Cuba may face cuts in healthcare, education
Posted Tuesday, Oct. 05, 2010
By Will Weissert
The Associated Press
HAVANA — Cuba has already promised to fire a half-million state workers
and reshape its communist economy. Now universal free education and
healthcare, the very building blocks of the 1959 revolution that swept
Fidel Castro to power, could face cutbacks.
A signed editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Tuesday
argued that the government cannot continue to run up large spending
deficits — while noting that 46.7 percent of state spending goes to
providing free medical care and education through college for all citizens.
"Spending cannot be thought of as a right, and in order to spend, you
must have proper revenue," said the editorial.
It's the kind of opinion piece in the government-controlled press that
can auger imminent announcements of change.
Last October, Granma's editor wrote in a full-page editorial that it
could be time to cut back on a ration system that allows Cubans to buy a
series of foods at heavily subsidized prices every month.
Since then, the government has cut potatoes, peas and other staples from
the "libreta," or ration book, that Cubans have depended on since 1962
to put meager meals on their tables.
Tuesday's story did not say when — or even if — cutbacks in schools
and hospitals are coming, and it gave no suggestions for specific ways
to save money. But its tone was consistent with recent speeches by
President Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother as president in 2006
and has said repeatedly that Cuba cannot keep spending so much to keep
its citizens healthy and educated.