Tag Archives: Private Sector


January 14, 2022

By Ely Justiniani Perez (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – Minister of Labor and Social Security, Marta Elena Feito Cabrera, ratified the ban on practicing as a tour guide in the private sector. A letter dated December 28, 2021, was delivered this week to the six representatives of a large group of tour guides who are calling for their activity to be granted legal status as self-employment. So far they are out of luck.

The letter rules that travel agencies and tour operators “are associated with tourism products developed and commercialized by Cuba’s state tourism business system and, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s policy, these cannot be commercialized by natural persons, nor are they able to work as part of private micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives or as self-employed.”

This negative response comes after almost a year since over a thousand persons linked to the sector called for this activity to be legalized. They organized and sent petitions to the corresponding ministries and even engaged in conversations with officials from these institutions. Here is a summary of this process.

Driver, not a Tour Guide


February 10, 2021 the Ministry of Labor and Social Security issued a list of 124 economic activities that banned in Cuba’s private sector; including tour operator services and travel agencies. This led to a heated debate from people linked to tourism services.

In the following weeks, dozens of people linked to the sector began to mobilize and send letters to the corresponding bodies. They also shared an online petition for the legalization of private travel agencies and the document was signed by over 1500 people.

May 20, 2021 In response, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security wrote a written response to one of its signatories saying that “with the new Social/Economic Strategy to push the national economy in the interest of encouraging local development and production linkages between the public sector and private forms of management, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, alongside the Ministry of Tourism, are analyzing whether to allow these activities and others relating to the tourism sector.”

June 7, 2021 the Cuban Republic’s Official Gazette published Resolution 132/21 by the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), a new series of regulations for “national travel agencies”.

While the regulations don’t explicitly state who can create these agencies; it does recognize that natural Cuban persons (including the self-employed) can be “providers of tour services” that offer “the sale of these in groups, programs, circuits, excursions or other tourist services” via national travel agencies. It doesn’t explain how this relationship would work; but the lack of clarity in these regulations was also a spark of hope for the more optimistic.

August 19, 2021 To many people’s disappointment, the activity of travel agencies and tour operators reappeared on the banned list again within a new series of decrees and resolutions that regulate private sector enterprises (including MSMEs, cooperatives and self-employment).

September 22, 2021 Faced with continuous complaints, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security agree to meet with six representatives from the Facebook group Guías Turísticos por su legalización como TCP (Tour Guides wanting legalization as the Self-Employed), which had over 800 members at the time (today, there are 1100). 

At this meeting, MINTUR asked the guides to hand in written project proposals so they can “better understand how far they want to go so they can identify the red-tape that the activity “tour guide” would face as self-employment, to legislate and find a solution to this red-tape and giving them wide-ranging and unrestricted participation,” according to a summary of the meeting that was posted by the group’s members. 

January 7, 2022 Group representatives from Guías Turísticos por su legalización como TCP  who took part in the meeting with MINTUR and MTSS receive a letter from Minister Feito, who ratified the ban on the practice of tour guides and travel agencies, both as self-employment activities, as well as MSMEs and cooperatives.

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ACERE – Posted on November 8, 2021

Original article: LIFT SANCTIONS

November 8th, 2021
Contact: Elena Freyre (786)683-8241 cubaid7@yahoo.com allianceforcuba@acere.org HAVANA –

On November 8th, 247 Cuban private entrepreneurs, businesses and cooperatives sent a letter to President Biden denouncing the harmful impact that U.S. sanctions have had on their livelihoods. Despite campaign promises to reverse failed policies of prior administrations, President Biden continues to maintain the 243 sanctions against Cuba that the Trump administration added to the embargo. President Biden has yet to make any policy changes that would alleviate the severe economic crisis affecting all Cubans, including Cuban businesses. As the letter notes, “existing U.S. policy towards Cuba greatly affects our day-to-day business operations and cripples our ability to thrive.”

These private business owners and entrepreneurs work in wide-ranging economic activities, including hospitality, manufacturing, technology and agriculture. They represent a sector of Cuban society that the Biden-Harris administration has stated is a priority area for U.S. support. Yet, as their letter to President Biden states, the unwillingness to lift sanctions against Cuba continues to severely impede their businesses’ ability to survive. The signers of the letter note that it is “particularly cruel” of the Biden-Harris administration to maintain hostile sanctions in the midst of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Cuban businesses issued a direct appeal to President Biden to normalize relations, which would help them attain the economic prosperity they are striving to build.

