Sunday 18 February 2018

Cubans to buy their homes for first time

Robin Yapp in Sao Paulo

The end of an era for Fidel Castro, seen here with his brother Raul. For the first time he is not included in the Communist Party's leadership.

Cubans will be allowed to buy and sell homes for the first time since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 as the Communist Party introduced unprecedented reforms at its first summit in 14 years.

Since the revolution, Cubans have been allowed to swap homes only through a complicated system or pass them on to their children.

But a raft of reforms agreed at the first congress since 1997 includes a plan to legalise property sales.

Under the current system of home swaps, a culture of corruption involving "under-the-table" payments has developed.

President Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, said that the concentration of property would not be allowed but no details were given on how sales would operate.

The plan to allow home sales was one of 300 approved by the party, including more self-employment and cutting a million government jobs.

Political reform was also on the agenda with Mr Castro using his speech at the weekend to propose that top political positions, including the presidency, should be limited to two five-year terms.

The radical changes were backed by Fidel Castro, who was president of the country for 49 years until 2008.

In a column in the Communist Party newspaper 'Granma', he described "the impossible" as "building and bringing about the revolution of the poor, by the poor and for the poor, and defending it for half a century from the most powerful military power that ever existed", referring to the US.

China, one of Cuba's biggest backers, supported the reforms and a spokesman said the decisions would have a "profound and far-reaching impact on the development of socialism in Cuba". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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