March 28, 2012
Randal C. Archibold and Rachel Donadio, The New York Times
Photo Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times
HAVANA — Just after Pope Benedict XVI prayed at a revered shrine in Cuba on Tuesday, calling for the country to move forward “along the way of renewal and hope,” a top government minister made clear that the sweeping economic changes under way here would not be accompanied by political reforms that the pope has urged.
The comments from the minister, Marino Murillo, the vice president of the Council of Ministers and the official overseeing the steps toward a freer market, amounted to a rebuttal of sorts to the pope, who in recent days has portrayed the political system here as unworkable and has laced his comments since arriving on Monday with calls for increased liberties.
“We are updating our economic model, but we are not talking about political reform,” Mr. Murillo told reporters at a hotel in Havana, as television screens to his side showed images of the pope leaving Santiago de Cuba en route to the capital.