July 28, 2007
CAMAGUEY, Cuba: People were out in force to celebrate the 54th
anniversary of the Cuban revolution and to wish for a renewal in the
health of Fidel Castro.
Tens of thousands formed a sea of red in Camaguey's Plaza de la
Revolucion Agramonte, many chanting "Viva Fidel", to hear his brother
Raul call to push Cuba in a new direction.
Fidel is still hidden from the public after stomach surgery last July
and his prospects of returning to power remain uncertain.
His younger brother declared that Cuba was considering opening further
to foreign investment, allowing business partners to provide this
financially strapped nation with "capital, technology or markets".
The younger Castro's remarks, coupled with his unusual admission that
the Cuban Government needs to pay its vast cadres of state-employed
workers more to cover basic needs, amounted to the clearest indication
yet of how he might lead the nation. Raul Castro, 76, who was named
interim president on July 31 last year, vowed to partner only with
"serious entrepreneurs, upon well-defined legal bases".
He struck distinctly capitalist notes in this central Cuban city. But he
also was careful to appeal to party hardliners, saying any new business
deals must "preserve the role of the state and the predominance of
socialist property" and that the Government would be "careful not to
repeat the mistakes of the past, [which] owed to naivety or our
ignorance about these partnerships."
He even suggested that the US after the term of President George Bush
might play a role in his new Cuba, an idea quickly rejected by Washington.
"If the new US administration once and for all can set aside its
overbearing nature and talk in a civilised fashion, that will be most
welcome," Castro said.
But a US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said: "The only
real dialogue he needs is with the Cuban people."