Tuesday, August 01, 2006
President Fidel Castro Temporarily Relinquishes Presidential Responsibilities
Havana, July 31 (ACN) Cuban President Fidel Castro has temporarily relinquished his political, state and government responsibilities to First Vice President Raul Castro, due to health reasons.
President Castro's personal assistant and member of the Council of State, Carlos Manuel Valenciaga, read the letter addressed to the Cuban people on Cuban national TV on Monday evening.
The leader of the Cuban Revolution said that his health had
deteriorated following enormous efforts made during his recent trip to Argentina to participate at the MERCOSUR Summit, the People's Summit and to visit Ernesto Che Guevara's childhood home in Altagracia, plus his participation at two public events on July 26 in Granma and Holguin commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Garrisons.
Fidel Castro explained that continuous work with practically no sleep, while subjected to extreme stress, provoked a severe intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding for which he was obliged to undergo complicated surgery. He further noted that during the post-operation period he will need several weeks of rest, away from his responsibilities and tasks.
In his letter, Fidel Castro temporarily relinquishes his duties as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party Central Committee and Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces to Army General and Second Secretary of the Communist Party Raul Castro.
He also temporarily relinquished his post as President of the Cuban Council of State and Ministers to First Vice President Raul Castro and his leading functions in Cuba's national and international health program to Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer.
Similarly, Fidel temporarily relinquished his functions in the national and international education program to Ramon Machado Ventura and Esteban Lazo Hernandez, both members of the Political Bureau of Cuba's Communist Party Central Committee.
The Cuban Head of State also turned over his functions in leading the island's energy program and foreign cooperation in that sector to Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage Davila. The funds relevant to the programs of health, education and energy will continue to be prioritized and managed by Carlos Lage, Francisco Soberon, president of Cuba's Central Bank, and by Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
In his letter Fidel recommends that the Non-Aligned Summit scheduled for September 11-16 in Havana be given top priority by the State and the Cuban nation. He further requested that activities scheduled to celebrate his 80th birthday on August 13 be postponed until December 2, the date which marks the 50th anniversary of the historic landing in eastern Cuba of the Granma yacht.
Finally, the Commander in Chief asked for the full support from the Communist Party Central Committee and the Cuban Parliament to meet his requests and expressed his conviction that the Cuban people will struggle to safeguard their historic social process. Imperialism, he said, will never be able to defeat Cuba while the Battle of Ideas will continue to advance.
With the slogans, "Long Live the Homeland, Long Live the Revolution and Socialism", Fidel closed his letter to the Cuban people at 6:22 p.m. on July 31, 2006.
Proclamation of Cuban President Fidel Castro to the People of Cuba
Version of the text of the Proclamation issued by Cuban President Fidel Castro to the Cuban people and which was read on Cuban television at 9:15 p.m., Monday, July 31, 2006:
Due to the enormous efforts made to visit the Argentinean city of Cordoba, participate in the MERCOSUR meeting, in the closing of the People's Summit in the historic University of Cordoba and the visit to Altagracia, the city where Che lived during his childhood and together with that my participation in the commemoration of the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes barracks on July 26, 1953, in the provinces of Granma and Holguin, days and nights of continuous work with practically no sleep, my health, which has resisted all tests, was subjected to extreme stress and broke down.
This provoked a severe intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding which obliged me to undergo complicated surgery. All the details of this health accident are found in the x-rays, endoscopes and filmed materials. The operation obliged me to rest for several weeks, away from my responsibilities and tasks.
Since our country is threatened in such circumstances by the
government of the United States, I have made the following decisions:
1. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party to Second Secretary Compañero Raúl Castro Ruz.
2. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as Commander in Chief of the heroic Revolutionary Armed Forces to the aforementioned Compañero, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz.
3. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as President of the Council of State and the Government of the Republic of Cuba, to the First Vice President, Compañero Raúl Castro Ruz.
