Cuba Releases New Economic Guidelines Without Major Changes
By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
HAVANA — Aug 16, 2016, 4:24 PM ET
Cuba's ruling Communist Party released a new set of economic guidelines
Tuesday that emphasize the slow-moving and limited nature of the
country's reforms amid a sharp national economic downturn.
The guidelines "recognize the objective existence of market
relationships," but they also restate Cuba's commitment to a centrally
The 274 rules say concentration of property and wealth will not be
permitted and promise to advance internet service only "gradually,
according to our economic possibilities," in one of the world's
They update a document that laid out President Raul Castro's vision of
economic reform at the Cuban Communist Party's twice-a-decade congress
in 2011. Those reforms have allowed growth of tens of thousands of
private businesses ranging from self-employed cobblers to high-end
restaurants and small boutique hotels.
But the spread of private enterprise has failed to save the government
from cash shortages and economic stagnation due to a cutback in
subsidized oil from Venezuela.
Then-Economy Minister Marino Murillo said last month that Cuba saw 1
percent growth in the first half of 2016 despite an explosion in tourism
set off by the declaration of detente with the United States in December
2014. Murillo said the country would have to reduce electricity
consumption by 6 percent, with the majority of the reduction directed at
the state sector.
The government and state-run enterprises see less activity during the
summer, when many Cubans take long vacations. This summer has been
particularly slow, with more employees than usual taking longer vacation
and leaving the office by early afternoon. Air-conditioning has been cut
back in state buildings, and gas stations are frequently closed because
they have run out of fuel or are ostensibly undergoing repairs.
Cuba has so far not seen frequent or sustained power outages, shortages
or other dramatic effects of the slowdown.
There is, however, widespread popular frustration with the government's
failure to increase state salaries or allow the faster growth of private
Another Communist Party document released in May laying out the party's
vision for the country until 2030 mentions a new legal recognition of
small- and medium-sized business. Private businesses are currently
allowed only under a special category of self-employment, leading to
problems for businesses that run afoul of a bureaucracy that doesn't
officially recognize them.
The new guidelines contain no details about that reform, casting doubt
on whether it will go into effect anytime in the foreseeable future.
Frustrated by the lack of opportunities and worried that the U.S. will
end special privileges for Cuban immigrants, Cubans have been leaving
the island of 11 million people in growing waves. The rate of emigration
has more than doubled since the declaration of detente and more than
90,000 Cubans have entered the United States through border crossings.
More than 10,000 more have left in rafts and thousands of others have
gone to other countries.
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
Source: Cuba Releases New Economic Guidelines Without Major Changes -
ABC News -