Cuba Recognizes Private Businesses

“Calling things by their proper name”

By Guillermo Nova (dpa)

A private food service business. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — While some Cuban officials fear that economic reforms mean that capitalism will return to the island, Parliament has taken heed of president Raul Castro about “calling things by their proper name” and has legalized what is already a reality: the existence of small private businesses, which have been operating in a legal limbo up until now.

The discussion about private companies marked the 7th Cuban Communist party congress (PCC) which took place in April 2016, but back then, the over 1000 legislators who took part couldn’t reach a consensus about the documents that would define the socialist model in Cuba.

The “Conceptualization of Cuba’s Social and Economic model of Development”, as well as the “Guidelines for the Political Party and the Revolution for the time period 2016-2021”, are the documents that will define the social, economic and political future of this country, according to the Government.

At that time, the Cuban president asked Parliament to leave “euphemisms” aside because allowing independent workers to hire their own “workforce” led to these small private businesses existing in reality, but operating without the legal framework it needed.

In order to reach an agreement, the Cuban Communist Party continued the debate and held assemblies where over 1.6 million Cubans took part, according to what Cuban authorities have reported. These included Party members and affiliates of organized mass organizations.

After a year of discussions, the subject has finally been closed after the Cuban Parliament decided to recognize the existence of small private companies and to give them legal protection.

“The documents approved are programatic efforts which reaffirm the socialist nature of the Revolution and the role that the Party plays as the leading force in society and the State,” Raul Castro said Thursday at Parliament, quoted by the Cuban state-owned news agency CAN.

The approved measure is one more step in the economic reforms process that Castro has been pushing ever since he became president seven years ago.

At the beginning of his presidency, he extended the number of self-employment licences to 200 different types of work and he also allowed some cooperatives (non-agricultural) to be created, as before only agricultural cooperatives were allowed.

According to Cuban authorities, 535,000 self-employed licenses were requested in 2016, mainly in sectors such as small vehicle drivers, private room renters or food services.

A private cellphone repair shop. Photo: Juan Suarez

The Cuban government wants small private companies to focus on the service sector, while the State keeps hegemonic control of strategic sectors such as tourism, energy or biotechnology.

One of the concerns that some Cuban officials have is that wealth will slowly begin to accumulate in individual hands if the small business sector expands in Cuba.

“The dominant form of management continues to be socialist property with the basic modes of production belonging to the people,” Marino Murillo, a vice-president and considered to be the “tsar of economic reforms” in Cuba, assured legislators.

After decades of all economic activity being in State hands, the slightest prominence of small business here would be considered by the United States as the seed of capitalism, which would lead to political reform on the island.

“As your friend, the United States wants to help you,” then US president Barack Obama said when he met with a group of the Cuban self-employed during his official state visit to the island in March 2016.

A month later, during the conclave of Cuban communists, Raul Castro warned the Cuban people of US interests.

“We aren’t naive, nor are we ignoring the influence of powerful external forces who are betting on the so-called “empowerment” of non-goverment management, with the aim to create agents of change in the hope that they bring about the end of the Revolution and socialism in Cuba,” stated Raul Castro.



75 thoughts on “Cuba Recognizes Private Businesses

  • Javier as you well know (if you are up to date) the two currencies are exchanged at 25 pesos for 1 CUC and 1 CUC for 24 pesos. Those are the rates at the Cadecas, with the money changers on the street and in the various GAESA stores. Cubans selling on the street the various commodities of the mercado negra and fruits and vegetables accept either currency at the rates I described. The prices are equal.
    I have over several years has repeatedly expressed my opposition in these pages to the US embargo because it has provided the Castro communist regime with an excuse for all its self evident errors, incompetence and economic stupidity. But to discuss the embargo one must first read the US Cuban Democracy Act – have you?
    The purpose was excellent but in practice it failed many years ago and became redundant. Cuba has been able to import from a variety of countries a wide range of domestic products, military products, food and technology. The main problem has been and remains, how the regime pays when their economic policies have been such a failure. Currently they use Chinese credit ($25 billion debt) as the Venezuelan support has like the previous USSR support dried up.
    Although you claim that people have been lied to by the Western media, you fail to note that Cubans have been denied access to free media and only permitted access to that media which is controlled by the Communist Party of Cuba.
    I record Cuba as it is. That may be unpalatable to socialist dreamers like yourself, but I live in the reality as do my family and friends.

