Cuba Business

Castro wants fewer entrepreneurs in Cuba

Posted June 20, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Business.

By Vanessa Arrington | Associated Press Writer

Cuba’s communist government has revoked some 2,000 licenses from self-employed workers across the island, part of an ongoing campaign to reassert state control over the economy, local media reported.

Those who lost their licenses were violating rules that allow a limited number of Cubans to work for themselves, Tribuna, a weekly newspaper, said in its Sunday edition.

Labor Ministry officials have been conducting interviews with self-employed Cubans to determine how they obtained the materials and skills they are selling, Tribuna said. The process will conclude at the end of the month and take place every two years, Odalys Gonzalez, a regional labor ministry director, told the newspaper.

The government has repeatedly complained about growing inequality associated with self-employment. A private worker can earn more in a day than the US$12 (euro10) that the average state worker makes in a month.

Officials also say private workers often compete with the government or steal state goods.

The government stopped issuing self-employment licenses last fall for 40 categories of jobs ranging from computer programming to auto body repair. Self-employment in these professions was legalized only in 1993 during the severe economic crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cuba’s biggest source of aid and commerce.

New optimism based on oil prospects off Cuba’s northern coast and strengthened economic ties with China and Venezuela has prompted President Fidel Castro to say it’s time to re-centralize state decision-making and crack down on those working for their own financial gain.

The roughly 150,000 self-employed Cubans represent just 2.1 percent of Cuba’s work force, and officials say the state system has recovered sufficiently from the shock of the early 1990s to absorb more workers.

Member Comments

On June 20, 2005, publisher wrote:

Just exactly who should the Cubans be pissed at, George Bush or Fidel Castro?

“Those who lost their licenses were violating rules…” You have to break the rules to survive in Cuba so I’m sure it was easy to “find” the violators and revoke their licenses.

Is Castro going to make ALL the business decisions in Cuba? Last month he tells the European joint ventures to leave and now the entrepreneurs are out of business.

“The government has repeatedly complained about growing inequality associated with self-employment.” So, what is it? The entrepreneurs are stealing from the state or they are just too successful?

Can he blame entrepreneurial thievery (or success, based on which explanation you believe) on the Embargo too?

How do Cubans live E V E R Y S I N G L E D A Y A F T E R D A Y A F T E R D A Y under this type of psychological torture?

On June 20, 2005, publisher wrote:

I just read the article again and see that only 2000 out of 150,000 have been revoked. So, maybe I was too quick to judge?

On June 20, 2005, greslogo wrote:

This is ridiculous.

Where does one find a plumber ?

Where does one find a tile layer ?

Where does one find an electrician ?

I spent a few months in Cuba renovating my wife’ house. It’ not like you could go to a government office and hire or get a list of “licensed” tradespeople.

No, you ask around for names of skilled tradespeople, negotiate a price and pay them under the table.

It’ one thing to restrict the number of licensed tradespeople, another to fine black market activities, and still another not to provide any alternative.

On June 23, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

Yet another article that distorts Cuban reality. The 2,000 revoked licenses represent only 6.6% of all license holders. Can this really be deemed as “eliminating Cuba’ entrepreneurial class”? How many licences are revoked annually in highly regulatory European states? Or Canada or the US for that matter?

On June 25, 2005, Medieval wrote:

When will the time come when Cubans realize that most Americans want to see them prosper…even if it is under a government other than democratic?  Sure, there are a few idiots that think the right wing idealogy should continue, but I assure you most American don’t feel that way.  The old animosities between our countries just simply need to end.  If the Cuban people want a government similar to what they have now, then fine.  But the US embargo needs to end and Fidel Castro needs to acknowledge that the Cold War is over.  For the sake of our countries, free trade and social interaction must start.

On June 26, 2005, GregoryHavana wrote:

If that is what the American public thinks, it is unfortunate that you have the Bush Administration running your country. Cubans will believe that the American public wants to see them prosper when the American public elects a government that reflects that view.

On June 26, 2005, Medieval wrote:

Gregory, you must understand.  The Bush Administration represents a microcosm of the American public.  Elections in the U.S. are a farce, especially the last 2 general elections.  The outrage against this administration is building.  Please don’t judge us on the actions of a very few, regardless of what you may hear or read.