Will Cuba Be the Next Egypt or Have Market-Based Reforms There Delayed an Egyptian-Like Rebellion?
From Hernando De Soto's editorial about Egypt in the WSJ last week:
"As in most developing countries, Egypt's legal institutions fail the majority of the people. Due to burdensome, discriminatory and just plain bad laws, it is impossible for most people to legalize their property and businesses, no matter how well intentioned they might be.
The examples are legion. To open a small bakery, our investigators found, would take more than 500 days. To get legal title to a vacant piece of land would take more than 10 years of dealing with red tape. To do business in Egypt, an aspiring poor entrepreneur would have to deal with 56 government agencies and repetitive government inspections.
All this helps explain who so many ordinary Egyptians have been "smoldering" for decades. Despite hard work and savings, they can do little to improve their lives."
From Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez:
"In just the few months since the announcement of the expansion in the number of licenses for independent work, the results are encouraging. We have begun to recover lost flavors, longed-for recipes, hidden comforts. More than 70,000 Cubans have taken out new licenses to work for themselves and at their own risk, and thousands more are seriously considering the advantages of opening a small family business.
Despite the caution of many, the still excessive taxes, and the absence of wholesale markets, the brand new businesses have started to be noticed in a society marked by stagnation. You see them building their little stands, hanging colorful signs announcing their merchandise, rearranging their homes to accommodate a snack bar or to offer haircuts or manicures. Most are convinced that this time they are here to stay, because the system that so suffocated and demonized them in the past, has lost the ability to compete with them."
MP: Whether it was intentional or not, perhaps the Castro brothers have prevented Cuba from being the next Egypt by introducing market-based reforms that have apparently been well-received by entrepreneurial Cubans. Even without the access to the Internet that Egyptians enjoy, the new freedom for Cubans to start small businesses may prevent the "smoldering" frustration that led to the Egyptian rebellion.