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Free Enterprise in Cuba, 2012

Hilary Duffy | Cuba

Tairo, a pork vendor, once an illegal business, is now legal and very profitable. The state allows individuals to sell pork. Chicken, fish and beef sales are state run.

Free-market reforms in Cuba >

Under Raúl Castro's leadership, Cuba has sanctioned private business since 2010 when the state announced layoffs of half a million workers. With the objective of raising productivity and reviving the economy, the reforms have opened the path to an extensive and emerging small private business sector.

Hustling salespeople no longer need to dodge the authorities in an underground economy. Small business owners openly and proudly display and sell their skills, crafts, produce, or home-cooked meals. They drive freely as hired drivers or repair and fix broken items. The self-employed pay a monthly tax and social security and they wear laminated ID licenses clipped to their shirts. More than 357,000 Cubans now have licenses across the island.

- Hilary Duffy

The new economic freedom has great potential to transform Cuban society. The entrepreneurs portray a new mentality, with incentive, quality service, pride and a new energy. With state salaries as low as $25/month and no wage reform in site, many Cubans are turning to small business opportunities. They invest slowly or with remittances from relatives abroad.

 Hilary Duffy




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