Friday, April 30, 2021

Guilty on All Charges: Chauvin, Cops and the Racist System


April 28, 2021 

Guilty on All Charges: Chauvin, Cops and the Racist System – Fighting Words (

Minneapolis crowd reacts to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict. | Photo: Carlos Barria / Reuters

By  Abayomi Azikiwe

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three counts of murder in the brutal death of 47-year-old African American George Floyd.

The jury impaneled in the historic case only deliberated 11 hours prior to reaching a unanimous conclusion that it was the action of Chauvin and other police officers which caused the untimely demise of Floyd, who had been shopping earlier in a neighborhood store.

Police initially reported that Floyd died due to a medical emergency. This same line of argument was articulated by the defense lawyer in a failed effort to absolve his client of murder.

Despite the videotaped murder of Floyd which was viewed by billions of people throughout the world, Chauvin pled not guilty requiring a trial. Many governments, media agencies, popular organizations and interested individuals followed the hearings with intense anticipation.

These proceedings are rare within the context of the United States legal system. More often than not, law-enforcement personnel are routinely absolved of culpability when their interactions with civilians result in serious injury and death.

After the widely publicized police killing of Floyd, people rose up in anger and rebellion in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as well as throughout the U.S. The response was in fact global when outrage over the blatant violation of Floyd’s civil and human rights spread to continents across the world. The plight of George Floyd became a rallying cry for those committed to ending racism, national oppression and all forms of injustice.

Within the U.S. last summer, people took to the streets both nonviolently and violently. Cities many miles away from Minneapolis, such as Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Portland, Oakland, Los Angeles, among others, saw mass demonstrations which attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.

Floyd’s murder prompted a fierce debate surrounding the origins and character of policing in the U.S. Once again there was the recognition that policing in the U.S. directed towards African Americans is a continuing remnant of the period of enslavement. The character of law-enforcement practices is often the first entry by the oppressed and the working class to the prison-industrial complex.

African Americans and people of Latin American descent are disproportionately represented in instances of racial profiling, arrests, convictions and imprisonment. Black and Brown populations constitute over 50% of all those incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. Clearly, in viewing these statistics, it becomes quite obvious that the criminal justice system is designed to contain these oppressed peoples in an effort to maintain white supremacy and capitalist class rule.

In response to the guilty verdicts, the family of George Floyd along with millions of others felt a sense of jubilation that justice had been done. The sister of Floyd, LaTonya, said of the situation:

“I feel like heaven is standing on my shoulders. My brother got justice, and that’s very rare. He didn’t deserve that. He didn’t deserve none of that. I just miss him so much. I am so hurt right now, but I am so happy. When I watch this man get handcuffed in court behind his back, just like he did my brother, he is not in control anymore. He has no power. But my brother does. My brother does.”

Hundreds were gathered outside the courthouse and the Cup Foods store where Floyd was murdered eagerly awaiting the announcement of the jury’s decision. People around the U.S. and internationally breathed a sigh of relief feeling that some semblance of justice was served to Floyd and his family.

Police Killings Continue Around the U.S.

While the verdict against Chauvin was being read, police in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a 16-year-old African American teen named Ma’Khia Bryant. Police claim that Bryant was holding a knife and threatening another woman. A video of the incident was released the following day on April 21 by the Columbus police and city administration.

As usual, the police and city rulers are attempting to justify the shooting death of this young person. Demonstrations erupted in the aftermath of the death of Bryant while people all over the U.S. were compelled to think that the conviction of Chauvin will not prevent future incidents of this nature.

Other police killings have been reported in recent days leading up to and after the Chauvin verdicts. Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old youth in Chicago was gunned down while his hands were up facing the officer who took his life. Police in this instance said that Toledo had been carrying a gun. Yet the video released by the police and the city administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, illustrates that the teenager was not holding a weapon at the time of the discharge of the police officer’s firearm.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, at Austin-East Magnet High School, 17-year-old Anthony J. Thompson, Jr. was killed by police in what was described as a confrontation with law-enforcement officers on April 16. The Knoxville police claimed that Thompson fired one shot and that they responded with two rounds killing the teenager. Protesters gathered outside the Knoxville police station on the following day demanding that the video cam of the police officers involved be released to the public.

Detroit police reported on April 18 and April 20 that they had killed two people in separate incidents. Police Chief James Craig as normal immediately declared the killings as being justifiable homicide. The names of the individuals gunned down were not released by the authorities or the corporate media which typically defends the police in such incidents.

The Detroit police are being sued by local anti-racist activists for brutality and false arrests during mass demonstrations during the summer of 2020 in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and later Hakim Littleton, a 20-year-old was killed by law-enforcement in July. The Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy has refused to file charges against police in the Littleton killing, saying the cops were justified in shooting the youth in the head while he was already subdued.

On April 21, police, while serving a search warrant in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, shot dead Andrew Brown, Jr., who was unarmed. The local authorities in the North Carolina city of 18,000 have not released much information on the death of Brown saying the case is under investigation while the officer involved has been placed on paid leave.

And on the morning of April 19, in Alameda, California, the Alameda Police killed unarmed 26 year old Mario Arenales Gonzales, after police responded to a couple of “Karen” reports of a man “under the influence”. Police claim that Gonzales suffered from “a medical emergency” as they took him into custody. This was the same initial claim of the Minneapolis PD immediately after their murder of George Floyd! The police have yet to publish any body cam video. There was a vigil held the evening of 4/21 at the park where he was killed. Cat Brooks, of the Anti Police-Terror Project, said at the vigil:

“Reporters called me yesterday, wanting me to celebrate the verdict. I’m happy for the Floyd family, but 20 minutes later I got the word about Mah’Kia, and right behind that, the word about Mario.”

Brooks called out DA Nancy O’Malley, who has only charged on killer cop in her 10 year tenure, and this only after the passage in 2019 of the California Act to Save Lives obligated her to do so. Said Brooks

“I want us to use the power of the streets. We got to know the policies we could pass. We got to leverage those”.

The U.S. System of Law-enforcement and Criminal Justice Must be Dismantled 

Not only are people around the U.S. demanding the defunding of the police, calls for their abolition are growing among significant segments of the African American, Latin American and other sectors of the population. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of the 13th District in metropolitan Detroit drew the ire of the police by issuing a statement demanding the end of policing as we know it in the U.S.  Chief Craig soon called a press conference where he said the Congresswoman, who is a Palestinian American, should leave her office from which she was duly elected.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition and its allies later issued a statement calling for Craig’s resignation saying he was a holdover from emergency management illegally imposed by the-then Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the right-wing legislature in Lansing at the aegis of the banks on the majority African American city during 2013-2014. Craig is now an appointee of the corporate-oriented Mayor Mike Duggan who has designated 30% of the municipal budget to the police. Moratorium NOW! Coalition wants the police budget slashed to fund education, city services and mental health centers.

An announcement on April 21 by the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland said the division is conducting a review of the Minneapolis Police Department in the aftermath of the guilty verdict against Derrick Chauvin, saying the administration of President Joe Biden wants to determine whether the policies of law-enforcement are guided by racial bias. It is quite obvious from looking at arrest records in Minneapolis, noting that African Americans are detained at a rate of 300% percent above their numbers within the population which is just 19%, suggest strongly that racism is an important factor.

Until the issue of racist policing and the prison-industrial-complex is resolved there will be no peace in the U.S. A total political, economic and social overall of the capitalist system is required to end the national oppression and class exploitation of the majority of people inside the country and indeed around the world. 

Biden Administration Strikes Deal with Mexico and Central America


April 16, 2021 

Biden Administration Strikes Deal with Mexico and Central America – Fighting Words (

By Abayomi Azikiwe

A crisis of migration into the United States from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras has resulted in negotiations by the White House with the governments of these countries aimed at preventing people from crossing the southern border.

During the month of March, a record number of migrant workers and children attempted to enter the U.S. while many are being housed in overcrowded and unsafe detention facilities in Texas.

The administration of President Joe Biden announced on April 12 that after discussions with the governments of the above-mentioned states, the military and police forces in Mexico and Central America would strengthen their prevention efforts to halt migrants from these respective countries. After the exposure of the horrid conditions under which children and adults were living after being captured and detained by U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP), the president appointed Vice President Kamala Harris as the point person for resolving the immediate situation.

Nonetheless, it is not clear whether these new measures will halt the flow of people trying to cross the border. The ongoing problems of social underdevelopment, climate change and the domination of Latin American economies by U.S. imperialism will still prompt millions to leave their countries to seek what they believe to be prospects for employment and security. The problem of migration and the dangers inherent in the transport of human beings by traffickers, is a worldwide phenomenon stretching from Central Asia to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Moreover, many seeking to cross into the U.S. are not from Mexico and Central America. There are growing numbers of people from Africa and other geo-political regions which have made their ways to Brazil, Colombia and Panama as a transit route into the U.S.

Recent reports on the foreign policy orientation of the Biden administration in relationship to this burgeoning political problem places the onus of responsibility on the neighboring states without addressing the fundamental orientation of Washington towards Latin America which has been centuries in the making. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed the new deal in a briefing on April 12.

An article summarizing the Biden administration approach says that:

“The agreements, which Psaki said were reached over the last several weeks, aim ‘to make it more difficult to make the journey’ for migrants hoping to reach the United States, and to make crossing borders more difficult.  Mexico agreed to keep 10,000 troops along its southern border, which officials believe will result in twice as many migrant interdictions per day. Guatemala agreed to send an additional 1,500 police and military officers to its southern border and will also establish 12 checkpoints along identified migratory routes across the country. Honduras will send 7,000 police and military to ‘disperse a large contingent of migrants,’ Psaki said. The news of the border agreements between the four countries was first revealed by Tyler Moran, special assistant to the President for immigration for the Domestic Policy Council, on MSNBC Monday morning.”

Consequently, the thrust of the Biden administration is to further militarize the southern border along with the security apparatuses of these targeted states. The responsibility for curbing migration is being shifted to the governments of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras where U.S. economic and political policies have been detrimental to the workers and farmers of these countries. The blatant interference in the internal affairs of these states coupled with a series of trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during the 1990s and the revised version altered under the former administration of President Donald Trump, have devastated their national economies.

A Militarized Approach to a Crisis of Underdevelopment

Psaki said clearly during the April 12 briefing at the White House that the purpose of the new policy is to make the journey and border crossing more difficult for migrants seeking to flee from human rights abuses, food deficits and lack of the ability to earn a living. Providing incentives for the police and military forces of these three countries heightens the potential for migrants to be subjected to brutality and extortion. There have been complaints over the years related to the excesses of the security forces in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

Even if the migrants are able to cross the border and elude the CBP agents, they continue to be hunted down by the authorities. Thousands now are being held in facilities which violate even the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulations on curbing the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. is experiencing a surge in coronavirus infections causing even more distress for healthcare systems where intensive care units of hospitals are rapidly filling up with patients suffering from the disease.

