Centralism Again? / Rebeca Monzo

Pushcart vendor on a Havana street (CC)

Rebeca Monzo, 25 August 2017 — Once again the Cuban government wants to “tighten the screws” on initiative and private business.

It has suspended issuing “until further notice” all self-employment licenses, which run the gamut from the smallest, most humble pushcarts to family-run restaurants and homeowners who rent out rooms to tourists. Word has it that taxes will also go up — an exploitative move considering that they are already extremely high — and that there will be an increase of 240% or more on the price of basic necessities, whether priced in hard currency (Cuban convertible pesos) or Cuban pesos.

Meanwhile, poverty-level salaries and pensions remain the same even as taxes increase on merchandise Cubans need to survive under an absolutist regime.

Being allowed to once again rent or sell our properties, or to travel abroad, does not amount to some gift from the totalitarian system. It is simply Raul’s way of reinstating some of the rights that he himself usurped from us 58 years ago.

Let’s see how well they lead to the famous changes the regime has bragged so much about. Far from opening up and facilitating the country’s economic growth, it retrenches ever further into statism and intolerance. Given the dual currency and lack of universal internet access, foreigners are losing interest in investing in the country with each passing day. Does that mean that perhaps they will try once again to impose centralism on us?