Friday, July 25, 2008

About that milk ...

Once again, foreign correspondents in Havana are working themselves up into a mini-frenzy about what Raul Castro may or may not announce when he speaks to his fellow Cubans on 26 July – the holiest of revolutionary holidays.

Most correspondents are of the view that the regime has introduced a “raft” of “reforms” over the past year, pointing to the fact that ordinary Cubans are now allowed to window-shop for DVDs and personal computers, although they will need to wait until 2010 before they can window shop for toasters.

Correspondents also point out that Cubans can now own mobile phones and stay in hotels once reserved by government decree for tourists. Theoretically, that is.

Now, there is speculation that other, equally momentous changes will be unveiled by Castro II on Friday.

I hope they are right - I hope Castro II announces for instance, that free and fair multi-party elections will be held in Cuba within the next 12 months. And that Cubans will now be able to travel in and out of the country freely, without State permission.

But it seems at least some Cubans are well, a little sceptical, as you can see from this Reuters report.

Asked what he expects from the speech, a 33-year-old construction worker identified as Ibrahim Zamora told the reporter: "I don't have any illusions, but it's possible he'll say something new … We still haven't drunk the milk he talked about last year."


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