Launch of new book about the non-state sector in Cuba

Voices of Change in Cuba from the Expanding Non-state Sector

Over a million people, almost a third of the Cuban workforce, are folded within the "non-state sector" of the economy: self-employed workers, usufruct farmers, members of new cooperatives, buyers and sellers of private housing and other groups. Although this is Raúl Castro’s most important economic structural reform, which implies the gradual reduction of the state sector, few specific details are known on the emerging non-state sector characteristics (age, gender, race and level of education), socio-economic conditions and aspirations. Based on 80 intensive interviews carried out in Cuba between 2014 and 2015, the volume compiles the voices of this sector: on the level of satisfaction in what they do and earn, on contracted employees and means of pay, profits and their distribution between investment and consumption, plans for expansion of micro-businesses, receipt of foreign remittances and state microloans, competition and publicity, and payment of taxes. A crucial section details the opinions of non-state sector people on the main problems they face and their desires for improvements or change. One self-employed worker states: "Allow free reign to the fertile imagination that we Cubans are exhibiting, which should be done unhindered and unrestricted: the government should facilitate that flow, not obstruct it, and control only what must be controlled.”  

Coordinated by Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin-American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, author of 93 books and 300 articles/chapters in books on the economy and social security in Latin America, Cuban economy and comparative economic systems, translated to seven languages and published in 34 countries. He has received the following awards: Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (1991, 2002), International Labour Office on “decent work” shared with Nelson Mandela (2007), and has being selected among the 50 most influential intellectuals in Ibero-America (2015).

 The book also relies on the collaboration of Roberto Veiga González and Lenier González Mederos, both Cubans resident on the island and who carried out the interviews; Sofía Vera Rojas and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán who tabulated and analysed the answers.

The book is a material information and consultation valuable when examining the performance of a considerably high number of Cubans working in the non-state sector, amid constraints and barriers to develop their business in the manner permitted by the government, where in many cases they compete with the state for the quality of its products and services. In addition it occurs at a time when the government is studying a bill to define the limits of the private sector can decide to sponsor this entrepreneurial mass and thus boost prosperity and well-being of Cubans, or slow its development, which could have consequences adverse economic country.

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