Government of Cuba Closes Private Cinemas

Small private cinemas like this one will be immediately shut down. Photo: Cubanite

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.

16 thoughts on “Government of Cuba Closes Private Cinemas

  • While it is reasonable to disallow the continuance of illegal businesses, the Castros should pause before taking such drastic actions to consider what harm, if any, these marginally legal business cause. Is the forward progress of the revolution so fragile that 3D movie theaters pose a threat? If there is a consumer demand being met, jobs being created, taxes being paid and the requisite photos of Fidel, Raul, Che and Hugo posted on the wall, the Castros would do well to legalize these businesses and move on. I just read that the Castros began issuing licenses for the business of renting port-o-pottys. Gimme a break! Portable crappers yes and 3D cinemas no?

    Reply
    • Having access to maintained and supervised clean washrooms is a birthright. Paying the equivalent of 4 cents usa to visit a clean washroom …underline clean!…is a great improvement. Time for you to reconsider your opinion is when you are at a street festival in Santiago and need a washroom for a call of nature, and there isn’t one! Bin there…done that…and I am in full support of the “pay-to-go” clean washrooms, paper included!

      Reply
      • You misunderstand my comment. I think these facilities are a great idea. I simply assert that this is a service that the Castros SHOULD provide to insure quality of service. It seems counter-logical to delegate this service to the private sector where issues like cleanliness and ‘paper’ quality can be short-cutted while disallowing movie theaters where the market will insure quality.

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        • Amigo…it is really quite simple to grasp the overall perspective. Cuba, like VietNam, is attempting to and indeed in fact is, making changes, a step at a time,in order to improve their internal trade, cubans with cubans, and to also enhance their abilities to provide better services in the tourist sector. Clean washrooms has been a need issue for everyone, Cubans and Tourists alike. Obviously they require constant vigilance and maintenance at least until they become more commonplace, and a standard is set in place that meets the mark of all, both tourists and locals . Casa particulares were given the opportunity to serve the public, and their activities are monitored closely by government regulatory officials. Paladares as well are a success. Free enterprise is oozing into many areas that were not managed well by the government there. Suggesting that Fidel and Raul can do a better job than someone in the private sector wishing to do this, is simply unfounded, based upon the on-the-ground realities there. As one who has lived in Cuba for a lot of every year, I can tell you this service will be applauded by all within the country, and external negative views won’t much matter.
          Further, to provide a situation where Cubans can make a living doing this, is great news to all who wander around in the magic isle of perpetual youth. Five cents to use a clean…”clean” washroom? I’ll gladly tip the attendant! Like Vietnam, Cuba is generating now, an internal boiler room type of economic energy, whereupon more Cubans will trade with each other. They will trade, chickens for lamb, fresh fruit for vegetables at mercados libres, and they will buy and sell houses and repair them with building materials from China, Canada and the Latin Americas. You can feel the pulse of positive activities in Cuba, and we here in Canada applaud that proud nation, as they struggle to get up on their feet, defeating the illegal cruel and punitive yankee embargo…the Helms Burton Act, and other menacing tactics from 90 miles away. Canadians will continue to support Cuba, as every year more than a million of us go there, many of whom have bought homes for Cuban friends, or who simply stay in a Casa Particular or a beautique hotel, for six or eight months. I respect your opinion friend, but it clashes with Cuban realities of the day.

          Reply
          • I too am Canadian, and have travelled to Cuba. What I saw there was a far cry from a proud nation you imagine you saw. You confuse the Cuban nation (ie, the people), with the Castro regime. They are not one and the same, and yet regime presumes to speak for the Cuban people who have been denied a voice for 54 years.

            I should point out that the arrangements by which Canadians and other foreigners purchase homes in Cuba through local Cuban friends is illegal under Cuban law. It remains illegal for foreigners to own Cuban real estate.

            It’s funny that your “solidarity” with the Cuban people has you providing vocal support for the oppressive regime while at the same time, breaking their laws.

