Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Sep 9th 2010, 17:32 by The Economist online

IT WAS always assumed that there was at least one man left in Cuba who
still believed in its state-run economic system. Perhaps this is no
longer true. In a surprising off-the-cuff remark over a long lunch last
week with Jeffrey Goldberg, an American journalist, Fidel Castro, the
former president, said that there was no point in trying to export Cuban
economic ideas to other countries, because "the Cuban economic model
doesn't even work for us anymore."

For the man who conceived that model and then passionately defended it
for over half a century, this is quite an admission. "Fidel Castro has
joined the opposition", responded Yoani Sánchez, the country's
best-known dissident blogger. She has a point: direct criticism of
Cuba's economic system was branded "anti-revolutionary" in the past, and
Mr Castro has had economists jailed for saying precisely what he is now

So what is he up to? In recent weeks, the 84-year-old has returned to
the public spotlight, after spending four years as a near-recluse with
an unspecified intestinal ailment. He appears to be enjoying the
attention once again, and is becoming increasingly outspoken. In another
conversation with Mr Goldberg, Mr Castro surprised his interviewer by
embarking on a passionate defence of Israel's right to exist. He also
criticised Cuba's supposed ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
for his anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust.

Some commentators have suggested that what Mr Castro says or does these
days should not be taken too seriously. He is an elderly man who
sometimes seems forgetful. Others point out that as he reflects on his
long, eventful life, the man who once said that "history will absolve
me" is striving extra-hard to make sure that it does.

But his comments about the economy might well be significant. They come
at a time when Raúl Castro, his brother and the current president, is
embarking on a slow but apparently determined effort to give more space
to private enterprise. He is allowing farmers, as well as barbers and
beauticians, to take increasing control of their own businesses. Earlier
this year, he warned Cubans that 20% of those working for the state
(almost a million people) will likely be laid off or given new roles.
Most recently, he has overseen a change in the law in Cuba which will
enable foreign developers to build villas on Cuban land, and sell them
to foreigners with 99-year leases. Those close to Raúl have long argued
that Fidel's presence was a restraint on all such reforms, and that
nothing will change while he is still alive. But if the former president
now says that the Cuban economy doesn't work, could the brakes on reform
be loosening?

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