• This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement that was brought to my attention by Andrew Johnston of Ottawa: ".. ... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."

    The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba.

Demandas De Propiedad Entre Cuba Y Los Estados Unidos. Una Revisión De La Literatura. (Property Claims Between Cuba and The United States. A Literature Review.) By Jesus V. Bu Sr. Attorney at Law, Independent, Havana, Cuba

By Jesus V. Bu Sr. Attorney at Law, Independent, Havana,  Cuba

 February 8, 2014

Original Essay: Property Issues US and Cuba, A Review of the Literature
This excellent survey of the literature on the issue of property and compensation claims between the US and Cuba is of major importance in outlining the differing views on this contentious and complex issue. This article is comprehensive, well-organized and clear. Unfortunately it is still available only in Spanish.

Abstract:     

Spanish: Este artículo es una revisión de la literatura sobre las reclamaciones de la propiedad pendientes entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos, con el objeto de resumir el estado actual del conocimiento académico. Este artículo examina las reclamaciones entre las partes, los mecanismos legales diseñados para solucionar las demandas y los remedios para cada tipo específico de demandante.


English: This paper contains a literature review designed to summarize the state of academic knowledge surrounding the outstanding property claims between Cuba and the United States. This paper examines the claims between the parties, the legal mechanisms designed to solve the claims and, the remedies tailored for each particular type of claimants.

Note: Downloadable document is in Spanish.

New Picture (4)New Picture (3)

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cuban sugar harvest falters; foreign investment sought

  By Marc Frank

Original here:  Cuban Sugar Harvest, 2014   

HAVANA, March 4 (Reuters) – For the third consecutive year Cuba’s reorganized sugar industry is failing to perform up to expectations, increasing pressure on the government to open up the once proud sector to foreign investment.

Already one mill, the first since the industry was nationalized soon after the 1959 revolution, is under foreign management, with at least seven others on the auction block.

AZCUBA, the state-run holding company that replaced the Sugar Ministry three years ago, announced plans to produce 1.8 million tonnes of raw sugar this season, 18 percent more than last season’s 1.6 million tonnes. But the harvest is 20 percent behind schedule, sugar reporter Juan Varela Perez wrote recently in Granma, the Communist Party daily.

“Continuous and heavy rainfall in almost all provinces of the country has affected the harvest since January,” state-run Radio Rebelde said late last week, reporting on a meeting of AZCUBA executives at the end of February. “To this has been added the habitual problems of inputs arriving late, disorganization and the poor quality and slowness of repairs,” the report said.

Sugar was once Cuba’s leading export, both before the revolution and afterward, when the former Soviet Union bought Cuban sugar at guaranteed prices. Today it is Cuba’s seventh largest earner of foreign currency, behind services, remittances, tourism, nickel, pharmaceuticals, and cigars.

“These days it is a true odyssey to go through a harvest. The mills need more profound repairs, but that costs millions upon millions of dollars,” Manuel Osorio, a mill worker in eastern Granma province, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “So they do some superficial repairs and start grinding and immediately the problems begin and this year to top it off it is hot and raining almost every day. The cane needs cool and dry weather to mature. If not, it is like milling weeds.”

The sugar harvest begins in December with the “winter” season and runs into May, with January through March the key months as dry and cool weather increases yields, but not this year.

“I can’t remember a wetter winter and it is almost impossible to harvest,” sugarcane cutter Arnaldo Hernandez said in a telephone interview from eastern Holguin province.

Cuban sugar plantations lack adequate drainage, making harvesting by machine difficult when it rains, and humid weather retards the production of sugar in cane.

“Going into the plantations is a heroic task, and when the cane reaches the mills it yields little sugar,” Hernandez said. “Look, even the Guaraperas (sugarcane juice) they sell in the city is like water. I know because I tried some myself yesterday.”

Rainfall was twice the average for the month in key eastern and central provinces through most of February, according to official media.

