By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Back in June of this year, Cuba approved a reform that includes long-sought legal status for private businesses, but skeptics say it is part of Cuba’s often-repeated story.

The Cuban government rolled out proposed reforms allowing individual Cubans to set up in business with the ability to set prices, be free to import and export products, access to the state-controlled wholesale system, enter joint ventures with the government, and hire up to 100 employees.

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“The Cuban government is still trying to figure out a way how they can improve the daily lives of the Cuban people without losing political control,” said Andy Gomez, a political analyst and consultant.

In the past, the government has opened up the economy to include private enterprise only to pull the rug out from under small business owners.

“Cuba’s chosen commercial, economic and political systems are inefficient and they limit Cuba’s ability to earn foreign exchange,” said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, Inc.

The Cuban government’s ability to rely on foreign government loans and subsidies has all but tapped out.

Cuba continues to be a bad credit risk, COVID has derailed the tourism industry and the island has little cash.

“How about their allies? The Chinese, Russians, Iranians, and Venezuelans, I mean, they don’t pay,” said Gomez.

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“Those governments and private sectors are owed a lot of money,” Kavulich said.

No more “sugar daddies.” So, Cubans will have a new reality they might have to support. They may have to stick with an internal economic infrastructure they have never been comfortable with and which they have shuttered in the past.

“They don’t have that elasticity anymore. There are no countries to come to their aid in any meaningful or sustainable way,” Kavulich said.

Creating an internal sustainable economic sector is what the island government is doing because they have to.

“Now, they have to make a decision on their own and stand on their own. I don’t think they will be clawing this back easily,” Kavulich said.

Skeptics say the move is just another way to relieve the social pressure from the cry for liberty, the failing economy, and no control over COVID.

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When political control is lost, the private business sector, skeptics say, will quickly disappear.