by Larry Smith
HAVANA, Cuba -- "So you wanted to visit before the country opens up and everything changes?" a 30-something tour guide asked me as we surveyed Havana's bustling historic quarter from the rooftop of a restored colonial mansion.
It was true, I suppose. I had come in search of Fidel - 50 years after his revolutionary triumph and an uncertain time before his death - to get a glimpse of life in what is probably the last true communist state. According to Fidel's brother Raul, who took over as president two years ago, "Cuba is the only country in the world where people can live without working." But there are plans to change all that.
Cuba is about to take the Chinese road to transform its economy and, not coincidently, to pay back billions in overdue Chinese loans. Last November, Raul Castro issued a 32-page document calling for a raft of reforms to save the revolution. ¨We are running out of time," he conceded. "If we don´t change things now, we will bring about the collapse of efforts by many generations.”