A fledgling private sector is taking root in communist Cuba. Last week a group of Cuban entrepreneurs made an unprecedented visit to Miami to learn how to run a business -- and to convince Americans they’re the real deal.
To salvage his ragged economy, Cuban leader Raúl Castro has decreed limited free-market reforms. Half a million Cubans have either started up small enterprises, ranging from pizzerias to furniture makers, or are employed by them. Five of those new capitalists met with South Florida business owners and start-up consultants. Among them was Sandra Aldama, who owns a Havana company called D’Brujas, which makes some of the first hypo-allergenic soaps to be sold in Cuba.
"Finding the most basic capital goods and suppliers [in Cuba] is incredibly difficult," says Aldama. "But we're achieving something that's a dream for many people in Cuba."
The entrepreneurs came at the invitation of The Cuba Study Group, a Washington-based organization that encourages increased engagement with Cuba. Those who oppose that increased contact say investment in even private Cuban businesses will only aid the Castro dictatorship.