What the U.S. Chamber Won’t Tell You About Cuba
In announcing his upcoming trip to Cuba, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue stated:
“Since I was last in Cuba 15 years ago, a reform program has reportedly taken 600,000 workers from government payrolls and allowed the number of self-employed entrepreneurs in the country to triple to more than 450,000.”
According to the Castro regime’s official statistics, 600,000 workers have supposedly been removed from government payrolls, though well-short of its announced goal of 1 million layoffs by the end of 2011. A major concern is that very few of the laid-off workers have transferred to the “self-employment” sector.
Then, the fuzzy math begins.
The number of “self-employed entrepreneurs” has not tripled to more than 450,000. During Donohue’s 1999 trip to Cuba there were nearly 210,000 self-employed licensees. Thus, according to the Castro regime’s official, unverified statistics, in the last 15 years there has been a net gain of 240,000 new licensees. That’s hardly triple.
Deduct the one-in-four ratio (confirmed through 2012) of self-employed licenses that have been canceled or returned due to frustration with state control — probably an even higher ratio now — and the net gain (over 15 years) is of 180,000 new licensees. That’s not even double.
But anyone can miscalculate, particularly when relying on a dictatorship’s manipulated data.
Most importantly, here’s what the Chamber won’t tell you about “self-employed” licensees:
– Cuba’s “self-employed” licensees have no ownership rights whatsoever – be it to their artistic or “intellectual” outputs, commodity they produce, property, or personal service they offer.
– Licensees have no legal entity (hence business) to transfer, sell or leverage. They don’t even own the equipment essential to their self-employment.
As Havana-based lawyer and pro-democracy blogger Miriam Celaya has previously explained:
“The fact that no legal document exists that clearly explains how measures are established for each [self-employment] activity, the particular requirements of each and the obligations and rights of investors, only creates a vagueness and formlessness that favors speculation and corruption on behalf of the regime officials in charge of the process, as well as the defenselessness for those that risk investment in the private sector. To summarize it in a simple phrase: in a State where no citizen rights exist, there are no legal guarantees for slaves that aspire to freedom.”
– Licensees have no right to engage in foreign trade, seek or receive foreign investments.
– Effectually, licensees continue to work for the state — and when the state decides such jobs are no longer needed, licensees are shut down without recourse.
– The only thing licensees have is a “get out of jail free card” (license) that (in theory) doesn’t punish them for selling some widgets (like they would in the black-market), though (in practice) the authorities’ harassment remains arbitrary and constant.
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