“So far this year 115.2 millimeters (4.5 inches) of rain has fallen in (the eastern province of) Las Tunas, twice the historic average,” the National Information Agency reported in late February. The agency said the harvest in Las Tunas was 35,000 tonnes of raw sugar behind schedule to date toward a plan of 194,000 tonnes through May.

A similar situation was reported in central Villa Clara, where the goal is 218,000 tonnes, and in central Camaguey, which reported production to date was 13 percent, or 11,000 tonnes, below plan.

INVESTMENT OPENING

Cuba produced just 1.2 million tonnes of raw sugar three seasons ago when AZCUBA was formed, compared with 8 million tonnes in the early 1990s, before the demise of the Soviet Union led to the industry’s near collapse. Industry plans call for an annual average increase in output of 15 percent through 2016, though over the last three harvests the increase has been 12 percent, according to AZCUBA. The poor performance so far this year may accelerate AZCUBA’s plans to open the sector to private investment.

President Raul Castro, who assumed power from his ailing brother Fidel Castro in 2008, is trying to revive the country’s economy through reforms passed by the Communist Party in 2011. The plans include more foreign investment.

This year, the Cuban Chamber of Commerce listed seven more sugar mills as candidates for foreign investment, all of which were built after the revolution and are therefore not subject to claims by previous owners. The remaining 48 mills in the country were all built more than 60 years ago.

This month the Cuban National Assembly is expected to pass a new foreign investment law that makes the island, and agriculture, more investor friendly.

Odebrecht SA, a Brazilian corporation, began administering a mill in central Cienfuegos province this year, the first foreign company allowed into the industry since 1959. Odebrecht subsidiary, Compañía de Obras en Infraestructura, plans to upgrade the mill as well as the supporting farm and transport sectors, and has expressed an interest in other mills, as have a number of other foreign companies. Its 13-year contract calls for an investment of around $140 million to increase output to more than 120,000 tonnes of raw sugar from 40,000 tonnes.

Cuba consumes between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of sugar a year and has an agreement to sell China 400,000 tonnes annually, with what remains sold to other countries.

 DSCN0496

 

Mechanized Zafra

cimg3076Cane Transport

New-Picture-4

An Aerial View of what was Left of the Australia Sugar Mill, 2011

New Picture (1).bmp aa

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Institutional Structure of Production in the Cuban Economy

Ernesto Hernández-Catá;  January, 2014

The complete essay is here: STRUCTURE OF GDP, 2014. Hernandez-Cata

 This paper presents estimates of Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the three principal sector of the economy: the government, the state enterprises, and the non-state sector. It estimates government GDP on the basis of fiscal data and derives non-state GDP from a combination of employment and productivity data. The article finds that the pronounced tendency for government output to increase faster than GDP was interrupted in 2010 and as the share of non-state production increased sharply. Nevertheless, the private share in the economy remains very low by international standards, and particularly in comparison to most countries in transition. The paper also derives estimates for gross national income. It finds that income is lower than GDP in the general government sector because of interest payments on Cuba’s external debt, while it exceeds production in the non-state sector owing to remittances from Cubans residing abroad.

New Picture (1)New PictureConclusion

 The various estimates presented in this paper make it possible to reach a number of tentative conclusions.

 ü  The government share of GDP fell during the post-Soviet recession but then increased steadily all the way to 2009. The increase reflected the growth of current government expenditure; government investment—which accounts for the bulk of economy-wide capital formation—fell in percent of GDP. Total investment by all sectors also fell, to a very low level compared with the averages for other country groups and particularly for the emerging market and transition countries. The share of government spending declined from 2010 to 2011 following the financial crisis of 2008.

 ü  The share of the non-state sector GDP rose in the period 1993-1999 from a very low level in the Soviet-dominated period of the 1980’s. It changed little in the first decade of the XXIst century, but surged in 2011-2012 reflecting a transfer of employees form the state sector. Nevertheless, the non-state and private sector shares of the economy remains very small by international standards and notably by the standards of the countries in transition.