  • You have not refuted my argument except by mentioning two beers… Keep in mind that Cuba has two currencies … one for tourist and one for locals….And the prices are much lower for the currency of the locals… Also keep in mind that Cuba has has an economic blockade imposed on it by the most powerful nation on Earth for the last almost 60 years….The fact that Cuba has survived is a miracle….This Blockade would have brought any other nation to its knees but not Cuba… This says a lot for the Cuban Revolution…..By the way people are not as easily fooled as you think… Most people that visit Cuba realize that they have been lied to by Western media… I’m still trying to figure out if you actually believe the nonsense you spew about Cuba or if you are just promoting an anti Cuba agenda regardless of the facts… I’m leaning towards the latter,,, Now just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Cuba is without issues or problems…. but Cuba has had to try and develop with a dagger in its back (Blockade) so it’s hypocrisy to bring up the Cuban economics without mentioning the Blockade…

  • Javier I did not think that you would write such nonsense as I had been giving you credit for some knowledge. Yes, you are correct that Cubans such as my wife and numerous other family members are paid in pesos. The figure you give of 687 pesos is slightly above the 670 pesos per month paid to university qualified teachers. If they have a Masters degree, they get an additional 90 pesos per month and for a Doctorate 150 pesos per month.
    As for beer, Bucanero and Cristal – when or if available cost 25 pesos and imported Heiniken 35 pesos- GAESA has to import beer as the regime prefers to do business with overseas companies rather than providing work for Cubans.. So, why are you trying to fool people!

  • Firsts of all Cubans don’t get paid in dollars they get paid in pesos… And its all about the power of the money relative to each country… Now if you transfer the pesos to dollars, its averages 687 pesos or $25 a month…. But here’s the main point…Salaries in Cuba are only paid at all as a way to let people eat and dress and recreate according to their individual tastes. Necessities are virtually free or subsidized generously. So a Cuban’s salary actually includes all the benefits of the system his participation buys, including all the subsidies, all the free benefits…Aside from that, Cubans pay no more than 10% of their monthly salary for rent which would be around $1- $1.50 a month… and to clarify my point further.. Cuban citizens would pay 1 peso or $ 00.04 cents for a beer.. So yes you are trying to fool people…

  • I don’t have to fool anyone Javier Vargas. The reality of the average earnings of Cubans speaks for itself. $20 per month is a measure of the ‘success’ of fifty eight years pursuit of communism. Hope you got around to reading my book!

  • When you talk about Cuba then you have to talk about the USA… If you know anything about Cuba then you should know that to be the case..

  • Don’t forget the average rent in Cuba is $1 a month if you want to go that route… You’re aren’t fooling anyone.

  • I do not and would not deny the reality of Cuba. The Cuban revolution was fifty eight years ago. Average incomes of little more than $20 per month define its consequences.

  • My answer also covers that… The question is based on a false assumption..

  • Im sorry I thought this was a response to someone else

  • Javier, try to keep in mind that this website is primarily about Cuba not the United States.

  • You just lost all credibility with that statement…

  • Your question is based on a false assumption…I’ll ask you the question… Don’t Americans have the right to true democracy and fair elections? Ill wait for your answer….The overwhelming majority of the Cubans support the Cuban Revolution and that is a fact that you seem to have a problem admitting..

  • I note without surprise Javier Vargas that you have not answered my question to you whether you agree with the quotation I gave regarding what Cubans want. i repeat, do you agree with the quotation or not?

  • “polls from abroad” ? like who? lol

  • lol..A book that you wrote…lol Can’t be any more biased than that..I will get it though and read it…But I really suggest you get this book…
    http://www.democracycuba.com/bio.html

  • My suggestion in response is that you read ‘Cuba Lifting the Veil’. You can get it on the web. I don’t have questions about Cuba, I live the reality!
    To deny that Cuba under the Castros and Communism is not a dictatorship is to make a cat laugh.

