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Catholic Church warns Cuba is on the verge of socio-economic collapse

Monday, February 1st 2010 - 14:02 UTC
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President Raul Castro’s promises of change are still a promise President Raul Castro’s promises of change are still a promise

The Roman Catholic Church warned Sunday that Cuba is on the verge of an economic collapse that can only be prevented if President Raul Castro institutes sweeping economic and social reforms.

“The economic situation in Cuba has turned rather complicated with signs that it is close to free fall,” the Havana Archdiocese said in the latest edition of its “Palabra Nueva” (New Word) magazine. The Church recommends less “administrative adjustments” and less “ideological re-centralization”

Castro has responded to the crisis with “utopian statements and readjustments along the lines of severe expenditure cuts that can lead to socio-economic collapse,” wrote economist-priest Boris Moreno.

Moreno said that there was “no sign at all” of the changes Raul Castro, 78, promised his people after he took over from his ailing, older brother Fidel in 2006.

The economic crisis, made worse by the global economic downturn, fuels “hopelessness” that can “break the fragile social compact,” Moreno wrote.

The Cuban government admitted recently it was having cash flow problems after a disappointing 1.4% economic growth last year—well shy of an expected 6.0%. The announced target of 2010 is 1.9%.

The Castro administration has launched a savings program entailing sharp cuts in social spending and priority investment in currency-generating sectors of the economy.

Palabra Nueva, instead, said the government should promote exports and small- and mid-size businesses, provide a safe environment for foreign investment, institute business reforms, and a single currency, and allow Cubans “to give their opinions without fear of reprisal.”

Cuba has also suffered severely from the contraction in world tourism and the fall in nickel prices, two of the country’s main sources of income. The island has also been battered in past years by hurricanes.

Categories: Economy, Latin America.

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