Tag Archives: Education

HOW DOES CUBA MANAGE TO ACHIEVE FIRST-WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS?

The island’s medical system is envied throughout the region and is a major foreign revenue earner

ÁLVARO FUENTE; EL PAÍS, Havana 10 FEB 2017

Original Article: Cuba’s Medical System

Cuba’s healthcare system is a source of pride for its communist government. The country has well-trained, capable doctors, the sector has become an important export earner and gives Cuba valuable soft power – yet the real picture is less rosy. A lot of health infrastructure is deteriorating and there is a de facto two-tier system that favors those with money.

Cuba’s child mortality rate is on par with some of the world’s richest countries. With six deaths for every 1,000 births, according to World Bank data from 2015, Cuba is level with New Zealand. In 2015, the global average was 42.5 deaths for every 1,000 births. Despite more than half a century of a US economic embargo, Cuba’s average life expectancy matches that in the US: 79.1 years, just a few months shorter than Americans who, on average, live to 79.3 years, according to 2015 data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Much of Cuba’s success in these areas is due to its primary healthcare system, which is one of the most proactive in the world. Cuba’s population of 11.27 million has 452 out-patient clinics and the government gives priority to disease prevention, universal coverage and access to treatment.

Cuba has also produced innovations in medical research. In 1985 the country pioneered the first and only vaccine against meningitis B. The country’s scientists developed new treatments for hepatitis B, diabetic foot, vitiligo and psoriasis. They also developed a lung cancer vaccine that is currently being tested in the United States. Cuba was also the first country on earth to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child, a feat recognized by the WHO in 2015.

In 2015, Cuba spent 10.57% of its GDP on health, slightly higher than the global average. According to the World Bank in 2014, the European average spending GDP spending was 10%, compared to 17.1% in the United States.

TWO-TIER SYSTEM

A lesser-known characteristic of Cuba’s healthcare system is the existence of special clinics, reserved for tourists, politicians and VIPs. The state reserves the best hospitals and doctors for the national elite and foreigners, while ordinary Cubans sometimes must turn to the black market or ask expatriate friends or family to send medicine.

“Cuba’s health service is divided in two: one for Cubans and the other for foreigners, who receive better quality care, while the national population has to be satisfied with dilapidated facilities and a lack of medicines and specialists, who are sent abroad to make money for Cuba,” says Dr. Julio César Alfonzo, a Cuban exile in Miami and director of the NGO Solidaridad Sin Fronteras.

In 2015, Cuba spent 10.57% of its GDP on health, slightly higher than the global average

In 1959, the country had only 6,000 doctors, half of whom emigrated after the Cuban revolution. By 2014, Cuba had 67.2 doctors for every 10,000 inhabitants, with only Qatar and Monaco ahead of it.

However, despite these impressive statistics, the quality of primary healthcare, which has been fundamental to Cuba’s success, has been declining in recent years. Between 2009 and 2014 there was a 62% fall in the number of family doctors, from 34,261 to 12,842, according to Cuba’s National Statistics Office (ONEI).

AN ARMY OF WHITE COATS

In the words of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s “army of white coats” was formed in 1960, when a medical brigade was sent to Chile after an earthquake left thousands dead. Since then, Cuba has sent more than 300,000 healthcare workers to 158 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to Cuba’s state news agency. Today, around 50,000 Cuban medical workers are present in 67 countries.

“Cuban doctors are rooted in solidarity and in the Hippocratic Oath. Our job would be unthinkable without foreign missions,” says Salvador Silva, a doctor specializing in infectious diseases who has worked in Haiti and Liberia.   “Yes, our salary is low and maybe that pushes us to go abroad, but it also makes us proud when we see our work recognized throughout the world, on top of just helping in our own country,” he adds.

Doctors are arguably Cuba’s most profitable resource and the country’s medical missions have proved to be a lucrative diplomatic tool. The healthcare industry is also one of the country’s main sources of income. In 2014, Cuban authorities estimated overseas healthcare services would bring in $8.2 billion, putting it ahead of tourism.

Cuba has a different deal with each country it works with. For example, in exchange for sending 3,500 health care workers to work in and provide training in Venezuela, a close Cuban ally, Venezuela sends oil.

With such a high demand for personnel, some suspect that the Cuban government has been reducing educational requirements to hasten students’ entry into the work force.  “They are giving doctors licenses in record time to meet the need to export them, and this has been detrimental to the quality of training and medicine, which used to be the best. This has been happening since they started the program in Venezuela, between 2003 and 2004,” says Dr Alfonzo.

Doctors are also eager to be sent abroad, not only to help the less fortunate, but also for money. Salaries are higher – depending on the location, with doctors abroad reportedly making up to $1,000 per month (minus taxes), whereas those in Cuba make around $50. On the island, it isn’t rare to find taxi drivers, shopkeepers or construction workers with medical degrees.

Juan drives a 1950s Chevrolet he bought with his brother and he uses it as a taxi from 6pm to midnight. He’s also a doctor in the clinic Hermanos Ameijeiras. “The wage is a pittance. We find ourselves obligated to make a living doing other things. I have coworkers who sell prescriptions to pharmacies, who work in unlicensed clinics or help their families in shops. It’s frustrating,” he says. “It’s like they’re pushing us to enlist in international missions, the business of Cuba.”

The country’s medical missions abroad have been an important escape route for Cubans looking to defect. Before migratory reforms were passed in January 2013 allowing Cubans with passports and visas to travel abroad, the preferred way to abandon Cuba was via Venezuela. In 2013 and 2014, more than 3,000 doctors deserted the island to go to the United States through a special visa program called Cuban Medical Professional Parole, a program started by George W. Bush to help healthcare workers who had escaped while working abroad.

