On October 4, a Wall Street Journal article praised Cuba’s small businesses. Here are the highlights of that article.
“Newly licensed private businesses are becoming a lifeline for Cuba, bringing in about half of the country’s total food imports as the cash-strapped Communist government struggles to keep power plants running and provide public transport because of acute fuel shortages.”
‘Havana passed laws allowing Cubans to form small businesses that can employ up to 100 people in the wake of countrywide protests that shook the impoverished island two years ago. Since then, more than 8,000 small and midsize businesses have registered with the government. They are involved in activities that range from tourism and construction to computer programming.”
“’In the last two years, the private sector has been dominating commerce in Cuba to an unprecedented level,’ Aldo Álvarez, a Cuban lawyer turned importer based in Havana, said in a telephone interview. ‘We not only have businesses, but we have the capacity to import.’”
“Cuba’s embassy to the U.S. referred to comments in a recent radio interview with Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío, who said Havana’s decision to allow small businesses was a sovereign decision but that Cuba wouldn’t allow big concentrations of property, wealth and capital to develop, ‘at least for the moment.’ He told Miami public radio station WLRN last week that economic liberalization won’t lead to a political challenge of Cuba’s single-party rule.”
“More than 400,000 Cubans have left the island for the U.S. over the past two years, according to data by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The emigration wave has been fueled by political repression and severe electricity, fuel and food shortages, migrants say, in the worst economic crisis since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main ally and trade partner, in the 1990s. Tourism, the island’s main moneymaker, collapsed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and has yet to fully recover.”
 (Acosta & Cordoba, Small Businesses Become a Lifeline for Cuba’s Floundering Economy, W.S.J. (Oct. 4, 2023).