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On Cuban holiday, call for reforms

CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba — For the second year in a row, President Raul Castro left the rhetoric to his vice president.

Castro waved to the crowd gathered here Tuesday for the annual rite of a revolutionary holiday. But as was the case last year, the message — calling on Cubans to work harder and accelerate economic reforms — came from a party stalwart who fought at his side during the rebellion.

"We have to definitively break the mentality of inertia," said Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, before a sign praising "the victory of ideas." Instead of emphasizing what they lack, he added, Cubans must "evaluate how much more can be done with what is available."

The event celebrating the attack on the Moncada barracks in 1953 — the public debut of a rebel movement that toppled President Fulgencio Batista six years later — offered another example of the revised socialism that has come to characterize Castro's government. While his older brother Fidel used speeches to rally the country with an absolutist moral vision, casting Cuba as hero and the United States as a villain, Raul Castro has spoken less often and emphasized current needs.

On Cuban holiday, call for reforms 07/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 11:28pm]
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