Raul Castro gave a speech on Saturday that made some news and confirmed some news that had been circulating in the past week: new government spending cuts have been approved by the Council of Ministers; a national auditor has been named; tourist visits are up this year (2.9 percent) but tourism revenues are down; 7,800 retired teachers have returned to the classroom and 7,000 teachers have delayed retirement; and the escuelas en el campo, boarding schools where high school students live and work, are being phased out as a cost-cutting measure.
The speech was more interesting than the one he gave on July 26, in my view, because of the political content in two passages, one directed at the
Raul gave sort of an assessment of the new U.S. Administration’s approach to
To the Cuban public, Raul explained, more clearly than did last week’s Cuban media coverage, the postponement of the Communist Party Congress that was supposed to take place in late 2009. The reason: policies that need to be discussed are not sufficiently formulated. “The task [of the Party and the people] has to do with defining…the economic model that will guide the life of the nation to the benefit of our compatriots and assure the irreversibility of the country’s socio-political regime,” he said. One example of issues under study, he pointed out, is “the complex process of monetary unification to end the double currency.” A Congress “would not make sense and would not have content” if it were not to treat issues such as this in depth and “set guidelines for the future.”
In other words, his economic policy process may be gradual, but it’s not done yet.
In the meantime, Raul has convoked a “national conference” of the Communist Party, “fundamentally” for the task of making changes in the membership of the Party’s central committee, political bureau, and secretariat.