Statement by the first secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the republic, Miguel Díaz-Canal Bermúdez.
We have been honest, we have been transparent, we have been clear, and at every moment we have been explaining to our people the complexities of the current situation. I remind you that more than a year and a half ago, when the second half of 2019 began, we had to explain that we were entering a very difficult time.
This was generally accepted by the population, and we remained alert to the dangers from all the signs that the United States government was giving, led then by the Trump administration, in relation to Cuba.
The imperialists began to intensify a new series of restrictive measures, tightening the blockade and putting great financial pressures on our energy sector – all with the aim of suffocating our economy and trying to provoke social unrest, which they hoped to use to support a thoroughgoing ideological campaign. They wanted to justify a call for humanitarian intervention that would end in military intervention and interference – affecting the rights, sovereignty and independence of all peoples, not only Cubans.
That situation continued, then came the 243 measures that we all know, and finally the USA decided to include Cuba in a list of countries allaegedly ‘sponsoring terrorism’ – a spurious, illegitimate and unilateral list that the US government has adopted, believing itself to be emperor of the world.
Many countries submit to these decisions, but it must be recognised that others do not allow such things to be imposed on them. Still, all these restrictions led to the cutting off of various sources of foreign exchange income such as tourism, Cuban-American travel and remittances. Efforts were made to discredit the Cuban medical brigades and Cuba’s solidarity collaborations, which also bring us vital supplies of foreign exchange.
This pressure led to shortages in the country – especially of food, medicines, raw materials and supplies needed for various economic and productive processes, which in turn has affected exports. Two important elements have thus been cut off: the ability to export and the ability to invest resources in production. The processes that enable us to produce goods and services for our population are being sabotaged.
There are also new limitations on fuels and spare parts, and all this has caused a level of dissatisfaction that has added to the accumulated problems from the past – problems that we have largely been able to solve from the special period exacerbated by a fierce (imperialist) media campaign of discrediting the government. This forms part of an unconventional warfare strategy which aims to fracture the unity between the party, state and people; it is trying to paint the government as incapable of providing for the wellbeing of the Cuban people.
These are well-known hypocritical lies and double standards that we have seen many times throughout the history of the United States’ relations with Cuba. How did they intervene in our country? How did they take over our island in 1902?> How did they maintain domination of our island in the pseudo-republic stage? And how were those interests hit by the triumph of the Cuban Revolution?
The example of the Cuban Revolution has bothered the imperialists deeply for 60 years, and their pressures to overthrow it have constantly increased. They have applied an unjust, criminal and cruel blockade, which is now being intensified during pandemic conditions – and therein lies the manifest perversity; the evil of all those intentions.
Such a level of blockade and restrictive actions has never been taken by them against any other country, nor against those they consider their main enemies.
This has been a vicious policy against a small island, which only aspires to defend its independence and sovereignty; to build its society with self-determination according to the principles that more than 86 percent of the population supported in the broad democratic exercise we took part in a few years ago to approve the current constitution of the Republic of Cuba.
In the midst of these conditions came the pandemic – a pandemic that has not only affected Cuba, but the entire world, including the United States. It has affected rich countries as well as poor, and it must be said that in the face of this pandemic neither the United States nor those rich countries had the capacity to face its effects in the beginning. In many of those first-world countries, with much more wealth, with big hospitals and intensive care wards, the poor were disadvantaged because there are no public policies aimed at the salvation of the people. Many of them have indicators in relation to dealing with the pandemic that show far worse results than those of Cuba.
This is how we progressed. We controlled outbreaks and clusters through the great sacrifices of our people, of our scientists, of our health personnel. Almost the entire country has been involved in this work. Five vaccine candidates have been created, of which one has already been recognised as effective: the first in Latin America. Cuba is already vaccinating its population. This is a process that takes time: vaccines must be produced and distributed. Still, at the moment we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and in just a few weeks we have vaccinated more than 20 percent of the population.
In recent months, strains that are more aggressive and cause greater transmission of the disease have begun to circulate. In the midst of this situation, more complications began to appear. In the first place, cases were occurring with a speed and accumulation that is exceeding our existing capacities in state institutions.
We have had to open new treatment facilities elsewhere. But opening more centres for Covid patients – which must be given energy priority even in the midst of the accumulated energy problems – has left greater numbers elsewhere exposed to the possibility of blackouts. This is annoying but necessary, since we have to restore our electricity generation capacity. Blackouts in recent days have understandably caused irritation, misunderstanding and concern amongst the population.