4. I temporarily delegate my functions as principal promoter of the National and International Public Health Program to Political Bureau Member and Public Health Minister, Compañero José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera.
5. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as the principal promoter of the National and International Program of Education to Companero José Ramón Machado Ventura and Esteban Lazo Hernández, members of the Political Bureau.
6. I temporarily delegate my responsibilities as the main promoter of the National Program of the Energy Revolution in Cuba and collaboration with other countries in this area to Companero Carlos Lage Dávila, Member of the Political Bureau and Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.
The funds related to these three programs -- Health, Education and Energy -- should continue being carried out and prioritized, as I have personally been doing, by Companeros Carlos Lage Dávila, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, and Felipe Perez Roque, Minister of Foreign Relations, who have accompanied me in these endeavors and should form a commission to continue the work.
Our glorious Communist Party, supported by the mass organizations and all the people, has the mission of assuming the task set forward in this Proclamation.
The Summit of the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, which will take place between September 11th and 16th, should receive the highest attention of the State and the Cuban nation, and to celebrated with the highest splendor on the dates scheduled.
The 80th anniversary of my birthday, for which thousands of
personalities have agreed to celebrate on August 13th, should be postponed until the 2nd of December this year -- the 50th anniversary of the Landing of the Granma.
I call on the Central Committee of the Party and the National
Assembly of People's Power to give their strongest support to this Proclamation.
I don't have the slightest doubt that our people and our Revolution will struggle until the last drop of blood to defend these and other ideas and measures that are necessary to safeguard our historic process.
Imperialism will never smash Cuba. The Battle of Ideas will continue forward.
Long Live the Homeland! Long Live the Revolution! Long Live
Fidel Castro Ruz Commander in Chief First Secretary of the Party and President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba July 31, 2006 6:22 p.m.
English Version of the text by Radio Havana Cuba)
This is a magnificent speech by Raul, given in mid-June and it's
been posted to the front page of the Granma daily website ever
since then, in Spanish, English and Portuguese. Give a great idea
of how Raul approaches and describes things. Provides a terrific
image of today's world as seen by the Cuban leadership. This is
an indispensible current political document. Read it carefully.
Once achieved, military invulnerability can only be maintained with
Speech by Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party and Minister of the Army General Raúl Castro, during the event marking the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Western Army in San José de las Lajas, Habana province, June 14, 2006, Year of the Energy Revolution in Cuba
Compañeras and compañeros,
FORTY-FIVE years after 1961, that decisive year for the Revolution,
we can feel the double satisfaction of still having with us the
Commander in Chief of always, and of having acted in accordance with the principle summed up by this affirmation of his: "We shall not
drop our guard for a single minute. We shall not rest for one minute
in the work of organizing the defense."
Fidel made that affirmation on January 20, 1961 before the thousands of Havana militia troops returning to confront – together with their comrades from the center and east of the country – the armed bands incited by the empire in the mountains of the central region, in what was then Las Villas province.
The Revolution had already given palpable evidence that arming the
people was far from being a slogan. It was a reality, growing before
the eyes of the enemy forces, who would be able to confirm that in
their own flesh three months later.
The Bay of Pigs is a crucial landmark in the decision to confront the
enemy with weapons in hand. The Days of the Militia, the Anti-Aerial
Defense (DAAFAR) and of the Tank Regiment are associated with its
battles, and shortly before or after that great victory, the Central,
Eastern and Western armies were born on April 4, April 21, and June
14, respectively. A few days previously, on June 6, the Ministry of
the Interior was created. Thus these have been months of many and
Majors of the Revolution Juan Almeida, Ramiro Valdés and Guillermo García, founder members of those institutions and exceptional protagonists of those events, are here as well as myself, who did something for the Eastern Army in those days.
Also present are the current chiefs, Generals of the Army Corps
Leopoldo Cintra, Ramón Espinosa and Joaquín Quintas. I believe that all our combatants, as firmly united as they were in 1961 and always will be, will feel represented by them.
