TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Taste of free enterprise whets Cubans' appetite

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
 

HAVANA — As more and more islanders go into business for themselves under President Raul Castro's economic reforms, the ethos of capitalism is increasingly seeping into Cuban daily life, often in stark conflict with fundamental tenets of the Cuban Revolution.

The free market is still limited in Cuba, but it is altering lives and reshaping attitudes in palpable ways. Some fear — and others hope — that values anathema to a half-century of Communist rule are taking root more with each passing day: It's OK to make money, within limits; workers can reap the benefits of their own labor directly, instead of seeing it redistributed; individual enterprise is rewarded.

“There have been changes, and as the country grows, there will be more,” said Luis Antonio Veliz, proprietor of the stylish, independent cabaret nightclub Fashion Bar Habana. “It's a very positive thing, but some Cubans are having difficulty understanding that now not everything depends on the state.”

But with success came sacrifice. Veliz realized he had to be on-call 24 hours a day to solve problems, an unthinkable notion when he was a state-employed restaurant worker. He skipped vacations, and sometimes went days without seeing his family.

“When you work for yourself, you have to look out for your own interests,” Veliz said. “I've become harder, tougher, more confident.”

The new business ethos comes with risks, some Cubans say. Hair studio proprietor Gilberto Valladares, better known as “Papito,” worries that competition and self-interest will eat away at revolutionary values such as solidarity, unity and nationalist pride.

“I want people to understand that not only should there be economic benefit, but they can contribute to the social benefit,” said Valladares, 44.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Migrant surge: Europe ill-prepared for invasion of foreigners
  2. Al-Jazeera English journalists head to prison in Egypt
  3. Beirut protests grow as summer garbage crisis lingers
  4. Activists say ISIS terrorists blew up temple at Syria’s ancient ruins of Palmyra
  5. U.K. plane crash halts vintage flights
  6. Plot, links to Islam supported in Amsterdam-to-Paris train shooting
  7. 5 killed in western India as demonstrators riot
  8. Polish official ‘convinced’ Nazi mystery train exists
  9. Vatican priest accused of child sex abuse found dead
  10. Tropical Storm Erika’s menace ebbs
  11. Nazi train of World War II riches awaits, pair claims