Oniel Díaz, a founder of Cuban private business consulting firm, AUGE, stated that he signed the letter “because with sanctions and the blockade [embargo], the possibility of a prosperous and efficient economy will always be a distant horizon, despite current economic reforms by the Cuban authorities.” Dianelis García, from DIAKA, an interior design private firm, said: “Any measure that limits and prevents the development of Cuban entrepreneurship is discriminatory. The blockade against Cuba must end.” Another signatory, Abel Bajuelos from 3D printing microenterprise, Addimensional – one of the more than 400 new private small and medium enterprises – defended that “any initiative to end the unjust blockade deserves support.”

The Cuban people and Cuban businesses continue to bear the brunt of these unilateral coercive measures, which have long been determined to be illegal under international law.​​ The business owners and entrepreneurs noted with dismay the decision of the Biden administration to pay more attention to the demands of a minority among the Cuban American community who opposes engagement, rather than the majority of moderate voices who support normalization, and to whom he owes his campaign promises. As the letter noted, “[President Biden] administration’s policies should not be dictated by how much adversity and suffering they can cause to Cubans, but by how much they can improve our ability to prosper.”

When Biden was vice president during the Obama administration, he helped with a groundbreaking effort to overcome decades of hostility, charting a path of normalization for the benefit of peoples and businesses in both countries. “Reforms in U.S. policy made during your tenure as Vice President allowing for increased travel, telecom services and banking helped us substantially. We dream of the return to those days, when engagement was the official U.S. policy, producing an economic boom that benefitted us all,” states the letter.

Signatories of the letter urge President Biden “to work with the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo and to take action immediately to increase travel, trade and investment, especially given how the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy, including in Cuba. We urge you to take the following immediate actions: 1) reestablish a path for remittances; 2) open travel for those subject to U.S. jurisdiction; 3) reopen the embassy in Havana; and 4) remove Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.”

Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE), Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE), Puentes de Amor, Latin American Working Group (LAWG), Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) are supporting this initiative by Cuban private businesses. These organizations have organized a webinar today, Monday, November 8th 1:00-2:30 PM EST, where four of the Cuban business owners who signed the letter will be explaining how U.S. sanctions negatively impact their businesses and why they signed the letter. The webinar will commence with Special Guest Jim Wedeberg, founder of Organic Valley dairy cooperative, and Professor of Government at American University, William LeoGrande discussing current status of U.S. Cuba policy. Facilitated by Geoff Thale, an independent analyst of Cuba and Central America, the webinar is an opportunity to hear first-hand from various Cuban business owners, including the CEO of the first private firm to be created in Cuba under recently passed legislation, and find out how U.S. sanctions hurt Cuban businesses, their employees and families. Registration is free and open to the public at https://tinyurl.com/yv4cxx7b.

The letter to Pres. Biden and list of signatories can be found here in English and its original Spanish version: https://acere.org/sector-privado2

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Pavel Vidal Alejandro

Original Article

Para alcanzar un resultado significativo y sostenible se necesita avanzar mucho más y ofrecer claridad y confianza al campesino de que la política para el sector agrícola se va a distanciar, definitivamente, de los errores del pasado.

September 05, 2021

Durante los últimos dos años hemos escuchado hablar al gobierno cubano de descentralización de los municipios y del reforzamiento de la autonomía de las autoridades locales para definir estrategias de desarrollo, manejar recursos y atraer inversión extranjera, entre otros temas. Donde más se ha avanzado en esta dirección ha sido en la agricultura.

El gobierno ha venido publicitando su nueva estrategia para la comercialización de los productos agropecuarios y para la formación de los precios de los alimentos. Las autoridades de los ministerios de Agricultura, de Finanzas y de Economía han venido destacando que con la nueva política agropecuaria se eliminó el monopolio de Acopio, la empresa estatal dedicada a la comercialización mayorista. La directora de comercialización del Ministerio de Agricultura refería en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda el 2 de agosto de 2021: “No hay monopolio. Todos son una familia de comercializadores”.

Diversos analistas y medios de prensa se hicieron eco de la noticia sobre la eliminación de los topes de precio en la agricultura cubana desde el 30 de julio. Sin embargo, se debe tener cuidado sobre la interpretación y alcance de esta noticia, pues no necesariamente indica un cambio definitivo en la política de precios en el sector.

