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)
April 26, 2011
Last week, Cuban President Raul Castro endorsed sweeping economic reforms, proposed term limits for government and Communist Party officials, and conceded that the party's failure to groom a new generation of leaders will make it harder to find a successor. The proposed reforms could usher in major changes. For the first time since the 1959 revolution, the government would allow Cubans to own and sell houses and cars. Taxis, barbershops, restaurants and other privately run businesses would be allowed to expand and hire workers.
April 5, 2012 |
HAVANA — Olga Lidia Garcia sat back and surveyed the length of her empire: a storefront with seven busy manicurists, scrubbing, clipping, buffing, gluing and polishing to the bounce of salsa. The shop, decked out in oversize Oriental fans and racks stocked with a Day-Glo rainbow of nail polishes, shares the street-level space with a tiny photo studio. Garcia, wearing a tumble of frizzy hair, electric-blue dress and dangling golden hoop earrings, is manicurist-in-chief. This is a good day. "Look at this," Garcia said, a note of wonder in her voice.
July 10, 2010
At least one life saved. Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended a hunger strike following the announcement that 52 political prisoners would be freed from jail under a deal Spain and the Roman Catholic Church negotiated with the government of President Raul Castro. The agreement came too late for Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a prisoner of conscience who died in February on a hunger strike protesting mistreatment, but just in time for the 48-year-old Farinas. A psychologist and journalist, Farinas was seeking the release of other political prisoners.
April 18, 2009 |
The U.S. and Cuba built sudden momentum Friday toward easing half a century of hostility as President Obama met Havana's willingness to discuss sensitive topics, including human rights, with a declaration that he was ready for a "new beginning" in relations. One official acknowledged that the Obama administration was caught off guard by Cuban President Raul Castro's willingness to discuss issues long considered off-limits by the communist leadership.
March 20, 2008 |
Havana is studying changes that would make it easier for Cubans to travel and work abroad, including elimination of exit permits, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said. New President Raul Castro has begun steps to eliminate what he calls "excessive prohibitions" since taking over from his ailing brother, Fidel Castro. Cuba is one of the few countries that require citizens to have an exit permit to travel abroad. Thousands leave illegally every year.
April 29, 2008 |
Cuban President Raul Castro announced that all death sentences had been commuted to prison terms of 30 years to life except those of three people charged with terrorism. Castro said two Central Americans charged with hotel bombings in the 1990s that took the life of an Italian tourist, and a Cuban American charged with murder during an attempt at armed infiltration of the island, were not included and their cases were on appeal. "This does not mean we have eliminated the death penalty from the penal code," Castro said.
September 17, 2006 |
Representatives of 118 Non-Aligned Movement nations condemned Israel's attacks on Lebanon and supported a peaceful resolution to the U.S.-Iran nuclear dispute in the final declaration of a summit that brought together some of the world's staunchest American foes. The 92-page declaration also broadly condemns terrorism, and although calling democracy a universal value, says no one country or region should define it for the world.
March 14, 2008 |
Communist Cuba has authorized the unrestricted sale of computers and video players in the first sign that President Raul Castro is moving to improve access to consumer goods. An internal government memo says the appliances can go on sale immediately, although air conditioners will not be available until next year and toasters until 2010 because of limited power supplies. Only foreigners and companies have been able to buy computers in Cuba before now, and DVD players were seized at the airport until customs rules were eased last year.