The Miami Herald
October 29, 2001

Cuban economist predicts growth

 HAVANA -- (AP) -- Cuba is not facing an economic crisis despite a slump in tourism following the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and a recent weakening of its
 currency, says Cuba's top economic planner.

 Rather, the Cuban economy is expected to grow 4 percent this year, slightly less than the 5 percent earlier projected, said Vice President Carlos Lage, the architect of
 modest economic reforms over the last decade.

 Lage also said Sunday that a roughly 20 percent weakening of the Cuban peso in recent weeks against the U.S. dollar was of a ``transitory character'' and expected to

 ``We do not have the situation, nor will we have situation of 1993 and 1994,'' Lage told reporters Sunday at the opening of the Feria de La Habana, Cuba's most important
 annual trade fair.

 Cubans describe 1993 and 1994 as the most desperate years of a severe financial crisis that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union. For decades, Moscow had
 provided Havana with massive aid and preferential trading agreements.

 ``Our people can be confident, they can be calm, because the country is much better organized, and is economically stronger,'' he said.

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