Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Cuba Declares War On Costume Jewelry Vendors / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos
Posted on March 2, 2016

14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 2 March 2016 — State inspectors
supported by groups of police launched an offensive against merolicos –
hucksters – who, in different parts of Havana, sell a large array of
widely used items missing in the military’s monopoly of hard currency
stores formally known as “Hard Currency Collection Stores” (TRDs). The
goods sold by the street vendors arrive from the Unites States via
charter flights in the luggage of “mules.”

These are items such as pasta, toothpaste, batteries, skin creams,
sunglasses, electric showers and spare parts, pens, wall-mounted TVs,
nail clippers, eyebrow pencils, facial compacts, deodorant, plastic
sandals, wallets, bottles, teapots and a thousand other articles.

A few days ago I was in one of the areas usually frequented by hucksters
trying to find some batteries I needed for the TV remote and I asked a
girl sitting on the sidewalk what had happened to the costume jewelry
vendors who usually crowded around there. She replied laconically, “They
declared war on us.” The terminology made me anxious. But what they did
was the closest thing to war, according to what she told me; armed
inspectors and police arrived and went after the merchandise and the

On the other hand, rumors are flying about the eventual limitations on
luggage in Miami-Havana flights, because Terminal 2, the international
terminal in the Cuban capital, is being crushed under the weight of
dealing with the luggage that piles up and can’t be processed fast enough.

The state apparatus that manages the airport services responds to the
same interests as those who control the military monopoly of the TRDs,
and those who oppose the freeing of labor from wage exploitation, be it
private or state. Their predominating philosophy is authoritarianism and

Everyone remembers how two years ago the state shut down the sale of
clothes and shoes coming from Ecuador, so it is not hard to believe that
they intend to restrict the entry of these articles via Miami-Havana,
given the expected increase in approved flights from regularly-scheduled

The state may be using as a pretext for repression, against this kind of
informal outdoor work, that the sellers don’t have the proper license to
sell these products, or that there are existing regulations against the
private sale of manufactured products. But their solution is repression,
not dialog. It is a wholesale fabrication of enemies at such a
complicated time, when the solution could be very simple: give
permission for this type of activity without a great deal of
bureaucratic paperwork and change the rules that block such sales.

They are continuing the policies against the self-employed in direct
contradiction of the philosophy expressed in the Guidelines of the Sixth
Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), and meanwhile the old
mentality persists – in the interest of monopoly control of the market –
that these vendors are enemies of the state. Thus, the bureaucracy
pressures workers who want to free themselves from wage exploitation and
sees them as obliged to work for the state.

Those actions against individual free labor have other consequences:
these small merchants support their families with these activities. Many
are young people who have not found work despite their schooling and the
loss of those jobs could lead them to seek alternative ways to survive,
or survive badly, turning to crime, alcohol, drugs or leaving the
country at any cost, the principal cause of the aging of the population
that threatens the presence of the human species in the archipelago.

Informal economic activity exists widely in the world, especially in
less developed countries, and sometimes occupies up to 30% of the
workforce. To place obstacles to or shut down these jobs contributes to
an increase in crime and offenses.

But it seems that trying to get the Cuban bureaucracy to understand this
is too much to ask.

Source: Cuba Declares War On Costume Jewelry Vendors / 14ymedio, Pedro
Campos | Translating Cuba –

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