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Caribbean Dream: Cuba Legalizes Small and Medium Private Business

© AP Photo / Ramon EspinosaA tobacco worker roll cigars at the Corona cigar factory in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015
A tobacco worker roll cigars at the Corona cigar factory in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 - Sputnik International
Cuban authorities announced May 24 that small- and medium-sized private business will become legal, a significant move in one of the world’s few remaining communist countries.

According to government documents published in a special state-run tabloid, new categories of small, mid-sized and "micro" private businesses were added to a master plan for social and economic development, approved by the Cuban Communist Party Congress last month.

"Private property, in certain means of production, contributes to employment, economic efficiency and well-being, in a context in which socialist property relationships predominate," the documents read.

While no immediate details were offered, the new business categories appear to be the next stage in wide-ranging reforms initiated by President Raul Castro, who stepped in after his brother Fidel Castro retired in 2008.

US and Cuban flags are seen on the balcony of a restaurant in downtown Havana, Cuba March 19, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Cuban business owners, alongside economic experts, hope that local firms will, for the first time, be able to import supplies and export products, removing a major obstacle to private business.

Private enterprise in Cuba is currently allowed, in the form of self-employed workers in several hundred job categories, including restaurant owner and hairdresser. Many of those workers are de-facto small business owners, employing other Cubans in private enterprises and providing economic life support to Cuba's diminishing centrally-planned economy.

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