Castro says Cuban model doesn't work
By PAUL HAVEN (AP)
HAVANA — Fidel Castro told a visiting American journalist that Cuba's
communist economic model doesn't work, a rare comment on domestic
affairs from a man who has conspicuously steered clear of local issues
since stepping down four years ago.
The fact that things are not working efficiently on this cash-strapped
Caribbean island is hardly news. Fidel's brother Raul, the country's
president, has said the same thing repeatedly. But the blunt assessment
by the father of Cuba's 1959 revolution is sure to raise eyebrows.
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine,
asked if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other
countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us
anymore" Goldberg wrote Wednesday in a post on his Atlantic blog.
He said Castro made the comment casually over lunch following a long
talk about the Middle East, and did not elaborate. The Cuban government
had no immediate comment on Goldberg's account.
Since stepping down from power in 2006, the ex-president has focused
almost entirely on international affairs and said very little about Cuba
and its politics, perhaps to limit the perception he is stepping on his
Goldberg, who traveled to Cuba at Castro's invitation last week to
discuss a recent Atlantic article he wrote about Iran's nuclear program,
also reported on Tuesday that Castro questioned his own actions during
the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, including his recommendation to Soviet
leaders that they use nuclear weapons against the United States.
Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has clung to its communist
The state controls well over 90 percent of the economy, paying workers
salaries of about $20 a month in return for free health care and
education, and nearly free transportation and housing. At least a
portion of every citizen's food needs are sold to them through ration
books at heavily subsidized prices.
President Raul Castro and others have instituted a series of limited
economic reforms, and have warned Cubans that they need to start working
harder and expecting less from the government. But the president has
also made it clear he has no desire to depart from Cuba's socialist
system or embrace capitalism.
Fidel Castro stepped down temporarily in July 2006 due to a serious
illness that nearly killed him.
He resigned permanently two years later, but remains head of the
Communist Party. After staying almost entirely out of the spotlight for
four years, he re-emerged in July and now speaks frequently about
international affairs. He has been warning for weeks of the threat of a
nuclear war over Iran.
Castro's interview with Goldberg is the only one he has given to an
American journalist since he left office.