Both, abroad and inside Cuba numerous Christian believers have taken an interest in the decision that Cuba would take this year with regard to Christmas Day. Many of them have very respectfully expressed their hopes that, as it is common practice all over the Americas and in the rest of the Western world, that day would be made a holiday like it was following Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba last year. However, there has been no campaign or pressure, inside or outside our country, to act on it.

The Political Bureau made a thorough and mindful analysis on the basis of the political and revolutionary principles that have always guided our process of struggle for national liberation, the construction of Socialism in our homeland and its contribution to the efforts that mankind must unavoidably make toward the establishment of a fair and supportive social and economic order in the world.
The Political Bureau, on behalf of the Communist Party of Cuba, wishes to make the following statement:

Although the Revolution has always defended itself forcefully, and it will continue to do so, against every attempt to destroy it --for which imperialism, among many other dirty and unscrupulous methods, used and has still not given up using religious sentiments with counter-revolutionary purposes, trying from the very beginning to produce confusion, divisions and conflicts between religion and revolution, between the religious sentiment and the patriotic spirit-- the Cuban Revolution has never been characterized by an anti-religious spirit and with admirable serenity it has kept firm, rejected such provocation and acquitted itself well.
No other revolution in the history of mankind has such a clean record, free from religiously motivated violence or repression, that is, diametrically opposed to what happened in every stage of history characterized by great changes and social upheavals such as the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War to mention only some of the best known cases.

The religiously motivated struggles and wars that characterized the whole Middle Ages, well into the so-called Modern Age, were terribly bloody. No incident of this nature can be attributed to the Cuban Revolution which is by far the most encompassing social revolution that has taken place in this hemisphere in five centuries.
This was made possible not only by a correct political conception but also by the fact that many honest believers from the most diverse religious denominations --with sincerely patriotic sentiments, weary at the corruption, the social inequalities and the injustices that had long prevailed in our country-- remained firmly alongside their homeland and the Revolution, despite prejudices and misunderstandings, during the dramatic and difficult times when our heroic people had no other alternative but victory or death.

The suspension of the holiday on December 25th, as everyone in our country knows or can check in the documents on the history of the Revolution, was not inspired by an anti-religious sentiment, as some people abroad have perfidiously tried to make others believe. It was at the beginning of the 1970 sugar harvest when the country was making an enormous effort to produce ten million tons of sugar by mobilizing hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the country from the end of November 1969. At the time, there were no sugar-harvesting machines and 90 million tons of cane had to be hand-cut.
On December, the situation in the industrially developed countries of the North packed with riches and virtually covered in snow at that time of year, with no harvesting or cultivation pending which allows everybody to take refuge in their homes, is completely different from that in a tropical country like Cuba where it is a dry, cool month, one of the most suitable for working in construction and to sow, grow or harvest potatoes, vegetables, sugar cane, tobacco and other items of crucial importance for the national economy. That is how we found ourselves obliged to suspend traditional festivities, New Year's Eve vacations and a wide range of functions transferring them to the hot months of summer, historically and usually the time to take vacations to enjoy the beaches and seas surrounding our island.

Furthermore, it was not just the December 25th holiday that was suspended but also all the festivities commemorating January 1, 1959, an extraordinary date in the history of our homeland, when a people that had endured four-and-a-half centuries of colonization and almost a century of struggle achieved full independence.
The best evidence that the suspension of the December 25th holiday was not, nor could it be, politically motivated is that it stayed unchanged for ten years after the revolutionary triumph when the socialist nature of the Revolution had already been declared on April 16, 1961 and the mercenary invasion by the Bay of Pigs organized by the United States Government had been overwhelmingly defeated 72 hours later; when countless acts of terrorism, sabotage and dirty war had been perpetrated in mountains and plains throughout the nation's territory and when, in October 1962, the most serious threat of nuclear destruction the world has known until today had been confronted.

Among the many other atrocities from those years is the infamous slander of an alleged decree suppressing parental authority and the monstrous kidnapping and illegal dispatch of 15,000 Cuban children to the United States, an operation in which certain members of religious institutions took part with the full support of that country's authorities and intelligence services.
In addition to these brutal aggressions, the most prolonged and cruel economic blockade that has ever been applied against any people was also imposed against the people of Cuba.

