Monday, August 02, 2010

Cuba -- To Aid Socialism, is trying Capitalism

This is a switch. To save the socialist/marxist experiment that has been failing in the Caribbean for 50 years, Raul Castro is applying some Capitalism.

Could there be a more direct admission that Fidel's revolution is dead? Meanwhile, it seems as though Obama has taken his cues from the early Fidel Castro, the one who believes the government is the source of all things, that believes the government provides jobs and money to all. But even Cuba knows that sharing is not true caring.

Meanwhile, it is one of those sad facts that Cuba needs handouts to meet its internal needs. Why, though, has Cuba failed to give Brazil the opportunity to build ethanol plants on Cuban soil? Between Cuba's sugar crop and its need for fuel, there's no doubt the country would benefit from making a deal with Brazilian ethanol experts.

Cuba eyes more self-employment as massive layoffs loom

President Raul Castro expanded self-employment fields on Sunday, ahead of looming government plans to slash as many as one million jobs -- 20 percent of communist Cuba's work force -- from state payrolls.

The economy, 95 percent of which is currently in state hands, does not have the ability to absorb such vast numbers of jobless. Castro's move aims to try to reduce the socioeconomic fallout, but it will be an uphill battle.

The Council of Ministers "agreed to expand the range of self-employment jobs, and their use as another alternative for workers who lose their jobs," Castro said as he gave a closing address at one of two annual sessions of the National Assembly.

After the crash of the former Soviet bloc, Cuba's cash-strapped government in the 1990s approved a wide range of self-employment. Positions such as beauticians, dog groomers, small restaurant owners and even lighter refillers were legalized as long as workers got licenses and paid taxes.

But social resentment emerged as an issue when some workers, particularly in small private restaurants, achieved dramatic levels of success.

The government began increasing taxation and regulation, and decreasing license-granting, until the self-employed sector was largely rendered paralyzed, like the rest of the economy.

Cuba has no regular access to international funding; it depends heavily on the cut-rate oil it gets from Venezuela in order to keep its fragile economy afloat. Tourism earnings and remittances from emigres also are key pillars of the Cuban economy.

Inefficiency is rampant and wages are woefully low.

Cubans' hopes had been running high that some change was coming to allow some economic opening in the Americas' only one-party communist regime.

By 2009, there were just 148,000 people out of a work force of five million who were legally self-employed.

Raul Castro, 79, said he would launch new wage and salary practices early next year. He did not give details.

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