Cuba marks “Day of the Rebel” with vow to change

CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba, (Reuters) – Cuba is pressing  ahead with plans to revamp its economy and fine tune its one  party political system, but it will take time, Vice President  Jose Ramon Machado Ventura said yesterday in a nationally  televised address.

His remarks came on one of the biggest days of Cuba’s  political calendar. The communist-ruled island was marking the  anniversary of the 1953 attack led by Fidel Castro on the  Moncada army barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba that  started the Cuban Revolution.

Machado’s speech was the first by a top Cuban leader since  April, when a Communist Party Congress approved a comprehensive  plan to move the Soviet-style economic system in a more  market-oriented direction and allow Cubans more personal  freedoms.

The plan would create a large “non-state” sector in  agriculture, retail services, construction and transportation  in a land where the government has monopolized all economic  activity.

The Cuban state would also move from subsidizing just about  everything to targeted welfare and loosen its grip on state  companies.

President Raul Castro announced at the April Congress plans  to establish term limits and in other ways try to improve the  political system.

“You can be sure we are going forward without haste or  pause, working systematically and in an coordinated fashion,”  Machado said in the central province of Ciego de Avila, where  festivities for “The Day of the Rebel” were held.Cubans are pressing for quick adoption of measures allowing  them to buy and sell homes and cars for the first time in 50  years and improving food production and distribution, but not  others that would eliminate gratuities such as a food ration  and cut the state labor force by 20 percent.

 “SOLUTIONS TO
OLD PROBLEMS”      

But Machado urged patience due to the long-term  implications of reform. “We are not taking half measures nor  improvising, but looking for definitive solutions to old  problems,” he said.
Machado, 81, repeatedly called on Cubans to work harder and  in a more organized manner to overcome the economic crisis  gripping the country.

He also urged workers and administrators to eliminate  “labor and social indiscipline, deficient accounting, poor use  of resources and bureaucratic attitudes,” among other ills  affecting economic activity. “The mentality of doing nothing, of waiting for something  to come down from above, has to be definitively broken,” he  said, apparently referring to the bureaucratic malaise  affecting the country.

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