Havana – Cuba's parliament began the first of its two annual sessions Monday with President Raul Castro in attendance, official media said.
The more than 600 deputies comprising the National Assembly will analyze the progress of Gen. Castro's efforts to rejuvenate the faltering economy of the Communist-ruled island.
The international press so far has not been allowed to cover this session of the legislature and it is not known when the president will address the lawmakers.
In this session, the legislators will see a report about the implementation of the accords adopted at April's sixth Cuban Communist Party congress and they will review the execution of the economic plan in the first half of this year.
In addition, lawmakers will ratify the reform plan that Raul Castro is proposing to "update" the socialist model.
The session comes after Castro expressed criticism a week ago to his Cabinet about the unfulfilled quotas and other efforts, deficiencies and bad planning that have plagued the economy, which nevertheless grew in the first half of the year, government media have reported without providing any figures.
Speaking to a weekend meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee, Raul Castro emphasized the importance of changing methods and working styles "not in accord with the current times" with the aim of correcting mistakes.
He also called for an analysis of any disagreements to guarantee "free discussion" and so that "everyone may express their opinion about what they think and desire."
With the aim of preserving the Revolution, and without renouncing socialism or the party's monopoly on power, Raul Castro wants to update the Cuban model with a plan that includes a controlled opening of the economy to private initiative, a drastic "slimming down" of state payrolls, decentralization of the management of public companies and the reduction of subsidies deemed unnecessary, among other things.
The 80-year-old Raul Castro on Sunday marked his fifth year leading Cuba after elder brother Fidel delegated to him his own government duties on July 31, 2006, after falling seriously ill.