratory. It was not made to design a family or to assume a family construction that does not conform to the ethical or religious convictions of a person. It does not seek tolerance, but respect. That is the key word: respect for the rights of persons on account of the free development of personality and the right to constitute a family, both enshrined in the 2019 Constitution.
The Code we approve lays the foundations of a more democratic, more supportive, and much more responsible family law.
It is true the Code gives autonomy and power of decision to people to marry or not, to choose their partner, whether of the same or different sex; to determine the economic regime of marriage; to form or not a de facto union, to delegate or not -in exceptional situations and within the limits of the Law- the exercise of parental responsibility in favor of third parties; to determine by common agreement the order of the surnames of daughters and sons, the number of these and the time at which they wish to have them; to provide tools for self-protection of people in situations of supervening disability. To the same extent, the shares of responsibility are established, so that they are placed in the balance that means justice, autonomy and responsibility. It is about giving, in more ways than one. This is one of the messages conveyed by the Code.
There is no precedent in our hemisphere, both continental and insular, of a code of the same nature that has the democratic legitimacy of this one. It has been done patiently and the number of draft versions explains its long journey, but it has been worth it.
Today our socialist society is strengthened, we have an avant-garde legal norm that will be a reference for future reforms in this field inside and outside the borders of our continent, and, at the same time, it serves as an example for future legal norms that give continuity to the Cuban legislative process.
There is no better occasion to express and pay a well-deserved tribute, as said in the expository part of the Code -with the force of justice and virtue- to the thought of our beloved and eternal President of the Federation of Cuban Women Vilma Espín, tireless fighter for women’s rights, social inclusion and the protection of children and adolescents, and her strenuous efforts to achieve social justice and human improvement (Applause).
This Code should also serve as a great bedside book our educators should have at hand, essentially the teachers in elementary school who accompany Cuban children in the first steps of their humanistic formation, and as a reference text for the civic formation of the women and men of tomorrow, who will give continuity to this great work that is the Revolution.
Each family is a particular, unique, unrepeatable path, just like each person. Families are an expression of the most delicate social fabric. From them we come, in them we are formed, there we receive the highest values and principles in which we are educated. Families are like the homeland, they provide us with identity, civility, solidarity, respect and altruism.
The bet for the approval of the Family Code in the referendum is also a bet for democracy, for the virtue of being Cubans, for the happiness of each child or adolescent, for the autonomy and decision-making power of each senior citizen, for the inclusion of each person with disabilities, for the condemnation of family abuse, for the respect to family diversity.
It is a bet for life, for the dignity of Cubans, for the continuity of those who have guided us. It is the realization of Marti’s maxim: “With all, and for the good of all”.
It is a code of love, a code of peace! (Applause).
For all these reasons, which taught us to look at ourselves and know ourselves better as individuals and as a society along the way of its preparation, I feel moved and proud to call upon our people to say Yes to the Code of Families! (Applause).
Ladies and gentlemen:
International relations are going through a dangerous scenario. Millions of people are already suffering the cost. The offensive of the United States aimed at surrendering the States and groups of States through the expansion of NATO inevitably leads to a climate of tension and conflict with unpredictable consequences.
The world has changed. We are not in the early 1990s, when the United States believed it enjoyed an unquestioned unipolar hegemony, with the capacity to impose its will on any State.
Nor does the criminal practice of subjecting entire populations of sovereign states to economic hardship through coercive measures in order to extract concessions from them bring political success.
That is why so many in the world admire the Cuban Revolution, the indomitable resistance of our people against the aggression of U.S. imperialism and the work of justice and humanism that we defend. Others simply reject the abuse and immoral policies of the United States against Cuba, even though ideologically they may not identify themselves with the Revolution.
Anyone can see that the U.S. government acts dishonestly when it claims that the economic blockade and the merciless war against Cuba are due to its “concern for the welfare of the Cuban people,” to its concern for the respect of human rights, or to its eagerness to promote democracy. They lie! The dismal historical record of the United States on human rights and democracy is well known. As are the abuses that occur daily in that country.
The people are increasingly aware of the complicity and direct responsibility of the U.S. government in the most atrocious crimes that have been committed in this hemisphere by repressive forces trained and educated in U.S. military schools and subordinated to the special services, and even to the embassies of that country in several Latin American nations. There are historical records that prove it.
