(Reuters) - In the six weeks since he succeeded his ailing brother Fidel Castro, Cuba’s new leader Raul Castro has introduced a series of reforms to improve life in the communist Caribbean island state.
Following are some steps taken so far, as Castro moves to lift what he calls “excessive prohibitions:”
* Lifted ban on Cubans buying consumer goods such as computers, DVD players, microwave ovens and other electronic appliances previously prohibited due to an energy crisis.
* Cubans can now stay at hotels and beach resorts previously reserved for foreigners only, ending a “tourism apartheid” that was a source of resentment.
* As of April 14, Cubans will be allowed to freely buy and use cellular telephones, something that had been available only to government officials and foreign companies.
* Decentralized agriculture to allow private farmers more leeway to decide how to use their land, what crops to plant and what supplies to buy. Farmers granted leases to unused land.
* Reduced bureaucracy for filling medical prescriptions and began revamping the family doctor program in response to complaints it was understaffed.
* Removed ceiling on wages to create incentives for workers and improve Cuba’s economic performance.
* Additional reforms are expected to include allowing Cubans to buy and sell their cars and easing restrictions on travel abroad.
(Editing by Patricia Zengerle)
For special coverage from Reuters on the changes in Cuba, see: here