Cuba Marks Anniversary Of Revolution
DON GONYEA, Host:
NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Santa Clara, Cuba. Good morning, Jason.
JASON BEAUBIEN: Good morning.
GONYEA: So the main speaker at today's event was expected to be the president, Raul Castro. He didn't show?
BEAUBIEN: This year, we were expecting Hugo Chavez to be here. He backed out at the last minute. There was speculation that Fidel himself might be here. He also didn't come. Raul was here. He was in the front row. They got to the end, and he didn't get up and give a speech. He left the message that he probably was going to give to his ministers to deliver to the crowd.
GONYEA: And what kind of reaction was there from the crowd, the fact that he didn't speak? He's clearly who they came to see.
BEAUBIEN: There was a little bit of shock when the music came up right at the end, and it was clear that everything was wrapping up and the people were starting to file out. But people that I talked to afterwards say that's OK. Clearly, he delivered the message through his other people. This is a message of we need to cut costs, we need to be more productive. We need to deal with the economy. And this was given by lots of other people today, but it was still quite striking that Raul did not get up and give a speech himself.
GONYEA: There's always a lot of speculation about the leadership of Cuba. Is there anything we should read into this, anything we might read into it?
BEAUBIEN: So a question like this, there's no way to really get an answer from the system. It really is difficult to tell. At the same time, Cuba is facing numerous problems at the moment. The dissidents who are being released is an issue that has been dominating the foreign press. Fifty-two dissidents are in the process of being released. Fifteen of them have already been released. It's possible that Raul didn't want to get up and not mention the dissidents, and thus he just didn't get up and didn't say anything at all.
GONYEA: NPR's Jason Beaubien, joining us from Santa Clara, Cuba. Jason, thanks much.
BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.
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