Cuba politics and economics converge at Miami Conference

Vincent Morin Aguado

Dariela Aquique (c) making her presentation at the ASCE conference.

HAVANA TIMES — A close look at the island’s economy, both from Cubans residing in the country and those living abroad, marked the second day of discussions at the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy conference in Miami. An overriding conclusion was that the urgent need for expanding the changes in motion requires political decisions still forthcoming.

Dariela Aquique Luna, a freelance reporter from Santiago de Cuba spoke on the theme “Cuba, a new economic model or capitalize on the excitement of Latin American integration?” She delves into the origins of the so-called “Updating” process, seen as a political move attempting to once again save the prevailing power in Cuba, taking advantage of the progress of the political forces of the left in Latin America, especially Venezuela and Brazil.

Aquique, who writes for both Havana Times and Diario de Cuba, leads us to believe that the current Cuban government will continue the political game started by the “updating” process but without further reforms. As such, she thinks it will be unable to unleash the country’s productive forces.

Jorge Ignacio Guillen Martinez, a student at the University of Havana, described a grim reality experienced today in Cuba, based on a survey revealing an apparent deterioration process observed when evaluating the relationship between the changes, their direction and what should be the objective of any economic reform: improving the human condition.

Over 75% of those responding said the current process of changes has not meant an improvement for them. The existence of a deep anthropological damage in Cubans is the main conclusion of this young man from Pinar del Rio. He sees a pressing need to release the forces of stagnation in the economy, promoting private ownership and business development, if they want to rescue the society from its current debacle.

Dariela Aquique and Vicente Morín at the ASCE conference.

Another panel discussed the crucial issue of labor rights within the economic changes, and the need for the contribution of independent Cuban unionism. Also analyzed was the Mariel Port mega project, considering the variables of its limited success thus far in the context of international trade.

The day’s panel sessions then ended with a plenary and the presentation by former Cuban diplomat Miriam Leyva, widow of the economist and human rights activist Oscar Espinosa Chepe. Miriam analyzed the transition taking place in Cuba and relations with the United States. She opted for a new political approach based on constructive steps that abandon old dogmas, such as the Yes or No on the controversial issue of the embargo.

The fact is that changing Cuba requires a continued exchanging of ideas, expanding the ability of Cubans to learn about experiences beyond the island’s borders, facilitating visits to the country by US citizens, as well as training entrepreneurs. In summarizing, opening doors and building bridges.

The XXIV Annual Conference of ASCE ends today with an emphasis on issues related to foreign investment and the new legal framework as well as the mass media and culture. Undoubtedly, the event is planting a seed for a future harvest.

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4 thoughts on “Cuba politics and economics converge at Miami Conference

  • Nor indeed would the Castro family wish to improve the purchasing power of the average Cuban. Mao Tse Tung said that: “Power comes out of the mouth of a gun'” In Cuba the Castro family maintains power – and will continue to do so after Diaz-Canel becomes President, by control of the economy through the military and its subsidiaries. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the enslaved people of Cuba as subjects of the Castro regime.

  • It is stimulating to know that a panel discussed labour rights. Since when did anyone in Cuba have ant labour rights? To achieve such rights the Castro regime must go. Rights currently are the sole perogative of the Castro Ruz family and they have exploited those rights to the full. El poder!

  • This is a good report on the Raul Castro economic “changes”!

    UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA WHARTON SCHOOL REPORT :Can Raul Castro’s Reforms Create a New Cuba? -November 22, 2011

    At first glance, say experts, Raul Castro seems to modeling his country’s future after China and Vietnam, whose one-party, nominally communist governments have managed to maintain power for decades while also emerging as globally competitive exporters of industrial and agricultural goods. Look deeper, however, and it is apparent that Raul’s approach won’t turn Cuba into a miniature of those two much larger Asian communist countries, experts say. The key problem for Cuba is that Raul’s reforms are not nearly as deep or thorough as those enacted by communist governments in China and Vietnam. In Cuba, “they are going in the right direction, but the issue is whether the reforms are profound enough or fast enough to meet the difficult crisis,” says Carmelo Mesa Lago, emeritus professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh, whose new book on the Cuban economy is scheduled to be published in Spain and the U.S. in 2012.


    Here is another report on what happened to the “changes” that were enacted by the Castro “government” in the 1990’s

    Cuba’s Economic ‘Reforms’: Waiting for Fidel on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century.- Roger R. Betancourt* Department of Economics U. of Maryland

    In this paper we provide a brief summary and evaluation of the main economic changes or ‘reforms’ undertaken by the Cuban government during the 1990’s. The thrust of our argument is that the regime does not seem to be interested in reforms that lead to a transition to a market economy or even in the more limited goal of introducing widespread market mechanisms subservient to the needs of the communist party as in China. Instead, their policies seem directed at generating mechanisms for the appropriation of foreign exchange by members of the nomenclature while keeping most citizens deprived of independent access to wealth creation activities. We develop our argument by looking separately at ‘reforms’ in two type of markets: those in which transactions are self-enforcing and those which depend on the contract enforcement mechanisms or services usually associated with market augmenting government to enforce transactions.

  • Current economic reforms have hurt many people: those that lost their jobs, those whose place of employment was “forcibly” privatized, those that after setting up a business found out it was impossible to get supplies locally (hair dressers, …), those that set up shops selling clothing, ….
    Few have profited. Artists, members of the elite that set up establishments like restaurants and art galleries, people with backing from abroad that also set up restaurants, but beyond them very little.
    The whole “reformed” economy that is running depends on tourism and remittances to have clients that can buy their goods and services.
    That is not a sound basis.
    Purchasing power of the average Cuban has to be increased. There is no policy in place that can do that.

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