 ü  The relative importance of the state enterprises appears to have declined all the way from 1995 to 2009, but it has recovered somewhat since then.

 ü  National income in the government sector is lower than GDP because of interest payments on the external debt and, apparently, because of official transfers to foreigners.

 ü   By contrast, income in the non-state sector exceeds GDP by a growing margin, essentially because of dollar remittances from Cuban-Americans abroad. Thus, in that sector income from domestic production is being increasingly supplemented by income from abroad.

 ü  There is a statistically significant tendency for government current spending to crowd out the output of the state enterprises. Non-state output, on the other hand, appears to evolve mainly in response to official decisions to liberalize or to repress the non-state sector

 Finally, there is a major problem whose resolution is beyond the scope of this article but which must at least be noted. The Cuban authorities assume that data for transactions denominated in foreign currency should be translated into local currency at the fixed exchange rate of one peso (CUP) per U.S. dollar. Under this convention (which is retained in this paper) dollar values are identical to peso values. Historically, however, the exchange value of the peso applicable to households and tourists has been much lower and it is currently CUP 24 per dollar.  Clearly, the 1:1 exchange rate assumption introduces major distortions in the national accounts and in the balance of payments. For example, the peso value of exports of at least some goods and services (nickel, sugar and tourism among others) is grossly under estimated, while the dollar value of consumption is grossly over-estimated. In the income accounts, the dollar value of wages (mostly denominated in CUPs) is overestimated while the peso value of private remittances is under-estimated—although this is partly offset by an under-estimation of the peso value of interest payments abroad.

 The task of disentangling all the elements of bias introduced by the use of a 1:1 conversion factor would be daunting. For the time being the corresponding distortions would have to be accepted, although they should be recognized. The good news is that the Cuban authorities are in the process of unifying the existing multiple exchange rate system, too slowly hélàs, but fairly surely. One important result of this change will be to the adoption of a single exchange rate for all transactions and all sectors, as well as for the purpose of statistical conversion.

Ernesto-Hernandez-CataErnesto Hernández-Catá

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cuban dissidents say political arrests top 1,000 in February

Daniel Trotta, Reuters, March 4, 2014

(Reuters) – Politically motivated arrests in Cuba topped 1,000 for a third straight month in February as the result of wider public demonstrations against the one-party state, a leading human rights organization said on Monday.

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said arrests in the past three months have nearly doubled from the monthly averages of the previous two years.

The commission reported 1,051 arrests in February that it considered arbitrary and politically motivated, although all the people jailed were released, usually within a few hours. true

 

 

 

The February number was similar to the 1,052 reported in January and down from 1,123 in December.

Reuters could not independently verify the numbers, which the commission’s president, Elizardo Sanchez, said were based on first-hand reports from activists around the island. The commission excludes any arrest report that it cannot verify, Sanchez said.

CUBA WIVES OF PRISONERSDamas de Blanco, in 2011

The Cuban government says the commission is illegal and counterrevolutionary, and normally does not respond to its monthly reports. It generally considers dissident groups to be in the pay of the United States as part of the 55 years of hostility between the two countries since Fidel Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution.

A Reuters request for government comment was not immediately answered on Monday.

The commission said the December number was the highest on record since March 2012, when Pope Benedict visited Cuba. It has been keeping records since 2010, and says the arrests rise when there are international events in Cuba, such as a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in late January.

The numbers have stayed high largely because a growing number of citizens now publicly oppose the communist government, Sanchez said.

The report details each case by name, date and reason for the arrest, with many detentions coming before, during or after organizing meetings or public protests. Other dissenters were held on their way to or from church, the report said.

“There are more demonstrations of the people’s discontent,” Sanchez said in telephone interview from Spain, where he is meeting with human rights activists from Cuba and other countries.

