The private sector began to develop in communist Cuba

Cuba / Photo Yamil LAGE / AFP / Profimedia

Small shops are springing up in private homes and garages across Havana as the private sector finally begins to develop in communist Cuba.

The small businesses, approved only in 2021, are a challenge to businesses run by the one-party state that are emptier by the day as Cuba struggles with foreign exchange shortages and skyrocketing inflation in the midst of its worst economic crisis in 30 years.

In garages, on porches or in small shops, Cubans sell a variety of products – beer, sweets, meat, dairy products and groceries that are increasingly hard to come by.

"If you need something you can't find (in state stores), they have it!" They have the things you need," Maria Leonor, 73, told AFP as she left a new private shop.

After six decades of exclusively state trade, the Cuban government approved a law in August 2021 to legalize small and medium-sized businesses.

Significant changes followed during Cuba's recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which devastated its critical tourism industry, as well as the tightening of US sanctions.

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