Comrade Obama hardest hit…
HAVANA (AP) — Cuban President Raul Castro told legislators Saturday that the future of the country’s revolution is at stake as the government tries to institute sweeping economic reforms, adding that the changes are meant to strengthen socialism — not replace it.
Cuba has announced it will lay off a half-million workers from bloated state-run enterprises, while simultaneously allowing more free enterprise. It has also begun to scale back many of the subsidies Cubans have come to rely on to compensate for salaries that average just $20 a month.
Castro has argued that the changes are needed to boost notoriously low productivity, and that once that happens, living standards will begin to rise. He urged his countrymen to embrace the changes, and warned that anybody who doesn’t will be left behind.
“The life of the revolution is in the balance,” Castro said in a two-hour speech closing out a twice-yearly meeting of the island’s national assembly. He repeated his contention that the dollop of limited capitalism being injected into the economy does not mean the end of the revolution’s ideal to create an egalitarian utopia.
“The strategic economic changes are being made to sustain socialism,” he said. “They are to preserve and strengthen socialism, so as to make it irrevocable.”
He also warned his countrymen that they’ll have to work in the new Cuba, and can no longer rely on the state for handouts.
“Many of us Cubans confuse socialism with freebies and subsidies, and equality with egalitarianism,” the president said.