Breaking News: Castro Is Still a Rabid Communist
Last year, the Cuban economy grew 3%. In each of the next two years, it is expected to rise by more than 4%. So perhaps it’s only natural that Fidel Castro wants to hinder progress out of sheer hatred for markets:
Beginning in 2001, the party leadership began to dismantle reforms it had permitted to help bootstrap the collapsed economy. Castro began limiting the numbers of Cubans legally licensed to work for themselves — computer programmers, used-book sellers, locksmiths, and even magicians, among others.
“There’s an ideological element to some of it,” says Philip Peters of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va. “There wasn’t a threat from having locksmiths, but the state supplies employment, and the government never felt comfortable with the erosion of its place as employer.” Still, he says, “They haven’t abandoned reforms, it’s just not the track they’re emphasizing.”
Still, many companies that came to Cuba when it opened its doors following the collapse of the Soviet Union have been asked to leave. According to the Financial Times, three foreign ventures have shuttered each week since 2000, when there were 700, and only half the homes rented to expatriates are occupied.
Some agricultural trade deals remain. But they mean very little within the broader context of increasing centralization.