Informacion economica sobre Cuba

The Crime of Prosperity in Cuba
February 4, 2015
Veronica Vega

HAVANA TIMES — Whenever I see a self-employed person suffer the
misfortune of Cuba’s legal system, I ask myself what would have become
of people like Rockefeller or Carnegie had they been born on this island
after 1959.

Without losing from sight of the lack of scruples with which they
pursued their dreams of wealth and turned individuals into chess pieces
that could be swept off the board with a stroke of the hand, we must
acknowledge that they helped develop the world with companies that
started practically from scratch.

Reading a post published in Diario de Cuba on January 21, The Rise and
Fall of Fontanella, I found out that a pastry shop in Havana’s
neighborhood of Nuevo Vedado (whose cakes were ordered from around the
country and even by ambassadors), was ruined because of the petty
interests of a neighbor, a high Ministry of the Interior (MININT) official.

The official arguments used were that the owners had “illegally obtained
ingredients for the preparation of the pastries and evaded tax payments
for their employees.”

We all know, however, that when the State authorized self-employment
ventures, it did not guarantee them any means of obtaining their
supplies. How the owners of these private business get their hands on
these becomes news only if their venture “flourishes.”

The author of the post in question refers to the testimony of employees
who remain anonymous (the owner also did not agree to an interview), but
the arbitrariness of the measures are more credible than they are
suspicious. Such measures (supported by the people) were used to
penalize prosperity decades ago, and the Committees for the Defense of
the Revolution (CDRs) were set up to implement them – to exacerbate the
collective envy and morbid feelings awakened by those who are set on
material success.

When an attempt to reinvigorate Cuba’s socialist slogans was made some
time ago and the adjectives of “prosperous” and “sustainable” were
suddenly thrown into the mix, I could not manage to efface the loaded
tone with which secondary school teachers spoke to us of capitalism,
private property and something called “business” (which sounded almost
like “crime”) at a class called Foundations of Political Science.

When one considers how badly distributed the planet’s wealth is, the
fact that millionaires eat and shit gold while people are literally
starving, the boundlessness of human greed can certainly strike one as

The sad part about cases such as this one is that those same people who
fear the prosperity of others enjoy privileges born of practices that
are far less innocent.

If there is something people long for in Cuba it is the steady and
reliable quality of food offers. Good initiatives tend to draw people’s
attention but they almost always end up disappointing customers. The
sense of respect towards the customer and respect for one’s own business
has been trampled for so long by the “meritocracy” system and the
surreptitious tolerance of corruption that many private companies end up
losing prestige and clientele for resorting to cheats and scams.

What’s curious is that these zealous guardians of individual poverty
never go to the trouble of reporting those businesses that take
advantage of people’s naivety with adulterated products. Cheating the
average Cuban with terrible products isn’t as disreputable as prospering
on the basis of honest work. After all, the self-employed who cheat
customers are only doing what State establishments (where no quality
guarantee exists, not even if one pays in hard currency) do best: it is
no secret that homemade products marked with registered brands are often
sold there.

It’s a shame: the customers of La Fontanella lost a reliable and
trustworthy option. It’s also a shame that the owner of the
establishment chose silence, helping bury this injustice.

Source: The Crime of Prosperity in Cuba – Havana –

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