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Cuban athletes and artists get in on capitalism

July 15, 2013 • Business


In this June 19, 2013 photo, Cuban Hugo Morejon, a trombonist in the contemporary salsa group, Los Van Van, poses for a photo in his automotive repair shop, Van Van Garage, in Havana, Cuba. Armed with money and name recognition, Cuban athletes and artists who have long enjoyed a far more luxurious lifestyle than their compatriots on the Caribbean island, are embracing the new world of private enterprise. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban track and field legend Javier Sotomayor has launched a sports bar named for the height of his world record high jump. An Olympic volleyball champion has opened a swanky new Italian restaurant, and salsa star Hugo Morejon has a first-rate automotive repair shop.

Armed with money and name recognition, Cuban athletes and artists who have long enjoyed a far more luxurious lifestyle than their compatriots on the Communist-run island are embracing the new world of private enterprise. In doing so, the celebrities have exposed themselves to more than a little envy from a population already weary of the perks they’ve long had.

At least a dozen athletes and artists have started private businesses since President Raul Castro began opening Cuba’s economy to limited capitalism in 2010, and others have quietly invested in such establishments. Many of the spots have opened in recent months.

At Sport-Bar 2.45, patrons sip icy-cold Cuban beer and eat pizzas while perusing memorabilia from Sotomayor’s career, such as a white Login to read more

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