HAVANA TIMES – Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the number two man in the Communist Party behind Raul Castro, said today that Cuba “will not accept external pressure”, at a time when the country is experiencing an economic downturn. He noted that any changes in Cuba are only “to strengthen socialism,” reported dpa news.
“No one will impose external pressures on us, directed mostly to dismantle the achievements of the revolution,” said Machado Ventura, 85, during the main event for the tribute to the assault on the Moncada Barracks led by Fidel Castro in 1953.
Machado Ventura said the plan of economic reforms promoted by the Cuban government is in public consultation until next September and conclusions must be endorsed by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) in December.
“The necessary changes and the pace we choose will be introduced,” said Machado Ventura, who acknowledged that the implementation of reforms is also having problems because of the current negative economic situation on the island.
“I want to note that despite these modest results there is not resignation. We are aware of the problems that affect our people, their dissatisfactions, of the many things still to be done and the productive potential that we must achieve,” he said.
Machado Ventura spoke in the presence of President Raul Castro and other Cuban leaders gathered at the July 26th ceremony held at dawn in the city of Sancti Spiritus, 350 kilometers east of Havana.
The event commemorates the attack on the Moncada barracks in 1953, led by Fidel Castro against Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. The armed action failed but is considered the spark that led to the victory six and a half years later on January 1, 1959.
The celebration is the most important political event on the island but this year in an unfavorable economic environment.
The Cuban government recently announced that the gross domestic product in the first half of 2016 grew by only one percent, half of what was predicted.
During the second half of 2016 energy savings measures are taking effect, with the supply being cut by 25 percent.
The restrictions will focus on state run businesses and public administration. The Castro government says the residential sector will be spared blackouts.