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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.