Cubans will be able to buy and sell homes and cars for the first time in 50 years under economic reforms approved Tuesday at a landmark Communist Party congress seeking to secure the island’s socialist future.
President Raul Castro took over from his elder brother Fidel as head of the ruling Communist Party as expected during the rare four-day congress, which fell short of promises to rejuvenate a ruling old guard.
“The first secretary’s primary mission and purpose is to defend, preserve and continue to develop socialism, and to never allow the return of capitalism,” Raul Castro, who will be 80 in June, said in his closing speech.
The congress named political veteran Jose Ramon Machado, 80, as second secretary and only three new members of the leadership, including Marino Murillo, 50, who has led Raul Castro’s reform program.
Ailing revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, 84, drew a roar of applause in a surprise appearance at the end of the sixth congress since the creation of the Communist Party in 1965.