Mark reported earlier that much remained the same in the form of leadership in Cuba, but during the sixth meeting of the island's Communist Party Congress, the ruling party approved some significant economic reforms.
Foremost is that for the first time since revolution swept Fidel Castro into power in 1959, Cubans will be able to buy and sell private property. The BBC reports:
For the past 50 years, Cubans have only been allowed to pass on their homes to their children, or to swap them through a complicated and often corrupt system.
The move was decided during the first congress held by the ruling Communist Party in 14 years, aimed at breathing new life into the communist system.
No details were given on how the new property sales could work.
In its Central Report, the party takes great care in defending its decisions to allow some free-market activity — like allowing private operation of taxis and allowing private farmers to have more land — in the island:
The growth of the non-public sector of the economy, far from an alleged privatization of the social property as some theoreticians would have us believe, is to become an active element facilitating the construction of socialism in Cuba since it will allow the State to focus on rising the efficiency of the basic means of production, which are the property of the entire people, while relieving itself from those management of activities that are not strategic for the country.
This, on the other hand, will make it easier for the State to continue ensuring healthcare and education services free of charge and on equal footing to all of the people and their adequate protection through the Social Welfare System; the promotion of physical education and sports; the defense of the national identity; and, the preservation of the cultural heritage, and the artistic, scientific and historic wealth of the nation.
And despite the fact that he's now officially retired, Fidel Castro sat in on some of the sessions of the Congress. In his column, Castro reports that the future of Cuba is in the hands of bright minds, but also warns that the duty of the "new generation" is to be "exemplary leaders, modest, studious and unwavering fighters for socialism:"
Overcoming, in the barbarous stage of the consumer society, the system of capitalist production which promotes and foments the selfish instincts of human beings constitutes, no doubt, a difficult challenge.