Cuba shutters private theaters, threatens other businesses

Sat Nov 2, 2013 11:04pm EDT
 
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By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba closed dozens of home-based movie theaters on Saturday and reaffirmed its plans to end the private sale of imported goods as communist authorities pressed for "order, discipline and obedience" in the growing small business sector.

A government statement issued through official media said home-based theaters and video games will "stop immediately in any type of self employment," a local euphemism for small business.

The statement said "the showing of movies, including in 3D salons, and likewise the organization of computer games, has never been authorized."

The government banned the private sale of imported goods last month, a measure that potentially affects some 20,000 small businesses and their employees who sell clothing, hardware and other goods brought in informally by travelers, some of whom visit the Caribbean island regularly carrying merchandise from the United States, Spain and Latin American countries.

President Raul Castro, who replaced his brother Fidel in 2008, has instituted a series of market-oriented reforms to Cuba's Soviet style economy where the state still employs 79 percent of the 5 million-strong labor force.

"These measures are corrections to continue bringing order to this form of management, fight impunity and insist people live up to the law," the government said on Saturday.

"In no way does this mean a step backward. Quite the contrary, we will continue to decidedly advance in the updating of our economic model," it said, adding that would only be possible "in an atmosphere of order, discipline and obedience."

The import ban has created a fury among entrepreneurs and the public who have tired of buying high priced and low quality clothing from state-run establishments.   Continued...