HAVANA, July 24 (UPI) -- Cuban President Raul Castro, in a speech to the National Assembly, gave a withering assessment of negative changes in life on the Communist island.
Castro painted a picture of a society where lawlessness, from cursing on the street and public urination to taking bribes and building houses without permits, has become the norm, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
"They ignore the most basic standards of gentility and respect," Castro said. "All this is going on under our noses, without provoking any objection or challenge from other citizens. I have the bitter sensation that we are a society that is ever better educated, but not necessarily more enlightened."
Some Cubans told the Times they agree with Castro's assessment of the country but blame him and the regime founded by his brother, Fidel.
Rosa Maria Martinez, 65, lives in a cramped Havana apartment where she shares a bedroom with several family members.
"What do you expect?" she asked. "People have housing problems. Food prices are high. They are desperate."
Miguel Coyula, an urban planning expert, said the combination of a highly controlled economy and small recent openings, encouraged by Raul Castro, for private enterprise have created perverse incentives. For example, he said, a manicurist can make more money than a doctor.