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No Castro speech at key event

world Updated: Jul 27, 2010 01:08 IST
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President Raul Castro refrained from speaking today at celebrations marking the start of Cuba's communist revolution, dashing expectations he would announce a loosening of controls on the island's economy.

Instead, Vice President Jose Ramon Machado, an old-guard Castro loyalist, told a crowd of some 90,000 that Cuba's leaders "will act without populist, demagogic or deceitful solutions" as they strive to improve the economy.

"We will move forward with a sense of responsibility, step by step, at a pace that we will determine, without improvisations or haste in order to not make mistakes and to definitely leave behind mistakes or measures that do reconcile with actual conditions," Machado said.

At the same anniversary event in 2007, Raul Castro said he accepted the need for "structural changes" in the economy. More recently he has spoken of an urgent need to "update the model" of Cuba's economic growth.

Comments favouring changes in the economy, such as increasing privately-owned small businesses, have even appeared recently in the state-run media, fuelling public speculation that changes were afoot.

But Machado said that Cuba's leaders "will continue the study, analysis and decision making that would lead to improving our efficiency" across the board.