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Miami Herald: Clearly, There Was Nothing New to Say

July 29, 2010

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Marifeli Perez-Stable comments on the lack of structural and economic changes in Cuba since Raúl Castro's takeover of power in 2007.

It was a memorable July 26 after all. For the first time ever, neither Fidel nor Raúl Castro addressed the nation. The nondescript José Ramón Machado Ventura -- Raúl's second in command -- delivered the main speech, reminding Cubans that the ``economic battle'' is the ``principal task.''

Machado echoed Raúl's words in April and also his call to proceed cautiously, step by step, without rush.

So went the 57th anniversary of the Moncada Barracks assault that marked Fidel Castro's debut into national politics. On July 26, 2007, Raúl had raised expectations by calling for structural changes. Three years later, Cubans are still waiting.

What's unforgettable is the leadership's blind spot on the economy. Fidel never had anything but disdain for markets and the right of ordinary Cubans to make a living. On economic matters, Raúl has always been more pragmatic but shunned confronting his brother when push came to shove.

Prior to July 26, Havana had been awash in rumors that a big announcement would be made.

Raúl, alas, acted like a politician by letting Machado deliver the bad news. All the same, speculation continues that the president will make a major speech before the end of the year on the economy.

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