What’s Changed in Cuba Since the Accords with USA?

By Circles Robinson

Egg delivery.  Photo: Juan Suárez
Eggs.  Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES – People abroad are wondering what changes are visible in Havana since the Castro and Obama governments decided last December to restart the relationship between the two countries.  Here are a few of the changes our writers report.

– People in general are more hopeful, although a certain degree of skepticism is common on whether an improved tourism economy will reach ordinary workers and their families who are not in that industry.

– Tourism in the capital is up considerably boosted by a surge in ordinary US citizens and Cuban-Americans. One can witness more tourists in the streets. As a result, renting a car can be very difficult.

– Many Cubans are studying English and learning tourism related jobs. A small minority with startup capital are fixing up homes to use as rentals as well as open cafes or restaurants. They are awaiting an explosion of tourism and dollars.

– Salaried workers are hoping the increased economic activity will translate into livable wages. (Currently the average pay is only around US $20 a month, with many workers earning $15 or less.). Some are hopeful for new employment opportunities with US companies that might establish on the island.

– Cross border exchanges of a professional and/or artistic nature are becoming more frequent.

Downside

-Some people thought that by 6-months after the thaw in relations the stores would be full of products. That has clearly not happened.

-Chronic shortages of all types of basic consumer products, including food staples, continues and in some cases is even worse. The lack of proper wholesale outlets makes families have to compete with businesses for scarce products at expensive retail prices.

-Communities and cities off the tourist trail are not yet experiencing the increase in business activity.

To be continued…


13 thoughts on “What’s Changed in Cuba Since the Accords with USA?

  • Just what they need, outsiders taking over all the land. That was the case prior to the revolution. Most of the best land was controlled by outside sources including United Fruit and ITT. I don’t believe it is of benefit to the country to give up it’s real estate. I hope that Cuba has sense enough to only lease the land and not outright sell it.

  • Why would you have a hotel in a town with only 34,000 residents if it isn’t in a tourist or business destination? I was in the hotel business and I certainly wouldn’t build a hotel there. If there isn’t any industry or tourism, how would you fill up a hotel? I know a lot of small towns in the U.S. that don’t have hotels or a lot of restaurants. Of course the hotels with high occupancies are in major cities or resort areas. Nobody I deal with beliefs that the infrastructure of Cuba is in good shape. However, with business improving and more money coming into the country every area of Cuba will eventually benefit.

  • You might want to read a report “Soft Landing in Cuba” by the Latin America Initiative at Brookings. It is about private business in Cuba and was written back in November 2013. Changes were taking place before Obama.

  • In my humble opinion there will be little change of the present economic conditions, until the government can assure that there will be growing value in equity of real estate. R.E. is the only real wealth and security for future of private ownership.

  • Here’s the problem: culturally, there are natural social barriers between classes of the 1 billion Chinese. Improving economic condtions for the Chinese at the top of the socila ladder has met with little complaint or resistance from Chines lower on the socioeconomic ladder. Centuries of separation have numbed poor Chinese to otherwise unfair improvements in living conditions. On the other hand in Cuba, the relatively minuscule 11 million Cubans see themselves as social equals. As economic conditions improve in Cuba as a result of greater interactions with the US, the benefits of these interactions with not be proportionately shared by all Cubans. Those Cubans, mostly white, with access to tourists, private businesses or who receive remittances from abroad are likely to benefit most. Cubans who don’t have access to tourists, mostly black Cubans, who also don’t have family abroad to who send them money, have fewer private businesses, and are less likely to see any benefits of rapprochement.

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