A Cuban walks out of a bar. Like a scene from The Godfather? No, it's the consequences of the Castro brothers;
The girl with the exposed chest and her pack of night owls had been out until the early hours. They were coming from one of the pubs that has opened up on the residential Quinta Avenida. The bar is on the first floor of a home. The decor includes a shot of the Malecón and other emblematic photographs of Havana. These businesses have been cropping up since the government loosened restrictions on privately held enterprises three years ago.
The liberalization of the Cuban economy has led to a capitalist mindset among those who manage new cafeterias, restaurants, pizzerias, studios, co-ops, artisan shops, hair salons and gyms. About 450,000 Cubans – nine percent of the working population – have launched private businesses in 200 sectors. Their endeavors include everything from real estate, tailoring and carpentry, to photography and taxis.Though the Communist Party still monopolizes the economy, economic necessity has led to some small opportunities for those who are clever, or connected;
Young middle class patrons mingle merrily now. They have imported cellphones, brand-name clothing and they use small euro bills. Politics is not a priority for them because ideology and related concepts are non-transferrable government monopolies. Not even the man who imparts his knowledge to me about cigars wants to talk about multi-party democracies. “This is not what this is for, friend. How many cigars do you want? I’ll give you a good price.”
The modernization Raúl Castro promoted at the sixth congress of the party in 2011 does not give away any political power. But, those who are praying for political freedom say the modern economy is taking on a life of its own and it may crack open the single-party system. Given the current situation in Cuba – anti-government protests do not exist and when they do spring up, they are suppressed – one can only wait for answers to those prayers or for an improbable act of generosity from the regime.Improbable? After Stalin and Mao died, more freedom eventually came to those police states. Let's see what happens after Fidel and Raul are gone.