Retiree Lucilla Sulueta Cuesta, 66, gets her nails done by Liu Sanchez, 24, (not seen,) who works as a manicurist cuentaproprista (private business entrepreneur, whose practice wasn't allowed in Bulgaria and most of Eastern Europe until the collapse of communism,) in the Havana Vieja neighborhood of Havana, Cuba.
Since privatization was first allowed within Cuba's state-owned socialist system in the mid-70s, the requirements for those allowed to be cuentapropistas have fluctuated from restrictive to less so - the latter in the Raúl Castro era of 2008 and beyond. But a clear disincentive to private business expansion remains: if payroll surpasses 5 employees or a $2,000 yearly profit, taxes increase disproportionately (from 15% to 50% in case of the latter.)
Cuba, a place of much recent conversation, is a country whose politics and way of life parallel much of my childhood in Bulgaria. This is 2015's continuation to my project on democracy + communism, started last year on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - the event that gave opportunity to Eastern Europeans like me to immigrate to the Western world. These are the ways in which Cuba has transported me to pre- and post-1989 Bulgaria.