That number, calculated on November 19, will surely grow. According to the article, labor ministry and other offices have responded to 81,498 people who have expressed interest in working on their own.
Retirees account for 43 percent of new licensees.
Among the 45,000 who have licenses or have applied (16,265), 56 percent have no “vinculo laboral,” which is to say that they were not working, were working informally, or were laid off. One fifth will work in food service, and 12 percent will be “contracted,” which sounds like they will be hired by entrepreneurs who already have a license.
In recent weeks I had the opportunity to visit some of the offices where Cubans are applying for licenses in and out of Havana. There were lines of applicants, harried officials managing the lines and answering questions, people leaving with licenses in hand, and many citizens intently studying bulletin boards with information about how to apply.
Workers at several offices told me that they were not working against a numerical limit; if applicants’ papers are in order, they get the license. That is a change from the previous rules, where each municipal government was able to set ceilings on the number of cuentapropistas in each line of work. In the municipality of Sancti Spiritus alone, an official told me that 720 licenses were issued between October 29 and November 15.
Cuban media are reminding the public of the new policies. The non-stop news programming of Radio Reloj (definitely an acquired taste!) is regularly explaining aspects of the new regulations and application procedures. Today’s Granma has a story that re-explains the new policies on rental of rooms, entire homes, or spaces for entrepreneurs to use to house their businesses.
Photos: a new sandwich stand in Sancti Spiritus, an electoral commission office that the labor ministry is using to take applications in the Centro Habana municipality, and one of the bulletin boards at that office.