Friday, April 13, 2012

Translation: Conference on self-employment

I noted in a previous post that official Cuban discourse doesn't distinguish between the self-employed, the owners and employees of small private businesses and members of cooperative societies: all are lumped together under the Spanish term trabajo por cuenta propia, or self-employment.

As far as I'm aware this fudging of the distinction between bosses and workers in small private enterprises has never been explained. It has the positive effect of undermining prejudice against allowing small private enterprises to flourish in Cuba's socialist-oriented economy — but at the cost of blunting social awareness of the unequal power relationships involved. 

Somebody who employs four other people to work in their restaurant may work alongside their employees, but they are not "self-employed". They are an employer, a boss. They belong to that class of people that Karl Marx labelled the petit-bourgeoisie, French for "small capitalist", a term that has the merit of scientific accuracy.

Conference on self-employment held

By Jose Alejandro Rodriguez, Juventud Rebelde, April 9, 2012

Translation: Marce Cameron

The interdisciplinary gathering addressed the viability of various forms of non-state economic management, from the diagnostic and scientific point of view, as part of the changes and transformations of what has been called the Cuban model.

The 1st Conference on Self-Employment in Cuba, organised by the Technology and Knowledge Management Enterprise of the Ministry of Science Technology and Environment, took place yesterday.

Featuring presentations and panel discussions by academics, researchers, economists and social scientists, the multidisciplinary event discussed the viability of various forms of non-state economic management, from the diagnostic and scientific point of view, as part of the changes and transformations of what has been called the Cuban model.

The debates – which centred on the already irreversible expansion of self-employment and the potential of non-agricultural cooperatives, which will begin to be set up on an experimental basis outside the farming sector – demonstrated that non-state forms of management can stimulate significant advances for Cuba’s economy and socialism.

Economist Dr. Pavel Vidal gave a very positive assessment of the relaunching of self-employment in Cuba, in the midst of the complexities of a structural overhaul, with a far more flexible regulatory framework. At the same time, he identified factors that, in his opinion, limit the advance of this form of employment in Cuba: among others, the absence of a wholesale supplies market and the few skilled job categories in which self-employment is permitted.

Two panels of researchers in the field took up the importance of integrating these non-state forms with the core of the socialist system, the state enterprises, which are in turn poised for profound transformations. This was addressed at both the macro-economic and the local and household levels.

Conference participants agreed to establish a network for analysis and the sharing of information among researchers of the non-state forms of management in Cuba: the starting point for systematic scientific research into a sector that will have a growing weight in the Cuban economy.


  1. Hello, do you have a list translated of the available licenses for self-employment, private business and cooperatives? Or where I can find the list on the Cuban Ministry of Finance website? Thanks! Marisa

  2. I don't have an English version of the self-employment categories. The relevant legislation can be found (in Spanish) on the website of the Official Gazette .


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