In a fortunate historical coincidence, we are also commemorating
today the birth of two great men: the 161st anniversary of that of
Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo and the 78th of Commander Ernesto Che Guevara, and thus three stages of one same army are symbolically fused in this event: the Mambí (19th century freedom fighters), the Rebel and the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces).
WE CUBANS ARE AWARE THAT WITHOUT THE SUSTAINED EFFORT OF OUR PEOPLE TO CONSOLIDATE THE DEFENSE CAPACITY OF OUR COUNTRY, WE WOULD HAVE CEASED TO EXIST AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION A LONG TIME AGO
We Cubans are aware that without the sustained effort of our people
to consolidate the defense capacity of our country, we would have
ceased to exist as an independent nation a long time ago.
In accordance with that principle and after a profound analysis of
the times in which we were living and scenarios that could present
themselves in the short term, on July 15, 2003, our Party,
represented by the plenary of its Central Committee, presided over by
its first secretary, called on everyone to increase whatever we were
doing to fortify our defenses.
That time could not have been more complex. The U.S. government was experiencing the triumphalist euphoria of a supposed thunderous victory in Iraq. That illusion, supported by a gigantic propaganda campaign based on lies, confused a large number of U.S. citizens and many others throughout the world at that point.
Even though the anti-war movement was strong in some areas the
aggressive policy of the empire had the backing of the population at
that moment, as was reflected in surveys.
Many unsuspecting people saw that war as part of a supposed crusade against terrorism. They did not realize that in real terms it was an action coherent with the imperialist plans of planetary hegemony, another effort aimed at controlling essential raw materials, in particular fuel; in parallel, a fresh attempt to go for the old scheme of war as a means of overcoming the economic crisis; and also, not exactly in the last place, to satisfy the desire for profits of the large transnational consortiums.
In those conditions favorable to their interests, it was obvious that
the imperial hawks were considering the possibility of giving a piece
of their mind to those who signified a obstacle to their dreams of
world domination, and evidently, Cuba, for reasons that are all too
well known, could be high on the list of immediate targets.
This U.S. administration’s increasing backing of ultra-right groups
of Cuban origin based in Miami, as well as the extended inciting of
local mercenaries by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, compounded by increased provocations and acts of terrorism such as the hijacking of civilian vessels and aircraft, all accompanied by the staging of grand media campaigns, were clear signals of such aggressive plans.
That was happening at an extremely difficult juncture for the
country, given the combination of the increased price of oil after
the invasion of Iraq, the collapse of tourism as a consequence of the
September 11 attacks in 2001, and the vertiginous descent of sugar
prices to levels that made its production simply unsustainable in
many parts of the island.
None of that daunted us. Along with other important tasks of the
Revolution, the programs contained in the Battle of Ideas directed at
improving education, health, social security, culture, sports – at
the end of day, the quality of life of the people, went ahead.
The resources for that miracle did not come from any mysterious fund. They emerged from the creative ingenuity, talent and organized and enthusiastic work of our people. Those who have considerably
fortified the country’s defense capacity come from that same source.
OUR SECURITY IN VICTORY IS SUSTAINED BY THE BLOOD OF FALLEN COMPAÑEROS AND IN THE RIVERS OF SWEAT SPILLED BY MILLIONS OF CUBANS
Behind the affirmation of the commander in chief that Cuba today is
virtually invulnerable to a military aggression lie many hours of
dispassionate analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our
probable enemy, as well as the possibilities of standing up to it
using the ways and methods most appropriate for a small country like ours that does not have great natural wealth, but does have the
exceptional source of the revolutionary morale and knowledge of our
sons and daughters.
Our security in victory is sustained by the blood of fallen
compañeros and in the rivers of sweat spilled by millions of Cubans
throughout the decades and particularly in recent years, who have
worked to make our principal objective of avoiding war a reality.
