A year and a half after Cuba stepped on the brunt of the private sector, today has resumed the licensing of self-employed workers and the new regulations to regulate their activity have come into force, softened at the last minute before the discomfort of this booming collective.
The next Cuban entrepreneurs, who will join the more than half a million already operational, formed long queues in front of delegations of the Ministry of Labor to request licenses that will allow them to exercise up to 26 different types of business outside the state sector.
"I come to fulfill my dream and open a small restaurant," said a 29-year-old from the Vedado district, who today went to apply for his license to become "cuentapropista," as the self-employed workers in Cuba are known. a country that gradually abandons communist orthodoxy to open the doors to private initiative.
This island of about 11.1 million inhabitants has a total of 588,000 self-employed persons at the end of 2018, a figure that represents 13 percent of the active population and almost quadruples the 157,000 in 2010.
That year, former President Raúl Castro normalized self-employment to unload the bulky squads of state workers, an advance that was slowed down in 2017 when the Government suspended the granting of licenses to "reorder" the private sector and eliminate illegalities.
In parallel to the reactivation of licenses, today have come into force the new rules that regulate self-employment and that had been involved in a strong controversy to include certain restrictions feared and protested by the self-employed.
To the relief of this group, however, the Government announced at the last minute that the limitation of only one license per person would no longer apply, nor that which restricted the capacity of restaurants to 50 seats, one of the most requested activities by the new entrepreneurs next to the rental of houses or rooms for tourists.
This unusual rectification is interpreted as an opening gesture by the formerly inflexible Cuban Executive, presided over since April by the 58-year-old engineer Miguel Diaz-Canel, the first leader born after the 1959 Revolution and who occasionally offers progressive winks to the still influential old Guard of the Communist Party (PCC, only legal).
"There is no need to believe that rectifications are setbacks, nor to be confused with weaknesses when listening to the people … Revolution is changing everything that needs to be changed, none of us can as much as all of us together. #SomosCuba #SomosContinuidad," published today. the president of Cuba on his Twitter account.
For Cuban political scientist Carlos Alzugaray, this tweet shows that today's advances are part of "an offensive by the Government to respond a little to popular demands" and interprets the balance between conservatives and liberals within the Cuban "establishment" itself. destabilizing in favor of the second.
"There is a contradiction between those who want to materialize the path (of reforms) that Raul Castro and those who are looking for the time of Fidel Castro already made, Fidel did what he had to do, but we are already in another moment," he said. expert.
It has also been proposed, especially after an extensive Asian tour of Diaz-Canel in November, if Cuba will end up imitating the models of countries like China and Vietnam, which in recent decades have achieved high levels of growth opening to the market without the need for abandon the unique (Communist) party system.
"I think that in Cuba there is that willingness of broad sectors to do that, a kind of policy similar but adapted to the Cuban reality," said the political scientist, despite the fact that many leaders on the island still demonize the individual search for prosperity, fomented in both Asian models.
As for the famous slogan "becoming rich is glorious" attributed to former Chinese President Deng Xiaoping and illustrating the change in the economic model of the Asian giant – Cuba's main trading partner now, Alzugaray predicts that "here it may not be possible to glorify enrichment , but to tolerate it. "