So much for those reforms in Cuba

For a couple of years, we've heard about reforms in Cuba and all those efforts to expand small businesses on the island.

Well, not so fast.  It's always tough for a communist regime to change, and this one is no exception.

This is from AFP:

Ten years after they were first authorized to do business in Cuba, private entrepreneurs will be subjected to tougher restrictions from Friday – a move likely to stall their expansion on the communist-ruled island.

For Estrella Rivas, who rents out rooms in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, the new rules means she will be unable to offer breakfast to her guests – just a place to sleep.

"That means less money for me," Rivas says matter-of-factly.

So who is going to enforce the new rules on private-sector businesses, which now account for 13 percent of Cuba's workforce, or 592,000 people?

"I don't know," replies Rivas.  "It seems there will be inspectors questioning the tourists."

Since the new measures were published in July in the country's official gazette, setting off a 150-day countdown to implementation that ends Friday, the government has worked overtime to explain them.

But those efforts have been to no avail – confusion is still the order of the day.

For lawyer Julio Antonio Fernandez, it's pretty simple: the new rules will "put significant limits on private business activity."

"It's a devastating blow to a lot of people," Fernandez told AFP.

Devastating for sure.

As Gorbachev learned in the last days of the USSR, reforming a communist state is impossible.  The problem is that communist governments create lots of losers and few winners.  It's misery for most but delight for the few who were born into the right family or kissed someone's you-know-what.  And those winners, the small clan that benefits from the state ownership of everything from sugar to hotels, do not want to give up their "commission checks" or privileges.

Private businesses compete with each other.  At the same time, they take dollars from the state, or Castro, Inc., as we call it.

The article points out that Cuban entrepreneurs are afraid that the regime will get information about their existence from tourists who may report where they are staying.  This is because many tourists are staying and spending money in improvised hotels and restaurants in people's homes.

Snitching on Cuban entrepreneurs?  Maybe another reason to delay your Cuban vacation until Cuba is free from this regime.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

For a couple of years, we've heard about reforms in Cuba and all those efforts to expand small businesses on the island.

Well, not so fast.  It's always tough for a communist regime to change, and this one is no exception.

This is from AFP:

Ten years after they were first authorized to do business in Cuba, private entrepreneurs will be subjected to tougher restrictions from Friday – a move likely to stall their expansion on the communist-ruled island.

For Estrella Rivas, who rents out rooms in Havana's Vedado neighborhood, the new rules means she will be unable to offer breakfast to her guests – just a place to sleep.

"That means less money for me," Rivas says matter-of-factly.

So who is going to enforce the new rules on private-sector businesses, which now account for 13 percent of Cuba's workforce, or 592,000 people?

"I don't know," replies Rivas.  "It seems there will be inspectors questioning the tourists."

Since the new measures were published in July in the country's official gazette, setting off a 150-day countdown to implementation that ends Friday, the government has worked overtime to explain them.

But those efforts have been to no avail – confusion is still the order of the day.

For lawyer Julio Antonio Fernandez, it's pretty simple: the new rules will "put significant limits on private business activity."

"It's a devastating blow to a lot of people," Fernandez told AFP.

Devastating for sure.

As Gorbachev learned in the last days of the USSR, reforming a communist state is impossible.  The problem is that communist governments create lots of losers and few winners.  It's misery for most but delight for the few who were born into the right family or kissed someone's you-know-what.  And those winners, the small clan that benefits from the state ownership of everything from sugar to hotels, do not want to give up their "commission checks" or privileges.

Private businesses compete with each other.  At the same time, they take dollars from the state, or Castro, Inc., as we call it.

The article points out that Cuban entrepreneurs are afraid that the regime will get information about their existence from tourists who may report where they are staying.  This is because many tourists are staying and spending money in improvised hotels and restaurants in people's homes.

Snitching on Cuban entrepreneurs?  Maybe another reason to delay your Cuban vacation until Cuba is free from this regime.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.