Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

May 2012

Hola, mi llamo es Juan y soy un cuentapropistas!

Cuba is trying to lighten up the bureaucratic drag of a few decades of Soviet-style communism by allowing its citizens to become self-employed. So far, guys with motorcycles are becoming cab drivers, former state-employed barbers are now self-employed barbers. Farmers are allowed to sell directly to tourist hotels and restaurants. Folks with houses may now sell them rather than only trade them straight up for another house.

It’s a bit difficult to follow, but think about it. From all sides. You’ve been a file clerk for 15 years in the People’s Hall of Records and now you’re not because it’s not. What do you do? You’ve got your health, you can read and write — what business license would you apply for?

Or, assume you are a professional. Cuban doctors and nurses are being traded to Venezuela for oil, like big league relief pitchers. Architects? Teachers? Attorneys? Are there lawyers in Cuba? Yes, but they are all in public practice. So you’re in a jam with the government and you go to a lawyer and say, “Are you going to represent them or me?” The lawyer says, “Yes, absolutely.”

Reportedly, the Cuban government’s goal of eliminating 500,000 state jobs is proving difficult to accomplish, but, again, reportedly some 350,000 private employment licenses have been issued. There are websites now offering assistance to folks looking forward to further progress in the privatization of the Cuban economy. Why is none of that surprising?

Through Cuban banks, cuentapropistas (apparently they don’t like the American word — entrepreneurs) are offered financing to purchase goods from the government to complete repairs to government buildings in order to lease them for use as a construction office or something.

That island is just begging for a few good cell towers.