The week at a glance...Americas

Americas

Havana

Capitalism spreads: Cuba’s Communist Party approved sweeping economic changes this week at its first party congress in 14 years. For the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will be allowed to buy and sell their homes and cars in private transactions. Mass layoffs are planned for the public sector, and the private sector is due to expand. Meanwhile, President Raúl Castro, who succeeded older brother Fidel as president three years ago, officially succeeded him as head of the party at this congress, where the ailing Fidel made a surprise appearance. Both Castros said they now support a limit of two five-year terms for top officials, a reform that activists dismissed as window dressing. “In this way the ruling elites are giving themselves 10 more years of totalitarian continuity,” said human-rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.

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