The terrible hornet’s nest that every corner of our country would
become; I repeat, the terrible hornet’s nest that every corner of our
country would become, would cause enemy losses far superior to those that U.S. public opinion would be prepared to allow.
It is fair to recall that in those extreme circumstances, as in
others we have lived through throughout 45 years of aggression of
every kind, we have not seen nor do we see the U.S. people as an
enemy; quite the opposite.
Last April, in the east of the country, we initiated visits lasting
various days to the territories of the three armies in the company of
Major of the Revolution Juan Almeida and the principal FAR chiefs,
the last of which ended last week with the Central Army.
The objective was to directly confirm on the ground the fulfillment
of the agreements of the Plenary of the Central Committee to which I
referred at the beginning of my address, and the decisions of the
Commander in Chief derived from the Bastion 2004 Strategic Exercise. I can confirm, with full causal knowledge that however significant was the increase in the country’s defense capacity up to that date, since then the effort and, above all, the results, have appreciably doubled.
To the point that it was advisable, the people were aware of the
lengthy sessions that the Commander in Chief devoted to Bastion 2004, which even extended for various days after the official completion of the exercise.
The putting into practice of the decisions derived from that detailed
analysis – a summary of the conclusions reached by hundreds of
leadership and command bodies – signified a considerable qualitative leap in the country’s defense capacity. And I am not referring to issues directly linked to the armed struggle. The measures being adopted in the economic and sociopolitical terrains are just as important.
From the grand collective workshop directed by our Chief emerged
solutions at once rational, creative and bold that permitted an
immediate response to many important problems that had concerned us over a long period.
Aware that human beings are the fundamental component of our
defensive power, particular attention has been given to training
personnel. Not only was the instruction for the troops improved. In
just three years, the leaders and civilian officials who have updated
their knowledge of their duties in relation to defense run into the
The military training centers, this Brigade-School where were are
meeting, and other similar ones existing in all the military regions
that make up the three armies, are still playing a decisive role in
attaining that important objective.
Likewise all the defense plans were redrafted, from national level to
the area of defense, to bring them into line with the new realities
and the particularities of each concrete place, based on the new
As has invariably happened throughout our revolutionary history, and
particularly at moments of danger, when mentioning those who made those results possible one cannot separate the military and civilians because, as always, all of us work closely together.
It couldn’t be any other way. The War of All the People is far from
being a simply theoretical concept, it is a daily reality in every
task aimed at strengthening the country’s defense.
Workers from the Ministry of Construction and from the bodies of
People's Power, engineering troops and military construction workers have built hundreds of kilometers of tunnels and other fortified works. Patriots in uniform or out of uniform attached to other
agencies of state central administration have joined efforts to
develop communications and upgrade and manufacture combat means. This last task – with a rational investment of material resources – has translated into a considerable increase in their combat qualities and, above all, making them correspond to the use we foresee giving them, while allowing the reanimation of one part of national industry and demonstrating the significant potential existing in those workers’ collectives.
It has been the same with tasks directed at the country’s economic
and social development. I shall limit myself to mentioning some
notable examples, such as the important contribution of combatants in the Army of Working Youth over the years, the large group of FAR
officers who have contributed to easing the flow of merchandise from
the ports to its destination, or that currently being undertaken by
the military construction enterprises with workers from the Ministry
of Construction and the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources in
the large-scale diversion of rivers in the eastern region and
subsequently in the center of the island, which will make it possible
to move large volumes of water to the regions traditionally most
affected by drought in the provinces of Holguín, Las Tunas and
The important results achieved in the training for the defense of the
country are a new point of departure for continued advances. This is
a task that has demanded and will constantly require years of
sustained effort, maximum when the international situation could be
radically transformed in a matter of days. Once achieved, military
invulnerability can only be maintained with constant improvements.
In the strengthening of the defense capacity, creative workers,
intelligence, the revolutionary morale and awareness of the people
and their leaders at all levels and of all institutions have been
more decisive than resources – which have also become available in a growing form.