Lucia Newman, a former CNN correspondent in Habana, said Cuban doctors complain that travel restrictions prevent them from attending conferences or keeping abreast of the latest medical advances. The US trade embargo on Cuba includes some textbooks, but the major problem is that Cuban doctors cannot buy medical equipment from the United States or from any US subsidiaries.

For Odalys, a young patient waiting at the Hospital Salvador Allende, “the situation is becoming unsustainable in this country and it’s not because of a lack of specialists, it’s because we have to bring everything ourselves. I just bought a light bulb for the hospital room. I’ve called home so that they can bring me bedding, towels and even toilet paper. There aren’t even stretchers, I saw a family carrying their sick son into a room. Free and universal health care, yes, but it’s a bit of a mess and very informal,” she says.

English version: Alyssa McMurtry.

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LA UNIVERSIDAD DE LA HABANA, EN EL PUESTO 59 EN AMÉRICA LATINA

14ymedio, La Habana | Junio 16, 2016

zzzzCaptureThe QS University Rankings: Latin America 2016 – a ranking of the 300 top universities in the Latin American region.  The methodology can be viewed here.

Among the Top 100 Universities in Latin America:

  • Brazil has # 1, #2, and #5 and a total of 24;
  • Argentina, 20 in total;
  • Chile, # 3 and 15 in total;
  • Mexico, #4 and 14 in total;
  • Colombia, 12 in total;
  • Venezuela 4 in total
  • Peru, 3 in total., and
  • Cuba 1 in total

The complete rankings can be seen here: University Rankings: Latin America 2016

 Salen del listado el centro de Cienfuegos Carlos Rafael Rodríguez y la CUJAE zuniversidaddelahabanaafet3Universidad de La Habana, circa 1952

La Universidad de La Habana se sitúa en la posición 59 del listado de los 300 mejores centros de estudio de América Latina de este año elaborado por QS y publicado este martes. Pese a mejorar su posición en comparación con el año pasado, cuando se clasificó en el puesto 83, la institución académica se mantiene por debajo de los estándares de excelencia defendidos por las autoridades de la Isla.

Solo dos universidades del país han logrado colarse en el ránking, la otra es la de Santiago de Cuba, en el puesto 145, que empeora frente a 2015, cuando llegó a colocarse en el 141. Salieron del listado los centros de Cienfuegos Carlos Rafael Rodríguez y la José Antonio Echeverría – CUJAE, que el año pasado cerraban la clasificación (entre los puestos 250 y 300).

Entre los mayores problemas que señalan los estudiantes de la Universidad de La Habana se encuentra el deficiente acceso a internet. Cada alumno recibe una cuota de horas de navegación al mes, según el año de estudio que cursa, pero la baja velocidad de conexión y la antigüedad de las computadoras en la sala de información digital lastran la experiencia.

El listado, que se publica por sexto año consecutivo, se elabora a partir de cinco criterios principales: el impacto de la investigación y la productividad, el compromiso de los docentes, la capacidad de los diplomados para conseguir empleos, el impacto en internet y, por primera vez este año, se tomó en cuenta también la internacionalización.

Otros factores determinantes son, de acuerdo con los autores, la reputación académica del centro de estudio, la proporción de estudiantes por facultad. Aunque el QS University Rankings para América Latina es parte de la iniciativa global QS World University Rankings, los métodos de evaluación difieren según las distintas zonas del mundo para adaptarse al contexto regional.

Lidera la clasificación la Universidad de Sao Paulo, seguida por otro centro brasileño, el de Campinas, y por la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

zCuba-Nov-2008-041Alma Mater 1995, Photo by Arch Ritter

ztankThe Faculty of Law in Background, Photo by Arch Ritter, circa 1996

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CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS DE LA ECONOMÍA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DE LA HABANA EXPULSA AL PROFESOR OMAR EVERLENY

Diario de Cuba | La Habana | 16 Abr 2016 – 4:54 pm. | 12

Articulo original: Profesor Expulsado

 zqz

Omar Everleny, profesor titular en la Universidad de La Habana.

Omar Everleny, profesor titular de Economía Cubana en la Universidad de La Habana, fue expulsado el viernes 8 de abril de su puesto laboral en el Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana, según confirmó el propio economista a DIARIO DE CUBA.

“Es cierto”, dijo Everleny interrogado sobre la expulsión. “A través de una resolución del director de mi centro se me informó que fui separado definitivamente de la entidad”, añadió.

La resolución no está firmada por el rector de la Universidad, sino por el director del Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana, Humberto Blanco. “Es de suponer que no fue él (Blanco) el que inventó esa historia, pero al firmarla tiene responsabilidad en él”, dijo Everleny.

Consultado sobre las razones dadas para el despido, señaló: “Hablar con la prensa extranjera, dar algunas conferencias o participar en encuentros con personas y haber aceptado remuneración, lo cual es totalmente falso”.

“Yo no cobro esas conferencias. Si después, al final, me hacen un regalo los que participan para que coja transporte… pero yo nunca he fijado ni he firmado ningún documento donde diga que he recibido un monto por dar una conferencia”, aseguró Everleny.

Además de “indisciplina” y “actitud irreverente”, otra causa esgrimida para separarlo de su puesto fue “haber dicho que existe una comisión de Estados Unidos en la Universidad (de La Habana), una cosa que reconoce todo el mundo”, añadió.

“Al final, detrás de eso no es así la cosa, es que yo he hecho algunos escritos, documentos, pero siempre dentro del proceso, no he tenido una posición contraria, lo que he dicho es para mejorar la economía cubana”, afirmó Everleny.

El profesor del Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana manifestó que siempre se ha mantenido “dentro de los parámetros permitidos”.

