News about some of the reforms approved at Cuba’s Sixth Party Congress in Havana has begun to trickle out. Most notably, BBC says the PCC has approved a new measure that would allow Cubans to buy and sell their homes for the first time in 50 years.
Also allegedly approved Monday: a measure announced by Raúl Castro over the weekend that will, for the first time, set term limits for high ranking Cuban politicians. The move is seen as an attempt to “rejuvenate” the Cuban government’s aging leadership.
Details about the approved reforms, apparently totaling around 300 in all, are expected to be announced later today during the Congress’s closing session. The results of an internal vote held yesterday to determine the Party’s new first and second secretaries are also expected to be released.
The New York Times this morning tries to get a sense of how Cubans are reacting to some of the early signals coming out of the PCC Congress. The paper says most on the island remain ambivalent – if not skeptical – about the changes, but the Times suggests the major issue to watch will be who the “new generation” brought into top party positions are. A number of names have been floated, among them 50-year-old Marino Murillo, the country’s former economy minister-turned-reform czar in charge of implementing plans to channel Cubans into the private enterprise; Lázaro Expósito, the head of PCC in Santiago de Cuba, and 47-year-old Lázara López Acea, the party’s leader in the capital of Havana.
Today’s bullet points:
· BBC Mundo reports that nearly two weeks of strikes by teachers and healthcare workers have drawn to a close in Bolivia after the government and the country’s principal trade union federation (COB) agreed to an 11% salary increase on Monday. The strikes of the were the longest of the Morales presidency but as a new study from the Observatorio de Análisis de Conflictos Sociales (CERES) shows, that was about all that made them unique. As the CERES study indicates, there has been an average of one “social conflict” per day in Bolivia over the last four years. That is, between 1970 and 2010, CERES has documented a grand total of 13.897 conflicts, ranging from strikes to street protests to occupations and roadblocks. More on Bolivia and what The Guardian calls its radical development model based on equality and environmental sustainability, at the paper’s Poverty Matters blog.
· Peruvian presidential contender Ollanta Humala has received the backing of two of Peru’s most notable economists. Kurt Burneo, the former president of state-run Banco de la Nacion and Oscar Dancourt, the former president of Peru's central bank, both joined Humala’s campaign team as economic advisers on Monday. Both men had previously been close to former President Alejandro Toledo. Reuters reports.
· At Just the Facts, Adam Isacson highlights interesting comparative statistics on the number of police/military deaths in Mexico from Dec. 2006 to the present vs. the number of police/military deaths in Colombia from January 2007 to March 2011. In Mexico, the number killed during that period stands at 398 while in Colombia, the figures continue to be significantly higher, at 1,901.
· Following up on yesterday’s post on economic matters, Mercopress reports on a new World Bank report, “Latin America and the Caribbean’s Success Put to the Test,” (press release here and report here), discussing some of the region’s coming economic challenges.
· At Foreign Policy in Focus, Sebastian Castaneda looks at imbalances in the China-South America economic relationship – in comparison with the evolution of the United States’ economic position in the region.
· Former GW Bush international economic adviser Daniel Price writes in the Washington Post that the Obama administration should continue its “pro-trade” agenda, reanimated by its push for a Colombia FTA, by recommitting itself to global trade talks through the WTO.
· The human rights group, Rights Action, has a brief critical of newly nominated US ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, suggesting potentially close ties between the nominee – currently serving as the Deputy Chief of Affairs in Brazil – and the biofuel industry.
· CFR’s Shannon O’Neil highlights a $1 billion fine handed out to Carlos Slim’s telecom monopoly Telcel by Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission last week. The fine was the largest ever issued by the agency and, according to O’Neil, it suggests the Calderón government may still be interested in making good on his trust-busting campaign promise of five years ago.
· And the Wilson Center has posted the full remarks of Dr. Denise Dresser at a talk she gave in Washington last week entitled “What’s the Matter with Mexico: Drugs, Dinosaurs, and Dithering.”