Cuba embraces 2 surprising free-market reforms

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 28, 2010 00:48

 
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HAVANA – Cuba issued a pair of surprising free-market decrees Thursday and Friday, allowing foreign investors to lease government land for up to 99 years — potentially touching off a golf-course building boom — and loosening state controls on commerce to let islanders grow and sell their own fruit and vegetables.

The moves, published into law in the Official Gazette and effective immediately, are significant steps as President Raul Castro promises to scale back the communist state's control of the economy while attempting to generate new revenue for a government short on cash.

"These are part of the opening that the government wants to make given the country's situation," said Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a state-trained economist who is now an anti-communist dissident.

Cuba said it was modifying its property laws "with the aim of amplifying and facilitating" foreign investment in tourism, and that doing so would provide "better security and guarantees to the foreign investor."

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