Cuba's 500K Layoffs a Sharp Capitalist Turn
Raul Castro's slow reforms hastened by crap economy
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2010 7:07 AM CDT
Manuel Cardenas repairs shoes in La Habanera state-run workshop in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 13, 2010.   (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
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(Newser) – Cuba's announcement that it's looking to whack a half-million workers off the state payroll by March is a significant move toward capitalism, reports the Wall Street Journal. Bearing some 85% of the nation's 5.5 million workers on the government payroll, as well as a ravaged economy, the island nation has little choice but to offload a significant number into the private sector. "Our state can't keep maintaining bloated payrolls," said Cuba's national union yesterday.

Now Cuba watchers are split on whether that private sector can absorb Castro's move: "There is so much pent-up demand on the one hand and so much skill on the other," one tells the New York Times, so the transition will happen "pretty rapidly.” Baloney, says another: "There is no private sector to absorb them." Regardless, Castro said last month: “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working." For Raul Castro's earlier flirtations with free markets, click here.