HAVANA TIMES, Jan 4 — Though private food services in Cuba haven’t succeeded in outstripping state-run food services, in the sale of day-to-day consumer articles this isn’t the case.
This is due in large part to a strange solidarity between private vendors. Instead of competing with each other, they agree on certain prices and quality levels, which are different from the prices and quality of services provided by the state.
In the competition that was established through the issuing of self-employment licenses to anyone who desired one, private businesses have been given a big advantage, at least in the sale of articles, like I said.
This is especially so in the case of clothing that’s imported onto the black market from Latin American countries that have duty free zones.
These articles come in fake brands that young people are eager to wear, in the absence of the genuine brands. The prices are equal to or lower than those in the government-run shops, and they come in styles and designs that are in fashion.
This is different from the state-run stores, where it seems like the wholesale buyers never interest themselves in purchasing products that are in demand.
A similar situation occurs with shoes, which — like clothes and other articles — have improved a lot in recent years in terms of their quality and attractiveness.
Other areas in which privates vendors excel are hardware store items and certain types of food services (the so-called “paladars,” or private restaurants).
Likewise, we’re seeing the construction of private gyms, given the growing demand of a people who these days are more concerned about individual appearances than they are about patriotic, cultural or work matters.
People have come up with everything from foam machine parties to concerts with “perreando” (dirty dancing) and reggaeton.
In short, people have found a whole range of solutions in their quest to raise their standard of living.
Only those who don’t need to earn aren’t trying to make a buck with a business.
Therefore, those people with ideas continue generating new opportunities. Though money is tight in Cuba, if it keeps circulating it will improve our lives.