Neither the Marxist nature nor the depth of our Revolution which affected the interests and provoked the reaction of the rich sectors --who had the possibility to study in elite schools and receive a more conscientious religious education than the vast majority of the people-- altered in the least our basic ideas on the relations that should exist between Revolution and Religion.
No enemy action could create an anti-religious sentiment in the Cuban revolutionary leadership which has always advocated our people's broadest unity, much less beget the mean, clumsy and politically tactless idea of suspending a religious holiday for philosophical differences that do not contradict the profoundly human and revolutionary spirit of the Gospels, thereby offending hundreds of millions of Christians in Latin America and many other countries in the world who are set to struggle alongside their peoples for the transformation of the unjust societies where they live. No true Marxist would ever make such mistake.

The Socialist Constitution of Cuba, endorsed through a referendum on February 15, 1976 by 97.7 percent of voters, amended and improved in July 1992 particularly with regards to relations with religious institutions, reaffirms the secular nature of the State and establishes clearly and categorically in its Article 8 that "The State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom".
At the beginning, especially during the above mentioned difficult years, our Party applied such strict political standards and even some of a philosophical nature that prevented believers from joining the ranks of the revolutionary vanguard. This was unquestionably discriminatory on the basis of the principles enshrined in the Socialist Constitution approved 14 years later, in 1976. Therefore, following a process of profound and mature reflection which required no small effort of analysis and persuasion among its members, the Party opened up to all believers sharing its noble, patriotic, supportive, human and social objectives.

Many things have since changed. The world has gone irreversibly global. The prevailing international economic order, which is becoming unsustainable, is going from crisis to crisis dragging the world to an unprecedented catastrophe and to an ecological disaster that threatens the very survival of humanity which, in a few decades, will have a 10 billions population.
Change has thus become a vital necessity for all peoples on Earth.

Our people have heroically resisted the most incredible trials and are prepared, as few others, for the great challenges humanity will have to face. Their prestige is growing. Their struggle and actions internationally in favor of a sustainable globalization where true solidarity prevails for the benefit of every country on Earth, are more and more extensive.
Inside the country, the revolutionary ranks are increasingly united. We are waging battle after battle in all different fronts against old and new challenges, ever more confident that the Revolution is indestructible. The hospitality and the warm welcome given to Pope John Paul II during his visit to our country showed the world the impressive maturity, culture, discipline, organization, moral courage, self-confidence and exalted intellectual and political ability of our people.

The illustrious visitor's categorical affirmation that the restrictive economic measures imposed from outside the country were unjust and ethically unacceptable; the decidedly critical statements by many bishops taking part in the Rome Synod against the foreign debt, poverty, social inequality and the unfair distribution of wealth in our continent; the many displays of solidarity, the donations of medicines and the condemnation of the blockade by numerous religious institutions from the most varied denominations; the cooperation of Catholic priests and evangelical ministers with the Cuban health-care personnel who are confronting, with exemplary selflessness and sacrifice, the enormous human damage caused by Hurricane Mitch; the 2000 doctors --and still more if necessary-- offered at no cost for the countries affected by an unprecedented natural catastrophe and the 5500 scholarships granted to young people from those countries to study medicine in a period of 10 years; the positive reaction by the peoples and authorities, their expressions of recognition and gratitude for our people's selfless effort, all these are evidence of the changes taking place in the world and the broad possibilities of cooperation opening up for all men of good will, cutting across political, ideological or religious differences, to work together for the good of mankind.
There is no longer the overriding need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of workers on December to cut by hand all the cane of a sugar harvest. Harvesting machines and other equipment do most of the work although the effort we need to make this time of year is still enormous, and it will continue to be enormous, due to natural causes.

At this time of glory, victory and heroism for our homeland, every act of consideration and respect for the purest sentiments and wishes of many of our fellow citizens contributes to the unity of our people. Even when a holiday, right in the special period and under the implacable economic blockade, means sacrificing tens of millions of pesos in wages and in goods and services that are not produced; fully aware that everything that contributes to the most indissoluble unity of our people strengthens the Revolution and its admirable and heroic struggle for a better world; absolutely certain that the costs can be widely compensated for with our own daily work and the much greater efficiency with which we are learning to manage our resources; aware that, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, all our people will also enjoy a day of rest and family reunion; having previously consulted and obtained the unanimous approval of leaders and representatives of the most diverse religions present in Cuba Christian and non-Christian, the Communist Party of Cuba proposes to the State Council that, as from this year, every December 25th be considered a holiday for Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers alike.
Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau
November 30, 1998