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Raul Castro's Shock Therapy for Cuban Economy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HAVANA) -- Cuba approved a dozen new laws in recent weeks that portend dramatic changes in the everyday lives of islanders, as the government orders state-run companies to slash jobs even as it opens the door to private business and employment. For the first time since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution jobs or income are no longer guaranteed and the stigma of entrepreneurship and employing others is lifting.

Decree law 276 puts an end to the practice of prioritizing employment over performance, orders state companies to "permanently look for new forms of organization and downsize those processes that do not reach expected levels of profitability as well as those that have lost competitiveness…laying off employees as needed."

The self-employed, often a euphemism for small business, can now hire labor, rent store fronts, do business with the state and seek bank credits, among other novelties contained in Labor Ministry Resolution 32, which the Communist party newspaper Granma said was a move to "distance ourselves from those conceptions that condemned self-employment almost to extinction and stigmatized those who decided to join it, legally, in the 1990's."

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