Hundreds of thousands of Cubans filled Havana’s Revolution Square
Tuesday night to bid farewell to Fidel Castro, who died Friday. We can’t
know how many of them will actually miss the communist leader. But some
of the mourners are not who you’d expect.
Marianela Pérez is an independent Cuban entrepreneur who owns
Pizzanella, a popular paladar, or private restaurant, in Havana’s Playa
district. The place is so popular that Pérez is adding a gourmet
expansion into the building next door.
Pérez doesn’t have exile relatives in Miami. But she travels to the city
frequently to buy supplies and learn skills from restaurants like
Stanzione Ottanta Sette in Coral Gables. Ask Pérez what drove her to
become a successful business proprietor, and she’ll tell you:
“Every human being feels it eventually, and so did I,” Pérez said. “I
was working for the state cell phone company and making a pretty modest
salary, but I knew I wanted to own my own business” when the government
opened up the private sector in 2010.
It’s paid off. Pérez has turned a tiny pizza cafe into a smart and
thriving Cuban-Italian bistro whose revenues have grown 15 to 20 percent
a year she started it in 2011. She shook President Barack Obama’s hand
during his visit here this year.
So why would a model capitalist like her mourn the passing of Fidel
Castro, whose dictatorial communist rule railed against free enterprise?
“I’m one of many people who thank the Cuban Revolution for the education
and other benefits that prepared me to run a business,” Pérez said. “I
don’t consider that a contradiction.”
That may be hard for Americans — especially Cuban Americans — to
understand. But in his later years, polls showed about a third of Cubans
still admired Castro.
And many of them were in Revolution Square Tuesday night.
Tim Padgett is the Latin America correspondent for WLRN-Miami Herald
News. His reports can be heard on 91.3 FM and read online at WLRN.org
Source: Castro capitalists: Why some Cuban business owners mourn Fidel
Castro’s death | Miami Herald –