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Cuba remembers start of revolution amid economic changes

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura spoke to crowds in the eastern Cuban city of Ciego de Avila.
Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura spoke to crowds in the eastern Cuban city of Ciego de Avila.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • For the 2nd year in a row, the vice president delivered the annual speech
  • The date marks Fidel Castro's first attack on an army barracks
  • That attack failed but marked the start of the revolution
RELATED TOPICS
  • Fidel Castro
  • Cuba
  • Cuban Politics

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuba marked the 58th anniversary of the start of Fidel Castro's revolution Tuesday, without a speech from his younger brother, current President Raul Castro.

Instead, Cuba's vice president took the podium to talk about economic challenges ahead but did not reveal any new details about reforms under way to allow more private enterprises and shrink the role of the state.

"We are not applying patches or improvising, but looking for permanent solutions to old problems," 80-year-old Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura told crowds in the eastern Cuban city of Ciego de Avila.

The National Day of Rebellion has traditionally been used by Fidel or Raul Castro to make major announcements or set policy.

But this is the second year in a row that the vice president has delivered the main speech at the celebration, which commemorates Fidel Castro's first attack on an army barracks. The attack failed, but it marked the start of his armed revolution.

This year, the speech was short and focused on familiar ideas like boosting productivity and updating the economic model in order to strengthen, not undermine, the socialist system.

Last year, Raul Castro announced reforms to permit a bigger role for the private sector to soak up some of the 1 million state jobs that he said would need to be eliminated.

Cubans were hoping to get new details about that plan and the president's announcement earlier this year that restrictions on the buying and selling of homes and cars would soon be lifted.

There is still a chance that details on the reforms will emerge next week when Cuba's National Assembly meets for one of its biannual sessions.

 
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