“Nunca me he salido de una crítica en el área de la economía cubana, que ha sido mi objeto de análisis, nunca he hablado de otro tipo de indicadores políticos. He dicho lo que pienso de la economía, que hay que avanzar más rápido, que la inversión es lenta, ese tipo de cosas”.

En una entrevista concedida en marzo de 2015 a Forbes, Everleny —a quien la revista consideró uno de los economistas más influyentes de la Isla—, decía: “Aunque creo en la gradualidad que el Gobierno de Raúl le ha dado a las reformas estructurales de la economía cubana, pienso que la velocidad podría acelerarse, dado que aún no son perceptibles para una mayoría de la población cubana, los resultados de esas reformas, en términos de bienestar económico”.

Se refería entonces a “salarios desestimulantes para incrementar tanto la producción como la productividad del trabajo”, a la “verticalidad y la centralización de las decisiones”, precios altos mantenidos y “a un incremento del deterioro de la infraestructura física del país” o “deterioro de los servicios sociales”, y añadía también que “estaban en camino soluciones para mitigar estos efectos”.

Omar Everleny declaró a DIARIO DE CUBA que planea presentar una apelación el lunes. “Voy a empezar ante el órgano de justicia de base, que es la propia Universidad, y después puedo ir a tribunales laborales”.

El analista está todavía informándose sobre el camino a seguir ante la separación de su puesto laboral.

 

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US BUSINESS SCHOOLS SET THEIR SIGHTS ON CUBA

Business Education, May 3, 2015 11:37 pm

Jonathan Moules

Original here: US Business Schools and Cuba

9ce515d9-f339-4845-adab-106167a26600The long-term prospects for business education in Cuba are undoubtedly bright following the warming of relations between Washington and Havana. But how quickly such opportunities will unfold for those schools with connections to the Caribbean island state is a tougher question to answer.

For US business schools, the opening up of access to Cuba has been an unmitigated success in one regard, according to professors such as Stephan Meier at Columbia Business School in New York. His school is one of several to have taken advantage of the ability for US-based academic institutions to visit Cuba for study trips. In fact, his biggest headache has been running enough trips to satisfy the demand from students, particularly those with US passports who would not otherwise be able to travel abroad.

In three years, Prof Meier has taken 120 students to Cuba. But he could have taken many more, he says. “Cuba is exotic,” he explains.

Downtown from Columbia’s Manhattan campus, NYU Stern has run a similar programme called Doing Business in Cuba. This was the product of lobbying by Stern’s Association of Black and Hispanic Students, and proved somewhat complicated to organise.

To date, the 84 Stern MBA students who have taken the trip to Havana have only been able to do so thanks to connections provided by Ludwig Foundation, a not-for-profit body created to build links between the US and Cuba, primarily in the arts.

Emily Goldrank is one of these student. She has travelled widely, spending time in Argentina and Australia as part of her MBA studies, but claims Cuba — “the one forbidden place” — offered a particular value because it operated so differently to other countries. “How and what we learnt was of a different variety because the whole business environment was so different,” she recalls, adding that this was in itself valuable in that it showed the challenges of operating in such a different economy.

The pace of change in Cuba, where no business school yet exists, is a subject of debate. Tom Pugel, vice-dean of MBA programmes at Stern, is more confident than many of his academic peers and predicts that the country will have its own business school in five years.

“There are already people who are ready to work with that transition,” he claims. “They are well positioned to be the leaders of a business school.”

Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organisation at USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, who led the first US business school delegation to Cuba in 2000 and has since taken about 1,000 students on study visits, is less optimistic.

“I feel Cubans would be a little bit suspect of plans to set up programmes in Cuba because they would want to know where the money came from,” he says.

“They are not anyone’s puppet and they do not want to be played.

“Money has been earmarked in the US to help Cuban students study here, but it is felt that there are people in the US government who would use that as a way of brainwashing students.”

There have been opportunities for Cubans to study freely in Europe and the US, Prof Voigt notes, but there has not been a lot of take up of these schemes because students in Cuba lack the funds to study overseas. Thus for the moment, the traffic is likely to be mainly the other way.

Those US students lucky enough to gain a place on Columbia’s Cuba programme have been able to meet some of the country’s small but growing population of entrepreneurs, who are currently restricted to a limited number of service sectors such as restaurants and hotels.

Visiting students have also been able to see first hand what an economy looks like without the capitalist trappings of widespread advertising and credit. “They learn that in a market economy we take a lot of aspects for granted,” Prof Meier says.

Cuba’s newly empowered entrepreneurs would be target candidates should a school like Columbia open in the country, although Prof Meier does not see this happening in the near future.

“I guess we are a long way from teaching an executive programme in Cuba to Cuban managers,” he says. “But they could definitely do with some business school education.”

Although the US has by far the most developed business education market, and almost all the top business schools, it faces significant competition, particularly from Europe.

Barcelona-based Esade, for instance, has been working directly with Cuba’s ministry of higher education on Forgec, a European Commission funded project to strengthen the managerial capabilities of Cuban institutions.

One of the key goals of the project is to establish long-term co-operation in management education between Cuba and Europe. Whether or not this would mean a school such as Esade opening a campus in Cuba is not clear, however, since the project plans to achieve its aims in part by improving the quality of Cuban universities and the ability to run business education programmes.

Schools in Latin American countries also sense an opportunity to serve Cuba as and when it is ready to allow business schools to open.

Carlos Martí Sanchis, academic director at Barna Business School in the Dominican Republic, claims that Caribbean and central American schools like his have expertise in subjects that would likely be of interest to Cuban business students, such as tourism. “Big and prestigious schools will have advantages but I think it will be a great opportunity for medium and small business schools that can have a better fit to the Cuban reality in different dimensions such as cultural, economic, idiomatic and business sectors similarities,” he says.

