Homegrown Entrepreneurs Key to Keeping Cuban Economy Afloat

A government haircut in Cuba costs 8 cents. A private sector barber costs five times more, but for some, style is worth the extra pesos. 300,000 Cubans have entered the private sector in the past year - small businessmen and women who work out of their homes, yards, or a 1956 Ford Victoria.

"Having a license to do this just makes my life easier," says Yamani. "It means I don't have to hide from the inspectors anymore."

The piecemeal capitalism is doled out by an increasingly desperate Communist leadership trying to keep the Cuban economy afloat.

One number stands out here on Revolution Day - eighty.  Eighty percent of Cubans work for the state, the country imports eighty percent of its food and the man in charge just turned eighty years old.

There is real skepticism Raul Castro will be able to manage any real transition.

"... Now you're telling the Cubans that have depended on the government a great deal to provide for them - we're cutting you off - that's a pretty tough thing to do," University of Miami professor Andy Gómez said.

For those who have made the plunge, like sunglasses salesman Noel, not even a 35 percent government tax on profits can temper his enthusiasm.

"It is amazing. Before the police would arrest you for this. I was just making enough to eat but now for the first time I have a little bit of money in my pocket."

The next stage of reforms in Cuba - which could happen this year - would allow Cubans to buy or sell cars and houses, something currently against the law. But there would still be limits - no one would be allowed to own more than one house. And for average workers whose salary is currently 19 dollars a month, even owning one could remain out of reach.

Fox News Reporter Steve Harrigan filed this report from Ciego de Avila, Cuba.

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