Rihanna and Mick Jagger party as gold-rush mood grips Havana

[Big predators with deep pockets and smiling faces are crowding in……. — Frontlines ed.]

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN, Associated Press , October 18, 2015

Tourists sit in the popular O'Reilly 304 Bar in Old  Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13.  Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings.

Tourists sit in the popular O’Reilly 304 Bar in Old Havana, Cuba, Oct. 13. Cubans with money and foreign backers are furiously rehabbing old homes into micro-hotels complete with high-end restaurants and conference rooms for business meetings. The Associated Press

HAVANA — By midnight, the basement of one of Havana’s hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba’s biggest pop stars.

Squeezed among the usual crowd of sleek young Cubans and paunchy, prowling European tourists, the owner of one of New York’s hippest restaurants discusses his new Havana boutique hotel project. At the bar, a Swiss venture capitalist describes meeting with Communist Party officials about partnering on a marina complex. An Ohio woman who runs a bespoke guide service for wealthy Americans shows her clients iPhone photos of the private villa where they will have a waterfront paella dinner the next day.

The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.

Continue reading

Cuba to lay off 10% of its labor force in the next 6 months

Fidel and Raul Castro

Weekly News Update on the Americas,  September 28, 2010

Cuba: Government Describes Private Sector Expansion

On Sept. 24 Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), published an article describing policy changes intended to expand Cuba’s small private sector. The changes are part of a plan announced on Sept. 13 to lay off some half million public employees, about 10% of the total labor force, over the next six months; the government expects about 465,000 of the laid-off workers to move to the private sector or to form cooperatives, according to unofficial sources.

The plan is basically an expansion of the “self-employment” (TCP) policy instituted during the “special period” in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The government will now issue licenses for 178 job categories in the TCP–which includes small businesses in addition to actual self-employment. Most of these occupations were authorized in the 1990s, but some were closed off again in 2004, and there are currently just 143,000 licenses for TCP businesses, down from a high of 210,000 in 1995. Much of the work authorized under the new policy is currently done in the black market; the changes will bring these jobs into the tax and social security systems.

What is probably more important than the increased number of TCP occupations is the lifting of several restrictions on private activity. Some seem minor, such as raising the number of seats at family restaurants from 12 to 20, but others are substantive. A small business will no longer be limited to hiring workers who live with the owners or are family members, and businesses will be allowed to operate in more than one municipality. People will be able to rent out entire houses and apartments instead of just renting rooms in their own homes. Continue reading

Reuters: “Cubans brace for ‘reorganization’ of labour force”

[When “socialist” countries such as China, Vietnam, and Cuba have adopted “market socialism” and the privatization of state-owned production units, the social safety net guarantees of work, health, education, and housing have, step by step, been reduced or disappeared.  Advocates of such changes use loaded terms like “bloated payrolls” to describe the safety nets being discarded–and such terms are used in this revealing Reuters article.  The difficulties that arise from the new conditions place important challenges in the path of the people and revolutionaries, as they now confront “market”–i.e., capitalist–rules, officially expressed, though still wrapped in socialist terminology: “for the good of all.”-ed.]

Marc Frank

Jul 20, 2010

HAVANA (Reuters) – “Cuba is moving up to a million employees, or a fifth of its workers, off bloated public payrolls and into jobs where they actually have to work,” according to Communist Party and government sources.

The goal is to boost the island’s struggling economy by targeting what President Raul Castro has called “unnecessary workers” in a five-year project to reorganize its labour force in tandem with some economic liberalization.

“We hope to eliminate 200,000 jobs per year, as much as 100,000 of them over the coming year in the capital alone,” a Communist Party economist said, like others asking that his name not be used. Continue reading