- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Fidel Castro is apparently walking back his recent statement to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that "the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore," saying that he actually meant "exactly the opposite of what both American journalists interpreted" and that he was actually criticizing the capitalist system. But the Cuban government does seem to be making a few pretty big changes:
Cuba announced Monday it will cast off at least half a million state employees by mid-2011 and reduce restrictions on private enterprise to help them find new jobs — the most dramatic step yet in Presidentpush to radically remake employment on the communist-run island.[…]
The layoffs will start immediately and continue through the first half of next year, according to the nearly 3 million-strong Cuban Workers Confederation — the only labor union allowed by the government.
To soften the blow, it said the government would increase private-sector job opportunities, including allowing more Cubans to become self-employed, forming cooperatives run by employees rather than government administrators and increasing private control of state land, businesses and infrastructure through long-term leases.
The Union went on to say that it is "no longer … possible to apply a formula of protecting and subsidizing salaries on an unlimited basis to workers." This sounds to me like an acknowledgement that the system isn’t working very well. It seems like the brothers Castro may be having some trouble staying on message.