Human rights groups say Cuba in recent years has avoided jailing dissidents for lengthy periods, instead choosing to detain them for several hours or days. As a result, estimates of the number of political prisoners are in the single digits, compared with numbers in the thousands decades ago. Amnesty International reported seven new prisoners of conscience in 2013, of whom three were released without charge.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BIBLIOTECA DIGITAL CUBANA

The Biblioteca Digital Cubana is a most amazing web site with links to a myriad of complete books on Cuban history and historical archives, geography, economy, archeology, ethnology, literature and natural sciences together with old art, photos and drawings and maps. It also includes a library of Cuban periodicals and journals going back to the earliest colonial times. It constitutes an incredible library resource with an immense and probably quite complete collection of historical documents on Cuba,

It is unclear to me at this time specifically who or what organization assembled this listing. It brings together collections on Cuba from many parts of the world and in particular the Biblioteca Digital de la Biblioteca Nacional José Martí or BNJM at http://www.bnjm.cu/bdigital.htm   It was brought to my attention through a Facebook posting by Haroldo Dilla a few days ago.

The address of the site is here:

 Biblioteca Digital Cubana  http://bibliotecadigitalcubana.blogspot.ca/

Just to provide a taste of the vast resource available at one’s finger tips, I include below a few sections of the collection, one on the English capture of Havana in 1744, a section on Economics and a section on Cartography. A few photos and maps from the collection follows as well:

Historia y Geografía

INVASIÓN INGLESA

Mapoteca

Economía  ENSAYOS

AGRICULTURA, APICULTURA, PESCA …

Starving Cubans at natanzasCubans, Starving at Matanzas, circa 1898

American Colonists Arriving in Cuba shortly after the Cuban War of IndependanceAmerican Colonists Arriving in Cuba, circa 1906

British Capture of Havana.jpgaaaBritish Capture of Havana, 1762

NESA01_K04-0460_UMap of Havana, circa 1700

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Infant Mortality in Cuba: Myth and Reality

 Roberto M. Gonzalez, Department of Economics, UNC, Chapel Hill

An interesting paper on Cuba’s Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) was presented at the 2013 meetings of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy by Roberto M. Gonzalez, a graduate student in Economics at the University of North Carolina. The paper is especially interesting as it focuses on one important indicator of the quality of the health system, human development and socio-economic development which ostensibly has been a major achievement for Cuba. Cuba’s exceedingly low Infant Mortality Rate has been a major “logro” of the Revolution and a source o pride since the early 1960s.

Gonzalez presents information and analysis that casts some doubt on the official IMR figures. His complete argument can be seen in the Power Point presentation that he made at the ASCE meetings here: Infant Mortality in Cuba

The essence of his argument is that Late Fetal Deaths (LFDs) or deaths of fetuses weighing at least 500 grams are abnormally high in Cuba compared to other countries while Early Neonatal Deaths (ENDs) or deaths occurring in the first week of life are abnormally low. In the chart below, Cuba’s high LFD in orange and its low END in green can quickly be seen as outliers for the countries of Europe.

New Picture (12)What’s going on here? Perhaps it is reflects an erroneous mis-classification system, or purposeful mis-reporting or possibly late term and mislabeled abortions (if there is any chance of infant ill-health or a congenital health problems.)

While perhaps further work is needed to analyze this LFD-END puzzle, Gonzalez work has certainly raised serious questions about Cuba’s long-vaunted Infant Mortality Rate.

New Picture (14a )

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuba’s New Real Estate Market

Phil Peters Cubas New Real Estate Market

 Phil Peters, Lexington Institute, Washington D.C.

