Many Cubans regard the Granma newspaper as a supremely boring propaganda vehicle worthy of its status as the "Official Organ of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party."
Yet in recent months Granma has published a jarringly lively and often critical set of letters to the editor on how to fix an economy ravaged by decades of over-centralization, inefficiency and corruption.
"Let us all . . . push for new mechanisms, structures or whatever one wants to call them. But let's do it without delay because tomorrow, tomorrow could be too late," wrote J. Rodriguez Perez.
But a shift toward capitalism, J.L. Marichal Castillo warned in another letter, "would no doubt generate another Revolution . . . but this time instead of 20,000 dead it would cost hundreds of thousands."
Raul Castro opened the doors to the polemic when he called for a frank debate of the shortcomings of Cuba's economy -- 95 percent controlled by the government -- after replacing his ailing brother Fidel, who disappeared from public view in 2006.
Academics, artists and others joined in with gusto, writing columns that ranged from calls to "democratize socialism" to attacks on "neo-stalinism." But the columns mostly appeared in specialized journals or web pages where few average Cubans could read them.
Granma is Cuba's largest newspaper, however, with a circulation estimated at 400,000, and the two pages it has devoted every Friday to letters to the editor since March 2008 have drawn much attention.
Initially, most of the letters printed focused on mundane issues such as gripes against neighbors' loud music, a shortage of sanitary napkins and unruly pets.
But more recently they have focused on the market incentives -- some call it "privatization" -- being considered as a fix for Cuba's economy. They include turning over 30,000 state-run retail shops like bakeries and cafeterias to employees or workers' cooperatives.
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