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Exciting Cuban Economic Reforms: Always Coming Tomorrow

When Raul Castro began assuming power from Fidel in 2008, there were hopes he would open up the Cuban economy. The Obama administration relaxed some restrictions on travel and remittances in 2009. In late 2010, the Cuban government allowed citizens to open private businesses. Cell phone use on the island increased. And this past April, the government vowed to shift 40 percent of Cuba’s economic output to the non state sector within five years.

As the New York Times reports, those plans have stalled in the face of resistance from conservative party apparatchiks:

Those awaiting measures to create even more opportunity for private business got the opposite last week, when news spread of a little-advertised government decision to charge steep customs duties on the informal imports, from Miami and elsewhere, that are the lifeblood of many young businesses.

“This could have a huge impact,” said Emilio Morales, president of the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group, who said state-owned shops in Cuba were losing business to street vendors. “It shows the state isn’t ready to compete with the private sector.”

Raul recently expressed concern that too many reforms, introduced too quickly, could unleash the kind of turmoil that dissolved the Soviet Union. I’ve been watching Cuba fairly closely for almost 20 years, and during all that time, sweeping economic reform has always been just around the corner.

It still is.

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  • Walter Sobchak

    Cuba is within US waters. A line drawn from San Juan to Brownsville runs through it. We never should have allowed the island to be controlled by hostile forces.

    The time has come to fix the problem. The Castro brothers need to enter an assisted living facility. The gulag needs to be emptied. The US must make this happen, peacefully if possible, but vi et armes if necessary.

    What we are short on is will. We can hope that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee is turfed out in November, but we may have to conduct an assault on the State Department.

  • Aldridkg

    To believe that real economic reform will ever be legitimately implemented under the Castros or his elite inner circle of cronies is a fool’s dream. just ask any Cuban that currently lives in the island and you’ll get the real story of how these so called reforms are run by the regime- it’s all a sham-always has been. The only way to bring economic liberty to Cuba is to get rid of the Castros and his posse by supporting freedom movements in the island. I can only dream of the one day when my country will be truly free.

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