However, US-based schools are not giving up hope. Brandeis International Business School, for instance, has not just taken students and faculty to Cuba as a part of its Hassenfeld Overseas Fellows Immersion Program. It has also hosted Cuban visitors on its campus.

These include the founder of Cuba’s first private MBA programme, run by the Roman Catholic Church, the director of The Center for the Study of the Cuban Culture + Economy and a distinguished professor from the University of Havana law school.

Bruce Magid, dean of Brandeis, is looking forward to the future. “For academic institutions in the US, particularly business schools willing to make the first move, the opportunity exists to have a profound impact on the next stage of US-Cuba economic relations,” he says. “This is more than just an opportunity. It is a strategic imperative for business schools to make this move. Opening Cuba’s borders to trade and investment is the best way to ensure Cuba prospers.”

Having said that, Mr Magid believes that efforts to build ties with Cuba are part of a broader commitment that Brandeis needs to demonstrate towards the whole of Latin America.

In the past year, the school has announced two memorandums of understanding for joint degree programmes with Eafit in Medellín, Colombia and Insper in São Paulo, Brazil, all of which have added to the school’s roster of partnerships in the region.

For now, Cuba will have to wait.

Cuba Nov 2008 041Open Arms to US Business Schools?

Cuba Nov 2008 040For Now They’ll Have to Wait.

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RECIPROCITY AND RENT-SEEKING: A STUDY OF THE PARTNERSHIP APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE (A Canada-Cuba Case Analysis)

[I just stumbled again upon this excellent analysis of the Carleton University- Universidad de la Habana Partnership program of 1995-2002, written by my colleague Frances Woolley. It is of broad interest to those interested in development assistance generally and of particular interest to those interested in Cuba. It is a fine article that seems to have slipped under the radar of many analysts of Cuba. I am therefore publishing it again here.  A.R.]

Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue canadienne d’études du développement , Volume 23, Issue 2, 2002

Dr. Frances Woolley,  Department of Economics and Associate Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs, Carleton University, Canada

Complete article available here: Frances Woolley, Cuba-Canada Reciprocityand Rent-Seeking 2002 CJDSABSTRACT Under the partnership approach to development assistance, donor agencies fund partnerships between donor-country and host-country institutions. This paper develops a model of development assistance in which project participants attempt to extract rents from donor agencies. The model is applied to an academic exchange between Carleton University and the University of Havana. The behaviour of project participants is rational given the constraints and incentives they face, yet individually rational responses can undermine collective reciprocity and jeopardize both partners’ goals for development assistance. The paper concludes that structural and ideological issues may be easier to account for than personal needs and power.

New Picture (1)untitledFrances Woolley

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“Political Science”: When Will Cuban Universities Join the World?

By Arch Ritter

 In 1993, the Faculty of Economics at the University of Havana decided that it had to incorporate mainstream economics into its curriculum because “Soviet” or “central planning” style economics had virtually disappeared following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc. After some discussions with the International Development Research Center (IDRC) in Ottawa, a Masters in Economics Program commenced operation at the University of Havana principally for young Cuban professors of Economics plus others. The program was financed by IDRC and then the Canadian International Development Agency and had the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. It included Canadian and Latin American Professors with senior Cuban professors acting as counterparts.

The program ran from 1994 to 2000, and helped to “jump-start” the introduction of conventional economics into Cuban Universities. It contributed to the changing climate of opinion that has resulted in the new approach to economic policy adopted by President Raul Castro.  I am happy to say that it was my Economics Department here at Carleton University that offered its MA in collaboration with the University of Havana. A description of this Master’s Program in Economics offered at the University of Havana from 1994 to 2000 can be found here.

In contrast, the teaching of Political Science – or “Government” to use the Harvard label – in Cuban Universities appears to be virtually non-existent or else locked in a Soviet-era time-warp at this time. As far as I can determine from perusing the web sites of Cuban Universities, little has changed in this regard since about 1990.

During the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the University of Havana’s School of Political Sciences  (Escuela de Ciencias Políticas) was active at the Faculty of Humanities (Facultad de Humanidades)  This School was created in 1961 after the triumph of the Revolution as part of the University Reform (Reforma Universitaria). But during the decade of 1970 to 1980 the School was closed. Some of its activities were then assumed by the recently created “Ñico López” Party School (Escuela del Partido “Ñico López”), affiliated with the Cuban Communist Party, outside the University campus and with no relation to the University. The main purpose of the “Ñico López  Party School was and still is the formation of Party cadres.

Universidad de la Habana

One outstanding research center affiliated with the Communist Party namely the Centro de Estudios sobre sobre América (CEA) apparently got out of control and was effectively terminated. (See Haroldo Dilla’s commentary on the death of CEA in Cubaencuentro¿Qué pasó con el Centro de Estudios sobre América?)

In 2013, one searches in vain for Departments of “Political Science” in Cuba. There are or have been University and Party Centers for the study of international relations such as the Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales ((ISRI) and the  Centro de Estudios Hemisféricos y Sobre Estados Unidos(CEHSEU, formerly CESEU). But there seems to be a total absence of what one might identify as Political Science or “Government” in any part of the Universities. The closest the University of Havana seems to come to political science appears to be in the Filosofía Marxista Leninista program of the faculty of Ciencias Sociales y Humanísticas. This program seems to be totally removed from an objective analysis of how political systems actually operate in Cuba or anywhere else.  Not surprisingly, this program has a clear ideological orientation, as suggested by the first suggested type of employment for its graduates cited below, (though I suspect that the graduates would be increasingly unemployable with the exception of a handful of future professors teaching the same stuff):

El filósofo tiene además una actuación especial en el trabajo político e ideológico, en tanto puede mostrar cauces metodológicos: holísticos, dialécticos, heurísticos, hermenéuticos, etc., desde perspectivas epistemológicas amplias, dialécticas y transformadoras, que permiten para acceder con profundidad a los dominios de la ciencia, al arte y a la vida cotidiana. Igualmente su actuación contribuye a develar nuevos horizontes epistemológicos, axiológicos y comunicativos, en la medida que, con sentido cultural, dialéctico, complejo y sistémico somete a crítica los momentos débiles de la racionalidad moderna y muestra la esencia de los nuevos paradigmas contemporáneos desde un enfoque marxista creador. En fin, su modo de actuación leninista creadora.”

