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Cuba Prepares for New Wave of Workers

Cuba is laying the foundation for major changes to the communist island's workforce, detailing plans for its move toward private employment.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma Friday lists 178 jobs in which Cubans will soon be able to work for themselves, instead of the government. It says self-employed Cubans will be allowed to hire people who are not related to them.

The article cites Economy Minister Marino Murillo Jorge and Labor Vice Minister Admi Valhuerdi Cepero, and says the Cuban central bank is looking at possible ways to help self-employed Cubans get loans to support and grow their businesses.

Until now, the state has employed about 85 percent of the country's workforce, but earlier this month, the government announced plans to lay off 500,000 state workers.

Cuban President Raul Castro has said the state is struggling because too many workers are redundant and have low productivity.

Mr. Castro's brother, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, was quoted earlier this month by a U.S. journalist as saying Cuba's economic model no longer works, even for Cuba. Mr. Castro later said he was misinterpreted.

The plan laid out in Granma Friday lists a range of newly approved private professions, from accountants to animal trainers.

It also says private restaurants, known as "paladeres," will be allowed to expand.

Paladeres are currently limited to 12 seats but the new rules will allow for 20 seats and more menu options. Many popular paladeres already ignore the 12-seat limit.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.