  • No, not at all. Conditions in Cuba are independent of conditions elsewhere.

  • Economic, social, physical infrastructure, demographic and political conditions.

  • A number of polls done from abroad have shown that most Cubans have lost confidence in the system and do not support the regime.
    “Poll: 47% of Cubans approve of Castro regime”
    https://www.oodaloop.com/realnews-items/2006/12/15/71961/
    “Poll: 79% of Cubans think Castro gov’t can’t fix problems”
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-11-18-cubapoll_N.htm
    The fact that the regime does not allow free and fair elections is the best proof it fears the people and knows it isn’t popular. If they were confident they would win free and fair election s where anyone can stand they would allow them. The actions of the dictatorship you support expose the lie.

  • What conditions?

  • It’s evident that you don’t know much about how Cuba’s system work…. I suggest you read a book written by Arnold August…Its called Cuban Democracy in motion….Its describes the Cuban System in detail and it dispels the false notion that Cuba is a dictatorship…and it will answer your questions..

  • Do you or do you not agree with the quotation i gave above – which I will repeat:

    “Cubans want…..liberty, respect for individual rights, freedom of the press and thought, democracy, liberty to select their own government.”

    Do you deny that? I do not lie either to others or myself. You have no proof whatever that the majority of Cubans wish to continue to live under a one party communist dictatorship. I think the quote given is correct, do you?

  • If indeed the majority of Cubans support the Castro Communist regime, why are they frightened of holding open multi-party elections? No country is a paradise, but some by repression and denial of freedom of speech, freedom of the media and of open elections oppose humanitarian conditions – known as human rights. That is what the Castro regime has done in Cuba, and not even you Javier Vargas can deny that!
    There is no proof whatever to indicate that given choice, the people of Cuba would choose to continue dictatorship.

  • How do you know this “fact”? Have Cubans ever had a choice?

  • The reality is that the overwhelming majority of Cubans support the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro and that’s a fact and it’s what counts and what has allowed the Revolution to survive all these years. If you can’t recognize this you are lying to yourself…..You speak conditions as if every other country is a paradise..

  • The reality is that the overwhelming majority of Cubans support the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro and that’s a fact and it’s what counts and what has allowed the Revolution to survive all these years. If you can’t recognize this you are lying to yourself…

  • I note George – without surprise, that you are unable to respond to the challenge I issued above, seeking that you provide an example of my:

    “Debasing words is you agenda, no?”

    Like most of your utterances it was both baseless and worthless! NO?

  • I would be the last to deny the effects of the installation of communism by the Castro family regime AFTER the revolution. A revolution was necessary to remove a dictator and to give the people of Cuba that which they sought which were:

    “liberty, respect for individual rights, freedom of the press and thought, democracy, liberty to select their own government.”

    Even you Javier Vargas would not deny that the above statement is correct. But as you well know, the Castro communist regime removed liberty, removed respect for human rights, removed freedom of the press and thought, removed any hope of democracy and denied Cubans the liberty to select their own government.

    You may be glad to know that your sympathy is misplaced, it was the people of Cuba who were lied to and who have suffered repression and dictatorship under the iron grip of the Castros for fifty eight years. Keep your sympathy for them!

  • Your empathy is ill-placed. If you really believe that the Castro revolution has succeeded, how do you explain the current state of conditions in Cuba today?

  • Fidel Castro destroyed the Cuban revolution when he sized power. The stated aim of ALL anti-Batista revolutionaries was the restoration of the 1940 democratic constitution. Fidel seized power with the help of the communists that had supported Batista until July 1958 (Pacto de Caracas). Even Che admitted the Cuban revolution wasn’t communist.

  • lol..You poor creature…The failure of you and those who think like to destroy the Cuban Revolution has caused you to live in a state of denial…

  • lol..You poor creature…The failure of you and those who think like to destroy the Cuban Revolution has caused you to live in a state of denial..

