Cuba Cuts 500,000 State Jobs; Plans to Reduce Private Business Restrictions

Cuban head of state Raúl Castro
Cuban head of state Raúl Castro
Cuban head of state Raúl Castro.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — In its latest move away from communism, Cuba announced on Monday that it will cut half a million state jobs by early next year and reduce longstanding restrictions on private enterprise in an effort to help the laid-off workers find jobs.

The move from the Communist government is a dramatic step that President Raúl Castro had only previously hinted at during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday, where he said that 1 million Cuban workers may be redundant.

Cuba’s workforce stands at around 5.1 million, which means that almost 10 percent the country’s employees could be out of work. The lay-offs are expected to start immediately.

“It will take a few days before Cubans realize what is going to hit them,” said Juan Jacomino of Al Jazeera in Havana. “They are going to have to get used to working in a sector other than the state. For many years, 90 percent of the Cuban labor force have been working for the state.”

Cuba’s official trade union federation said on Monday that one million jobs will eventually be cut and according to a document circulating within the higher ranks of the Communist party the job cuts are in preparation for the “reorganization of the labor force.”

“Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them leasing land, co-operatives and self-employment absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years,” the trade union’s statement said, according to The Financial Times.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

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Image: Trinidad-News.com @ Flickr.

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