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Cuba Strangles Free Market Reformer In The Cradle

Photo: REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Cuban Economy Minister Marino Murillo got canned Wednesday for his inability to keep the anemic, communist country’s economy intact.

Murillo was fired after the economy did not render the growth that President Raul Castro, brother of former President Fidel Castro, expected. In recent years, the Cuban economy had begun to embrace some privatization efforts, including allowing small business ownership.

The economic crisis in Cuban ally Venezuela has  Cuba hard. Global oil prices are low compared to what Venezuela, an OPEC member state, is accustomed to, and Cuba gets much of its oil from the troubled South American country.

Despite being stripped of his title, Murillo is still considered a vice president in the Cuban Communist Party’s hierarchy. Energy is being rationed as a result of the Venezuelan economic crisis.

President Barack Obama’s decision to normalize diplomatic ties with Cuba has given the country hope it can expect a great deal of U.S. investment in the economy. Obama made a historic visit in March, the first U.S. president to do so since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

A variety of U.S. firms, including PayPal, Airbnb, and Starwood hotels, have expressed great interest in the potential of Cuba’s economy. Even luxury fashion house Chanel had a fashion show on the streets of Havana in May.

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