The Guardian newspaper noted in regard to the current situation involving U.S. policy which emphasizes a punitive approach saying:

“Previously militarized attempts to prevent movement in the region have not reduced the number of people traveling north through Mexico, but instead forced migrants to take riskier routes through remote regions, and exposed them to a heightened risk of robbery, rape, abduction and death. Mexicans represented the largest proportion of people encountered by the U.S. border patrol, and nearly all were single adults. Arrivals of people from Honduras and Guatemala were second and third, respectively, and more than half of the people from those countries were families or children traveling alone.”

Figures supplied by the U.S. government reveal that 4,200 children are being held in custody by the CBP. Another 16,000 are being housed in federal shelters administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal laws prohibit unaccompanied children from being detained by CBP authorities for more than 72 hours.

Since February 22, the Biden White House has announced the opening of 8 emergency influx sites for children in the state of Texas. These facilities have a capacity to hold up to 14,000 children.

Prospects for Legislative Reforms

Even though the numbers of migrant adults and children seeking to enter the U.S. has grown exponentially over the last three months, it remains unclear as to whether the Senate will adopt the two immigration reform bills passed recently by the House of Representatives. The Dream and Promise Act of 2021 and The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides a complicated model for the “legalization” of those brought to the U.S. as children and those who work in the agricultural sector of the U.S. economy.  The stalemate surrounding these issues extends back for more than a decade. ( (

During the administration of former President George W. Bush, Jr. (2001-2009), the introduction of punitive legislation against immigrants served to spark a nationwide movement led by people from Latin America and other geo-political regions. There were “Days Without Immigrants” beginning in 2006, when millions struck demanding an end to draconian laws and the brutality of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, a key division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The resurrection of May Day during 2006-2007, mobilized millions across the country under the banner of justice for migrants, the undocumented and workers in general.

With the passing of the Bush administration, President Barack Obama in his first term (2009-2013) earned a reputation as a fierce enforcer of the existing racist immigration laws directed towards the undocumented. Entire communities were terrorized by ICE agents when raids were carried out on workplaces and homes often leaving children unattended. The Obama administration deported more people from the U.S. than any previous presidential regime in U.S. history. Although there were discussions during 2012 about passing an immigration bill, the details of the plan represented a retreat from the gains made as a result of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Biden was repeatedly questioned during the 2019-2020 campaign for the presidency about the nature of the immigration policy enacted while he was Vice President. At present there does not appear to be any fundamental differences in the Biden policy other than a pledge not to deport unaccompanied children. Nevertheless, the actual harm done to minors living in detention facilities and temporary shelters could damage them for life. However, children accompanied by adult migrants are being prevented from entering the U.S. and being returned to Mexico in the thousands.

Voter Suppression and the Amazon “NO” Vote

April 29, 2021 

An Amazon-sponsored billboard in Bessemer, Ala. | Photo: Elijah Nouvelage

By David Sole

The eyes of millions of workers and all the big bankers and bosses were fixed on Bessemer, Alabama over the past several months. Around 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers had been organizing to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and become the first Amazon facility in the United States to have a union. On April 9 the results of the counting of the mail-in ballot were announced. The workers had voted two to one against joining the union.

With a workforce of well over half a million Amazon poses a great challenge to the labor movement. For decades unions have been losing ground across the United States. A victory at Bessemer might have signaled a turning point for the improvement of wages and working conditions across the board.

Bosses on the other hand, not just at Amazon, were fearful that their ruthless exploitation of low wage workers might come to an end if the Bessemer workers were successful and the idea of a union caught fire.

There are many articles from pro-union observers trying to explain “what went wrong at Amazon.” This type of analysis may be helpful to future organizing drives that are sure to break out in any number of workplaces. But most of them are missing the fundamental point – union drives under current capitalist labor law massively favor the bosses. Voter suppression is in the news now in relation to the attempt to keep millions of people from casting ballots in local, state and national elections. But suppression of workers in the workplace has been perfected over many decades to favor the interests of the exploiting capitalist class.

For many decades advocating a union was a criminal conspiracy. As early as 1876 railroad workers faced bayonets, bullets of federal troops and court injunctions when they went on strike. Ten years later the nationwide strike for the 8 hour day saw workers gunned down at the McCormick Reaper Factory in Chicago. Leaders of that movement were railroaded to the gallows for speaking at a protest rally at Haymarket Square.

U.S. labor history is written in the blood of workers, sometimes victorious, often defeated, in their fight for a union. In 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, three great labor battles erupted and workers defeated the bosses. The San Francisco longshore workers won victory with a general strike. Toledo Auto-Lite workers fought the national guard with support from masses of unemployed supporters. And the Teamsters in Minneapolis beat back repeated attacks to win. Finally in 1937 the great Flint sit-down strike defeated powerful General Motors, the national guard and the fascist Black Hand vigilantes to gain union recognition.

Unionization spread like wild-fire in many different industries and workshops. The bosses never forgot or forgave the working class for handing them these defeats that cut into their profits for decades.

But the capitalists couldn’t just use their old iron fist tactics. To keep from having battles that they couldn’t win and that might turn into revolutionary struggles beyond the workplace, a system was set up to defeat the militant energy of the working class by tying them up in long, drawn out, regulated union elections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The NLRA became law in 1935. It recognized the right of workers to form unions and engage in collective bargaining in the private sector. Collective action such as strikes was legalized and it banned many “unfair labor practices” by employers. A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was set up to regulate, investigate and enforce the act.

The entire process, supposedly to help workers and the unions, really favored the bosses. The remedy for violations of the law by a boss was for the workers to file charges with the NLRB. Then an investigation would take place. If substantiated by the investigation the case would go before a labor judge. In fact the entire process could take months and years. Even then a decision might be taken on appeal to the regular courts, causing much longer delays.

The NLRB also was given the authority to carry out elections at workplaces that met certain requirements. Previously workers had gone on strike to fight for and win union recognition as was the case in the pivotal years of 1934 and 1937. Now the process was drawn out.

The bosses waited only 12 years to pass new legislation to weaken the unions. In 1947 the Taft-Hartley Act was made law with the support of both Republicans and Democrats. It targeted unions with a host of unfair labor practices and prohibitions.

Of course the biggest weapon of an employer was inside the workplace itself. Workers were captive audiences to anti-union propaganda during union organizing drives. An entire industry arose of companies specializing in defeating union campaigns. One of the biggest weapons to keep out the union (or beat back gains made in places that had a union) was to threaten the workers that their workplace would be shut down and all of them lose their jobs if they voted union.

In the case of these Amazon workers the balloting process took about 6 weeks. The RWDSU had faced all the obstacles but lost the election. The union has announced that it is bringing charges against Amazon for many unfair labor practices which will take years to be processed. Justice delayed, however, is justice denied.

An article from Slate magazine describes billionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’s “police state” at Bessemer:

When workers started organizing in Bessemer, the company immediately hired anti-union consultants, to the tune of over $10,000 a day, to create a climate of fear and intimidation. The company papered the warehouse, including bathroom stalls, with anti-union propaganda and sent workers daily text messages pushing them to vote “No.” Workers’ every move is tracked through workstation cameras and mobile apps. As Rep. (and former labor organizer) Andy Levin explained, Amazon’s goal isn’t to persuade people to vote “No.” It’s to “create so much pressure, anxiety, and fear” that workers “feel they have no choice but to vote NO, like someone crying uncle when they have been threatened relentlessly for days, weeks, and months.” But unless the barrage of anti-union messaging contains clear threats of retaliation, it’s probably legal—even if any worker knows that the implied message is that being pro-union could cost them their jobs. Meanwhile, employers can legally bar pro-union workers from talking about the union and building support at their place of work.

None of the gains for the working class in the United States came from the courts or halls of Congress alone. They all originated and were driven forward by mass, militant action. Unions, Civil Rights, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights didn’t wait for capitalist class to have a change of heart. These and other progressive measures came first and foremost from movements in the streets and workplaces. That is where the strength of our class resides.

The conviction of killer cop Derek Chauvin was the result of months of revolutionary protest and rebellion across this country. That is where the millions of low paid, over-exploited and unorganized workers need to look for inspiration. Young workers and workers from the oppressed communities can, and will, lead the way to a new wave of unionization and progress.

Rally in Manitowoc, WI Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


April 26, 2021 

Rally in Manitowoc, WI Honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 2021. | Photo: 

By Fighting Words Staff

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered while supporting sanitation workers in Memphis, TN,  April 4, 1968. MLK Day Manitowoc, an organization that organizes events on the MLK Day in rural Manitowoc, WI, is a diverse array of labor and community organizations and individuals. On April 5, 2021, they honored Dr. King’s legacy by joining together in unity and opposing all manifestations of hate – from Manitowoc to Georgia – against people of color, workers, women and the LGBTQ community.

The press release announcing the event stated:

“We will be joining together in the spirit of Dr. King who once said: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ We will not be silent. We will not be demoralized. We will not be turned around by hate. We will build unity, hope, peace, love and social justice!

“We will not stand down to the old or new Jim Crow!”

About 50 people attended the event which received extensive coverage in the local media.

Shackling of Aged Inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal, is Deplorable – UN Experts


April 25, 2021 

USA: Shackling of aged inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal, is deplorable – UN experts – Fighting Words (

By United Nations Human Rights Commission

GENEVA (20 April 2021) – UN human rights experts* expressed serious concerns about the treatment and welfare of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American man who has been in jail for 40 years in Pennsylvania, and is reportedly shackled to his hospital bed. Mr. Abu-Jamal had already been shackled to his bed during a four-day hospitalization in late February while being treated for heart failure.

Mr. Abu-Jamal has been denied visits from his family and access to his lawyers and spiritual advisor after being admitted to an undisclosed hospital around 10 April, where he will reportedly undergo surgery. “This ongoing and continuing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, including deliberate disregard of his dignity and inhumane conditions of confinement, is a clear violation of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s most fundamental rights,” the experts added. Neither his family nor lawyers have been informed of his medical condition and treatment.

“The use of shackles during his hospital stays is deplorable, and causes Mr. Abu-Jamal additional and unnecessary suffering,” said the experts. “International standards on the treatment of prisoners clearly stipulate that instruments of restraint are to be imposed only when no lesser form of control would be effective to address the risks posed by unrestricted movement.”

As well as a chronic heart condition, Mr. Abu-Jamal, now 67, suffers cirrhosis of the liver caused by Hepatitis C, hypertension and a severe skin condition. In late February, he was also diagnosed with COVID-19.

“We are concerned that the medical condition of Mr. Abu-Jamal could be linked to years of medical neglect by the Department of Corrections of the state of Pennsylvania,” the experts said. “This situation may also be the result of racial discrimination against people of African descent by prison and state authorities.

“We call on the authorities to take all urgent measures to protect the physical integrity, life and dignity of Mr. Abu-Jamal, in line with international human rights obligations.

“Communication and access for Mr. Abu-Jamal’s family and advisors should immediately be restored with Mr. Abu-Jamal and with all relevant personnel involved in his health and conditions of confinement. The state must also immediately cease withholding information and access relevant to monitoring the status of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s human rights.

“We also call on the authorities to urgently address allegations of discrimination, including racial discrimination, in the medical treatment of prisoners in Pennsylvania, and to take all necessary measures to protect the physical integrity and life of all detainees, in particular older prisoners and prisoners with disabilities who seem to have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” the experts added.

