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Articles, Opinions and Papers

December 2014

Building the new Cuban economy

December 16, 2014

Just a couple years ago, tourists who wanted to sample one of Cuba’s paladares were on their own. A bus from state tour operator Havantur wouldn’t think of stopping to allow visitors to dine on roast pork or grilled red snapper at one of these small private restaurants.
Unifying Cuba’s cumbersome dual-currency system tops the list of reforms the government says it will carry out, but analysts say other changes — from measures to speed up foreign investment to a new tax structure — are critical to deepen and expand the reforms.
In July 2007, while serving as acting president as his brother underwent medical treatment, Raúl Castro delivered a startling indictment of the Cuban economy when he railed about the inefficiencies of the dairy industry. His description of the onerous and expensive mechanism to get milk from cows to dinner tables was old news to Cubans, who have been subjected for decades to a centrally planned economy that is among the world’s most dysfunctional and anomalous. It soon became clear that Mr. Castro’s unexpected candor that day signaled the start of a transformational era for the island’s economy.
November 2014
For almost two decades, I have watched entrepreneurship explode across Latin America and the Caribbean, empowering citizens, transforming economies and changing lives. In sectors ranging from restaurants and small manufacturing to high tech, entrepreneurs are changing the economic and social landscape of the region. Perhaps most important, they are also generating jobs. Across the region, 60 percent of employees work for businesses with five or fewer employees. In Mexico, 72 percent of employment comes from micro-, small- and medium-size businesses. In Brazil, small enterprises create two out of every three jobs.
Nov 13 (Reuters) - They have already earned a place in the firmament of the world's best chefs. Now Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and Mexico's Enrique Olvera have set their sights on one of the world's toughest markets: communist-run Cuba. The island has seen a restaurant boom in recent years, fed by market-style reforms enacted under President Raul Castro, though ingredients can be scarce.
In an attempt to jumpstart Cuba's economy and shed unprofitable state enterprises, the government is converting select businesses into cooperatives. It's an adjustment for many Cuban workers.
HAVANA-Cuba asked international companies on Monday to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick-start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.
Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz announced a list of 246 potential projects that would cost $8.7 billion to build, from a pig farm to an auto plant. The menu of possible investments is a key step in a push for foreign capital that includes the relaxation of investment restrictions and the creation of a special trade zone around a new deep-water port west of Havana.
October 2014

How Business Can Change Cuba

October 17, 2014

Yamina Vicente has lived in communist Cuba her whole life. But it didn’t take her long to learn one of capitalism’s handier skills: creating market demand. Baby showers were practically unheard of in Cuba until last year, when Vicente started an event planning company called Decorazón. She learned about the gift-giving parties from American women visiting Cuba, then persuaded some of her clients in Havana to throw their own.
Cuba’s plan to replace the 20-year-old dual-currency system with a single, unified peso currency is a critical task in the process of preparing the economy for the global market, the country’s central bank chief said.
September 2014
(Reuters) - Cuba offered to free jailed Canadian executive Cy Tokmakjian in return for $55 million and company assets, his company said on Monday, but the deal fell through because the firm didn't have the money and the businessman wanted to clear his name.
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