Cuba’s President Raul Castro has given a state of the nation address to the country’s parliament. With the notable absence of his brother Fidel, the communist leader roundly turned on the US and Europe rejecting their calls for social and political change in return for improved relations.“I have not been elected president just to reinstate capitalism in Cuba, “ said the president, “ I have been elected to defend, safeguard and continue to improve socialism and not to destroy it.” Castro also gave the assembly some bad economic news saying the government had cut its budget for a second time this year. Recently battered by three hurricanes and now the global recession, the combined shocks have led to a growth projection for the island slumping to a mere 1.7 percent. Castro is trying to make Cuba’s socialist system more efficient. He’s made the production of products and services that bring in hard currency a priority and promised more decentralisation of the economy.
Castro offers talks but rejects EU calls for change