HAVANA – Cuban President Raul Castro has urged his government to work “in a sustained and irreversible way” to fix the country’s “complex economic problems,” Communist Party daily Granma said Friday.
Gen. Castro gave those instructions on May 28 at a meeting of Cuba’s National Defense Council, attended by the government’s top-ranking officials.
Besides improving the economy, he emphasized the need to “increase the country’s ability to deal with disaster situations,” Granma said.
He also insisted on “consolidating and strengthening the nation’s command structure to deal with exceptional situations of all kinds” and “paying special attention to the size and composition” of the armed forces.
“We must continue getting prepared, depending more and more on the results of our own efforts, strengthening our capability for struggle and resistance, increasing the work of convincing and mobilizing the masses, and consolidating the ideological strength of our people,” Castro said.
Presented at the meeting were the results of the 2009 drive to increase the island’s defense capability, as well as a resume of the strategic military exercise Bastion during that year, considered Cuba’s biggest military deployment in the past five years.
Also analyzed at the meeting were the island’s readiness to deal with natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, and “preventive missions” to protect the country from the results of accidents like the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In that sense, Castro said that Cuba has the “greatest experience” at dealing with hurricanes, but mentioned the danger from tsunamis and earthquakes, for which planning “with foresight” is essential.
“We see how important it is to prepare for natural disasters and have everything thought out beforehand,” he said.
Cuba is facing a critical economic situation and an acute lack of liquidity brought on, according to the government, by such factors as the global recession, the continued U.S. economic embargo of the island and the three hurricanes in 2008 that caused losses estimated at $10 billon. EFE