          • Whoa! I never bought a Cuban house! I provided the money for a Cuban to buy a Cuban house. The concept is called. ” gift giving. ” Ya know…like at Christmas…yer birthday? Not a big stretch of the brain to get that. It is NOT illegal to give a Cuban family a house. Do Canadians support Fidel or Raul? Anyone who reads the history can see what they are about. Don’t patronize people who are informed. I “get” the history. However I see no harm in the Cuban overall philosophy which decrees that maintaining something less than full out democracy, will prevent the contamination of Cuban political circumstances and realities, by the Yankees across the water 90 miles who want to engage their age old Latin Americas policy of rape, plunder, steal and exploit. Even the Cuban expats who buy houses intending to keep them for themselves in Cuba using relatives as a cover, have adapted so well to the yankee ” FEED THE GREED” concept, that to go there to retire would involve pushing the bar to profit in Cuba, taking that opportunity from Cubans hoping for opportunity and change, notwithstanding the yankee Cuban expats are no longer Cuban citizens. I think only Cubans should own property in Cuba. Others can rent. The long term lease vehicle to do this is being perfected as we speak. Want to build apartments there? Fine. You LEASE the land and build em and sell the right to use them for up to 50 (and soon longer) years. (two or three of these types of projects are up and running, successfully) Then you renew the deal, if you desire, or the land goes back unencumbered to the state, including all improvements (structures and infrastructure). I LOVE IT at the airports when Canadians arrive by the planeload. Each returning visitor from here has two jammed suitcases. One is packed with things for Cubans. We have in our family visited often on extended terms, in excess now of 350 times. The longest stays are four plus months, the average being about three weeks. We have spent a thousand weeks in Cuba. Several of us speak the language well enough to be considered bilingual. We all get emails every day or so, from friends and adopted family there. Just because a Canadian doesn’t throw rocks at pictures of the Castro Bros. painted on the walls, or rant about the evils of totalitarian regimes, doesn’t mean we bathe thrice times daily, in abject ignorance! Before a Canadian decides to become a Cuba critic, it is best to understand our OWN political system, and the combined soul of Canadians who make up our profile, our heart, and our undertakings in other parts of the world. Final thought…read! Start with Openheimer’s excellent book…” Castro’s Final Hour” available in english and spanish at amazon books starting at $1.00 used. End up with the recent title written this year by the Canadian professor from Halifax who researched the Cuban Five, and produced the TRUTH about the background, the undertakings and the intrigue that lead up to the situation where five Cubans are locked up for back -to-back sentences for doing what yankees do in every country every day. READ the papers…The GERMAN AND MEXICAN leadership have their phones tapped by the US covert operations. All over the news. Makes one wonder why the Cuban Five are still in prison. If their trial was NOT in Miami, they would be free. Simple as that. A tainted court. Tainted judges, in a prejudiced neighborhood where everyone wants Castro DEAD! I love American football, breakfasts in Dixie, music…MO Town and pop. But the politics in the USA, is the devilish work of the most greedy and seedy people on the planet. Castro ain’t perfect…far from it…a given, ok? So tell me why JFK, NIxon and the BUsh Boys are any better! Worse maybe? Canada should adopt Cuba…final answer! G’day mate, and hey…thanks eh?

          • It appears that you confuse the fact that Canadians choose to vacation in Cuba with support for the Castro regime. If your logic is true, then Canadians support the Dominican Republic even more so as more Canadians visit DR than vacation to Cuba. There is widely held belief that government should provide services such as police, fire, and yes, porta-pottys where there is a minimum level of service necessary. Letting the market decide some things can lead to abuses. I should think a socialist like yourself would agree. My opinion clashes with the Castro regime. If that is your model for Cuban reality, then I hope to clash still further.

          • Canadians…tourists? Well, that is where it starts with us. Nowadays many Canadians are repeat cuban family, after decades of visiting several times a year, and creating personal bonds there that last a lifetime. Canadians aren’t living in a shell, psychologically, as many of our american neighbors do. We see communism for what it was or is in the world, but we just don’t see the point in blowing up countries so labeled, and murdering their people.

          • What…er…so….you have confused me. So you say Canada is better than the US? OK, makes sense for a CANADIAN to feel that way. You do realize this is blog about Cuba right?

          • Preposterous accusation, but when it comes to international reputation and demonstrated respect for foreign cultures, peoples languages and religions, we far exceed any achievement the yanks aspire to, or lie about. Try traveling in Europe, the UK or Australia with a USA flag on your clothing, and you’ll get the point. American kids travel with their backpacks in Europe, disguised as Canadians.

          • I have been in the land development business for over 40 years. My forbears were very early arrived people from the north of Scotland, in the early 1700’s. One of the family businesses in the largest of it’t kind in Canada…a manufacturer…of over 200 years existence. Socialist? ok. Canada is trending towards the Swedish model…they are socialist. But unlike the USA they have a balanced economy, a terrific lifestyle, amazing social support networks from health and education to arts and recreation. They manufacture terrific cars (Saab for example and Volvo) and wonderful jet aircraft, incredible industrial equipment, and sophisticated modern and competitive military weaponry. So…what then, en Swedish Vs American realities and comparisons, does socialism mean?

          • Family history…shout out for Saabs…nothing about Cuba though. Earth to walkingbear, earth to walkingbear, are you there….?

          • I had a Saab Vigen convertible up to 2007 when the yanks dumped the deal because they were ruining the european integrity of the car. Great car! I hope they rebound with a 100% european dna. I have had volvos since about 1987 too. The old DL’s, the 700 series, the turbo sedans, and last was a volvo xc turbo wagon. Sweden makes great cars, and hot blond ladies!

          • You might be interested to learn that the current government of Sweden is coalition of the centre-right Moderate Party and the conservative Liberal Peoples Party. The Swedes have had enough of socialism and are cutting back on their unsustainable welfare state.

            The last three elections in Canada suggest Canadians are pulling back from the socialist swamp, too.

          • Pretty narrow point of view. Canada will always retain the heart of a Red Tory, where allowing business to succeed is a priority, and dedication of taxes goes to the benefit of a free an d just society.

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