The Communist government of Cuba said it will permit people to buy and sell their property for the first time since Fidel Castro took power of the island in 1959, as part of a raft of economic reforms.
The measure was passed during a congress (meeting) of the Communist Party (the first such parley in fourteen years).
Under the old regime, Cubans were only allowed to bequeath their homes to their children or to exchange them in a complex system that was riddled with corruption.
Cuban president Rail Castro also said that political officeholders will be limited to two five-year terms, and also promised a systematic rejuvenation of the government.
Former leader Fidel Castro (Raul’s brother) reportedly endorsed the change in property-holding rights and other changes.
The new generation is being called upon to rectify and change without hesitation all that should be rectified and changed, Fidel Castro wrote in an editorial.
Persisting in revolutionary principles is, in my judgment, the principal legacy we can leave them.
However, the party provided no details of how property transfers would now be done. Also, Raul Castro warned that the state would not allow people to have a concentration of property.
In addition, the congress elected new officials. Raul Castro is widely expected to take over as the party's first secretary role from Fidel. The person who is chosen as the second-in-command of the party will likely be the eventual successor.
Fidel and Raul have occupied the top two spots of the communist party since 1965.
The Cuban economy, which has been struggling badly, will see several new unprecedented changes over the next few years, including the disappearance of 1-million government jobs and a sharp reduction in subsidies, including the elimination of monthly food rations to those who do not need it.
Havana wants to encourage more private enterprise activities among its people as well as increased foreign investment. The government also seeks to increase private farming and decentralize the agricultural sector, in hopes that this will raise food production.
The government is cash-strapped and needs to reduce its cost burdens.
However, the reforms will not mean that the Communist rulers will abandon its design of a planned economy and keeping the means of production in state control.