  • You say: “everybody had their housing health medicines food education clothes well look after and bills were cheap”.
    That isn’t the reality in Cuba. Housing is bad and overcrowded for most people. Health in Cuba isn’t free: people have to pay for lots of items that aren’t available in the pharmacies. Some can be bought in the black market, others have to be bought in the “clinica internacional” for dollars. Doctors want gifts and bribes. At least 62% of Cubans depend on remittances to survive as the average pension (240 CUP – $10) and salary (CUP 550 – $22) is not enough to live on. Cuban economists have calculated that an average Cuban family of 4 needs 7 times the average salary to make ends meet. Food in Cuba is expensive for all Cubans. Clothes and shoes are hardly available in the CUP system and if they are they are of bad quality. A pair of good shoes can cost half or a whole monthly salary. Bills aren’t “cheap” as even one container of cooking gas costs close to half of an average pension (110 pesos).

    Cuba also does not rank 3rd in the quality of life index:
    https://www.numbeo.com/quality-of-life/rankings_by_country.jsp
    Denmark does.

    You are either a naive tourist that just listened to the government provided guide and saw only the tourist parts of Havana without truly communicating with the people or you are insincere.
    In any case: you are wrong as the facts show.

    Read up:
    “Salud gratuita en Cuba?”
    https://www.cubanet.org/opiniones/salud-gratuita-en-cuba/
    “Pequeña cubana de catorce meses lucha contra el cáncer”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBhnHD84W18
    “Opiniones Condiciones higienico sanitarias de los hospitales”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c2Hjt58nFs

    Cost of living:
    “”This limited range of products on their shopping lists is a reflection of the overall low level of income in hard currency, which barely covers basic needs,” he told IPS.
    Although health care and education are free, and utility rates are extremely low, a survey conducted in Havana at the start of the decade found that a family of four would require seven times the average salary to meet all of their basic needs.
    Government sources estimate that 60 percent of the Cuban population has access to dollars.”
    “CUBA-US: New Squeeze on Family Remittances”
    http://www.ipsnews.net/2006/06/cuba-us-new-squeeze-on-family-remittances/

    “El Gobierno anuncia como un avance la venta liberada de gas licuado en todas las cabeceras provinciales”
    http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496526013_31628.html

    Food prices in Cuban markets:
    http://www.14ymedio.com/mercados/

    “Cuba: 62% de hogares reciben remesas por Western Union”
    https://www.martinoticias.com/a/western-union-asegura-62-hogares-cubanos-reciben-remesas/98563.html

  • The “Cuban revolution” died a long time ago or haven’t you heard?

  • So are you suggesting off-thread comments criticizing the US are on behalf of Cubans? Really?

  • No problem.

  • The dying cry of Fidel Castro, which has failed to echo the wishes of the people of Cuba!

  • Gee whiz George, I was under the impression that many of the US contributors who somewhat obviously know little of the reality of Cuba, are using the Havana Times to have a gripe about the USA. Re-read the contributions endlessly moaning about how bad things are in the USA compared with the luxury of living in Cuba under the Castro Communist regime. If only the US would permit its citizens to go and stay in Cuba, the floodgates would open. As Cubans of course they would not be allowed to live in Havana – unless they could obtain a permit.

  • Well Said…LONG LIVE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION!

  • Those mulatas and Mojitos really make you blind to a point to defend a bloody horrible dictatorship, one political party only, jail for anyone to choose to descent but you live in Europe or Canada enjoying democracy. And the only choice I had was exile because the government you are defending imposed it on my.

  • No homeless or beggars? LOL

  • Really? You know how Cuba was under capitalism. Well if you want real information not bias. Just go and check the UN Cuba data from 1958. When Cubans living standards were higher the Belgian. ?

  • I wonder if you could announce that you would like to trade places with a Cuban. You come to Cuba, and a Cuban gets to abandon this paradise for the hell of Australia.

    I think it’s worth trying. But don’t make this announcement in person, in Cuba … you would get trampled in the stampede to take you up on the offer.

  • Maria, are you for real? Everybody in Cuba had their housing? If by that you mean frequently 3 and sometimes 4 generations forced to live under the same roof, then I take your point. Everything is recycled? Like being compelled to use the Grandma newspaper as toilet paper because real toilet paper is scarce? Oh, and what do you mean that everyone had their medicine and food? I can’t let that lie go unchecked. Education is hardly free. Cubans are taxed at more than 95% of their earned wages. By the way, Cuba has recently experienced record outmigration levels. More than “some Cubans” think that the grass is greener elsewhere. A lot more.

