H.E. Mr. Marcus Bergmann, Deputy General Director of the Cultural Section of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria,
Distinguished ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Dear friends of Cuba, compatriots,
On 1 January, 1959, an army of young rebels led by Fidel Castro victoriously entered into the city of Santiago de Cuba - the eastern land that witnessed the birth of the Cuban Revolution. The allegorical images of Sierra Maestra “bearded” men´s triumph and the early morning news stating that Dictator Fulgencio Batista had fled the Island, quickly went around the world. The tyranny had been overthrown.
To Cuba, those images had an even greater significance. The Triumph of the Revolution meant the final regain of the sovereignty and absolute independence of the Homeland to the Cuban people that were thirsty for freedom. It was the culmination of the long effort of the freedom struggles of our people throughout almost 100 years. Dreams began to be transformed into realities and the Cuban people finally became masters of their own destiny.
This was the beginning of the first socialist Revolution in the history of Latin America. It is the deepest and most radical Revolution of our times, a symbol of resistance and dignity, also a symbol of anti-colonialist and national liberation struggles for the real emancipation of peoples.
The Agrarian Reform, the Nationalization of the country´s wealth, the Literacy Campaign, the dignification of the oppressed and the excluded people, and the intense task of creating a "new man" capable of transforming society on the basis of the deepest scientific knowledge, were the first steps of that whirlwind of social justice and dignity that the dawn of 1 January meant.
From that moment on, victory was achieved, but it was necessary to defend it also. We were tried to defeat by every means, from invasions and terrorist actions to the implementation of the cruellest and longest economic, commercial and financial blockade - which persists to this day.
The Cuban Revolution reaches its 60th anniversary in the midst of the process of updating its social-economic model. We know that renewal is the only way to continue under Fidel´s precept: “Revolution is a sense of the historical moment; it is to change everything that must be changed”.
Only a few months ago, last 24 February, the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was proclaimed, with the support of more than 86% of the population. The new Constitution born of a broad process of popular consultation, guarantees the continuity of the Revolution. It is the daughter of its epoch and it reflects our future aspirations to achieve a prosperous, sustainable, inclusive, and participatory socialism.
At present, Cuba is immersed in updating its economic model. As President Díaz-Canel said, we must become the battle for the economy our main struggle. It is imperative to promote foreign investment; to export more; to defend income; to organize the activity of the private sector, but without hindering or slowing down its performance; to make efficient use of the skilled and scientific workforce; to mobilize all the potential to produce more and with greater efficiency; that is the only thing that will allow us to grow.
If there is a Socialist Revolution today in Cuba, if our main leaders have been Fidel and Raúl Castro, if we have an authentic democratic system which is endorsed in our Constitution, and if there is now a change of generation in the leadership of the country that implies the continuity of our political and social project, it is due solely to the decision and the sovereign will of the Cuban people; sufficiently free, educated, and heroic to know how to define their own destiny.
In 60 years, the Cuban Revolution has actively developed its international relations, with solid principles, based on the respect for international law and the United Nations Charter. Cuba is a country of solidarity, pacifism and internationalism; it maintains diplomatic relations with 195 States and actively participates in the United Nations system.
This is an appropriate occasion to recognize the historical bonds of friendship that Cuba and Austria have maintained for 73 years. We recall with satisfaction the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral relations, with the momentous visit to Cuba of the President and dear friend, Dr. Heinz Fischer.
We are also proud of this year´s celebration of the 50th anniversary of ÖKG, the Austria-Cuba Friendship Association which has accompanied and supported the Cuban Revolution almost since its early years. The ÖKG is 50 years old and the Revolution is celebrating its 60th anniversary; we share history, achievements and commitments for the future, which belongs to us, being confident in victory.
We live in confused and tumultuous times. The volatile and unpredictable decisions and actions of the "Trump´s era": his renunciation and disrespect for peace diplomacy and multilateralism, his ignorance of State commitments, his harmful initiatives to the environment, and his aggressive, protectionist, xenophobic and racist discourse have aroused growing global uncertainty.
On 17 April, Trump´s administration itself announced the strict application of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act which dangerously reinforces the extraterritorial nature of the blockade imposed against our people. It is a hostile act of extreme arrogance and irresponsibility, and represents an attack on the international law and on the sovereignty of Cuba and third states.
Six decades later, our small island and the dream of the Cuban Revolution have survived all attempts to subdue it. We are a nation standing firm, conscious of its duty and proud of its history. Here we are, because we have known how to resist these sixty years, and perhaps very few believed it, and perhaps no one in the world could imagine it.
All this resistance has been possible thanks to our people: to their heroism, their patriotism, their fighting spirit, their loyalty, and their revolutionary fervor.
Together we are Cuba. We are continuity.
Long live the Revolution!