2 May 2011

Huge May Day rallies in Cuba

1:42 pm on 2 May 2011

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have turned out for May Day parades in what was billed as a show of support for economic reforms.

Last month, President Raul Castro pushed through a series of changes that will allow Cubans to buy and sell their homes and entrepreneurs to set up small businesses.

However details of the reforms are yet to be published and some in Havana have expressed their impatience to see the guidelines.

The government is planning to cut hundreds of thousands of state jobs as it pushes limited market reforms.

Many marchers in Havana and other cities wore red or national colours, and held banners supporting Socialism, the BBC reports.

In a break with tradition, the BBC says, there were no giant portraits of Marx, Engels or Lenin lining the parade route in Havana's Revolution Square this year.

President Raul Castro led a march in Santiago de Cuba, while in Havana that role fell to Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the 80-year-old appointed recently as the party's second secretary.