Raul Castro Presents Grim Portrait of Cuban Reforms

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 10:34 PM

In a two-hour address to the twice-a-decade meeting of the Cuban Communist Party, Castro praised a new era of detente with the United States and an ensuing boom in tourism.

Cuban President Raul Castro delivered a grim report on the state of the country on Saturday, saying that the communist bureaucracy had failed to implement most of the hundreds of changes the ruling party launched five years ago to encourage the stagnant centrally controlled economy.

In a two-hour address to the twice-a-decade meeting of the Cuban Communist Party, Castro praised a new era of detente with the United States and an ensuing boom in tourism. He lamented that his government remained unable to address a series of deeper structural problems that have left millions of Cubans struggling to feed their families.

He said Cuba remained saddled by an overdependence on imports, unhurried growth, a byzantine double currency system, insufficient agricultural production and an inability or unwillingness among state employees to enact three hundred thirteen guidelines for modify approved at the latest party congress.

"The obstacle that we've confronted, just as we expected, is the wt of an obsolete mentality that takes the form of an attitude of inertia," he said.

Citing a government statistic that only twenty-one % of the guidelines approved in two thousand-eleventh have been carried out, he accused the government'south inability to turn goals into facts on the ground.

"The unhurried putting into practice of judicial regulations, and their assimilation into the system, over all, has delayed the implementation of the policy that'south been approved," he said.

Castro is in large portion confronting problems inherent to the system he helped create. After his brother Fidel Castro overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista in one thousand nine hundred fifty-ninth, he keep in space a state in which virtually every aspect of economic and political life came below control of the Communist Party.

After taking over from Fidel in two thousand-eighth, Raul Castro began shrinking the state and allowing a private sector to flourish. The no of Cubans working for themselves or other citizens has grown to comprise nearly a quarter of the working population, or roughly 500.000 people. And as the private sector has grown, members of Cuba'south massive and powerful bureaucracy have begun to treat it either as a resource to be pillaged or a threat to livelihoods long guaranteed by the state.

Newly successful businesses frequently discover themselves hit by repeated inspections and long slowdowns in obtaining licenses and permits, problems frequently resolved with a quiet payoff.

Raul Castro directly addressed the tensions between the socialist state and its new private sector in his Saturday address.

"The recognition of the existence of private property has generated honest concerns among not just a few of the participants in discussions leading up to this congress, who expressed worries that doing so was taking the first steps toward the restoration of capitalism in Cuba," he said.

"I'm obliged to tell you that this is in number way the goal," Castro said. "Comrades, it'south precisely about calling things by their title and not hiding in illogical euphemisms in order to cover the reality."

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Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter. com/mweissenstein

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