And now what?

The new amendments from the U.S. Department of the Treasury promise to boost Cuban entrepreneurs, but will they really change the life of the average Cuban? Importing products does not create wealth, and without a real economic opening, these measures will only benefit a few. It is time for the Cuban regime to make a move for change.

Niño cubano viendo vidriera de tienda © CiberCuba
Cuban child looking at store window.Photo © CiberCuba

The Joe Biden administration has just made a gift to Cuban entrepreneurs. The implementation of new amendments by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to support them is presented as an attempt to boost the economy of the island. However, we must be clear: these measures, although well-intentioned, are not sufficient to generate a significant change in the life of the average Cuban.

The importation of chicken does not create wealth.

The importation of basic products, such as chicken, is not a sustainable solution. It does not generate wealth or promote internal economic development. It is simply an important initial step, but on its own does not address the roots of the Cuban economic crisis. The case of Obama's policies made it clear that limited openness did not bring about real change for the people. We saw a proliferation of hostels, restaurants, and some businesses run by self-employed individuals, cruises, Chanel parades, and Hollywood filmings, but for the majority of Cubans, especially those without access to remittances from abroad, life continued to be a daily struggle.

More business for importers, but little real change

The new amendments will allow some individuals to import more products and perhaps open bank accounts in the United States. This could benefit a small group of importers and entrepreneurs, but what about the average Cuban who doesn't receive remittances? For them, life on the island will continue to be extremely difficult. We will see more luxury cars and well-stocked supermarkets in the main cities, but millions of Cubans will not have access to these products. The signs of apparent prosperity will not translate into real improvements for the general population.

Let it be clear, this measure will bring important results for Cubans. Just the fact that hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises start competing to sell their products will make prices tend to drop, but this has a limited scope. Merchants will only be able to compete with their profit margin, as the cost of products in the international market and their importation cannot be avoided. Products imported from the USA, Europe, or Panama will never be cheap for the Cuban who lives on a salary.

The need for a real economic opening

The U.S. government is not the cause of poverty on the island, and it is also not the solution.

The U.S. government is not the cause of poverty on the island, nor is it the solution. The Cuban regime must understand that the economy cannot be sustained solely through imports and remittances. A genuine economic opening is required to allow for the creation of internal wealth. Current measures only perpetuate dependence on remittances and state-controlled foreign trade. Without a comprehensive economic reform that includes market liberalization and the removal of bureaucratic barriers, the new amendments will be insufficient.

A call to the regime

The ball is in the regime's court. It is their responsibility to make a move and seize this opportunity to implement profound changes that truly benefit the entire population. If there is no significant economic opening as a counterpart to these measures, the effect will be minimal and, ultimately, we will see a return to harsher policies with the arrival of less favorable administrations in the United States. We have already seen this with the arrival of Trump, and now Trump's second term is just around the corner.

We hope the regime does not make the same mistake twice. It is imperative that concrete measures are taken to unleash the economic potential of the Cuban people. Without a true economic reform, any improvement will be superficial and temporary. Cubans deserve more than mere palliatives; we deserve the opportunity to thrive in our own land.

What do you think?


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Opinion article: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily represent the point of view of CiberCuba.

Luis Flores

CEO and co-founder of When I have time, I write opinion articles about the Cuban reality as seen from the perspective of an emigrant.

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