Speech delivered by Esteban Lazo, president of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power

Chicago Alba Solidarity, December 1, 2022 — Esteban Lazo: “Cuba warned and denounced early on that the conflict in Ukraine could have been avoided if the United States and NATO had not pushed NATO to the borders of the Russian Federation, and if an increasingly offensive military doctrine had not prevailed in that alliance, which it ignored for decades the repeated concerns and well-founded claims of security guarantees by Russia.”

Her Excellency Valentina Matvienko, President of the Federation Council

Distinguished members of the Federation Council:

I am grateful for the special distinction you make to my people by granting me the privilege of addressing you, which allows me to convey to you, with great satisfaction, an affectionate greeting on your behalf and that of the deputies who you represent.

I take advantage of this unique occasion to reiterate my gratitude for the high honor that was conferred on me by imposing the Order of Friendship, which at the proposal of this Council, is awarded by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.

During more than six decades of bilateral relations, the political will of both peoples, Parliaments and Governments has been maintained to increase the ties of friendship and cooperation based on the principles of equality, respect and mutual support, both bilaterally and in the complex issues on the international agenda.

The relations between our Parliaments are benchmarks of the joint efforts to maintain and consolidate the excellent ties that exist in all spheres of mutual interest.

I want to signify and wholeheartedly thank the extraordinary contribution of the Government and the Federation Council, headed by its President, to the restoration of the Cuban Capitol, an emblematic building where the headquarters of our National Assembly currently resides.

Dear colleagues:

For the vast majority of countries in the world, the economic scenario is very complex, as a result of the impact and consequences of the pandemic, the negative effects of climate change, including extreme droughts and high-intensity hurricanes, as well as the current global crisis that has implied the increase in the prices of food, fuel and great difficulties in the logistics of international trade.

For Cuba, the situation is much more serious ; since to all this is added the unprecedented intensification of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on us by the United States government.

What are they looking for with the blockade, with the economic war against Cuba since the Triumph of the Revolution?

The most exact definition of the real objectives of this criminal policy was enunciated in the Memorandum of the Undersecretary of State, Lester Mallory, of April 6, 1960, where it is stated that, and I quote :

«The majority of Cubans support Castro (…) the only foreseeable way to reduce domestic support is through disenchantment and dissatisfaction arising from economic malaise and material difficulties (…) weaken economic life by denying Cuba money and supplies in order to reduce nominal and real wages, cause hunger, despair and the overthrow of the Government”. End of quote

For this purpose, in 1992 they approved the Torricell Law i, and later the Helms-Burton Law and other measures, but they did not break, nor will they subdue the Cuban people.

The intensification of the blockade in the last 5 years is unprecedented. It has been doubly cruel for being applied in the midst of COVID 19, which has significantly increased its harmful effects.

Cuba has additionally had to face 243 new coercive measures imposed during the Trump administration, 55 of them during the pandemic, trying to use it to cause destabilization and threaten the country’s constitutional order.

They obsessively pursue the purpose of closing all sources of income to the nation, to make the economy and livelihood of Cubans collapse.

They had the cynicism to include Cuba in the unilateral and illegal list of supposed sponsors of terrorism, which is drawn up by the State Department and which should be headed by the United States, which harms and restricts our international relations in the banking sector. More than 100 banks in the world have suspended their operations with our country.

They directly penalize or threaten those who have invested in Cuba and potential investors, as well as those who trade or provide commercial services.

Despite its campaign promises, the Biden Administration has broadly upheld this policy of maximum pressure.

Many other examples of this permanent harassment I could mention, but you are informed politicians and you know it. I can summarize with the following data:

The damages of the genocidal blockade, accumulated for more than 60 years, at current prices amount to 147,853.3 million dollars, which, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold, amounts to 1,391,111 million. that is, more than a million million. This is equivalent to 12 million dollars a day and 365 million dollars a month.

How much could we have done with those resources?

There is no doubt that the blockade is the main cause of the economic situation in the country; the greatest obstacle to our development, the essential reason for the anguish and suffering of our people, the greatest violation of their human rights.

They insist on destroying the example of Cuba, which shows that a better society, than a socialist system of social justice, is possible.

