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HAVANA (AP) - Ailing leader Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president early Tuesday after nearly a half-century in power, saying in a letter published in online official media that he would not accept a new term when the newly elected parliament meets on Sunday.

"I will not aspire nor accept—I repeat I will not aspire or accept—the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief," read the letter signed by Castro and published quietly overnight without advance warning in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.

 

The new National Assembly is meeting Sunday for first time since January elections to pick the governing Council of State, including the presidency Castro holds. There had been wide speculation about whether he would accept a nomination for re-election to that post or retire.

 

The 81-year-old Castro's overnight announcement effectively ends his rule of almost 50 years over Cuba, positioning his 76-year-old brother Raul for permanent succession to the presidency.

 

Over the decades, the fiery guerrilla leader reshaped Cuba into a communist state 90 miles from U.S. shores and survived assassination attempts, a CIA-backed invasion and a missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Since his rise to power on New Year's Day 1959, Castro resisted attempts by 10 U.S. administrations to topple him, including the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

 

The United States' discovery of nuclear-armed missiles on the island led to a showdown of the world's then-superpowers before the Soviet Union agreed to remove them.

 

Monarchs excepted, Castro was the world's longest ruling head of state.

 

His ironclad rule ensured Cuba remained among the world's last few remaining communist countries, long after the breakup of the Soviet Union and collapse of communism across Eastern Europe.

 

Castro's designated successor was his brother Raul, five years younger and No. 2 in Cuba's power structure as defense minister. Raul Castro had been in his brother's rebel movements since 1953.

 

Castro had already temporarily ceded his powers to his brother on July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had undergone intestinal surgery.

 

More than a year after falling ill, the elder Castro still had not been seen in public, appearing only sporadically in official photographs and videotapes and publishing dense essays about mostly international themes as his younger brother began to consolidate his rule.

 

But the United States, bent on blocking Fidel Castro's plans for his younger brother to succeed him, built a detailed plan in 2005 for American assistance to ensure a democratic transition on the island of 11.2 million people after his death.

 

Castro and other Cuban officials long insisted "there will be no transition" and that the island's socialist political and economic systems will live on long after he is gone.

 

Castro's supporters admired his ability to provide a high level of health care and education for citizens while remaining fully independent of the United States.

 

But his detractors called him a dictator whose totalitarian government systematically denied individual freedoms and civil liberties such as speech, movement and assembly.

 

(Courtesy of AP/Breitbart)

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Bizarre : je me serais attendu à ce qu'il meurt au pouvoir. Je suppose qu'il se sait peut-être mourant (en bout de course) et que prenant à coeur les intérêts de son pays qu'il a ainsi décidé de quitter le pouvoir pour donner le champs libre à son frère qui est plus apte à diriger que lui.

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j'espère seulement qu'il a un plan B.....il faudrait que son frère ou lui pense à organiser une démocratisation graduellement ...

 

en tout cas quelquechose pour s'assurer que les américains vont pas rentrer là et foutre le bordel ou qu'il reprenne le contrôle du pays comme dans le temps de Batista..

 

qu'il fasse appel aux autres pays sud-américains proche idéologiquement de Cuba (brésil, Vénézuela, Pérou...) pour aider Cuba...qu'il fasse appel à l'ONU, à l'union européenne...n'importe quoi avant les Yankees

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  • 2 years later...

Reform in Cuba

Trying to make the sums add up

Raúl Castro unveils his plan for an economy of powerful, more efficient state companies and the legalisation of small businesses

Nov 11th 2010 | HAVANA

 

 

ON THE rare occasions when Cuba’s political leaders want to signal a change of direction, or even just reaffirm existing policies, they do so by calling a congress of the ruling Communist Party. Traditionally, these get-togethers were held every five years or so. But the most recent one took place in 1997. Since then, economic problems, the illness that led to Fidel Castro relinquishing the presidency in 2006, and palpable indecision have led to the repeated postponement of what would be the sixth congress. Many Cubans had assumed it would never happen.

