cuentapropistas

Desmond Boylan / AP

COMMENTARY

Four years ago this month I sat in a Wynwood restaurant with a bunch of rookie Cuban entrepreneurs and watched their eyes bug out.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s been less than a month since the visitor visas for Cubans coming to the U.S. were scaled down. A lot.

They used to be good for five years and you could come in again and again – similar to U.S. visitor visas for people from many other countries. But now: three months – and just one visit. And that’s clouded the future of Cuban entrepreneurs like Rubén Valladares.

Desmond Boylan / AP

We haven’t heard much from Miguel Díaz-Canel since he became the new President of Cuba three months ago. But new regulations for private Cuban businesses came out Tuesday - and they may confirm fears that Díaz-Canel doesn’t wield much power.

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

This is turning out to be quite the embarrassing summer for communist Cuba.

This week the State Department revealed that two Cuban diplomats working in Washington had been booted out of the U.S. in response to “incidents” last year that made U.S. diplomats working in Havana physically ill. The Associated Press reported investigators believe sonic devices were planted in the U.S. diplomats’ residences that left the Americans with hearing loss.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Last month we thought Cuba’s communist hardliners had put the brakes on growing the island’s private sector. But you never know with Cuba.

Today Havana issued a hopeful reform that Cuba’s half a million fledgling entrepreneurs – or cuentapropistas – have long waited for. The island’s communist government announced that small private businesses may now become genuine legal entities.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

HAVANA - Rubén Valladares just might be one of the most important entrepreneurs in Cuba.

No, he’s not a tourism tycoon. He’s not a tech titan.

Truth is, he makes…paper bags.

“But we are the biggest provider of bags in Cuba,” says Valladares, a slender, middle-aged man who finishes his sentences with the sort of raspy chuckle that helps people get through each trying day on this island.