HAVANA, April 14th (Reuters) Cuban Ranchers will be allowed to do as they wish with their livestock “after meeting state quotas and always with a guarantee it will not result in a reduction of the herd, Read more
HAVANA, April 14th (Reuters) – Cuba is poised to enter the post-Castro era with Raul Castro due to step down as head of the ruling Communist Party at its congress this week, which will also address the island’s severe economic crisis, pandemic response, and signs of growing dissent.
Castro, 89, and his late older brother Fidel have successively ruled Cuba ever since leading a 1959 revolution that toppled a U.S.-backed dictator and installed a Communist-run country on the doorstep of the United States.
The congress, which takes place every five years, is the Communist party’s most important meeting electing party leadership and setting policy guidelines. Raul Castro said at the 2016 congress it would be the last one led by the so-called “historic generation” of revolutionary veterans.
The new generation of younger leaders is not expected to make sweeping changes to Cuba’s one-party, socialist model. But it will be under pressure to pursue further market-style reforms to the long-ailing, centrally planned economy, Cuban analysts said.
The April 16-19 congress comes as Cubans battle worsening widespread shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine after a liquidity crisis was exacerbated by a tightening of decades-old U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.
Hints on the reform path to come could be delivered at the meeting, the analysts said. But many Cubans say they are not hopeful much will change any time soon. Guidelines around the first moves to open the economy, announced in 2011, have still only been 70% implemented, according to the party.
“A lot of my generation feel frustrated with the pace of change,” said Jorge Quintana, 35, a Havana resident standing in an hour-long queue for detergent. “Many have emigrated looking for a new path.”
Castro is expected to hand over the leadership of the Communist Party, the most powerful position in the island nation of 11 million, to protege Miguel Diaz-Canel, 60, who in 2018 already inherited the presidency.
Diaz-Canel is under pressure to deliver results to retain support because he does not have the moral legitimacy of the historic generation, the analysts said.
Social reforms over the past decade, in particular the expansion of Internet access, have strengthened Cuban civil society. Small protests have cropped up nationwide lately despite tight control by authorities of public spaces.
Some dissidents at home and abroad say the time for democratic change has come and are urging U.S. President Joe Biden, who promised during his election campaign last year to ease sanctions, to keep the pressure on.
HARDLINERS VS REFORMERS
Hundreds of party delegates elected by card-carrying members will discuss the update of Cuba’s economic model as well as other matters like online “ideological subversion” and the pandemic, party newspaper Granma wrote in March.
Cuba, which prides itself on its healthcare, has one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the region. It also sent thousands of doctors to help other countries and has two homegrown vaccines in late-phase trials. Still, the congress coincides with a time of rising cases – over 900 new infections a day.
However, the economy remains Cuba’s top challenge, Diaz-Canel was cited as saying by Granma.
The economy shrank 11% last year as the pandemic devastated tourism. The crisis has already pushed the government to resume economic reforms, most notably a painful monetary overhaul.
“The strategic economic changes were defined in the two previous congresses,” said Cuba expert Arturo Lopez-Levy of the Holy Names University in California. “Now it’s fundamentally about discussing how to implement them.”
Diaz-Canel has sought to win the party’s trust with his government’s catchphrase “We are continuity,” said Lopez-Levy.
The party’s divisions derive not so much from a generational gap as a disagreement between reformers and those who fear less state control of the economy means less political control, said former Cuban diplomat and analyst Carlos Alzugaray.
Alzugaray said he hoped the Congress would show the party was prepared to take bolder reforms, widely backed by Cuban economists, involving decentralizing the economy, giving state enterprises greater autonomy, and allowing the private sector to work unfettered.
Raul Castro, meanwhile, would retire but not disappear, he said.
“He will stay as a figure,” Alzugaray said. “The final port of appeal in the case of any conflict that may emerge.”
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HAVANA, April 5th Some Spanish hoteliers, such as those of the Meliá chain in Cuba, have been abandoning some of their businesses on the island in recent years, which is why Cuba seeks Chinese businessmen to manage hotels and occupy that space.
This is what the academic José Luis Perelló said in an interview with the Xinhua agency when he suggested that there have already been multiple agreements between both nations and that it would be “very healthy” for Cuban tourism if this step were to be finalized.
He added that there are several Chinese companies with interests of this type on the island. For the specialist, China has a tremendous tradition in hotel management, even globally. He also said that his companies would provide Cuban companies with the inputs and raw materials necessary for national tourism.
Cuba is currently receiving tourism directly from Russia and Germany, through the Azur Air, Nordwind or Condor airlines. Tourists from Canada could join next month, through Air Canada and Transat, where restrictions on travel to the Caribbean are lifted.
New charter operations announced to Cayo Coco this summer But they will not be the only ones, because with regard to China, the aforementioned specialist himself said that Chinese tourism could play a very important role in the recovery of the leisure sector on the island.
He said that China is already an emerging market in Cuban tourism, since year after year, the number of visitors from that country grows. The number of Chinese tourists who have arrived on the island has increased in recent years, which is very clear proof of the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries, added Perelló, who keeps statistics at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism.
For example, in two decades, from 1994 to 2014, the visit of Chinese tourists increased from 622 people to more than 28 thousand. In 2018, they reached more than 49 thousand visitors from China. They are still small numbers compared to Canadians, for example, but it stands out how the number is increasing.
Hotel Meliá Trinidad Playa: 98% of execution after starting in 2017 The arrival of Chinese tourists to the Caribbean nation has a sustained rise of 23%. According to the statesman, these data reflect that the authorities and businessmen of China have an interest in issues related to leisure activities on the island.
Before the current health situation, more than 45 thousand Chinese visitors had arrived in Cuba. China ranked 13th among the countries that send tourists to the island.
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