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Volume 65 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: CUBA


MARIO A. GONZÁLEZ-CORZO, Assistant Professor of Economics, Accounting, and Business Administration, Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY), Department of Economics and Business

THE LITERATURE ON THE CUBAN ECONOMY has experienced some significant changes since the announcement of Fidel Castro's "temporary" retirement on July 31, 2006. Some of the changes that have taken place in Cuba as the need the transform the current economic system has moved to center stage have influenced the public and official discourse (with regards to economic matters mostly) within the island in recent years.

Raul Castro's "July 26" (2007) speech increased the public's expectations about the possibilities of economic change. It ushered in an era of greater official "openness" (and willingness) to "debate" real (economic) issues and problems in the public sphere. The Cuban people were encouraged to (openly, but always within the boundaries of what is officially permitted) discuss and exchange ideas and propose solutions to daily economic problems, to address and improve (even rationalize) the allocation and utilization of resources. The public "debates" were organized by state-sponsored mass organizations (organizaciones de masas) and took place in factories, offices, schools, and other places of work.

The primary objectives of these officially sponsored "debates" were to reinvigorate and reactivate Cuban socialism by adopting a more "participative" form and using it to (gradually) replace the bureaucratic constraints and rigidities associated with the "classical" system; expose the internal causes (e.g., excessive bureaucratic constraints, lack of discipline and worker motivation, inefficiency, low productivity, waste, etc.) of Cuba's economic problems; and identify and propose viable solutions or strategies to address the issues and challenges confronting the Cuban economy, always "within Socialism" ("dentro del socialismo").

In recent years, and possibly as a result of the limited expansion of some "alternative spaces," Cuban intellectuals and scholars have made noteworthy contributions to the recent literature on the Cuban economy. The principal themes (or topics) addressed in the recent economic literature produced in Cuba include: the evolution of the Cuban economy, existing challenges and opportunities, and possible policy measures to improve current economic conditions (items #bi2009001840# and #bi2009004118#), strategies to transform the agricultural sector (items #bi2009002547#, #bi2009004110#, #bi2009002546#, and #bi2009001833#), recent developments in the tourism industry (item #bi2009004115#), measures to improve the housing sector (item #bi2009004115#), and the need for the gradual elimination of the dual currency system (items #bi2009004104# and item #bi2009004107#). In addition, some Cuban scholars have written extensively about the situation and potential role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Cuba (item #bi2009004117#), the impact of inflation and monetary dualism on the purchasing power of pensions and salaries (item #bi2009004119#), and the relationship between property forms, efficiency, and labor productivity.

The publications on the Cuban economy that have been produced outside Cuba since 2006 address important topics like the structural characteristics of the Cuban economy (item #bi2009000239#), the evolution of the Cuban economy since the beginning of the Special Period (item #bi2009000238#), the agricultural sector (items #bi2009001828# and #bi2009001837#), the external sector (item #bi2009002549#), monetary dualism and income inequality in contemporary Cuba (items #bi2006001581# and #bi2008002291#), and health care in Cuba and the export of medical services (item #bi2009004103#).

Finally, one positive and recurring trend in the recent literature on the Cuban economy is the increased and improved availability of statistical information and Cuba's principal demographic and socioeconomic indicators through the official Web site of the Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas—ONE (http://www.one.cu/). Four noteworthy publications in this category are the comprehensive statistical yearbook (item #bi2009001830#), the demographic yearbook (item #bi2009001831#), the annual social and economic statistical report (item #bi2009002548#), and a newly created publication known as the "Panorama territorial" (2008), which facilitates regional comparisons of key demographic and socioeconomic indicators (item #bi2009004114#).


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