Cuban President Raul Castro gave a sober speech Friday about his country’s economic challenges but insisted that measures were being taken to lesson the impact of a potential downturn on the Cuban people, who he said will continue to grow and develop under the Cuban model of socialism.
The socialist leader addressed his country during a plenary session of the National Assembly in Havana, where he flatly dismissed rumors that Cuba was bracing for another “special period,” a major economic downturn that took place after the collapse of the Soviet Union, where essential goods were difficult to obtain.
He warned that spending cuts were a necessity, but rejected the possibility of an imminent collapse, adding that In the first half of the year, the economy grew by only one percent, just half of what was projected.
“We do not deny that (negative) impacts may occur, even more serious than the present ones, but we are prepared to reverse them,” said Raul Castro.
Raul Castro said the relations of mutually beneficial cooperation with several countries have been somewhat affected by the fallout over the significant drop in the price of oil and mentioned the challenges facing Venezuela.
Venezuela is Cuba’s key ally and main trade partner, as a result, the current crisis in the South American country is having a negative spillover effect on the island’s economy. However, the Cuban president ratified the solidarity and commitment of his country to the Bolivarian Revolution led by President Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.
“True friends are revealed in difficult moments, Cubans will never forget the support of Venezuelans when we have face serious difficulties,” said Raul Castro.
“We will continue providing Venezuela, the collaboration we agreed to in order to help sustain the achievements in social services that benefit the population,” he added.
The president also listed off a series of measures that the Cuba will need to take in order to confront the present economic reality, such eliminating unnecessary spending, more efficient use of available resources, and fomenting exports.
The government is also working to increase the purchasing power of the Cuban peso, such as lowering the prices of essential goods.
Raul Castro also said the country’s economy continues to be adversely affected by the U.S. economic blockade on the island, which has continued despite the restoration of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington in the last year and a half.