Acopio y la “familia de comercializadores”

Cuando se revisan las normas publicadas en la Gaceta 49 del 4 de mayo de 2021, se aprecia que, en efecto, las nuevas normas permiten una mayor participación de diferentes actores no estatales en la comercialización agrícola. Sin embargo, en el Artículo 18 del Decreto 35 del Consejo de Ministros, se especifica que

  • “los productores pueden vender a otras formas de comercialización existentes en el país, los productos que por problemas logísticos y financieros de las entidades acopiadoras y comercializadoras no puedan ser comprados…”
  • “Los productos contratados que no se adquieran por las entidades acopiadoras y comercializadoras por causas imputables a estas, se pueden vender por las cooperativas o productores […] a otras formas de comercialización existentes en el país.”

Es decir, se mantiene Acopio con el monopolio para la primera opción de compra. Los campesinos y cooperativas agropecuarias solo pueden vender en los mercados lo que no contrata Acopio, o lo que contrata y luego no puede comprar por alguna razón.

Adicionalmente, en esta lógica de “economía de municipio” se define en el mismo Decreto que “los consejos provinciales y los consejos de la Administración Municipal ejercen la supervisión y control del funcionamiento del sistema de comercialización agropecuaria”.Y se encuentran entre las funciones de los consejos provinciales:

  • Definir los destinos a contratar y los precios de los productos agropecuarios que circulan entre sus municipios a partir de la propuesta de sus comités de contratación.
  • Monitorear los precios establecidos por los consejos de la administración municipal.
  • Controlar el funcionamiento de los mercados agropecuarios.

Aparece así esta figura en la economía de municipio nombrada “comité de contratación de las producciones agropecuarias”. Estos están presididos por el gobernador de la provincia y el intendente del municipio. Lo interesante de estos comités es que incluyen entre de sus integrantes, además de autoridades locales y las empresas estatales en la agricultura, a cooperativas y campesinos individuales.

Además de hacer propuestas para la contratación, esos comités municipales tienen como una función primordial “concertar para su territorio los precios de acopio mayoristas y minoristas y los precios por acuerdo aplicables a los productos agropecuarios que no tengan precios centralizados, de conformidad con los márgenes comerciales establecidos…”

A partir de esta norma, las autoridades cubanas vienen señalando que ya hay muy pocos precios topados centralmente, que estamos en un escenario de “precios concertados”. Ciertamente, es muy importante tomar en cuenta a los productores en la definición de estos precios, pero las normas publicadas no especifican cómo van a funcionar estos comités de contratación. No parece que vayan a operar bajo un sistema de votación. No conocemos qué poder de negociación real tendrán las cooperativas y campesinos en estos comités.

El éxito que espera el gobierno de la “economía de municipio” tiene como explicación que en la base se tiene mejor información sobre los problemas, los desequilibrios y las necesidades locales. El argumento es que esto permitirá tomar mejores decisiones que cuando se tomaban centralmente en los ministerios en La Habana. Ello puede tener algo de razón, pero también es cierto que la sustitución de los mecanismos de mercado para la formación de precios es una tarea compleja aun a nivel municipal, sobre todo si los productores no participan en una negociación real en igualdad de condiciones con las autoridades locales.

La capacidad profesional en todos los municipios para asumir todas estas nuevas tareas es otra duda legítima. También pueden aparecer dudas sobre la efectividad de tener precios agrícolas muy diferentes entre los municipios. Las diferencias injustificadas de precios por regiones, y la dificultad para entender a cabalidad en un comité todas las dinámicas e interrelaciones detrás de los mercados agrícolas, pueden terminar enviando señales equivocadas a los productores y generando nuevas distorsiones en la agricultura cubana.

Dado que la norma deja un amplio grado de discrecionalidad para el funcionamiento de los comités de contratación, lo más probable es que aparezcan algunas buenas experiencias y otras muy malas. Tal vez lo más positivo de esta municipalización sea permitir recoger información sobre las mejores prácticas para luego poder reproducirlas. Seguramente las mejores experiencias estarán en los comités que concerten precios más cercanos a los valores que reflejan los mercados, toda vez que emitirán las señales que se requieren para acomodar las producciones y la demanda de cada uno de los alimentos a la realidad municipal y nacional.

