Cuba's ties to Arab World: Al Mayadeen interviews Cuba President (III)
Cuban President Miguel-Diaz Canel touches in an interview for Al Mayadeen on the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, the confrontation of Western imperialism, and his visit to Algeria.
During the third part of Al Mayadeen Media Network Chairman Ghassan Ben Jeddou's interview with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, the president discussed Algeria, the Palestinian cause, El Comandante, and former President Raul Castro in the context of Cuba, global liberation, and international revolution.
Diaz-Canel said that in this past year, Cuba endeavored on a journey across Western Asia and North Africa to restore direct relations with a group of Arab countries which, due to the years of the pandemic, were not strengthened given that the ties were mostly virtual.
The visit, the President explained, began in Algeria; a country which Cuba shares a deep-rooted connection with, given the relationship shared between leaders of the Algerian revolution and those of the Cuban revolution. Diaz-Canel highlighted that while he belongs to a generation "that grew up hearing about the Algerian revolution" and about "Fidel’s visits to Algeria," it remained that the current Cuban leadership, unfortunately, until [my visit in November] we did not have the opportunity to visit Algeria.
Algeria's President and Government, during the visit, proposed a wide variety of cooperation projects which Diaz-Canel noted were enthusiastically welcomed. The visit, the president explained offered the Cuban leadership the opportunity to learn Algeria’s history and culture and to gain a genuine understanding of the depth of the fraternal tie that connects the Cuban people to the Algerian people.
Algeria's President and Government, during the visit, proposed a wide variety of cooperation projects which Diaz-Canel noted were enthusiastically welcomed. The visit, the president explained offered the Cuban leadership the opportunity to learn about Algeria’s history and culture and to gain a genuine understanding of the depth of the fraternal tie that connects the Cuban people to the Algerian people.
Diaz-Canel recounted what unites the two nations. He reminded that the Algerian-Cuban cooperation was born when Cuban doctors flew to Algeria, during the early years of the revolution, as part of the first Cuban UN health mission abroad.
The Palestinian cause in the heart of Cuba
When asked about Palestine, Diaz-Canel reaffirmed Cuba’s solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The Cuban President reiterated that Cuba "defends the right to establish a Palestinian state with the pre-1967 borders with East Al-Quds as its capital and guaranteeing Palestinian refugees, anywhere in the world, the right of return."
Moreover, Diaz-Canel argued that Cuba has always defended the Palestinian cause in the face of injustice, violence, and forced displacement.
The topic prompted the President to tell a story from when he served as Minister of Higher Education and attended an international conference on higher education which was hosted by UNESCO. Diaz-Canel, at the time, advocated Palestine's eligibility for membership in and recognition by UNESCO in an address he gave on behalf of the Cuban government. I wasn't one of the first speakers at the time, but Cuba was the one who raised the issue of Palestine and demanded that it be recognized by UNESCO. Following this speech, and the speeches of others who supported the integration of Palestine as a member of UNESCO, a resolution was passed in favor of that demand.
At the time, the US decided to withdraw its support of the organization and even went on to launch an attack campaign against UNESCO simply for allowing Palestine to become a legitimate member of the international organization.
The Cuban President also highlighted that he had recently received Palestinian leaders and discussed the deep-rooted relationship that ties the two people together.
Diaz-Canel highlighted that this has been Cuba's approach toward all resistance movements across the globe. Especially, Diaz-Canel noted, movements such as Hezbollah in Lebanon whose leaders have defended Lebanon's independence, sovereignty, and right to self-determination.
When asked about Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the Cuban President confidently said "he is a leader who knew how to lead a movement that defends the causes of the Lebanese people."
Fidel restored Cuba's dignity
Fidel, leader of the Cuban Revolution, gave Cuba, Latin America, and the Caribbean region a legacy, said Diaz-Canel who expressed deep feelings of appreciation and nostalgia for the era of El Commandante. Diaz-Canel said, "I miss him, and I will always miss him, the Cuban people will always miss him too."
Fidel led the Cuban Revolution for the dignity of the Cuban people and for the dignity of Cuba, he was a true revolutionary who "defended the rights of people, and fought for social justice without giving in to destabilizing attempts and aggressive imperialist policy against Cuba amid the conditions of the unjust embargo."
