“No one can get ahead,” complain those affected by the barriers erected against private employment
The authorities’ decision to cancel, definitively or for “the time being,” the issuance of licenses for private businesses covering a whole range of activities has dealt a harsh blow to entrepreneurs who had planned on opening up this year. They have seen their chances for a better life dashed, at least in the medium term.
“They’ve screwed me over. I’d invested both months and money into the house, to be able to rent it to foreign tourists. I already had contacts and I was planning to apply for my license in September, but the Government is afraid of people having money,” said Sara, expressing a mix of sadness and impotence. She had been hoping to rent out a house in El Vedado.
Sergio, a taxi driver who had intended to start a new career buying and selling homes, said he has lost more than 1.000 CUC, spent on chairs and other items to set up an office.
“This closure shows that no one can make a dime. I had carried out a study of the real estate market and everything. I had big business plans, but now I have to see how I get out of this whole mass and carry on as a taxi driver, as I have no other choice,” he complained.
On Tuesday the Government announced the “definitive” cancellation of the issuance of licenses for private businesses for activities like the wholesale or retail sale of agricultural products; carretillero, or the mobile sale of agricultural products; the buying and selling of discs, and the operation of recreational equipment.
It also revealed that it had suspended, “for the time being,” the concession of licenses for activities like leasing houses, rooms and spaces, cafeterias offering light fare, auto body professionals, private contractors, food and beverage producers and vendors at restaurants (paladares), and food and beverage vendors at fixed points of sale (cafeteria).
Neither will it grant new permits for the production and sale of non-alcoholic beverage, the washing and oiling of automotive systems, managers of house sales and swaps, administrators of leased accommodations, blacksmiths, sports instructors, dressmakers, or tailors, among others.
Also included on the list of “paralyzed” trades are: recreational equipment operator, organizer of comprehensive services for quinceañera parties, weddings and other activities, welder, producer or seller of footwear, producer or seller of sundry household items, and instruction in shorthand, typing and languages.
Affected too was the teaching of music and other arts, the repair of electrical and electronic equipment, reaming, the restoration of jewelry and imitation jewelry; building construction, repair and maintenance services; and the programming of computer systems.
Brian, who already had his gear all ready to open an appliance repair shop in Centro Habana, has seen his hopes sunk, as he had not yet submitted his license application.
“Right now I don’t know what to do, because I owe money to several people that I borrowed to buy the repair equipment. I was already excited about starting my own workshop soon. What these people are doing is shameless. No one can get ahead,” said the young man.
The owner of a cafeteria in La Víbora said that in just two months she had planned to open a restaurant in the same locale. “Now what do I do with all the cutlery, glasses and even the electric coffee maker I bought?” asked the woman, who did not want to give her name.
“I have to sell them or keep them until they start issuing licenses again, and we don’t know when that will be. The Government wants you to be penniless your whole life,” criticized the lady.
Marta, a bookkeeper who depends on self-employed clients, to manage their payments at the bank, said that these closures “affect me a lot.”
“As there are no new entrepreneurs, it makes it harder for me to land new clients. These bastards have painted me into a corner, as I had only been involved in this activity for a few months,” she said.
“They don’t want a middle class to develop, and claim they have taken these measures because there are a lot of raw materials and illicit products. And where do those illicit products come from? From the lack of control at the disastrous State-owned enterprises,” said Lázaro, a self-employed worker on the Calzada de Diez de Octubre. “They’ve really screwed us over,” concluded the entrepreneur.