HAVANA — Cuba's Catholic Church urged the government Tuesday to move more swiftly on reforming the communist-ruled island's Soviet-style economy.
"We cannot hope to build a prosperous country and society without prosperous citizens and without opening the doors to financial sources that generate prosperity," Orlando Marquez, spokesman for the Havana archdiocese, wrote in an article published in the church's "Palabra Nueva" journal.
Cuba has tinkered with pro-market economic change since President Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel in 2006.
But playing off the communist regime's "slowly, but surely" slogan, Marquez said the government needed to move more quickly to stay ahead of demographic trends that show a bulging elderly population and not enough young people to support them.
In 2030, "30 percent of the population will be more than 60 years old," he said, calling for "the creation of conditions that spur birth and discourage emigration of young people who would be ready to work and invest their capital and know-how in Cuba, including Cuban emigres willing to return."
"It's a waste of time to constantly insist on the long-proven ineffectiveness of state control on all production and services," Marquez said, insisting that "our country's technological backwardness puts us in a difficult situation in light of our need to join the global economy."
"Accelerating reforms and generating wealth would be the best way to stop then reverse the deterioration of our society's two most important sectors: health and education," Marquez said.
In the absence of a legal opposition, the Catholic Church has emerged over the past three years as the sole organization with the standing to negotiate politically with the Havana government on social and economic issues.