Roughly 90 miles from the tip of Florida resides the communist Caribbean country of Cuba. An island in more ways than one, Cuba has tried to remain isolated from the modern changes that have occurred throughout the rest of the world for decades. Will you find an Apple store or a Macy's in Cuba's capital city of Havana? No.
However, Cuba is looking to make strides in terms of its economic future. Like a number of countries around the world, such as the United States, economic times are tough in Cuba. Nearly eight out of 10 Cubans work for the government, but as it prepares to fire a half-million workers, a new focus is now being placed on the private sector. For years there's been debate about whether the country's Communist Party Congress should grow the private sector. Growth over the years in this sector has remained minimal, yet with these massive government layoffs the Congress this spring is set to seriously consider change.
"I think the Cuban economy is in a freefall. And unless the reforms that are made are significant enough, deep enough, structural enough, they're not going to work," says Carlos Saladrigas, co-chair of the Cuba Study Group.
From barbers to locksmiths and booksellers, self-employed Cubans want policies to change and more emphasis to be placed on growing the private sectors in which they earn a living.
Because Cubans have weighed so heavily on government jobs, the transition to focus on more private sector jobs, will be difficult. Still, most Cubans believe that in long-run Cuba will be better off.
This video is the first in a three-part series from Cuba.
"I think the Cuban economy is in a freefall. And unless the reforms that are made are significant enough, deep enough, structural enough, they're not going to work." --Carlos Saladrigas
"Being self-employed doesn't guarantee a steady amount of money, but, yes, I make more money here than when I worked for the government." --Thomas Sinclair.
1. Where is Cuba?
2. What is an economy?
3. What does "private sector" mean?
1. Why do you think Cuba is looking to seriously place more emphasis on the private sector economy?
2. What has been holding back the private sector economy in Cuba?
3. What are some private sector professions here in the United States?
4. How does the private sector differ from the public sector?
Read video transcript:
Cubans Look to Break Down Misconceptions :
Cuba Faces Economic Woes; Boasts Strides in Health, Education :
In Cuba, Hints of Dramatic Change Emerge from Fidel Castro: