The Cuban Communist Party’s Eighth Congress took place in Havana on April 16-19, five years after the previous one. President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who had just replaced former President Raúl Castro as first secretary of the party’s Central Committee, delivered the closing remarks. Castro is retiring from public life.
Centering on the congress’s theme of continuity, Díaz-Canel’s speech was impassioned, far-reaching, and clear. He called upon the new party leadership to respond to an increasingly restrictive U.S. economic blockade, speed up the implementation of economic reforms, and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The Eighth Congress took place 60 years after both Fidel Castro’s declaration of the socialist nature of Cuba’s Revolution and Cuba’s victory over counter-revolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs. That timing may add significance to Díaz-Canel’s speech; the longer U.S. hostilities last, the sooner they will end.
Maybe Cuba will have soon a free hand—or maybe not. Either way, a speech at a watershed moment that documents plans, aspirations, and problem-solving proposals will be of interest to historians.