Cuba’s struggle toward a more efficient economy continues “without a truce” but its advances remain meager, Vice President José Ramón Machado Ventura said Tuesday on the anniversary of the birth of the Castro revolution.

Proposed economic reforms still face “labor indiscipline” and a bureaucracy that generates “indolence” and “absurd procedures that have nothing to do with socialism,” Machado Ventura declared at the July 26 celebrations in Ciego de Avila.

Cuban ruler Raúl Castro attended the ceremony but for the second time in two years did not address the crowd of several thousand. He has recently made key speeches only to government institutions such as the legislature, rather than to street crowds.

Instead, Machado Ventura’s 2,300-word speech essentially repeated Castro’s calls for ambitious reforms to rescue an economy stuck in the doldrums since 2008, when three hurricanes devastated Cuba and the world plunged into a financial crisis.

Cuba is fighting “daily and without a truce against our own errors and deficiencies,” he declared. “The government is “moving like we’ve said, without hurry but without pause … to preserve socialism. We are not using patches or improvising. We are looking for definitive solutions to old problems.”

But what has been achieved so far “is far from the potential,” added the 80-year-old vice president, urging Cubans to work harder and with more discipline to ensure the reforms succeed.

“To ask more of the Cuban people without first meeting their basic needs will be a tremendous challenge for Raúl’s government,” said Andy Gomez, senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Former Cuban ruler Fidel Castro often used the July 26 celebrations to make important announcements until he surrendered power to brother Raúl after a health emergency in 2006. The younger Castro made his first call for significant reforms when he addressed the event in 2007.

Raúl Castro’s proposed reforms — slashing state subsidies and payrolls and allowing more small-scale private enterprise, autonomy for state enterprises and foreign investments — were endorsed in broad form by the full Communist Party in April.

More than 300,000 Cubans already have taken out new licenses for mini-businesses, like restaurants and barber shops, and Castro has proposed vastly expanding the legal ability of Cubans to buy and sell homes and cars.

But some of the reforms have hit significant snags.

A campaign to link state salaries to productivity, announced more than two years ago, appears to have been put on ice. A plan to fire 500,000 state workers in the first three months of this year has a new timetable that is clearly lower but not yet public.

Machado Ventura himself acknowledged that the “strategic” campaign to increase domestic food production by leasing fallow state lands to private farmers, launched more than two years ago, remains hampered by “deficiencies” and “weaknesses.”

Raúl Castro is expected to review the status of the reforms campaign, and perhaps announce new proposals, when he presides over the next meeting of the legislative National Assembly of People’s Power, set for early next month.

Machado Ventura also noted that the Central Committee of the Communist Party — its most powerful body after the Political Bureau – would be meeting “in coming days” to discuss the reform process.

Endorsements of the reforms by the National Assembly and the Central Committee would give Castro — regarded as far more respectful of Cuban government institutions than brother Fidel – yet another powerful green light to push ahead with the changes.

Tuesday’s ceremony marked the 58th anniversary of the 1953 attack by the Castro brothers and their followers on an army base in the eastern city of Santiago. The attack failed but is marked in Cuba as the birth of the revolution that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Fidel Castro, who will turn 85 on Aug. 13, has not attended any of the July 26 ceremonies since 2006.

