Friday, March 28, 2008

Cuban observers say new President is moving in the right direction

Cuban observers say new President is moving in the right direction
Wednesday, 26 March 2008

One month after Raul Castro took over the leadership of Cuba observers
say they have already begun seeing some changes.

Mr. Castro has begun to lift some of the many restrictions on daily life
as he tries to meet popular demand for better living conditions.

In the first month since he took over as President, Raul Castro's
government has allowed people to buy computers, DVD players and other
appliances including air conditioners and toasters.

The country's first new leader in half a century has also launched a
restructuring of agriculture to reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks and
boost production.

Frank Morah, a Cuba expert at the National War College in Washington
said meeting the food or nutritional needs of the population is number
one on Raul Castro's list of priorities.

Mr. Castro is now allowing private farmers and cooperatives more leeway
to buy tools, seeds and fertilizer.

A local communist party militant who spoke on condition of anonymity
said Raul Castro's style is completely different from his brothers.

But even as he begins to make modest reforms, Mr. Castro has not
announced them in the national communist newspaper, Granma, or on state

Officials insist that Mr. Castro will strive to improve living
conditions without adopting the commercial socialism of China but some
observers believe he will have little choice in the long run.

Cuban born economist Carmelo Messalago said the President's initial
steps are in the right direction, but he believes they fall short of
tackling the problem of excessive state control of the economy which is
the major obstacle to increased production.

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