Self-employed Don’t Take to the Streets in Massive Protest / Victor Ariel Gonzalez

Self-employed. Photo from Internet.

HAVANA, Cuba, November 1, 2013, Victor Ariel Gonzalez/ For days now, rumors have been spreading about a strike of self-employed workers somewhere in Central Havana in the capital. Presumably, the event would be November 1st on Reina Street, where people would come to the demonstrations to protest the restrictions announced in the Island’s official media for weeks, relating to private sector trade in industrial products.

A call for public protest has been circulating on the Internet. But as in Cuba there is no real access to the network, it’s unlikely that an announcement in this media will be effective; the population doesn’t know that something is afoot.

“This morning the Department of Technical Investigations, a division of the Ministry of the Interior, came to ask who was going to participate,” an appliance repairman who asked not to be identified confessed a few days ago. Clearly, concerned State Security officers tried to intimidate potential protesters.

There is no known trade union daring enough to organize a strike, nor have links between the self-employed and opposition parties that could be involved in the event, or the call to the streets, proven to be strong enough.

So far, what could be identified as an emerging social class of non-state workers doesn’t have a political platform distinguished by the regime nor does it seem to have a definite political opinion. This sector, which is also too new in a country civicly depressed and without the social networks that have helped the transition to democracy in other parts of the world.

Weeks ago Cuban government officials declared what is obviously a persecution of industrial goods vendors. These are retailers who, given the lack of supply that we suffer, find it normal to speculate on the price of products, which is the main weapon that the country’s leaders ranged against them.

But beyond this accusation, it has been proven that the self-employed (officially they avoid the word “private”) are able to fill the market and even make better deals than the State, who would have all the advantages of competition, but in instead they have chosen to annihilate any opponent.

Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Cubanet, 1 November 2013