Where are courses on Cuba’s actual political system, comparative politics, political theory, political philosophy, local politics and political sociology, not to mention the innumerable more specialized topics that one commonly finds in the course program of a Political Science department? (See Harvard’s extensive offerings here.)  

Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba

In the mid-1990s two Cuban professors, Miriam Gras and Gloria Leon of the University of Havana attempted to set up a network of researchers in Comparative Politics. For their efforts – and also for speaking out on political issues – they were fired from the University.

There are of course talented and widely recognized intellectuals both within and outside the universities who analyze US-Cuban relations and some aspects of international relations. But it is difficult to identify professors from Cuba’s universities who are courageous enough to “push the envelope” and to analyze Cuba’s political system seriously, directly and openly, or to adopt mainstream or conventional political science approaches in their work. The serious analyses of Cuba’s own political system and its functioning are the work mainly of off-shore analysts, either recent émigrés such as Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, Cuban-Americans such as Jorge Dominguez and Marifeli Perez-Stable and many others, or non-Cubans such as Vegard Bye of Norway – also among many others. To find critical analysis of Cuban politics within Cuba, one has to go to independent publications such as Espacio Laical linked to the Catholic Church in Havana and a couple of blogs such as SinEvasion, by Miriam Celaya.

Why is such political analysis essentially off-limits in Cuban universities? You can guess the answer.

One consequence of the absence of the discipline of Political Science in Cuba is that we have only a vague idea of how Cuba’s government actually functions. Who within the Politbureau and Central Committee of the party actually makes decisions? To what extent and how do pressures from the mass organizations actually affect decision-making, or is the flow of influence always from top to bottom rather than the reverse? What role do the large conglomerate enterprises that straddle the internationalized dollar economy and the peso economy play in the process of policy-formulation? Is the National Assembly simply an empty shell that unanimously passes prodigious amounts of legislation in exceedingly short periods of time – as appears to be the case?  One is left with a feeling that the real political system is one of black boxes within black boxes linked in various ways by invisible wires and tubes.

One hopes that Cuba’s universities soon will establish formal Departments of Political Science and that the academic staff will undertake real scientific analysis of Cuba’s political system.  

University of Havana, Faculty of Law in the background

University of Havana circa 1955

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Carmelo Mesa-Lago, “Sistemas de protección social en América Latina y el Caribe: Cuba”

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Documento de Proyecto,  CEPAL, Santiago Chile, 2012

