Thursday, October 27, 2016

The war on paladares may be just the beginning

The war on paladares may be just the beginning
ORLANDO FREIRE SANTANA | La Habana | 27 de Octubre de 2016 - 11:04 CEST.

The recent announcement by the Council of the Provincial Administration
of Havana (CAP), which contains a number of provisions governing the
operation of Cuba's paladares (private restaurants), speaks of order and
the discipline that should prevail at these businesses. A detailed
analysis of some of these directives, however, reveals that their true
aim is to prevent these establishments from becoming too successful, and
escaping the authorities' control.

For example, if a musician who entertains customers is very popular, but
does not belong to an Institute of Music company, he may not be hired by
a paladar. And not allowing these establishments to acquire "illegal
goods" could greatly their numbers. In the absence of a wholesale
market, they would be limited to buying at retail stores, which suffer
from severe shortages.

Another provision imposes a ban on importing goods for commercial
purposes, as these transactions are not permitted by the General Customs
Administration of the Republic. The measure, which would also affect the
options the paladares are able to offer their customers, is consonant
with the regime's desire to suppress the emerging private sector on the
Island, thereby frustrating President Barack Obama and his desire to see
it flourish.

Finally, the refusal to allow paladares to expand and, without
abandoning their primary mission, also function as clubs or discos, is
perhaps the clearest sign of the authorities' intentions.

The Government's actions against the paladares cannot be seen as an
isolated incident against just one form of self-employment. Rather, it
comes within the context of a counteroffensive recently unleashed
against private activities that those in power consider "more
lucrative". In this way the wave of repression against the paladares
constitutes the second chapter in a script that began with the campaign
against Cuba's almendrones, or private taxis.

Despite denials in the official rhetoric, at heart Castroism is
antagonistic to private activity, and only allows it when it deems it
expedient. No one should forget what happened back in 1996: after using
certain market mechanisms, including expanding self-employment, to
mitigate the economic collapse from the "Special Period," the Government
halted reform and almost suspended all self-employment, all under the
logic that "in a socialist country, most workers should be State employees."

This counteroffensive against the self-employed cannot be separated from
the famous section 104 of the "Conceptualisation of the Cuban Economic
and Social Model of Socialist Development," which states that "The
concentration of property and wealth in non-State natural or legal
persons is not permitted, in accordance with legislation and consistent
with the principles of our socialism." This statement, after being
approved at the VII Congress of the Communist Party (PCC), has been
echoed at subsequent meetings by high-ranking hardliners in the Castro

As already stated, the containment of the self-employed by preventing
them from importing or exporting products, seeks to counter the measures
that President Obama may adopt to support Cuban entrepreneurs. The US
president has backed this type of support ever since reaching the White
House, and did so again during his visit to the Island, and now in his
policies governing relations with Cuba.

Wisdom tells us that when they go after your neighbor, they can go after
you too, such that landlords renting out homes and rooms ought to be on
their guard. They, along with drivers and those running paladares, form
a trio that has always remained in the crosshairs of the tax
authorities. Renters may well be the next targets.

Source: The war on paladares may be just the beginning | Diario de Cuba

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