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Cubans optimistic about economy


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Cubans optimistic about economy

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WASHINGTON, May 26,, CMC – A new poll by the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI) says Cubans appear to be growing more optimistic about President Raul Castro’s economic reforms and that large majorities favor direct elections of their president.
But the poll, just released here, by the nonprofit group that advocates freedom around the world also says the Cuban government remains repressive and  shows that the number of Cubans working “off the books” for themselves grew by 9 percent, compared to the IRI poll last year; while the number of those with licenses grew by only 3 percent.
The poll was the eighth IRI survey on the island since 2007. Like its counterpart, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, it is officially nonpartisan.
According to the IRI poll, 45 percent of Cubans felt their family economic situation would improve in the next 12 months, and 35percent said it would remain the same. In 2012, 27 percent expected improvements and 58 percent expected no change,.
It said 64 percent of Cubans could not cite any reform that had benefitted them personally, with most reporting little improvement in the previous 12-month period — the fifth year of Castro’s presidency.
IRI officials have attributed the optimism for the next 12 months primarily to the government’s easing of restrictions on foreign travel in January.The IRI poll also revealed that 69 percent of those interviewed said “no” on whether it has become easier in the past two years to speak out against the Cuban government without receiving some form of official retribution.
Twenty percent of Cubans declined to state whether the government sometimes represses its own people, but 53 percent said the government was repressive, with 64 percent saying they favored direct balloting for president.
The poll also suggests that cuts in government payrolls are driving Cubans more into “off-the-books” jobs than into the over 170- self-employed economic activities that the government permits,.
The IRI said its poll takers, who worked “discreetly” because the Cuban government prohibits independent surveys, interviewed 688 Cubans, aged 18 and older, in 14 provinces.
 

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