Ensayo original:  Mesa-Lago, Cuba Proteccion Social CEPAL-13

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Desde el inicio de la República en 1902 hasta 1958 el Estado introdujo sistemas públicos de educación y de salud gratuitos; el primero complementado por escuelas privadas y el segundo por una red de cooperativas, mutuales y clínicas privadas, esquemas de mejor calidad que los sistemas públicos, mientras que el acceso y la calidad de los últimos era muy inferior en el campo que en la capital y otras ciudades. La Constitución de 1940 y la legislación laboral y de seguridad social estaban entre las más avanzadas de América Latina pero, a diferencia del resto de la región (salvo Uruguay), no se creó un seguro nacional de salud, si bien el inusual desarrollo de cooperativas, mutuales y clínicas urbanas en parte  alivió ese vacío. En 1957 el desempleo abierto promediaba el 16% más el 14% de subempleo  (30% en total), bajaba durante la cosecha azucarera que proveía el 25% del empleo y se  duplicaba en el resto del año. Tampoco se creó un seguro de desempleo que era lo usual en la región. Se estableció gradualmente un sistema de pensiones de seguro social que cubría alrededor del 62% de la PEA pero segmentado en 54 esquemas separados, con amplias e injustificadas diferencias entre ellos. No existían programas integrados a nivel nacional de asistencia social ni de viviendas estatales o subsidiadas. Tal como ocurría en el resto de la región, no había estadísticas de incidencia de pobreza y de desigualdad del ingreso, pero la escasa información disponible indicaba que ambas eran substanciales. No obstante, en 1958 Cuba se ordenaba entre el primero y el quinto puesto de la región en sus indicadores sociales nacionales, pero con considerable desigualdad especialmente entre las zonas urbanas y rurales. Por ejemplo, la tasa de analfabetismo nacional era del 23%, pero en las ciudades   41,7% en el campo del 41,7%.
En el período de 1959-1989, la revolución logró avances muy notables en la protección social. El Estado dio prioridad y asignó cuantiosos recursos fiscales para: 1) promover el pleno empleo; 2) reducir la desigualdad en el ingreso mediante la expropiación de la riqueza y la disminución de las diferencias salariales en el empleo que era básicamente público; 3) universalizar los servicios gratuitos de educación y de salud que redujeron de forma substancial las disparidades en el acceso y calidad de los servicios sociales entre la ciudad y el campo; 4) lanzar una campaña de alfabetización, graduar masivamente maestros y médicos, y construir escuelas y establecimientos de salud; 5) acelerar la incorporación de la mujer a la fuerza laboral con políticas de educación y guarderías infantiles;  6) expandir la cobertura y monto de las pensiones de seguro social, financiadas por las empresas estatales y el fisco, sin cotización de los trabajadores; 7) crear un programa de asistencia social nacional y municipal; y 8) convertir a la gran mayoría de la población en propietaria de las viviendas que tenían arrendadas. El gobierno expropió todas las instalaciones de educación y salud privadas y cooperativas, además absorbió, unificó y homologó los 54 esquemas de pensiones. La construcción y mantenimiento de las viviendas, fundamentalmente a cargo del Estado, fue insuficiente y aumentó el déficit habitacional. Coadyuvó al desarrollo social la ayuda de 65.000 millones de dólares por la Unión Soviética en 1960-1990 (sin contar otros países socialistas), 60,5% en donaciones y subsidios de precios más 39,5% en préstamos que virtualmente no fueron pagados. Aunque dicha ayuda no se dio al sector social, liberó recursos internos para financiar la política del gobierno en este campo. En 1989 Cuba se colocaba a la cabeza de América Latina en la gran mayoría de los indicadores sociales.
El colapso de la Unión Soviética provocó en 1990-1994 una crisis económica muy severa: la caída 35% del PIB, la virtual paralización de la industria y de la agricultura por falta de combustible, insumos y piezas de repuesto, y una mengua drástica en las exportaciones e importaciones (incluyendo insumos para servicios sociales). A la crisis contribuyó el “Proceso de Rectificación de Errores”2, y la incapacidad del modelo de desarrollo para resolver los problemas estructurales, generar un crecimiento económico sostenible, expandir las exportaciones y substituir importaciones. Además, la política social adolecía de fallas: el pleno empleo se logró en parte creando empleo estatal innecesario lo que afectó a la productividad; el excesivo igualitarismo y énfasis cíclico en incentivos “morales” (no económicos) indujo una caída en el esfuerzo laboral y alto ausentismo; y el alto costo de los programas sociales se agravó por el envejecimiento demográfico. A pesar del esfuerzo del gobierno para proteger los programas sociales, casi todos sus indicadores se deterioraron y en 1993 Cuba había descendido en su ordenamiento social en la región.
Las modestas reformas orientadas al mercado en 1993-1996 lograron a partir de 1995 una recuperación económica parcial, pero ocurrió una desaceleración en 2001-2003 en gran  medida por la virtual paralización de las reformas y la “Batalla de Ideas”. Este programa, facilitado por la ayuda económica venezolana y centrado en la lucha ideológica incluyó varias políticas: revirtió las reformas de los años noventa, re-acentuó el centralismo, creó una cuenta única de divisas y CUC en el Banco Central de Cuba (BCC), puso énfasis de nuevo en el igualitarismo y la movilización laboral, redujo el trabajo por cuenta propia, intentó universalizar la educación superior, continuó expandiendo el empleo estatal innecesario, y acrecentó el gasto social haciéndolo insostenible. A partir de 2004, el PIB  creció con rapidez y alcanzó una cima en 2006, debido a la ayuda económica de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, la expansión de los servicios sociales y un cambio en la  metodología internacional para calcular el PIB3. La crisis global de 2007-2009 y los problemas que arrastraba el modelo de desarrollo cubano indujeron otra desaceleración en la tasa del PIB. Aún con oscilaciones, la recuperación en 1995-2006 ayudó a mejorar los indicadores sociales y la mayoría sobrepasó los niveles pre-crisis de 1989, aunque la pobreza y la desigualdad aumentaron. Desde 2007 ocurrió otra regresión en dichos indicadores por la crisis global y las necesarias “reformas estructurales” del Presidente Raúl Castro para corregir los problemas económico-sociales del país, aprobadas por el VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) en 2011 y extendidas en 2012. Este capítulo se concentra en el período comprendido entre 2007 y2012, describe las reformas por sector social y evalúa sus efectos.

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Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC)

By Arch Ritter

Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC)

The University of Havana’s Centro de Estudios de la Economia Cubana has made itself the foremost research institution on the Cuban economy since its establishment in 1989.  Its faculty includes many of the best-known analysts on the Cuban economy, including both senior and newer faculty members. The work of the Cuban Economy Team is especially impressive and is certainly worth careful study by anyone interested in Cuba. I have often thought that Cuba would benefit immensely if some of the members of CEEC were in key Cabinet positions in the Government of Cuba responsible for the management of the economy.  I expect that this in fact will happen before too long! Cuban Economy Team: Dr. Juan Triana Cordoví, Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez (Director), Dr. Armando Nova González, Dr. Hiram Marquetti Nodarse, Dr. Jorge Mario Sánchez Egozcue, Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro, Ms. Betsy Anaya, Ms. CamilaPiñeiro Harnecker, Ms. Ricardo Torres Pérez and Lic. Saira Pons Pérez Enterprise Management Team: Dr. Orlando W. Gutierréz Castillo, Dr. Humberto Blanco Rosales, Dr. Rosendo Morales González, Dr. Jorge Ricardo Ramírez, Dra. Aleida Gonzalez-Cueto, Dra. Dayma Echevarría León, Dra. Ileana Díaz Fernández, Ms. Mercedes González Sánchez, Ms. Maria Isabel Suárez González,  Lic. Dayrelis Ojeda Suris and Lic. Mariuska Cancio  Fonseca The CEEC publishes a number of “Boletínes” each year that usually include valuable analyses of various aspects of Cuba’s economy and economic policy. Here are the Tables of Contents of the last three issues. The “Boletínes” are hyper-linked to the CEEC Web Site and some of the essays are linked to the PDF files for rapid access.