  • If and when you move to Cuba Maria Pilar and become a permanent resident, do let us know.
    I for one look forward to you then writing in the Havana Times and expressing your satisfaction in surviving on little more than $20 (US) per month. I can envision you clutching your permuta as you join the line waiting patiently for your rations and on odd occasions even getting the luxury of a piece of chicken leg.
    I hope you enjoy watching Mesa Redondo as you eat whatever you can get for supper. But say goodbye to eating beef, say goodbye to being able to criticize government, say goodbye to a free media, say goodbye to open free elections and say goodbye to being able to purchase magazines and books from around the world.

  • Perhaps Havana Times is a forum for US citizens with a gripe against Cuba?

    Cuba has a gripe against the US, so I think it is entirely reasonable that such gripes be reflected here, or are you trying to dictate what can and cannot be said?

    Circles reminds us to stick to the content of the article.

    As Nick asked, the article refers to a positive change in Cuba, no?

    The market will only disappear when the material conditions allow it.

    Given that the market currently exists in Cuba as it does throughout the world, with all the concentrations of wealth that are a necessary corollary of its existence, legal or otherwise, what has actually changed?

    Taxation of an existing market seems more socialist than non-taxation, the question is is it more transparent than corruption?

    Insisting on a co-operative financial structure for private businesses by law is probably the best way to avoid capitalist exploitation of employees, which is the greater concern over concentration of wealth.

    Thank you.

  • Then I apologise. It’s just the term usual suspects which offended me. I am a social democrat, democrat being the key word. I am sick and tired of hearing that friends are “on vacation,” I have too many on vacation and their horrible crime… talking… disagreeing with the powers that be.

  • This is HAVANA TIMES. If you have a gripe against the US, this is not the forum. To that end, Cuba must first ACHIEVE democracy before it can hope to even be compared to a country where it’s democratic principles are being shaken.

  • Hoping that Cuba us moving in the right direction springs eternal. Nothing, politically speaking, I have seen of late taking place in Cuba would justify such hope.

  • Beyond the first comment on this post everyone seems to wander farther and farther away from the subject of the article into the never ending battle of whether life is better in the US or Cuba and who bad guys are. I suggest you all reread the post and try to stick to the issues at hand of the Cuban economy and its direction.

  • I’m sorry George but…I’m a Cuban and I don’t agree with your comments, it is true that we cannot compare with the US neither want to be part of their wings or dreams for Cuba, although there’s a lot of Cubans whom think that’s the best future for the island. But, there’s no pride neither in sending teachers or doctors to another places in the world bec They are and were taken from our own poor lacking service and we suffered and still suffering that, my generation got really good education since we were pretty much “the Soviet generation” but these last generations after 96 they didn’t get anything, their teachers are gone, the doctors are gone and all for just 50 cuc in a Cuban account so their families can have access to it and 250 dollars at month in the country they are serving..meanwhile the government makes tons of money or simply winning in an exchange of education/medical services for Oil or whatever they need at the time. Look..Cuba never had done anything for free, I know they did that and still doing it in the way they do to put that image of internationalism in front the eyes of people like you around the world that believe that there’s something better than capitalism, and no offense..I hate capitalism but I hate socialism/ communism bec it sounds good in theory but doesn’t work in practice, I hate it bec It’s unfair, bec I suffered and still suffering, bec tear appart families, bec destroy your principles, bec it teach you that relying on lies makes you lie too and play and after all not see it as nothing wrong. I left Cuba few years ago and there’s no day I don’t feel home sick, there’s no a single day I don’t wish that system collapse and let us be free, I don’t want America in my island, I want us to start to think for our selves, to start an economy that had been nonexistent for years and years, Cuba had been the whore of other countries relying in the economy of other countries without putting a single grain in our lands in order to improve, that money had been sucked by the officers of the government instead to be put on the people, in our society or in our economy…that plus the madness of a leader that became a dictator and led us to his fantasy world that also destroyed our country’s economy.
    I’m just saying that I don’t want Americans in my country and I don’t want also Cuba been looked as an example bec We are not an example of anything that u stated in your comments, the only example for the world that we provide is “that we still smiling no matter what happened and happens in our lives”, Something that people in North America should learn instead to complain that much. I don’t want to hear silly comments about me saying this because I am outside and bla bla..I’m outside now, but I had been there working my ass off for merely 20 bucks at month and then paying 2’50 for toothpaste, 1’50 for toilette paper, 6’00 cuc for chicken and then..give some money to my mom…so hell no with those comments!!!..I was a proffessional, I was a cameraman in national TV so please..but as I said before there’s no way to compare, Cuba is what it is, America is a different monster, their greed and their stupid president will take us (the rest of the world) to an end but I also understand that they “unfortunately” are the center of the world(make no mistake about it)..so, please I ask not only to you my friend but to all who use Cuba as a good example of what could be a good system and the David Vs Goliath to rephrase and to think, again please take no offense, I had been there,I am Cuban til death and I’m telling you there is nothing we are proud of in our system..we all are suffering from our government lies and abuse.