Mr. Abu-Jamal, a former activist and journalist, was charged with the murder of a police officer in 1981. He denies the charges.

The experts have written to the Government to express their concerns.

*The experts: Ms. Dominique DAY (Chairperson), Mr. Ahmed REID , Mr. Michal BALCERZAK , Mr. Sabelo GUMEDZE , Mr. Ricardo A. SUNGA III, Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent, Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health, Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: United States of America

For more information and media requests , please contact Christina Saunders ( or

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Jeremy Laurence ( or Renato de Souza ( +41 22 928 9855 /

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Illegal Evictions Continue Despite CDC Moratorium

April 19, 2021 

Detroit demonstration against illegal evictions on April 10, 2021

By Fighting Words Staff

There was another demonstration in downtown Detroit outside police headquarters on Saturday, April 10, 2021. People gathered to rally and march against illegal evictions carried out with the assistance of Detroit law-enforcement personnel.

Several African American women spoke at the gathering saying they were victims of slumlords who swindled and harassed them. These women were then forcefully thrown out of their rental homes and robbed.

After the opening rally, the crowd marched through sections of downtown passing key landmarks in the housing crisis including Quicken Loans and the Wayne County Treasurer. The action was co-sponsored and endorsed by many organizations such as Detroit Will Breathe, Detroit Eviction Defense and the Moratorium NOW! Coalition.

Demonstration on the 2nd Precinct in Detroit

Just five days later there was a demonstration scheduled on Thursday, April 15 outside the 2nd Precinct on the westside of Detroit.

The action was in response to a threatened illegal eviction by police against the Bohanen family, a multi-generational household which was swindled by unscrupulous slumlords. Negotiations were underway before the scheduled Noon demonstration between Attorney Joe McGuire of Detroit Eviction Defense (DED) on behalf of the Bohanen family and police officials along with City of Detroit appointees.

An agreement was reached between the real estate agent representing the owners and the Bohanen family to allow them to remain for 30 days. City officials claim that they will assist through a municipal program to find the Bohanens another stable rental home.

This incident represents a widespread phenomenon in the city where many families are being subjected to illegal evictions after being robbed by scam artists exploiting the economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although police officials said they do not conduct evictions, there are many documented cases over the last several months which contradicts their assertion.

Demonstrations were held at the 10th precinct during the winter dealing with this same issue. The state of Michigan is leading the United States in rates of coronavirus infections.

Representatives of DED, Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and Moratorium NOW! Coalition were present at the gathering outside the 2nd precinct.

Although a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium remains in force until September, many landlords across the country are ignoring the measure and continue to throw out tenants amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There are reports of evictions from many areas of the country from California to New York state.

Moreover, the current crisis provides openings for unscrupulous persons and groupings who are defrauding tenants desperate for housing. Police agencies and the courts have, on numerous occasions, carried out the wishes of slumlords and criminals leaving working class people without a legal recourse.

Independent organizations committed to housing justice are escalating their activism aimed at halting all evictions during this critical period.

Wisconsin Peoples’ Power Summit JUNE 11-12

April 19, 2021 

Wisconsin Peoples’ Power Summit – Fighting Words (

Press Release


For more information contact: Briony Smith

(732) 672-2162

People’s Power Summit to Build Community Power!

Community members from throughout Wisconsin will be gathering for a two day People’s Summit in June, 2021 to build power!

MANITOWOC, Wis., April 13, 2021 – Community members from across Wisconsin and throughout the country will be gathering in Maribel, WI on June 11 and 12 for a two day People’s Power Summit event. The event will be a chance to continue building a mutually empowering network of progressive organizations and community members and will feature cultural events, local artists, workshops, and more. The public is invited to attend but individuals must register at the Facebook page. Suggested donation is $15.

Things are already bad — and they are about to get a lot worse if we don’t fight back and build our people power! The summer uprisings of 2020 have demonstrated what the people are capable of when mobilized. The people must be prepared to build diverse alliances to defend ourselves against the life-threatening and ever-intensifying economic and social misery that Wall Street and its politicians are imposing on us, including endless war, the senseless murder of Black and Brown people by the state, and almost no relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The People’s Power Summit is an independent initiative to fight for the rights of the poor and working people, including jobs, education, housing, food security, and healthcare. We struggle against racism, sexism, and low wages. We oppose war and U.S. interventions abroad. We support the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter, the Indigenous, immigrant rights, family farmers, and unions. We fight for the environment and believe Water IS Life. We are building our power!

This event will be family friendly. Social distancing and masking is required. The People’s Power Summit will take place from Friday, June 11, 2021 starting at 4 PM CDT and will conclude Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 10 PM CDT in Maribel, Wisconsin. More details about the full schedule will be forthcoming.

For more details and to register, visit

Partners: MLK Day Manitowoc, Crusaders of Justicia, Ebony Vision, Food Not Bombs Fox Valley, Moratorium Now Coalition, People’s Alliance – Bay Area, Justice For Jonathon Tubby, Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement, People’s United Front (List In Formation).

Colombia: A Glimpse into a Sad Reality


April 16, 2021 

Colombia: A Glimpse into a Sad Reality – Fighting Words (

Protest in Bogota, Colombia of the massive assassinations. | Photo: Pablo Serrano

By Alice Loaiza

When people ask me if it is safe to visit Colombia, I always answer that it is fine if you don’t speak Spanish and stay on the well-guarded tourist trail. But you will never see the reality of one of the poorest countries in Latin America. You will never see the mass displacement of communities or the murders committed by paramilitaries and military or the police beating people in the streets.

Indepaz, a Colombian peace organization, recorded eleven massacres in 2021. One of the last was in the small town of Tarazá, Antioquia, where three young men were gunned down by the Golf Clan, one of the largest paramilitary groups in the country. Before that, there was a massacre in Tibú, Norte de Santander, where paramilitaries entered a farm and killed three of the ten or so people gathered there. After the Tarazá massacre, paramilitaries displaced about 80 families from the nearby villages of El Socorro and El Seis. (Justice for Colombia, 2021). It is said there is a murder by drug lords, paramilitary, army, or police every other day in Colombia.

Social leaders, indigenous, and Afro-Colombians are often targeted, especially if their community speaks up for its communal rights. Wherever there are massacres, displacement of families follows, and the lands are usually occupied by the perpetrators. Mass protests are continuous, but the government ignores them. When thousands of indigenous people called a minga and marched to Bogotá in October last year to denounce the systematic assassination of land defenders and community leaders, President Duque refused to meet with them.

Since the Peace Accord was signed by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) in 2016, there has been much state and paramilitary violence against community leaders, human rights defenders, and former guerillas. Indepaz reports that at least 375 people were assassinated in 90 massacres in 2020 alone. 253 demobilized FARC guerillas have been killed since 2017. The assassins are mostly paramilitaries who are covertly backed by the right-wing government, landowners, the churches, and the illegal drug trade. These forces in turn are guided indirectly by the policies and practices of the US.

Before the accords, government atrocities included “false positives,” wherein the military killed civilians and claimed they were combatants just to increase the body count. Last month, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace, a court created under the peace agreements between the FARC insurgents and the government, concluded that between 2002 and 2008 the Colombian army extrajudicially killed more than 6,400 civilians, almost three times the number of “false positives” previously reported by the government.

The US has many reasons to continue its decades long domination of Colombia and support for its government. Colombia is a strategically placed country touching both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. And Colombia does dirty work for the US. For example, recently several failed coup attempts in Venezuela were orchestrated by Colombia, and Colombia pursues a media war throughout Latin America against Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other progressive governments and movements.

As a new member of NATO, Colombia now trains mercenaries, police, and military forces of other countries, including those used as US proxies in Central America and elsewhere. Integration with US imperial strategy is evidenced by the growing number of US military bases in Colombia and the schooling of all top Colombian military officials at the US School of the Americas (now WHINSEC). Further, Simón Trinidad, leading peace negotiator for the FARC EP, was extradited to the United States in 2004 and tried for drug trafficking and holding hostages. Trinidad, now 70, was convicted of the hostage charges and sentenced to 60 years, in an unjust criminalization of popular resistance to a murderous regime.

Yet Colombians have never stopped struggling. There has been something of a permanent national strike since 2019, with constant street protests in spite of COVID-19. These protests face one of the more brutal police forces in the world, called the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (ESMAD), created by the US. In Bogotá on September 9 of last year, ESMAD forces killed more than ten people and injured hundreds.

The Colombian social movements made up of workers, students, peasants, indigenous and Afro-Colombia communities, support the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the FARC guerilla and the democratic political process that was supposed to allow the social movements to organize and the FARC and others to participate in elections without having their leaders and candidates massacred. They seek a better life for the great majority of their fellow citizens and a sovereign Colombia, rather than the country it is now, subject to the political, economic, and military dictates of the US.

US intervention in Colombia has made it a permanent war zone, a country which exists for the interests of the US, a pawn to further control and dominate the entire Americas. So, when people ask me if it is safe to travel to Colombia, I might answer as I explained in the first sentence of this article. But if you really want to see and know Colombia, don’t go as a tourist. Instead, go there to accompany the people in their communities and learn about their struggles.

Sources: Al Jazeera 2/23/21;; 6/5/20

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan


April 16, 2021

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan – Fighting Words (

U.S. needs massive infrastructure investment

U.S. needs massive infrastructure investment. | Photo:

By David Sole

On March 31 President Joseph Biden unveiled a two trillion dollar plan to modernize the infrastructure of the United States.. Does the U.S. need such an updating of its infrastructure? Most professional observers and ordinary people would strongly agree.

The U.S., consumed with endlessly increased military spending, has long neglected the upkeep and modernization of the “underlying foundation or basic framework” of the nation []. Domestically this neglect endangers the health and safety of the population and overall economic productivity. Internationally it economically degrades the position of the United States in relation to other countries.

Biden’s ambitious proposal faces many hurdles before it can become law. It immediately has exposed the difficulties imposed by the capitalist system in charge of this country

The Republican Party politicians, locked into “opposition at all costs,” were predictably hostile. The plan offers a massive expenditure that has a broad definition of infrastructure. It includes the traditional aspects of deteriorating roads and bridges, old water supply systems and rail systems. But it also aims to update and expand wireless broadband service from coast to coast and even expand childcare opportunities.

Die hard Republicans immediately demanded that funds only be channeled to the narrow “roads and bridges” view of infrastructure. Their outlook has no vision and is dominated by the desire to enrich those who already get big construction funding.

A greater threat is the inevitable fighting among the various industries who, like pigs at the trough, want the most they can gobble up. This is the nature of capitalism where “the executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” [Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto]. The bosses and bankers can be united and decisive when it comes to exploiting and suppressing workers and oppressed people. But they will fight each other furiously to improve their position in the economy. The sight of trillions of dollars in juicy contracts will bring on a violent scramble.

Who is going to pay for this?

Of course the money must be borrowed by the government. Such a large sum is not readily at hand for the spending. The billionaire class will buy up the bonds as long as they feel assured that the debt will be paid off with appropriate interest in a timely manner. In the end that requires taxes be levied – but on whom?

