The two leaders were guests of honor to the final session of the FEU’s Ninth Congress, which was held in Havana’s International Conference Center
As a demonstration of Cuban university students’ commitment to the Revolution’s historic generation, the Federation of University Students (FEU) presented the organization’s highest award, the Alma Mater, to Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuban Central Committee, and José Ramón Machado Ventura, Party second secretary.
The two leaders, as well as the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, attended as guests of honor the final session of the FEU’s Ninth Congress, which was held in Havana’s International Conference Center, on the 63rd anniversary of Fidel’s exile in Mexico.
FEU national president, Raúl Alejandro Palmero, presented the award to José Ramón Machado Ventura, highlighting his “consistent anti-imperialism – evident since his days as a medical student – his modesty, candor, and sacrifice over the years, his affection for youth and his example,” saying that all of this made Machado more than worthy of the honor.
With the same affection, Palmero presented the Alma Mater Award to Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, “one the most loved members of the FEU,” for his record of struggle as a university student, and “for having given us the example, the inspiration, to become the hotbed we are today in defense of socialism, for his mettle, courage, and serenity.”
The FEU president noted other motivations for the award, emphasizing Raúl’s “unwavering conviction that we can triumph in the most difficult moments,” describing him as “a guide and paradigm for new generations who never lost his smile or youthful spirit,” while noting his “modesty, disinterest, altruism, confidence in and love of youth… and above all for being the most Fidelista of all Cubans.”
José Ramón Machado Ventura thanked the delegates for the distinction, saying it was unexpected, but “accepted with heartfelt gratitude.”
Listening to you, he said, representatives of a quarter million students in the country, I see how different the times are now from those when I was one among only 15,000 university students in all of Cuba. With the triumph of the Revolution, for the first time, youth were taken into account, he said while adding that he would dare to say that in very few places do students gather with full support to reflect and seek solutions, from the grassroots level to the national.
Machado added that the more than 10,000 proposals made during the pre-Congress discussion are a source of pride, given the seriousness, responsibility, and commitment they reflect.
It could be no other way, he said, since this Revolution that began October 10, 1868, has always been led by young patriots, followers of Martí, just like those present here today, Machado said, noting that this generation, the continuators of the struggle, have shown the relevance Fidel and are loyal to his ideas, the very essence of the FEU.
He recognized the multiple projects enthusiastically undertaken by the organization, which have an impact beyond the university’s walls, as is the case of the “Educating with love” effort.
Machado concluded saying that, just days before celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, July 26, we are proud of the students we have, of their capacity to be useful, and the anti-imperialist spirit they maintain.