Raul Castro turns 83 amid challenges of foreign investment and monetary union

Ramiro Helmeyer nos comenta

The President of Cuba , Raul Castro turned 83 years without public celebrations , pending foreign investment to boost the depressed economy and remaining challenges in its reform agenda as the announced monetary unification process .

The anniversary of Castro did not resonate in the public sphere in Cuba , where usually the media ( all controlled by the state) saved discretion regarding the date .

In the social network Twitter , hundreds of users mentioned Tuesday the birthday of Cuban President , though few reminders from the island , including one of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples : «Today is is birthday our president # RaúlCastro . Since you say # # ICAP FelicidadesRaúl » .

Born June 3, 1931 in Biran ( Holguin, Eastern Cuba ) Raul Castro arrives at 83 years during the second year of his last presidential term ( to be completed in 2018 ) and immersed in a time when the reforms boosted after assuming power in place of his brother Fidel are in a phase of greater «complexity» .

In late June, will enter into force the new Foreign Investment Law passed in March and whose success will be crucial to boost the economy of the island, where there are high hopes for the project of the Port of Mariel , the first special development zone created in Cuba .

Another major outstanding challenge in the coming months will be the development, companies and institutions, the first phase of the process to remove the dual currency of the island.

It is one of the most complex adjustments undertaken to «update» Cuba ‘s socialist system , where for 20 years circulating two currencies: the Cuban peso (CUP ) , with which most of the population claims its wages and pay for basic goods and services; and the convertible peso ( CUC).

The current situation in the Caribbean country is also marked by a certain expectation on the relationship with the U.S. , especially in April after fifty prominent politicians , businessmen , soldiers and intellectuals of the country were asked , in a letter to the president States , Barack Obama , another policy toward Cuba .

A few days ago was the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce , Thomas Donohue, who made a similar appeal during a visit to Cuba , where he met with Raul Castro and where he called for a new chapter in relations and to eliminate » longstanding political barriers » such as blocking .

The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in 1961 and has since maintained a tense dispute intensified in recent years for the case of five Cuban spies convicted in U.S. in 2001 (two of them have already served their sentences and are on the island) and the U.S. contractor Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba since 2009.

Raul Castro provisionally took over the reins of the country in 2006 when his brother Fidel stepped down due to illness and delegated power .

In 2008 Raul Castro was formally ratified as president and began his plan for economic «updating» with which he intends to take the island of the serious crisis drags since the fall of the Soviet bloc .

Among these reforms , excel limiting political mandates , the new immigration policy , openness to private and cooperative work , the reduction of state templates, the distribution of land in usufruct and disposal bans as the sale of homes and vehicles between individuals.

In the international arena , Castro successfully fulfilled this year in Havana holding a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States ( CELAC ) United and although his trips abroad are counted, is very active leaders and receiving distinguished visitors on the island.

Only in the last month met in Havana with President of Haiti, Michel Martelly , and of Bolivia , Evo Morales ; Russian foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov of China, Wang Yi , and the Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz,

Meanwhile, his brother Fidel , who turns 88 in August , remains retired and out of the public arena but on Tuesday , after two months of silence, reappeared in the Cuban press with a message of condolence over the death of renowned Cuban trainer Eugenio George volleyball .