The latest economic reforms in Cuba could see at least half a million state-sector workers lose their jobs. Havana’s biggest shake-up in years is aimed at boosting the private sector and increasing efficiency in state-run industries. The threatened workers make up 12 per cent of Cuba’s public sector workforce. All state businesses were told in January to cut un-necessary positions.
More than eight out of ten Cubans are employed by the government in some form, and benefits are impressive. All get free health care and education, and subsidised utilities and food. The government now accepts that can’t continue.
“Cuba is a country were the policy is no-one is left on the street; everyone has enough money to live,” said state car park worker Leonel Rodriguez. “It’s not always easy, though, because life isn’t cheap, and they’ve got to recognise that.”
The gentle swing towards the private sector is the most important reform so far from President Raul Castro, who has announced a series of changes since taking over from his brother, Fidel, two years ago.