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Posted October 01, 2007 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Cuba’s vice president: Country must become more efficient to win ‘economic war’

By: WILL WEISSERT - Associated Press

Cuba needs to produce higher-quality goods more efficiently, cut graft and reduce reliance on gasoline, a major economic leader said in remarks published Sunday.

Vice President Carlos Lage delivered a frank assessment of his country’s economic future during a closed-door speech Saturday that was later reported in state media, saying the communist government has become accustomed to producing shoddy merchandise and undertaking unsustainable economic initiatives.

“We live in the conditions of a country facing economic war,” Lage told the leadership of Cuba’s central workers union, though he added that Cuba is “a country that is strong and has the conditions and possibilities to move forward.”

Lage heads Cuba’s Cabinet and exercises wide control over administration and economic policy in the provisional government running Cuba since Fidel Castro stepped aside due to illness in July 2006.

Lage said Cuba needs to slash the amount of oil it uses and must improve production of goods that meet basic needs for its population instead of poor-quality consumer goods.

“The need to produce quality and, moreover, to do it saving energy, has to be incorporated in the economic culture of every worker,” he said.

Lage said Cuba needs labor leaders and administrators who can solve problems——including rampant employee theft of state materials——instead of just parroting empty statistics.

“We should not do anything we know we aren’t capable of sustaining,” Lage said, possibly a veiled allusion to the sort of periodic economic crusades that Castro summoned during his 47 years in power.

Cuba says it is under siege by Washington’s 45-year-old embargo, but its economy has been relatively strong of late, thanks to oil sold at favorable prices by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as credits from China.

The 81-year-old Castro has not been seen in public since announcing that he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was ceding power to his younger brother, Raul.

Raul Castro has suggested the island could seek more foreign investment and called for unspecified “structural changes” in the farming sector, sparking widespread debate within the Communist Party and other sectors about Cuba’s economic future.

The younger Castro, 76, said last week that Cubans shouldn’t be afraid to speak their minds about economic reform, saying they should do so “with bravery, with sincerity, without many illusions that we are magicians and are going to resolve problems.”

Raul Castro is said to be impressed by China’s market-oriented reforms.

Lage, who turns 56 next month, has been mentioned as a future president by some foreign analysts.

Both he and Raul Castro have played key roles in reforming Cuba’s economy, encouraging foreign investment and tourism while allowing some private business to stave off collapse after Soviet Bloc disbanded and billions of dollars in subsidies to the island suddenly dried up.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on October 01, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    This sounds more like a crackdown than reforms. Maybe this is Raul’s idea of reform… tell the Cuban workers to stop stealing from the government?

    So he raises their pay to just under poverty level and tells them to stop stealing… Yeah. Sounds like a great plan.

    Good luck with those “reforms” Raul.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on October 01, 2007 by Peter

    An opinion often stated and suggested in Cuba is:

              “Fidel pretends to pay us and we pretend to work.”

    Once the communist government’s rhetoric stops, then the leadership may be able to request concessions from the people of Cuba. However, the economic problem in Cuba, has little to do with the people and everything to do with the 49 year old Dictatorship. Once Cuba addresses the real problem then the solutions will follow.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on October 02, 2007 by cubanpete with 127 total posts

    Cut graft?  Cuban workers earning an average of $15.00 US monthly need to supplement their income somehow.

    For change (cambio) we can believe in.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on October 02, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Lage is saying “C’mon you morons. We just tripled your salary now work harder. You know is all for the Revolution!”.

    Ah yeah. I don’t think it’s going to fly this time. Raul and Lage are not Fidel and the way Fidel is disrespecting his people during his illness, I’m not surprised that people are pretty sick and tired of the same old bullshit.

    Same job different boss but no one likes the new boss.

    Cuba consulting services

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