The main topic discussed on all the street corners in Cuba and in all the foreign media in recent months was the new possibility to acquire business licenses for the locals. Does that mean that the island embarked on a Chinese model of economy?
Due to worsening economic conditions, the Cuban regime was forced to make redundant around half a million people from their previously guaranteed job positions. The central planners are no longer able to generate new work for these people and the social safety net is almost non-existent; they were forced to issue 178 new categories of small businesses ranking from barbers to taxi drivers. A lot of Cuban citizens are looking towards these reforms with hope and see them as an opportunity to finally change their current economic status.
But allowing such a huge amount of people to start their own business usually works better on paper than in reality. To obtain such a license requires long and complex bureaucratic process and is usually given to those loyal to the regime. Taxes are set to be fixed in every sector of the economy and so far were not framed technically or legally and therefore remain largely confusing. International experts predict that another half a million Cubans will have to be laid off from state workforce within the next three years. Many of them are also claiming that these economic reforms are implemented only to secure or prolong the political survival of the country’s Communist regime.
The team at Cuba-Europe Dialogues is trying to provide space to Cuban independent journalists and their perspective of these changes on the island. For the first time we did not turn to professional writers and analysts because we consider the view of these journalists to be valuable. They are experiencing these changes directly ‘on the ground’. These articles should reflect everyday reality of the authors. They are plain case studies, not specialized analysis like in all the previous issues. The articles we have chosen are therefore focused on the real impact of these new developments on the Cuban society. We have also added authentic photographs by authors from around the world.
On behalf of the team we hope you will find reading through this new format.