5-speed listening (Cuba - Level 6)

Cuba allows people to own private businesses



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The government in Cuba is legalising the ownership of small and medium-sized businesses. This represents a monumental shift in policy from the communist-ruled country. State-owned companies have traditionally been the norm in Cuba, following the revolution in 1959 that brought Fidel Castro to power. He nationalised Cuba's industries to put them into state hands. The new policy allows entrepreneurs to operate businesses that have up to 100 employees. The change of heart from the government came after a month of street protests. Thousands of Cubans demonstrated against dire economic conditions. People also protested about a lack of food and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said he would introduce new initiatives to revitalise his country's economy. Cuba relies on tourism for much of its foreign currency reserves. Global restrictions on travel during the pandemic have severely impacted this sector. Another key industry in Cuba is the production of sugar. Bad weather has resulted in poor harvests and reduced revenues. These events have depleted the government's reserves of foreign currency, which means it has become difficult for the country to import food and medicine. Cuba expert O'Neill Diaz said "many entrepreneurs from the private sector have spent years striving, working and trying to contribute" to Cuba's economic well-being.

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