That record makes it more than clear that the United States wants the destruction of the Cuban revolutionary process and what it stands for, threatening anyone who dares to undertake an alternative path to their instruction manual for the world, is, like Cuba, at risk of suffering perennial hostility on the part of the United States of America.
That explains the aggressiveness against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the coup d’état against Bolivia in 2019 and other coups suffered in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the reason for the pressure and threats exerted on many governments, not only in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also elsewhere, to prevent them from complying with the just claims and expectations of their peoples. This is the reason for the exclusions at the failed hemispheric summit held last June in Los Angeles, California.
In that scenario, the selective and exclusionary behavior of the United States became a boomerang. Far from isolating Cuba and other countries, the Summit ended up showing the isolation of U.S. policy towards the hemisphere. The debates were marked by pronouncements rejecting exclusions, the demand for an end to the economic blockade against Cuba and the questioning of the Organization of American States (OAS), particularly its current Secretary General.
A People’s Summit was also held in Los Angeles, a real summit, a parallel event of popular representation, with the participation of many progressive, social, community forces and trade union groups. They went there to claim their rights, to defend peace, to demand an end to the injustices of an unjust economic and political order that privileges corporate elites and transnational capital at the expense of the majorities and the unlimited exploitation of the environment.
Returning to the aggressiveness against our country, the U.S. State Department has no way or grounds to explain the designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism. There is no U.S. politician or government official who can honestly sustain that accusation. No one has been able to present credible evidence to support such a slander.
The consequences of such a designation are extremely harmful to a small nation like ours. It greatly harms international financial and commercial transactions. It hinders access to financial institutions and the possibilities of payments and credits. It imposes a stigma on our entities and institutions, which find it extremely difficult to interact, even with foreign entities with which they have maintained productive relations for years.
What is unacceptable is that the U.S. Government assumes, unilaterally and without anyone’s mandate, the prerogative of judging other governments, without feeling obliged to substantiate its accusations. The State Department uses this list and others like it as instruments of political coercion. It opportunistically manipulates sensitive issues such as terrorism, religion, human rights, corruption and many others to extract concessions from sovereign countries or punish them when they go against its interests.
Since 2019, the measures of reinforcement and maximum pressure applied by the government of Donald Trump had already taken the economic war to a qualitatively more aggressive dimension, with the consequent impact on the lives of all Cubans and against the efforts to promote the development of the nation. This aggressiveness is further reinforced by the subversion programs, which do not cease in the attempt to politically destabilize the country.
The U.S. government devotes tens of millions of dollars from the federal budget, paid for by taxpayers, to this purpose every year.
Supported by a sophisticated technological infrastructure dedicated to campaigns of disinformation, slander, discredit and the mercenaries of disinformation, they apply against Cuba the formulas of the Unconventional Warfare already tested and applied with serious human and material costs in other parts of the world.
They succumb to the political influence of the anti-Cuban rightwing based mainly in South Florida, which has installed itself in the front line of aggression against Cuba and against the revolutionary and progressive processes of the region, promoting intolerance, threats, extortion, blackmail and any other violent form of prohibiting different thinking, of punishing anyone in their own community who expresses respect, friendship, fraternal feelings or even solidarity with their country of origin.
In a deceitful way, they try to identify this gangster group with the universe of people of Cuban origin residing in the United States, an important part of which is close to Cuba, is in contact with their relatives and friends, respects the country and opposes the incessant punishment of a foreign superpower against a small nation. Many of them publicize their vocation of solidarity; others do it in a more discreet way.
The United States Government tried again to force a popular uprising in Cuba during this month of July, and failed. As it tried and failed in 2021. It did so openly and deployed a broad propaganda campaign, anchored on powerful digital platforms, with the active participation of high-ranking officials. They relied on their policy of maximum economic pressure, aimed at depressing the standard of living of our population, generating problems in the assurance of essential services such as electricity and hitting the level of consumption and access to basic goods, among others, to achieve this. And I am not speaking in the past, this perverse policy is alive and kicking today.