 Latin America Initiative Working Paper; February 2014; Foreign Policy at BROOKINGS

Original Essay here:  Brookings, Cuba’s New Real Estate Market)

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.      Introduction

2.       Real Estate Laws and the Market Before 2011

3.       Law 288: The Legalization of Residential Real Estate Sales in 2011

4.       Legal Processes under Law 288

5.      The New Market in Operation

6.      Market Experiences

7.       Housing Stock and Construction

8.      Can Foreign Nationals Buy Real Estate in Cuba?

9.       Conclusions

 Appendix 1. Cuban Supreme Court decision  permits legalization of illegal transactions of the past  

Appendix 2.  One buyer’s view of the market

 New Picture (11).bmpa

CONCLUSIONS

The legalization of residential real estate sales in November 2011 is one of the most significant actions taken in Cuba’s economic reform program. It has impact on the vast majority of Cuban households, transforming the nature of residential property.

Before, a home was an asset to use and to pass on to heirs. Now it can be made liquid. At the family level, the result is instant capital formation, the creation of wealth through the granting of a new legal use for assets to which Cuban families hold clear title.

Cuban homeowners thus have new options, although not all the home related transactions practiced elsewhere are available to them. Notably, there are no home mortgages, nor is it possible to use one’s residence as collateral for a loan.

Still, this action has the effect of creating a vast new stock of capital in private hands that is being used for private ends in a new market driven by decisions of private parties. The market appears to be functioning according to clear norms, and transactions are effected without excessive taxation or bureaucracy. Moreover, this market is bringing an inflow of capital from Cubans abroad. The creation of this new market is a clear case of the government ending burdensome controls and allowing a major expansion of private economic activity.

This reform counts as a human rights improvement because it a) expands economic freedom and advances private property rights by ending a prohibition on normal, beneficial transactions that affected all Cuban families, and b) it ends a long despised aspect of Cuban immigration law by repealing the requirement that emigrants forfeit their property to the government.

The market is producing one effect that officials desired the reacomodo or “rearranging” whereby homeowners with excess space are selling, buying smaller homes, and coming out ahead with a bank balance from which they can live or retire.

But home sales alone are not destined to solve Cuba’s housing shortage. While the measures that encourage home construction are having an effect, they are still being developed and implemented and their full impact will not become clear for several years.

Except in the tourism sector, the option of using foreign investment to expand Cuba’s housing stock is not a topic of discussion, even though Cuba’s current laws governing foreign investment would not bar it. It is an open question whether the Cuban government could find profitable formulas where foreign investors could build moderately priced housing for sale to the Cuban public. President Raúl Castro announced that, after long deliberation, new policies will be adopted in March 2014 to encourage greater foreign investment in Cuba’s economy; these policies may open the door to housing projects developed with foreign capital.

Finally, the absence of mortgage finance stands out as a major impediment to expansion of this young real estate market. Demand in this market, and consequently the expansion of the housing stock, is constrained by the lack of credit. In a market where full payment must be made at the time of purchase, the universe of Cuban buyers consists mainly of those who have sold a home or those who receive capital from a relative abroad. A monthly payment of approximately $200 would amortize a $25,000 loan at a five percent interest rate over 15 years. While many Cubans cannot afford such a monthly expense, $200 per month is affordable to many who work as entrepreneurs or for foreign businesses or elsewhere in the hard currency sector, and it would put modestly priced housing within their reach. Assistance to low income buyers could further expand affordability.

A justice ministry official says that consideration is being given to having Cuban banks offer home mortgage loans or other lending mechanisms. “But if so, no one would be put out on the street in case of default,” she says, adding that “the system of social justice will never be put at risk.” One option in case of default would be for the state to assume ownership of the property with the resident permitted to continue residing there, she says

Philip-Peters-Lexungton-InstitutePhil Peters

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Proyecciones macroeconómicas de una Cuba sin Venezuela

Pavel Vidal Alejandro

from the  Cuba Study Group, Desde la Isla; original source:  full article

Análisis de Pavel Vidal acerca del impacto a la economía cubana en el supuesto caso de una reducción importante en la cooperación económica con Venezuela.

