14ymedio, Madrid, 29 June 29, 2023 — The private company, anathema in Cuba for more than 60 years, has become, from one day to the next, a lifeline of the regime and a new reason for friction with Washington.
In some unusual statements, this Thursday, Johana Tablada, he Cuban Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director General for the United States, boasted that the private sector “emerges and develops under the policies of the Cuban Revolution, discussed and approved by the citizenry.”
The official’s Facebook post – collected by the Prensa Latina agency – alluded, without saying it specifically, to a tweet two days ago from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, which promoted on its networks an extensive report on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Cuba, published last week by The Miami Herald.
The link was accompanied by the message: “There is a significant growth of the private sector in Cuba! The private sector is on its way to buying more than a billion dollars in goods by the end of 2023. Companies that work with independence and creativity promote economic and social development on the Island.”
On the same subject this Thursday, WLRN, from South Florida, dedicates a chronicle to the incipient Cuban businesspeople, saying that Cuban capitalism is becoming a reality. Cuban capitalists hope that U.S. aid will be real. According to the author, “Cuba’s communist economy is sinking, but its capitalist entrepreneurs are growing, and the United States wants to associate with them before Russia does.”
Faced with this, Tablada lashed out against the United States for “illegal coercive measures of an intensified blockade that hinder income, banking transactions, trade and investments and that torture the Cuban population,” and for “the financial siege and persecution for fraudulent inclusion of Cuba on the terrorist list.”
Those journalistic notes, however, not only took the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by surprise but also part of the exile, which sees the proliferation of new private companies on the Island as a “fraud,” as Rosa María Payá harshly expressed.
For her part, businesswoman and activist Saily González responded with a long thread to the “various inaccuracies” and “some fallacies” which, in her opinion, the Herald report incurred. “A country in transition? Where to? Towards an economic model similar to the Russian oligarchy, I suppose,” she tweeted, echoing one of the phrases of the report and alluding to the growing fear of an opening of the Cuban economy to the Russian one, given the latest agreements between Havana and Moscow.
Inside the Island, as this newspaper has noted, the distrust of these new businesses comes from the high prices and the fear that they will be managed by people close to the regime.
Interviewed in this regard by the Herald, Catholic activist Dagoberto Valdés, founder of the magazine Convivencia, stated that although he understands that “the economic actors closest to the circle of power” may be those who arrive at the “caramel” in a “piñata effect,” he says that it is “mathematically impossible” that the almost 8,000 private businesses “are directed by relatives of government officials.”
Reinaldo Escobar, editor-in-chief of 14ymedio, also referred to a “piñata” in the gathering of Radio Martí, Las Noticias como Son, saying that the private company has been “kidnapped” by those who rule, “in a very easy way: as they have all the power, they are those who tell someone yes and someone no, who allow thing and not another.” However, he said that it was “a conquest of the people who are critical of the Government” and a demand “that did not come from above, but from below.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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