As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible

As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible

In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, a U.S. and Cuban flag hang from a balcony in Old Havana, Cuba. As the two countries to end a half-century of acrimony, President Barack Obama has made clear that he is moving quickly to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terror, saying in a televised address on his new Cuba policy in late 2014 that "at a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction." (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)
In this Dec. 19, 2014 file photo, a U.S. and Cuban flag hang from a balcony in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

HAVANA (New York Times) — The river where Jonas Echevarria fishes cuts through neighborhoods brimming with new fine restaurants, spas and boutiques, springing up in Cuba’s accelerating push toward private enterprise.

Tattered mansions and luxury apartment blocks speak of old wealth and new. A bounty of private restaurants known as paladares serve pork tenderloin, filet mignon and orange duck to tourists, Cuban-Americans visiting relatives and a growing pool of Cuban entrepreneurs with cash to spend.

These were things Mr. Echevarria, with only a few eggs, some plantains and a handful of rolls in his pantry, would not be having for dinner.

In his neighborhood, a shantytown called Little Swamp on the fringe of the Rio Almendares and the margins of society, few people have relatives sending money from abroad, food rations barely last the month, and homes made of corrugated tin, wood scraps and crumbling concrete fail to keep out floodwaters.

Nobody goes to paladares, much less has the money to start one.

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