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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Economic transition in Cuba. Will Obama ease US travel restrictions?

Posted November 19, 2010 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Anyone with a casual interest in Cuba knows by now that a serious economic transition has begun in Cuba under the direction of Raul Castro.

Juan Tamayo of the Miami Herald sums the Cuban economic reforms this way…

Cuba’s food rationing card will be eliminated. Private economic activity and foreign investments will be allowed to expand, and the government will reduce controls of agriculture and state enterprises. But communist-styled centralized planning, and not capitalist market forces, will guide the future of Cuba where “only socialism is capable of preserving the gains of the revolution.”

>>> Cuba should expand “new forms of non-state enterprise” such as self-employment, cooperatives, leases of public lands to private farmers and rents of state-owned shops, such as bakeries, to their employees.

>>> The new private enterprises should have access to government-run wholesalers, where they can buy supplies at moderate prices, and to bank credits so they can grow their businesses.

>>> The government should scale back its “current burden of controls” on state enterprises to allow them to become more efficient, but shut down those that don’t improve sufficiently.

>>> Income and other taxes and fees should rise according to revenue and will be expanded “to help ameliorate inequalities among the citizens.”

>>> Tourism will be increased through foreign investments in golf resorts and marinas and housing developments surrounding them.

>>> The government should unify the two official currencies, the peso and the CUC.

>>> The food ration card should be slowly eliminated to reduce government subsidies.

While The Economist has a great article about the potential of small business in Cuba.

The economic reforms are not just about small business and big government. CubaStandard.com writes about foreign investment in Cuba and how golf courses, resorts and marinas are coming off the drawing boards since Cuba has now allowed land leases for up to 99 years.

US based businessmen are also finding that these Cuban economic reforms are for real this time. Jay Brickman of Crowley shipping and Dr. Tim Ashby will be on a panel of Cuba experts at the Caribbean Central America Action conference in Miami in December where they expect the topic to focus on the current economic changes in Cuba.

Add all this into the announcement that there will be a Communist Party Congress in April. This will be the first one in 14 years. How does a country operate without having a big picture meeting like this for 14 years? Poorly I think is the correct answer.

What about Fidel?

What about him? Well, this pervasive economic transition would certainly not be allowed if Fidel Castro was still in charge but apparently he is not getting involved other than to be a “soldier of ideas”. He has only been seen to give short, periodic speeches that are about world issues with no mention of current or near term strategy or action.

There is even speculation now that he may step down as Communist Party leader. So, I think one can safely assume that Fidel is agreeing with Raul’s movement on Cuba future.

What about Obama?

What about him? John McAuliff writes the article for the Huffington Post, Cuba Symbolizes Failure of Obama Administration where he says regarding Obama and the new Republican Congress… “One thing the election did achieve is to make it clear that the White House after January 1 is on its own to set US relations with Cuba on a rational course. There will be little help from the Congress.”

So, will President Obama have the courage to let the American people travel to Cuba or will he fail into the same trap as his ten predecessors and wrongfully believe that “now is not the time” to let American citizens travel to Cuba?

Interesting that Michelle Obama will be in Little Havana on Monday at an elementary school as part of her Let’s Move! initiative. Perhaps this would be a good time to announce people to people travel to Cuba opportunities for all Americans?

Member Comments

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On November 20, 2010, publisher wrote:

Meanwhile, HR 4645 is dead in the water