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Most Cubans surveyed recognize the positive impact of the underground economy

88.53% of participants in an independent survey supported deregulation of the informal market to bolster its growth and efficiency.

Fishermen on Havana's Malecón.
Fishermen on Havana's Malecón. Diario de Cuba

89% of Cubans surveyed recognize the positive impact of the underground economy on the island's economic stability, according to survey conducted by the Independent Trade Union Association of Cuba (ASIC) and the Cuban Association of Self-Employed Workers and Entrepreneurs (ACTAE), presented by the Labor and Trade Union Rights Observatory.

The survey, conducted during the months of March and April 2024 in 12 provinces, revealed that 67.83% of the 401 participants believe that the underground economy contributes to the local one, while 77.81% appreciate its positive impact on job stability.

The survey also reflects perceptions of the sector's regulation. 88.53% of participants supported deregulation to bolster its growth and efficiency. According to the conclusions, "this point is crucial, as it suggests a popular clamor for greater flexibility and less state intervention, which could translate into an improvement in general economic conditions."

62% of the participants believe that the economy should operate in freely convertible currency (MLC),  and 69% of respondents expressed that the informal sale of food is crucial for subsistence.

On the use of social networks and emigration as factors that influence the informal economy, the study highlighted how these elements can both entail opportunities and present additional challenges for workers and entrepreneurs in the sector.

The respondents indicated that it is urgent to meet the people's needs and demands. 94.26% of them stated that it is essential for the Government to listen and act in accordance with the demands of citizens, unions and academics to overcome the crisis.

The aims of the ASIC and ACTAE with this survey were to ascertain the problems in the informal sector of the economy, its challenges and opportunities, identify proposals and suggestions for the development and consolidation of the sector, and gather opinions from respondents on the impact of the current situation on their daily lives.

Independent Cuban trade union organizations believe that the responses extracted from the survey "reflect the critical role of the underground economy in Cuba and the urgent need for policy adjustments to address the economic difficulties faced by citizens.

"Unfortunately, if the regime's strict grip on power continues, the severe economic crisis in Cuba will continue to have a negative impact on the more than 11 million Cubans. In the short term, it is evident that we will see greater losses in the purchasing power of wages, inflation that could exceed three digits, and a higher rate of unemployment and underemployment," they added.

"The lack of essential services, such as electricity, water, food, and medicine; and the poor state of housing, will continue to have a negative effect on Cuban families," they warned.

According to the organizers of the poll, "as this August 5 marks the 30th anniversary of the largest demonstrations  on the Island since 1959, the conditions are in place for an inexorable and unprecedented social uprising, one unpredictable in scope, to which the regime will, undoubtedly, respond with brutality."

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