’The 26th’ of Cuban President Diaz-Canel

Cuban PresidentMiguel Díaz-Canel before 10,000 Granmenses gathered in the Plaza de la Patria of Bayamo this July 26. (@PresidenciaCuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 July 2019 —  The commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks, on July 26th, was the confirmation that Miguel Díaz-Canel is, definitely, the one chosen to remain in command of the country as a stand in for the historical generation.

The president himself implied in his first words, before 10,000 Granmenses gathered in the Plaza de la Patria of Bayamo. “I was wondering how and in whose name I am going to talk to you today, taking into account that in these acts, by tradition, two speeches are always delivered, that of the province where the celebration is held and that of the protagonists of the story.”

He recalled that the central words of all the previous commemorations “have always been the job of Fidel, Raúl, Ramiro Valdés and Machado Ventura.” And he added that it seemed an important detail “that the protagonists of the story, alive, lucid, active in their political leadership” have entrusted him to pronounce the central words of that act.

As has become usual in the revolutionary liturgy of recent years, there were songs with patriotic pretensions, poems, “improvisations” of peasant decimists  (poets) and speeches by an excited little pioneer and an exalted young student. Federico Hernández, member of the Central Committee and first secretary of the Communist Party in the province, made the usual summary of partial successes and deficiencies to be resolved, while summoning those present to resist the aggressions of the empire and to continue in the construction of socialism.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel made the obligatory allusions to history by citing words of Fidel Castro and resuscitatin Ñico López, one of the assailants of the Moncada Barracks later killed after the landing of Granma, “Raúl’s great friend, who occupies a place of honor in his office where there is a photo of the boy with the big black glasses. ”

The president reiterated that the Revolution, which today needs to fight a battle for Defense and the Economy and has to defend itself from the enemy, “requires at the same time that we strengthen in our people punctuality, civicism, the essence of solidarity, social discipline and the sense of public service.”

To draw a portrait of the situation that the country was experiencing in the times before the Moncada assault, he appealed to “a study that the Helms-Burton law causes us to dust off,” carried out by the Catholic University Foundation in 1956 which discusses the need for agrarian reform in the country.

Díaz-Canel, to refute the arguments of those who today are demanding the return of property taken from them without compensation, emphasized the difference between the confiscations carried out against “the embezzlers of the Batista dictatorship” and the nationalizations, “a right that the international community recognizes for all sovereign nations,” although he omitted the detail of the properties seized from thousands of Cuban individuals who were not a part of the Batista dictatorship.

The phrase “No, we understand each other,” taken from a quote by Antonio Maceo during the Baraguá Protest, was repeated rhetorically to refer to the dispute with the United States Government and supposed reconciliation proposals that imply “abandoning friends.”

The leader estimated the economic damage caused to the country by the economic restrictions imposed by the United States on Cuba from March 2018 to April 2019 to be 4.343 billion dollars, although he warned that this data does not include the losses caused by the latest measures of the Donald Trump administration “that limit travel licenses, prohibit cruise ships from docking and reinforce financial restrictions.” He attributed the shortages and lack of spare parts to these phenomena.

Referring to internal affairs and the challenges to be focused on, he mentioned “first of all the economic and military invulnerability of the country, the legal system, the adequate response to whatever internal obstacle exists, be it bureaucratism, insensitivity or corruption that cannot be accepted in socialism.”

Díaz-Canel also referred to the recent increase in salaries that has sparked so much controversy among economists. “Given the old dilemma of raising wages now or waiting for productive results to support these elevations we decided to raise them, not one but several times the value of what was being paid,” he said.

He added: “But to sustain these and all possible social benefit measures, it is necessary to produce more and improve the quality of services. New measures proposed by the people must be approved in the coming weeks and months.”

He did not forget to express solidarity with the Government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela or to condemn those who denounce his excesses. He announced that he will attend the meetings of the Sao Paulo Forum to carry the messages of the Revolution and “strengthen the integration of leftist forces and their mobilization against the imperial offensive that has proposed to break us, divide us and confront us.”

Finally, the three octogenarians who participated as spectators in the act, Raúl Castro, Ramiro Valdés and Machado Ventura went up to  stage the final photo of arms raised in victory. At that same moment, the death of Cardinal Jaime Ortega was announced in Havana and, in Washington, new economic sanctions against Cuba were announced.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.