 

Now, at last, Raúl Castro, who replaced his elder brother and was formally named as president in 2008, has summoned the congress for late April to “make fundamental decisions on how to modernise the Cuban economic model”. The announcement comes shortly after the government revealed plans to lay off at least 500,000 state workers and encourage more people to seek self-employment or form co-operatives. The congress will approve new “guidelines for socio-economic policy” set out in a 32-page booklet released this week.

 

So are the Castro brothers, in the twilight of their lives, preparing to lead Cuba towards a mixed economy, similar to that of China? Or are these reforms just short-term, reversible measures, designed to mitigate an acute shortage of cash? The government’s recently published list of 178 now-permitted lines of self-employment makes disappointing reading for those who hope for radical reform. If a communist bureaucrat was asked to present to his superiors a document identifying areas of private enterprise that posed no threat to the state, this would be it.

 

 

Cubans can now legally work for themselves as a clown, a button sewer or a fancy-dress dancer (in the costume of a 1940s Cuban crooner, Beny Moré, the list bizarrely specifies). Repairing furniture is allowed; selling it is not. But the list also includes more conventional trades such as building and plumbing. State media have stressed that self-employment should from now on be considered an acceptable way of life, and those that choose it will no longer be “stigmatised”. Even so, the guidelines insist that the self-employed will not be allowed to “accumulate property”.

 

One way of interpreting the changes is that rather than creating new opportunities, they merely legalise what was already a widespread informal economy of clandestine private enterprise. Cubans working for themselves will now have to pay taxes, ranging from 25% to 50%. But allowing widespread private businesses requires a host of other changes.

 

New wholesale outlets will be set up where supplies can be bought. The self-employed will be able to hire staff beyond the family. That is a big change: since the 1960s the use of the words “employee” and “employer” has been strongly discouraged. No longer will wages be capped. Individuals will be allowed to rent, buy and sell their homes.

 

Many Cubans remain sceptical. Plenty remember Cuba’s first, limited opening to private enterprise in the 1990s (following the fourth party congress, in 1991), when people were allowed to let out rooms and run their own restaurants. Briefly, such businesses thrived. But as soon as government finances improved, as cheap Venezuelan oil partly replaced vanished Soviet largesse, the authorities stopped issuing new licences for self-employment and suffocated family businesses with draconian taxes and endless bureaucracy.

 

“When they talk about ‘reform’ here, they never really mean it,” says Evelyn, a biology student in Havana. After half a century of life under the Castros, many Cubans have convinced themselves that nothing will ever change. They have become experts at making daily ends meet and not pondering the future. They may be in for a shock.

Cubans’ wages are low ($20-30 a month at the unofficial exchange rate) and they have to augment the state ration book in expensive farmers’ markets. But the state always guaranteed them jobs, workplace perks, free health care and education, and heavily subsidised housing and transport. Now it is struggling to do so. On top of the long-standing inefficiencies of central planning and the difficulties caused by the American economic embargo have come other blows, including devastating hurricanes in 2008 and fewer tourists because of the world recession. The government has repeatedly defaulted on hard-currency payments.

 

Raúl Castro takes the view that Cuba can no longer afford the bloated and paternalistic state he inherited from Fidel, and that the state’s payroll should be linked to productivity. Government economists calculate that 1m workers, or one in four of those employed by the state, are surplus to requirements. The first lay-offs have begun, with several hundred redundancies in the ministry buildings which surround Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución.

 

Officially, unemployment is still only 1.7%. But wander through the capital, and aside from many people hanging around doing nothing, beggars are ever more common. There is a new plea from those asking passing foreigners for money: “There is no work here.” As well as cutting spending on education and health, Mr Castro plans to phase out the ration book, replacing it with targeted help.

