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12/21/13 - ABC News - Raul Castro Issues Stern Warning to Entrepreneurs 

President Raul Castro issued a stern warning to entrepreneurs pushing the
boundaries of Cuba's economic reform, telling parliament on Saturday that
"those pressuring us to move faster are moving us toward failure."

Castro has legalized small-scale, private businesses in nearly 200 fields
since 2010, but has issued tighter regulations on businesses seen as going
too far or competing excessively with state enterprises. In recent months,
the government has banned the resale of imported hardware and clothing and
cracked down on unlicensed private videogame and movie salons.

Castro threw his full weight behind such measures in an address to the
biannual meeting of the communist legislature, saying "every step we take
must be accompanied by the establishment of a sense of order."

"Inadequate controls by government institutions in the face of illegal
activities by private businesspeople weren't resolved in a timely fashion,
creating an environment of impunity and stimulating the accelerated growth
of activities that were never authorized for certain occupations," Castro
said.

He told lawmakers that Cuba wants better relations with the U.S. but will
never give in to demands for changes to Cuba's government and economy,
saying "we don't demand that the U.S. change its political or social system
and we don't accept negotiations over ours."

"If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we'll have to
learn to respect our differences," Castro said. "If not, we're ready to
take another 55 years in the same situation."

Cuba blames a half-century-old U.S. embargo for strangling its economy but
Castro's government has also acknowledged that it must reform the state-run
economy with a gradual opening to private enterprise. Many Cubans have
enthusiastically seized opportunities to make more money with their own
businesses, but new entrepreneurs and outside experts alike complain that
the government has been sending mixed messages about its openness to
private enterprise.

The conflicting signals were apparent in Cuba's handling of the dozens of
private home cinemas and video game salons that sprung up around the
country this year, drawing crowds of young people willing to spend a few
dollars for access to the latest home entertainment technology imported,
purportedly for private use, by Cubans returning from the U.S., Canada or
other countries.

The government denounced the cinemas as spreading uncultured drivel to the
young, and ordered them closed last month for stretching the boundaries on
the kinds of private businesses allowed under reforms instituted by Castro.
Then came the backlash, with entrepreneurs bemoaning thousands of dollars
in lost investment and moviegoers saying they were exasperated by
heavy-handedness toward a harmless diversion. The official reaction was
swift, and unprecedented.

An article in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on last month
acknowledged there was wide disapproval of the ban, and hinted it was being
rethought. The same Granma article also offered a full-throated defense of
the ban on the reselling of imported hardware and clothes.

Castro appeared to justify all of the recent moves to clamp down on private
enterprise.

"We're not ignorant of the fact that those pressuring to move faster are
moving us toward failure, toward disunity, and are damaging the people's
confidence and support for the construction of socialism and the
independence and sovereignty of Cuba."


Original Source / Fuente Original:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/raul-castro-issues-stern-warning-entrepreneurs-21299231


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