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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8845
JPY
USD
117.71
GBP
USD
0.6643
CAD
USD
1.2669
INR
USD
62.019

Rates may not be current.