News / Economy

Cuba Closes Privately-Owned Movie Theaters, Video Arcades

Vendors await customers at their private imported clothing outlet, Havana, Oct. 5, 2013.
Vendors await customers at their private imported clothing outlet, Havana, Oct. 5, 2013.
Reuters
Cuba closed dozens of home-based movie theaters on Saturday and reaffirmed its plans to end the private sale of imported goods as communist authorities pressed for "order, discipline and obedience" in the growing small business sector.
 
A government statement issued through official media said home-based theaters and video games will "stop immediately in any type of self-employment," a local euphemism for small business.
 
The statement said "the showing of movies, including in 3D salons, and likewise the organization of computer games, has never been authorized."
 
The government banned the private sale of imported goods last month, a measure that potentially affects some 20,000 small businesses and their employees who sell clothing, hardware and other goods brought in informally by travelers, some of whom visit the Caribbean island regularly carrying merchandise from the United States, Spain and Latin American countries.
 
President Raul Castro, who replaced his brother Fidel in 2008, has instituted a series of market-oriented reforms to Cuba's Soviet style economy where the state still employs 79 percent of the five million-strong labor force.
 
"These measures are corrections to continue bringing order to this form of management, fight impunity and insist people live up to the law," the government said on Saturday.
 
"In no way does this mean a step backward. Quite the contrary, we will continue to decidedly advance in the updating of our economic model," it said, adding that would only be possible "in an atmosphere of order, discipline and obedience."
 
The import ban has created a fury among entrepreneurs and the public who have tired of buying high priced and low quality clothing from state-run establishments.
 
Saturday's closing of private theaters will add fuel to the fire as they have been overwhelmingly welcomed by the public.
 
Marlene, a Havana housewife, said her neighbor was planning to open a 3D salon.
 
"The state has no 3D theaters, so what is their problem. Sometimes the government seems to want to make our lives worse for the fun of it," she said, asking her last name not be used.
 
State role questioned
 
Cuban economist Juan Triana, in his regular Thursday commentary on state-run Radio Taino, said that the government should get out of businesses it had no reason to be in, referring to the ban on imports.
 
"Is it really worthwhile for the state to continue expending effort, money and prestige in an activity it was not designed for ... and which in general undermines its prestige due to the quality of the products, but also theft, corruption, many costs that are difficult to cover even though prices are very often two or three times their value," he said.
 
On Saturday the government said it had decided to postpone the ban on imports until January to give vendors time to liquidate their inventories.
 
Three years ago the government opened up retail services to "self-employment" in the form of 200 licensed activities from clowns, seamstresses, food vendors, taxis and the building trades, to small businesses such as restaurants, cafeterias, bed and breakfasts and entertainment.
 
The government said the measure was aimed at absorbing excess state labor, improving services, eliminating inefficiencies and bringing black-market activity above ground.
 
There are now 442,000 self-employed people in Cuba, of whom around 100,000 work as employees of small businesses, according to the government.
 
Enterprising residents have taken advantage of some of the categories — for example entertainer or seamstress — to offer movies, video games and imported clothing and supplies in greater variety and at lower cost than the state.
 
In September the government added 12 new licenses, including real estate broker, but also listed all self-employed categories and the content of approved activity. It added phrases such as for seamstress, "does not include the sale of manufactured or imported clothing."
 
Since then, state employees have been visiting all license holders to review their activities and warn them if they are stepping over the line.
 
"These recent restrictions reflect an on-going struggle between those Cuban officials who envision a dynamic private sector as benefiting Cuban consumers — in these cases of modern video entertainment and low-cost imported clothing — and those government officials who fear loss of state control over the national economy," said Richard Feinberg, a nonresident senior fellow of the Washington-based Brookings Institution and author of various studies on Cuban reforms.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Roppongi Hills, TKO
November 03, 2013 7:01 PM
Economy grow from a private sectors.
Let the Cuban government officials check situations of Silicon Valley in the USA, fast economic growth of Japan from the WW II and Chinese private shops selling faked goods.

Well, but it's OK. There will be no influence for world economy even if Cuba economy died.

by: Herman Krieger from: Eugene, OR
November 03, 2013 2:01 AM
Cuban movie theater -
http://www.efn.org/~hkrieger/cu1804.jpg
from the series, "See See Havana",
http://www.efn.org/~hkrieger/cuba.htm

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.