HAVANA – Cuban President Raul Castro told lawmakers on Saturday in a harsh, critical speech that the country and its leaders must rectify the errors they have committed because otherwise the revolution and the efforts of entire generations will be lost.
“Either we rectify or our time for skirting the precipice will be over, and we will destroy, we will destroy...the efforts of entire generations,” Castro said at the National Assembly.
During his address lasting more than two hours, Castro made a review of the errors committed in the country, was critical of socialism being misinterpreted, and announced the very strict demands he was making of the country’s leaders with regard to reforms on the island.
He called for an end to the excessive secrecy and lies among the country’s leaders and said that those who lie “must be removed once and for all and not temporarily from the posts they occupy,” and must even be expelled from the Communist Party.
The Cuban president said that the government’s decisions must be carried out and not become a dead letter as has so often occurred, and insisted that repeating errors puts “the life of the revolution” at risk.
The president cited on several occasions his brother, ex-President Fidel Castro, and questioned why some of his “orientations” and “instructions” in economic matters were not carried out in past decades.
We lacked unity, organization and coordination within the party and the government,” Gen. Castro said, adding that next year changes in the Communist Party’s way of working will be studied.
“The party must direct and control but not interfere in government activities at any level,” he said.
About the application of his plan of economic reforms, including a plan announced in August to lay off 500,000 state employees and expand opportunities for small business, he said that the “adversaries of the revolution” are carrying out campaigns warning that this process will be a failure and is being received with skepticism on the island.
In response, he said that he was not elected president of the island to “restore capitalism in Cuba nor to surrender the revolution,” but to continue perfecting socialism.
“Too much of our people’s blood has been spilled to accept the dismantling of what has been won at the cost of so much sacrifice,” he said.
After saying that the revolution is fully aware of the errors committed, he said that the new party guidelines, based on his government’s policy of reforms, point the way to the “socialist future.”
Cuba is suffering through one of its worst slumps in decades as a result of the global recession, the continuing U.S. embargo and the shortcomings of its own economic model.
In addition to the layoff plan, Raul Castro, who formally succeeded ailing older brother Fidel almost three years ago, has reduced the size of Cubans’ food rations, cut back on energy use and suspended payment of Havana’s foreign debts in a bid to relieve the government’s liquidity squeeze.