From Cuba to Colombia | Entrepreneurs on the rise in Cuba
We, Jelena and Frank, are travelling through Latin America searching for interesting and inspiring stories from young local people
travelling, south america, latin america, cuba, colombia, mexico, guatemala, documentary
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Entrepreneurs on the rise in Cuba

Agustín is 32 years old and lives in Santa Clara, Cuba, a city around four hours driving from the capital Havana. He runs his own small phone, tablet, and computer repair service, although he actually studied veterinary medicine. He decided not to pursue a career in that field but to rather become an entrepreneur. A year ago, he opened his little shop and already employs two other people. Since Internet is available in Cuba for about a year now, smartphones, tablets, and laptops become increasingly more popular. Hence, there is also an increasing demand for the reparation of those.

 

Due to the shortage of a lot of consumer and other goods in Cuba, it is very difficult for Agustín to find spare parts and instruments to repair the devices. For example, his microscope has an engraving showing that it was built in the former Soviet Union. “That’s the best one I could find and I modified it so that I can work on the small electronics as well”, Agustín tells. The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s biggest protector during the Cold War. After its collapse in 1990, Cuba suffered a massive economic recession resulting in shortages of basically everything. This dire situation remains until today.

 

Agustín is a good example for the growing number of entrepreneurs in Cuba. Although it is still very difficult to run a private business, laws constantly get looser because the Cuban administration recognises the population’s and economy’s need for those businesses. “It’s a little expensive, but I trust him to repair my tablet better than anyone else”, a woman sitting on a chair in Agustín’s shop remarks.

 

The fame of Santa Clara

 

The city of Santa Clara is particularly known for Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Even though Che Guevara was Argentinian by origin, he is one of the best-known Cuban revolutionaries. In 1958, he commanded a decisive battle in Santa Clara that ultimately lead to the Cuban Revolution. That is why Santa Clara was chosen as the place where to lay to rest his remains in a specially built mausoleum in 1997. He had already been executed in 1967 in Bolivia, but his body remained hidden in a mass grave for 30 years.

Frank & Jelena
2 Comments
  • Olisa Emeka
    Reply

    His story is interesting and inspiring. I have often contemplated leaving my profession to pursue a career in writing, journalism or traveling. For the sake of accuracy, I wish to draw attention to the history of internet connection in Cuba. Contrary to the what the story states, internet has not been available in Cuba for about a year. You are probably referring to the recent expansion of public access through wifi hotspots. However, prior to recent public wifi investments, internet access existed for institutions and individuals the government prioritized. Thus, researchers, journalists, intellectuals, doctors and others have had internet access for more than a decade. This rationing of access was explained by the government as necessary because the country had to rely on expensive satellite connections. Some research would reveal that the infamous US embargo on the country prohibited their purchase of internet technology and fiber optic connection. Fortunately, following the completion of a fiber optic connection to Venezuela, it became possible to expand public access. Here is a 2011 article describing the fiber optic connection from Venezuela.
    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/41209380/ns/world_news-americas/t/venezuela-cuba-launch-undersea-cable-project/#.WJfgSPkrLIU

    February 6, 2017 at 2:47 am

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