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Raul Castro calls for harder work, fewer handouts
Cuban President Raul Castro called on Saturday for austerity measures including fewer subsidies for workers and stricter management to pull the country out of an economic morass aggravated this year by three hurricanes and the global financial crisis.

He told a year-end meeting of the National Assembly the government would cut official trips abroad by 50 percent and eliminate programs that reward good workers with free vacation trips but cost the government $60 million a year.

"The accounts don't square up," he said. "You have to act with realism and adjust the dreams to the true possibilities," said Castro, who officially replaced his ailing older brother Fidel Castro as president in February.

"Two plus two always equals four, never five," he said.

29 Dec 2008 by admin

Cash-short Cuba reports big jump in trade deficit
Cuba's trade deficit soared by nearly 70 percent, or an estimated $5 billion, in 2008 due mainly to rising prices for imports such as food and oil and falling prices for nickel, its main export, official media said on Friday.

Foreign Trade Minister Raul de la Nuez said in a speech to parliament deputies on Thursday that imports surged 43.8 percent while exports grew just 2.1 percent, said the Communist party daily, Granma.

The news follows reports that Cuba, battered by three hurricanes and the global financial crisis, is facing a cash crunch that is forcing it to seek debt restructuring with various countries and companies and delay cash transfers for payments abroad.

29 Dec 2008 by admin

Fifty years on, Cuba still in grip of revolution
Fifty years after Fidel Castro led a band of rebels to victory over a U.S.-backed dictator, his revolution goes on, Cuba firmly in its grip, in what some view as a triumph and others a tragedy.

That it has survived may be its greatest accomplishment, given five decades of unstinting opposition and an economic embargo from the nearby United States.

Fidel Castro, 32 when he took power on January 1, 1959, has become a sick old man, many of his fellow Cold War leaders have died and Communism has almost disappeared around the world.

29 Dec 2008 by admin

Cubans seek end to hardship, not revolution
When 70-year-old Communist Party member Amanda Gonzalez recalls life before the Cuban revolution, bitterness creeps into her voice.

She chokes back tears as she remembers her parents working long hours at dead-end jobs in a stratified society where the odds seemed hopelessly stacked against the poor and the rich showed little concern for their plight.

"Poor people at that time had nothing, and there were many poor. The rich only cared about profits and wealth," she said, sitting at a table in her peeling, 19th century home in central Havana.

29 Dec 2008 by admin

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