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Cuba looks to the future, while marking its past

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Cuba looks to the future, while marking its past


As Cuba marked one of the biggest days in the history of its revolution, leaders were pledging to pursue reforms of the island’s Soviet-style economy.

It was 1953 when Fidel Castro attacked the Moncada army barraks. The raid failed but signalled the start of the uprising that brought him to power.

Some 58 years on, with Fidel no longer at the forefront, Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura spoke out, amid the celebrations.

Addressing a crowd in the central province of Ciego de Avila, he defended socialism but said reforms were being made, slowly but surely.

However people are pressing for quick adoption of measures allowing them to buy and sell homes for the first time in decades as part of the liberalisation. The reform is meant to attack corruption by officials who take bribes for illicit deals.

But in Havana, plumber and would-be buyer Tomas David Rojas, 67, explained that the black market is alive and well. However if anyone is actually caught making secret payments, he said, their new home would be confiscated.

His story highlights the dilemma now facing the communist-ruled nation, forced to adapt to the future while in many ways still stuck in the past.

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