Below is an excerpt from the speech presented by Cuban President Raúl Castro at the closing session of the National Assembly of People’s Power in Havana Dec. 27. He discusses the Cuban Assembly’s unanimous decision to enshrine into law Fidel Castro’s wish not to have statues, streets or other public sites named after him. Translation is by the Militant.
Compañeras and compañeros:
In my remarks on Dec. 3 in General Antonio Maceo Grajales Plaza of the Revolution in Santiago de Cuba, I announced the desire of Fidel Castro Ruz, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, that his name and likeness never be used to denote institutions, plazas, parks, avenues, streets or other public sites and that no busts, statues or other similar forms of tribute be erected in his memory.
Today our parliament has enshrined compañero Fidel’s last request in law.
The historic leader of the Cuban Revolution bequeathed us his enduring example and his unwavering optimism and confidence in victory.
In my opinion, and compañero Lazo made a similar point at the opening of this session, the best monument to his ideals and work is to make the outstanding definition of the concept of revolution that he publicly presented on May 1, 2000, a reality every day. These principles have been ratified by millions of Cubans as part of the activities organized to pay well-deserved tribute to someone who never let his people down.
[Castro is referring to the opening section of Fidel’s 2000 speech that concludes the Cuban Revolution “means fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and the world, which is the foundation of our patriotism, our socialism, and our internationalism.” It was signed as a reaffirmation of revolutionary commitment by millions of Cubans after Fidel’s death. That pledge is printed in full in the Dec. 12, 2016, Militant. — Editor]
The speech he gave on Jan. 8, 1959 — on arriving in the capital, at the military camp formerly known as Columbia, now the City of Freedom — was prescient. It was almost 58 years ago today that the Caravan of Liberty triumphantly entered Havana — having left me in charge of the eastern province in Santiago de Cuba, at that time the capital of what are today the five eastern provinces.
I watched his speech on television that evening. Those who are older will remember what it was like, very moving; with the white doves perched on his shoulders, etcetera. I don’t remember well what I am going to read to you, but I do remember how it began: “The joy is immense, but there still is a lot to be done. … We don’t expect that everything will be easier from now on, perhaps it will be more difficult.”
I didn’t remember quite as clearly, however, this other quote that I am going to read, and before saying it here, I looked for the recording, besides what had been written down, and this is how it goes.
He said at that time, and I quote, “I know that never again in our lives will we witness such an outpouring” — he’s referring to his welcome here in Havana and throughout the entire journey — “except on one other occasion. I am sure that there will be multitudes again and that is the day we die, because when they must take us to our graves, that day, as many people will come together as today, because we will never let our people down!” End of quote. (Applause)
Fidel, undefeated, has left us, but his spirit of struggle will remain in the conscience of all Cuban revolutionaries, today, tomorrow and forever, and we will show this in the military parade and march of the combative people on Jan. 2 to mark the 60th anniversary of the heroic uprising in Santiago de Cuba and the landing of the Granma expeditionaries, Revolutionary Armed Forces Day, in honor of the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution and of our youth.
I only have left to say that in a few days we will celebrate one more anniversary of the triumph of the revolution and the advent of the New Year. We extend to our dear Cuban people our warm congratulations.
That is all. (Applause)
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