ONLY THE COMMUNIST PARTY, AS AN INSTITUTION THAT BRINGS TOGETHER THE REVOLUTIONARY VANGUARD AND IS A SURE GUARANTEE OF CUBAN UNITY IN ALL TIMES, CAN BE THE WORTHY INHERITOR OF THE CONFIDENCE DEPOSITED BY THE
PEOPLE IN ITS LEADER
The 47-plus years that have passed since January 1, 1959, totally
demonstrate that the millions of Cubans prepared to defend the
Revolution to the final consequences are not moved by a passing
enthusiasm or political fanaticism, but a confidence based on the
infallible evidence of time and facts, on the profound conviction
that the road chosen is the correct one, and in undefeatable national
That is the key to our defensive power, to our capacity to resist and
overcome the greatest adversities. The enemy knows that, and for that reason aims its blows at weakening us ideologically. And it does so, above all, with a view to the future, to a scenario that it considers more favorable for its propositions.
We should not forget that they have drawn up a so so-called
transition to capitalism, banking on an end to the Revolution when
its historical leadership is no longer here. For that reason they are
maintaining the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with a designated U.S. administrator and everyone to the front, like in the good old days of the Yankee cannons throughout Latin America.
We are confronting an enemy whose obstinacy and arrogance frequently leads it to commit errors, but that does not mean that it is stupid. It knows that the special confidence given by the people to the
founding leader of a Revolution, is not transmitted, as if it were an
inheritance, to those who occupy the main leadership posts in the
country in the future.
I reiterate what I have affirmed on many occasions: the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution is solely and uniquely the Communist Party, as an institution that brings together the revolutionary vanguard and is a sure guarantee of Cuban unity in all times, can be the worthy inheritor of the confidence deposited by the people in its leader. That is what we are working for and that is how it will be, the rest is pure speculation, not to call it by another name.
Just as we have won all the battles, as much within Cuba as in
fulfilling our internationalist duty, we shall overcome the enemy who
tries to hide within our ranks, we shall further consolidate the
Revolution and we shall make ourselves stronger on all fronts.
Indisputably, circumstances have changed radically in relation to
those existing in July 2003, when the plenary of the Central
Committee that I have already referred to took place.
Whereas at that time, in response to questions asked them or composed surveys, between 90% and 55% of the U.S. population supported the policy of Mr. Bush, at this point in time that figure, at best, is no more than one third of citizens, something that could make even a city councilor quake.
The lightning victory given by the "mission accomplished" in Iraq
three years ago has turned into a maze without a visible way out and
full of mires everywhere. Even Afghanistan, which seemed to be
pacified – at least the principal cities, really the only ones that
they managed to control to a certain extent – are beginning to be
another serious headache for the empire and its allies.
The U.S. economy is hanging more and more on the weak thread of war costs. Add to that the unchecked printing of dollars with which they are trying to counter the growing trade and budget imbalances, any impartial prognosis would point to a debacle sooner or later.
On the other hand, more and more people within the United States are calling for a reassessment of the policy on Cuba, including some
important voices within the U.S. forces.
Without any doubt, it would not seem to be the most appropriate
scenario for undertaking new military adventures, but the lessons of
history must not be forgotten. It would not be the first time that an
imperialist power and, in particular, the United States, has turned
to war as a way of attempting to get out of an internal crisis of any
Neither should we discount the possibility that wounded arrogance or desperation could take them to the insanity of initiating a military
aggression against Cuba, however crazy that might seem to be.
That explains the validity and permanence of what compañero Fidel
stated in the Central report to the 1st Party Congress:
"While imperialism exists, the Party, the state and the people will
lend maximum attention to defense services. The revolutionary guard
must never be neglected. History teaches with too much eloquence that those who forget this principle will not survive the error."
That is how it will be, so that we can always shout in the face of
íViva Cuba libre!