One thing we noticed was that though capitalism has arrived through these markets, their is little sign of competition and consumer choice.
Many of the crafts vendors sold exactly the same products for exactly the same price. In fact, there was not much overall variety in various stands' selections.
Most small capitalist groups, like these craft sellers, seem to rely on tourist money. Most Cubans have no desire to own an engraving of De La Punta Castro on a little plate, much less pay US$2 for it.
When approaching a book stand in the Cathedral Mall in Havana, tourists are showered with attention by the vendors while locals are ignored (and free to browse without disturbance).
Another recently allowed business is the private restaurant, or paladar. These restaurants are noticeably more expensive than the state-owned ones, at least for tourists.
Since we were visibly tourists, we were always charged in dollars. Cubans may be, for example, served at private restaurants and charged much less in pesos.
Dollar stores, which are state-owned, are present to try to soak up the dollars entering the country. The Cuban Government is greatly in need of hard currency. The government's strategy is that tourism will bring dollars into the economy and the hands of citizens, who will spend them at state-run