HAVANA - A top Cuban official on Tuesday ruled out political change on the island following a subtle appeal by Pope Benedict XVI for "renewal."
Economic czar Marino Murillo highlighted the economic changes his country is undergoing but added that "in Cuba there will not be political reform."
"We are updating our economic model but we are not talking about political reform," he told a room packed with foreign journalists covering the papal visit.
Cuba has been led by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro since the 1959 revolution. While Raul Castro has opened the economy to private enterprise and instituted other reforms, his commitment to a one-party communist system hasn't changed.
Murillo's comments were a quick and categorical response to a speech by Benedict earlier in the day in which the pontiff continued to hit on the themes of change and hope.
"I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways of renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans," Benedict said.
"I have also prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty."
During a Mass on Monday in Santiago, Benedict also appealed for Cubans "to reinvigorate your faith ... that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity."
- Pope Benedict XVI
- Raul Castro