Catching up on news about Cuba’s trabajadores por cuenta propia:
· AP reports on the first rentals of retail space in Old Havana to entrepreneurs by the historian’s office, which is the all-around municipal authority in city’s two square kilometer colonial core.
· There are 651 private restaurants in Cuba compared to 113 in late 2010, Trabajadores reports.
· Blogger Wendy Guerra on her favorite neighborhood refuge, a new private hair and manicure salon.
· Unlike before, entrepreneurs can now enter contracts with any kind of government or business entity. Granma covered the province of Artemisa’s practice of contracting with entrepreneurs to get construtions and renovation projects done, lauding the results. Reuters summed it up in English here.
· Juventud Rebelde sent reporters all around the island to report on how Cuban youth are responding to the possibilities in the entrepreneurial sector. It reports generally positive opinions, including some who are happy to have come in from the black market. Sore points: the tax system and the lack of wholesale supplies. “Many consider,” the article says, that regulations “should be more in line with the country’s high level of professional formation, since many indicate that they are in transitory jobs.” One 23-year-old is quoted saying that the new possibilities reduce the desire to leave Cuba. That’s a sentiment that government leaders, concerned about the country’s growing demographic imbalance between workers and dependents, surely hope is widespread.
· A short article in Trabajadores on state workers who are being converted on the spot into entrepreneurs, staying in the same line of work and renting their business premises from the state. It’s a reminder that not all “layoffs” are going to involve pink slips and a job search; many will be a matter of turning a public enterprise into a private one.
· The Central Bank president discusses the new credit policy in Trabajadores, expressing surprise that few entrepreneurs are seeking loans; 99 percent of loan applications have to do with home repair and renovation projects.
· Granma: Villa Clara had one of the highest rates of on-time filing of tax returns, 97 percent, after which comes the tax office’s task of going after the late filers to figure out what they owe, including possible penalties.
· On the negative side, a large and popular western Havana restaurant and entertainment venue that operated under the rules for trabajo por cuenta propia was shut down based on allegations of “enrichment.” El Cabildo was first covered here by Reuters. BBC Spanish covered the closing, noting the owner’s protest to authorities, where he said it hurts all the more “because I am a revolutionary and believe deeply in the humanistic work of the revolution.” More detail from Nick Miroff at Global Post.