Is it Good or is it Bad? / Luis Felipe Rojas

This question, among others, is shot at me weekly in an international poll about the potential and efficiency of self-employment in Cuba. Of course, it is not a bad thing to once again have goods produced by your own work- shoes and other products which disappeared from Cuban homes decades ago. It is good that thousands of my compatriots have broken away from the chains of bureaucracy to buy or sell a pair of pants. It’s good that they’ve moved away from the anti-pedagogical rules of orders and control.

It’s a good thing, and it will always be good, for people to learn how to plan their vacations and that, once and for all, an end is put to the damned meritocracy which has turned the work place into a battlefield of snitches who carry out their dirty work all for a summer reservation in a cabin at the edge of a river, or a ticket to buy a TV made in China.

In the long run, recognizing the weight which subterranean operations have on third world emerging economies, it should be fateful that we will have to sustain ourselves based on illegal extractions in order to strengthen the universe of what tomorrow will be known as the small business. The costs, the feasibility, and the usefulness are terms which become shreds when we discover that the prices of prime materials fluctuate, not according to internal or external markets, but according to the hands which release them onto the black market.

What is not good is the material shortage due to inflation of prices in the sole provider which exists: the sacrosanct state. Instead of ceasing to produce or ceasing to continue onward with small producers of goods and services, used for the first time by owners of their lowest fortunes, they prefer to turn their faces and buy the ingredients without finding out about their origin. That’s how they prepare themselves, also for the disloyal competition of tomorrow.

Articles and reports which appear on the daily (and only) press, telling the self-employer to carry out honest work, to treat their customers well, and to join the national economy which aims to re-fossilize, perfect itself, and tighten its chains to a corset of rules imposed as mandates of sole salvation. All this means nothing.

A native information technology business (CITMATEL) developed a software to allow the registry of personal data, any taxes or other things applicable to self-employment, and surely, it is not a bad thing. Of course, they have started to sell it for 250 Cuban pesos (about 12 dollars), with the added difficulty that the rate of workers in the private sector who actually own a computer is very low, and according to their own announcement, their license would expire in two months. It’s not a matter of whether if it is a good thing or a bad thing, instead, we ask: for who is it positive or negative what is happening if we continue mortgaging the future?

Translated by Raul G.

5 April 2012