Topes de precio e intermediarios

Otra confusión que se genera sobre la nueva política de comercialización agrícola se origina en la Resolución 320 de 2021 del Ministerio de Finanzas y Precios del 30 de julio de este año. En esta norma, efectivamente, se eliminaron los referentes de precios máximos agropecuarios fijados en las resoluciones 18 y 84 de inicios de año.

Pero las resoluciones 18 y 84, simplemente, habían fijado un límite a los precios agropecuarios para evitar un aumento desmedido como consecuencia de la reforma monetaria y de la devaluación de la tasa de cambio oficial del peso cubano. Y como las estimaciones oficiales sobre el impacto inflacionario de la devaluación han quedado muy por debajo de la inflación de mercado, estos límites quedaron obsoletos, resultaban contraproducentes y se eliminaron. Sirva también este ejemplo reciente para mostrar lo difícil que resulta entender los múltiples factores que mueven los precios en una economía.

La Resolución 320 elimina estos límites máximos en los precios, pero no necesariamente debe interpretarse como un cambio en la política de precios. Los comités de contratación están vigentes, así como la autoridad de los gobiernos locales para definir los precios de los productos agropecuarios que circulan entre sus municipios.

La ministra de Finanzas lo dejó bien claro en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda el pasado 2 de agosto: “Se elimina el tope, pero sin detrimento de la facultad de autoridades provinciales y municipales para establecer precios minoristas de venta a la población que tomen en cuenta las necesidades y realidades territoriales. Ratificamos que esas facultades se mantienen, como también se mantiene la responsabilidad de las autoridades locales en el enfrentamiento a precios especulativos y abusivos” (Mesa Redonda, 2 de agosto de 2021).

Otro asunto en el que insisten las nuevas normas para la comercialización agrícola es en la eliminación de intermediarios. Se busca que sean los mismos productores quienes se ocupen de comercializar sus producciones en los mercados, con vistas a abaratar los precios finales que llegan al consumidor. La directora de comercialización del Ministerio de Agricultura lo denominó “autogestión” (Mesa Redonda, 2 de agosto de 2021).

Si bien ello puede ser factible y beneficioso para los productores a escala local, parece estarse negando, una vez más, el papel que cumplen los comercializadores especializados en la cadena de valor de cualquier mercado de mayor escala.

El artículo 20 del referido decreto limita la comercialización mayorista de productos agropecuarios a empresas estatales, cooperativas agropecuarias, poseedores de tierras y vendedores mayoristas de productos agropecuarios.

En este último caso, se trata de un vendedor mayorista que tendría que operar bajo la figura de trabajador por cuenta propia. Sin embargo, la norma no permite la presencia de pymes privadas, cooperativas no agropecuarias especializadas en comercialización, cooperativas de segundo grado, o empresas mixtas o extranjeras para estos fines. En el artículo 30 sobre la comercialización minorista se relacionan los mismos actores, solo añadiendo como novedad a las cooperativas no agropecuarias creadas para esos propósitos.

Ya conocemos que vienen en camino otras normas para reforzar el papel de la empresa estatal socialista en la agricultura. Pero la historia y datos irrefutables nos sugieren que nada nuevo y provechoso podemos esperar de ellas. El ministro de la Agricultura anunció en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda del 18 de agosto: “ya está la base para el diseño del sistema empresarial estatal agroindustrial municipal, que ya está en fase de aprobación del Comité Ejecutivo y después irá a su implementación”.

El sector de la agricultura, ganadería y silvicultura cubano apenas presentó un crecimiento promedio anual de 0,5% durante la década pasada. La sustitución de importaciones, la soberanía alimentaria y el vaso de leche para cada cubano quedaron como promesas incumplidas de los primeros Lineamientos.

La llamada “actualización” acumuló innumerables transformaciones económicas, organizativas y cambios en las normas jurídicas, pero sin querer introducir verdaderas lógicas e incentivos de economía de mercado en el sector agropecuario.

Vietnam, que sí se ha movido en esta dirección con determinación y ha transformado radicalmente su modelo económico, logró un crecimiento sostenido promedio anual del sector agropecuario de 3,9% durante los años 90 y de 3,8% en los 2000. Con estos crecimientos logró incrementar su capacidad de producción de alimentos en 50% durante la primera década y la duplicó al cabo de veinte años.

