On Saturday, Cuba President Raúl Castro spoke to his country's parliament and said that despite a poor economy, reform should be conducted slowly.

In a 25-minute-long speech to Cuba's National Assembly, Castro spoke of his country's "modest" economical performance, Havana Times reported. In June, the government named its 2014 economic growth prediction at 1.4 percent, down from a December 2013 prediction of 2.2 percent and last year's growth of 2.7 percent, according to The Associated Press. The smalelr prediction came after the economy grew only 0.6 percent during the first half of 2014.

"The Gross Domestic Product  grew by 0.6 percent," Castro saidd. "This denotes a decelerated growth rate for this indicator."

According to the 83-year-old president, these low numbers are due to minimal "foreign revenue," as well as "climatic conditions" and "internal shortcomings" of Cuba's State economic management.

Still, Castro said that reforms "have great complexity but are advancing."

"This process, to be successful, must be conducted with the appropriate gradualness and be accompanied by the permanent control of different party and government structures at all levels," he said. "Gradualness is not a whim, much less a desire to delay the changes that we must make. On the contrary, it is about a need to ensure order and avoid gaps that would lead us directly to mistakes that distort the proposed objectives."

According to Reuters, Castro's reforms have included the development of state enterprises into private cooperatives, which encourages small business, and diminishing the government's involvement in daily life. The reforms have raised optimism but have also sparked debate over how much free enterprise should exist on the communist island.

"The gradual nature of a series of activities that we are approving is indispensable," Castro said. "We have had success in which our people have played a fundamental role. ... They have resisted, and they are defeating imperialism."

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