‘Hope and Change’ in Cuba: Castro dictatorship puts the brakes on private businesses

Here is more of the “Hope and Change” we were told  by Obama and his Obama Bros just a couple of years ago would be flourishing in Cuba thanks to the “reforms” of the apartheid Castro dictatorship.

Via the AP in The Washington Post:

Castro freezes Cuban private sector, throws future in doubt

Two years after taking office, President Raul Castro widened the niche for private enterprise in Cuba’s state-dominated economy. Capitalism came pouring in.

Slowly at first, then gaining speed, spare rooms for rent became rental homes, which became boutique hotels. Backyard cafes became elegant restaurants and bustling nightclubs, backed with millions in capital from the prosperous Cuban diaspora in Miami, Latin America and Spain. English tutors started citywide private after-school programs. And the booming private economy reached into the Communist-led bureaucracy — paying off inspectors, buying stolen state goods and recruiting talented employees with salaries dwarfing those in the public sector.

Eight years later, on the verge of leaving office, Castro has thrown the brakes on private enterprise in Cuba again, warning of the rapid pace of change and criminal activity. The decision has raised fundamental questions about the nation’s economic path.

The Cuban government proclaimed in August that it was putting a temporary halt on new licenses for bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and other businesses until it could issue new regulations to control illegality. Entrepreneurs whispered about new regulations coming in a month, maybe two. But summer stretched into fall, fall into the new year, and six months later, Cuba’s private economy remains frozen.

The state-run economy responsible for 70 percent to 80 percent of GDP is stagnant. A once-promising worker-owned cooperative sector has shown little recent growth. Cubans are increasingly wondering when the private economy will be allowed to grow again, and, more broadly, how their government intends to deliver on promises of a sustainable, prosperous socialist system.

“We’ve already been this way several times before,” economist and Communist Party member Esteban Morales wrote on his blog last week. “Many of us think that these measures aren’t just to organize private enterprise better, as they’ve said, but to restrict it. Self-employment generates jobs that the state can’t. That’s something that hasn’t been taken advantage of before, and would be very smart to do.”

Continue reading HERE.