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Machado Ventura and Raul Castro greet each other in Cuba on the 26th of July Celebration. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 26 July 2017 – There were few surprise in Jose Ramon Machado Ventura’s speech this Wednesday during the ceremony for National Rebellion day in Pinar del Rio. The Cuban Communist Party number two reiterated that “the direction of the Revolution is laid out,” and denied that Cuba was participating in the solution to the Venezuelan conflict, as suggested by the British newspaper the Financial Times.

The national celebration of the 64th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo, was the last that Raúl Castro would attend in his capacity as president of the country before his retirement on 24 February of next year, and also the first after the death of Fidel Castro in November.

The ceremony took place in “a provisional place of the Revolution,” according to local media, in the absence of a permanent space for official ceremonies. Controls on the roads have increased since the weekend and during the day of the event vehicles were not allowed to circulate near the ceremony site.

Machado Ventura, as the main speaker of the event, called for respect for Venezuela’s autonomy and attacked Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose performance he described as “disgusting” and “at the service of imperialism.”

The Cuban vice president strongly criticized Almagro’s appearance before the subcommittee for Latin America of the United States Senate last week, when the OAS Secretary General denounced the “collapse of democracy” in Venezuela.

“In recent weeks, the interventionist and destabilizing actions against the Bolivarian and Chavez government led by constitutional president Nicolás Maduro Moros have increased,” Machado Ventura said Wednesday. He criticized the recent threat of sanctions on Venezuela announced by Donald Trump’s administration.

“A few days ago an influential American (sic) newspaper was discussing the alleged involvement of our country in an eventual international mediation related to the situation in Venezuela,” he said. “Cuba flatly rejects such insinuations and claims absolute respect for [Venezuela’s] sovereignty and self-determination,” he added.

Last week the British newspaper said that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos had traveled to Cuba to convince Havana to mediate in the “growing” Venezuelan crisis, which left more than 90 dead after three months of protests.

Those who attempt, from the outside, to give lessons in democracy and human rights while encouraging the violence of coups and terrorism must take their hands off that nation

“Those who attempt, from the outside, to give lessons in democracy and human rights while encouraging the violence of coups and terrorism must take their hands off that nation,” Machado Ventura said pointedly to the island’s senior government officials, local officials and a small number of foreign guests.

The rest of the speech was devoted to the historical review of the revolutionary process and to comparing the current situation of Pinar del Rio with that of January 1959. “We have programmatic documents that set the direction and scope of the changes that we will continue to make with the aim of achieving a prosperous and sustainable socialism,” he explained about the future of the country.

The speech shunned the national reality, ignoring issues such as self-employment or cooperatives that have generated concern among citizens after Raul Castro, speaking to the National Assembly of People’s Power, warned of deviations and irregularities detected in the non-state sector.


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