July 27, 2008 |
President Raul Castro did not announce any more changes to Cuba's communist system during a major speech. There had been expectation that Castro would use the occasion to announce further economic reforms. Since taking office about five months ago, Castro has made economic and social changes eschewed by his older brother, Fidel, such as opening more unused state land to private farmers, legalizing cellphones for ordinary citizens and allowing some workers to seek title to their homes.
March 22, 2008 |
Cubans have a new vehicle for expressing opinions: letters to the editor of the ruling Communist Party's newspaper, Granma. Letters for and against reforms under consideration by new President Raul Castro were published by Granma. One writer called for the elimination of the dual currency system, a major source of complaint among Cubans, who are paid in Cuban pesos but must buy many consumer goods using Cuba's hard-currency convertible pesos worth 24 times more. Publication of the letters was a novelty in a country where the press is controlled by a one-party state that allows no independent media and has a record of suppressing dissent.
November 12, 2009 |
Cuba has ordered all state enterprises to adopt "extreme measures" to cut energy use through the end of the year in hopes of avoiding the dreaded blackouts that plagued the country after the 1991 collapse of its then-leading ally, the Soviet Union. Government officials have been warned that the island is facing a "critical" energy shortage that requires the closing of nonessential factories and workshops and the shutting down of air conditioners and refrigerators not needed to preserve food and medicine, according to Reuters.
July 24, 2008 |
Fidel Castro said Wednesday that his brother President Raul Castro was right to adopt a "dignified silence" over a Moscow newspaper report that Russia may refuel nuclear bombers on the island, and said Cuba doesn't owe Washington any explanation about the report.
February 21, 2010 |
The highest-level meeting of U.S. and Cuban officials in Havana in years was overshadowed Saturday by a flourish of recriminations reminiscent of the Cold War-era tensions that have long polarized the two nations. The talks Friday in Havana focused on immigration issues, including visas and repatriation, part of a dialogue resumed in July after a six-year suspension. Both governments labeled the talks as positive. But on Saturday, Cuba scolded the U.S. officials, who used their visit to meet with dissidents.
April 17, 2012
Once again, Cuba was absent from the Summit of the Americas. Yet the communist nation might as well have attended the gathering last weekend in Cartagena, Colombia, because it took center stage, despite U.S. efforts to focus on other issues. Ecuador's president refused to attend the summit in protest of Cuba's exclusion. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Brazil's Dilma Rouseff, both moderates rather than left-wingers, said there should be no more Summits of the Americas without Cuba.
July 27, 2007 |
An estimated 100,000 cheering loyalists crammed a plaza here as acting President Raul Castro presided for the first time over ceremonies marking the start of the Cuban Revolution. In a one-hour speech, Castro acknowledged that the economy has failed to meet the needs of working people and signaled the need for unspecified "structural changes." "No one country can afford to spend more than what they have," he said during a ceremony peppered with praise for his convalescing older brother, Fidel.
September 17, 2010 |
Cuba's announcement that it will lay off half a million state employees, about 10% of the workforce, is a dramatic shift for the communist government as it urgently tries to salvage the flailing economy. The plan, which is scheduled to launch in full force next month, calls for workers to move into a small but soon-to-expand private sector of mostly mom-and-pop businesses, such as barber shops, B&Bs and vegetable farms. The government has defined 124 jobs that citizens can take on as "self-employed" businesspeople, allowing them to pocket profits but also requiring them to pay taxes.
February 3, 2013 |
Last month, Cuba opened its doors a little wider. President Raul Castro announced that Cuban citizens would no longer need to obtain notoriously hard to get exit permits to leave the country; just a passport. Many Cubans are understandably skeptical of Castro's action. No doubt some Cubans will still be denied passports, and there are still many restrictions on travel. Athletes, musicians and members of the military, for example, still have to obtain special permission from big brother (or, in this case, little brother, Raul)
September 27, 2013 |
Don't look for the next Yasiel Puig to begin paying taxes to the Cuban government just yet. But it could happen someday now that the island's communist leaders have agreed to allow athletes to sign contracts and compete in foreign countries. Although the move was being hailed in some circles Friday as a huge shift in policy, Cuba has been effectively selling many of its older athletes to foreign leagues in baseball and volleyball for more than a decade, mainly as a way for the cash-strapped country to make money.