Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

Cuba sets priorities so as not to return to the crisis of the "special period"

Cuba sets priorities so as not to return to the crisis of the "special period"


Given the renewed pressures from the United States and the inefficiency of its economy, Cuba established "clear" priorities in a plan until 2030 to avoid at all costs relapsing into a serious crisis similar to the so-called "special period" of the 1990s, announced this Saturday President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

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"The crudity of the moment requires us to establish clear and well-defined priorities, so as not to return to the difficult moments of the 'special period'," Díaz-Canel said at the close of an extraordinary session of the National Assembly, which approved this week the new Constitution of the Caribbean country.

The president, who will serve one year as head of state next Friday, acknowledged that the island still carries "the bales of administrative inefficiency, import mentality, lack of savings and insufficient income from exports."

"We can not exclude the manifestations of corruption and illegalities, unacceptable in the Revolution," said the president, who outlined "two absolute priorities: preparation for defense and economic battle."

The planning of the Cuban economy until 2030 is conceived in three stages (2019-2021, 2022-2026 and 2027-2030), with a primary focus on six "strategic sectors".

The priority will be tourism, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, renewable energy sources, food production, construction and export of professional services, the latter considered by analysts as the main source of income for the country.

Among the "immediate" tasks, Díaz-Canel included the reorganization of Cuban internal trade, the revitalization of the state business system and the promotion of the private sector, made up of more than 580,000 self-employed workers.

He called to "work intensively" to improve the food supply and solve the chronic problems of housing, transportation and the quality of services.

It must be achieved, "even in the midst of suffocating financial persecutions that make the importation of goods and resources of primary necessity particularly difficult," he said, referring to the restrictions of the US embargo. has doubled since the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House.

He also mentioned the stimulus to foreign investment, recognized in the new Magna Carta as vital to revive the battered economy of the island and that still does not reach the necessary levels burdened by bureaucratic obstacles.

"It is essential to save and control resources well," the president asked, in line with the appeal of his predecessor, the former president and leader of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba (only legal), Raul Castro, when he addressed the Parliament last Wednesday .

In his speech, Castro (87 years old) urged Cubans to "be prepared for the worst variant" of the economy because "the situation could worsen in the coming months."

Díaz-Canel recalled the intense financial, energy and food crisis suffered by the country in the 90s after the fall of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of subsidies from the communist bloc.

Baptized by the deceased former President Fidel Castro as a "special period in time of war", it is a trauma that persists in the memory of Cubans and a danger that the Cuban government insists on driving away.

"History has something to tell us (...) The generation of our parents and grandparents faced, with less experience and even fewer resources, more serious and dark moments, and they were victorious", insisted the first Cuban president without last name Castro in almost sixty years.

He predicted a "long" and "arduous" period of work for this legislature of the National Assembly, which will have to approve the more than fifty laws that will be derived from the recently promulgated Constitution.

The speech of the Cuban president comes at a time of economic distress for the country, which defaulted on its export revenues in 2018 and maintains a high level of indebtedness.

This is compounded by the crisis in Venezuela, the main trading partner of the island, which drastically reduced its shipments of subsidized crude, so Havana had to find other suppliers such as Russia and Algeria, which it buys at market prices.

During the parliamentary session, Economy Minister Alejandro Gil also intervened. He assured that the plan of the economy until 2030 is "compliant", although he acknowledged that in the first stage (2019-2021), the country will face "severe financial restrictions" .

The Minister of Economy specified that among the immediate measures will be support for local development and self-supply projects, the increase in exports, the boost to foreign investment, the sale to cruise ships that touch Cuban ports, the extraction of oil and energy. clean

As "essential" he pointed out the need for a real adjustment of the planning so as not to increase the debt, the timely collection of export revenues and ensure the coverage of domestic demand for food and medicine.

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