 

The calling of the party congress marks the culmination of a four-year debate among Cuba’s leaders. Raúl Castro and his allies have clearly won it, against the more doctrinaire officials promoted by Fidel Castro after he abandoned the limited opening of the 1990s. Fidel Castro’s health has improved this year. But in his public appearances, and in rambling essays read out on the evening news, he has stuck rigidly to comments on world affairs, not domestic issues.

 

Raúl’s victory has been reflected in a gradual shuffling of the government line-up. Only three ministers appointed by Fidel remain in office, and none holds economic jobs. Last to go was Yadira García Vera, sacked as minister of basic industry in September after being publicly accused of poor management.

 

Victory for the decentralisers

 

Raúl, who was previously defence minister, has brought in army officers to do many jobs. The army is Cuba’s most efficient institution and has played a big role in the tourist industry since the 1990s. The armed forces’ holding company, called GAESA, has emerged as the dominant force in the economy. It is run by Raúl’s son-in-law, Colonel Luis Alberto Rodríguez. A shadowy figure who speaks English with an impeccable upper-class British accent (which he says he picked up from his KGB tutors while a student in the Soviet Union), he boasts that his organisation controls 40% of the Cuban economy.

 

That share looks set to grow. Colonel Héctor Oroza, formerly the number two at GAESA, was recently put in charge of another state conglomerate, CIMEX, replacing its civilian director. CIMEX is Cuba’s biggest company, turning over more than $1 billion; among other things, it processes remittances from Cubans abroad and rents property to foreigners.

 

The new guidelines promise to intensify the decentralisation of the economy that Raúl favours (and Fidel opposed), granting wide autonomy to state companies. They will be expected to pay their own way—and liquidated if they do not. They may be freer to set up joint ventures with foreign companies, in new “special development zones” aimed at boosting job creation.

 

Seemingly in preparation for this, many companies have been purged. Managers at Habanos, a cigar-maker, have been interrogated over claims that $60m is missing. In September Pedro Álvarez, the former boss of Alimport, which handles food imports from the United States, was arrested at his home and taken away in handcuffs. Several officials at the ministry in charge of oil and nickel production are said to have been jailed after being found guilty of taking, and offering, bribes. “Raúl’s men have always been suspicious of some of the civilians who run Cuban businesses,” says a businessman in Havana. “Now they seem to be getting rid of them all.”

 

The guidelines fail to join up all the dots of the new economic picture, but together with other recent announcements they do sketch out Raúl’s vision for his country: powerful state companies run by trusted army officers, an attempt to tax and regulate the black market by allowing self-employment, and setting wages, prices and employment according to results and productivity. Social provision will increasingly be the job of local party officials. The ultimate aim is to boost exports and reduce reliance on imports, and to unify Cuba’s twin currencies of worthless domestic pesos and stronger “convertible” ones.

 

The big unanswered question concerns the succession. The party congress will be followed by a separate conference to discuss internal political matters, at which clues may be offered. Hidden away in some quiet streets of the capital are once-famous names tipped as future leaders. They now live in obscurity. Roberto Robaina, a former foreign minister, whiles away his time painting watercolours. Felipe Pérez Roque, another former foreign minister, is said to work as an electrician. Carlos Lage, de facto prime minister until last year, is believed to be practising medicine again. Perhaps Colonel Rodríguez is the dauphin now. Or maybe the Castros will make no succession arrangements.

 

Either way, whoever takes over will inherit a system in which, for the first time, there is a small but real place for private enterprise. And stopping small businesses from growing may prove harder than preventing them from being set up at all.

 

http://www.economist.com/node/17463421?story_id=17463421&fsrc=scn/tw/te/rss/pe

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Je leur souhaite de changer positivement en permettant le développement d'entreprises privées mais en évitant de suivre l'exemple de la Russie où le totalitarisme a repris le devant de la scène. La garanti des libertés individuelles, une société de droits, la libre circulation des personnes et des marchandises, de même que l'encouragement de la libre entreprise, sont les fondements d'une société moderne et ouverte. La démonstration de l'échec du système actuel n'est plus à faire et l'idéologie doit faire place au pragmatisme. Mais il faudra du temps pour purger le pays de ses vieilles habitudes et idéalement aller par étapes afin d'éviter l'anarchie et les dérapages qui pourraient miner la confiance de la population dans un avenir meilleur.

