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As part of his continuing reforms of the Cuban economy, Cuban President Raul Castro announced plans to allow for the buying and selling of private real estate for the first time since the Communist Revolution on the island. The new laws are active on November 8th and were announced by the Communist Party’s official daily newspaper Granma. Even with these reforms, some 80% of Cuba’s work force is still employed in the island’s command economy, receiving wages of some $20 a month along with free education, healthcare, basic foods and a place to live. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this system has become increasingly untenable. The complicated property rules prior to reform sometimes meant that generations of a single family had to occupy a space too small for them or that even divorced couples would have to live together for years after separation while new housing arrangements were made. Though Cuba is pursuing limited free market reforms, President Castro is still dedicated to the idea of keeping the island a socialist state so any radical changes are unlikely to come any time soon.

[NPR]