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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.