Con la economía de municipio estamos nuevamente en el terreno de lo experimental, a pesar de todos los fracasos que el gobierno cubano ha acumulado durante tres décadas cuando ha tratado de relajar a medias o ha intentado solo “actualizar” el modelo de command economy, también llamado socialismo burocrático, entre otras posibles denominaciones.

Nada asegura que el cambio de la escala territorial (a los municipios) vaya a garantizar el éxito de los mecanismos administrativos en la contratación y en la formación de precios que no funcionaron a nivel nacional.  Ya es conocida la resistencia del gobierno cubano a considerar reformas plenas de mercado. Cuando existe una variante intermedia, esta siempre ha sido la preferencia oficial.

En resumen, sí se aprecia en las normas publicadas este año una flexibilización de los mecanismos de comercialización, pero sin que se lleguen a instrumentar verdaderos incentivos y señales de mercado para el sector agropecuario. Es posible que se vean algunos resultados positivos puntuales. Pero para alcanzar un resultado significativo y sostenible se necesita avanzar mucho más y ofrecer claridad y confianza al campesino de que la política para el sector agrícola se va a distanciar, definitivamente, de los errores del pasado.

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The Economist, Aug 14th, 2021

All the while it is still cracking down on protesters

Original Article: CUBA: A SMALL STEP

ON AUGUST 6TH the Cuban council of state approved a long-awaited law authorising the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The announcement came less than a month after thousands of Cubans took to the streets calling for freedom and an end to the Communist dictatorship. After a brutal crackdown, around 380 protesters are now in prison awaiting trial on charges such as “delinquency”.

The announcement could be designed partly to distract attention from the state’s suppression of dissent. On an island with the fourth-highest official covid-19 infection rate in the world it will be tricky for people to forget that there was enough petrol to power motorcycles, trucks and buses filled with boinas negras (a special-forces unit of the Cuban military) who were sent out to rough up the protesters in July, but not enough for ambulances or incinerators to cremate the dead.

Nonetheless, it is a welcome reform. It is part of what the government calls the “ perfeccionamiento”, or perfection, of socialism. Everyone else recognises it as allowing a bit of free enterprise to compensate for socialism’s failures. In February Cuba’s council of ministers increased the number of trades open to cuentapropistas, or self-employed people. Some 124 sectors are reserved for the state, but everything else is open to entrepreneurs. Even with the recent changes, the legal status of cuentapropistas is ill-defined. Applying for the necessary permits is a slog that can take ages. The rules are designed to keep cuentapropistas small (and therefore no threat to state-owned firms). They can only hire relatives or other self-employed subcontractors. They cannot incorporate, so there is no legal difference between their personal capital and their business capital—if the business goes bust, so do they.

Despite these shackles, enterprising Cubans have flocked to start their own micro-businesses. Since 2010 the share of the workforce who are self-employed has soared from 3% to 13%, or more than 600,000 people. Just over a third are women; a third are under 30. They are concentrated in the largest cities, and are most likely to work as taxi-drivers or run restaurants and food kiosks.

The new law, which still needs to be published in Cuba’s official gazette, is expected to allow small and even medium-sized private businesses to incorporate. This could mean that private firms will be allowed to hire staff (rather than just nephews or independent contractors). It could also mean that multiple investors will be able to put money into a private firm with limited liability. That would make Cuba much more attractive to foreign investors. Incorporation would also make paying taxes simpler and borrowing less daunting. But not all industries will be treated equally. Architects, journalists, lawyers, vets, translators and interpreters, among others, are not allowed to work in the private sector, or to incorporate.

Cuba’s state firms are pampered, inefficient and the main reason why the island is so short of basic goods. This, in turn, is one reason why Cubans have been protesting. Last year GDP shrank by 11%. New official statistics show that imports and exports of goods have been declining since 2018, well before the pandemic scuppered tourism and starved Cuba of hard currency. Hoping to boost morale, the government has distributed some food, donated from Mexico and elsewhere, in the areas where the largest protests occurred.

Oniel Díaz of Auge, a consultancy, has called for reforms to unleash the private sector since 2017. He is excited by the new law, but cautious too. Opening a business is likely to continue to be much slower than elsewhere in the world. “At the end of the day, this is still Cuba.”■

Some Small Enterprises:

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By Marc Frank and Anett Rios

Original Article: , Cuban Entrepreneurs Prepare for a More Open Economy

HAVANA, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Cuban entrepreneurs, running businesses ranging from selling dried fruit to repairing bikes and developing software, are scrambling to understand the opportunities and challenges ahead after a landmark change in the rules governing the Communist-run economy.

