Self-Employment Under Scrutiny / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Dámaso, 26 August 2019 — The statements made years ago by the first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party in defense of self-employment now seem inconsequential considering how Cuba’s president, his administration, the National Assembly, provincial and municipal assemblies, and public officials at all levels now ignore them.

In real life, self-employment is subject to a wide variety of pressures and arbitrary actions with the goal of preventing its development, and even encouraging its demise, under the ruse that everything is being done to “impose order and prevent illegality.”

Why then, I ask, have officials not concerned themselves with imposing order and preventing illegality in the public sector, where such oversight has been sorely needed for the last six decades?

The private sector already operates in a precarious enviroment. The absence of wholesale markets, excessive fines, corrupt inspectors and officials who live off blackmail and arbitrary inspections are just some of the problems.

Recent measures enacted against private transport workers — for example, an increase in monthly license fees to operate in some sections of the capital, at a time when tourism is in decline, for the benefit the state-owned hotel chain and its accomplices — are examples of a discriminatory policy against an emerging economic sector that now makes up 12% of GDP.

It seems that socialism, a failed system incapable of competing honestly with the private sector, has condemned private initiative to life behind bars while hope has received the death sentence.

In interviews, many state media officials express support for various absurd laws, decrees and regulations when in reality and in private they reject them and wish everything would change, a reflection of the national sentiment at large. Everything else is just blah, blah, blah.