My own quick read of the article indicates three things:
1) The self-employment reforms are attractive to Cubans, both the previously unemployed and the newly laid-off. There is a worry that the sprouting of scores of little negocios in town and city centers is overcrowding and uglying some areas. The numbers continue to grow at a steady rate (the last report had the number of new licensees at 117,000 and now the number is up to 171,000).
2) The most common, chronic obstacle encountered by new entrepreneurs is lack of access to goods, lack of availability of inputs/raw materials, no credit, and no wholesale markets.
3) There is new entrepreneurial activity all across the island but a bureaucratic learning curve among those hesitant or slow to issue licenses in some places.
This last point leads the authors of the article to quote President Raul Castro at length once again:
At this point, it would be good to recall what Cuban President Raul Castro said during his speech to the National Assembly of the People's Power (Cuban Parliament) on December 18, 2010:
"Regarding the need for a change of mentality, I want to highlight the following: if we have come to the conclusion that self-employment is a valid employment alternative for Cuban citizens, which can increase the production of goods and services, thus relieving the State of its responsibilities regarding such activities and providing it with the opportunity to concentrate on more decisive issues, then the Party and the government should facilitate its implementation, instead of fueling stigmas and prejudices against these kinds of activities. In this regard, it is essential to change the negative perception many of us have of private labor."
In this regard, the final section of the article is also noteworthy. Entitled, "The Definite Answer," the section is excerpted here:
"On August 1, 2010, Cuban President Raul Castro announced before the Cuban parliament the decision to boost self-employment as an option for those who lose their jobs in the restructuring process of Cuban companies. He made reference to the elimination of the exiting prohibitions regarding the granting of new licenses and trade in certain products.
"His instructions have been followed. But there are many practical issues that still need to be addressed in order to increase production and services, while improving the quality of life of those who engage in authorized business activities. The State just couldn't continue to afford subsidies.
"The implementation of self-employment certainly plays an essential role in the new economic policy aimed at efficiently increasing production, and it gives those who want to be of use to their country the opportunity to get involved."
Self-Employment Takes Off in Cuba
More than 171,000 licenses have been granted in Cuba to small business owners since the government passed a new law in 2010 broadening the scope of self-employment as a viable employment option. Young people from different parts of the country share their first impressions and experiences with Juventud Rebelde
By: Julio Martínez Molina, Juan Morales Agüero, Roberto Díaz Martorell, Haydée León and Mayte María Jiménez; Email: email@example.com