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Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel speaks in NYC

By staff |
September 27, 2018
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Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Cane.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Cane. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

New York, NY - Nearly 2000 people gathered at Riverside Church in New York City, Sept. 26 to hear Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez. The event, titled “Cuba Speaks for Itself!”, was organized by the September 25th Welcoming Committee, consisting of various New York and New Jersey solidarity organizations.

The date of the event itself was symbolic, as it was just a few days after the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s first speech at the UN in 1960, where he denounced United States’ actions against Cuba at that time. Today, the message of condemning the U.S. aggression toward Cuba and other countries still rings loud and clear. Riverside Church is also an historically important location, as it has hosted Fidel Castro in the past and has been supportive of the Cuba from the time of the revolution through today, showcasing the unity between African-American liberation activists and Cuba.

The connecting theme between all of the speeches was international solidarity. As an example, event emcee Gail Walker highlighted Cuba’s graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine, a school that pays for students from outside of Cuba to study medicine under the condition that they practice in underserved areas. Two graduates of that program spoke about how doctors who studied in the program were required to provide service to underserved populations and during crises, such as earthquake relief for Haiti in 2010, Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria, and locally for Hurricane Sandy.

The surprise of the night was an appearance by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who spoke at the UN earlier that day. At the event, Maduro extended solidarity from Venezuela to Cuba, as two countries that both face attacks from the United States.

“I’ve been the victim of venomous U.S. imperialist aggression. However today on September the 26th, 2018, the Bolivarian Revolution is alive and is victorious. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” Maduro said.

After Maduro, President Díaz-Canel took the stage to address the crowd. He also spoke at the UN earlier that day, and at the talk, he emphasized how Cuba has supported various countries not solely through words, but in action.

“Cuba is not a large or powerful country. Not rich in natural or resources, but these limitations have not stopped us from practicing solidarity on the basis of sharing what we have,” said Díaz-Canel. He included the examples of the Cuban professionals who have served around the world in the fields of health and medical services, literacy, and other areas of development, and lending support to African liberation movements.

“This is why when Cuba comes to the UN General Assembly and promotes cooperation and solidarity, as opposed to threats, competition, racism and selfishness, Cuba does so with the authority of the people that have shown it is possible to achieve those goals in a country that has turned words into concrete actions,” Díaz-Canel said.

Along with talking about how Cuba has extended help to other countries, Díaz-Canel talked about the democratic practices within Cuba. Namely, he talked about the way in which the Cuban people have been debating and discussing a new Constitution in order to enact important changes in Cuba. He stressed the importance of this action in practicing socialism in Cuba.

The night closed with inspirational words of remembering those who came before us, like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, while honoring the successes of the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions today. With his final goodbye, the crowd gave Díaz-Canel a standing ovation, moved by his inspirational words of hope and call to action.