Cuba reforms won't cure endemic problems: dissidents

17th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Economic reforms announced by Cuba's president will not cure the communist-ruled country's endemic ills and only aim to improve its international credibility, a dissident spokesman said Sunday.

"These are palliative measures which alleviate but do not cure the endemic ills, which remain essentially the lack of freedom and the absence of rights," said Ernesto Gutierrez, secretary general of the Federation of Cuban Organisations in Spain.

"These reforms are only meant to buy time and improve (Cuba's) international credibility, especially in the financial and economic sectors," he told AFP.

Gutierrez said Saturday's announcement of reforms by President Raul Castro "seeks to alleviate the economic debacle facing the country but in no way tries to solve its real problems."

Castro outlined before the Communist Party Congress more than 300 economic reforms his government plans to set in motion, including eliminating 20 percent of state employees and opening the economy to private enterprise.

To help pick up slack on the unemployment front, Havana is expanding the categories of legal self-employment to 178, decentralising the food distribution system, expanding allowable areas of foreign investment, slashing subsidies and imposing a tax system.

Cuban dissidents also dismissed Castro's announcement that he backed political term limits of 10 years at most for top leadership spots in a country he and his brother Fidel Castro have led for more than five decades.

"Raul Castro is close to 80. He know that he can be around in good health for another 10 years at the most," said Gutierrez.

© 2011 AFP

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