Cuba’s economy was suffering. The pandemic has caused a food crisis.

The Communist Party said in 2016 it would legalize private small and medium-sized businesses, but no mechanism was ever put in place to do so, so business owners still can’t get financing, sign contracts as a legal entity or import goods. Now that is expected to change and more work fields are expected to be legalized, although details have not been announced.

Cuba also has a habit of proposing reforms only to roll them back months or years later, entrepreneurs said.

“They back up, back up, then back down,” said Marta Deus, co-founder of a business magazine who owns a delivery company. “They must trust the private sector for all its ability to ensure the future of the economy. We have big ideas.

The government blames Washington for the current situation.

“Why can’t we export what we want? Because every time we export to someone, they try to cut off that export,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel said of the United States in a speech this summer. “Every time we try to manage credit, they try to take our credit away from us. They’re trying to stop the fuel from reaching Cuba. And then we have to buy from third-party markets, at higher prices. Why aren’t we talking about it?”

Mr. Díaz-Canel stressed that despite the difficulties, Cuba still managed a battle against the coronavirus: the health system did not collapse and, he said, no child or health professional died of the disease.

With 11.2 million people, Cuba had just over 5,000 coronavirus cases and 115 deaths on Friday, one of the lowest death rates in the world. By comparison, Puerto Rico, with 3.2 million people, has had five times as many deaths.

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