President Díaz-Canel has told a working meeting of the country’s National Assembly that Cuba is able to continue functioning based on 62% of the fuel used earlier this year but hopes this will rise to 80% soon. He also said that the country was trying to build up its reserves following the imposition of much tougher US sanctions.
Speaking on 9 October, Díaz-Canel said that although the country had experienced “a tense moment” in September due to the lack of fuel it would, in future, be able to work with lower levels as the effect of the reduced supply on transport, the economy and the daily life of the Cuban people, was lower than expected due to the actions undertaken.
Observing that it was not yet possible to talk about a return to normality, he said that it was possible to guarantee 100% of electricity generation but that “tensions will remain” in some economic sectors. He added that while reserves had already been accumulated in several sectors to guarantee activity levels up to the end of the year, Government intended building these further so as to be able to face situations of the kind it had to address in September.
In his speech broadcast on Cuban Television, Díaz-Canel said that “based on indications from the Politiburo of the Communist Party” the objective was to be to “sustain vitality in more extreme situations and take advantage of the situation of creative confrontation to dust off experiences that at other times have given results”. “We were defending more than the lack of fuel, we were defending the Revolution,” he said.
In his remarks, he denounced US sanctions describing them as ship-to-ship, and negotiation-to-negotiation persecution. “We cannot be naive, and we have to protect ourselves”, Díaz-Canel said.
He reconfirmed that Cuba’s economic priorities would be food production, its housing construction programme, the computerisation of society, exports, tourism, renewable sources of energy, transport and making efficient national production chains. Emphasis would also be on increasing exports, import substitution, the reduction of production costs, and the introduction of measures that stimulate national production and improve distribution.
In his remarks, he also indicated that measures would be introduced to encourage individuals to finance public debt from their savings.
In a separate speech delivered to the full National Assembly after having been elected again as President under Cuba’s new constitution (See Cuba Below), Díaz-Canel said that Cuba faced a “prolonged and total siege”.
“As we have stated on previous occasions, after the shortage of fuel, generated by the stubbornness of the United States Government, the country will return to normal, but it will not be with the same ways of doing”. If anything good has come from “these days of tension” he said, it is “the enormous reserves that Cuba has to work more efficiently”.
This would mean municipalities would have to learn to manage available resources with greater responsibility, and the State Council will meet more frequently between sessions of the National Assembly to introduce and pass laws essential to making Government more efficient. He also said that officials at all levels must now dispense with obsolete practices and mechanisms which slow delivery and “weaken national self-esteem”.
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