In these hard and difficult times we have had to face three additional situations: the explosion that destroyed the Saratoga hotel in Havana, the terrible fire at the supertanker base in Matanzas, and the passage of Hurricane IAN that caused serious losses in the west. from the country.

Contrasted with all this is the creative resistance of our people, together with the support and solidarity of our friends in the world.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Upper House of the Russian Federal Assembly for the systematic call to lift the blockade that has been unanimously approved annually since 2016.

I also wish to express our infinite gratitude for the donations received from the Russian Federation in the face of the terrible contingencies we have faced, which we highly value.

In the midst of this complex scenario, Cuba is implementing the update of its economy in line with the National Plan for Economic and Social Development until 2030.

Among other measures, the reforms of the monetary-exchange and salary system were finalized and the creation of new non-state economic actors that will boost the economy, together with the state sector, was approved.

We are also in the middle of a process of updating the legal system, in correspondence with the Constitution of the Republic approved in 2019. We anticipate closing the year 2022, the last of the current legislature, with the approval of 30 laws and 65 decree-laws.

In this context, the strengthening of economic, commercial, financial and cooperation relations with the Russian Federation is vital for our country.

The promotion of important processes in the financial and energy spheres, as well as in the agri-food sector, is of transcendental relevance. For this we appreciate being able to count on your support.

We consider the active participation of Russian companies in investment projects in Cuba essential, based on the enormous possibilities offered by Law 118 for Foreign Investment and the Mariel Special Development Zone.

In this sense, we encourage the regions of the Federation that you represent here to take an active and effective part in the National Plan for Economic and Social Development of our country until the year 2030.

There have already been useful experiences in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Nizhny, Novgorod and Saint Petersburg,   which should be taken up again and could serve as references for the future.

Dear Friends:

On behalf of the Cuban people, I appreciate the efforts of the Russian Government, for the realization of the work of the sculptor Alexéi Chebanenko, dedicated to the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

I have had the privilege and satisfaction of enjoying your hospitality several times, the last time in 2016, but every time I return I remember the words of the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, at the ceremony held at the Lenin Stadium in Moscow, on May 23, 1963, and I quote:

“What this country is, what its people have accomplished, its deeds, its heroism, its history, cannot be known through books, documents, films, photos, narratives, reports. It is necessary to see and feel it up close.” End of quote

May this monument serve to remember the indisputable contribution of the historical figure of Fidel to the strengthening of relations between Cuba and Russia.

Distinguished Senators:

Cuba warned and denounced early on that the conflict in Ukraine could have been avoided if the United States and NATO had not pushed NATO to the borders of the Russian Federation, and if an increasingly offensive military doctrine had not prevailed in that alliance, which it ignored for decades. the repeated concerns and well-founded claims of security guarantees by Russia.

I also want to express our strong rejection of the unilateral sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by Western governments, in general, and the United States in particular.

I also ratify that Cuba advocates a negotiated solution to the conflict, which takes into account the interests of all parties, including the Russian Federation.

Dear Friends:

We are united by several decades of uninterrupted friendship. For my people Russia has a very special meaning since the time of the October Revolution.

And then in the hard years of World War II, when together with the other peoples that made up the Soviet Union, it was a determining and decisive force to put an end to fascism.

Eternal homage to the heroes and martyrs of that fierce battle!

What happened cannot be forgotten or misrepresented. Humanity will have to be eternally grateful to the people who offered the lives of 27 million of their children to annihilate fascism and prevent it from taking over the world.

Our ties have expanded, strengthened, and become endearing in the years that have followed the triumph of the Revolution and up to the present day.

We feel great sympathy and affection for the Russian people, a true brotherhood. Both I and my delegation are excited to visit Russia and once again express our trust and friendship to you.

We reiterate the importance of continuing to strengthen the exchange between our legislative bodies, and the willingness to hold the first bilateral inter-parliamentary meeting when the respective agendas allow it.

From Fidel we learned to pursue dreams that, however difficult they may seem, are achievable, if, as our President Miguel Díaz-Canel said, we arm ourselves with commitment, perseverance and dedication in function of sacred social justice, independence and sovereignty.

Under this conviction, I convey to the people of Russia our gratitude for helping us paint the promising horizon of our country with hope and the conviction that it can always count on Cuba’s friendship.

Thank you very much.

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