Politics

What’s Raul Castro Been Up To?

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It’s been over 2 months since he officially took power, and The Seminal details some progress…

Raul Castro announced today that he is commuting all death sentences in Cuba (with the exception of 3 individuals charged with terrorism) to lesser sentences, citing humanitarian reasons. Cuba has faced pressure from human-rights activists to abolish its death penalty, which is still administered via firing squad.

The commutations are the latest in a wave of populist reforms introduced by Raul Castro since his older brother Fidel Castro retired and handed him power. Over the weekend he announced he’s raising pensions for retirees as well as salaries for some government employees, while earlier this month he lifted long-time bans on Cubans owning cell phones and staying in hotels reserved for foreigners.

Oh, and he’s also allowed Cubans to own personal computers, and that’s given rise to uncensored blogging about the country.

And yes, Raul still has a long way to go to undo the harm his brother has wrought on the country, and one can’t help but think the lion’s share of it will only happen after Fidel is dead, but these steps do amount to some progress and it should at least be recognized.