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  • 5 months later...

LOL :rotfl:

 

Castro celebrates ‘new generation’ of 80-year-olds

 

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Kelly McParland Apr 19, 2011 – 12:54 PM ET | Last Updated: Apr 19, 2011 12:57 PM ET

 

REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

 

The Castro brothers, Fidel and young Raul

 

In Cuba, “new” leadership means an 80-year-old taking over as the second highest-ranking official in the only legal political party, and a 78-year-old being promoted to the number 3 spot.

 

It could hardly be classed as a generational change, but it’s the best the Cuban communists could do. For the first time in more than half a century, Fidel Castro was not among the formal leadership approved at the party congress in Havana Tuesday, the first one held in 14 years. At 84, Castro has been slowly fading from the scene, and was too frail to attend the congress (though he did put in a surprise last-minute appearance). His little brother Raul, a mere sprite of a lad at 79, was elected first secretary of the Communist Party, to go with his role as president. Raul is what counts as the younger generation on the island, which has resisted its own fossilized version of communism while China has embraced free enterprise and economic reform, and the Soviet Union has ceased to exist.

 

It may be that the message is starting to filter through to young Raul, though. According to coverage in Al Jazeera, “sweeping economic changes” are in the wind, including elimination of more than a million government jobs (in a country where you work for the government, or you don’t work), and the right to own and sell your own home.

 

It will see more than a million government jobs and subsidies slashed over the next couple of years. They will also encourage more private initiative and foreign investment, giving more autonomy to state companies and reducing state spending.

Under President Raul Castro’s plan, one of the trademark features of the socialist system – the universal monthly food ration – will be gradually phased out for those who do not need it.

Castro said on Saturday the ration given all Cubans since 1963 had become an “unsupportable burden” for the cash-strapped government trying to rationalise its finances.

Cuba spends heavily on food imports, but hopes to increase food production by decentralising agriculture and increasing the role of private farmers.

 

On the first day of the congress, Raul suggested future leaders should be limited to two terms in office. As with the other proposals, that sounds revolutionary enough, but might not translate as such in practice. Cuba has flirted with seemingly-significant changes in the past, with nothing ever really changing.

 

Fidel Castro declared that it’s up to the “next generation” (presumably not him and Raul) to repair the economy and “correct the errors or the past” (such as letting him and Raul run the country for 50 years). Cuba’s economy is among the world’s poorest, though the Castro brothers could argue that Washington hasn’t done a great job on that front either.

 

“The new generation is called to rectify and change without hesitation all that must be rectified and changed, and to continue demonstrating that socialism is also the art of making the impossible happen,” Castro said.

 

And they better hurry if they want to get it done before the turn 90.

 

National Post

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cuba adopte une série de réformes

Mise à jour le lundi 9 mai 2011 à 23 h 57

Commenter (21) »Partager

 

 

Photo: AFP/Adalberto Roque

 

 

Les autorités cubaines ont rendu publiques lundi les grandes lignes de 313 réformes économiques et sociales, destinées à encourager l'initiative privée et à réduire le rôle de l'État dans la vie économique, tout en interdisant l'accumulation des biens privés. Elles devraient notamment permettre à la population de voyager à l'étranger, pour la première fois en plus de 50 ans.

 

Si les séjours à l'extérieur du pays ne sont pas formellement interdits, leur coût et les multiples barrages bureaucratiques auxquels ils sont soumis sont fortement dissuasifs. À part les athlètes, les artistes, les universitaires et quelques hommes d'affaires, très peu de Cubains ont la chance de se rendre à l'étranger.

