I was familiar with the content of compañero Raúl’s report to the 6th Congress of the Party. He had shown it to me a few days previously on his own initiative, as he has done on many other occasions without me asking him to because, as I already explained, I had delegated all my responsibilities within the Party and the state in the proclamation of July 2006.
Doing so was a duty that I did not hesitate for a second to fulfill.
I knew that the state of my health was serious, but I felt tranquil: the Revolution would continue advancing; it was not in its most difficult moment after the USSR and the socialist camp had disappeared. Bush had been on the throne since 2001, and had designated a government for Cuba; but once again, mercenaries and members of the bourgeoisie remained in their golden exile with their suitcases and trunks.
In addition to Cuba, the Yankees now had another Revolution in Venezuela. The close cooperation between these two countries will also go down in the history of the Americas as an example of the vast revolutionary potential of the peoples of the same origin, with the same history.
Among the many points covered in the draft report to the 6th Congress of the Party, one of those which most interested me was the one related to power. Textually it states: “…we have come to the conclusion that it is advisable to recommend that tenure in fundamental political and state positions be limited to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms. This is possible and necessary under the current conditions, quite different from those prevailing in the first decades of the Revolution, not yet consolidated and moreover, already the target of constant threats and aggression.”
I liked the idea; it was an issue on which I had meditated a lot. Accustomed from the early years of the Revolution to read news agency cables every day, I knew about the development of events in our world, the wise moves and errors of parties and human beings. Examples during the past 50 years abound.
I will not quote any in order not to extend myself too much or bruise anyone’s sensitivity. I am convinced that the fate of the world would be very different at this moment if it weren’t for the errors committed by revolutionary leaders who were distinguished by their talent and merits. Neither do I delude myself that the task will be easier in the future, on the contrary.
I am simply saying what, in my view I consider it an elementary duty of Cuban revolutionaries. The smaller a country and the more difficult the circumstances, the more obliged it is to avoid errors.
I have to confess that I was never really bothered about the time that I would be exercising the role of president of the Councils of State and Ministers and the first secretary of the Party. Since we landed I was also, Comandante en Jefe of the little troop which later grew so much. Since the Sierra Maestra I had resisted acting as provisional president of the country in the wake of the victory while I focused attention on our forces, still very modest in 1957; I did so because ambitions in relation to that position were already obstructing the struggle.
I was practically obligated to occupy the position of Prime Minister in the initial months of 1959.
Raúl knew that, at the present time, I would not accept any position within the Party; it was always him who described me as first secretary and Comandante en Jefe, functions which, as is known, I delegated in the abovementioned proclamation when I became gravely ill. I never attempted to undertake them nor could I physically have done so, even when I had considerably recovered the capacity to analyze and write.
However, he always conveyed the ideas he planned to introduce to me.
Another problem came up: the organizing committee was discussing the total number of Central Committee members to be proposed to the Congress. With very good judgment, the committee supported the idea sustained by Raúl of the need for an increased presence of women and descendants of African slaves in the heart of the Central Committee. Both these sectors were the poorest and most exploited by capitalism in our country.
At the same time, there were some compañeros who, given their age or health, would be unable to provide many services to the Party, but Raúl thought that it would be very harsh to exclude them from the list of candidates. I didn’t hesitate to suggest to him that those compañeros should not be excluded from such an honor, and added that the most important thing was that I not appear on that list.
I think that I have received too many honors. I never thought that I would live so long; the enemy did everything possible to prevent it; trying to eliminate me on innumerable occasions, and many times I “collaborated” with them.
The Congress was advancing at such a rate that I had no time to send a single word on the matter before receiving the ballot.
Around midday, Raúl sent me a ballot with his aide, and thus I was able to exercise my vote as a delegate to the Congress, an honor conceded me by Party members in Santiago de Cuba, without me knowing anything about it. I did not do so mechanically. I read the biographies of the new members proposed. They are excellent people, a number of whom I met during the launch of a book on our revolutionary war in the University of Havana’s Aula Magna, during contacts with the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, in meetings with scientists, with intellectuals and in other activities. I voted and even asked for photos of the moment when I exercised that right.
I also recalled that I still have a lot to write on the history of battle at the Bay of Pigs. I am working on that and I am committed to delivering it soon; moreover, I have it in mind writing about another important event that came afterwards.
All of that before the end of the world!
Translated by Granma International