By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, August 1 — The Cuban government plans a major cut back on State jobs during the next nine months while opening opportunities for more self employment initiatives, President Raul Castro told the parliament on Sunday without giving any details.
Castro announced that the Council of Ministers had voted to “reduce inflated State payrolls considerably.” Likewise, it was agreed to open up the possibility for individual private initiatives “by eliminating several existing prohibitions on issuing new business licenses and the marketing of some products.” “Hiring practices will also become more flexible,” he added.
The president said the details of the new labor/employment policies would be forthcoming at a soon to take place meeting of the National Council of the Cuban Workers’ Federation.
He called the new measures “a structural change”, in order “to preserve and develop our social system” and make the country’s socialist economy “sustainable in the future.”
Later in his address, Raul Castro mentioned the government’s decision to release the remaining 52 of 75 prisoners arrested in 2003.
He maintained that they were not political prisoners but “counterrevolutionaries” that were not arrested and tried for their ideas —but instead for violating laws when working for the US government and its “policy of blockade and subversion” against Cuba.
Castro also referred to the state of affairs in Cuba-US relations saying, “in essence nothing has changed.” He noted that the Cuban Five are still imprisoned unjustly in the US and that while “there exists less rhetoric and some bilateral talks have occasionally occurred on specific topics, in reality the blockade continues to be enforced. ” He further added: “We continue acting with the patience and serenity we’ve learned over more than a half century.”