Biden, in a populist manner, called for an increase in taxes on the corporations – from 21% maximum to 28%. What isn’t said is that the maximum tax rate was at 51% in 1951 and remained in that range until Reagan slashed it to 34% in 1988. Trump cut it to 21% in 2018.

Income taxes were not originally applied to workers’ paychecks. The Revenue Act of 1942, an emergency measure to help pay for the U.S. fighting World War II, almost doubled the number of taxpayers. Payroll deduction began then and, of course, it never ended for poor and working people.

In the 1950’s corporate taxation made up about 28% of the U.S. revenue collections. This declined to around 21% in the 1960’s. From the 1980’s on it went down to around 10%. In 2003 it made up only 7.4% of all Federal revenues. [The Decline of Corporate Income Tax Revenues, Joel Friedman, October 24, 2003]. But even these numbers are deceiving. “At least 55 of the largest corporations in America paid no federal corporate income taxes in their most recent fiscal year despite enjoying substantial pretax profits in the United States. This continues a decades-long trend of corporate tax avoidance by the biggest U.S. corporations…” [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, April 2, 2021].

Are we to believe that this trend is about to be reversed? If not, then we should not be surprised if the ultimate burden of rebuilding and modernizing the infrastructure of the U.S. will be shifted onto the backs of those who the capitalist class always sucks dry – the working class.

The rich never want to pay.

In the late 18th century feudal France faced financial crisis. King Louis XVI’s government needed a large infusion of taxes to pay its debts. Charles Alexandre de Calonne was appointed Controller-General of Finances in 1783 to solve the problem.

In 1787 Calonne drafted  proposals for saving the economy. He realized that “certain provinces paid very little in taxes; the bourgeoisie less than the peasantry, the nobility and the clergy least of all. From a technical point of view the crisis could be easily resolved: equality of taxation would provide enough funds…, Although the sacrifices required of the privileged groups were modest.” The nobility and the wealthy landowning Catholic Church thought it unimaginable that they should have to bear the burden of taxes. Calonne was fired from his post and exiled out of Paris. [The French Revolution, Volume 1, page 98, by Georges Lefebvre].

The French Revolution was not far behind, overthrowing the feudal system and installing the rule of capitalists.

The power of an idea.

The entire Biden plan may very well be derailed by these various problems and contradictions. It isn’t hard to imagine a rational, well thought out massive rebuilding of the United States. There are many great minds who could improve housing and transportation, medical care and education, ecological balance and public safety without racist killer cops. The wealth and productive power of the United States is enormous. It could easily be figured out how to pay for a plan even bigger than Biden’s.

Hegel said “The real is rational.” That is why the very real difficulties can be understood as a result of the irrational capitalist system with its anarchy of production and a tiny, super-rich ruling class. But Hegel added “The rational is real” [Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel]. More and more of the people see that it is sensible and achievable to improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. That thought, that another system, a collaborative, cooperative, socialist system, could easily come into existence and solve most problems of existence – that thought is also becoming a real and potent force of history. When that happens, revolution cannot be far behind.

Urgent – Mumia Abu-Jamal to Undergo Heart Surgery


April 15, 2021 

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the world renowned veteran Black Panther, political prisoner and radio journalist, had heart pain over the weekend. He was rushed to the hospital, and is expected to undergo heart surgery tomorrow, April 15, 2021.

We demand that:

    Before surgery, Mumia be allowed to call his wife, Wadiya Jamal; his longtime supporter Pam Africa; his chosen doctor, Dr. Ricardo Alvarez; and his Spiritual Advisor, Mark Taylor.

    Mumia not be shackled to his hospital bed, as is the rule in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

    Mumia, an innocent man, be immediately released from prison.

We need not look far to see the mortal danger that the shackling of a patient represents: our dear Ancestor, political prisoner Romaine ‘Chip’ Fitzgerald was chained and shackled to his hospital bed in his last days —while he was hardly conscious— and before making his final transition, just over 2 weeks ago on March 28, after 52 years in prison.

According to Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, Mumia’s chosen doctor, “Any evidence of shackling will be seen as a deliberate harm to Mumia and a perpetuation of the court documented trauma he has already suffered.” Loud and clear are the echoes of slavery, which —as Eric Williams shows in Capitalism and Slavery — for the first time in human history produced the global distribution and mass use of handcuffs, shackles and fetters to bring enslaved Africans to heel.

Dr. Alvarez continues, “There is significant evidence, both legal and medical, that Mumia has suffered severe harm because medical, legal, law enforcement, and judicial professionals have not met proper standards. Mumia has been recently hospitalized for COVID and Congestive Heart Failure and he already suffers from hypertension as well as liver cirrhosis and diabetes, both induced by court documented medical neglect. Freedom is the only treatment.”

Please call, tweet, email and fax the following offices to make these demands: that Mumia be immediately allowed to call his wife, Pam Africa, his doctor, and spiritual advisor; that he not be shackled to his hospital bed, and that he be immediately released.

Head of PA DOC, John Wetzel

717-728-2573 *** EMAIL: ,

twitter: @johnewetzel, @DOCSecretary

PA DOC, Deputy Secretary for Administration of Healthcare, Christopher Oppman

717-728-4122 or 717-728-2573 Ext 5

SCI Mahanoy Superintendent, Bernadette Mason


Governor of PA, Tom Wolf

717-787-2500 ext. 3. *** FAX 717-772-8284 *** EMAIL:

facebook: @governorwolf, @TomWolfPA  instagram: @governortomwolf

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Central Report to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba

Full text of the presentation by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, April 16, 2021  

Author: Raúl Castro Ruz |

April 22, 2021 09:04:39

Photo: Juvenal Balán

(Transcript: Presidency of the Republic/Translation: GI)

Compañeras and compañeros:

The opening of the Eighth Party Congress takes place on a transcendental date in the nation’s history: The 60th anniversary of the proclamation by Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz of the socialist character of the Revolution, on April 16, 1961, at the funeral farewell for those killed the previous day in the bombing of our air bases, prelude to the mercenary invasion at Playa Giron, organized and financed by the United States government as part of plans to crush the example of the Cuban Revolution and reimpose neocolonial rule on the island, with the complicity of the Organization of American States.

We plan to conclude the Congress next Monday, April 19, when we will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of our victory over the mercenary expedition, achieved in less than 72 hours by Rebel Army, police and militia forces who, under the personal leadership of compañero Fidel, did not give the invaders a moment's rest and shed, for the first time, their blood in defense of socialism. The decisive blows dealt by State Security to the counterrevolutionary groups, which acted as a fifth column inside the country, contributed to the defeat of the enemy's plans.

The Playa Girón invasion, launched during the term of a Democratic President, was part of the "program of covert action against the Castro regime," initiated by President Eisenhower, a Republican, which projected the creation of a unified opposition in Cuba, psychological warfare, plans to assassinate principal revolutionary leaders, Fidel in particular, sabotage of economic targets and terrorist attacks in the cities, the promotion of armed counterrevolutionary bands that massacred campesinos, workers and youth participating in the glorious literacy campaign.

We will never forget the 3,478 dead and 2,099 injured and disabled persons, victims of state terrorism against our country.

We are holding the Eighth Congress two years after the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic on April 10, 2019, a century and a half after the first Mambi Constitution in Guáimaro.

The approval of the Constitution required the updating of a good portion of our laws and other legal provisions that its precepts impact, thus the National Assembly of People's Power approved a corresponding legislative schedule, which is being fulfilled.

During the period since April of 2019, the Cuban legislature has approved eleven laws in the interest of guaranteeing the functioning and organization of principal state and government bodies. For its part, the Council of State issued 33 decree laws.

The leadership of the state and the government has adopted a series of decisions to strengthen legislative capacity with the participation of institutions, universities and various research centers.

The Central Report I am presenting before you today was previously approved by the Political Bureau.

On this occasion, considering the restrictions imposed by the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Congress delegates was limited to 300, proposed by locals and democratically elected in representation of the more than 700,000 Party members, in some 58,000 cells.

In these extraordinary circumstances, we are holding the Eighth Congress, in accordance with objective no.17, approved in the Party’s First National Conference, establishing that Party Congresses are to be held every five years, except in the case of a threat of war, a serious natural disaster or exceptional situation. We are not in normal times, far from it, but we came to the conclusion that it was not only possible, but necessary to hold our Congress on the scheduled date.

We reach this great event with an increase of 27,000 Party members, evidence that the decrease noted since 2006 has ended.

This encouraging result has been achieved despite the loss of members due to deaths, deactivations and the application of external sanctions. Equally promising is the average annual addition of more than 39,400 new militants, a third of these coming from the ranks of the Young Communist League.

Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the fact that, given the nation’s demographic trends, the average age of Party members is increasing, with 42.6% of the membership over 55 years of age.

At the same time a steady increase has been achieved in the number of Young Communist League members, coming from the mass of students and young workers, among whom priority has been given to small farmers, agricultural workers and in other important sectors of the economy, where untapped potential exists which could make a valuable contribution to future growth of the Party.

Deserving of special mention is the battle against the pandemic, guided by a national plan approved by the Political Bureau on January 30, 2020, which has been updated and enriched based on the experience gained during different stages.

This plan includes the coordinated intersectoral action of Central State Administration agencies, mass organizations and the active participation of the people, especially youth. Its main strength is the political will to ensure the population’s health.

The implementation of this plan has shown that it is possible to control the epidemic through the observance of established protocols, differentiated attention to vulnerable groups, active community surveying to identify cases, as well as the isolation of suspected cases and contacts, hospitalization, preventive and therapeutic treatment with innovative drugs produced by Cuba’s pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries, which emerged under the personal leadership of the Comandante en jefe.

The results achieved are possible only in a socialist society, with a universal health care system which is free, accessible and staffed by competent, committed professionals. Nonetheless, in recent months a worldwide resurgence has occurred, and Cuba has not been exempt, primarily as a consequence of relaxed compliance with established measures, among other reasons.

The country's response to COVID-19 has been characterized by the contributions of scientists and experts in the development of research and innovations, with the immediate introduction of their findings to support prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients. Intensive work is underway conducting the clinical trials of five candidate vaccines that could serve to immunize the entire Cuban population and contribute to the health of other nations. These results, by themselves, as I have expressed on other occasions, have served to increase my admiration of Fidel every day. (Applause)

The Eighth Congress will concentrate its work on analyzing the findings of the three commissions established by the Political Bureau.

The first, chaired by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, is addressing the economic and social results achieved since the Seventh Congress and projections to continue advancing in the country’s development; evaluation of the implementation process, underway since the Sixth Congress, of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, along with proposals for their updating and that of the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic and social model; as well as the status of implementation of the Economic-Social Strategy to boost the economy and confront the world crisis caused by COVID-19.

The second commission, headed by compañero José Ramón Machado Ventura, Central Committee second secretary, is evaluating fulfillment of the Resolution approved by the Seventh Congress on Work Objectives from the First National Conference, held in January of 2012, related to Party functioning, ideological activity and ties with the masses, as well as projections to perfect the work of the Party in current and future circumstances.