The Cuban President added, "I believe that every historical moment of the revolution has been a milestone of Fidel's legacy in history."
Diaz-Canel explained that he is committed to Fidel’s convictions and defends them with all honesty, both as a President and as an intellectual. The President said, "I study Fidel constantly, and in difficult and complicated moments my first question is always: what would Fidel have done in a moment like this?" Diaz-Canel revealed that he turned to Fidel’s writings, speeches, and reflections whenever he needed to find parallels between the challenges of the past and the challenges of today to see how Fidel solved previous challenges.
"We have a great commitment to his legacy, a great commitment to the continuity of the Cuban Revolution, and a great commitment to our people," said Diaz-Canel.
The President said he is committed to walking in Fidel’s footsteps reaffirming that "Fidel is still present among us even though we always miss him."
Raul Castro: the perfect second man
When asked by Raul Kobe Castro, Cuban President Diaz-Canel said "Raúl Kobe is authentic, deeply revolutionary and I have great admiration and appreciation for him." Diaz-Canel explained that he perceived Raul as "the beloved army general Raúl Castro" whom he considered both a mentor and a father.
The Cuban President described Raul as someone who has "the ability to listen, and also gives his opinion in a timely manner, firmly, sincerely and faithfully about what he sees as wrong or not well applied."
When asked about the role of Raul during the Cuban revolution, Diaz-Canel said "he's always been the perfect second man." Raul, according to the Cuban President, complied with Fidel's directives and set an example to others as he "never looked forward to becoming the first man."
Raul, he said, ran "the most efficient ministry" in the Cuban revolution, the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, "which is not the armed forces of any country, it is the armed forces of the Cuban people" born out of the Cuban revolution. These forces play a significant role not only in protecting the country but also in social and economic dynamics.
After Fidel's passing away, Raul took over the leadership of Cuba "with tremendous cohesion, honesty, and fulfillment of the revolution and Fidel," said Diaz-Canel.
Raul is a bold person, said the Cuban President, adding that he paved the way for necessary transformations based on his understanding of the challenges that face the country.
In particular, Diaz-Canel said Raul is a great host, saying he has witnessed how Raul won the heart of any friendly foreign visitor arriving in Cuba, perhaps because people expect protocol-type dialogues with him. Instead, they find Raul welcoming and able to talk about the most complex issues on the international scene.
Commitment to the people of utmost importance
According to the Cuban President, the government is currently conducting dialogue with the people, and parliamentary candidates are meeting with the electorate ahead of the elections set for March 26.
"For one to elect a president, one must first be elected by the people as a representative; it is highly up to what the people want - and whether or not they see in each and every one of us the characteristics they want in a representative [...] it is all about the people's assessment first and that of the National Assembly second," Diaz-Canel underlined.
He explained that he devoted himself to the revolutionary process with paramount commitment, stressing that he felt the weight of the responsibility of the presidency on his shoulders, as "I will never allow myself to betray the Cuban Revolution or not be able to achieve the continuity of the Cuban revolution's legacy... That idea haunts me every day and forces me to improve my performance. In fact, it challenges me to look deeper and perceive things critically, making me unsatisfied with the milestones we are reaching.
One cannot commit to the revolution if they do not have a prior commitment to the people, one cannot talk about continuity if one was not committed to the people, and one cannot talk about preserving Fidel and Raul's legacy if one was not committed the people, the Cuban leader underlined.
"We have been through harsh times, and we had to face numerous ordeals, and many citizens still remind of that during the meetings we hold with them, for they say: 'You did not catch a break'," he said.
Touching on the "harsh times" in question, Diaz-Canel highlighted how Cuba was hit with various disasters over the years. "At first, there was the plane crash, then came the hurricane in Havana, the floods, the Hotel Saratoga explosion, the burning of the huge oil tanks, Trump's 243 measures, the placement of Cuba on the States Sponsors of Terror list, and now hurricane Ian and a whole bundle of woes."
The Cuban president underlined that the country went through difficult times and that it was vigorously looking for ways to get inflation under control and manage the lack of supply for the Cuban people. "We are as seeking to achieve energy stability in the national power grid and succeeding in implementing a wide array of measures that had been included in the socio-economic development strategy we had designed to enable the country to achieve the prosperity that the Cuban people deserve in the shortest time possible and despite all the conditions of the suffocating blockade."
