Cuba Suspends Communist Party Congress and Lowers Projection for Economy

Cuba suspended plans on Friday for a Communist Party congress and lowered its 2009 economic growth projection nearly a full percentage point as its economy struggled through what President Raúl Castro called a “very serious” crisis, The New York Times reported on an Associated Press story. The gathering was expected to chart Cuba’s political future after Mr. Castro and his brother Fidel are gone. Instead, the nation’s leaders will try to pull their country back from the economic brink. Cuba lowered its 2009 growth estimate from 2.5 percent to 1.7 percent, but that figure was dubious given that it included state spending on free health care and education, the food Cubans receive with monthly ration booklets and a broad range of other social services. The economic problems began last summer, with three hurricanes that caused more than $10 billion in damage. The situation has worsened with the onset of the global financial crisis and the recession. Read more.