  • If you had uttered anything more sensible than what you uttered, I would have suffered a massive heart attack. The USA is not a good example for any developing country to follow. Cuba is just as sovereign as the USA and has the sovereign right to follow its own pathway to develop its people and the country. Georde is so correct. Look at the country producing so many Doctors who run to the assistance of the suffering peoples all over the world? With all its wealth, look at the sufferings, the degradation, the discrimination which exists in the USA? Cuba wants to avoid the degradation of its people, so they are offering dedicated servive to mankind, rather than the exploitation as is practised by the USA for centuries! You are just blinded by the progress of the Revolution and hate anything that would alliviate the sufferings of the ordinary peoples of the world

  • I just came back from spending some time in Cuba…after being in 60% of the world and living in Oz i was so surprised to find such a quality of life there…everybody had their housing health medicines food education clothes well look after and bills were cheap…all have plenty of time to stop and meet chat with friends or do visiting ..cafes were full and a rich free cultural life..most people expressed that they like their government and country
    people had a simple comfortable life and everything got recycled even a torn plastic bag…i did not see homelessness or beggards or dirt and mess . Considering that a little island has been blockaded by the mighty powerful USA ( now ranking as a 3rd world life conditions ) for over 50 years i consider a great achievement. It is true that some Cubans think that the grass is greener somewhere else not being aware how good it is there in comparison with the rest of the world.
    I am happily trading my comfortable but empty and lonely life in Oz and moving to Cuba.. True quality of life is hard to find this days…

  • I hope that Cuba may actually be moving in a positive direction.
    But the USA?
    I sincerely hope that the wounds you speak of get healed before they go deeper.

  • While not defending??????
    Just take a look at the reality:
    Your man in the white house is way way way more ludicrous and dangerous than any of those leaders that you so love to hate in little ol’ Cuba.
    I don’t know how this latest decision regarding the Paris Agreement looks like from your angle?
    But from the point of view of the vast majority of humanity this decision looks like a truly pathetic stain on your homeland.
    Surely this must be an embarrassment to you…….?
    The fact that the dogs and ponies of one party communist China are now defeating the dogs and ponies of the USA in terms of environmental morality and ethics?
    All these Fairies (Democracy and otherwise) surely need to be waving their magic wands toward the US of A these days??
    Aside from criticising a perceived lack of democracy in Cuba, you must surely abhor the state of the charade that passes for ‘democracy’ in your beloved USA?
    Or are would you suggest that the democratic majority of your brethren actually support this trump move regarding The Paris Agreement?

    It may fool you but it don’t fool me.

