HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government today ordered the “immediate” closure of private movie theaters, one of the many activities that have emerged in recent years in the context of limited legalized private initiative, reportó dpa news.
The measure affects mostly 3D theaters, which have become popular on the island. In Havana, several people offer films in private cafes or at homes, in small rooms or spaces adapted to that end.
The authorities also banned private gaming rooms.
“The exhibition of movies (including 3D rooms) and computer games are to immediately cease in any self-employed business activity,” reads an official note from the Council of Ministers published in Granma newspaper. These services “have never been authorized”, notes the text.
Raul Castro’s government recently began to tighten the rules against the emerging private sector of the island, the so-called “self-employed”. A few weeks ago the government clamped down against the sale of imported clothing, another popular private business activity in the streets of Havana.
Under the leadership of Raul Castro, the island has been undergoing a gradual economic reform process with elements of market reforms after decades of state monopoly. The measures include the authorization of self-employment in more than 200 small trades and activities.
The private sector was totally abolished by Fidel Castro in the late ’60s during the “revolutionary offensive”, which nationalized small businesses.
According to the government, there are currently 442,000 registered as “self-employed”. The Castro administration hopes for this emerging sector to absorb over a million state workers to be laid off in the coming years.
The emergence of the private sector has also given rise to increasing social differences. While many of the “self-employed” have improved significantly their income, state workers continue to receive low wages averaging around US $20 a month.