Cuba: Out Of The Shadows Of Communism Comes Commerce
by ELISE HILTON on MONDAY, JULY 8, 2013 Email post
In 1956, Fidel Castro, along with Che Guevara, led a guerrilla war on
the island nation of Cuba. By 1959, Castro was sworn in as prime
minister, and began leading the country down the destructive path of
Communistic ideation. (Due to his poor health, Castro has now turned
over the reins of the government to his brother Raul.)
Under Castro, religious organizations, churches and schools have been
all but decimated. He took control of student organizations and
professional groups. Private property was confiscated, including
businesses, farms, and factories. Hundreds of thousands were imprisoned
as political prisoners.
Yet now, it appears that Cuba is beginning to emerge from the shadows of
the Communist regime. According to the New York Times, Cubans are
beginning to experience entrepreneurship and the financial rewards that
come with that.
“If people have a little more money to spend, they look for ways to
spend it,” said Mr. Alejandro, who works at a state-owned recording
studio by day and builds Web sites for his own clients by night. “Now,
you have a few more options for going out and entertaining yourself.”
Mr. Alejandro is part of a small, but increasingly visible, consumer
class in Cuba whose appetite for luxuries, albeit modest ones by
American standards, has caught the eye of the island’s entrepreneurs.
Some savvy businesspeople are transforming their homes and garages into
small movie theaters, others are renting out swimming pools or opening
sports bars, cafes with video games, carwashes and even pet-grooming shops.
Some credit Raul Castro with opening up more opportunities for private
business development, and now, about 1 million Cubans work in the
private sector. In a country where everyone is supposed to be paid $19 a
month, and everything from food to medicine to toilet paper is rationed,
the ability to make money through private enterprise is a welcome one.
This is not to say there still aren’t problems with Cuba’s economy.
Some worry that the economic changes — which have generated a busy
retail sector and thousands of food kiosks, bars and restaurants, but
almost nothing in the way of manufacturing — have created an aura of
well-being that belies Cuba’s staggering lack of production.
“On the positive side, the private sector is raising the quality of
services,” said Lenier González, co-editor of Espacio Laical, a magazine
financed by the Roman Catholic Church. “But it is not linked to the
production of tangible goods,” he added. “It’s just money in a closed
Unless the government stimulates production and raises state salaries,
the social fissure will widen, Mr. González said.
“The country is fractured,” he said. “There are people who have money
and people who don’t. Nowadays, it’s more obvious.”
The best way to encourage financial growth is through free markets, rule
of law and fair competition. Obviously, in a nation stifled by Communism
for 60 years, this won’t be easy to integrate, but it is clear that
commerce is emerging from the shadows of Communism.
Source: “Cuba: Out Of The Shadows Of Communism Comes Commerce | Acton