HAVANA, April 16 (UPI) -- The Cuban government staged a festive military parade in Havana Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the repulsion of the U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion.
As Communist Party of Cuba faithful celebrated the defeat of some 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles in the 1961 attack, congress members assembled to debate economic reforms, The Havana Times reported.
The 4-day conference was promised two years ago by 79-year-old President Raul Castro after he formally assumed power in 2008 from his older brother Fidel, who led the 1956 revolution that brought Soviet-style Marxism to the island nation.
Raul Castro has promised reforms that lean away from the Soviet-style economic system by decentralizing and allowing more private enterprise. However, Castro has repeatedly and emphatically said the political system would not become one of capitalism.
Unrest began last year when Castro announced layoffs of some 1.5 million workers from civil service positions in the country of 11.2 million people. He also declared many state-run cooperatives would become independent and self-reliant, The Miami Herald said.
The party conference of more than 1,000 delegates begins after statements by Castro that the economy is "on the edge of the abyss,'' the Herald said.