  • I remain mystified why those who support the imposition of Communism and dictatorship have to revert to talking about Batista – like Fidel Castro Ruz, his succeeeding dictator, he is dead. Has it occurred to you that irrespective of political view, dictatorship in itself is evil?
    Secondly, the same group drag in the US as if the only alternative in this world is to mimic US thinking and policies. If you seek to read criticism of the US, then read my chapter upon it in my book.
    As for giving socialism sufficient time, that has occurred in this world previously. The USSR imploded and remember that it was the model pursued by the Castros, not that of China and Vietnam, both of which adopted capitalism. Fidel Castro you may recall was severely critical of both the Chinese and Vietnamese models.
    The difficulty for many US citizens is difficulty in accepting that there is any alternative to the US political system and process.
    This week, those of us who have been paying attention have noted that the US has placed itself in a position of having one ally in its declared policy upon the environment – namely Bashar al-Asad! But don’t try to foist responsibility for that upon others – you folks elected Donald J. Trump(f).

  • What we all know Raphael Stephen-Pons is that the unfortunate people of Cuba have been subjected to successive dictatorships. Firstly Batista and then the Castros. Whereas Fidel Castro reasonably fairly and accurately defined the desires and wishes of the people of Cuba in his speech of 16th March, 1959, he instead of pursuing those wishes pursued Communism and dictatorship.
    The good fortune for Cubans was that the Batista dictatorship was short lived and the bad fortune has been that the Castro dictatorship has lasted fifty eight years and continues. Those of us who live in Cuba know how Cuba is under Communism. Repression, censorship, indoctrination and jail for anyone with the temerity to suggest change.
    You obviously favour the development of a mass proletariat, amenable to dictatorship and not seeking individual freedom of thought and action.

  • You are really demonstrating how frustrated you are when reading the truth when writing:
    “Debasing words is you agenda, no?
    Perhaps George you could provide an example of my doing so?
    I did not even mention the US in my comment, but with your restricted horizons you have to drag it in like a dead cat.
    If you seek an example of debasing words, just ask me and I will respond with an example – go on!

  • Your first sentence George is a bad joke. Do tell all of us when the Poder Popular discussed how to improve the living standards of Cubans?

  • Silly standards. I like my life. If I drive a German car that runs on Middle Eastern oil, watch a Japanese TV, use a South Korean phone, and eat Mexican avocados, as long as I pay a fair price for them, what’s the problem. I also am proud of the fact that the US sends more money abroad in foreign aid than any other country. Sending doctors is a good thing, but sending cash is even better. So go ahead, compare.

  • I think whatever help the US can get to shore up our wounded electoral process would be welcome. But that’s the difference between here and there. In Cuba, there is little acknowledgement that a problem even exist. And any hope for democratic reforms is a pipe dream.

  • While not defending what is or is not done in the US, I am convinced that the 1.6 million Cubans DO NOT have a say in the government of Cuba. The dog-and-pony show the Castros put on to pretend to solicit public commentary fools no one. Well, maybe you.

  • How about a country that aims to live to the highest standard possible within its means rather than relying on the threat and use of force to expropriate five times its fair share of the world’s resources.

    How about a country that relies on doctors and teachers to win hearts and minds around the world rather than the biggest arms industry the world has ever known.

    But we wouldn’t like to compare Cuba and the U.S. on these grounds because if Cuba were in the U.S.’s shoes it would do just the same, no?

  • The ‘Democracy Fairy’ ?
    Now I do like the sound of that Mr P.
    Like it a lot.
    Indeed, maybe Cuba is in need of a hefty wave of this ‘Democracy Fairy”s wand.
    Meanwhile over in your neck of the woods…..
    We all witnessed last years circus whereby two totally unsuitable candidates went head to head over a long period of time and then the one with the least votes was declared the winner. That would incidentally, be the candidate who was nowhere up until the late intervention from The Kremlin.
    That ‘Democracy Fairy’ has a lot of work to do huh?
    Maybe the ‘Democracy Fairy’ could start off in Cuba and give the wand a bit of a work out then go a few miles to the north to carry out the real big job huh??

  • “Democracy fairy” lol, like the one of the US? good one. Having a great number of Cubans (1.6 mil) participate in discussions and debates over what policies should be implemented by their Congress is a lot more democratic than what stands for democracy in neoliberal societies like the US, where 535 mostly rich, white guys decide how they’re going to cut the taxes of the very rich, cut the social programs of the needy, and where they’re going to get the millions and billions of $$ from major corporations and their CEOs to “win” their next election.