Recent Articles

Date Title
7/29/11 U.S. should not retreat from the hemisphere
By Bill Richardson, The Miami Herald
7/28/11 Castro Offers a Wave at Cuban Fete, but, Again, No Speech
By Damien Cave, The New York Times
7/28/11 Tampa airport to begin weekly charters to Cuba
By Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
7/28/11 Kerry lifts hold on cash promoting Cuba democracy
Associated Press
7/28/11 Dutch bank ING may face U.S. sanctions
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/28/11 The Last Pilgrims to Havana
By Yoani Sanchez, Foreign Policy
7/27/11 A Breath of Freedom Suffocated
Christopher Sabatini, The Huffington Post
7/27/11 Current Record
7/27/11 The door opens for more Cuba travel
By Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
7/26/11 Cuban court hears appeal of jailed U.S. subcontractor Gross
By Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald
7/26/11 Mass honors Cuban archbishop
By Daniel Roth, The Miami Herald
7/25/11 Chávez Returns, Saying Cancerous Cells Not Found
By Alexi Barrionuevo, The New York Times
7/25/11 Cuban archbishop a freedom-fighter with one weapon
By Myriam Marquez, The Miami Herald
7/25/11 Jailed American makes final court appeal in Cuba
By Paul Haven, Associated Press
7/25/11 A Cuban housing market? Gov't is lifting a taboo
By Peter Orsi, The Miami Herald
7/22/11 Cuban government hijacks the mega-music Rotilla Festival
Roots of Hope
7/22/11 Ros-Lehtinen urges constituents to post photos of Cuban human rights abuses
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/22/11 Mixed messages as Cuban high court hears imprisoned American’s final appeal
Associated Press
7/22/11 Diaz-Balart seeks to revive Bush-era Cuba travel
Associated Press
7/21/11 Issue #2: Current Situation & Future of the Relationship Between Cuba & the United States Files
Miriam Leiva, From the Island
7/21/11 Congresswoman says curbs on travel to Cuba ignored
By Stephen Levy, The Washington Times
7/21/11 Ping Pong Diplomacy: Will Cuba Catch Up?
By Christopher Sabatini, The Miami Herald
7/21/11 Cuba says 900 agricultural experts advising Venezuelan farmers
Associated Press
7/21/11 Businesses see potential profits in Tampa-to-Cuba flights
By Jose Girona, Tampa Tribune
7/20/11 Cuba’s shadow economy sees some daylight
By Paul Haven, the Associated Press
7/20/11 Could Catholic leader usher in a new Cuba?
By Mark Pinsky, USA Today
7/20/11 Lacking a wholesale market, Cuba cuts prices for bulk purchases to aid private workers
Associated Press
7/20/11 Ready to Swim 103 Miles With the Sharks
By Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times
7/18/11 Blogger: Cubans thirsty yet wary
By Sarah Moreno, The Miami Herald
7/18/11 Hugo Chavez Cancer: Venezuelan President Delegates Powers To Vice President Elias Jaua
Huffington Post
7/18/11 Chávez Puts His Trust in Castro for Care
By Alexi Barrionuevo, The New York Times
7/15/11 Time for Reflection and Prudence
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Reconciliacion Cubana
7/15/11 Dems, State Dept near resolution on Cuba money
By Donna Cassata and Desmond Butler, Associated Press
7/14/11 Venezuela’s Chavez says he expects to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment
Associated Press
7/14/11 Congressional Amendment Threatens Cuban Families
Yoani Sanchez, Huffington Post
7/13/11 The Cuban Grapevine
By James Scudmore, More Intelligent Life Magazine
7/13/11 Obama Administration threatens veto over Diaz-Balart Ammendment
Executive Office of the President
7/13/11 My Reasons for the Bridge
Yoani Sanchez, Generación Y
7/13/11 Mother of Cuban dissident tells US lawmakers about son's death
By James Rosen, The Miami Herald
7/12/11 Chavez says cancer fight 'my longest walk'
By Christopher Toothaker, Associated Press
7/12/11 Cuba banker says state has lent ‘millions’ to more than 13,000 farmers under ag initiative
Associated Press
7/11/11 Cuba academic who wrote blistering anti-corruption essay says expulsion from Party overturned
Associated Press
7/11/11 Life at GTMO after fleeing Castro's Cuba
By Anthony Welsch, WBIR News
7/11/11 Transgender activist resigns after clash with Castro daughter
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/8/11 Cuba says detained US contractor Alan Gross’ appeal to be heard July 22
Associated Press
7/8/11 Cuba says 16 percent of islanders have access to some kind of online service
Associated Press
7/8/11 Cuban cellphones hit 1 million, Net access lags
By Marc Frank, Reuters
7/7/11 If Hugo goes
The Economist
7/7/11 DNC boss, president at odds on Cuba policy
By Mike Lillis, The HIll
7/7/11 Spain may change tone on Latin America
By Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald
7/6/11 Human rights group says abuses in Cuba are growing
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/6/11 Cuba Travel Restrictions in the Spotlight in Brooklyn and Beyond
By Matthew Aho, Americas Quarterly
7/6/11 Our secret deportation list: It may be legal, but is it right?
By Jackie Bueno Sousa, The Miami Herald
7/6/11 In Cuba, the Voice of a Blog Generation
By Larry Rohter, The New York Times
7/5/11 Insufficient and Unclear Guidelines
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, From the Island
7/5/11 Cuba’s economic czar heads new generation of leaders
By Andrea Rodriguez, Associated Press
7/5/11 Former US presidential candidate McGovern leaving Cuba without meeting friend Fidel Castro
Associated Press
7/4/11 Ballet Points to U.S.-Cuba: Friendship Is Not an "Impossible Dream!"
By Noel Erwin Hentschel, The Huffington Post
7/4/11 Cuban economic reform aims to bring a world of secret businesses into the light
Associated Press
7/4/11 TwittHab: Cuban tweeters meet face to face, celebrate budding community despite slow Internet
Associated Press
7/4/11 Cuba would hurt if Chávez is replaced
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/1/11 Cuba plans limited housing and auto market
By Marc Frank, Reuters
7/1/11 Chávez Says a Cancerous Tumor Was Removed
By Simon Romero, The New York Times
7/1/11 US must step up Cuba oil spill readiness - experts
By Jeff Franks, Reuters
7/1/11 U2’s Bono urged support for Cuban dissident Biscet
By Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
7/1/11 New Ways to Visit Cuba — Legally
By Michelle Higgis, The New York Times
7/1/11 Cubans honor ashes of New York pastor Walker who defied US embargo with 21 aid trips to island
Associated Press