Good news for Cuban entrepreneurs such as our casa particular owners! As we announced on an earlier blog post, Cuba voted on a series of amendments to its 1967 constitution last 24th February with the winning vote announced the following day in the afternoon and expected to positively impact the private sector. While the number of Yes votes backing the changes introduced to the new constitution won by a large margin (over 86 per cent according to official sources) to the No votes (9 per cent), there was a significant number of undecided or unconvinced citizens who either voted blank or stayed at home.

Casa particular Raquel - a beautiful homestay in Havana's Vedado neighbourhood
The atmospheric living room of Casa Raquel in Havana’s popular downtown neighbourhood of Vedado

Over a quarter of the Cuban population didn’t vote for or against the new constitutional legislation and that could likely be because the changes weren’t ground-breaking enough and didn’t go as far as some would have hoped (especially where it concerns political issues like the one-party rule system staying untouched). Still, the changes are there for all to see and can pave the way for some potentially exciting development in Cuba’s private economy sector.

More and improved “paladares” (private restaurants)

More freedom to set up private business will give way to more Cubans taking it upon themselves to innovate and create new alternative eateries. Havana already has quite the selection of privately-owned restaurants, or, as they call them in Cuba “paladares”. You can find them in every description imaginable from quirky to casual, dramatic, over-the-top, elegant, classic, gourmet, homely, eclectic, artsy, bohemian and yes, even snobbish and elitist; the variety in terms of dining choices not just in Havana but all of Cuba has only increased in recent years, and with the changes in legislation regarding private ownership and private business development now here to stay and protected as constitutional rights, it can only get bigger and better.

More casas particulares with potential innovation in the sector

It’s no secret that casas particulares (Cuba’s answer to BnB accommodation) have been around for a while but with back-and-forth changes in legislation and limitations some feared the government would put more obstacles to their flourishing and development, given how they compete directly against state-owned hotels and resorts (successfully so!) and how official authorities started to feel threatened by the competition. But now that the constitution sets in stone Cubans’ right to own and sell private property as well as to engage in private business (with limitations, of course, it’s Cuba and this new economic model is still very much a work in progress) owners of casas particulares in Havana and beyond have nothing to fear.

A more exciting hospitality sector overall

What these changes overall mean is that Cuba is firmly on the path of exciting development where Cubans themselves will be the ones responsible for innovating and leading change in the economy. With the constitution now recognising the pivotal importance of a private economy, this could give way to new business models, better shopping experiences and new and improved homestay models as casa particular owners make the most of newfound freedom and new possibilities. We at CubaCasa will sure be following the developments closely and telling you all about it in future posts!