Being in Solidarity with Venezuela

Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the ceremony for the 12th Anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - Treaty of Commerce of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP), and the 22nd Anniversary of the first meeting of Fidel Castro with Hugo Chavez. Palace of Conventions, December 14, 2016, "Year 58 of the Revolution"

By: Juventud Rebelde

Email: digital@juventudrebelde.cu

2016-12-16 | 14:35:43 EST

Dear Comrade Nicolás Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;

Venezuelan companions;

Representatives of the sister nations of ALBA-TCP and other States of Latin America and the Caribbean;

Compatriots:

I will be very brief, as are most of my speeches, in this case not to force my voice, as you will appreciate I have something affected, and yet there is still much to talk about (Applause). I said that there is a lot to talk about and still to fight for in this country (Applause), so my hoarseness might be permanent.

The recent history of Our America summons us today to commemorate several events:

The 22nd anniversary of the first meeting between Commander Hugo Chávez Frías and Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz; the starting point of an infinite friendship and loyalty between the Cuban Revolution and the Bolivarian Revolution.

The 16th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and Venezuela, which laid the foundations for an economic, commercial and cooperation relationship, which has brought great benefits and human experiences for both peoples.

We also celebrated the 12th anniversary of the constitution in Havana of what was first the Alternative and then became the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the People's Trade Treaty; A new form of organization to coordinate and promote the cooperation and development of member states.

From these experiences we can highlight significant and eloquent results:

Four countries were liberated from illiteracy and advanced in schooling of their populations, which is the initial basis for all major revolutionary transformations in any society.

Millions of Latin Americans have received free health services and over one million seven hundred thousand have recovered their sight.

A trade of a new type, fair and complementary, without protectionism began to break through.

Venezuela, in an altruistic attitude, created mechanisms of cooperation and solidarity trade to share part of its oil wealth and to promote integrating socioeconomic transformations in the region, without which many countries would not have been able to withstand the international crisis.

It is imperative today to call on all the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean to be in solidarity with the Bolivarian, anti-imperialist and immensely generous Venezuela to which we are so grateful, the victim at this moment of a great siege and unprecedented hostility on the part of forces historically inimical to progress in our region.

Supporting Venezuela, in an era of offensive oligarchies, imperialism and neoliberalism, also means striving for full emancipation and Latin American and Caribbean integration.

Being in solidarity with Venezuela implies being aware of what could happen in this hemisphere if those who seek to regain the immense wealth of that country and to foment hatred and confrontation, to the detriment of self-determination and peace, to which the heads of state of the region in 2014 commited themselves to, here in Havana, when signing the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

Solidarity, consensus in ideas and unity of action is what the people of Our America need now, in this age of difficulties and growing challenges

Fidel and Chávez mapped out the goals, the ideas and with their imperishable example pointed the way. It is up to us all to make of their legacies the invincible trench for the defence of the American Homeland (Applause).

Martí said: "Venezuela gave me a chance to serve her: she has a son in me." On this memorable date we Cubans ratify: Venezuela, here we are your children!

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