We must get used to the idea that the blockade will last. Imperialism is not going to give up that ruthless weapon against Cuba easily. The solution to our economic problems will have to be found with our own effort and creativity, under the effects of the blockade and in spite of them. That is the immediate and long-term challenge. The duty is to denounce and fight the economic war in every corner and at every opportunity.
We do not rule out the eventual possibility of a better understanding with the Government of the United States towards a relationship of respect. It is known that Cuba is willing to move in that direction and to dialogue on any issue without undermining our sovereignty.
We will continue to promote and facilitate the broadest possible ties with the many sectors of that country that are willing to approach Cuba. We include among them, U.S citizens or residents in the United States who are of Cuban origin. We are convinced that there are mutual benefits in the exchange between the two nations, despite the great differences.
Cuba’s track record in the development of its foreign relations shows that the promotion of peace, cooperation and solidarity are defining characteristics of our international projection. We have demonstrated this in our Latin American and Caribbean region and also in other parts of the world.
We do not have the power to change the imperial logic; but we do not renounce to the socialist construction from our anti-imperialist and socialist logic because it is the only way towards the greatest possible social justice.
The easiest thing would be to surrender and let all the dreams for which so many generations have fought and resisted be destroyed. The easiest thing would be to sell the country, as so many neoliberal governments in this region have done.
Our socialist logic is humanist, contrary to exclusions. We are inspired by the ideal of a better society, where there is economic growth with equitable distribution of wealth. We fight for development with social equality.
In these sessions, important changes have been announced in order to unblock and promote the levers that will mobilize, as much as possible, the productive forces. There is still a long way to go, but there is no need to insist on what everyone knows and some try to underestimate: our economy is going through an extremely complex scenario, in which it is extremely difficult to achieve the foreign currency income that the country needs.
In the midst of a brutal intensification of the blockade, we are affected, like all other nations, by the international economic crisis derived from the effects of two years of pandemic and the European war conflict. All these factors have triggered a rise in the prices of fuel, food, medicines and other essential inputs that must be imported.
As reported, the Gross Domestic Product at constant prices reached a slight growth of 1.3 % in the year 2021, halting the fall experienced in the years 2019 and 2020; however, the levels of activity are still lower than those we had reached in the years prior to the pandemic.
So far, there has been no significant recovery in our main productions, nor in tourism. With the low levels of foreign currency available to us, a permanent effort is being made to ensure a level of basic products and services to the population and to give priority attention to people and communities in vulnerable situations.
Under these conditions, an unofficial market for the purchase and sale of foreign currency has proliferated and inflation continues to affect the purchasing power of labor income.
No one is coming to solve our problems. The control we have achieved over COVID-19 is a fundamental step towards the recovery of the economy and allows us to advance in the implementation of a set of measures, which have been elaborated taking into account the states of opinion of the population and the criteria of scientists and experts in these matters.
In the last year, we have traveled all over the country to get close to the problems and we have held meetings with the most diverse sectors during which we have listened more than we have talked. In addition, we have reviewed hundreds of opinions and proposals from our population.
We are well aware that the economy is the main challenge we face and we have to face it with bold measures, adjusted to our economic and social model, without letting ourselves be paralyzed by the risks. It is urgent to face them, revolutionizing the Revolution.
The measures announced here by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, which are part of these advances and these risks, are aimed at boosting the domestic market, by attracting foreign currency, increasing export revenues and reactivating domestic production.
To this end, it has been decided to reinstate the foreign exchange market through the purchase and sale of foreign currency, including the dollar, with an economic-based exchange rate; to expand the secondary scheme for the allocation of foreign currency for state and non-state economic actors; to approve the participation of micro, small and medium-sized private companies in joint ventures with state entities and foreign investment, and to make imports of a non-commercial nature more flexible.
All this should allow us to gradually increase the supply of goods and services for the economic actors and for the domestic market in national currency; organize the foreign exchange market; make available financial resources that are insufficient today, for the care of individuals and families in vulnerable situations; the sustainability and expansion of social programs, and to pay debts and withheld payments.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our willingness to honor our commitments to creditors. We sincerely thank those who have accompanied us in our resistance.
