Times Wire Reports

Cuba suspended plans for a Communist Party congress and lowered its 2009 economic growth projection to 1.7% as the island's economy struggles through a "very serious" crisis.

In a closed-door meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee, officials agreed to postpone indefinitely the first congress since 1997, which had been scheduled for the second half of the year. The gathering was to chart Cuba's political future after President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel are gone.

Cuba lowered its 2009 growth estimate from 2.5% to 1.7%. As recently as December, central planners said they thought the Cuban economy would grow by 6% in 2009.

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