Finally, the third commission, led by President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez is conducting an assessment of cadre policy in the Party, the Young Communists League, mass organizations, the state and government, as well as the role of the Party in achieving superior results.

The documents we are presenting for your consideration today, the result of the work of these three commissions, were previously discussed in provincial Party committees and government councils at that level, with the participation of Party first secretaries, leaders of mass organizations and municipal administrative cadres, in addition to leadership councils of Central State Administration agencies and the national leaderships of mass organizations and the Young Communists League.

As a result of these discussions, significant modifications were made, which enriched their content. More recently, the documents were submitted to Congress delegates’ consideration in meetings of their respective provincial delegations.

Without attempting to address all matters included in the work of the aforementioned commissions, I will briefly review some issues.

It has already been said that development of the national economy, along with the struggle for peace and ideological firmness, constitute the Party’s principal missions.

Over the last five years the Cuban economy has demonstrated its capacity for resistance in the face of obstacles created by the intensified United States economic, commercial and financial blockade, which has made it possible to preserve the main achievements of the Revolution in the areas of public health, education and social security, without renouncing planned development objectives or our support to and solidarity with other nations.

Negative effects persist associated with excessive bureaucracy, inadequate control of resources, cause and condition par excellence of the damaging existence of corruption and other illegalities that limit progress in increasing productivity and efficiency. Our economic model, which does not provide sufficient incentives for work or innovation, continues to present structural problems.

In order to irreversibly transform this panorama, the process of updating our economic-social model must become more dynamic, promoting an appropriate combination of centralized planning and decentralization, with the necessary autonomy at intermediate and basic levels of the enterprise system and local governments.

It is also necessary to consolidate the investment process, on the basis of a comprehensive approach, eliminating shoddy work and improvisation, to enhance productivity and efficiency in the state sector of the economy, in spheres that are decisive to the country's development, while making the framework for non-state forms of management more flexible and institutionalized.

Recently, the scope of self-employment activities was significantly expanded from 127 permitted activities to more than 2,000. This decision, enthusiastically welcomed by national and foreign public opinion, was, as expected, questioned a few days later and described as insufficient by those who dream of capitalist restoration in the country and the massive privatization of the people's ownership of the principal means of production.

Before implementation of this important decision even began, the private practice of some professions was demanded while others are not allowed. It would seem that self-interest, greed and eagerness for higher income provoke, in some, the desire to launch a privatization process that would sweep away the foundations and essence of a socialist society built over more than six decades. Taking this path, the national education and public health systems, both free and universally accessible to all Cubans, would also be dismantled on short order.

Others, in hopes of eliminating the socialist principle of maintaining a state monopoly of foreign trade, have demanded authorization of private commercial imports, with a view toward establishing a non-state system of foreign trade.

These are questions that cannot be the subject of confusion, much less naivety, on the part of leadership cadres and Party members. There are limits that we cannot exceed because the consequences would be irreversible and lead to strategic errors, the very destruction of socialism and therefore, our national sovereignty and independence.

When I speak of these matters, the words of the Cuban Revolution’s Comandante en jefe come to mind, those delivered during the closing of the Sixth Congress of the Young Communists League on April 4, 1992: "Without resolve, without decision, without a consistent spirit, the Revolution would never have triumphed, because those who make concessions, those who give up, those who go soft, those who betray, never get anywhere." (Applause)

It can never be forgotten that the ownership by the entire people of the fundamental means of production constitutes the foundation of workers’ real power.

The state enterprise system faces the challenge of demonstrating in practice, and consolidating, its position as the dominant form of management in the economy. This is not something that can be achieved by decree; it is an essential condition for the sustainability of socialist society. Thus it is imperative to provoke a shake-up of the enterprise system’s structure, from top to bottom and vice versa, to definitively banish inertia, conformist attitudes, lack of initiative, and comfortably waiting for instructions from above. Old bad habits must be changed and entrepreneurial, proactive practices developed in the management of our companies and establishments, which will operate with increasingly greater autonomy, pursuing a higher level of production with greater efficiency.

All this is easy to say, what is difficult, but not impossible, is concretizing and consolidating the change. The creation of a real turn-around in mentality is needed, to make progress on increasing domestic production, especially of food, to eliminate the harmful habit of importing and generate more diversified and competitive exports.

Without foregoing aspirations and work for a higher level of satisfaction of needs, we must get used to living with what we have and not presuming to spend more than what we are able to generate in income. To do otherwise is a mistake we have already made and should not repeat. We must not forget that saving is the fastest and safest way we have to gain income.

The international tourism sector, which was growing steadily until 2018, suffered a decline in 2019 as a result of measures adopted by the U.S. government, in addition to the devastating effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, we have taken advantage of the closure of most of our facilities to provide maintenance and improve hotel infrastructure, so that when tourist operations resume, we can offer higher quality service. We are optimistic and confident that this sector will not only recover, but will continue to develop for the benefit of our entire population.

The economic and social model of socialist development requires that we have the capacity to regulate the market, as harmoniously as possible, through the use of incresaingly less administrative, indirect methods. It is imperative to ensure that the population’s unsatisfied demand serves as an incentive for national producers, based on the efficient and rational use of material and financial resources. (Applause)

These are the objectives pursued by the Economic and Social Strategy to boost the economy and confront the world crisis caused by COVID-19, approved by the highest leadership of the Party and government.

It is worth reiterating that economic decisions can, in no case, generate violations of the Revolution’s ideals of justice and equality, and much less weaken the unity of the people around their Party, which will always defend the principle that, in Cuba, the implementation of shock therapies that hurt the most humble strata of the population will never be allowed; no one will be left unprotected.

Despite the aggravated tensions faced by the national economy, this is a timely opportunity to thank a good portion of our creditors for their willingness to restructure overdue debts, and at the same time, assure them of our intention to resume fulfillment of our international financial commitments as we begin the recovery of the economy. Likewise, we reaffirm our decision to guarantee bank deposits in freely convertible currency and Cuban pesos, as well as cash in the hands of the population, foreign and national legal entities.

The extreme situation of lack of liquidity obliged us to reintroduce sales in freely convertible currency in some retail outlets and later wholesale.

This necessary measure was initially intended to ensure the presence on the domestic market of a number of supplies that over the last five years had disappeared from state outlets, opening the door to the illegal practice of buying these items abroad to be resold here, at a very high rate of profit.

With the impact of COVID-19, sales in freely convertible currency were extended to other products, including foodstuffs, with the purpose of encouraging remittances that Cuban citizens abroad send to their relatives in the country. Additionally, the government has been able to allocate an appreciable amount of foreign currency to guarantee a sustainable supply of a small group of basic food items, cleaning and personal hygiene products, in Cuban pesos, and is working to reestablish the presence of domestic suppliers in this market.

I believe it should be pointed out that due to an inadequate social communication policy and the publication of incorrect approaches in several of our press media, some confusion was generated among management cadres, leading them to oppose alleged inequality emanating from these sales and demand that all domestic trade in the country return to distribution through the basic family basket booklet. As the months passed and the public explanations by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and other government officials, it became clear that sales in freely convertible currency are necessary and will last as long as it takes to recover and strengthen the economy and thus ensure real convertibility of the national currency.

Amidst these complex circumstances, we have continued adopting measures in the interest of encouraging foreign investment, eliminating delays, hold-ups and obstacles in this arena, which compromise its decisive contribution to the national economy’s performance.

It is time to eliminate from our minds out-dated prejudices associated with foreign investment and ensure the proper preparation and design of new businesses with the participation of foreign capital.

Evidence of this can be seen in results achieved in the Mariel Special Development Zone, which has become an important pole of attraction for foreign and domestic investors who appreciate the impressive infrastructure, construction of which continues, despite measures taken by the United States to tighten the blockade.

Regarding implementation of the the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Party and the Revolution, it is only fair to point out that in a general sense, a positive trend in progress made is being consolidated. Nonetheless, certain insufficiencies persist in the planning, organization, supervision and follow-up of the process, and in some cases, slow, tardy reactions to correct deviations, as well as a lack of comprehensiveness and vision regarding the level of risk and shortcomings. Training and social communication have lacked needed timeliness, quality and scope.

Resistance to change and a lack of innovative capacity persist, expressed in attitudes of inertia and paralysis in implementing measures adopted, fear of exercising authorities granted and prejudice against non-state forms of ownership and management.

The Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development failed to adequately organize the participation of different actors involved in the implementation of the Guidelines and assumed functions that exceeded the mandate granted by the Congress, limiting the roles that were rightly the responsibility of other bodies, organizations and entities.

At the same time, political and mass organizations were not sufficiently encouraged to play a more active role in the process.

All this led the Political Bureau to adopt the decision to distribute responsibilities for implementation of the Guidelines to the Commission, Central State Administration agencies and national entities, allowing greater progress to be achieved.

As a result of the updating approved at the Seventh Congress, it is proposed to maintain 17 Guidelines, modify 165, delete 92 and add 18, for a total of 200.

As is well known, the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model, that is, the theoretical and conceptual guide for the construction of socialism in Cuba, was approved in principle at the Seventh Congress, with the mandate to discuss the draft in Party and Young Communists League organizations, and with broad sectors of society, and then submit it for approval to a plenary session of the Party Central Committee.

Within the framework of the work assigned to Commission No.1, created by the Political Bureau to evaluate the updating of the content of this programmatic document, its proncipal postulates were ratified and modifications introduced, to adhere to the Constitution and achieve greater precision on some issues, which will be discussed by delegates in their respective commissions.

On January 1 this year, after more than a decade of study and work, we began implementation of the Reordering Task, which, as has been reiterated, is not a magic solution to the problems of our economy, but will allow us, as its name indicates, to order and make transparent the performance of different economic actors and encourage love for work as a means of earning a living and giving meaning to life for citizens. The harmful notion, which arose under the auspices of paternalism and egalitarianism, that Cuba is the only country where it is possible to live without working, must be banished. Cubans' standard of living and consumption should be determined by the legal income they earn and not by excessive subsidies and undue gratuities.

The few months that have passed thus far have confirmed the complexity and scope of this process, which touches all components of Cuban society with a broad set of decisions and actions that are unprecedented in the recent history of the Revolution.

It is no accident that the conceptualization and design stage took so long, with the participation and input of highly qualified specialists and researchers from the country's productive and academic worlds and the valuable contributions of institutions in other nations, as well as the experience of similar processes undertaken in China and Vietnam, all differences apart.

As has been widely explained, along with unobjectionable achievements in the establishment of monetary and exchange rate unification, the general reform of salaries, pensions and social assistance, as well as the reduction of subsidies and gratuities, and attention provided vulnerable persons, the implementation has also revealed deficiencies caused by poor preparation and training; negligence; lack of rigor, supervision, and political sensitivity; as well as insufficient institutional communication on the part of cadres and officials in charge of its practical execution, leading to the establishment of excessively high prices and disagreement with the rates of utilities, that is, electricity, water, gas, workers' canteens, etc. There were also errors and delays related to the salary reform and payment systems.

All this has demanded an intense effort on the part of Party, state and government leadership in the interest of quickly correcting the mistakes identified and modifying actions taken that deviated from the planned design.