Boletín Agosto 2011

El sistema de gestion y direccion de la economia hoy. Ileana Diaz,  Dra.Ileana Diaz Experiencias noruegas relevantes para la agricultura cubana, Dr. Anicia Garcia La propiedad en la economia cubana. Armando Nova,  Dr.Armando Nova Los sistemas de direccion  de la economia  1961- 1975,  Dra.Ileana Diaz Turismo de salud en Cuba. David Pajon Dr. David Pajon

Boletín Abril-Agosto 2010

Competitividad e innovacion, donde esta Cuba. Ileana Diaz, Dr. Ileana Díaz El impacto del postgrado en la educacion superior Cuba- Venezuela. Rosendo Morales Dr. Rosendo Morales El mercado y el estado, dos partes que forman un todo. Armando Nova, Dr. Armando Nova González Entre el ajuste fiscal y los cambios estructurales, se extiende el cuentapropismo, Dr. Pavel Vidal y Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez Fuerzas favorables y restrictivas a la dirección estratégica de la empresa. Dayrelis Ojeda y Humberto Blanco Lic. Dayrelis Ojeda y Dr. Humber

Boletin Enero-Mayo 2010

El mercado libre agropecuario en 2009. Armando Nova, Dr. Armando Nova González El sector energetico cubano entre 2005 y 2009. Ricardo Torres_0 Ms. Ricardo Torres Pérez La política fiscal actual. Pavel Vidal_0 Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro Estrategia. Mito o realidad. Ileana Diaz y Roberto Cartaya_0 Dr. Ileana Díaz y Dr. Roberto Cartaya La producción agricola y ganadera en 2009. Armando Nova_0 Dr. Armando Nova González La universidad, la economía y el desarrollo. Juan Triana_0 Dr. Juan Triana Cordoví Los cambios estructurales e institucionales. Pavel Vidal_0,  Dr. Pavel Vidal Alejandro

Universidad de la Habana, “Alma Mater”

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CUBA in the UNDP 2011 Human Development Report

By Arch Ritter, November 3   2011

The 2011 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report (HDR) was just published on November 2.

Cuba is back in the main Human Development Index (HDI) and the statistical tables of the 2011 HDR after a complete absence last year mainly due to its unorthodox measurement of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a central component of the HDI.  Presumably the UNDP now accepts Cuba’s approach and its HDI is recalculated and is presented for the 1985 to 2011 period.

The 2011 Human Development Report is especially interesting this year focusing on Environment and Equity issues and including statistical measures in both of these areas for all countries of the world for which such data is available. The UNDP HDR is the most reliable and comprehensive “Report Card” on most aspects of human development (though with little attention to the political dimension) for all countries of the world).

The full report is available and can be down-loaded here:  Human Development Report 2011, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All; http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2011/download/

Cuba’s place in the 2011 Human Development Index is summarized in Table 1. The basic methodology used for the HDI measure is described below in the Appendix.  Cuba’s overall ranking in the world is # 51 for 2011 – the same ranking as in 2009 which used a somewhat different methodology. Its rank in Latin America in 2011 was # 5, up from # 6 in 2009. Interestingly enough, Cuba can be seen in Chart 1, as somewhat of an “outlier” in that its Gross National Income per capita is relatively low while its overall HDI is high.

Source: UNDP Human Development Report, 2011

Chart 1. Cuba’s Human Development Index and Gross National Income per capita in Purchasing Power terms in 2011 in Comparative International perspective.

Source: Calculated from UNDP HDR 2011
Of the three components of the HDI, Cuba did poorly in the Gross National Income measure, placing 23rd in Latin America and 103rd in the world. The Life Expectancy component was strong, though Cuba was behind Costa Rica for this indicator and tied with Chile. The “Mean Years of Schooling” measure at 9.9 years is probably not unreasonable.

The big surprise in the HDI calculation is the second element of the education component. The “Expected Years of Schooling” indicator is an amazing 17.5 years, ahead of all other countries in the world with the exception of Iceland, Ireland, and Australia. This is a curious result and presumably is due to a mechanical calculation based on current enrolment at all levels of education and population of official school age for each level of education. The number for this sub-component accounts for about one-sixth of the weight for the whole HDI measure. This number is high perhaps because of the enrolments at Municipal Universities and the retraining of displaced sugar sector workers that seems to still be continuing. The quality of expected years of education is not considered. As a genuine indicator of human development, this measure is weak because, unlike Life Expectancy and GNI per capita, it measures input and effort more so than output and the result.

The trend of Cuba’s HDI from 1985 to 2011 and is illustrated in Chart 2 in comparison with the long-term HDI trends for the other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. (The measure for Cuba is the light blue line with that includes the HDI numbers. The other countries of the region are in the darker colours, but unfortunately are unmarked.) The decline of the HDI according to this new UNDP measure after about 1989 is apparent, reflecting the 35% reduction in GDP per person from 1990 to 1993. Reasonably steady improvement then occurred right to 2011, as a result of the improvements in GDP per capita and steady improvements in health and education.

Chart 2. Cuba’s Human Development Index Trend, 1985-2011,  in Comparative Latin American Perspective

Source: Calculated from UNDP HDR 2011

Some of the environmental numbers for Cuba are of interest, though the coverage is incomplete. Some other variants of the HDI, namely the ”Inequality-adjusted HDI” and the “Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index” exclude Cuba, presumably for lack of data.

