Raul Castro showing impatience at slow reform pace

HAVANA,  (Reuters) – Cuban President Raul Castro has  sounded increasingly impatient in recent months with the slow  implementation of his economic reforms, which he publicly  blames mostly on bureaucratic sloth and resistance to change.  

In public statements, he has accused government cadres of  laziness, corruption, neglect and ideological rigidity and has  repeatedly urged them to reject old revolutionary dogma and  embrace new ways of thinking. 

“Let us clean our heads of foolishness of all kinds. Don’t  forget that the first decade of the 21st century has already  passed, and it’s time,” he sternly told the National Assembly  on Aug. 1.  

His more than 300 reforms, some already in place, but most  still pending, will liberalize Cuba’s struggling, Soviet-style  economy by emphasizing greater private initiative, reducing  subsidies, decentralizing government and slashing a million  people from government payrolls.  

The goal is to assure the future of Cuban communism after  he and his elderly leadership team are gone.  

While he has counseled patience in implementing the  changes, he told the National Assembly that global economic  problems required faster improvements. 
“The biggest obstacle we confront … is the psychological  barrier formed by inertia, inflexibility, pretense or double  standards, indifference and insensibility,” Castro said.  

He has spoken about those topics since soon after his rise  to power when older brother Fidel Castro fell ill in July 2006,  but his complaints have taken on added bite over time. 

Last December, Castro spoke bluntly to the National  Assembly about dishonesty among the ranks.  
“We must struggle to eradicate once and for all lies and  deceit from the cadres’ behavior at all levels,” he said.  
          BE LAZY  
He cited the three basic principles of the Inca  civilization — do not lie, do not steal and do not be lazy —  and said: “Those are correct principles aren’t they? Let us try  to bear them in mind.” 
At a Communist Party congress in April, Castro said the  preservation of Cuban communism “requires a change of mentality  … that is, to do away with the resistance to change based on  empty dogma and slogans.” 
In his Aug. 1 speech, he used some of his strongest  language yet to tell recalcitrant and corrupt officials they  better get on board with the new ways or a price would be  paid.  

“I warn that all bureaucratic resistance to strict  compliance (with the reforms) will be useless,” he said.  

“I have never been in favour of pressuring or of abrupt  changes … but faced with violations of the constitution …  there is no alternative but to resort to prosecutors and the  courts, as we have already begun to do,” Castro said.  

But who exactly is Castro railing against? His campaign  against corruption has flushed out top-level officials in  aviation, the cigar business and telecommunications, a number  of whom are now behind bars.

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