The Reordering Task must continue its implementation as established in the approved schedule until measures have been fully applied, and most importantly, its postulates consolidated, with the intended economic and productive results achieved that will contribute to the construction of prosperous, sustainable socialism in Cuba.

The content of the Constitution of the Republic’s Article 5 of, the complete wording of which is the personal work of Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, was maintained in the current Constitution, with the same number and content it had in the first, promulgated in 1976, which establishes the Communist Party of Cuba as the superior leading force of society and the state, which organizes and guides common efforts in the construction of socialism.

Thus, the constitutional text implies an enormous responsibility for all members, since the moral authority of the only party that guarantees and represents the unity of the nation, emanates precisely from the exemplary fulfillment of our duty and adherence to Constitutional postulates, as well as our high ethical, political and ideological standards and close ties with the masses.

The Party, as the organization that groups the revolutionary vanguard, has the honorable mission of being the worthy heir of the confidence placed by the people in the Revolution’s founding leader, Comandante en jefe Fidel Castro Ruz. This is not new, I said it almost 15 years ago to avoid any kind of confusion, and I repeat it today because I feel it is a concept that maintains all its validity for the present and future of the nation. (Applause)

Fidel himself, as early as March 14, 1974, stated: "The Party is the vanguard of the people, the people's security, the people's guarantee. The vanguard organization is fundamental. Do you know what gives security to the Revolution? The Party. Do you know what gives permanance to the Revolution? Do you know what gives future to the Revolution, what gives life to the Revolution, what gives future to the Revolution? The Party. Without the Party the Revolution could not exist." (Applause)

In the period since the Seventh Congress, held in 2016, progress has continued in meeting objectives established during the First National Conference in terms of modifications to the Party’s methods and workstyle in attention provided to local organizations and central problems in the nation’s political, economic and social life, with the goal of overcoming the practice of supplanting and interferring in work and decisions that are the reseponsibility of the state, government and administrative institutions. We have been repeating this for more than 60 years and, really, it must be said that very little has been accomplished. Every one doing their job, and the Party doing ours, without ceasing to lead, in conjuction with these authorities, work to address situations that affect the population.

Our statutes define the Party as the continuation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, created by Martí to lead the struggle for independence, of the First Communist Party founded by Carlos Baliño and Julio Antonio Mella, and the party that emerged from the voluntary integration of the three revolutionary organizations that led the struggle against the Batista dictatorship.

The existence in Cuba of a single party has been, and will always be, at the center of the enemy's campaigns, determined to fragment and disunite Cubans with the siren song of sacrosanct bourgeois democracy, based on the ancient tactic of "divide and conquer."

The unity of the immense majority of Cubans around the Party, and the work and ideals of the Revolution, has been our fundamental strategic weapon in successfully confronting all kinds of threats and aggression. This is why our unity must be zealously protected and division among revolutionaries under false pretexts of greater democracy never accepted, because that would be the first step in destroying, from within, the Revolution, socialism and consequently our national independence, and falling once again under the domination of U.S. imperialism.

Now, if we have only one party, we must promote, internally and within our society in general, the broadest democracy and the permanent, sincere and profound exchange of opinions, not always agreeing; strengthening ties with the working masses and the population, and ensure the growing participation of citizens in making fundamental decisions.

The Party's attention to the Young Communists League, student organizations and youth movements has been strengthened, in order to promote their protagonism and strengthen political-ideological work, while preserving their organizational independence.

In order to continue consolidating the unity of Cubans, we have continued to confront prejudice and all types of discrimination that persist.

Likewise, our policy of attention to religious institutions and fraternal associations, which are increasingly involved in different spheres of national activity, has been updated.

As regards mass organizations, we have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to revitalize their activity in all spheres of society and update their functioning in accordance with the times we are living, which are very different from those of the Revolution’s first years, when these groups were founded. Recovering work at the grassroots level is imperative, in factories, in farms, blocks and neighborhoods, in defense of the Revolution and in the struggle against criminal acts and social indiscipline. Incresaing revolutionary combativity and intransigence is needed, strengthening these organizations’ contributions to ideological work, in confronting the enemy's subversive plans, developing and consolidating values.

The Party continues to support the work of the Federation of Cuban Women and other institutions in the defense of women's rights and condemnation of gender violence. Confronting prejudices associated with sexual orientation and gender identity will be deepened.

In compliance with Constitutional mandates, the Council of State approved a commission to draft a preliminary version of the Family Code, for its analysis in the National Assembly and subsequent discussion by the population, an activity on which work is already underway.

The creation of a government program, and a commission headed by President Díaz-Canel, to address the issue of racial discrimination will allow for a more effective confrontation against such backwardness from the past and greater coherence in the presentation and conducting of public debate on the subject.

On the other hand, in spite of the fact that ideological work constitutes a central focus of the Party's work, I must confess that I am not satisfied with the progress achieved.

While it is true that our press media are characterized by their adherence to the truth and rejection of lies, it is also true that there remain manifestations of triumphalism, stridency and superficiality in addressing the country’s reality. On occasions, journalistic works are presented that, rather than clarifying, tend to confuse. These approaches damage the credibility of our approved information and social communication policy. The need for immediacy in covering national affairs should not be at odds with objectivity, professionalism or, above all, political intentionality.

It is not enough to do more of the same in our political-ideological work; we need creativity, to adjust our efforts effectively to the times in which live, to promote study of the country's history, convey to every Cuban a message of optimism and confidence that together we will can face and overcome any obstacle. In short, we need a profound transformation directed toward strengthening the essence and values that emanate from the Revolution’s work.

Programs of subversion and ideological/cultural influence, meant to discredit the socialist model of development and present the restotation of capitalism as the only alternative, have been intensified.

The subversive component of U.S. policy toward Cuba is focused on undermining national unity. In this sense, priority is given to actions targeting young people, women and academia, the artistic and intellectual sector, journalists, athletes, persons of diverse sexuality and religion. Issues of interest to specific groups linked to the protection of animals, the environment, or artistic and cultural expression are manipulated, with all efforts disregarding existing institutions.

Acts of aggression continue to be financed with the use of radio and television stations based in the United States, while monetary support is growing for the development of latest-generation platforms with ideological content openly advocating the defeat of the Revolution, calling for demonstrations in public spaces, inciting sabotage and terrorist acts, including the assassination of agents of public order and representatives of the Revolutionary power. They shamlessly announce the amounts paid from the United States to those who execute these criminal actions.

Let us not forget that the U.S. government created the "Internet Working Group for Cuba" charged with turning social networks into channels of subversion, the creation of wireless networks beyond state control and perpetuation of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure.

We have talked about the benefits and dangers of using the Internet and social networks, for dozens of years, in the National Assembly that meets here, even citing Aesop's fable of tongues, which can be used for the best and also the worse purposes. There is no place for naivety at this stage or unbridled enthusiasm for new technologies, without first ensuring information technology security.

Lies, manipulation and fake news no longer know any limits. Through them, a virtual image of Cuba as a dying society with no future, on the verge of collapse, giving way to a longed-for social explosion, is being shaped and disseminated to the four winds. The truth, however, is different, the internal counterrevolution, which lacks a social base, leadership and capacity to mobilize, continues to decrease in numbers of sympathizers and actions of social impact, concentrating its activism on social networks and the Internet.

We are firmly convinced that the streets, parks and plazas belong, and will belong to revolutionaries, and that we will never deny our heroic people the right to defend their Revolution. (Applause)

These circumstances in themselves demand the urgent transformation in the ideological field, of which I spoke.

In terms of the cadre policy, we have continued working on fulfilling agreements reached at the last Party Congresses and the First National Conference.  Progress has been made in the organizational conception and implementation of the policy of gradual renewal in decision-making positions. Likewise, a progressive and sustained increase has been achieved in the promotion of young, female, black and mixed race persons on the basis of their merits and personal qualifications, although what has been acomplished is absolutely insufficient, with regard to the main responsibilities in the Party, state and government. The promotion of cadres from the Young Communist League to professional work in the Party continues.

At the same time, weaknesses persist in the application of our cadre policy, reflected in a tendency toward formalism and superficiality on the part of many cadres who consider themselves indispensable, and do not attend to the training of the replacements. Limited ties with the people, a lack of sensibility and incapacity to mobilize collectives in the solution of problems and poor work in relations with subordinates are all evident.

Insufficient communicational culture exists, limiting the capacity to motivate, understand, participate and debate issues that concern the mass of workers. There are still cases of comrades who are promoted to management positions without having proven their capacity and preparation to do the job, while weak intentionality and plans to improve the composition of cadres, in terms of women, blacks and mixed race persons, have been noted.

The practice persists of maintaining as deputy directors and substitutes individuals everyone knows do not have the qualifications to be promoted, damaging the authority of those in charge, instead of preserving it, and halting the normal development and promotion of new leaders.

I consider it appropriate to refer to the content of Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic, which states: "The defense of the socialist homeland is the greatest honor and the supreme duty of every Cuban."

This important Constitutional postulate must be taken into account in the work of all communist militants, including the cadre policy. We cannot allow the promotion to higher positions of comrades who, for unjustified reasons, have failed to complete their active military service, which is the principal route to military preparation that all citizens, first and foremost cadres, must follow. This issue becomes more important as time goes by. The trend toward lower birth rates will be a serious problem in many respects by 2030, making clear the need to find solutions in this area.

In this arena, we have the valuable example of the decision adopted at the request of the Foreign Ministry, 19 years ago, in 2002, that all students in the Advanced Institute of International Relations, of both sexes, prior to their admission must perform military service for one year in the Border Brigade, outside the illegal naval base at Guantanamo. This has been accomplished over all these years, without problem.

In light of the aging of the Cuban population - as I was saying - which, among many other negative effects, limits the number of citizens who reach the regulatory age to join the military, the experience of the Advanced Institute of International Relations should be studied with the purpose of gradually generalizing the practice that all higher education students fulfill this duty beforehand.

The President of the Republic himself, Díaz-Canel, upon a call from the Comandante en jefe, voluntarily completed his military service in an anti-aircraft defense unit to assimilate the new technique, after graduating as an electronic engineer from the Central University of Las Villas, and, according to what he himself has told me, that period, in his case, of three years, was very useful in his training as a revolutionary cadre.

I would like to applaud the President for the example he set. (Applause)

Due to its strategic nature, the cadre policy requires constant improvement and updating, to ensure the selection, training and promotion of cadres characterized by a commitment to the Revolution, humility, modesty, personal example, leadership and firm convictionsn as opposed to any vestige of elitism, vanity, arrogance or ambition.

The Communist Party of Cuba’s cadre policy should ensure that the pool of tomorrow's leaders, in close connection with the masses, has the capacity to mobilize, dialogue, argue and be decisive, increase political and human sensitivity, responsibility, discipline, rigor and control, making use of collective leadership as the only way to find the best solutions to problems.

I will now address foreign policy issues.

The international panorama we face today is markedly different from that of April 2016, when we held the Seventh Congress. These five years have been characterized by an unprecedented escalation of the U.S. government’s aggressiveness.