Earlier this month, the government released regulations about a reform that would allow small- and medium-sized ventures to formally incorporate as businesses and access state financing, ending decades of classifying them as ‘self-employed’.

The measure is seen by many analysts as one of the most important reforms undertaken since all businesses – down to shoe-shine boys – were nationalized in 1968 by former leader Fidel Castro.

Omar Everleny, one of Cuba’s best-known economists, described the reform as a very positive one, long-sought by many Cubans.  It does have important limits – for instance, people can own no more than one business and cannot contract foreign partners or carry out direct foreign trade.  “Given the economic situation and remaining restrictions, it will not mean a big economic improvement in the short term,” cautioned Everleny.

For Nayvis Diaz, founder of Velo Cuba, a bicycle repair and rental company with 17 employees in Havana, it marks a significant change, however.  “What is important is we are now fully part of the economy and no longer marginalized,” she said.  “Many people with a lot of social and business responsibilities in the city, and many others in the private sector, were waiting for this.”

The measure forms part of a package of market-oriented reforms undertaken by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel over the last year, as the coronavirus pandemic and tougher U.S. sanctions tipped the shaky economy into a tailspin and led to shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.

Cuba’s economy contracted by 10.9% in 2020 and shrank another 2% this year through June, compared with the same period in 2020. It remains reliant on tourism and imports.

The Fernandez brothers, who own Deshidratados Habana, Cuba’s only company processing and selling dried fruits, were nevertheless enthusiastic.  Nayvis Dias (C), founder of Velo Cuba, speaks to employees at her bicycle repair and rental company in Havana, Cuba, August 25, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini    “A bad economy can present opportunity,” Oscar Fernandez said, standing amid makeshift ovens and other equipment in his basement. The company began when the pandemic forced their cafeteria to close, he explained.


Hundreds of small businesses have found niches in a state-dominated economy short on imagination and initiative: from gourmet restaurants and 3D-parts manufacture to software development, home delivery, landscaping and construction contracting.

The private sector, excluding farmers, has expanded since the 1990s to encompass more than 600,000 self-employed license holders. It includes small-business owners, non-agriculture cooperatives, their employees and members, tradespeople and taxi drivers.

The Fernandez family business sells dried fruit online and has placed their product at three upscale private food shops in Havana.  “The horizon has opened,” said Oscar, who holds a doctorate in economics. “Once incorporated we can establish relations with state and private supply chains and market our product to whomever – from state-run stores to hotels, as well as export and seek financing from local banks or abroad.”

Diaz, in her workshop crowded with bicycles, was also enthusiastic about the prospects for growth, adding that she would be cautious and consult her lawyer and accountant every step of the way.  “We have to analyze the economic context closely because we will have an increasing responsibility with all the people that we are going to hire in our companies,” she said.

The Fernandez brothers have drawn up plans for a small factory that would process a ton of fruit daily, including for export. They dream of owning a store that sells their products.  “We have the land and suppliers lined up. We just need about $100,000 in financing,” Oscar said.

But one major worry remains – one shared by many Cubans on social media.  “We still have to see what happens in practice: how far the government really allows us to develop,” Ricardo Fernandez said.

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El Toque Feb  10, 2021

Complete Listing: from El Toque

Complete listing in PDF format


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I have just read Vegard Bye’s Cuba analysis – a bit late as it was published in mid-2020.  It is indeed an excellent analysis of Cuba’s current situation and prospects.  

This is one of the very best general analyses of the inter-relationships between Cuba’s economic conundrums and reforms, its socio-economic transformationsand the character and functioning of the political system.  Bye has drawn from his own experience in Cuba over a number of decades and from a careful and examination of the broad ranges of literature from within Cuba, from Cuban analysts outside Cuba, and from Cuban-American and international analysts. His chapters on the economic changes since the death of Fidel and their social implications is masterful.  Even better is his analysis of Cuba’s political system in Chapters 4, and 6 to 8.  

This volume is a tremendously valuable resource for a comprehension of Cuba’s current situation and its possible future.  


