Will tourism help Cubans or Castro? | VIEWPOINT

Roger: I try not to question the President'sgood faith, his willing, his interest in bringing about change.

I do question his judgment aboutwhether he understands who he's dealing with.

And as you say, this dynastic transition issomething.

A new angle that I think it has to be discussed more.

As long as he's keepingthe power in the family, to Raul Castro's son or Fidel Castro's son, that they're willingto sort of generate a little more economic opportunity as long as it's absolutely underthe control of the family and the regime.

For example, the hotels, the President's emphasizing,flooding Cuba with American tourists.

It's actually filling up the hotels the vast majorityof which are run by the military.

Is that correct? Where does those tourists' dollarsgo? And how does the regime go about sort of restricting contact of Cubans with tourists?Antonio: Well, I've seen that many people ignore that the person that is controllingthe holding company, at the same time having relation with the foreign companies and withthe tourist sector.

The person that is controlling that is the son-in-law of Raul Castro.

Theynow want to have the monopoly of the tourist sector.

And it is important to say also thatthe so-called [inaudible 00:15:46], small restaurant, the one that can have more contactwith the tourist, most of them are related with the power, in one way or another.

Andif you have in Cuba a business that have certain profit, you at the same time need to behaveyourself.

You cannot be talking too much because they have the tools to close your business.

It is important to mention that in Cuba, the people that are cuentapropistas, the so-calledcuentapropistas.

Roger: Self-employed.

Antonio: Exactly.


They don't have alegal entity, they don't have property rights, they don't have a license to import and export.

Then always they're moving between the legal and illegal system.

Roger: And always vulnerableto the state.

Antonio: Exactly.

I think they build it in that way because they want thatthe people feel that they are vulnerable to the system.

Roger: Absolutely.

And they havea system of vacuuming cash out of people's pockets.

The tourists come in, they tip andAmericans are better tippers than Canadians and that's great.

But the system, you weresaying to me earlier that the taxes on the income of the self-employed, it sounded astronomical.

Antonio: Yes.

I always like to mention, how it's working, the tax system in Cuba.

It isimportant to say that in the income tax, after they have a kind of progressive way.

Roger:Aggressively progressive.

Antonio: Yes.

And when you are over $2000 per year, you needto pay 50% of your income and this is completely amazing.

Then who can say that we are goingto have a new class of micro businesses people and medium and small businesses when you needto pay that taxes? It is impossible to grow with this kind of taxation.

Roger: Are youoptimistic or pessimistic about Cuba's future? Antonio: I'm completely optimistic becauseof the people in Cuba.

We have seen in the last time that the reaction of the peopleis different.

Before, we were accustomed to see the police repressing the activists inthe street, nobody complained, nobody say anything.

Sometimes even some activists goto the street to try to have contact with the people and the people were afraid.

Andwe are facing now a completely different situation.

There is a lot of videos showing that sometimethe police is coming to arrest a human rights activist or political activist.

And peoplego there and they try and they try and they avoid that these people be arrested by thepolice.

And also there are lot of videos also showing a small protest in the street.

Sometimesthey throw information and people go and they need to tell you that information and to read.

And these scenarios completely different.

This scenarios completely different and that'swhy we are optimistic.

I think that people are too tired of these regime.

And I completelysure that soon we are going to see a different dynamics inside of the country.

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