Cuba has ordered privately run cinemas and video game salons to stop operating immediately for being unauthorised.
The communist authorities closed dozens of home-based film and gaming parlors on Saturday that were not explicitly prohibited until the day.
A government statement issued through official media said “the showing of movies, including in 3D salons, and likewise the organisation of computer games, has never been authorised.”
Many private cinema operators spent thousands of dollars to launch their businesses, which range from modest to flashy and offer the latest Hollywood blockbusters and fast-paced video games.
“Economically, this really hurts us. This (business) was a relief for the family,” said Orlando Suarez, San Rafael 3D cinema owner. “We don’t understand why they didn’t give us a window of time instead of taking this stance of ‘close down now.'”
Private theatres have become increasingly popular as an alternative to poorly maintained state-run cinemas.
“Young people need these salons,” said Rafael Gonzalez, a 53-year-old father of five. “They spend time there instead of being on the streets.”
Ban on imported goods
The government also banned the private sale of imported goods last month, a measure that potentially affects about 20,000 small businesses and their employees who sell clothing, hardware and other goods brought in informally by travelers, some of whom visit the Caribbean island regularly carrying merchandise from the United States, Spain and Latin American countries.
They have until December 31 to liquidate their inventories.
President Raul Castro, who replaced his brother Fidel in 2008, has instituted a series of market-oriented reforms to Cuba’s Soviet style economy where the state still employs 79 percent of the 5 million-strong labour force.
“These measures are corrections to continue bringing order to this form of management, fight impunity and insist people live up to the law,” the government said on Saturday.
“In no way does this mean a step backward. Quite the contrary, we will continue to decidedly advance in the updating of our economic model,” it said, adding that would only be possible “in an atmosphere of order, discipline and obedience.”
About 436,000 Cubans are currently working in the private sector, according to government figures.