Ability to buy and sell property set to transform Cuba’s economy

Economy report, including video, by Philly Bubaris


All around Cuba, entrepreneurs are popping up like leaves on a tree in springtime.

Maybe we could call this the springtime of the Cuban economy.

Cuba’s leaders – once committed to communism – are now allowing private sales of home, cars and other items.

The decree permitting Cubans to buy and sell houses came just two months ago, in November, and it is seen as the latest – and perhaps biggest – crack in the socialist wall that has been dividing the United States and Cuba over the past half century.

In the accompanying video report, Journalism Without Walls’ Philly Bubaris tells us about the liberalizing Cuban economy. She introduces us to some of the Cuban capitalists who say their lives have improved because of the ability to start and grow their own businesses.

This is not to say that Cuba will emerge from these changes as a prosperous “First World” country.

No, the future is in doubt.

As Philly points out, a dual economy has been created in Cuba. One part of the economy is based on Cuban pesos that have little real value; the other is based on Cuban Convertible Pesos, or CUC’s (pronounced Cooks) that are linked to the U.S. dollar.

The business people Philly features are earning CUC’s.

But many more Cubans are trying to survive on the cheap Cuban pesos they earn from government jobs. Some experts say there is a breech developing between the haves and the have-nots, a breech that could cause widespread social discontent in the country.

Indeed, increasing numbers of Cubans have taken to hustling in ways that might seem, to a tourist, like the extralegal sub-economies of New York or other cities around the world, even Lagos, Nigeria.

But, there is an excitement to all this, and also a great feeling of hope, especially among the new entrepreneurs.

The growing number of visits to the country by Cuban-Americans, as well as by tourists from Europe and Canada, seem to say that there is hope for a better future. It is a hope that is reaching far beyond these Caribbean shores.