A gathering was held at the People’s Forum in New York City on July 26, the anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Cuba in 1953, also known as National Rebellion Day. This attack was the spark that ignited the Cuban revolution and was led by the same leaders of the revolution such as Fidel and Raúl Castro, Haydée Santamaría, and others.
Yuri A. Gala López, Cuban Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN gave an address to this gathering to emphasize the importance of the July 26 anniversary and efforts Cuba has made to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and the stranglehold of US unilateral coercive measures. Below are his words:
Today, the main ceremony of the celebration [of National Rebellion Day] took place, in the province of Cienfuegos with the presence of Army General Raul Castro, the leader of the revolution, and Miguel Diaz-Canel, the president of the Republic of Cuba.
A day like today, but in 1953, marked the beginning of a new stage in our nation’s struggle to achieve our true independence. A group of youngsters, like in the picture we saw a couple of minutes before, led by Fidel, sought to find an ultimate solution to the country’s economic and social problems and its heavy dependance on the United States. Although on July 26, 1953, the taking of those barracks was not possible, the actions meant the solidification of a revolutionary movement that never wavered in the struggle until achieving the final victory on January 1, 1959.
These milestones, which we commemorate and which have been declared in Cuba as Cuba’s National Rebellion Day, bring us together to remember those historic events and their views, as well as honoring the bravery and loyalty of that group of young people who embarked on the assault on those barracks. The Moncada attack taught us to turn setbacks into victories, and learn the lesson of perseverance.
It has been said that it is not possible to explain Cuba’s socialism without the reasons that led Fidel to storm the barracks with simple rifles and an arsenal of ideas.
Dear friends, the 1959 victorious revolution continues to endure, and overcome against hostility. It remains strong because our people back in Cuba inherited, throughout history, solid concepts and revolutionary principles from men and women who gave everything for their motherland.
While the United States blockade has been implemented for the past six decades, since 2017, the Cuban people have endured an unparalleled and excessive tightening of that system of unilateral coercive measures. During the Trump administration, more than 240 unilateral measures were adopted against Cuba, and some of them, out of an unprecedented cruelty, as part of the so-called policy of maximum pressure, with a ruthless objective of suffocating sensitive sectors of the Cuban economy, such as foreign trade and tourism. These measures posed and continue to be a huge burden on Cuban families, including through the imposition of serious restrictions on remittances.
In 2020, the then US administration took on the virus as an ally, in its merciless, unconventional war against our country. And tightened the blockade. Those coercive measures remain in force, they are in full practical application under the current US administration, in spite of the fact that a large majority of Americans do support the lifting of the blockade, and the freedom to travel to the island, and that many Cubans living in the United States yearn for normal relations and well-being for their families.
In addition to that, Cuba has also had to face political and communications operations orchestrated from the US territory, supported by a sophisticated technological infrastructure, dedicated to the disinformation or misinformation, slander and smear campaigns. They apply against Cuba the recipes of the unconventional warfare already rehearsed and implemented in other parts of the world with serious human and material costs. Even during this current month of July, they have tried again to force a popular uprising, but they have failed as they did, or as they tried and failed in 2021.
Dear friends, for 29 years, the General Assembly of the United Nations, its most comprehensive and democratic body, has adopted the text of a resolution on the necessity of ending the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba. Throughout these years, the number of countries voting in favor of this resolution has been increasing. The most recent vote took place in June 2021, when 184 countries voted in favor, and only two countries voted against. This shows clearly that the overwhelming majority of member states are in favor of putting an end to the blockade that affects the Cuban nation and has a strong territorial effect as well.
However, year after year, the US government has dismissed that demand of the vast majority of the UN Member States, an attitude that is neither democratic nor ethical. The human damage posed by the blockade cannot be measured. No Cuban family is spared from the effects of this inhumane policy. No one could honestly claim that it does not have a real and very negative impact on our population.
The in-person ceremony today in Cuba to mark the National Rebellion Day is indeed a feat, achieved thanks to the control of the pandemic with our own resources. It should be recalled that within a context of strengthened blockade, Cuba has had to face COVID-19 with very limited resources. But the results are evident. We’ve succeeded in developing highly effective treatments for patients. We have to remember that while, or when the US blockade cruelty, or cruelly prevented the supply of lung ventilators, Cuba had to develop its domestic production with our own prototypes.
And Cuba is today the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to have three anti-COVID vaccines of its own and two vaccine candidates waiting approval. But Cuba is also the first country in the world to have carried out a vaccination campaign in children between the ages of two and 18. I guarantee more than 90% of the Cuban population is fully vaccinated with our own vaccines and more than 60% of that population have already gotten a booster dose.
We also make our humble contribution to other countries in a manner consistent with our international vocation. In fact, when the slanderous campaign of the United States administration against our medical cooperation intensified amidst the pandemic, Cuba sent 57 specialized brigades of the Henry Reeve International Contingent to 40 countries or territories to join over 28,000 health professionals already providing services in 59 nations at that time.
Cuba makes an effort not only to survive, which is difficult, but we also make efforts to continue to make headway in all possible areas. For example, in recent days the National Assembly of the People’s Power met and approved the new Family Code, an indispensable legislation for the Cuban society, which in September will be submitted to a referendum so that the people can vote on it. We want to commemorate and to actually give thanks to those scientists, professors, academicians and people who actually contributed to the design, to the conceptualization of that important document, and more importantly, to those who are on the streets explaining to the Cuban population what the family code is all about.
In the sections of the National Assembly, important measures in economic matters were also announced. Our role, dear friends, has not been easy, will not be easy, as you know. But Cuba, as our president said this morning, will not stop. In that battle, the face of Cuba in the United States and in every corner of the world, is essential and represents a bulwark for the resistance of the Cuban people in their defense of their sovereignty.
It is you, our dear friends, the ones who stand up and resolutely call for the end of the unjust blockade against Cuba, in every possible space. It is you who carry out our just call for justice to every community. That is why we will always be grateful to you.
Countless will be the challenges and even greater the threats that will put to the test the tenacity and determination of Cubans. But we will always be accompanied by the example of struggle of those young people who stormed the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks. The unshakeable ideas and the faith in victory that our commander in chief, Fidel Castro, always had, and the symbolism of the “Yes we can!” proclaimed by Army General Raul Castro.
So allow me to conclude my remarks by recalling words of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel who stated just a few days ago the following, and I quote, “They want to stop this country. Well, we are not stuck and we are not going to stop. Our alternative is clear, and it will never be capitulation. We will not surrender, nor will we let ourselves be defeated.”
So join me in expressing aloud: “Let Cuba live!” (“Let Cuba live!”)
Also join me in saying, “Long live the solidarity movement with Cuba in the United States!” (Viva!)
Viva la revolución cubana! (Viva!) Viva el 26 de julio! (Viva!) Venceremos! (Venceremos!)