Historically, U.S. imperialist hegemony has posed a threat to the fate and survival of the Cuban nation. This is not a new phenomenon. It has accompanied Cubans since the origins of the homeland when the first yearnings for sovereignty and independence emerged within our people.

It was a challenge for the heroes who undertook the struggle against Spanish colonialism in the 19th century. The generations of Cubans who continued the struggle in the 20th century faced it and it is faced by the people who today, tightly united, defend the freedom and justice achieved.

This hegemony was concretizeded with particular crudeness during the military occupation of our country between 1898 and 1902, and the subsequent imposition of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Constitution.

It was consolidated with the 1934 Treaty of Relations - a subject that I have noted to be little mastered in conversations with different citizens - which the northern neighbor imposed on the national government of the time, with the threatening presence of U.S. Navy units in Havana Bay. Thus the Platt Amendment was replaced, in an apparent, hypocritical friendly gesture, allowing its most humiliating provisions to remain in the new instrument, along with political and economic commitments that consolidated Cuba's subordination and dependence on the United States, until January 1959.

U.S. hegemony is a challenge intimately associated with the imperialist conception of Manifest Destiny, the brutal Monroe Doctrine and the vision of Pan-Americanism with which they have sought to subjugate our region since the times of Simon Bolivar.

Over the last four years, impunity was added to the immense, unequal U.S. display of power and the escalation of aggression against Cuba. The U.S. government seemed convinced that it enjoyed the freedom to act as it pleased and the right to impose its will on the world, simply on the basis of the use of force, and sought to cast into political, legal and moral crisis the foundation on which international relations had rested for decades.

The international community seemed incapable of curbing the most flagrant outrages and abuses on the part of the leading economic, military and technological power, whose irresponsible actions are the greatest threat to peace, stability, ecological balance and the survival of life on Earth.

This context explains in part the particularly harmful effect of the economic blockade with which the United States is attacking our country. It is also explained by the conditions of an international economy that is increasingly interconnected, interdependent and subject to the dictates of the financial centers of power controlled by Washington.

In spite of repeated, overwhelming rejection by the international community, the blockade damages Cuba's economic relations with practically every nation on the planet, regardless of a country's political position or its relationship with us.

In many cases, governments do not even have the capacity to enforce their sovereign prerogatives over the actions of national entities based in their own territories, as these are often docilely subordinated to Washington, as if we were living in a world subjugated by the unipolar power of the United States.

This is a phenomenon that is expressed with particular impact in the financial sector, with national banks of several countries giving a U.S. administration’s stipulations priority over the political decisions of their own governments. These realities have been reaffirmed as neo-liberal globalization has been extended.

The blockade, which our people have faced for more than 60 years with effort, sacrifice and creativity, would have devastated the economy and social stability of any other country, even those that are richer and more powerful than Cuba. It is the most comprehensive, unequal and prolonged economic war ever unleashed against any nation.

Only under the conditions of a socialist system, based on social justice, the people’s unity around the Party, and common united efforts to defend the country, can an underdeveloped and relatively small nation like ours, with scarce natural resources, avoid collapse and advance its development. 

The anti-Cuba policy unleashed by the previous U.S. government was reinforced precisely under the harsh conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruthless nature of imperialism was clearly revealed.

Sometimes objective data describing the damage the United States has caused the Cuban economy and the real impact of the more than 240 coercive measures adopted since 2017 are not sufficiently understood, or not carefully assessed. It should be understood that these are not simple actions tightening the blockade, but new methods, some unprecedented, taking the magnitude of the economic war to a qualitatively more aggressive level, which is reflected in the material shortages that accompany the daily life of every Cuban.

Added to this is the shameless campaign financed by Washington to promote the lie that the blockade is not real, that it does not really harm the Cuban economy, that it is not a significant problem for our development and our economic stability. This is a fallacy that is spread through the powerful information media at the service of imperialism and digital networks designed to influence the thinking of many, including some of our compatriots.

Among the first actions to reinforce the economic siege of Cuba was the November 2017 designation of a group of Cuban enterprises that would be subjected to additional restrictions, beyond those of the blockade already in place. That list, which was updated several times, today includes 231 entities, many with responsibility for the country's retail network, the system that meets the most important needs of the economy and the population, all the country's hotel facilities and several institutions in the financial sector.

The U.S. government justifies this action under the pretext of restricting the activity of companies affiliated with the defense and security sector, which it accuses of supporting the repression of human rights in Cuba and the Cuban intervention in Venezuela.

Our people are well aware that this illegitimate persecution is directed against successful entities whose social function is entirely economic and commercial, as is the case anywhere in the world, and which make a significant contribution to the national economy.

They are also know with clear certainty, on the basis of historical experience, that the objective of this measure is to extend the economic siege to sabotage the enterprise system, create obstacles to the process of updating the economy, disrupt state management and impose informality, the atomization of economic activity and chaos, with the express goal of asphyxiating the country and provoking a social explosion.

The extraordinary task of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic has obliged us to devote considerable resources to guarantee on short order the necessary equipment and materials for our hospitals and health care centers. The cost would have been less onerous if Cuba were not forced to resort to distant, often indirect markets to acquire technologies subject to the blockade’s prohibitions.

The financial persecution, on the other hand, has taken on the characteristics of a real witchhunt against Cuban transactions, which undermines our ability to pay for the products and services we import and collect payment for our exports, with a consequent increase in the cost of foreign trade as a whole.

To punish Cuba and Cubans living inside and outside the country, the United States first limited and then eliminated practically all means of sending remittances to Cuba.

These realities are made evident in the shortages of essential products for the population’s consumption. They are also the cause of many of the difficulties faced by national industry in acquiring the necessary inputs for production in a timely fashion, with the required quality and standards. This includes consumer goods as well as medicines and products from the food processing industry.

The tightening of the blockade complicates the fulfillment of our international financial commitments, in spite of the firm determination to honor them and the effort we are making to send payments which, although modest, entail a great sacrifice.

An escalating series of measures were implemented to restrict travel to Cuba, both by air and sea, delivering a brutal blow to a considerable portion of the non-state sector of the economy dedicated to providing services.

The damage caused by these measures to the standard of living of the population is neither fortuitous or the result of collateral effects; it is the consequence of the deliberate intention to punish the Cuban people, as a whole.

One of the most significant actions, given its level of cruelty, its inadmissibility according to international law, and the impunity with which the United States has behaved, is the effort, since April of 2019, to deprive Cuba of a fuel supply. To achieve this, measures typical of non-conventional warfare have been adopted, to prevent these supplies from reaching our national territory.

This is one of the actions that best illustrates the new dimensions acquired by the economic war against Cuba. In confronting this war, we have experienced periods of great tension and if the cost has not been devastating, as expected by the United States, it is due to the strength of the society we have built and defended, and our heroic people’s capacity to resist.

Another act that exposes the nature of imperialism and the escalation of its aggression against our nation is the immoral campaign unleashed against the international medical cooperation provided by Cuba.

Our record on this front has no equal in the world, and is congruent with the moral principles on which Cuban society is built. It rests on the notion that we share what we have, not what we have to spare. The success of having prepared, with perseverance and dedication, significant human resources, and a strong, effective and sustainable public health system, give us the opportunity to share with others.

This is a commitment to solidarity that will maintain regardless of the campaigns. Our cooperation has saved lives, confronted disease, alleviated suffering and improved the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, almost always the most vulnerable or disadvantaged populations, in the most remote areas, sometimes in conditions of extreme difficulty and even danger. It includes important and praiseworthy assistance to countries that have suffered natural disasters.

The U.S. attack is meant to discredit a noble, recognized work and deprive Cuba of the fair, honest and legitimate income that thousands of technically and ethically trained professionals in the country ensure with their efforts.

Access to health care is a universal human right and the government of the United States commits a crime when, in order to attack us, sabotages the only source of medical services to which millions of people in the world have access.

In addition to all of the above, in April 2019, attempting to intimidate foreign investors, companies and businesspeople interested in an economic or commercial relationship with Cuba, the United States decided, for the first time, to activate Title III of the infamous Helms-Burton Act, allowing lawsuits to be filed in U.S. courts by alleged claimants of properties that were justly and legitimately nationalized in the early years of the Revolution.

This is not a new law, it is an aberration dating back to 1996, which codifies the blockade as law and establishes as an obligation of the U.S. government to attack Cuba economically, on an international scale and in a comprehensive manner. It also provides a legal mandate to promote political subversion to destroy Cuba’s constitutional order, with the allocation every year of official, multimillion dollar funding from the federal budget.

This law went so far as to outline a program of political intervention in our country and the establishment of a tutelage plan that would subject the Cuban nation to the status of a territory subjugated and subordinated to the sovereignty of the United States, under an intervenor appointed by the United States.

It is a despicable political and legal instrument, conceived with great opportunism during the most difficult moments of the Special Period, when Washington was confident that the Revolution would not be able to survive or remain faithful to our commitment to uphold the banners of socialism and safeguard the cause defended by our martyrs.

That is why we say that it is a law that our people must understand well, one we cannot afford to forget, even if it were to be rescinded someday.

When, in December 2014, we decided jointly with the government of the United States, then headed by President Barack Obama, to move toward a better understanding between our respective countries, I expressed before the National Assembly of People's Power: " important step has been taken, but the essential remains to be resolved, which is the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, tightened in recent years, particularly in the area of financial transactions, with the levying of enormous, illegitimate fines on banks in several countries."

The aggressive conduct unleashed by the last U.S. administration reaffirms with clear evidence that any perspective of truly positive evolution in the relationship between the two countries, to be sustainable, must be associated with the elimination of the economic blockade and the legislative framework that sustains it.

We have no illusions that this is something easy or simple; on the contrary, it will require sensible and respectful political will on the part of whoever governs in the United States. Cuba has maintained and continues to maintain that we do not identify the U.S. people as an enemy, that political and ideological differences are no impediment to a respectful, civilized relationship with our neighbor.

We have stated, as well, that we can develop a realationship involving cooperation on many issues that would benefit both countries and the region.

We will never forget the content of Article 16, paragraph a) of the Constitution, which reaffirms that our economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other state are not negotiated under the threat of aggression or coercion.

I reaffirm before this Party Congress the will to develop a respectful dialogue and build a new type of relation with the United States, without presuming that to achieve this Cuba renounce the principles of the Revolution and socialism; make concessions regarding our sovereignty or independence; yield in the defense of our ideals or the exercise of our foreign policy, committed to just causes, the defense of peoples’ self-determination and our historic support to sister countries.

At the same time, we have the duty to remain alert, to assume with responsibility the lessons of history and protect our country and the sovereign right to exist for which so many generations of Cubans have sacrificed.

We must do so without neglecting defense and with constant, committed efforts to build the economic foundations that will allow us to successfully face an incessant, asymmetrical economic war, waged by a power willing to take advantage of its size and economic influence to attack our homeland.

Compañeras and compañeros:

Exactly five years ago today, we warned that the Latin American and Caribbean region was experiencing the effects of a strong, articulated counter-offensive promoted by imperialism and regional oligarchies against revolutionary and progressive governments, which had come to power as a result of their peoples’ resistance and struggle against the nefarious effects of neoliberal policies.

