Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cuban leader warns of austerity

Cuban leader warns of austerity

Cuban President Raul Castro has warned that Cubans must be prepared for
the consequences of the current global economic crisis.

He said that developing countries had already felt the effects of rising
fuel and food prices.

The speech was part of the celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of
the beginning of the communist revolution.

President Castro had been expected to announce new economic policies,
but in the event did not do so.

He has already introduced significant changes in the country since
succeeding his ailing brother, Fidel, in February.

The president recently announced a move to allow some private farming
and relaxed limits on mobile phones and computers.

'Excessive prohibitions'

Speaking for 48 minutes, President Castro warned the crowds that the
economic austerity suffered in recent years would not be helped by
increases in world food prices.

"The revolution has done and will continue to do whatever is possible to
continue to advance and reduce to the bare minimum the inevitable
consequences of international crises to our people," he said.

"But we must explain to our people the difficulties and thus prepare
them to deal with them."

Raul Castro also had a message for Cuba's ideological enemy, the United

"We shall continue paying special attention to defence, regardless of
the results of the next presidential elections in the United States,"
said the president.

Since taking over from his elder brother, Raul Castro has made available
more unused state land to private farmers, eased restrictions on mobile
phones for ordinary citizens and allowed some workers to seek legal
titles for their homes.

February - signs two human rights agreements at the UN
March - lifts ban on Cubans staying in tourist hotels
May - lifts ban on private ownership of mobile phones
June - announces plans to abandon salary equality
July - decrees state-controlled farm land can be leased to private
farmers and co-operatives

He has also signed UN human rights accords and announced that workers
can earn productivity bonuses, doing away with the egalitarian concept
that everyone must earn the same.

Mr Castro delivered his speech to a crowd of some 10,000 people at the
parade grounds of Santiago's historic Moncada army barracks, where he
and his brother led a fruitless rebel assault exactly 55 years ago.

Both men were jailed for the attack, but did of course eventually go on
to seize power from the then Cuban leader, Fulgencio Batista, on 1
January 1959.

"When we attacked the Moncada, none of us dreamed of being here today,"
the president told the crowd.

The Rebellion Day celebrations two years ago were the last public event
at which Fidel Castro was seen before he underwent emergency intestinal
surgery. He has since appeared only in official videos and photographs.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/07/27 02:38:52 GMT

No comments: