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    A tobacco worker roll cigars at the Corona cigar factory in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015

    Caribbean Dream: Cuba Legalizes Small and Medium Private Business

    © AP Photo / Ramon Espinosa
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    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.

    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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    reforms, Economy, business, Raul Castro, Cuba
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