Reuters July 08, 2016 9:15 PM
President Raul Castro told Cubans on Friday to brace for tough times because the Communist-run country must cut spending and energy supply as it deals with a cash crunch and reduced oil imports from ally Venezuela.
Cuban economic growth slowed to 1 percent in the first half of this year from 4.7 percent in the same period of 2015, Castro told the mid-year session of the National Assembly. This was half of what the government had forecast.
The economic outlook throughout Latin America has weakened due to lower commodity prices.
Castro's warning came at a time when Cuban expectations are high due to economic reforms and warming relations with the United States.
"Rumors and forecasts of an imminent collapse of our economy with a return to the acute phase of the Special Period ... have started to appear," Castro said according to a copy of his speech provided by the country's official news agency Prensa Latina.
Foreign journalists are barred from the assembly.
Discurso del General de Ejército Raúl Castro Ruz, Primer Secretario del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba y Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, en el VII Período Ordinario de Sesiones de la Octava Legislatura de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, en el Palacio de Convenciones, el 8 de julio de 2016, “Año 58 de la Revolución”.