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Video: Entrepreneurial Cuba – A Discussion on Cuba's Emerging Non-State Sector 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Speakers:

  • Ted A. Henken, Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies, Baruch College, CUNY
  • Archibald R. M. Ritter, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Economics, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  • Alana Tummino, Policy Director, Americas Society/Council of the Americas; Senior Editor, Americas Quarterly (moderator)

In the launch of Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape, authors Ted Henken and Archibald Ritter discussed the evolving entrepreneurial character of Cuba. With a government that rations products and only recently started expanding its licenses for micro-enterprises, Cubans have been forced to seek second sources of income, generating a "makers" economy. Cuban President Raúl Castro's 2011 reforms grew the number of cuentapropistas (self-employed workers) from 110,000 to about 480,000, said Ritter. However, many of these jobs simply transitioned from the informal to the formal economy.

More reforms are needed to support entrepreneurship on the island. Henken suggests eliminating the government's list of legal occupations, which particularly limits professionals, while improving the tax code to lift the burden on private businesses. The scholars also discussed the danger of involving multinational corporations and industries where Cuba can be internationally competitive, such as biotechnology and tourism.