CBS's "Early Show" gave a fairly glowing report from the May Day celebration in Havana, Cuba, May 1, on changes Cuban President Raúl Castro has made in the country. Reporter Elizabeth Palmer called the leader's brother, Fidel Castro, a "revolutionary hero."
Fidel Castro handed provisional power to Raúl Castro, his younger brother, in July 2006. Raúl Castro officially took over the presidency in February 2008 after Fidel Castro fell ill.
Anchor Russ Mitchell said the May Day celebrations in Cuba signaled a "new era" for the country, and Palmer touted reforms like "cell phones," "text-messaging," opening of "resort hotels" to Cuban citizens and "shiny new Chinese buses."
Previously, Cubans were not allowed to own cell phones, and they had been banned from visiting the island's resorts, which were reserved for foreign tourists.
But optimism over the reforms has been called into question with publications like The Wall Street Journal saying hopes were "misplaced, or at best premature."
"But Raúl's objective is to placate a restless population, while the regime tightens its grip on economic power," said the April 21 newspaper. "The regime warned democracy advocates last week not to interpret the reforms as a weakening of its resolve to preserve socialism."
The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal said in the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom that Cuba was 27.5 percent free, making it one of the world's "most repressed economies," ahead of only the dictatorship in North Korea.
The Index of Economic Freedom also notes that Cuba performs poorly in business freedom, investment freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, labor freedom and financial freedom.