Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cuba Won't Mimic China, Official Says

Los Angeles Times

The country will not allow capitalist-style changes, even if Castro is too ill to return.

From Reuters

September 13, 2006

HAVANA — Communist Cuba will not follow China and open up to private businesses even if President Fidel Castro is too ill to lead the nation again, Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Garcia said.

"In the hypothetical case that Comandante Fidel remains ill, would there be a change in Cuban policy toward a market opening? I can categorically say that is not foreseen; the Cuban people do not want that," Rodriguez told reporters during the Non-Aligned Movement summit of developing nations.

Castro, 80, handed over the presidency temporarily to his younger brother Raul Castro on July 31 after emergency intestinal surgery.

Two years ago, the Bush administration drew up a plan for a post-Castro transition to capitalism.

But Rodriguez said Cuba would continue with predominant state control of property.

"That is the model we have chosen," he said.

In 1993, Castro allowed limited private businesses in the services sector, mainly taxis and family restaurants, when Cuba was in a financial crisis after losing billions of dollars in subsidies when the Soviet Union collapsed.

But hundreds of small enterprises have been forced out of business by high taxes and government regulations.

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