Cuba Regulates Public Spaces for Setting up Private Businesses
Published July 12, 2011
Havana – The proliferation of newly legal small businesses almost
everywhere has led Cuban authorities to launch a widespread campaign
regarding specifically which public spaces may be used to set up such
businesses with an eye toward maintaining order and "good taste."
The Physical Planning Institute, or IPF, has printed thousands of
brochures and posters to inform new entrepreneurs and prevent the
unregulated construction of shops and stalls, counters and other things
that damage the "image of the environment," government media reported
Many Cubans, as Communist Party daily Granma acknowledged, are not aware
of the urban regulations for establishing a business, and they don't
know where to get advice.
After the expansion of the private sector last year, a part of the newly
self-employed began building counters, walls, benches and other things
outside their homes or apartment buildings so that they could set up
businesses such as coffee shops or small stores.
The phenomenon has changed the face of Havana, with some streets
becoming transformed into little markets where consumers can purchase
clothing, pirated CDs and DVDs, household items or objects with which to
IPF president Graciel Rodriguez told Granma that any modification or
expansion of outside areas for commercial ends requires authorization.
In addition, there exists a policy of "no … large-scale use of
kiosks," but rather grouping them in "concentrated" areas, he said.
Many of these areas are at urban sites where entrepreneurs pay a daily
tax to occupy one of the spaces, Oscar – a Havana resident who repairs
shoes and pays 20 pesos (about 80 cents) per day for his spot – told Efe
Currently, Cuban authorities are also studying building bazaars in the
idle spaces that exist in various cities.
In fact, there are already old business districts, like Havana's Fin de
Siglo, where for years vendors have been allowed to set up their shops
and which with the broadening of self-employment have decided to devote
more space to that.
Through May, some 309,728 people were performing private labor in Cuba,
and of those 221,839, or 71 percent, had obtained their business license
since last October, when the government of Raul Castro expanded the
scope of small business as part of its economic reforms.
According to government figures, the majority of the new authorizations
have been for establishments engaged in the "preparation and sale of
food" ranging from restaurants to small coffee shops or stands where one
can buy food on the street.