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Latino Daily News

Tuesday January 4, 2011

Santería Priests Predict ‘Reorganization’  As Cuba Starts 2011 with Massive Layoffs

Cuban Santería Priests say that 2011 will be a year of change and “reorganization.”

“We are sure that there will be changes” in 2011, said the one of the group’s top priests, Lazaro Cuesta. “We’re certain that good moments are coming.”

When, is the real question as the Cuban government starts the year with the first wave of eliminating half a million state jobs. The Cuban government estimates that in 2011 it will definitively eliminate 146,000 state jobs, while some 351,000 public servants enter other forms of independent employment as part of the country’s reform and austerity initiatives.

As well as predicting an economic prosperity of sorts with the increase of imports and exports, the priests forecasted sudden political changes, and hinted at a possible war, or coupe d’etat and the deaths of celebrities and political personalities.

Predictions like these were also given for 2010, and none came to pass.  Nonetheless, many Cuban’s listen intently for the Santeria’s predictions and anxiously await the New Year when their predictions are announced.

Dozens of santeros — followers of the syncretic religion that mixes Roman Catholicism with the traditional African Yoruba faith — turned out for Monday’s predictions.

“It looks to me like the signs are good for this year,” said Reineiro Espinosa, a 53-year-old bus driver who has practiced Santeria for more than a decade.

“Last year was very bad, so we’re really hoping that better things are in store for this year,” he said, as he scribbled down the forecast onto the back of a cardboard box.

The expansion of the private sector in Cuba, that allows for creating small companies and businesses, is one of the principal measures implemented by the government of Raul Castro to fit the socialist model into 2011 capitalist standards, and help the economic crisis facing the island nation.

In 2009 Cuba had a total of 143,800 self-employed workers.  The government hopes that in 2011 some 250,000 more workers will enter that sector, and that the increase will boost government tax revenues by $1 billion next year.