  • You are so full of @#$. The concept of a few garnering most of the wealth at the expense of the masses is anathema to the socialist ideals. How long was Cuba a capitalist economy? It failed to provide for the majority, it allowed a few to accumulate great wealth while most lived in abject poverty; so the people overthrew Batista and chose to attempt a different path. It hasn’t been allowed to flourish because the behemoth to the north has hindered its success every step of the way. Capitalism failed horribly; socialism should be given sufficient time and an unimpeded opportunity to succeed. The US gave not a sh$% about “keeping [the poor of Cuba] in penury,” or “the freedom of the people,” when it was driving Batista’s economy. Now they care because they’re no longer deriving their skim of the wealth from Cuban resources. The drive to replace capitalism on the island is “not about concern for humanity or improving the lives and standard of living of the people of Cuba,” it’s about regaining the income stream for corporations.

  • What Cuban standard would you like to hold the US up to? Do tell.

  • In keeping with your “fairy” fantasy, the only fairy Cuba truly needs is the “Democracy fairy”. With the wave of the far-from-magic wand of free in independent elections, Cubans will be able to decide for themselves what direction the journey that you reference should take. For 58 years, that fairy has been absent from Cuba.

  • I sense that perhaps you misinterpret what I wrote, my friend.
    What I am saying is that the moves towards recognizing independent businesses as described in the article are, to my mind, positive.
    My opinion is that Cuba needs to encourage independent businesses.
    In fact, I would suggest that this is imperative.
    By the way, I used to live in Cuba. I have studied there and have worked there.
    I have many friendships there, some of which go back for decades.
    As it happens, I also know several Cubans who have done time in jail for a variety of reasons. I know others who have managed to avoid this by knowing the right people or having a good lawyer.
    Over the years I have come to regard Cuba as a second home and this informs my opinions which I hope and try to keep reasoned and objective.
    You perhaps, make presumptions about people before you know anything about them, my friend.

  • Enough of this nonsense Carlyle.

    In your eyes we are not allowed to hold the U.S. up to the standards of Cuba but you are allowed to hold Cuba up to the standards of the U.S., that is the purpose of Havana Times in your eyes?

    The U,S, and Cuba are different countries, no?

    History has some bearing and reality, no?

    Debasing words is your agenda, no?

    For example, given that the NSA speaks of U.S. foreign policy as being characterized by “full spectrum dominance”, one would expect you to agree that the words “Communism” and “Imperialism” are interchangeable in your comment.

  • “Calling things by their proper name”: Cuba recognizes some very limited and heavily controlled – even repressed – private business. The actions of the regime against private transport operators are just one example of the duplicity of the regime.

  • There will always be the ‘usual suspects’ contributing on this comments page who see it as their responsibility to put a negative slant on everything.
    Every change, every news story, every development is greeted with the same lumpen, cynical criticisms.
    We already know that these ‘usual suspects’ seem to be living in some kind of fantasy world whereby the capitalist fairy just needs to wave its magic capitalist wand over Cuba and everything will become wonderful overnight.
    The forces of good will finally defeat the forces of evil just like in all those hollywood movies.
    The disney fairy will dance in the sky celebrating as all the happy people lead trouble-free lives filled with joy just like they do in all the other neighbouring countries like Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti.
    Until their dreams come true, these ‘usual suspects’ will never be happy.
    Perhaps that just means they will simply never be happy?
    Which would be a shame and I very much hope that these ‘usual suspects’ can actually find some happiness in the real world.
    From a realistic and objective point of view and given the journey that Cuba is on, the development described in the article is a surely positive one?

  • Well stated.

  • The regime’s difficulties are defined in the paragraph:

    “One of the concerns that some Cuban officials have is that wealth will slowly begin to accumulate in individual hands if the small business sector expands in Cuba.”

    The concept of individuals emerging from the proleteriat is anathema to those closed minds which believe in equality of poverty and domination by the state.
    Communism is not about the freedom of the people, it is about control and ensuring that the power remains permanently in the hands of the Communist Party.
    This is not about concern for humanity or improving the lives and standard of living of the people of Cuba. It’s purpose is to keep them in penury for to encourage people to think for themselves or to have an expectation of a better life, represents a threat!

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