Two self-employed florists prepare bunches of flowers in Havana last year. The Cuban government is stepping up economic reforms and estimates that in four or five years, nearly half the workforce will be employed in the private sector.
Socialism has been Cuba's official economic policy for more than a half-century, and some 85 percent of the Cuban workforce is employed by the state.
But that is changing fast. Communist authorities say that nearly half of Cuba's economic activity will shift to the private or "non-state" sector in the next four or five years.
Those plans signal a new urgency to Cuban President Raul Castro's economic reforms, and one reason is that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the island's biggest benefactor, is battling cancer and facing re-election in October.
As many news outlets have put it, this might be a perfect case of life imitating art: Two Cuban actors, who star in a movie about about teenagers who decide to defect to the United States, have gone missing shortly after arriving in the United States for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Una Noche.
Six days later, Javier Núñez Florián and Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre are still missing and assumed to have defected.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Lynn Neary is in for Renee this week. Lynn, welcome to the program.
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
Good to be here.
President Obama is back in Washington this morning, after a weekend summit in Colombia. The gathering with leaders from throughout the Americas produced some agreement on trade and some disagreement on drug policy in Cuba.