Cuban Reforms Created to Net Cash for Government, Miami Experts Say
Ray Sanchez | Direct from Havana
7:17 AM EDT, April 9, 2008
The string of modest reforms introduced by Raul Castro's government in
recent weeks are not only intended to manage popular expectations but
also to generate cash for the state, a panel of Cuba experts said Tuesday.
In the past five weeks the government has announced and enacted a series
of economic reforms, including measures that allow Cubans to buy cell
phones, computers and DVD players, and to stay at hotels once reserved
for foreign tourists. All require hard currency, rather than the Cuban
peso in which state workers are paid. The Cuban peso is worth
one-twenty-fourth of the hard peso, known as a CUC, which trades
one-for-one against the dollar.
While the changes are expected to create revenue for the state, they
don't signal a political opening by the new government, said Jaime
Suchlicki, director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American
Studies at the University of Miami.
"This is going to increase the desire for more change among the Cuban
people," Suchlicki said during a conference call of the institute's Cuba
Business Roundtable. "These measure are deepening the social and
economic divide within Cuban society."
Pedro Freye, co-chair of the global practice group at the law firm of
Akerman, Senterfitt, said he didn't expect the measures to have an
impact outside Havana.
"I don't see this really trickling down to the population at large," he