"I have many cases of dissatisfaction, and I criticized myself during the latest session of the National Assembly of People's Power in December 2022. It was public self-criticism because I could not solve the problems that the country is facing, including complicated issues that are affecting the daily lives of citizens," the Cuban leader said, highlighting that while he did not see himself as the reason behind these problems - as the situation has to do with far more than the government's mistakes and shortcomings, for there is the embargo - he still feels dissatisfied with the fact that Havana cannot promote a set of measures to be more efficient and more effective when it comes to solving such problems.
Cuba's resilience to help overcome the embargo
The Cuban leader said that while he is convinced that the blockade will not become any easier, he believes that "we have every ability not only to resist it but also to overcome it, for due to our talent, effort, intelligence, and action, we will advance the country's development."
Cuba's first priority, Diaz-Canel told Bin Jeddou, will be defending the homeland and the revolution through the military, ideological, and economic resilience that the country strives to achieve. "By achieving this military, economic, and ideological resilience, we can continue to deepen the effectiveness of the revolution's social achievements. The goal of the revolution was, above all, to achieve social achievements and to defend social justice."
The priority is to confront with wisdom, talent, and intelligence the massive political and ideological sabotage campaign launched by the United States administration against Cuban society, directed mainly at the youth in order to create a rift and chasm between the youth and the revolution, the Cuban president underlined. "At the ideological level, we encourage - in fact, we do - the consolidation of the concept of people's power, which guarantees the critical popular participation and the submission of proposals that can be submitted through the apparatuses of the popular authority that represents the people," he added, noting that this was a key aspect in confronting foreign attempts at undermining the Cuban revolution.
According to Diaz-Canel, Havana is obligated to defend the new Constitution adopted by the country a few years ago and to ensure that all the laws that support the articles of the new Constitution are passed.
Furthermore, the Cuban president touched on the socially effective programs that Cuba supports, which are part of the people's aspirations, among which are a program aimed at empowering women, a program against discrimination in all its forms, especially racial discrimination, a program against cultural colonialism and everything broadcast by the platforms working on bringing back capitalism and neoliberalism while imposing imperialist ideals, and social programs in the areas whose residents live in vulnerable situations.
"Three basic pillars have been established in the administration of the Communist Party of Cuba and the government regarding work on these programs. Among these pillars are science and innovation, as well as scientific research. The second pillar is the digital transformation of Cuban society, which also means a change in mentality."
The third pillar, according to Diaz-Canel, is communication, i.e., the means of communication in Cuba and how Cuba could produce its own content through using the truth, as well as creating the means for confronting the smear campaign waged by the imperialist forces benefitting from their monopoly on social media platforms and the internet.
Diaz-Canel thanks Al Mayadeen
At the conclusion of his interview, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel directed a message to Cuba, calling on the country to never give up its commitment to defending the sovereignty and independence of the various peoples all over the world, as well as their right to independence, self-determination, and their land. He called on his country to never give up the mentality of a better world being a possibility and that the Cuban people must enable this world through their struggle.
Furthermore, Diaz-Canel told the free media, also known as alternative media, to never stop defending the peoples' truth, roots, and identity, stressing the need for the media to use its platforms to produce anti-imperialist content, as well as content that combats banality.
The Cuban president also specifically addressed Al Mayadeen and the head of its Spanish department, Al Mayadeen Espanol, Wafiqa Ibrahim, by expressing his gratitude for the network's compassion toward Cuba and how it treats the Cuban cause as its own.
Diaz-Canel also thanked Al Mayadeen for the support it has given the Cuban people during trying times when it came out to tell the truth about Cuba when defending Cuba was of utmost importance and scarce to see.
"I would also like to thank you for your professionalism; this professionalism through which you did not only address the reality of Cuba and the world alone, but also the viewpoint of the entire Arab World, its values, culture, history, and causes. Today, at this time in particular, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to be in this exclusive interview. I think all of this has a lot to do with the fact that the Arab World and Cuba are two brotherly people. We are two brother nations, and we will always fight hasta la victoria siempre," he underlined.
Finally, Diaz-Canel thanked Al Mayadeen for its documentary series Enigma, which told the tale of the Cuban revolution, saying it dealt with the Cuban revolution in a very adequate manner through the series.