That counter-offensive was strengthened when the leadership of U.S. foreign policy fell into the hands of sinister characters, linked to episodes of interference and interventionism in our region, and associated with elements of the Cuban-American ultra-right, several with known terrorist, corrupt backgrounds.

They never disguised their commitment to the validity of the Monroe Doctrine. They combined anti-socialist fanaticism with desperate attempts to achieve short-term objectives. They resorted to unconventional warfare methods and destabiliziation operations that proved extremely dangerous for the entire region.

They demonstrated contempt for our peoples and institutions. They disregarded the sovereign rights of all nations in the hemisphere and dangerously threatened regional peace and security. Several governments of the region presumed to ignore the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana by Latin American and Caribbean heads of state and government, in January of 2014.

That transcendental political instrument rests on the essential principles of full independence and the real enjoyment of sovereign rights, as well as aspirations for unity and the integration of our region.

Among these are respect for the principles and norms of international law and the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter; the peaceful settlement of disputes; the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of any other state and to observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples; the commitment of countries of the region to foster friendly and cooperative relations among ourselves and with other nations, regardless of differences existing between their political, economic and social systems or their levels of development; to practice tolerance and live in peace as good neighbors; and the commitment to fully respect the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system, as a condition essential to ensuring peaceful coexistence among nations.

The frequent use of lies to justify actions was combined with cruel unilateral coercive measures and constant threats, with a high cost for the peoples of Our America. At the end of 2018, the U.S. government decided to launch an aggressive offensive specifically against Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, with the ostensible purpose of overthrowing, on short order, the governments of the three countries.

Although this project failed, the pretense is a stark reminder that imperialism's ambitions for domination in the region are not threats from a dark, distant past that have been overcome, but an active threat, alive within certain circles of political power in the United States.

As part of this offensive, the recovery of a discredited OAS as an instrument of neocolonial domination and aggression was promoted, as well as its armed wing, the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, the TIAR, always at the service of the hegemonic interests of the United States. Likewise, an attempt was made to sabotage CELAC, and UNASUR was destroyed.

As if there is any doubt, we must recognize that neoliberalism has once again demonstrated its inability to respond to the region's social problems. Its role in the dismantling of social justice organizations, and the doctrinaire attack on any notion of social justice, left most countries powerless and defenseless when it came to confronting the scourge of COVID-19. The legacy of neoliberalism is an increase in inequality, the deepening of social polarization and the aggravation of the crisis of stagnation and instability suffered by many societies in Our America.

As a consequence, seen were the accelerated exhaustion of governments promoting neoliberal policies, indications of social instability, the eruption of popular protest and the mobilization of youth, alongwith the activation of the left and progressive forces, as demonstrated by the Sao Paulo Forum, a political coordination group of left political forces and social movements.

Also observed was how these progressive forces were subjected to politically motivated judicial processes, as well as slander and defamation campaigns with the support of the corporate mass media, meant to weaken these forces and prevent their participation in or access to governments.

Cubans reiterate our solidarity with Venezuela, with the civil-military union of its heroic people, and with its only legitimate President, compañero Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We reiterate our solidarity with Sandinista Nicaragua, with its people and with President Comandante Daniel Ortega Saavedra.

We salute President Luis Arce of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, a nation where the people achieved a popular victory that constituted a slap in the face of the United States and its instrument, the Organization of American States, which organized a coup against compañero Evo Morales Ayma.

We follow with hope, respect and solidarity the political processes led by Presidents Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico and Alberto Fernández in Argentina, in their efforts to reverse the consequences of the implementation of neoliberal policies that caused so much damage to their nations.

We celebrate and support the attempts of both governments to recover genuinely Latin American integration processes.

We reiterate our unwavering support for the efforts of the Argentine Republic to recover sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

We reconfirm our solidarity with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers' Party of Brazil, against whom politicized legal proceedings have been launched. We insist that the restitution of his innocence, full freedom and all political rights must be demanded.

We will continue to defend the legitimate interests of Caribbean nations and support their demand for reparations for the consequences of slavery and colonialism.  The Caribbean can always count on Cuba.  In particular, we reaffirm our commitment to the sister people of Haiti, for whom the international community should do much more.

We reconfirm our full support to the self-determination and independence of Puerto Rico.

Cuba's commitment to the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean is unwavering. Loyalty to the defense of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of the peoples is a principle of the Revolution, and the will to promote regional cooperation and integration is part of our cause. We will not cease for an instant in our work contributing to make Our America the common homeland of all its children.

Compañeras and compañeros:

During these five years, excellent relations have been consolidated with the parties and governments of the People's Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, socialist countries in Asia to which we are united by historic friendship and solidarity. The economic projects that we are undertaking with China and Vietnam in various spheres of our economy are signifcant, contributing to the Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030.

Also over these years, high-level political relations have deepened with the Russian Federation, a country with which we share broad agreement on diverse issues of the international agenda, and which has maintained a firm position in opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.

We have made progress, despite existing political differences, in developing ties with the European Union, through the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity. Progress made in cooperative relations in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture and culture is noteworthy.

We maintain our collaboration and solidarity with the countries of Africa, a continent to which we are bound by strong ties of history, culture and brotherhood. Thousands of collaborators in healthcare and other sectors offer their services there in more than 30 countries. We are grateful for the unanimous position take by the African Union in solidarity with Cuba and against the blockade over these years.

Our support for the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples’ causes will continue to be unwavering commitments.

The panorama described and its probable evolution in the future demand, from all of us, to ensure that priority is always given our defense, in strict accordance with the accurate reflections of Fidel contained in the Central Report to the First Congress: "As long as imperialism exists, the Party, the state and the people, will pay maximum attention to our defense services. Our revolutionary guard will never be neglected. History demonstrates, with great eloquence, that those who forget this principle do not survive the mistake."

The strategic conception of the War of the Entire People remains in full force, as establsihed in Article 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, which translates into each citizen knowing and having the means, a place and a way to fight the enemy, under the leadership of the Party.

This doctrine supposes permanent attention to the strengthening of our combative capacity and readiness, the updating of the country’s defensive plans and training of directors, chiefs and leadership bodies at different levels to conduct planned actions. In this sense, we consider it necessary to reestablish, as soon as conditions in the COVID-19 battle permit, the realization of national defense days with the massive participation of our people, stripping them of any formalism or fanfare and thus ensure their effectiveness and usefulness to the population’s training. Let us not forget that military invulnerability is achieved through constant improvement.

During this period, the Revolutionary Armed Forces continued preparation of troops, production, modernization, maintenance and preservation of military technique and weaponry, the preparation of the Military OperationsTheater, along with participation in responses to exceptional situations and disasters of all kinds, among which COVID-19 is emphasized.

On the basis of scientific potential achieved, the Military Industry Union has ensured the preparation and modernization of a significant portion of our armament and military technology, and has increasingly assumed the production of spare parts and high-demand items for the population.

In his Central Report to the First Party Congress, compañero Fidel stated: "The Rebel Army was the soul of the Revolution and from its victorious weapons the new homeland emerged free, beautiful, thriving and invincible." This statement remains fully valid today, thus I reaffirm that the Revolutionary Armed Forces, born of the Rebel Army, have not renounced and will not renounce being, forever, the soul of the Revolution. (Prolonged applause)

Combatants of the Ministry of the Interior, in close collaboration with the people, the Party and mass organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces and other institutions of the state and government, continued to strengthen prevention and confrontation of enemy activity, subversive plans, crime, illegalities and corruption, as well as social indiscipline and negative behaviors.

Over the last five years, this ministry reached a higher level of organization and cohesion in its command structures and attention to units, a matter in which it is only fair to acknowledge the decisive contribution of Vice Admiral Julio César Gandarilla Bermejo, a member of the Party's Central Committee, a deputy to the National Assembly of People's Power and Minister of the Interior until his death at the end of last year. To his brilliant record of service to the Revolution, I must add today the correct, far-sighted selection and preparation of younger generations that guarantee continuity with a secure new leadership of the institution.

I consider it appropriate to recognize the contribution of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior in food production, which has allowed both institutions to be self-sufficient in most of the products required to feed their personnel. The level of needs met reached 83% and 72% for the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior, respectively.

Precisely as we had planned, the Eighth Party Congress will mark the conclusion of the process of orderly transfer of major responsibilities from the historic generation to newer ones.

At the Sixth Party Congress, 10 years ago, I stated that although we had not failed to make several attempts to promote young people to the principal positions, the selections were not always correct, and consequently we did not have, at that time, a pool of adequately prepared replacements, with sufficient experience and maturity to assume the new, complex tasks of leadership in the Party, the state and government.

I also said that we needed to resolve this issue gradually, without precipitous decisions or improvisation, which would additionally require strengthening of the democratic spirit and collective nature of the functioning of leadership bodies in the Party, state and governmental authority, to ensure the systematic rejuvenation of the entire chain of administrative and Party positions in the country.

Although we cannot consider this strategic front of work completed, I am satisfied that we are handing over the leadership of the country to a group of prepared leaders, tempered by decades of experience in their transit from the grassroots to the highest responsibilities, committed to the ethics and principles of the Revolution and socialism, identifying with the roots and values of nation’s history and culture, imbued with great sensitivity toward the people, full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit, and aware that they represent the continuity of the work initiated by Céspedes on October 10, 1868, continued by Gómez, Maceo, Calixto García and Agramonte; begun anew by Martí at the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Party; by Baliño and Mella with the founding of the first Communist Party of Cuba; by Villena, Guiteras, Jesús Menéndez, Abel, José Antonio, Frank País, Camilo, Ché, Blas Roca, Celia, Haydée, Melba and Vilma, Almeida and our forever Comandante en jefe, Fidel. (Applause)

One of those youth, selected in time, since we began to notice a number of qualities in him, is compañero Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Political Bureau member and President of the Republic for the last three years, a position which, according to the Party leadership’s assessment, he has performed with good results.

We have already stated that Díaz-Canel is not the product of improvisation, but rather of the thoughtful selection of a young revolutionary in condition to be promoted to positions of greater responsibility. He successfully advanced completing 15 years as first secretary of the Party in the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguin, after which he was appointed successively Minister of Higher Education, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, positions he held while simultaneously attending the Party’s ideological front.

During these last three years Díaz-Canel has been able to form a team and fostered cohesion among leadership bodies of the Party, state and government.

As far as I am concerned, my work as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee comes to an end with the satisfaction of having fulfilled my duty and confidence in the future of the homeland, with the carefully considered conviction to not accept proposals to remain on higher bodies of the Party organization, in whose ranks I will continue to serve as one more revolutionary fighter, ready to make a modest contribution until the end of my life. (Prolonged applause)

Nothing obliges me make to this decision, but I strongly believe in the power and value of example and in the understanding of my compatriots. Let no one doubt, as long as I live I will be ready, with a foot in the stirrup, to defend the homeland, the Revolution and socialism.

With more strength than ever let us shout:

Viva Cuba Libre! (Exclamations of Viva!")

Long live Fidel! (Exclamations of Viva!)

Homeland or Death!