Appendix: Measurement of the 2011 Human Development Index; (from UNDP HPR 2011) See http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/hdi/

The education component of the HDI is now measured by mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. Mean years of schooling is estimated based on educational attainment data from censuses and surveys available in the UNESCO Institute for Statistics database and Barro and Lee (2010) methodology). Expected years of schooling estimates are based on enrolment by age at all levels of education and population of official school age for each level of education. Expected years of schooling is capped at 18 years. The indicators are normalized using a minimum value of zero and maximum values are set to the actual observed maximum value of mean years of schooling from the countries in the time series, 1980–2010, that is 13.1 years estimated for Czech Republic in 2005. Expected years of schooling is maximized by its cap at 18 years. The education index is the geometric mean of two indices.
The life expectancy at birth component of the HDI is calculated using a minimum value of 20 years and maximum value of 83.4 years. This is the observed maximum value of the indicators from the countries in the time series, 1980–2010. Thus, the longevity component for a country where life expectancy birth is 55 years would be 0.552.
For the wealth component, the goalpost for minimum income is $100 (PPP) and the maximum is $107,721 (PPP), both estimated during the same period, 1980-2011.
The decent standard of living component is measured by GNI per capita (PPP$) instead of GDP per capita (PPP$) The HDI uses the logarithm of income, to reflect the diminishing importance of income with increasing GNI. The scores for the three HDI dimension indices are then aggregated into a composite index using geometric mean. Refer to the Human Development Report 2011 Technical notes [388 KB] for more details.

 

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Iglesia formará expertos en pequeñas empresas y cooperativas en Cuba (AFP)

Espacio Laical has just announced a new Masters’ Program in Business Management for micro, small and mediaum enterprises and cooperatives. It will be run bythe Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela, of the Archdiocise of Havana and the Universidad Católica San Antonio,  Murcia, Spain.

The Convocatoria is presented below, together with a commentary from Agence France Presse.

Presumably Espacio Laical, the Centro Felix Varela and the Archdiocise of Havana have all the necessary permissions to proceed. if this is indeed the case, it represents a break of the state monopoly of higher education and the emergence of independent University level graduate programs. This could be of major significance for Cuba, representing a further loosening of state controls in professional education.

Convocatoria

Suplemento Digital No.134 / Junio  2011
Convocatoria, Maestria sobre Dirección de EmpresasEspacio Laical

El Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela, de la Arquidiócesis de La Habana, y la Universidad Católica San Antonio, de Murcia, convocan a un Máster sobre Dirección de Empresas (MDE). La maestría, de modalidad semipresencial, tiene entre sus objetivos conseguir que el egresado adquiera habilidades y conocimientos avanzados en dirección de empresas; con un enfoque especial en pymes, micro-pymes y cooperativas. Contará con un claustro de profesores españoles y cubanos.
El MDE sesionará desde septiembre de 2011 hasta junio de 2012 y estará estructurado en siete materias:

  1. ENTORNO ECONÓMICO
  2. MARKETING
  3. ORGANIZACIÓN DE LA PRODUCCIÓN
  4. COMPORTAMIENTO ORGANIZACIONAL
  5. ECONOMÍA FINANCIERA Y CONTABILIDAD
  6. ESTRATEGIA Y EMPRESA
  7. SISTEMA TRIBUTARIO DE LA EMPRESA

Requisitos para los candidatos:

  • Podrán participar personas con título universitario.
  • Deberán entregar un currículum detallado, así como una fundamentación del por qué quieren cursar el MDE.
  • En la primera página del documento se colocará una ficha con nombre y apellidos del aspirante, lugar de residencia, dirección y teléfono, especialidad de la que es graduado y labor que desempeña actualmente.
  • Deberán adjuntar fotocopia del título.
  • Los documentos podrán ser entregados en la sede del Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela (antiguo Seminario San Carlos y San Ambrosio), en La Habana Vieja , de lunes a viernes, de 9:00 AM a 12:00 M.
  • El plazo de admisión para los interesados vence el 20 de julio de 2011.
  • Del total de aspirantes los coordinadores del MDE escogerán a 40 personas.
  • El 28 de julio se hará pública la relación de personas seleccionadas.

..

Iglesia formará expertos en pequeñas empresas y cooperativas en Cuba, Agence France Presse, 23 June 2011.

La Iglesia Católica convocó este jueves a universitarios cubanos a una maestría sobre dirección de pequeñas y medianas empresas (Pymes) y cooperativas, contempladas en las reformas que impulsa el presidente Raúl Castro.

La maestría “tiene entre sus objetivos conseguir que el egresado adquiera habilidades y conocimientos avanzados en dirección de empresas; con un enfoque especial en Pymes, Micropymes y cooperativas”, dijo la convocatoria publicada en la versión digital de la revista Espacio Laical.

El curso, para el cual se escogerán 40 personas entre los candidatos, está convocado por el Centro Cultural Padre Félix Varela, de la Arquidiócesis de La Habana, y la Universidad Católica San Antonio, de Murcia, España. Contará con profesores españoles y cubanos y se extenderá desde septiembre de 2011 hasta junio de 2012.

Las más de 300 reformas de Raúl Castro, aprobadas por el VI Congreso del Partido Comunista en abril (PCC, único), ampliaron el trabajo privado y abrieron las puertas para la formación de Pymes y cooperativas urbanas de producción y servicios.

Ahora el Gobierno se concentra en la elaboración y aprobación del sustento legal de esas empresas no estatales, pues en 1968, cuando la denominada “Ofensiva Revolucionaria”, fueron eliminadas.

La Iglesia Católica, que sostiene un inédito diálogo con el Gobierno desde mayo de 2010, cuyo resultado más importante fue la excarcelación de 126 políticos, ocupa cada vez más espacio en la sociedad cubana.

Ese proceso de acercamiento, iniciado tras la visita papal en 1998, ha ido superando cuatro décadas de relaciones ondulantes, con tiempos de fuertes tensiones y cohabitaciones, sobre todo desde la llegada de Raúl Castro al poder en 2006, tras una crisis de salud de su hermano, Fidel Castro.

 

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