New PictureDesde inicios de la década pasada la economía cubana ha venido incrementando sistemáticamente sus relaciones con Venezuela. Actualmente el comercio de bienes representa el 40% del intercambio total de la isla, muy por encima del segundo lugar ocupado por China con 12,5%. En este porcentaje pesa sobre todo la importación de petróleo venezolano; en 2011 la factura llegó a US$2.759 millones. La importación del crudo venezolano cubre el 60% de la demanda nacional y además permite la reexportación de una parte del mismo. Solo el 50% del pago de las importaciones de crudo venezolan se efectúa dentro de los primeros 90 días, el restante 50% se acumula en una deuda a pagarse en 25 años con un tipo de interés del 1% anual.

 Continue reading: Vidal,  Cuba sin Venezuela

New Picture (11)

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Cuba’s Reward for the Dutiful: Gated Housing

 By DAMIEN CAVE FEB. 11, 2014; New York Times

Original Here: Cuba’s Reward

HAVANA — In the splendid neighborhoods of this dilapidated city, old mansions are being upgraded with imported tile. Businessmen go out for sushi and drive home in plush Audis. Now, hoping to keep up, the government is erecting something special for its own: a housing development called Project Granma, featuring hundreds of comfortable apartments in a gated complex set to have its own movie theater and schools.

“Twenty years ago, what we earned was a good salary,” said Roberto Rodríguez, 51, a longtime Interior Ministry official among the first to move in. “But the world has changed.”

Cuba is in transition. The economic overhauls of the past few years have rattled the established order of class and status, enabling Cubans with small businesses or access to foreign capital to rise above many dutiful Communists. As these new paths to prestige expand, challenging the old system of rewards for obedience, President Raúl Castro is redoubling efforts to elevate the faithful and maintain their loyalty — now and after the Castros are gone.

Continue reading: Cuba’s Reward for the Dutiful, Gated Housing

aa Apartments at a new housing development in Havana called Project Granma are for loyal Communists, families tied to the military and the interior ministry. Todd Heisler/The New York Times

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cuba’s Conception Conundrum: A Valentine’s Day Puzzle

14febrero_down

By Arch Ritter

An interesting phenomenon, namely the seasonal character of the numbers of births in Cuba – and of course the accompanying though implied seasonality of conception rates – is apparent in Table II.5 of the 2012 ONE Anuario Demográfico[i]. This is illustrated in Chart 1 below.

 New Picture (12)

The number of births over the course of the year follows a clear pattern that is apparent in the six years illustrated in the Chart. The number of births peak from September to December, decline sharply during the months of January to April, bottom out from May to June and then rise again from July to September.

In view of the nine-month period between conception and birth, the chart says something interesting about the amorous character of Cuban citizens. The implication of the birth pattern is that conception levels are highest from January to April and lowest from August to October.

Why would Cubans be so much more amorous in the January-April period than the August to October period?   

Is it the weather? Perhaps the cooler sunny weather of Cuba’s winter months is more conducive to amorous events and conception. And, conversely, perhaps the heat and mugginess of summer and the autumn rainy season is less conducive to “amor.”

Is it economics? Possibly there is greater optimism and dynamism during the more prosperous times of the tourist high season (which once corresponded to the Zafra, when sugar was king.)

Is it tourism? The pattern of conception levels corresponds closely to the seasonal pattern of tourism in Cuba as can be inferred from Chart 2 below. ­.

Does Valentine’s Day itself generate more conceptions and related activities, given that births often spike nine months later in October?

If anyone has clearer and more definitive insights into this phenomenon, please let me know!

 New Picture (11)

index


[i] Cuba’s Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas (ONE) recently published the 2012 Edition of the Anuario Demográfico de Cuba 2012. Statistical information for Cuban demography is available comprehensively and conveniently. ONE’s coverage and presentation of demographic statistics is impressive. (In contrast, basic information on the economy such as unemployment, the consumer price index, trade and GDP is opaque, minimalist, not clearly defined, and now very late in appearing on ONE’s web site.)

Posted in Blog, Featured | Tagged , | Leave a comment
Page 2 of 3912345678910...25...Last »