Raul Castro Tells Cuba to Ready for More Belt Tightening

Raul Castro addresses the National Assembly of Cuba on Wednesday April 10, 2019. Photo: EFE

HAVANA TIMES – Communist Party leader Raul Castro urged Cubans on Wednesday to “be prepared for the worst variant” of the economy, at a time when the US embargo tightens and the aggravated problems in the balance of payments put the country in check.

Castro addressed a session of the Cuban legislature, known for its unanimous approval of virtually all Communist Party dictates, as it welcomed into effect the new Constitution approved by popular vote in February.

Watching the serious crisis facing the Maduro government in Venezuela, its most important economic ally, Castro broke the bad news instead of President Miguel Diaz Canel, who was among the audience.

“The situation could worsen in the coming months,” said the leader of the ruling Communist Party (the only legal one), in his speech on Wednesday.

He confided, however, that Cuba will not experience a new “Special Period”, in reference to the serious financial, energy and food crisis that the country suffered in the early 90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of the subsidies that the island received from the communist bloc.

“Today is another scenario in terms of the diversification of the economy, but we have to be prepared for the worst,” said the 87-year-old former president, who took power from his brother Fidel Castro in 2006 and passed it on in April last year to the hand-picked current president, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Raul Castro, (c) holds up the hands of his president Miguel Diaz Canel (l) and National Assembly President, Esteban Lazo (r). Photo: Estudios Revolucion

Castro remains the head of the Communist Party which is the superior force in the country, even above the Constitution, which explains why yesterday’s key note address was his and not Diaz-Canel’s.

In asking the population for more sacrifices, Castro said that to combat the economic crisis that is approaching, the only choice is to “fight to achieve victory.”

He specifically asked the population to redouble efforts to increase production, especially food, adopt savings habits, optimize the use of energy and avoid fuel theft.

These requests have been made repeatedly for decades but have thus far not achieved the desired results.

Castro also called to “resist and overcome the new obstacles that the resurgence of the economic and financial siege facing us”, in reference to the US embargo, hardened again by the Government of Donald Trump, who has reversed the policy of rapprochement of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

In any case, Castro expressed conifidence that “the old desire to overthrow the Cuban Revolution through economic suffocation and hardship failed in the past and will fail again.”

His speech comes at a time of uncertainty about the economy of Cuba, a country that for many years tries to attract foreign investment and replace imports to solve its increasingly serious problems in the balance of payments.

However, in 2018, expected export revenues were not achieved and a high level of indebtedness persists. Difficulties also persist in the materialization of the investment processes due to bureaucratic foot-dragging and stifling rules unattractive to foreign investors, especially regarding the hiring of personnel only through a government agency, which takes the lion’s share of the employees salaries.

This is compounded by the crisis in Venezuela, the main trade partner and supporter of the island, which provides most of its imported oil on highly favorable terms, needed to cover the national demand for electricity and transport.  Tens of thousands of Cuban doctors, health technitians, educators, sports trainers and military and security advisors work in Venezuela.

11 thoughts on “Raul Castro Tells Cuba to Ready for More Belt Tightening

  • Really Raul????? Your people now work and suffer in terrible conditions and go without eggs, meat, cheese, milk , oil and other staples including bread . You now have the audacity amidst your own riches to ask Cubans to tighten up their belt buckle even more?
    You are in your 80s. .. stay home and be a grandpa. Let the new president be president and steer Cuba towards a better economy by allowing more capitalism .
    Yes, Trump is Castro’s equal only in criminality and appetite for power and adulation. Trump is otherwise an unintelligent dotard… as Kim called him once.
    Cuba can improve despite the sanctions …

  • I agree with Alan on his comment, so true. I still cannot come to grips while certain American presidents have been so inhumane with the Cuban people. So it is now with Pres Trump. Ah, but only with small countries… Can’t do that to China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, not even North Korea…the suppressive American policy has not worked and will not work ever. Let’s live in peace, because the greatness of America has been eroding slowly but surely.

  • Cuba’s communist dictatorship needs to end for it’s suffering people.

  • Why do the Americans have to interfere in other countries – Russia is supporting Venezuela far more than Cuba ever could but nothing happens to them – and the US support for Saudi Arabia and its record of human rights abuse is far more damaging to its people – but of course it’s really just oil and politics and its easy to penalize a countries like Cuba and Venezuela who can’t fight back militarily or damage the US economy!

  • There are 5,000+ Cuban’s in MEXICO on their way North to the US Border that will request entry and it will be granted to them. Some have relatives residing in the US who will sponsor them, others will apply under escaping from an oppressed country, and others for different reasons. Good for them! It has been a long trip for all of them. They will appreciate the freedom and being able to express themselves without torture.

  • The US doesn’t need Cuba, isn’t that clear after almost 60 years of communist rule while blaming the US for its failing economy and system. Americans that work hard have everything they need whether Cuba is communist or stupid. Communism has ruined Cuba not the US. There’s only one option for Cubans; get out from under the communist regime that oppresses them.

  • The struggle for basic human rights will continue, and so will the struggle for economic justice for all nations and it’s people’s and it will take many forms. Let’s hope the violent course is avoided as much as possible.

  • And did you know that tractor company was designed and built by an Cuban American to assist Cuban farmers to be able to be self supporting? So sad that the Cuban Government wants it’s people to struggle all the way.

  • Carlos: can you give us some specifics on how the US government is negatively impacting the agricultural production and food supply of Cuba? Can you give any support to your statement “First they are punish the people in Cuba to have shortage of food”?

    This is part of a project I have been working on for 3 years and have yet to find anything the US is doing that is harmful. Only vague general statements which no one can support when pressed.

    Are you aware the US sells Cuba all the food and agricultural products that Cuba can pay for?

    Well the US did approve US citizens building a factory in the Mariel Development Zone to construct tractors specially designed for the Cuban farm market? But the Cuban government rejected it.

  • Let’s be clear…Is hard to evaluate if some economy is efficient or not if have against that economy a lot of restrictions. I’m not supporting the Government of Cuba, but US government believe that they are the owner of the world, and what they said need to be done… That is disrespectful, and that is the big sign of dictatorship..They are worst than Castro’s.. First they are punish the people in Cuba to have shortage of food and etc, in order to make them fight against Regime…If you are a powerful country…You attack the Regime and help the people that you said that you love…US don’t care about people, they don’t care about humans right also, is a show attacking others countries about “humans rights” blame bla..but they have a lot of internal problems that are worst….(don’t make me wrong, Castro’s Regime is a s..t also) but I will not accept that judgment from US that Everytime those who said who fight for “Cuba freedom” are more rich.

  • With food and oil shortages what are the Cubans going to do??? CUBA continues to prove that the Cuban economy doesn’t work. CUBA had a taste of what it is like to have trade with the US a few years ago, but they have failed on conforming to Human Rights for it’s people. Thus, the US will continue sanctions as it has on other countries. The Cuban government would rather it’s people starve to death than form a democratic government.

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