It is clear that we will not be able to move forward with the implementation of monetary and financial measures alone. For these measures to have a favorable impact on the economy, it is decisive to increase national productions and foreign currency income from exports; to reduce the budget deficit, improve its structure and achieve greater efficiency and control of public spending, to establish adequate price systems, to effectively control the cost sheets with popular participation, which has to be done by the management of municipal governments.
We will advance, we are not with our arms crossed. We have a program to evaluate and implement the measures that will let us move forward, preserving the highest degree of equity and possible social justice.
We must work, mobilize, stimulate and demand that everyone’s talent and effort be transformed into results! To insist on the commitment with the never-ending task of taking a piece out of the problems every day! We see it and feel it constantly: in the epic fight of the power plant workers and in the heroism of our doctors and scientists against COVID-19 and dengue.
Regarding the energy contingency that has raised to the forefront the efforts of the workers in the sector, it is my duty to say that there are still difficult days ahead. The timely and useful information to the population should be hand in hand with the recognition of the effort. Truth, sincere explanation and planning, which can only be guaranteed with foresight, are decisive aspects, just like the solidarity and responsible power saving on the part of our population.
I can assure you that we are working tirelessly to overcome every difficulty, whether it is the result of the blockade or of our own limitations and deficiencies.
Today we are battling simultaneously to maintain control over COVID-19 and to face another dengue epidemic; to recover the economic and social life of the country; to break the economic and financial siege that prevents the supply of fuel, productive inputs, supplies, foreign currency financing; to stabilize the national electric power system; to increase food production; recover the harvest; restore the houses and institutions affected by the Saratoga explosion in Havana and by the heavy rains in several provinces; support the transformation of neighborhoods with special emphasis on families in vulnerable situations, and guarantee a summer with recreational options that reach the majority of the population throughout the country.
Of course, this list of tasks defining the priorities is not the only thing that occupies the Party and the Government. The country is working systematically on short, medium and long term programs on central issues for the future, such as the digital transformation of society, food sovereignty, the advancement of women, youth policies, mechanisms for democracy and popular participation, the environment, animal welfare, social communication, cultural decolonization, the elimination of racial discrimination and others, including confronting the permanent aggression of the United States Government.
What I want to say is that this country is not held back. They want to hold back this country; but we are not and we are not going to be (Applause). Our alternative is clear and it will never be surrender; we will not surrender, nor will we let ourselves be defeated! (Applause).
These affirmations are confirmed by the sessions of this Assembly we are closing today, not only because of what we discussed and approved this time, but also because of the greater connection we feel with the problems in the municipalities, in the neighborhoods, in the communities, which have a leading role, which is still insufficient but already visible, in what is said and done.
The neighborhood is the Homeland in its smallest dimension. It is the hard core of our resistance. It is there that the daily fight against the blockade has been waged, with support and solidarity among neighbors. But there we have also accumulated the problems derived from that brutal siege of 63 years and from our weaknesses in the administration to get around the siege.
What the commissions discuss and what is finally approved will be more effective the more this neighborhood-municipality-Assembly link is systematized. And the Assembly will increasingly resemble Cuban society to the extent that it connects more deeply with its bases. This is the podium of the people aware of their power, who demand to change everything that must be changed. And we will do it! We are an archipelago surrounded by water, but that does not mean that we can live free from the harsh impacts of the profoundly unequal and unjust world.
The appeal to science and innovation as instruments of collective leadership provides us with valuable keys, but it is not enough to make use of them, they must be adjusted to the real conditions in which we must use our will to move forward.
In a few days we will be celebrating the 69th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo. The date, which always inspire us, will be another opportunity to reflect and look out, from the present and from history, to the horizon that we owe ourselves as a reward for so much effort and heroism, for so much nobility and creativity.
In a recent tour of Mayabeque I spoke of this enormous people, of this beautiful people, who when they set their minds on something, they don’t stop until they get it, whose feelings and stoicism made them stand out and who will never again be slaves, and therefore they defend the Revolution with all their energies. I specified that, as servants of this people and as Fidel, Raul and history taught us from 1868 to the present day, our duty is to make the Revolution advance and prevent the Revolution from making mistakes.
That is our fight, in which we hope all of you will join us.
For Cuba, for its history and its present, we continue, inspired and determined to fight!
Onwards till Victory, always!
Homeland or Death!
We will win!
Translated by ESTI