The inconvenient truth behind Cuba’s ‘self-employed’ workers

Most journalists and all “Cuba Experts” have been lauding Cuba’s burgeoning self-employed worker class made possible they say by the Castro dictatorship’s so-called economic reforms. The truth behind these supposedly liberated workers, however, is anything but convenient. For those who are trying to portray the brutally repressive Castro dictatorship in a positive light, the truth is downright inconvenient.

In reality, the term self-employed in Cuba has a much different meaning than what we are used to; it does not mean workers are free to pursue their own economic interests by opening and running their own businesses. For the Cuban dictatorship, self-employed workers are just a different class of slave that has been given the privilege to fund and support the repressive totalitarian government by working outside traditional state-run enterprises and paying confiscatory and exorbitant taxes to their masters. It is nothing more than an exemption made by the Cuban dictatorship and offered only in cases of total obedience and subservience.

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

Only the Politically Obedient Need Apply (for Self-Employment)

In 2011, we posted, “‘Self-Employment for Castro’s Elite.

It revealed how many of the famous “paladares” in Havana that the media and “people-to-people” travel organizers laud as “self-employment” enterprises are also facades of Castro regime officials.

As a State Department cable — released by Wikileaks — noted:

A USINT officer outside the XXXXXX paladar XXXXXX spotted the supposedly ‘self-employed’ owner drive up in a car with Ministry of the Interior (MININT) plates. A one-table paladar in the Santa Fe neighborhood (known as the ‘fish paladar’) reportedly enjoys an elite clientele – Raul Castro.”

Last week, Time did a story on a “self-employed entrepreneur” named Javier:

Javier did not ask that I not use his real name, but after speaking frankly with me about emerging Cuban business opportunities, Javier worried that he had made dangerous political statements. If he were judged to be subversive, his budding business empire could be shut down in minutes.”

And as Cuban pro-democracy leader Rosa Maria Paya denounced this week in Twitter:

The political police uses state inspectors to harass Jose Luis Ricardo Martinez, who is self-employed.  Jose Luis is threatened daily and has been fined on two occasions for his activism with MCL (Christian Liberation Movement).”

In other words, Castro’s “self-employment” licenses require a stamp of political privilege, approval and obedience.