Cuba’s quick fix

Miami Herald:

It’s amazing that the Castro brothers have any free hands left, what with having used so many fingers to plug the gushing dike that is Cuba’s failed economy.

Their most recent stopper came Sunday, when Raúl Castro announced another contradictory economic salvation: allowing more private enterprise. There are an estimated one million excess workers in Cuba, and the government needs them off its bloated redundant workforce.

Cubans have long made ends meet with what they euphemistically call “by the left” — illegal capitalism.

Mismanaged economy

The Cuban government is getting in on the game by relaxing prohibitions on business licenses. This will allow the Castros to squeeze workers again by charging income and sales taxes on previously under-the-table transactions working Cubans rely on.

This may be a welcome change for the self-employed who long for extra cash without dodging the state police. But it’s not enough to save a woefully mismanaged central economy that does not have enough currency for food.

It’s a step back to the mid 1990s, when more than 200,000 small businesses operated on the island. That leap toward capitalism to save communism fell short, and small business owners had the rug yanked from under them when the economy improved.

Two years into Raúl Castro’s drive to reform agriculture, that industry shrank 13 percent.

High hopes dashed

Even as he announces the pursuit to be less paternalistic and offer fewer services, his cabinet is more cautious. Economy Minister Marino Murillo should be taken at his word: “There shouldn’t be any talk of reforms. Central planning will continue to rule.”

Castro stepped into his brother’s shoes exactly four years ago amid high hopes that he would make bold changes. The novelty of the DVD players and cellphones he permitted has worn off, just as the buzz of new beauty parlors, taxi permits and other forms of self employment will wane if the government doesn’t do a lot more to raise the quality of life, instead of merely padding government coffers.

Fidel Castro’s recent appearances don’t instill confidence. By popping up everywhere from TV shows to the aquarium, he is letting his little brother know that brash moves do not go unnoticed, and eager anticipation of meaningful change is premature.


About Particular Cuba
Particular Cuba organizes travel to Cuba. Hotel booking, car rental, package tours, excursions, flights to Cuba.

One Response to Cuba’s quick fix

  1. It’s Nice Post, keep posting and have a nice day… 15:38

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