By Alexis Franz, JMI Intern & FSU Senior, Risk Management/Insurance & Economics
Some major changes towards private enterprise are happening in an unsuspecting place- the communist island of Cuba.Raul Castro, who took over for his brother Fidel Castro as president of Cuba in 2006, recently announced certain measures to open and privatize the economy. Cuba will be cutting more than 500,000 state jobs in the next six months, Raul announced, with a goal to “reduce inefficiencies” and allow more citizens to work for themselves. Cuba, which employs about 85% of its workers, has loosened restrictions in other areas as well: allowing citizens to run some private companies (like taxi cab services and barbershops) as well as own their own cell phones.But Cuba has a long way to go before it can claim to have a true open economy. The government is still extremely involved in the business and personal lives of its citizens. The Cuban people receive free health care, free education, and subsidized utilities. Significant unemployment benefits and food rations are also available. However, the steps that Cuba is making towards putting more jobs and power in the hands of its people are significant, and if they are enacted, may signal a slight (but important) change in the country’s culture.“We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world in which people can live without working.” – Raul Castro