 

La version finale des réformes économiques, annoncées à l'automne, amendées, puis adoptées lors d'un congrès historique du Parti communiste cubain, en avril dernier, inclut d'autres mesures à fort impact social.

 

 

 

 

Les Cubains auront par exemple le droit de vendre et d'acheter des véhicules et des logements. S'ils peuvent déjà acheter librement une propriété, ils n'avaient jusqu'ici pas le droit de la revendre pour en tirer un profit. Cette interdiction a donné naissance, il y a plusieurs années déjà, à une vaste économie souterraine, par laquelle s'échangent les appartements.

 

Quant aux automobiles, elles ne peuvent être vendues qu'avec l'autorisation de l'État, à moins qu'elles ne datent d'avant la Révolution, ce qui fait le succès des vieilles Cadillac ou Buick américaines.

 

Le gouvernement cubain prévoit également l'élargissement à tous du crédit bancaire.

 

Autre élément prévu : la fin progressive des rations alimentaires distribuées chaque mois aux Cubains depuis plusieurs décennies, définies le mois dernier par Raul Castro comme un « fardeau insupportable » pour le pays. Les salaires des dirigeants et des employés des entreprises publiques seront liés aux performances financières de ces entreprises.

 

Les 3700 entreprises publiques cubaines, qui contrôlent la majeure partie de l'économie, gagneront pour leur part en autonomie, mais celles qui ne sont pas rentables, c'est-à-dire la majorité, ne pourront plus compter sur l'aide de l'État.

 

Gros point noir de l'économie cubaine, qui doit importer 80 % des produits alimentaires dont elle a besoin, la production agricole sera décentralisée.

 

Les changements incluent aussi des réductions dans les effectifs de la fonction publique, les subventions et les dépenses ainsi qu'une ouverture accrue au secteur privé, dont la possibilité pour les petites entreprises d'embaucher leurs propres salariés.

 

La fin du double système de devises

 

Les autorités comptent aussi éventuellement mettre un terme au double système de devises, celui du peso convertible CUC et du peso cubain CUP, avec lequel sont payés la plupart des salariés cubains. Le processus « devra être préparé et mis en place avec rigueur », indique toutefois la brochure.

 

Autant de mesures indispensables, selon le président Castro, pour éviter « un naufrage général » du modèle économique cubain, calqué sur celui de l'Union soviétique des années 70.

 

Plusieurs réformes sont déjà entrées en application, comme la réduction des effectifs, mais d'autres ont dû être affinées lors du congrès du Parti communiste et attendent toujours leurs décrets d'application.

 

Lundi, des files d'attente se sont formées devant les kiosques à journaux où étaient mises en vente les brochures dressant la liste des réformes. Les brochures distribuées restent cependant avares de détails sur ces sujets, et de nombreux Cubains se demandent comment seront appliquées, dans la pratique, les nouvelles mesures.

 

Les conditions restent encore à définir, tout comme le calendrier de mise en oeuvre de ces réformes, qui visent à relancer une économie étatique qui croule sous l'endettement et qui est marquée par une faible productivité.

 

Mort d'un dissident

 

Le dissident cubain, Juan Wilfredo Soto, est par ailleurs mort dimanche, trois jours après avoir été arrêté et frappé par la police à Santa Clara, dans le centre de l'île, selon la dissidence cubaine. Il participait, jeudi, à une manifestation au cours de laquelle il a scandé des slogans antigouvernementaux.

 

Avant cette dernière détention, Juan Wilfredo Soto avait déjà été arrêté à trois reprises et accusé de divulgation de « propagande ennemie ».

 

Officiellement, les autorités ont dit à la famille qu'il était mort d'une pancréatite, a rapporté à l'AFP le dissident Guillermo Farinas.

 

Washington a déclaré lundi à l'AFP être « très préoccupé » de la situation.

 

Radio-Canada.ca avec

Agence France Presse et Reuters

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