Monday, March 31, 2008

Cuban Reforms

Sources: CNN-International, Reuters

Cubans can now stay at tourist hotels—if they can afford them. The average monthly wage in Cuba is less than $20 per month, while the hotels cost anywhere from $60-$200 per night. Nevertheless, it is some of the major reforms Raul Castro promised, as he opened up hotels previously inaccessible to natives. This follows other reforms in which computers, DVD players, and microwaves could be purchased by native Cubans. Furthermore, cell phones can now be purchased and used by Cubans.

Raul Castro has acted to implement reforms quickly since taking over in February 24th. He promised a series of reforms to “do away with excessive restrictions” in Cuba. The most recent reforms also respond to critics who called the hotel ban a form of “economic apartheid.” The ban was implemented after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and had been a source of great consternation for many natives. Before the ban was lifted, only specially selected Cubans could stay at tourist hotels.

Question: Are these basic reforms the start of a broader democratization movement—or will it be small reforms?

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