I visited my cousin and he shared some stories with me about his father. He pulled out an old photo album and showed me an old picture of himself in 1958 working at his dad’s business. The business was a small local cafeteria that served breakfast, coffee and sandwiches. He remembered how his dad used to place a wooden box beneath his feet so he could reach the counter and serve a glass of water to every customer. I was able to take a “scan” of the picture with my camera.
His dad’s business, like all businesses, was nationalized (taken by the government) in 1960 at the beginning of the revolution. I asked him if the place still existed today or not – “Let’s go and see for yourself how the business is doing today”, he said.
We walked down a few blocks from his current house and there it was. I was holding the 1958 picture in my hands and could not believe my eyes. The small cafeteria his father cherished so much and where he had so many good times helping out as a kid was destroyed.
See it for yourself! This was not a Transnational American company or a multi million dollar business; this was a simple neighborhood store privately owned by a hardworking man.
Today, more than 50 years later, the Cuban government is trying to promote small businesses, but those businesses existed before and were destroyed; just as this example shows, many other small business owners had the same unpleasant experience. The country does not need any magical solution, just let people dream and work to make their dreams come true.