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Cuban Reforms Bring Optimism and Criticism

April 26, 2008 10:30 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
President Raul Castro has lifted restrictions on cell phones, hotel stays and agriculture, but some question whether change is truly occurring in Cuba.

30-Second Summary

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Since taking over the presidency in February 2008, Raul Castro has made several reforms, which include allowing Cubans to own cell phones and stay in the same hotels as foreigners. In addition, farms are now able to obtain more land and supplies, the BBC reports.

However, not everyone is benefiting from reforms. For Cubans who do not receive money from relatives abroad, their lack of electronic equipment is “another reminder that those without U.S. currency are second-class citizens,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In early April 2008, Cuba announced that it would be overhauling the state wage system, increasing incentives for workers by removing the limit on employees’ earnings. A Reuters article called the reform a sign that Raul Castro hoped to improve Cuba’s economy.

The government maintains that reforms will not undermine socialism in Cuba. On April 16, an editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Granma said, “There will be a more perfect socialism … led by Fidel, Raul and the party’s leadership.”

Recently, Fidel Castro wrote an editorial in Granma that warned against “shameful concessions” through reforms. In addition, Cuba spoke out strongly against the United States after a peaceful protest was broken up in Havana last week.

To some critics, not much has changed in Cuba. An editorial in Florida newspaper Banderas News said reforms would “provide some relief from the torture and despair that is daily life in Cuba. But under Raul Castro, the fundamental nature of that life is unchanged.”

Headline Links: Cell phones and microwaves flood Cuba

Background Links: Raul Castro’s plans for reforms

Related Links: Fidel and Cuban government stand firm

Key Players: Raul Castro

Opinion & Analysis: The impact of reforms in Cuba

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