Monday, November 26, 2007

Official Cuban daily goes critical, challenges govt's job statistics

Official Cuban daily goes critical, challenges govt's job statistics
Web posted at: 11/26/2007 2:6:23
Source ::: REUTERS

HAVANA • An official Cuban newspaper questioned government claims of 2
per cent unemployment yesterday in the latest challenge to government
rhetoric begun under acting president Raul Castro more than a year ago.

The article in the Union of Young Communists' "Rebel Youth" newspaper
questioned government claims that almost all young people are working or
in school.

The Union of Young Communists is the youth wing of the ruling Communist
party. "The figures never reflect reality," said the article, which
concluded that those involved in ensuring youth are working or studying
should "tear themselves away from illusory figures" and take another
look. Among numerous examples provided by the two-page article was a
report that around 16,000 youth in eastern Santiago were unemployed in
2006, when a survey by social workers put the figure at 29,000.

Eastern Granma province claimed only 2 per cent of its population as
unemployed in 2006, or around 2,000 people, while another social worker
survey found the number of unemployed under 45 was 37,000, the newspaper
said, including housewives and 13,000 men.

Raul Castro, since temporarily taking over for his ailing brother Fidel
Castro 16 months ago, has urged the official media to be more critical,
blasted bureaucrats for inaccurate reporting and encouraged debate among
ordinary citizens over the country's social and economic ills.

Since then retail-level pilfering and fraud, problems with the free
health care and education systems, a lack of entertainment for young
people and worker apathy are some subjects that have captured the
attention of the usually docile official media.

Fidel Castro, 81, suffering from an undisclosed intestinal ailment, has
undergone various operations since stepping aside. He regularly comments
on international and domestic affairs through writings published and
broadcast by all media, but has not appeared in public. Cuba launched a
series of programmes to reincorporate high school drop-outs into society
in 2001.

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