‘Self-Employment’ in Cuba not all that liberating
You will never hear a "Cuba Expert" mention this because let's be honest here; they are paid to disseminate propaganda, not tell the truth.
Nevertheless, the truth has a sneaky way of getting past the propaganda screen.
Self-employed Cubans real entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship has many faces in Cuba today, from street vendors who sell skimpy tube tops purchased at Miami discount stores to the chauffeur of an improvised bicycle taxi to the operator of a white-tablecloth private restaurant with the tips already included in the bill.
But while the government initially declared that it wanted to move 500,000 Cubans off state payrolls by April 2011 and another 800,000 by the beginning of 2012, it has fallen far short of those targets.
And there is a vast grey area in this world of so-called cuentapropistas, where the self-employed function on the fringes of legality, key elements that would lead to successful small businesses are missing and broad questions remain about how the program should go forward in a communist country.
There's also disagreement about whether Cuba's flirtation with private business represents a path toward true entrepreneurship or has simply resulted in reinforcement of a shadowy informal economy where cuentapropistas bend the rules in order to survive.
At the end of May, nearly 430,000 Cubans in a workforce of five million were self-employed, according to a report from the Cuban Ministry of Labour and Social Security. But not all of them are furloughed government employees.
Some 14 per cent were retired, meaning they didn't switch from current state employment to working on their own, and analysts say a significant number are probably former black marketeers, who are used to operating outside the bounds of state control, or workers who have held on to their state jobs but want to earn extra money on the side.
"So far, it's been more of a legalisation of the illegal economy than creation of a small business class," said Ted Henken, a Baruch College professor and president of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.
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