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Reforms loom, but not capitalism — Cuba president

Friday, July 20, 2018

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HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Tuesday said that while reforms loom in the communist country, they would not be an embrace of capitalism.

Cuba is set to adopt constitutional reforms that will recognise private property and the market economy to update its legal system.

Yet it does not want to abandon socialism, which in Cuban terms values health care and education, but also frowns upon differences in personal wealth.

“In Cuba, there is not going to be, and there will not be, shifts to capitalism or concessions of any kind to those who would like to, in 1,000 different ways, move us away from historical ... policies of the revolution,” Diaz-Canel, 58, said in an address.

“Simply expect from us efforts and decisions aimed at fighting, uniting, ... and winning,” he told the crowd.

In a reform of the island nation's 1976 constitution expected to be quickly approved, the fundamental means of production will remain under central control. But foreign investment will be recognised as an important spur to development, according to details of the document published Saturday by the official newspaper Granma.

But the Communist Party will remain “the superior leading force of society and of the State”.

The proposed changes come as Diaz-Canel, a former provincial leader, is in only his third month as Cuban president, succeeding two icons of Cuba's revolutionary generation, Raul Castro and before him — his brother Fidel.

The draft constitution says the Council of Ministers, effectively the island's Government, “will be under the direction of a prime minister,” returning to the pre-1976 system.

Cuba had hoped that a diplomatic opening to the United States, agreed on with then President Barack Obama, would stimulate the island's struggling economy.

But Obama ended the US Government's Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy and then his successor, Donald Trump, reversed the detente, to the dismay of many Cubans.

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