Title:               Cuba, From Fidel To Raul And Beyond

Format:           Paperback

Published:       August 14, 2020

Publisher:       Palgrave Macmillan

Language:       English

ISBN –             13:9783030218089


This book analyzes the economic reforms and political adjustments that took place in Cuba during the era of Raúl Castro’s leadership and its immediate aftermath, the first year of his successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel. Faced with economic challenges and a political crisis of legitimacy now that the Castro brothers are no longer in power, the Cuban Revolution finds itself at another critical juncture, confronted with the loss of Latin American allies and a more hostile and implacable US administration.


  1. Introduction
  2. Retreat of State as Economic Actor?
  3. Achieving the Required Surge in Investment and Growth?
  4. Political Implications of Socio-economic Changes
  5. T he Evolving International Arena: Fitting into a New Context
  6. More Pluralism or Continued Authoritarianism/
  7. Evolution of Party and State Relations
  8. Towards the End of Gerontocracy
  9. Into the Critical Juncture: Principal Dilemmas and Possible Scenarios


“The text that Vegard Bye presents to us summarizes the ideas and visions that he has been developing after years of observing closely the evolution of the Cuban social, political and economic model, especially during the reforms process led by Raul Castro since 2008. His proposals and analysis have the virtue of not falling into common places and stereotypes so usual in the Cuba subject. He found originality from his firsthand knowledge of the Cuban reality, seen from an international perspective and from the prism of modern concepts of political science.” (Pavel Vidal Alejandro, Professor of Economics at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia)

“This is a timely book and a well-informed contribution to the ever-going debate about Cuba’s future. The author has accumulated decades of experience in assessing and living in the Cuban reality, and the book offers just that, a scholarly as much as a personal view of the events in the Island. Whether you share or not his opinions, this piece will greatly contribute to your knowledge about this fascinating country, in a way that is both enjoyable and useful.” (Ricardo Torres, Professor at the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, University of Havana, Cuba)

“Displaying an expertise gained through several decades of closely watching developments on the island, Bye delivered a very perceptive and informed analysis of the economic and political changes in the post-Fidel era, the outcomes of Raúl Castro’s reform and the political scenarios for the future. A most-needed assessment of Cuba’s contemporary realities from a political science perspective.” (Nora Gamez Torres, Cuban-American journalist covering Cuba and US-Cuban relations for Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald)

“A timely and thankfully heterodox volume that gives readers a front row seat and fresh and locally informed analysis of contemporary Cuban political economy. The book provides both a sober assessment of Raúl Castro’s 10 years of economic reforms (2008-2018) and an early analysis of the first year of Miguel Díaz-Canel’s―Raúl’s hand-picked successor―government. Its unique perspective derives equally from the author’s immersion in progressive projects of national renovation in Cuba and Nicaragua as a war correspondent, United Nations official, and representative of various Norwegian development agencies. Bye’s ongoing collaboration with various leading Cuban NGOs and civil society groups gives his book an insider’s insight and balance rare for a volume by a non-Cuban about such a controversial topic as Cuban politics.” (Ted A. Henken, Associate Professor of Sociology at Baruch College, City University of New York, USA)

“A study on Cuba focused on its most pressing issues. A must-read for any researcher―carefully researched and accessible to anyone interested in the past, present and future of the Cuban Revolution.” (Harold Cárdenas, co-founder of the Cuban blog La Jóven Cuba)

VEGARD BYE is a Norwegian political scientist, writer, consultant and ex-politician. He has represented the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Angola and Bolivia, written extensively on Latin America, and is a consultant specializing on human rights, democracy, conflict and post-conflict societies as well as solar energy. He served as a Substitute Representative (Vararepresentant) to the Norwegian Parliament for the Socialist Left Party from Oslo (1993-1997), meeting in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.  He is currently a Partner at Scanteam a.s., an Oslo-based consulting company focusing on international development and responsible business.

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Reuters, Jun 02, 2021  

Marc Frank

Original Article

HAVANA — Cuba has approved a reform that includes long-sought legal status for private businesses that began operating decades ago under the title of “self-employed,” state-run media reported on Wednesday.

Top officials have said for months they were planning changes to sort out rules for state-run companies and private cooperatives and businesses so they can function on an equal footing in the Communist-run country.

The Council of Ministers agreed the measure at its latest closed-door session, state-run media wrote, without detailing when it would become law.

The reform would include legal status for the private sector’s thousands of businesses from eateries and garages to construction and beauty salons and for cooperatives.