Since we have more hospital patients, there is also a higher consumption of medicines, which means that our stocks are running out, and we presently have limitied ability to acquire more.
In the midst of all this trouble, we continue to work through sheer force of will: thinking of everything; working for everyone. We have had to introduce home admission for some patients in some provinces owing to a lack of institutional facilities, and we have had to enrol the participation of patients’ families.
We never cease to admire the great capacity for creative resistance that our people show. With such values, if we work responsibly and with unity, in the shortest possible time with vaccination and with responsible behaviour, complying with hygienic sanitary measures, social isolation and physical distancing, we will leave this pandemic peak sooner rather than later – a peak that is not only affecting Cuba.
What Cuba managed was to postpone this pandemic peak with everything we did. And likewise by our efforts we will overcome it in the shortest possible time. This is what we have been working to ensure in our tours of the provinces, during which the latest Covid containment strategies have been agreed.
In a very cowardly, subtle, opportunistic and perverse way, from the most complicated situations that we have had in provinces such as Matanzas and Ciego de Ávila, those who have always supported the blockade, and who serve as street mercenaries on behalf of the Yankees, have begun to appear with demands for ‘humanitarian aid’ and a ‘humanitarian corridor’.
We all know where they come from. They wish only to promote the idea that the Cuban government is not capable of getting out of this situation – as if they were in any way interested in solving the health problems of our people!
If you want to show real solidarityy with Cuba; if you really concerned about our people: open the blockade, and see how we can function! Why don’t they do it? Why don’t they have the courage to open the lock? What legal and moral standing do they have which allows a foreign government to apply such a brutal policy against a small country in the midst of such adverse conditions?
Isn’t that genocide? Isn’t that a crime against humanity? Claims are made that we are a ‘dictatorship’, yet we are a dictatorship that cares about giving our entire population good health; that seeks wellbeing for all; that in the midst of such a situation is capable of maintaining public health programmes and policies based on the needs of all; that it is aspiring to vaccinate everyone with a Cuban vaccine, because we knew that no-one was going to sell us vaccines and we had no money to go to the international market to buy them. What strange ‘dictatorship’ is this?
Now they shout that we are ‘murderers’. Where are the murdered in Cuba? Where are the disappeared?
Other countries that have been suffering pandemic peaks have not been attacked in the press like this or offered ‘humanitarian intervention’. They were not undermined with these campaigns of vilification.
Life, history and facts show what is behind all this. It is aimed at suffocating and ending the revolution: to this end they are working hard to discourage and confuse our people. When people are in severe conditions like the ones we are living through, events like the ones we saw today in San Antonio de los Baños occur.
In San Antonio de los Baños, a group of people gathered in one of the city’s central parks to protest and make demands. Who were they? They were residents of a village who are experiencing particular shortcomings and difficulties. And they were joined by revolutionary-minded people who may be confused and who may not have all the facts, or who were expressing their dissatisfaction.
Those two groups behaved in a different way from the provocateurs. They sought out arguments and asked for explanations. The first thing they said was: “I am a revolutionary; I support the revolution.”
This protest was joined by a group of manipulators who were pushing campaigns that have been spread on social media: SOS Matanzas and SOS Cuba issued a call to the cacerolazo (pan-bashers) to organise demonstrations in cities across Cuba in the hopes of fuelling social unrest.
This action is not only criminal but also very cruel – especially at this time when we must ensure that our people are protecting themselves as much as possible. With the morality that the revolution gives, the revolutionaries of San Antonio de los Baños, the authorities of the province and a group of comrades from the leadership of the country jointly presented ourselves to San Antonio de los Baños.
This mass of revolutionaries confronted the counter-revolutionaries. We spoke with the revolutionary elements and with some who may be non-revolutionaries but who were wanting to hear our explanations. Later, we marched and toured the town to show that in Cuba, the streets belong to the revolutionaries.
While all this is happening, we know that there are other towns in the country where groups of people in certain streets and squares have gathered, similarly motivated by unhealthy purposes.
We call on all revolutionaries to take to the streets to defend the revolution everywhere.
The streets belong to the revolutionaries. The state has all the political will for dialogue, but it will also participate.
We are not going to hand over our sovereignty or our independence. They will have to pass over our dead bodies if they want to overthrow our revolution.