“With this decision we are approving how to organize the actors in our economy, which goes much further than the simple recognition of some of them,” Communist Party leader and President Miguel Diaz Canel was quoted as stating.

Unlike Communist Party-ruled China and Vietnam, Cuba has been slow to implement market reforms to its Soviet-style command economy.  But the government has picked up the pace in the face of a severe economic crisis and food, medicine and other shortages it blames largely on U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, while admitting failure to reform is also at fault.

Still, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz emphasized the state would remain the dominant economic player, insisting “we are not privatizing the economy,” according to the report.

Private farmers and cooperatives have operated for decades in Cuba in agriculture. The “self-employed” sector meanwhile – that includes businesses, their employees, trades people and others such as taxi drivers – has expanded over the past decade to include more than 600,000 workers.  Thousands more work in non-agricultural cooperatives, a new category allowed in 2012. Authorities had suspended issuing new licenses for such cooperatives but under the new reform will start issuing them once more.  All in all, the private sector now makes up around a third of the six million strong labor force.

Oniel Diaz, co-founder of the private businesses consultancy AUGE, said approval signaled a further expansion of the private sector was on its way, but it still could take a while.  “The wait continues,” he tweeted.

 (Reporting by Marc Frank; additional reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Febrero de 2021

ISBN: 978-9945-9278-3-2

Complete Text of Book


A modo de introducción: otra pelea cubana contra los demonios/ Humberto Blanco Rosales y Mayra Tejuca Martínez

Reflexiones en torno a la nueva estrategia para el desarrollo económico y social de Cuba/ Betsy Anaya Cruz

Implementación de la nueva estrategia económica y social: una mirada desde la gestión/ Humberto Blanco Rosales

IED en tiempos de COVID-19: ¿qué podemos esperar?/ Juan Triana Cordoví

Cuba: apuntes sobre comercio exterior y COVID-19/ Ricardo Torres Pérez

Alimentación en Cuba: impactos de la COVID-19/ Anicia García Álvarez

El turismo mundial y en Cuba pospandemia/ Miguel Alejandro Figueras

Teletrabajo en tiempos de COVID-19: oportunidades y desafíos para Cuba/ Dayma Echevarría León

Trabajo por cuenta propia. Pre y posCOVID-19/ Ileana Díaz Fernández

La banca comercial tras la COVID-19/ Francisco Fidel Borrás Atiénzar y Oscar Luis Hung Pentón

De los autores

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March 12, 2021 by Arch Ritter

I have just received a copy of our new volume,

CUBA  EMPRESARIAL. EMPRENDEDORES ANTE UNA CAMBIANTE POLÍTICA PÚBLICA, by Ted Henken and Archibald Ritter, 2020, Editorial Hypermedia Del Libro of Spain.  This is an up-dated Spanish-language version of the book ENTREPRENEURIAL CUBA: THE CHANGING POLICY LANDSCAPE, by Archibald Ritter and Ted Henken.

The publication details of the volume are as follows:

  • Paperback : 536 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1948517612
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1948517614
  • Dimensions : 6 x 1.34 x 9 inches
  • Item Weight : 1.96 pounds
  • Publisher : Editorial Hypermedia Inc
  • Publication Date: November 19, 2020
  • Language: : Spanish
  • Paperback, $21.90

Nuestro nuevo libro sobre el sector empresarial de Cuba, “Entre el dicho y el hecho va un buen trecho” a la venta AHORA a un precio accesible: US $21.90. It can be ordered from Amazon here: Cuba empresarial: Emprendedores ante una cambiante política pública (Spanish Edition): Henken, Ted A, Ritter, Archibald R. M.: 9781948517614: Amazon.com: Books

Some Brief Reviews:

Carmelo Mesa-Lago. Hasta ahora, este libro es el más completo y profundo sobre la iniciativa privada en Cuba.

Cardiff Garcia. Este libro aporta una lúcida explicación a la particular interacción entre el incipiente sector privado en Cuba y los sectores gubernamentales dominantes. 

Sergio Díaz-Briquets. Cuba empresarial es una lectura obligada para los interesados en la situación actual del país. Su publicación es oportuna no sólo por lo que revela sobre la situación económica, social y política, sino también por sus percepciones sobre la evolución futura de Cuba.


Richard Feinberg.Los autores reconocen la importancia de las reformas de Raúl Castro, aunque las consideran insuficientes para sacar a la economía cubana de su estancamiento. 

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